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Poll: How often do you clean out the inside of your PC?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / March 14, 2008 4:34 AM PDT
How often do you clean out the dust bunnies inside your computer?

Once a month (How much did you find?)
Once every few months (How much did you find?)
Once a year (How much did you find?)
Once every couple of years (How bad was it?)
Whenever I feel like it
Whenever I start to hear strange noises
Whenever I do hardware upgrades
Never have (Why have you never cleaned?)
I didn?t know bunnies could live in my computer

If do regularly clean out your computer's innards, share with us how you go about it.

Thanks!
-Lee
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DO NOT USE A VACUUM
by vpaul11 / March 14, 2008 12:33 PM PDT

When cleaning out your PC's dust bunnies, DO NOT use a vacuum. The static discharge from the air going through the vacuum hose will destroy components inside the case.

Don't say I didn't warn ya.

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What should I use to clean it?
by kitty900 / March 15, 2008 12:19 AM PDT
In reply to: DO NOT USE A VACUUM

I took a look at my 6 mo old Dell XPS, and the grates in the front are covered with dust. I am in a newly constructed house, and I am still collecting quite a bit of construction dust in my furnace filters. If I don't use a vacuum, how can I remove this? If I use canned air, it will blow it inside the case.

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Real clean is not neccessary
by LionsMike / March 15, 2008 2:24 AM PDT

You can blow the dust out of the cooling fins with a can of compressed air, and then pick up what ever dust you can (your computer should be shut off) If you remove 85% or 90% of the dust, you have eliminated 85% or 90% of your danger. there are lots of little tricks like a small battery operated computer vacume which might even pick up some of the dust but one of my favorites is a turkey baster which you can use to blow or to suck up dust. I have seen people blow with their breath which contains a great deal of moisture and other contaminants; that is not a good thing.

Just be careful and be gentle and don't be too fussy. Get out any heavy accumulation of dust.

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That's a confusing statement
by TreknologyNet / March 18, 2008 8:38 PM PDT

If you haven't opened the computer, and are sucking dust out of obvious filters, a vacuum cleaner is fine.

If you have opened the computer, then instead of squeezing into all the corners with the Kenny Everedge Krevice Nozzle, use a small clean/new paint brush to delicately flick the dust in the direction of the vacuum hose.

Dust is usually not a problem for me because I'm switching boxes and boards so often, the dust has no chance to settle.

One thing that should be maintained for cleanliness is any keyboard that rates in quality higher than "disposable".

If you're getting by with a 101 keyboard that doesn't have those pesky windows keys and is made with REAL switches (as opposed to a $6 dish sponge that doesn't let anyone build up a decent typing speed), you have a duty to keep it clean. If your computer is in a smoking household--no cigarette within 10 feet of the computer! I can make a small fortune recovering typist quality keyboards that have been filled with cigarette ash. Don't be afraid to run the normal vacuum over the top (not one of those USB things). If that suction is enough to lift keytops off your keyboard either it's clinically dead, or you're using a Karcher.

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It is easy to un-confuse
by LionsMike / March 19, 2008 12:07 AM PDT

I made the mistake of not making it clear once.

If you can remove 99% of the dust in a half hour, don't spend an additional 7, 8, or 12 hours trying to get out the last 1%. I had one friend who had his computer shut down for a couple of days while he attempted to get out every little particle of dust. I had to come and reassemble his computer for him because he thought that any dust was a problem. I was sure that within a few weeks it would accumulate more dust than was left after the first half hour of cleaning.

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suck up keyboard keys
by 583casper583 / March 22, 2008 10:23 AM PDT

I sucked up two keyboard keys with a vacuum about a week ago!
My vacuum cleaner is installed into the house so maybe because it was too powerful? My keyboard is fairly strong so I don't think its that.
The keys I sucked up are Screen lock and print screen, luckily I don't use these that often and they were from my secondary keyboard.
If I was to do it again I would put on the corner nozzle which is not big enough to let keys in.

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dust bunnies

I don't buy the idea that dust bunnies (or even the cat hair that's everywhere else in my office) can get inside my intel iMac. All the vents are on the bottom, which is several inches above the desktop. Does my computer suck it in like plankton? Or is this just another reason to be glad I don't have a PC?

