Computer Cleaning – How To Think About Tackling The Task

If cleanliness is next to godliness... then we computer users are an irreverent lot!

That's the considered opinion of many computer cleaning, maintenance and repair specialists.

"Computers are a magnet to dirt; they can suck in dust from the air and major parts that need to be kept cool get coated with it. The result is overheating and poor performance, data loss, or even system breakdowns"

"There is a common misconception among individual and corporate computer users that their machines are indestructible. They don't realize that dust residues, skin oils and adverse environmental conditions do a lot of harm" to sensitive electronics and plastic materials.

Experts agree that simple cleanliness and regular maintenance can mean longer, trouble-free life for computers, peripherals, and other office machines. It doesn't require a lot of time or money, either. All it takes is perhaps an hour of your time, a vacuum cleaner, CD and disk drive cleaners, compressed air duster, brushes, swabs, plus cleaning products available at most large computer and office supply stores, or via mail order.

Never use ammonia-based or abrasive household cleaning products on your computers or other office equipment!

Start your cleanup by shutting off power. Dust computer system and work surfaces, including under the monitor, keyboard, printer, etc. Vacuum around the work area. Vacuum vents on the computer case and all peripherals. Remove the case cover and ground yourself by touching the metal computer chassis or, even better, wear a grounding strap. Blow out all debris from inside the case with a compressed air duster, being careful not to damage any of the wiring or electronic components. Concentrate on the vents, fan(s), power supply, diskette and CD-ROM drive openings. Use long cotton swabs to get into crevices.

Replace case cover. Unplug your keyboard, turn it upside down and shake gently, then use a keyboard brush to clean between the keys.

Remove screws that hold on the bottom and blow out dust and debris from the innards with an air duster. Replace the back. Follow a similar procedure with your mouse or trackball, except that you should use swabs and a power cleaner made for the job to clean the ball and positioning rollers.

Clean your printer, too. Follow directions in your User Manual because different types of printers require different care.

Now that the insides are clean, go over the exteriors. A cleaning product like power cleaner should not be sprayed directly on surfaces. Spray it on a cleaning cloth, wipe on, then wipe off. Stubborn stains may require a second application. Use a drive cleaner disk to clean floppy and CD-ROM heads every three to six months, depending on system usage.

Finally, make sure there are no kinks in cables and cords, and that all plugs and connectors are still properly seated after being disturbed during the cleaning process...

Computers used in homes with pets may need special care, because fur from the animals can build up on or inside air intakes. This can create serious overheating in a hurry! One technician told me of a customer who had a Border Collie that curled up at her feet while she used her computer. "She thought it was cute, until one day her system acted up and she called me in to see what was wrong. As soon as I pulled the mid-tower case out from under her desk I could see the problem. Dog hair had been sucked into the case and was clogging both the air intake areas and the fan cage! I cleaned it out well and everything was fine. She had called me soon enough to permanent damage, though her CPU's life might have been shortened by a few months." Keep this in mind if you have a pet. Keep it out of your computer room and check your system regularly to be sure they are free of fur or hair balls.

Keeping your system clean takes only a few hours a year, but could add years to its life.

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