Not everyone thinks about this, but your computer gets dirty just like the rest of your house. Like most machines will tell you, a clean computer is a happy computer. That doesn't mean you can just wipe off the outer case of your PC and clean the screen on your monitor. Those tasks are fine to do but if you want to keep a computer happy, you'll need to go a little deeper inside. The cooling capacity of your computer is crucial to its health and performance. Additionally, a build up of dust within the sensitive components of your computer can actually leech performance every millisecond your system is operating.
You may want to start the project by taking a few digital pictures of your system from all sides. You may be detaching numerous cables and it's nice to have a diagram when it comes to putting things back together.Taking pictures of your system is a good idea anyway, in case of unforeseen mishaps leading to insurance claims. Take your pictures, print them out and then prepare to clean that computer
using the following outline.
The very first thing you should do is unplug your computer from its power source. Unplug both the PC and the monitor. You can get by without detaching anything else but the job is actually much easier if you remove all connecting cables. Move your PC to an open area on your desk or even to a larger table. You will want to be able to move the unit around some while you clean it.
Start by removing the outer case of the computer. The majority of units no longer have screws holding the case shroud in place and there should most likely be nothing extra attached to it. You may find that you'll need to set your computer on its side, or you may need to use a "lift and slide" motion to remove the outer casing but basically, your computer should open up quite easily.
Once you have the casing removed, start by cleaning the inside surfaces of it. You may want to take the casing away from your work area to clean it so dust from it doesn't fall onto your exposed computer components. Use a damp cloth to wipe the inside surfaces of the casing, no extra cleaners are needed. All you are doing is removing dust. You shouldn't encounter any actual residues while cleaning your machine. When the casing is cleaned to satisfaction, set it aside to dry.
To clean the sensitive components of your computer's interior, I recommend that you NEVER use compressed air, especially not the stuff that comes in spray cans. I'm sure that a hoard of geeks will flog me for that opinion but I have seen moisture come out of those cans one time too many, and moisture is one thing you absolutely do not want to spray into your computer guts.
I use my vacuum cleaner to clean computer interiors. Just a regular old vacuum cleaner with the slotted wand attachment. The vast majority of your computer interior is very durable and as long as you are careful not to strike anything hard, there should never be a problem. A soft bristled brush with two inch bristles will reach into the deeper crevices and help break loose any dust which the suction alone won't pull out.
Do a good job of cleaning the computer cooling fan. Remember that cooling is essential to the health and performance of your machine. Use the soft bristled brush to clean both sides of the fan blades. If your cooling fan is equipped with an air filter (rare in home computers), you will want to clean that also, possibly even by washing it in warm water. If you have a filter and you wash it, be certain it is completely dry before you replace it into the unit.
You may find that there are some stubborn deposits in various spots on you computers circuit boards. You may use a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol to gently scrub specific areas if needed. The key to this whole process is that you want no foreign material residing in between circuits which are supposed to be isolated from one another. You don't want dust or residue acting as a "jumper" between circuits.
Remember to clean all the cable plugins inside and out. Most plugs are sealed, so they shouldn't really have much dust in them. However, the USB connection on our machine tends to get very dusty inside because it is not sealed and air gets pulled into our computer through it.
Cleaning the optics on your exterior disc drives is important also but that goes beyond the scope of what we have examined here. When it comes to cleaning optical drives I recommend that you research the subject to find the products that work safely and effectively. You may wish to consult with our friends at Engadget
to get some tips about those.
Once you are satisfied that your computer interior is as clean as you want it, it's a simple matter to put your unit back together. Be sure that your outer casing is dry if you washed it and be very careful not to pinch any wires as you reassemble the machine. The whole cleaning job, from start to finish, should take no more than an hour to complete. Be sure to reattach all cables in the positions that you removed them from.
The chances are that from your desk chair, you won't notice any big change in your computer after you clean the inside of it. You may notice that it's a little bit quieter and you may notice that it seems to be just a bit snappier. The truth of the matter is, your computer really does enjoy being clean inside and after you clean it, if you look at it from just the right angle, there's an outside chance that you just might catch it smiling at you.