Computer Maintainence

Want to add years to the life of your computer? Put into practice these tips on computer maintenance and your machine will serve you well for years to come!

Most PC owners today think their computers are disposable. When it breaks down, most people end up replacing it for a newer (more expensive) model.

By understanding what makes computers break down, you can add years to the life of your system.

The greatest enemy to your computer is heat. It causes the internal components and chips to wear out. Heat also lowers the performance of your system.

The first thing to check is the ventilation around your system. Many of the standard computer desks force you to place your computer in an enclosed cabinet. If your system is in an enclosed space, cut a hole in the back of the cabinet behind your cooling fan. This will allow it to draw cool air into the system. Your system should have at least 4in of space to the rear, with no clutter, loose paper, etc., to block the flow of air into the computer.

Make sure the top and rear of your monitor are also kept clean and clear of debris. Do not put paper, books, boxes, etc. on top of your monitor. You will notice ventilation slots in the top of the monitor case. This allows the excess heat to escape. If that heat is not released, you can cause excess wear to your monitor's internal electronics. This can create color shifting, screen flicker, and failure.

The second thing you can do, is to clean the dust from the inside surfaces of your system. Do this at least twice a year and your monitor once every 2 years.

Think of dust as a blanket, which keeps the chips of your components nice and hot. The more dust, the hotter they get. How much dust is too much? How about .005 millimeters, or enough to barely see! That small an amount can raise the internal temperature of your components by 5%. Doesn't sound like much? It is enough to shorten the life of your system by years.

The easiest way to clean the inside of your system is to use a vacuum cleaner hose. After you get all the dust you can that way, use a can of compressed air. You can pick that up from any Radio Shack. Spray all the nooks and cranny's. Then blow the area around the system as well, to get rid of the flying dust. Then wait 5 minutes for the dust to settle and do it again, briefly.

Make sure that you clean the blades of the cooling fans. Clean the power supply fan, the CPU's cooling fan and the case fan (if you have one) as well. If you don't have a CPU cooling fan (some early Pentium's didn't come with them) then get one. They cost $5-$10, and plug into the power cords for your floppy drives.

That can of air will come in handy cleaning the keyboard as well. Vacuum first, and then blow the remainder out. Be careful to never spill any liquids into your keyboard, and with regular cleaning, you will add years to the life of your keyboard as well. If your children use your computer, consider going to the office supply and getting a keyboard cover. You can take it off for yourself, but it will keep any accidents from banning your children from your computer.

What I am about to tell you, can keep you from replacing your hard drive every 2 years (or less!).

First, hard drives were designed to be mounted flat. You can't turn a hard drive on its side, and expect the bearing to last more than a couple of years. In 90% of the replacements on computers under two years old, the hard drive has been mounted on its side, usually for space considerations. This puts excess pressure on a small part of the bearings of the hard drive. By mounting the unit flat, the weight of the disk in the hard drive is distributed evenly over the entire surface of the bearing. This reduces the wear on the unit, and promotes long life.

Second, when HD's are placed above other heat generating devices or are sandwiched in between various parts without any circulation room, they fail more often.

Remember that your hard drive has a motor and moving parts. All of which generate heat. The more room your system has to circulate the heat, the better your system will run. The easier the excess heat can be vacated from the system, the longer it will last.

Check to see that your hard drive is mounted flat. All you will need to open up your system's case is a Phillips head screwdriver (the plus sign tip) and sometimes a standard screwdriver. If you find that your hard drive is mounted on it's side, check to see of you have some spaces available under the floppy drives and CD-ROM. If you need to move the other drives up, that's ok.

Today's computers all use modular components, socketed cables and power cords. They are very easy to work on. If you are careful, there is little chance you will damage your system. Never force anything! Also, if it's winter, remember to touch a doorknob to discharge any static you may have built up. If you don't feel comfortable doing this work yourself, go to your local library or bookstore. There are all kinds of books available that can guide you through the remounting process. It's not rocket science! If you can turn a screwdriver, you can clean, repair and maintain your system.

Last, if you have a vent designed for a case fan, by all means get one! They are cheap at $10 and can add years to the life of your system.

Allow your computer room to breathe, and keep it clean inside, and it will be around for many years to come.

© High Speed Ventures 2010