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Tips on Physical Maintenance of your Computer


When looking for ways to increase performance on your computer, the most commonly overlooked aspect is that of physical maintenance.  Over time, if a computer is often used but rarely maintained, the system will slow down, and in extreme cases, will fail all together.  Basic physical maintenance will make your computer run longer, and faster.  Just like we need to perform maintenance by going to the dentist, changing the oil in our cars, watering flowers and more, we need to perform maintenance on our computers to keep them in top shape.

The most overlooked performance problem, by far, is the location and physical cleanliness of the computer and it’s surroundings.  Dust can (and will) get into computers, and when it does, it can slow down performance,  overheat components, cause system crashes and in extreme cases physical damage can occur to the hardware of your computer, including fires! But before you grab that duster and start opening up your computer, it is important to know that the components inside are delicate and do require a bit of special care.  Below is a list of components and proper cleaning instructions.

Monitor – A monitor will collect a few smudges and fingerprints in it’s lifetime.  If you are reading this blog there’s a good chance you’ve had to clean your screen at least once.   While this sounds very basic it is important to use the right cleaning supplies on monitors.  Regular commercial glass cleaners will destroy the anti-glare coating that comes on many monitors.  Use a glass cleaner that is designed to be safe on monitors and a soft cloth.  Always remember to unplug your monitor before spraying any liquid onto it.

Keyboard – Let’s face it, the keyboard is often the dirtiest part of a computer system.  The best way to clean a keyboard is to use compressed air to blow out debris from underneath the keys.  You can find compressed air at most stores where computers are sold.  Gravity also helps with this job if you hold the keyboard with the keys facing the ground while spraying the canned air.

Mouse – While the newer optical mouse does not require frequent maintenance the trackball variety will.  For a trackball style mouse, simply open the bottom of the mouse, remove the trackball and scrape off any lint or debris that gathers on the rollers inside the mouse.  Be careful when removing the lint and excess dirt from the mouse rollers not to place much pressure on them.  For a optical or laser variety mouse, a cotton swab dampened with distilled, denatured isopropyl alcohol will do the trick.

Connectors, contacts and wires – If you have a connector or cable that is in need of cleaning it is important that you do not use water.  Cleaning electronic components with water can lead to rust, corrosion, or other damage to the connector or the equipment you are connecting it to.  To clean an electronic contact, use a cotton swab that has been dampened in distilled, denatured isopropyl alcohol.  This is what you most commonly see labeled as ‘electronics cleaner’ in most stores.  Doing so will remove oxidization from the contacts.

Inside the computer case – Out of sight, out of mind! This is the most overlooked (and dangerous) place where dust and dirt can collect.   Too much dust will often cause slow performance, hardware failure, or even an electrical fire!  It is important to clean the inside of your computer case to maintain good computer performance.  To clean the inside of the computer, use compressed air.  Be warned, you may want to complete this chore outside depending on how long it has been since your last dusting!  Be careful not to touch any exposed components or circuitry while your computer case is open, as you may give your computer quite the shock.  Static electricity can easily destroy the delicate electrical components inside of your computer.  That being said, cleaning the inside of your computer should not require you to touch any of the components inside of it.

Once your computer is clean inside and out, it will not only appear more efficient,  but you may notice quite a boost in computer performance as well!

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