Weekend Open Forum: How often do you clean your computer?

By on February 17, 2012, 7:30 PM

As the resident “computer guy” for friends and family, it goes without saying that I’ve seen my fair share of PCs over the past 10 years or so. The majority of systems that find their way to me require a simple virus or malware scan to rectify the situation but every now and again I come across a computer that simply needs to be physically cleaned out with compressed air.

The attached photo shows the inside of a power supply in a system someone brought over several years ago. The owner told me that the system would blue screen after being powered on for a few minutes. Upon removing the side panel to have a look inside, I noticed the heatsink fan wasn’t spinning – it was so clogged with dust / dirt / nicotine tar that it had seized up.

Working on neglected computers like this serves as a good reminder that it’s probably time to check on the hardware in my own system. Years ago before I had a dedicated system for component testing, I was tinkering with hardware in my system every other week so dust was not an issue. But now that I rarely open my work system, it’s certainly something I’m more aware of.

With this week’s Weekend Open Forum, we want to know how often you crack open your desktop chassis to give your hardware a good once-over with some compressed air. We look forward to hearing from you in the comments below!




User Comments: 85

Got something to say? Post a comment
Guest said:

I don't use dust filters on any of the fans on my rig because they restrict airflow way too much. So on average I need to clean it once a month.

Guest said:

i've recently noticed a decreased frame rate when logging into an MMO (runescape) could this be due to dust? I plan to clean out my computer once i get home shortly, but by god since it's a dell I cant manage to get the fan off the heat sink, its clipped on with 4 VERY stiff clips, one which i've broke over the years attempting to get it off.

on a side note, I've ordered a faster graphic's card recently which should be here soon.

Guest said:

I have no rugs in my computer area. Rugs can be a big generator of particles inside a desktop.

I check for dust about every 9 months of use.

Staff
Shawn Knight Shawn Knight said:

I typically clean my main work system every six months or so. The system in the bedroom for media hasn't been cleaned since I put it in there a year ago.

MarkHughes said:

I use laptops and know they are ready when I notice the fans... I use my compressor to blow out the dust, I'm always surprised by how bad they get as they are stood on a desk not the floor.

Guest said:

Desktop gets cleaned once every 6 weeks, laptop every 4 weeks.

Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

after about every 3-6 months or so i clean up my pc-system. Their is almost no difference between the temps with or without filters. So i opted to use the filters. I don't have to clean my pc every 3 weeks because removing things frequently might damage componts through wear

Lurker101 said:

Every 3 months I give it a full scrub down. Every last inch either dusted, wiped or gassed. Every other week, I give the filters a quick dusting.

Turns out, a dry, soft-bristled paint brush is perfect for cleaning filters.

TeamworkGuy2 said:

I wipe off the fans and wash my computer's filters every 2 weeks and do a more thorough clean about twice a hear.

Guest said:

I cleaned my pc if I noticed there's dust building inside it... to reduce the numbers of cleaning my pc I just make I place my pc in a room where I specialized it to place my pc and I make sure the room is always clean and free of dust

Guest said:

I clean my dust filters on my gaming rig about once every month, the inside is still mostly dust free since I built it. Might have to clean the inside once every 12 months or so.

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

I clean basically every 3-4 months- clean the filters every week. Used to clean on a 1-2 month basis until I started using a better grade of aftermarket filtration - DemciFlex.

Water loops generally get stripped/flushed every six months.

Guest said:

I have the Lian Li PC-P80 Armor Suit with three 140mm fans in front. Even with the removable dust screen in front, I have to sweep and blow out my machine every two weeks or so. It is so dusty here in SoCal.

I bought a little handheld 1 gallon Craftsman shopvac and I can sweep with one end and put the hose on the exhaust to blow out my fans and case crevices...

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

Every 3 months if I can, simple dusting. Flush my wc loop about every 4-7 months I'd say.

I don't recommend anyone to try this on anything electronic, luls

Staff
Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

Every time I open my case to change something, so about 2-3 times a year.

Tgard said:

I have my desktop pretty well sealed except for the intakes which all have filters. I clean the filters about once a month and take the doors off for a full cleaning about once a year.

techfiend4 said:

dividebyzero said:

I clean basically every 3-4 months- clean the filters every week. Used to clean on a 1-2 month basis until I started using a better grade of aftermarket filtration - DemciFlex.

Water loops generally get stripped/flushed every six months.

i used the demcifilters on my raidmax smilodon case for a straight year without having to clean till i just recently moved to a cm storm trooper. im sure it was a bit restricting but well worth keeping all that dust off my rig

treetops treetops said:

I should clean it once i month i usually clean mine every 6 months but I think its been closer to a year iv been busy\lazy.

Nima304 said:

I clean my computer every 3-6 months, only because it's a gaming PC, and is hard to clean. Any other computers or servers I have I clean every 3-4 months.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

When I retire the 'Power station', my daughters acrylic clad gamer, ya'll better dump any Ultra duster stock you may have. The 932 is a can of air a week, The Cosmos II looks like a quick blast of the filters weekly, not much gets by them as far as the inside.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Honestly, if I have it open for some reason, I take a vacuum to it, otherwise I don't.

I really wish I had gotten a case with fan filters. That will be a requirement for any future builds.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

, post: 1146475"]Honestly, if I have it open for some reason, I take a vacuum to it, otherwise I don't.

I really wish I had gotten a case with fan filters. That will be a requirement for any future builds.

