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Essential Computer Hardware Maintenance

Computer maintenance takes almost no time. That said, skip it at your own risk—you don’t want to have to replace overheated computer components because you forgot to dust.

Fight Dust

Frequency: once a month or so.

Dust is actually a major problem for computers. It can clog up the cooling fans, eventually overheating your system. Fun fact: IT people trade pictures of the dustiest PCs they encounter.

Don’t let this be you. In fact, it’s very easy to keep a dust-free PC. You just need a bottle of compressed air, which costs about ten dollars at most office supply stores. When your computer is turned off and unplugged, remove the case lid and use your compressed air to blow dust off the fan and away from your computer. Keep in mind: it’s best to keep your computer on a clean, flat surface.

Clean Your Keys

Frequency: once every two months, as needed.

You’ve probably heard that keyboards are dirtier than toilet seats. Well, they don’t have to be. You just need to clean yours ever so often. First, shut down your computer and, if possible, unplug your keyboard. Break out your old friend, the compressed air, and use it to remove the dust from your keyboard. It helps to tilt your keyboard.

Next, you need cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol. That is, rubbing alcohol. Don’t ever use water.

Use the cotton swabs to rub a little bit of the isopropyl alcohol onto your keys. You can test a small amount first, to be sure that it won’t discolour your keys.

The object here is to clean oils and whatever else is dirtying your keyboard using the isopropyl alcohol. Be sure to hit highly used areas like the spacebar.

When you’re done, use a dry, lint-free cloth to clean your keys.

Important note: isopropyl alcohol evaporates quickly. That’s what makes it a good keyboard cleaner. You still should use very little, though.

Clean Your Monitor

Frequency: as needed.

In an ideal world, you don’t touch your monitor and no one else does either. You only ever need to dust your monitor every once and a while.

If you don’t live in this world, get some screen cleaner and a microfiber cloth. Aside from not leaving streaks, it won’t scratch your screen, which is the real danger.

Corral Your Cables

Frequency: once a year or so.

If you look at the cable area behind your computer and think “rat’s nest”, then it’s time for some serious organising. Chances are, you have printers, scanners, cameras, external hard drives, microphones, speakers, and other devices contributing to the disaster.

Step one: power off and unplug everything. You may even find a few cables for devices you don’t use anymore.

Step two: group your cables together based on the direction they’re running. For example, you’ll have a group running from the power bar to the top of your desk. Or, you’ll have a number of cables emanating from the back of your computer and going to your monitor/keyboard.

Step three: once your have cables organised into groups, bind them together. You can use low-tech solutions like hair ties, rubber bands, or zip ties, but reusable Velcro ties are another good option. If you have a lot of cables, really don’t want to see your cables, or just like to be very thorough, check out something more heavy duty like the NEET cable organiser.

Once you have everything plugged back in and in working order, be sure to take a look at the location of your former rat’s nest and congratulate yourself. It’s the little victories that count, right?