Twinbytes – Computer Repair Tip #1 – Physically clean your computer

This will be the first of many simple computer repair tips to help the average person prevent their computer from having problems, and also to repair certain problems on their computer.

Dust is one of the major problems of computers slowing down, freezing and dying.  If your computer is in a dusty environment, you should clean it more often.  There are vents on the back and almost always on one side, and sometimes both sides, and occassionally on the front too.  These vents are critcial for air flow which takes in cool air from outside the case and brings it into the computer to cool the components and blows the hot air out.  That’s another story, but the computer needs to have the temperature of the room cool too, otherwise it’s just bringing in warm air which doesn’t help much.  Cooler is always better, but there is such as thing as too cold!

Anyway, you can use a non static cloth to wipe dust off the computer, but be sure it’s turned off first just incase you shock it and it turns off.  To give you an example of static, if you were to walk around in your socks on carpet floor, and then touch the metal part of your computer on the back, not only would you get the stock of your life! but you would also possibly blow up your computer!  That’s why computers have plastic casing around the front and sides.  Metal is only exposed at the back.

You can buy a can of compressd air from any electronics store or any store that sells computers.  They’re about $10 and works great for a few uses before it runs out of air pressure.  NEVER, and I mean NEVER use a traditional household vaccum cleaner to clean your computer!  These vaccums have tons of static electricity build up around the end of the hose and will totally destroy your computer.  If you have a lot of computers to clean and you clean them on a regular basis, like I do being a computer repair technician, you can purchase a computer vacuum for about the price of a dozen cans of compressed air.  So, you can bet on getting your monies worth based on how fast you go through cans normally.  Afterwards, you’ll be saving 100% of that money.

To avoid costly computer repairs, be sure to ground yourself properly before opening the computer and getting your hands inside there.  While cleaning your computer, clean all vents on the outside, all visible dust inside, especially around all fans, heat sync’s, and the hard drive.  Since the hard drive has all your data on it, you don’t want it to die from overheating because a layer of dust is sitting on it.

Vacuum first as much as you can, then blow the rest of the fine dust out with the blower function.  With compressed air, all you can do is blow it out.  Either way, you’ll get good results.

Daniel Gauthier is a computer repair technician with Twinbytes Inc and is considered the local computer expert in Markham, Ontario