Spring cleaning a computer isn’t everyone's idea of fun but a little effort will pay dividends as your PC will be quieter and faster – and should last longer too
When talk turns to computer cleaning people often think of tidying the hard disk, perhaps by removing unwanted software before using a defragmentation tool to ensure that all the data is efficiently sorted and stored.
Occasional maintenance like this is sensible, of course, but it’s just as important to remember physical cleaning. Dust is the big enemy: it clogs up the cooling systems inside computers. Even if they escape damage, the PC’s fans have to work harder to keep internal components at safe temperatures, making the computer louder and more annoying.
If things get too hot, the computer can even slow down or – in extreme cases – parts may fail.
But that’s not all. Grubby displays can lead to eyestrain, while a dirty mouse can prove deeply frustrating when controlling the on-screen pointer. Much the same goes for gunged-up keyboards: sticky keys can make typing more difficult and, frankly, many keyboards are disgusting when viewed through another user’s eyes.
The good news is that keeping a PC spick and span isn’t difficult and needn’t take long – as long as you know what you are doing and take a structured approach. So read on for our guide to cleaning your computer from head to toe.
Tools of the trade
A key part of any spring-cleaning strategy is preparation – making sure you have everything necessary for the job before getting started.
Obviously there are all kinds of computer-related cleaning products and while some verge on the absurd – gloves with built-in cleaning-fluid dispenser, anyone? – we do recommend choosing your products carefully, as the wrong substances could damage your computer or its peripherals.
Computer monitors, for instance, should be cleaned with a specialist cleaning solution – or you risk damaging invisible screen coatings. We will explore these products in more detail later.
When it comes to removing dust, compressed air is your friend. A can shouldn’t cost more than £10 – Maplin has a section dedicated to computer cleaning.
If you follow our advice on cleaning the inside of a computer, you will also need a screwdriver to get it open – this will normally mean one with a Phillips (cross) head. We would also suggest using an anti-static wrist strap. This attaches you to something that is earthed, such as a radiator pipe or specialist three-pin plugs that have an exposed earth pin.
However, most of the time simply touching something earthed such as a bit of bare copper pipe is enough to remove all the dangerous static from your body – but remember that it can build up again soon enough.
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