Computer Maintenance Guide

5 Step Guide to Maintaining your Desktop PC

Follow our “Maintaining Windows” section for looking after the Windows aspect of your laptop.

 

Step 1 – Keep your computer cool

Majority of desktop PCs cool the internal by pulling air in from the front (usually at the bottom) and then extracting it out the back.

So it is a very good idea to leave some clear space at the front, and more importantly at the back of the computer.

Do not place next to a radiator, and avoid placing it an in enclosed desk where heat can build up.

 

Step 2 – Cleaning the fans and Vents

To do this job properly you are going to have to do open the side panel of your computer.

So shut down your computer, unplug the computer from the wall and earth yourself by either touching the PC metal chassis or wear an antistatic bracelet.

Most important part to clean is the CPU fan, which is usually a large fan face down on the motherboard.
But generally clean all the fans the same way. Use a paint brush combined with initially a hoover with the smallest attachment you have, followed by an air can with a hoover (be very careful with the hoover).

Try and make sure the front vents are clean, again use the air duster and paintbrush with a hoover.

Try and clear as much dust from the case as you can.

Either at the top at the back, or one some newer systems, at the bottom in the back is the power supply. this should not be opened but the internals have to be cleaned. Use the paintbrush for any surface dust and just use the compressed air can to clean the inside of it.

 

Step 3 – Re-apply thermal paste.

The CPU is a chip which gets very hot. Connected to the CPU is a metal piece called a heat sink that designed to remove heat from the CPU, and the fan then pushes the heat from the heat sink out through the vents.

Between the CPU and the heat sink is thin layer of thermal paste that increase the heat transfer from CPU to heatsink.
Firstly manufacturers tend to use cheap paste, or it could have not been done properly.

so you have to take off the whole heatsink off the CPU. Clean the CPU with CPU cleaning fluid to remove old thermal paste traces, then apply a thin layer of the new paste onto the CPU and reassemble.

 

Step 4 – Add additional cooling.

Some desktop computers are more customisable than others, but there be should something for every scenario.

CPU heat sink & fan combos range from £10 to a £100. Although a £10-$15 will be an improvement on an old fan. The more expensive models are generally reserved for people overclocking their computers.

Extra/Better intake extraction fan. Some desktops have space for more fans, either at the front back, side or top even. So add more fans to extract more hot air and pull in more cool air. If you’re computer has no extra space you can use a PCI extraction fan which sits where PCI cards should sit (assuming they are not in use)
Or you could replace your old fans with better fans.

Step 5 -Power Protection

You can either use a Surge Protection socket which protects your computer being fried by a voltage spike. Or you can purchase an Uninterruptible power supply (aka UPS)

UPS devices continue giving your computer power even if there is no power in the main socket. e.g. if you have a power cut. This not only protects the hardware, it gives you time (anywhere between 20 minutes and an hour) to close down your windows and files so you do not lose anything. In fact most devices communicate with windows and would do that for you.

 

5 Step Guide to Maintaining your Laptop

Follow our “Maintaining Windows” section for looking after the Windows aspect of your laptop.

 

Step 1 – Keeping your Laptop cool

If you look at the bottom, sides and back of your laptop you’ll see plenty of holes. These are designed to cool the hot parts of the laptop.

You have to keep these vents clear, specifically when the computer is under stress (heavy processing)
You keep these vents clear by keeping your laptop on a flat table. If its on a non-flat soft surface such as a bed or couch these vents will be blocked. Even on your lap a lot of these vents will be blocked. So if you feel the laptop heating up or hear the fan speeding up put it on a table.

Alternatively get a cooling pad. This sits underneath the laptop and have a USB powered fan which extracts the hot air from the laptop, keeping it cool.

 

Step 2 – Cleaning the fans and Vents

Dust collects quite quickly in the vents and the fan itself reducing its ability to pump out the hot air. So ideally you would regularly clean it before it gets too much.

Simplest way to do this is with a compressed air can. Just aim the can at the vents to clear them out. If you do this regularly enough there will not be any build up of dust saving you the inconvenience of having to physically opening the laptop to clean.

 

Step 3 – Internal cleaning

Sometimes build up of dust is quite severe that an air can will not get rid of dust on the fan, and it has to be physically removed.

Some laptops have a panel at the bottom which can be removed, without voiding warranty, that gives you access to the main fan. Make sure the laptop is switched off, unplugged and the battery has been taken off before proceeding.

Using an air can, a small paint brush and some cotton swabs clean out any dust you see off the fan and make sure nothing is blocking the vent.

If you do not have this panel, you will need to open up the whole laptop chassis which will void the warranty. Unfortunately each laptop is different so we can’t advise you on how to do that, but once you do get to the fan the same cleaning process applies.

Unfortunately in some cases a fan just starts getting weaker and less able to do its job. You would need to replace this fan if it gets too bad.

Step 4 – Re-apply thermal paste.

The CPU is a chip which gets very hot. Connected to the CPU is a metal piece called a heat sink that designed to remove heat from the CPU, and the fan then pushes the heat from the heat sink out through the vents.

Between the CPU and the heat sink is thin layer of thermal paste that increase the heat transfer from CPU to heatsink.
Firstly manufacturers tend to use cheap paste, or it could have not been done properly.

Make sure the laptop is switched off, unplugged and the battery has been taken off before proceeding.

You need to take off the whole heatsink off the CPU. Clean the CPU with CPU cleaning fluid to remove old thermal paste traces, then apply a thin layer of the new paste onto the CPU.

Repeat this for the graphics card and motherboard chipset if necessary and this should cool everything by a few degrees.

 

Step 5- General cleaning

This is for general cleanliness rather than system maintenance, but you’ll have a clean computer that will look as good as new.

In general it is better that the laptop is switched off, unplugged and the battery has been taken off before proceeding.

To keeping your keyboard clean just use an compressed air can, some computer wipes and a paint brush to get in between the keys..

To keep the chassis clean either a computer wipe which you can purchase or foam computer cleaner with a cloth. Do not use standard cleaners as they can cause a short circuit if it gets inside the computer.

Screen wipes or screen spray with screen cloth to keep your screen nice and clean.