Caring for your computer hardware today will go a long way towards extending its life. I’d like to share with you some easy things you can do to keep your computer running in top form.
1. Many of the computer desks available today have a closed cabinet for you to place your computer in. Computers need circulating air to keep them from overheating. I recently replaced a video card that got too hot and blew some capacitors because it was in a closed cabinet. If possible try to put your computer out in the open and up off the ground. Also the environment should be moisture, smoke and dust free if possible.
2. I’m often asked if it’s better to leave a computer left on or shut it down when you’re done until the next time you need it. If you use your computer daily it’s best to leave it on. Every time you have to cold start your computer it causes stress to the electrical components. Leaving your computer on is better for it but make sure you’re using the energy saving features that turn off your monitor and hard drives after a set amount of time. I don’t recommend the Windows hibernate feature though. Also insure your computer is plugged into a surge protector and that you’re using a firewall if you have a broadband connection. The Windows firewall is sufficient, Comodo’s free firewall is even better.
3. Dust inside the computer case can plug fans and coat components causing your computer to work extra hard and overheat. I worked on a computer recently that the fans were literally plugged with dust and debris. The extra stress and heat caused three blown transistors right next to the processor and a fourth was bulging. The life of this computer has been cut short due to too much dust. Once a year I make it a point to clean up the inside of my computers. I also clean the inside of every computer I fix.
Here’s how to do it:
- A. Shut down the computer and unplug it.
- B. Open the case. Usually it’s as easy as removing two screws in the back of the computer or pushing a latch. See the documentation that came with your computer if you’re not sure how to open the case.
- C. There’s a huge debate about whether you should use a vacuum or not since vacuums can create static electricity which can cause permanent damage to the computer. Everyone agrees though that using compressed air is OK to use as long as you keep the can upright. If you tip the can it starts blowing moisture and can even freeze components in the computer.
I’ve always used a combination of compressed air and a vacuum. You might want to do this outside or in the garage if you don’t want a bunch of dust blown into your house. I usually just hold the computer hose outside the case and blow the compressed air to dislodge the dust. If the computer is really dirty and you can see that the fans/heat-sinks are plugged and components are coated with dust you can carefully use a small paintbrush and/or these great, inexpensive vacuum micro attachments. Personally I would never purchase the special vacuums created specifically for vacuuming out computers because most of them get bad reviews.
4. While the computer is still unplugged, close the case and take a slightly damp rag and wipe down the exterior of the computer. I usually wait at least a couple hours after doing step 3 and 4 before I plug in and turn on the computer.
5. Next I unplug and clean the monitor. It’s very important that you don’t just start spraying Windex on your screen. LCD screens used on laptops and flat screens can be ruined using abrasive cleaners. Personally, I use Monster ScreenClean Display Cleaning Kit that includes a reusable MicroFiber cloth to clean any type of screen. Don’t spray the screen, spray the cloth then wipe the screen gently. You can find other screen cleaning options in your owner’s manual or a quick Google search.
6. You’ll also want to clean your keyboard. I usually just turn the keyboard over and shake it out then use compressed air to blow the dust out.
Following these simple and inexpensive steps to keep your computer hardware clean will extend its life and save you money in the long run so get started today!