Computer Cleaning

I bought a new printer today. I came home to get it all set up, pulled out my computer, and I saw a film of dark yellow dust all over the things that look like vents in the back of it. I dusted it off and it seems like there is more dust on the inside, can I just unscrew the back of the computer to clean it off, or is there some other way ?

If you’re comfortable with it, open the side panel oft the case and give it a thorough dusting with some canned air. Pay special attention to the fans and the heatsink (big metal thing) on top of the processor. Unfortunately, the vent in the back is probably coming from the power supply, which you should never open, thus making cleaning more difficult.

Regular cleanings do wonders for component lifespans and stability…
Also important, don’t shove your computer in a restricted area. There must be free space for air to flow around all the fan inlets and exhausts, most notably in the front and direct rear.

I concur with FDISK. Just be careful about touching (with your body) components within the computer case - static electricity can be devastating to your comp. When I clean mine, I like to use a vacuum hose in conjunction with the canned air.

You might unplug the computer when you do so, as some canned air cans can drip a fluid, you do not want that to drop on a circuit board.

You can also use a brush.

  1. Definitely unplug. Always.
  2. Read the can of air label carefully. It will provide several important safety points. Hold upright, do not shake, short bursts. If you ignore these you can get an extremely chilly liquid coming out that can damage components, and more importantly, you.
  3. Holding a vacuum cleaner hose nearby while spraying works really well. (Cf. lukaspriest.)
  4. Pay particular attention to the fan and heatsink of your processor.

Now: This is a short term fix. In the long term you have to figure out why it got so dusty in the first place. Is it close to a furnace vent/return? Sitting directly on carpeting? Is there are a lot of airspace around it (so you are not blocking airflow)? Do you ever change your furnace filter? Etc.

I do use a small (1") brush when cleaning electronics and then spray. But I also tape over the metal band with electrical tape first. (And I always unplug first.)