Dust the enemy to your PC

One of the worst things for your computer is dust.  It coats everything with a thermal insulating layer that traps heat in and it will clog the fans restricting much-needed air flow causing systems errors and ultimately component failure.  It is vital for your system’s health that you periodically OPEN it up and using compressed air, blow the dust OUT of your system.

You will want to do this when your system is cool.  Shutdown your computer and allow it to sit for at least ½ hour.  This is a safety step, compressed air is cold, and though it is unlikely it is possible that rapid cooling of a hot component may cause damage.

On a desktop system you will want to follow the following steps:

  1. 1.       Unplug your computer and move it to a flat work surface such as a desk or table top.
    (If you are not sure where each cable goes, you need to make them before unplugging them.  If your system is in a position that I hard to access, you might want to invite a more knowledgeable friend over to help.)
  2. 2.       Remove the side access cover.
    (On most modern computers this will be the left side when facing the front of the computers.  In most cases there will be thumb screws to make removal easier.  Check your system manual for more information if needed.)
  3. Once open you will see vents on the front, possibly on the sides, as well as on the power supply.
    (The power supply is a silver box inside your computer normally located at the back top side of the computer.)
    Using compressed air give the internal of your computer a general blowing out, look for dust bunnies, or places where dust seems to have accumulated.
  4. 4.       Blow out all the vents from the inside of the computer.
    (Normal air flow pulls air in from the vents and out through the power supply.)
  5. Most new computers have either a cooling fan on the CPU or a large heat sink.  You don’t need to know what the CPU is, just look for a large green board that everything seems to attach to.  Look over the board for a large metal fin (like a car radiator) or fan this is most likely the CPU.
    (DO NOT attempt to remove the CPU)
    Using compressed air blow the dust out of the CPU cooling fan/fin, blowing back and forth over the area until you notice that dust is no longer being blown out.
  6. In most cases the biggest accumulation of dust will be inside the power supply.  Blowing from inside the computer move back and forth over the vents (openings) in the inside of the power supply.  In most cases you will notice a large amount of dust exiting the rear of the computer.  Once the air seems to clear I like to reverse the blow, blowing from the back of the computer into the power supply and then after a minute or so go back to blowing from the inside.  This will help to loosen any dust inside the power supply, and its fan.
  7. Now button it back up and reconnect the cables on the back of the computer.

While blowing out your computer you may have noticed the formation of ice.  By it’s nature compressed air is cold and will condense the water vapor in the air causing it to collect here you are blowing.  This ice should melt rapidly and have no effect on your computer (as long as it is not turned on.)  However, water is an enemy to electronics, so I recommend letting your computer sit for a few minutes before turning it back on.  In most cases, the time it takes to put it back together and plug it in should be fine but to be safe you might want to wait at least 15 minutes from the time you stop blowing to the time you turn it back on.

That’s it, you are done, power your system back up and enjoy your now healthier computers.

If your computer is a laptop, I do not recommend taking the cover off, there are too many things that can go wrong.  In most cases I just turn mine off and allow it to cool down.  On most laptops it is easy to find the vents, they are mostly on the side near the rear of the computers.  Using a can of compressed air just blow this area out as best as you can and then allow a few minutes before turning your system back on.

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