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My computer needs a maid...

Open Front Case

This past weekend I decided it was a good time to give my old desktop a good scrubbing in anticipation of its upcoming delegation to our living room as our backup/data server. This particular unit I hand-built probably around 4 years ago and it's also been that long since I actually cleaned it. Erin's gone over the outside of the case a few times with a damp cloth but that's about it. So needless to say the task seemed a bit daunting when I disconnected it and brought it downstairs. Unfortunately I didn't think about taking any before pictures until after I had started the whole endeavor so you'll have to imagine what 4 years of caked-on dust and grime looks like.

The original plan was to take the computer out onto our balcony where I would used compressed air to blow out most of the dust. The computer had other plans...

Sure the compressed air was fine in removing say the first layer of more recent dust from the case but it did absolutely nothing against the years of compacted dust underneath. Entire civilizations had risen and fallen in that dust as far as I could tell and they laughed in the face of the not-quite-hurricane force winds lasting a few seconds per blast. So it looked like I'd have to roll up the proverbial sleeve and get dirty.

Front Grill

The above photo is of the grill in the front casing that sits in front of the two intake fans that draws air into the case. This was the filthiest part of the case and also the most annoying part to clean because the height of each opening was too small for my apparently sausage-like fingers to navigate easily. Took a lot of rubbing alcohol on cotton swabs to get this thing looking as it does here. Front and back.

Drying Fans

Next were the case fans (all 6 of them) that had to be disconnected and removed so I could give them a good bath and toothbrush scrubbing. It was nasty, but not too difficult. Then I let them sit for 36 hours to make sure they were completely dry before putting them back into the case.

CPU

Inside the case I didn't spend too much time on. What dust I couldn't blast away I was afraid to touch since it's electrical components and stuff we're talking about here. I did give the CPU fan (above) a wipe down with rubbing alcohol on cotton swabs though. The computer components weren't that dirty compared to the intake grill and fans though so I could live with that.

Back Grill

Two of the case fans clip on to the back of the case and those were pretty filthy as well. Went at 'em with a wet cloth but some areas were a bit more stubborn than others as you can see in the photo. I got most of the rest off later with a vacuum.

Swiffered Fans

One tip I decided to go with this time around was to wrap the intake fans with Swiffer dry cloth that I cut to size and taped in place. These things normally attract dust like crazy so the idea is to put them on the intake fans to lessen the amount of dust getting sucked in by the fans. Every couple of months just replace the cloth.

Reassembled

So after a reasonably thorough going over, I put everything back together. Generally, it would be ideal for the computer to start up again without a problem. Unfortunately, not usually the case when it comes to DIY machines. Hell they rarely start up without a problem the very first time you put the thing together much less years later when you go back in to muck around. Long story short, after 2 dead PCI slots (don't ask, I still don't know) and the exiling of my audio card to my drawer, the accursed thing is back up and running. It can live without an audio card, it's slated to become a server anyway. The machine still sounds like a vacuum cleaner when it's on even after I unplugged 3 of the 6 fans but oh well, can't do too much about that.

So, moral of this story? Clean your desktop quarterly at the latest. Even if you have a laptop, give it a good scrubbing every few months. I know you eat and drink and do whatever other filthy habits in front of it so no excuses! ;-p

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 29, 2007 3:15 PM.

The previous post in this blog was Grade School Math.

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