Hardware

Spring Cleaning: How to Refresh Your Computer – Part One Physical Cleaning

Dirty Computer

Image Credit: Paulimus J

It may still be cold in parts of the U.S., but in Florida it’s already beginning to feel a lot like spring, which naturally leads us to think about one thing – spring cleaning.

But did you know that it’s not just your environment that could use a good cleaning? Your computer could probably use one as well.

Whether it still feels like winter where you are, or whether it’s starting to warm up already, taking some time to clean your computer now will ensure you’re ready and prepared to take on the coming year.

Our spring cleaning series breaks down the various steps of cleaning your computer into easy, manageable chunks, so you don’t have to spend days and days cleaning your computer.

Instead, follow the series and perform the steps outlined. By the time the series is done, your computer will be cleaned up and running good as new, and you’ll be ready to handle anything the year throws at you.

Part one of the series focuses on physically cleaning your computer.

Did you know that your computer, and specifically your keyboard and mouse, are some of the dirtiest places in your office? In fact, your keyboard could be dirtier that the toilet. Eeewww. And you touch it several times a day.

Instead of letting germs and bacteria fester for another year, take some time to clean your computer. Your body will thank you.

Cleaning Items Needed

To physically clean your computer, you will need:

  • Canned Air
  • 70% Isopropyl Alcohol
  • Cotton Swabs
  • Electrostatic dusting cloth
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Electronics Vacuum

Important Note: Never spray anything directly on your electronics. Instead, spray your cloth, then wipe the device clean.

Cleaning Your Devices

Keyboard

While you can leave your devices attached, it’s best to detach keyboards and mice so that they don’t activate programs and commands on the computer while you’re cleaning. This includes both wired and wireless devices.

After disconnecting your keyboard, turn it upside down and shake it out. This will remove any large debris, such as food crumbs, hair, etc. Then, spray the keyboard with canned air, removing any additional large debris. If you have an electronics vacuum, use it on the keyboard now.

Once all the big crud is removed, there will probably still be spots that need some deep cleaning. Dip a cotton swab lightly in Isopropyl Alcohol, and spot clean any heavy gunk. Make sure that the swaps have enough alcohol to clean with, but aren’t dripping wet.

Continue cleaning until your keyboard is sparkling clean. Repeat this process every few months, particularly after a cold or illness to remove any residual germs.

Mouse

Wipe down your mouse with a microfiber cloth to remove any large particles. Remember to wipe down both the top and underside of the mouse.

While rare these days, if you have a mouse with a ball, remove the ball and wipe it down. Gently clean any rollers with a cotton swab dipped (lightly) in Isopropyl Alcohol. (Again, you want it damp, not dripping.)

Otherwise, wipe down your entire mouse. For any stubborn spots, clean with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol. Repeat until your mouse is sparkly clean.

LED Screen

Even screens get dirty from time to time. First, clean your screen with canned air, to remove any large dust particles.

Then, clean your screen using LCD wipes, or a soft-dust free microfiber cloth. Moisten the cloth with a mix of distilled water and white vinegar, and wipe the screen in circular motions.

Wipe until your monitor is clean and streak free. Repeat every couple of months, or when your monitor is dirty again.

Note this will work for LCD TV’s too.

Computer Case / Laptop

Once all your peripherals are cleaned up, it’s time to clean the outside of your computer.

Shut down and turn off your computer. Using the canned air, clean any fans, air intakes, or other areas on the outside of the computer that is collecting dust. If your computer is super dusty, take it outside to clean.

Then, gently wipe down the outside of the case with a microfiber cloth. Clean any stubborn spots with a cotton swap dipped in Isopropyl Alcohol.

If you have a laptop, remember to clean really well between your keys, your touchpad, and any other area that is frequently touched.

