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Computer hardware maintenance is a tricky subject. One thing is for sure: doing regular maintenance on your hardware will prolong the life of your computer. I feel that most people who own computers think of it as a Pandora’s box. They just don’t want to open it in case something goes wrong. Unless you have a pre-built PC with all those fancy warranties, you should just go on ahead and open the sucker to at least take a look once in a while.
Later we will discuss two software-based maintenance options. Right now, let us focus on what you can do from the outside to keep your ship running smooth.
Electronic components generate heat, and lots of it. Average CPU temperatures can reach 70 °C or 160 °F while motherboard temperatures usually hover below that level. Every CPU and motherboard comes with large graphic warnings stating that you should NEVER power on your computer without the heatsink attached to the CPU. While the heatsink (the large metal finned device situated directly on top of the CPU) is the minimal requirement, all modern processors also need a cooling fan on top of that to help dissipate heat.
Maintaining a cooler operating temperature throughout your computer’s life will keep it working for a lot longer. Try to position the computer near a window or fan to help circulate air in and out of the box. Purchase extra fans for the case to help push air around. All of these moves will help you keep temperatures in the 30 °C or 85 °F range instead of twice that.
Dust is a symptom of life and cannot be avoided. Unless you live in a clean room with positive pressure, something tells me that your computer will slowly collect dust on all of its components. Most of the dust collects on the fans and various heatsinks in your computer. These will slowly degrade the performance of both cooling solutions. Dust on the heatsinks will reduce their thermal dissipation capacity. Dust on the cooling fan will eventually grind it to a halt.
You can avoid this by purchasing a can of compressed air. These little suckers shoot out high-speed streams of air that will help bust up the layers of dust that have accumulated over your entire computer.
There isn’t much else you can do to maintain your computer from the outside. Continue reading for more information about what you can do from your operating system to help keep things in tiptop shape.