How often should I physically clean my computer?

07/01/2019 | by Jeff Fowler

physically clean my computer

Most PC components have heat sinks which basically distribute heat evenly along a larger surface area to allow to the faster dissipation of heat, much like the radiator in your car. You’ll often notice these on the CPU (Typically the largest heat sink), video card, motherboard, RAM and other components. Fans move cooler air across these heat sinks to make this process more efficient.

If you ever wonder why a dirty computer sounds “louder”, it’s because the fans have to run faster to adequately cool the system because of the airflow restrictions associated with the dust. Since there’s a layer of dust on the components, the heat isn’t being removed efficiently and the fans are being pushed harder than if the system was clean. Besides making the computer louder, the excessive heat caused by dust/dirt/hair/etc. in the computer can cause fans/heat sink and other cooling devices to not function efficiently and can eventually lead to component failure.

How often should I physically clean my computer?

The short answer is: Anytime you start to notice dust building up on the exterior, it’s likely time for a cleaning. For most users, every 6 months or so should suffice to keep your PC running nice and clean.

For a more specific answer: It depends on a few factors. The environment that a computer is exposed to is a major factor. A computer that’s located in an industrial clean room would rarely need cleaning, whereas a desktop computer running a CNC machine in a cabinet shop would require more frequent maintenance.

Generally speaking, laptops are usually taken better care of and stored in cases/bags, desktops are often left in place for extended periods of time and will likely need cleaning more often. Another major factor on how dirty a desktop gets is actually where it’s located. A desktop sitting on the ground will need cleaning more often than one that’s in a shelf inside of the desk.

Some cases have special dust filters than require cleaning more often, but the filters are easier to get to and catch the majority of the dust. The trade-off behind this concept is much easier cleaning more often, which has its pros and cons. Another factor to consider is pets. If they are around, their hair may make its way into the computer.

If your computer is running slow and you’re not sure why, feel free to contact SandStorm IT at 901-475-0275. We’re more than happy to help you get your PC running healthy again!

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