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I don't smoke
by LionsMike / March 14, 2008 1:08 PM PDT

I am a non smoker and my house is heated with electricity. I do not leave my computer on 24/7, so I find that once a year is plenty. I also have two 80mm exhaust fans and one 80mm intake fan that do a great jub of cooling down inside of my 30 inch tall tower.

I have serviced computer in houses of smokers and advise them to open their case and clean out dust at least once every two months.

Your environment is probably the most important factor in the frequency of cleaning. Fireplaces, coal or wood stoves, forced hot air heat, living in a dusty neighborhood, smoking, or just an old dirty house will increase the amount of airborn dust and therefore the need to clean your computer more frequently. Some heatsinks are more prone to hold dust than others so you have to look closely at that factor also.

Air intake filters help to reduce the dust that gets inside your computer but they also reduce the the cool air that passes through your computer the three case fans in my tower assure that dust does not move slowly through my tower.

HEAT IS YOUR COMPUTERS WORST ENEMY so keep the air moving through and make sure that it is cooling your processor and your video processor. plugged heatsinks just don't cool as well.

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Secret Dust
by jmarkross / March 14, 2008 1:19 PM PDT
In reply to: I don't smoke

Many people who claim to know--say household dust is made up (over 50%) of sloughed off skin cells. The more people in your household the more dust--and real sizeable dust. It is worth consideration...especially with a number of small folks who they say shed more quickly. Old folks like me...I don't even leave fingerprints anymore!

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That Darn Cat(s)!!
by jmarkross / March 14, 2008 1:11 PM PDT

I have 2 female cats who must be on my large table I use as my Command Central. They shed, of course. The grates on my Dell Tower catch a lot of the hair--BUT--it mats in there, and is not all that visible. I use those rollers that use sticky masking tape as lint pickup vehicles. I use these first--and often. If your fan seems to run faster--this is a clue to blocked grates (vents?). If I do this...both front AND back...the inside seems to stay pretty clean. Using something sticky to grab the dust boogers avoids the horror of using a blast of anything that can mean disaster!

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On average every three months
by Dango517 / March 14, 2008 1:35 PM PDT

I monitor my system temperatures using SpeedFan software when I notice the temperatures climbing or remaining high I clean it out. The quantities of the materials I find are usually low but enough to effect the operation of the PC. In the Summer we might do it a bit more. I also filter the air flowing into the PC to keep dust out as long as possible. Furnace filter works well and can simply be cut and taped to the inlet openings.

Brief momentary stalls, hangs or crashes usually are indications of over heating. These occur most often after long term system operation or under demanding uses like gaming, scans, and I/O indexing of the hard drive. Check if dust is the problem first before moving on to more drastic and costly measures. Major crashes can occur with major dust clogging. If this is the trouble then the user is to blame and needs to do a better job of routine cleaning. How's your maintenance? Grin

Warning: opening the tower/laptop during the term of the warranty can void it. See the documentation that came with your computer for details or contact the machine's manufacture.

This thread is untracked

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I clean out the dust bunnies every few months.
by rosie82 / March 14, 2008 1:50 PM PDT

I clean out the dust bunnies from my PC every few months. I learned to do this many years ago when a PC I then owned kept overheating causing it to freak out and freeze up. The dust acts as insulation, not allowing heat to dissipate from the components properly. The fans get all dust covered and do not move enough air over heat sinks that are covered with dust and so forth. Chasing out the dust bunnies simply prolongs computer life.

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Once a month, only because of my boys. . .
by back_water_tech / March 14, 2008 1:58 PM PDT

I clean my pc's about once a month.

But I have two cats and they shed more than the vet tells me they should.

If you are a smoker, have little kids, or any pets, I would reccomend a monthly cleaning cycle.

I have heard that vacumes are bad, I've been working with PC's for years and I haven't had any problems. If you are worried about static, they sell cans of compressed air at most electronics stores (Wal-Mart also carries the cans)

Take the PC into the garage, take the covers off, and give it a good blow down. I personally use an air compressor (handy in the garage) and use a shop vac to get the trouble stuff off of the case.

