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Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist
Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist - PCSTATS
A medical primer for your computer, from dust bunnies to defragging, keep your computer in good health by giving it a yearly checkup!
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Jun 29 2007   M. Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Cleaning the inside of your PC

Static electricity, while not necessarily the constant danger to components that it is sometimes presented as, can still be a real threat to your system if you decide to start rubbing fabric over your motherboard to clean it. The same things goes with vacuuming. Just think, a plastic or rubber hose, static generated by the belt or motor, powerful suction. All of these spell possible disaster for your PC.

The safest way to spring clean the inside of your case is with a can of compressed air from your local computer, electronics or hardware store. Here's the procedure.

Assuming no fans need servicing, as covered above, carefully remove the CPU fan and heatsink. Using the compressed air, blow any standing dust from in-between the blades of the heatsink. Replace the heatsink.

For the next step, it's best to have the computer outside, or in an area that can be easily vacuumed afterwards, as cleaning with compressed air can generate a lot of loose dust and assorted airborne gunk.

Thoroughly clean the inside of the computer of all visible standing dust using the compressed air. Be sure to hold the can as close to vertical as possible to prevent unnecessary liquid spray. This is unlikely to harm your components though.

Be aware of your health too, since when you first let loose with the compressed air, you are going to create a huge cloud of nastiness which you want to avoid breathing in. Goggles might be a good idea here too. Generally speaking, you are simply trying to remove as much of the visible dust as possible.

Once you are finished, there's a neat little experiment you can pull with the rest of that compressed air can.... but nah.... you wouldn't be interested in that. ;-)

Once your computer is cleaned out and the fans seen to, there are a few other things you can and should do to help make the future a cleaner, brighter place for your system.

While you have your case open, it is also a good time to give the motherboard a close inspection for blown or leaking motherboard electrolytic capacitors. The tops of capacitors on some older motherboards may be domed, indicating a buildup of gas inside, or show signs of some brown liquid that has leaked out at the base of the capacitor. You can find more information on this issue here if needed.

Preventative maintenance

First of all, if your computer is on the floor under the desk, move it if at all possible. As stated before, "the higher the better" when it comes to keeping your computer clean. Next, give the inside of your computer a quick once over to make sure all components and connections are firmly and correctly attached.

Once you have assured yourself that everything is where it should be, it might be time to think about neatening your system up, especially the wiring. Good airflow is essential in a modern PC, and in addition to case fans, rearranging the wiring in your system can substantially improve airflow and prevent dust from settling.

Bundling your cables also has the side benefit of assuring that a stray wire is not going to foul up your heatsink fan at some point. Nothing especially complex needs to be done with this, just some plastic ties to bundle loose wire out of the way of the airflow. Drive cables, while too thick to be bundled, can be safely folded over themselves, or tucked out of the way in a free drive bay. If you are feeling especially decorative, cable tubes or even rounded drive cables should be readily available from your local computer store.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Annual PC Checkup Checklist
 Pg 2.  Cigarette Smoke and Computers
 Pg 3.  Cleaning and re-oiling fans.
 Pg 4.  — Cleaning the inside of your PC
 Pg 5.  Software solutions
 Pg 6.  Defragmenting the hard drive
 Pg 7.  Unnecessary startup programs
 Pg 8.  Disk cleanup utility

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