Most people will never know what the inside of their desktop computer looks like because they never open the case to clean it.
What follows is an educated, though non-scientific explanation as to why you should open and clean your desktop computer case as part of regular maintenance.
Aside from impacting performance and longevity allowing the inside of your computer to turn into a breeding ground for Dust Bunnys, creating the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and condenser for allergins. And if that isn’t bad enough, the dust will also function as insulation creating more heat and build up on the fans creating more noise.
Depending on the layout of a particular computer case, the airflow will vary; in the pictured example air flows in from the back, passes across the processor fan and then gets pulled into the power supply and blown back outside of the case. What this means is that the allergins and bacteria floating around your room or office are provided with a potentially perfect environment to grow (Food, Acidity, Temperature, Time, Oxygen and Moisture) and collect and over time blow back into the room.
While the hard drives, processor and video cards likely generate too much heat for bacteria to grow, other surfaces on the interior of the computer case are no more than warm to the touch. Not all offices provide the needed moisture or acidity in the environment but, especially in the South West States where evaporative cooling is used – moisture abounds in the air.
As for allergins, they bond with the rest of the dust and can be released back into the environment when clumps fall free because of the fans or the computer being bumped or jostled.
So what to do about it?
Obviously clean the thing! Depeding on how dusty the area in which you live or work is, clean at least every couple months. In areas like Southern Arizona, Central California, Most of Texas or New Mexico you may need to dust every few weeks.
Six Simple Steps to Clean out the Dust:
- Learn how the cables fit into the back of your CPU; Notice how each type of cable can only fit into one type of interface
- Take the CPU out to the Kitchen, Porch, Patio or other place easy to clean – preferably outside so that the dust doesn’t stay in your home or office
- Remove the retaining screws on the right side of the case when viewed from the back (not always the case, but most likely).
- Use a can of air duster (in the pictures above it took nearly a full can) and blow out every fan, vent, corner and open space – including any disk bay opening in the front and the power supply from both inside and outside.
- Carefully using a “Swiffer Refill” wipe out any excess dust from the bottom and sides of the CPU Case – DO NOT TOUCH ANY CIRCUIT BOARDS!
- Put the case cover back on and return the CPU to it’s home at your desk