Computer Maintenance: The Things You Can Do Yourself

We know that not everyone is imbued with confidence when it comes to using computers, let alone maintaining them.  Maintaining a computer well can extend the computer’s lifespan, however, this may be outside of the comfort zone of many computer users, so many people neglect their computer care at the expense of their hardware.  We’re listing a few simple ways to keep your computer in good condition and working well.

 

Keep it Clean

For Laptops

A surprising but frequent problem laptop users may have is food getting into the computer.  Many laptop users use their computer while eating, cooking, or keep their laptop located on the kitchen bench for easy access.  When you’re eating and using your laptop at the same time, crumbs can spill into your computer and cause problems including corrosion, overheating, and even ants!  Keep your computer away from your food wherever possible.  If you do get crumbs inside your laptop, WikiHow has a great step-by-step article on how to clean the keyboard of your laptop: https://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Laptop-Keyboard

 

Liquid spills are a whole other ballgame in terms of the destruction they can cause.  If you spill a liquid onto your laptop, you may be able to save it if you act quickly.  Here’s what to do:

  • Stop using the laptop and turn it off immediately – press the power button, don’t waste time with shutting down properly
  • Unplug any power sources and other connections to your laptop
  • Wipe up any visible liquid from the laptop with paper towel (or other absorbent material)
  • Place the laptop upside down and open with the keyboard and screen facing down over a towel (this may help to move any liquids off the internal components)
  • Turn on a pedestal fan and angle it at the liquid affected sections of the laptop (air circulation is important to help dry out the laptop)
  • Leave the laptop in this position with the pedestal fan on for as long as you can, we recommend 24 hours. This is important, as the liquid can soak into components more than you might assume.
  • After the 24 hour waiting period, take the laptop in for repairs and explain the liquid spill situation before the technician turns the laptop on. The repair technician will be able to remove and clean the individual components to avoid corrosion.  They may recommend replacing the battery, which is usually necessary if the battery may have been affected by the spill.

 

For Desktop Units

Because desktop units are generally kept in the same position for a long time, dust getting into the computer can become a major issue.  Dust can cause your computer’s fan to perform poorly, and your computer may overheat as a result.  This article from How to Geek details step-by-step instructions on how to clean out the dust from your desktop unit: https://www.howtogeek.com/72716/how-to-thoroughly-clean-your-dirty-desktop-computer/.  We know it may be tempting to use a vacuum cleaner or dust buster to blow out the dust, but this could result in static charge build up destroying the components, so we don’t recommend this at all.  Many people have used vacuum cleaners and dust busters successfully, however the risk is always present, so it is certainly better to clean your dusty computer using safer methods.

 

Environmental Controls

Controlling the environment that your computer resides in is extremely important for the health and longevity of the computer.  To begin with, keep your computer in a clean, dry, temperature-controlled environment, as moisture can cause serious damage including swelling the battery inside a laptop and corrosion of internal components.  Never place any computer outside, computers were not designed to withstand the elements.

 

If the computer is placed on the floor then carpet particles, hair (as well as pet hair), and dust particles can get in.  Place the computer in a secure location above the floor.

 

Placing your computer in direct sunlight should be avoided as it can result in overheating your computer and damaging the components as well as swelling the battery.  Your keyboard will be alright in sunlight, but your monitor may be damaged as most monitors aren’t designed to withstand UV exposure.  Here’s how to tell if your computer is overheating:

  • Your computer feels hot to the touch
  • Your computer’s fan is running fast / working very hard, you will hear it struggling
  • Your computer is performing tasks very slowly
  • Lines are appearing across the screen (the graphics / video card overheating)

If you think that your computer may be overheating, you should turn it off immediately.  Place the computer in a cooler, well ventilated location if possible.  Wait until the computer has completely cooled down prior to turning it on again.

 

Most newer computers have solid state drives that won’t be too affected by bumps and vibrations, but many older computers have a hard disk drive that can corrupt if exposed to too much movement or sudden shocks.  Position your computer in a safe place where it is unlikely to be bumped or knocked off a desk and won’t be exposed to vibration.  A stable home environment is just as important for computers as it is for people!

 

Additionally, keep your computer away from magnets and microwaves.  Magnets can destroy hard disk drives, and microwaves can interfere with wireless internet connection (this means keep your internet router and modem away from your microwave also).

 

Cables and Connections

Finally, ensure that the cables connected to your computer are in good condition, or your computer could be short circuited.  Even worse, you could be electrocuted.  Additionally, don’t use too many extension cables to connect to a power-point, it is better to buy a longer cable than to use multiple, to avoid power fluctuations and unstable power supply.  To protect your computer from power surges, you will need to ensure that you are plugged in to a surge-protected power-point or purchase a surge protected motherboard.  If a power surge occurs and your computer is plugged in, it could be destroyed.

 

Additional Steps

Once you’ve cleaned out your computer and it is shining like new again, you can continue your clean up blitz by moving on to optimising performance and cleaning up your software.  For more information about cleaning up your computer and optimising performance, view our other article “How to Clean Up Your Computer!” here: https://aboutnetworks.com.au/2018/09/13/how-to-clean-up-your-computer/

 

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