I wouldn't reccomend using a vacume with a brush inside the case on the electronics. I haven't had any trouble, but there is a lot of static associated with vacumes. Silly

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YIKES!!!
by BridgetW / March 14, 2008 11:05 PM PDT

I had my last computer for 10 years (running win'98), and only a few months ago did I finally break down & buy an new one (and only because the other one was soooooo slow!). Anyway, during the 10 years, I only cleaned it out ONCE; when I added memory. I was reading this weeks current c-net question of the week (concerning a noisy computer) and it FINALLY occurred to me that's probably why my last computer was SOOOOO LOUD! So, that leads me to my question. HOW do I clean out the inside? Simply take off the cover and blow (I'd feel better about canned air; I'm afraid I'd suck out something I wasn't supposed to if I used a vaccume)? Another post warned about possibly voiding your warranty if opening the cover during the warranty period. Problem is, this is a smoking house on a dirt road with 2 dogs a few blocks from the beach (lots of sand). SO...I don't want to void my warranty, but waithing a couple of years before cleaning doesn't sound like such a great idea either. What would you do?
Thanks!
Bridget

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Warranties
by LionsMike / March 15, 2008 2:32 AM PDT
In reply to: YIKES!!!

I had completely forgotten about warranties. I don't know ho many computer manufacturers still void the warranty if you open the case, But if it is under warranty and it starts to run at all slower, use the warranty and let them clean out the dust. After the warranty expires, you will have nothing to loose.

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learned about dust bunnies the hard way
by sharee100 / March 14, 2008 2:00 PM PDT

My first computer (several years ago) needed servicing. I have a parrot. The computer was sitting on carpet. I received a call from the service tech saying that when he opened the computer feathers which had filled up the inside came flying out all over the store. He quickly went outside and finished emptying the case. Now I have an air purifier within 3 feet of the computer which is up off the floor in a room without carpet or birds. Recently I volunteered to do some upgrades on a neighbor's computer. When I opened her computer there was a mouse nest complete with plastic toys and food inside it (but no dust bunnies or mouse). My neighbor agreed that it was time to buy a new computer.

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Clean the house first, then the computer
by lingenfr / March 14, 2008 10:05 PM PDT

You and your neighbor have bigger problems than just your computer.

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The ultimate deterrent
by redking44 / March 14, 2008 2:16 PM PDT

Dust bunnies? ever since I installed a dust Doberman I've not seen a single dust bunny

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DUST COUGAR
by tjcher / March 14, 2008 10:18 PM PDT
In reply to: The ultimate deterrent

Somehow I inherited a "Dust Cougar", and since then the "Dust Doberman" has failed to function? In reality, I never clean the inside of my computers and have never experienced any problems whatsoever that relate to dust. My prior unit was an early edition Gateway that I used for 5 years without any problems. Currently I have a Dell Dimension that is about 4-5 years old and has never been opened up. A lot of folks do more damage than good when they attempt to clean the innards in an improper way.

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its different now
by tedtks / March 14, 2008 5:41 PM PDT

I used to do it whenever I changed something inside - maybe 2 or 3 times a year - quite the project, especially these days with the
cpu cooler fins and a dust depositor right above.

But - just in there today after 3 months - zip
when I built this current pc - I went with a full tower. added
4 120mm fans AND put filters over all the vents in the case
and over the fans. today I vacuumed off the filters. not even
a trace of dust inside. wonderfull!! :-)))

they make filters for house forced air vents about 4 inches wide
and 12 or so long and about 1/2 inch thich - easy to cut and I just
taped them every where air would get into the case.

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Little dust anymore.
by mattd241 / March 14, 2008 8:28 PM PDT

I used to have huge bunnies until I did a major upgrade to my PC. Besides all the hardware I added, I needed extra fans to keep it cool. I now have 6 fans total (3 intake, 3 exhaust) and all intakes have filters. My computer sits 12" off the floor in a "rack." The fans are all controllable with 4 temp monitors inside the case. When I change the filters, the inside of the PC gets a cleaning. I find very little dust.

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dustbunnies
by r61 / March 15, 2008 12:11 AM PDT

Probably one of the main problems with dust is that it accummulates on the blads of fans which will, in time, wear out the bearing of the fans and then the fan starts wobbling, cools less, causing more major problems.

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If your fan is in trouble
by LionsMike / March 15, 2008 2:55 AM PDT
In reply to: dustbunnies

fans do tend to get noisy as they wear out. If iot is loud or if you happen to break a blade while cleaning it is not a serious problem if you replace the fan.

