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Spring Cleaning Tech Tips: Getting Down And Dirty With Dust

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – On this, the first day of spring — and all this week — we’re taking a look at spring cleaning for your computers and other electronics.

If the vents on your desktop look like a science project, it’s likely all that dust is really affecting your machine’s innards.

“After this happens, the fan speed is reduced, which in turns raises the temperature inside the computer,” and that can lead to big problems with fried components, says Josh Perri, the head tech at SATA Computer Repair in Norwood.

Get a can of compressed air from an office supply store. Unplug the desktop, unscrew the cover, and spray the power supply box, disc drives, and ports.

“The fans are the most important, because that’s what keeps the computer cool.”

Perri says to hold the can about six inches from the electronics and use short bursts of air, aiming the flow so dust is blown out, not in.

Laptops are trickier; newer models have panel access to the heatsink, where dust buildup can be fatal to a system.

Experts at Microsoft recommend setting the (powered down) computer upside down on a table, removing the battery, and unscrewing the panel that groups together the vents.  Carefully spray compressed air inside.

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More from Ian Bush
  • goperri

    The use of canned air is a much safer method of cleaning inside the computer.

  • goperri

    Vacuuming inside a computer is said to be a no-no due to magnetic issues. At least that’s what the professor’s at Drexel taught. I’m not saying I’ve never resorted to using a vacuum, but it’s a risky practice because anything magnetic is taboo to computers.

    • Ken Schulz

      How can a vacuum cleaner accessory hose be magnetic? Evidently, the professor hasn’t had to deal with cleaning computer cases, etc. -KS

      • goperri

        To quote: “It’s bad to clean the inside of your computer with a vacuum cleaner because vacuuming creates a large static build up that could (and most likely will) discharge into the sensitive electronics inside your computer case. There are specialized vacuum cleaners designed for cleaning out computers and electronic equipment but given the limited amount of use a single user would get from such a purchase it’s not a very wise one—they start at $300+ and can easily break the $1000 price barrier.” That’s how.

  • Spring Cleaning Tech Tips: Your Hard Drive and Startup Folder « CBS Philly

    […] PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — All this week, we’re taking a look at “spring cleaning” your personal computer and other technological devices (see previous report: “Dust”). […]

  • Mike

    Great Tips!

  • Kenn Schulz

    Compressed air is not the efficient way to clean the inside of a computer. This only blows the dust around. The best way is to use a vacuum cleaner accessory hose (with crevice tool) and maybe a small, soft makeup brush. Just remember to prevent static electricity by touching the computer case with your hand. if you must use compressed air, do not shake the can or it will leave a residue on surfaces. -KS

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