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BN Editor
Posts: 546
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
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Regular Maintenance of Your PC

[ Edited ]

If you expect your PC to carry on working day in, day out over weeks, months and even years, you need to carry out some simple yet vitally important maintenance tasks.

Two tasks that are vital to carry out are dust busting and taking care of your hard drive.

Dust Busting

The dust busting process involves taking your PC apart and cleaning out the dust!

If you've had the system for some time and you are opening it for the first time, you are likely to discover a layer of dust -- much more than you would normally expect to find in a home. (Your TV and stereo will also collect similar levels of dust around them, but more than likely you'll be cleaning that away on a regular basis.)

Treat this carpet of dust with respect. If you have allergies, this type of dust is likely to aggravate them, so wear a dust mask (the kind sold in DIY stores for woodworking) and rubber gloves. (The thin "surgeon" style ones are the best because they offer excellent protection along with greater sensitivity in your fingers and a high level of manual dexterity.) Even if you aren't allergic to dust, reduce your exposure to it because it can cause skin irritation and sensitivity in many people. Avoid direct inhalation too because this can cause respiratory irritation. Make sure you wash exposed skin thoroughly after finishing or before eating or drinking.

Dust Busting Tools

  • Tools to get the case open.
  • ESD wrist strap.
  • Clean, lint-free cloths. Cotton is by far the best. Avoid synthetics as they increase the chances of ESD.
  • Vacuum cleaner. Find the crevice tool; it will be useful.
  • Can of compressed air. These are sold by office suppliers and in computer shops.
  • Dust sheet to lay over the work area to make cleanup easier (trust me, this is important).
  • Alternatively, clean your PC outdoors, if practical to do so and as long as it's free from wet, dirt, wind, pets etc.

The Cleaning Steps

Here are the steps for clearing your system of accumulated dust. These steps might seem long, involved, and complicated, but by doing the job this way, you do it right and keep the mess down to a minimum. The more often you clean your PC, the cleaner it will be and the less mess there will be.

Get everything you need for the job. Check that you have air in the compressed air can.

Protect your skin with rubber gloves (or barrier cream), and wear a dust mask.

Cover the work area with a dust sheet. Doing this now will save you a lot of effort cleaning up later.

Disconnect the system and open the case (taking all the necessary ESD precautions).

Wipe the bare metal surfaces with your cloths to pick up as much of the dust as you can. Remember to do the inside of the case lid too!

Now carefully use the compressed air to get into all the nooks and crannies in the system.

Clean the CPU fan (and any other small fans in the system) by giving them a short blast with the compressed air.

If the system has fans in the case, it is likely that they and the air intakes/exhausts are filthy. Remove the fans (either by squeezing the plastic body of the fans to detach them or unscrewing them from the case). Carefully give the fan blades a good wipe and clean the air holes in the case.

Now, using your compressed air, clean off the motherboard and other circuit boards. If the expansion cards are badly covered, remove them for cleaning with the compressed air.

Once you are happy with the job you've done (don't expect to be able to remove 100 percent of the dust on your first attempt), give the metal surfaces a final wipe down to pick up any escaped dust.

Reassemble the case.

Wrap up the dust sheet and clean up any escaped dust.

Wash your hands well.

Taking Care of Your Hard Drive

There are two kinds of errors that can affect the data on your hard drive: hard and soft.

Hard errors are caused by a hardware problem that affects the data. The most common reason for this kind of error is a physical error on the hard drive platters (the part where data is written to). These errors can mean the data either wasn't written to the platter properly or that an area on the platter has become unreadable since the data was written.

Either way, your data is lost, and the chances of recovery by using software are determined by the scope of the damage -- what part of the data was damaged and how big the damaged area is. Recovery might be possible if you send your drive to a company specializing in data recovery, but that is likely to be costly.

Hard drives showing any signs of hard errors need to be replaced with the utmost urgency. These kinds of damage do not get any better over time, only worse.

Soft errors are data errors caused by glitches in the software. Maybe the operating system crashed, or the program hung just as it was saving a file to the hard disk, or most commonly, you switched your PC off without shutting Windows down first (which you should never do). These kinds of problems can cause all manner of unpredictable soft errors on the hard drive. And there can be all sorts of side effects from this kind of problem too. Data can be lost (if writing the data to the disk was interrupted and it wasn't actually written to the disk, then it won't be recoverable), but also the file system itself can become compromised and damaged. Many of these problems are fixable using disk scanning and recovery software.


  1. Do you carry out regular PC maintenance? If so, what steps do you take?
  2. How often do you perform regular maintenance?

      Message Edited by BookClubEditor on 12-26-2006 02:01 PM

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