Case fans are very standard 60mm, 80mm, and 120mm with standard bolting paterns. They are very inexpensive and very easy to replace. Some come with an extra lead for speed monitoring, but unless your computer is equiped for that don't bother. You can install lighted fans to jazz up your computer, but the lights are not vey bright.

Fans come in ball bearing, double ball bearing , and sleave bearing models. I have never sen any real data to proove to me that any one type is better. A more expensive fan might last a bit longer than a cheap one. $8 to $18 should buy you a good fan. $15 to $25 will get you one at your local parts store.

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About fans
by Dango517 / March 22, 2008 10:58 PM PDT

My CPU runs hot. These means that my system needs extra attention with cleaning and cooling. This problem also leads to extra fan noise. For some time I was "Three-In-One (TM)" oiling them. Currently I use a combination of 50% Vaseline (TM), 50% graphite this seams to be working well and has reduced the frequency of this additional maintenance task and the noise. The graphite "might" keep the bearing cooler. A cooler bearing will last longer.

If you consider adding this task to your routine maintenance these bearings can be accessed by removing the label or rubber/plastic plug on the back of your fans. Make sure you put the fan back on the way it came off. If the label can not be reapplied use tape to cover the bearing. Duct tape works well.

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13% never have
by cityshifter / March 15, 2008 5:12 AM PDT

As part of this group find it rather wandering to answer. Perhaps because have house and agenda full of things to do and go to. Or perhaps when find time to be on go thru several spam emails offering me mils to comply or the various fantasy teams i try to vie for somepart of a top 10 %. Or perhaps the several sites i try to construct and find several to be delinquent on updates due these and other reasons. Or perhaps think of it and just get lost on right approach and find perhaps adding that memory board might be needed just to find they must be done in double issue. Hmmm. rather tough question here, but perhaps the placement of tower is considerably tough to get to.

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I never clean dust bunnies.
by artya / March 15, 2008 7:53 AM PDT

Dust bunnies aren't allowed. If they aren't allowed and you bend just this once they'll take advantage of you.Don't let them in ,in the first place.Be firm but gentle. That's why I've never had them.Thank you.

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So do you live in a plastic bubble
by LionsMike / March 15, 2008 2:11 PM PDT

Dust bunnies are not allowed So just exactly how do you accomplish something that NASA certified cleanrooms are not able to accomplish with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment and very very strict control over access and egress.

Dust exists everywhere if a live mamal has been there dust is there.

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Dust bunnies,cat hair,etc.
by artya / March 15, 2008 9:13 AM PDT

If you go to the dollar store you can buy many colored dish cleaners that are matted and thin.These are open enough even to breathe. They can easily be placed in front of any opening with no problem.I even use these with a covering of charcoal fiber and place in oven fan and filter fan in bathroom. They are wonderful and thick enough to stop many small particles of stuff. Do it.

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No regular schedule here
by john3347 / March 15, 2008 3:19 PM PDT

I rarely go more than a year or so without updating something or other on my computer. After a year, in my computer environment, the insides look "pretty good" but I usually blow fan blades and general interior areas clear of dust because there might be a harmful accumulation before I have occasion to open the case again. Sometimes, I have a tight build-up right on the leading edges of the fan blades which I scrape loose with a toothpick prior to blowing out. I do not use unrestricted typical "air compressor pressures" (125 to 175 PSI). Something like about 35 PSI nozzle pressure is a good pressure. You do want to do this outdoors, too. I see a lot of people recommend vacuum cleaners for this cleaning operation, but I have not found them to be effective in removing the caked on dirt.

One note to those who have never seen a fan blade separate from excessive speed: DO NOT........I repeat DO NOT place an air nozzle real close to a fan blade and try to see how fast you can make it spin. Hold the fan blade from spinning with a Popsicle stick or similar item while blowing compressed air on it.

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How Ofter Do U Clean Your Computer?
by wwright69cu / March 15, 2008 6:13 PM PDT

Invest in a Whole house Air Purifier. My first Computer I had a Lot Of trouble with the Monitor collecting dust and i would have to wipe the moniter clean every couple of days. I purchased an Oreck Air Purifier and neven had to clean the moniter from dust again. Air Purifiers work.

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