Dust is all around us. It is in your car, your house, in the air outside; there is no escaping dust. Check under a piece of furniture that hasn’t been moved in a long time, there will be a thick layer of dust coating the floor. This same principal stands true for your computer; if left for too long, dust can completely coat the insides. Most people assume the insides of a computer will be fine because they are covered; as long as the PC works, there’s no need to open it up. Unfortunately, dust can still accumulate inside of a computer and while it may seem like there are no immediate problems, dust can do serious damage to a PC, if left unchecked. We’ll look at some negative effects of dust in a PC, and offer some tips to help maintain a clean and healthy PC.
What Does Dust Do?
So what does dust do besides make everything look old and nasty? Dust works as an insulator: it keeps heat in and doesn’t let it out. Dust can affect a PC in many negative ways. In a best case scenario, your computer may operate louder and slower. In a worst case scenario, the intense heat can cause electrical shorts that will require purchasing new parts. Dust can even choke up and slow down fans, leading to more heat issues. A fan covered in grime will have a hard time spinning easily and will have to compensate by spinning faster and thus, making more noise. Sure signs of a choked fan include louder than usual, higher than usual temperatures, and slower computer operation.
Recognizing and Fixing a Dusty PC
So how can you tell if you have a dirty computer without opening it up?
- Are the fans louder than they usually are?
- Is the computer running slower or even crashing on occasion?
- Does the outside of the box feel hotter than it usually does?
These are the most common signs of a dirty computer and should let you know if you need to clean the inside. But how can you clean the computer?
- NEVER use a soaked/dripping rag. Water will do more damage to a PC than grime ever will.
- A can of compressed air is a quick and easy fix. Try to blow out the fans and get the nooks and crannies inside of the PC. Don’t keep it trained on one spot for too long and don’t use it too closely; this can cause damage to some parts.
- For major cases, you can use a hand vacuum, but be careful. Alternatively, you can take the computer outside and blow it out with an air compressor. Again, be very careful shooting strong air into a computer, this could potentially damage the components.
Cleaning a PC is a delicate process and should be handled by a professional if you are not confident with your skills.