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A Guide to Physical PC Maintenance

To non-technicians, maintaining your PC may sound like an intimidating task. Nobody wants to accidentally damage their hardware or fumble around when they don’t know what they’re doing — but fortunately, after a PC has been built, keeping it maintained isn’t very difficult. This is a guide for keeping a desktop clean — when it comes to laptops, all you need to do is keep your screen nice and polished, and your keys and vents dusted to prevent overheating.

Let’s go over the aspects of physical PC maintenance.

Cleaning the keyboard

This should be easy.

To get rid of dust between keys, use a duster or a can of compressed air. There’s no need to pop keys out for this simple maintenance — but if you decide to clean beneath your keys, you’ll need to carefully pop them out so you don’t break the plastic and clips that make up the mechanism and use brushes and the can of compressed air to get out all the muck that’s gathered beneath your keys. If using an ultrabook or other laptop with the keys separate, do not take your keys out.

For other peripherals, a simple polish will do well. Remember not to use water or large amounts of liquid when cleaning your electronics, though.

A Guide to Physical PC Maintenance
An example of a microfiber cloth — don’t use the ones that look like bathroom towels.

Cleaning the monitor

Buy a screen-cleaning spray of your choice and purchase a microfiber cloth. It’s important that you use microfiber cloths to clean screens of all kinds, because other kinds of cloth can damage your screen at microscopic levels, especially tissue paper, which scratches it with the tiny pieces of wood that make it up.

Be gentle when cleaning your screen. Too much pressure can damage the glass or the components behind it.

A Guide to Physical PC Maintenance

Cleaning your computer

Case cleaning comes down to what you’d expect — stay away from the ports, and wipe/scrub the PC to whatever level happens to satisfy. Be sure not to use too much cleaning spray or too much force when at work, and once you’re ready to open up your case and get to the serious part of this tutorial, turn off your computer, unplug everything, including the power supply, and hold down the power button for three seconds to rid your computer of stray electricity.

To open your case, you’ll either need to use a screwdriver or a pre-existing handle — consult your manufacturer’s website to determine what exactly is required to open up your case.

Once inside, use your can of compressed air to clean each of your components. Don’t worry — since compressed air doesn’t contain any water, nothing will be damaged. Be sure to get every nook and cranny for dust, and not to touch any part of your computer with your bare hands. To clean specific components, make sure you have an antistatic wristband before removing them from their slots and using the compressed air to dust them. Only take this further step in maintenance if you know what these components are and how to reattach them — otherwise, skip it.

RAM sticks, hard drive casings and graphics cards are safe to remove and dust. Processors, power supplies and other components are not.

Pay special attention to the exhaust and fans — dust the fans using the compressed air and use a dry cloth or a duster to remove clogging dust from the exhaust.

After that, close up your computer and plug everything back in.

You’re back in business!

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