You just have to make sure you don't get your heat-sink caught in the roller.:p

lawfer, TechSpot Paladin, said:

About twice a year. My case keeps the inside almost dust-free for quite a while.

Guest said:

Every sunday. Then once in every two months i completely strip it properly clean it. She runs like a beautie.

Guest said:

I just teared my laptop apart cleaned it with vacuum cleaner and now... less heat and less noise. WORTH IT!

TrevDog said:

I used to clean 8 workstations and 2 servers out every month because of a terribly dusty environment. My personal machines go about 6 months at a time, and a small office that I volunteer at gets a good cleaning annually.

WaveZero said:

I clean my one every 6 months. I don't get much dust build up so it's all good =)

Sarcasm Sarcasm said:

I clean it when I start seeing too much dust over my case fans. Just a simple 10 second spray usually does the trick. Simple small cleaning now = less big cleaning jobs over time.

IvanAwfulitch IvanAwfulitch said:

As 'sarcasm' said, usually I will do a once-over when the outer case-fans get a light covering of dust; I dust out the inside of my PC, and close it back up. However, much deeper cleanings are needed when my CPU fan and heat-sink become covered in dust. When I notice a lot of built-up dust in my CPU heat-sink during one of my routine cleanings, I clean the fan, take the heat-sink off, rinse the dust off the heat-sink, dry it, replace the thermal paste, and put everything back.

ramonsterns said:

Well, can't say I do a every good job of keeping the insides clean, but it's never gotten to the point where it looked like the picture above.

Marnomancer Marnomancer said:

Twice a month. The atmosphere here is hot and humid, and there are 2 construction sites nearby, so the precaution is needed.

yowanvista yowanvista said:

I take everything apart once each 3 months or so for some cleaning.

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

all my pc,s are cleaned every 2-3 months.

Guest said:

I guess I sound a bit paranoid. Haha.

Puiu Puiu said:

Guest said:

i've recently noticed a decreased frame rate when logging into an MMO (runescape) could this be due to dust? I plan to clean out my computer once i get home shortly, but by god since it's a dell I cant manage to get the fan off the heat sink, its clipped on with 4 VERY stiff clips, one which i've broke over the years attempting to get it off.

on a side note, I've ordered a faster graphic's card recently which should be here soon.

or could simply be the "rot" effect of the OS. one of the most important reason people reinstall the OS :P (at least for me, but i also work with many many big programs that slow down the PC a lot: server, adobe cs, corel, visual studio, and many dev tools )

read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_rot

Puiu Puiu said:

we really need an edit button here ^_^

Tekkaraiden Tekkaraiden said:

Every time I do a major upgrade so once a year. I do keep it on my desk which does seem to help with dust build up.

colinf said:

mostly clean it when i notice the filters, but generally when i flush/change my w/c loop

as a note to those who use vacuum cleaners...stop!!..static isnt good for your pc

Picture Picture said:

Whenever I remember - say once every two to three months on average

LNCPapa LNCPapa said:

Every time I open my case to change something, so about 2-3 times a year.

Same for me

Guest said:

iv been doing some part time at a computer shop the last 6 months and it really is unbelievable how many people bring there pc saying it don't work so we go in to diagnostics mode only to end up opening the case and seeing a carpet of dust!!!

i clean my pc/laptop/consoles every 6 months!!!!

utube link of a desktop jammed up with dust i just had to video it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKLJ8AlPijU

Guest said:

the last Sunday of the month is designated as electronic cleaning day in my house the wife and the kids both hate it

3 laptops

2 gaming rigs (one for me one for the kids)

Guest said:

I used to clean my computer every 2-3 months, but I noticed that everytime I opened it there was too much dust, so now I clean it every month. I cleaned it for the first time on January 15th, so I should have cleaned it on February 15th, but I decided to skip the cleaning to March 1st. The new "plan" is to the desktop every first day of every month. :)

Guest said:

All five machines every 6 months. Made special "vacuum tool" - 18" length of 1/4" diameter tubing pushed through a hole in a larger bottle cap (which has a couple of 'relief holes') - pop it on the vacuum and suck away.... can snake down into the inner reaches of the mainboard, etc without sucking down any critical components (really bad when you have to dig your RAM out of the filter bag...hahaha) ... I do pull vent fan and CPU fan for separate cleaning.

Staff
Per Hansson Per Hansson, TS Server Guru, said:

Well, my own PC I barley ever need to clean, it was probably two or three years ago and it just has a very very light dust cover.

I might take it out and give it a run-over with the compressor just because of this thread though

(It has a Window so I do see if it or the waterloop gets dirty...)

As for other peoples computers; I'll just say that the picture to this story is a VERY mild case of dust compared to what I see on a regular basis!

Sometimes all I have to do to make a computer work (usually laptops) is to clean them of the dust, and they are happily working again!

Guest said:

I break out the mop and soap suds and give my computer a good scrub and then hose it down about every 2 years. usually right before i get a new one ^_~

rvnwlfdroid said:

Clean my PC? Doesn?t everyone live in a dust/allergen/static free environment? Kidding? When I hear the fans running a little more than (normal) I?ll pull the side off and blow/vacuum it out.

TomSEA TomSEA, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

My gaming rig gets a thorough cleaning about once every two months.

Guest said:

I clean the dust from my PC every six months, I do not really need to do it more often because it doesn't accumulate. I keep my case open, because the dust seems to cloud up when I put the lid.

Load all comments...

Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...
Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.