Don't Bite the Dust

Stephen Yagielowicz
If your computer tower sits on the floor of your home or office, it is constantly circulating air in a contained area. Dust builds up on every surface and clogs fans, which in turn can cause your computer to overheat and crash.

What do you do? Simple — you clean house.

Follow these simple steps and you will improve your computer's cooling ability and extend the lifetime of its power source and processor.

1. Unhook your tower and take it outside to a garage or similar space (don't do this indoors; you'll get dust everywhere).

2. Place the tower on a steady surface and open the tower. Try not to touch anything inside the tower, but if you have to, touch a metal surface beforehand; this will discharge any static electricity built up on you.

3. It is better to vacuum out the dust than to blow it out with canned air. Contrary to popular thought, canned air is not dry. If you do not have a computer vacuum, canned air is OK. Hold the can level when spraying and be mindful of the motherboard and other surfaces bearing important-looking microchips.

4. Gently go over all the nooks and crannies of the tower. Pass over the boards, but do not touch them with the vacuum (there are wonderful computer vacuums for sale at a very cheap price). Vacuum all fans and be sure they spin easily. If they don't, you may want to replace them.

5. Replace the tower cover. Done.

Some other ideas:

· If your tower sits on the floor, buy a stand. This gets the computer off the floor and away from the carpet and pets.

· Computer covers sound like a great idea but really don't do much. If you shut down your computer a lot — at night, say — go ahead and get a cover to put over it at night. But if you leave your computer on all the time, don't bother. Computers are breathing entities when they are on; this is when they inhale debris.