Cleaning the inside of your computer

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Electronic devices, particularly ones with fans, attract a lot of static dust, hair and anything else small that can be statically charged. Computers are notorious for attracting a lot of dust.  This dust build up could cause many heat related problems with parts in your computer including the power supply, CPU, video cards and memory modules.  I have even seen the main system motherboard’s life shorten because of overheating.

The problem is the computer is usually under a desk, in a cabinet or somewhere else out of sight and over the years the dust can really build up so this is a short tutorial on cleaning the inside of your computer.

There are some tutorials out there that tells you that you need alcohol and Q-tips to clean fans and memory modules and if you need that level of cleaning they are great tutorials.  For this tutorial all you need is a can of compressed air so let’s get started.

First thing we recommend you do is backup your computer.  External hard drives are inexpensive and recommended if you don’t have cloud backup.   We offer cloud based backup to our customers so if you need backup call us at 908-444-6317.  We recommend you remove the computer from the house so unplug the power cord from the rear of the computer.

 
Next, remove any USB cables connected to your computer like printers or external backup drives.  I sometimes like to put a color coded mark on the port and cable if there are a lot of external devices.  It sometimes helps with driver installs if they are replaced in the same port as they are removed.

Take the computer outside because there may be a lot of dust so wear a dust mask if you have one.

Open the computer.  Most modern computers are fairly easy to open by removing a screw or pulling a release to open the side of the computer.
 
Looking at the computer once it is opened you should see something similar to the picture below.  Keep in mind this is a full desktop so if you have a mini desktop or an all-in-one it may look different but you should be able to identify the parts.

Ok, using your compressed air start by blowing air into the power supply from the rear of the computer. I find it best sometimes to shake the can as I do this.

Look for any grills and other fans in the front and rear of the computer and use the air on these as well.

Next I suggest the CPU and it’s heatsink and fan. On most computers it may look similar to the pictures below.
 
 
Use your judgement on  the rest of the system.  Most video cards have fans which may need to be cleaned.  Most computers the card is built-in so continue using the compressed air to remove as much of the dust as possible.  That’s it.  Take the computer back inside, replace the cover , plug in the USB cables, plug in the power cord and power up the computer.