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Today I'm going to show you some best practices for cleaning your computer.  We need a 6 pack of compressed air. 90% or higher isopropyl alcohol, paper towels and cotton swabs for cleaning in tight spaces.

Other than for cosmetic reasons you need to keep your case clean to promote good ventilation and cooling. When your computer is running, it is continuously bringing in cool air from outside of the case and exhausting the hot air, the components generate, out the back. When dust and hair build up on the outside and inside of the case, it keeps the air from getting to those heat producing components.  This makes your components get hot and heat is one of the biggest causes of component failures.

I've taken the computer outside to clean it.  Once you start using the compressed air to blow away the dust, it goes everywhere.

If we did this inside, all of the dust would contaminate the air inside, getting breathed in, settle on flat surfaces, or getting sucked back into the computer when we turn it on.

I'm going to start on the inside of the case.

There is a lot of dust and pet hair on the outside of the case, but it will mostly fly off when we start using the compressed air inside the case.

I'm removing both sides of the case to give the dust plenty of ways to leave the case.

You should begin at the top of the case since some of the dust and hair that gets blown around will settle lower in the case.

When using the compressed air, do you best to keep the can upright.  If you turn it too far the liquid inside will spray out.

Always keep in mind that the gas and liquid inside the can is flammable.

There's a 120mm fan at the back of the case. When you blow any fan with compressed air, it's important to hold onto the blades to keep them from spinning.  If you don't hold on and use a sustained blast of air, you can make the fan spin faster than it's intended to.  This can wear out the barrings in the fan and in extreme cases cause it to fail.  More often, over spinning the fan will cause it to make more noise when it's running.

Next we'll clean around the DVD drive and the hard drives.  The can of air is starting to loose it's strength.  You'll notice that the can gets colder the longer you use it.  It will get to the point where the liquid inside freezes up and it only puts out a small amount of air.

When the can starts to loose it's strength, get another can from your six pack and continue with it.

The CPU fan and especially the heat sink has a large amount of dust build up.  The metal fins on the cooler have air sucked through them and the closeness of the adjacent fins makes the perfect conditions for trapping dust.  Remember to hold onto the fan's blades to keep them from spinning and use your can of air to blow through the fins.

The add-on cards, especially the video cards, collect a lot of dust.

For the video cards we'll angle the can up so we can get into the cooler. Again, reaching in to hold the fan blades.

The power supply has a lot of dust in it as well.  I can't reach the fan in the power supply with my fingers so I'll use one of the cotton swabs to get through.

The front cooling fans have a good coating of dust.  We'll hold onto the fan blades and blow out the dust.

If you can't easily get to a fan to hold it you should use very short burst of air to clean it.  This will keep the fan from over spinning.

From the outside of the case we're going to blow into the rear fan, all around the external connectors and through the 5.25" bays and the front fan.

Now most of the dust has been dislodged, but some of it is still loose in the case.  We'll start back at the top and give everything a good once over.

That takes care of all the large collections for dust, but there is still a light coating on the surfaces.

To make it look its' best and improve cooling even more we can use the paper towels and 90% or higher isopropyl alcohol to clean most of the rest.

Just upend the bottle onto a folded paper towel and start wiping all the surfaces down. Stay away from the chips and capacitors with the paper towel.

If you want to do a complete cleaning job you can now use the cotton swabs to go after the smaller parts and tight spaces.

Once you have everything as clean as you want, you need to push in on all the data and power cables, add-on cards and memory.  They may have come loose while we cleaned.

You should clean your computer this way once every six to twelve months. If you have pets that shed a lot of fur or dander you really should do this every 3 months to keep your computer well ventilated.

Home PC Builder 2014

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