And you are done! You should now have a sparkly, clean, germ free computer, keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Now plug everything back in, turn on the computer, and get back to work. 😉

Stay tuned for our next installment of the Spring Cleaning Series, where we’ll focus on cleaning the inside of your computer.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who believes that a clean computer is a happy computer. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

Surprisingly Small Spaces to Store Data

DNA Strand

Image Credit: ynse

The problem with conventional storage devices – hard drives, CDs, DVDs, etc. – is that the media can degrade over time making the media unreadable. And what good is storing data if you can’t access it later?

Scientists are actively trying to change the data conundrum by coming up with new ways to store data in ways that can be accessed later, regardless of how old it is, without any data loss.

Additionally, since our reliance on technology and data is only growing stronger, they are trying to couple data integrity with small storage spaces so that more data can be stored while taking up less space physically.

So, what kinds of small spaces are they using to store data? Some of the answers may surprise you.

Hitachi Glass

In late 2012, Hitachi revealed their newest invention, a small sheet of glass measuring one square inch that can hold up to 40MB of data. What’s more, the data is nearly impervious to corruption, as the glass is heat and water resistant, and unaffected by heat, chemicals, radio waves, and other possible corruption sources.

Click here to read more about how Hitachi glass works.

Tiny Hard Drive

Scientists have found a way to store data on a surprisingly small amount of space – 12 atoms. This doesn’t seem so small, until you realize that current hard drives use more than a million atoms to store a bit, and more than half a billion atoms to store a byte of information.

By storing data with a new unconventional form of magnetism called antiferromagnetism, scientists are now able to store data in a space that is drastically smaller than current conventional methods.

To read more about this new magnetism technique, click here.

Our DNA

However, scientists are actively working on storing data in the most surprising place, in something we always carry with us – our DNA.

In early 2013, Harvard scientists announced they found a way to use our DNA as a digital storage device, allowing them to store up to 700 terabytes of data in just one gram of our DNA.

So far they’ve been able to store

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an audio clip of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech, a photograph of a double helix strand of DNA, and Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets. And, not only were they able to store the data, but they were able to retrieve it with 99.9% accuracy.

To read more about storing data on DNA, check out these articles:

Harvard’s Discovery of Storing Data in DNA

Storing Data on DNA

And these are just a few of the surprising small spaces that scientists are creating for data storage.

What are your thoughts about these changes? Fascinating? Or a sci-fi tragedy waiting to happen?


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help you learn about surprising changes in technology. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.

There is a Reason Your Wireless Might Be Slow (And What You Can Do About It)

Wireless Router

Image Credit: bigevil600

When you have a fast internet connection, you expect it to be speedy every time you get online. So it’s understandable that you might be frustrated when it’s slow.

But did you know that the reason for the slowness might have nothing to do with your internet connection and everything to do with your wireless router?

That’s because wireless routers send signals over the radio spectrum which is shared not only by wireless devices, but other items like microwaves, cordless

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phones, garage openers, and more. When there are a lot of devices in one area sharing the same airwaves, the more interference occurs, and the slower your internet becomes.

This not only applies to the devices in your immediate area, such as inside your office or home, but also devices in the general vicinity, such as the items in the next suite over at the office, or all of your neighbors around you at home.

In fact, under certain circumstances simply running the microwave can be enough to completely knock out a wireless signal sometimes.

Luckily, however, there are a few things you can do to help correct some of these inherent issues.

Set Your Wireless Router to a Different Channel

In some situations, all you need to do is set your wireless router to run on a different channel. Just like messing with the dial on the radio to fine tune the signal (okay, so maybe that analogy is a little old) you can adjust the signal that your wireless router uses.

But before you just go in and change your channel settings, you’ll want to locate which channels are the busiest, so that you can avoid them.

That’s where apps come in. While there are many different applications you can use to analyze what’s being used by the devices around you, the one TechQuility favors is the WiFi Analyzer app for Android.

Because of the graphical interface, you can easily see how busy your area is, and which channels are the busiest. Try to find a channel with little to no activity, to help reduce the likelihood of interference. (While there are some other great tools built into WiFi Analyzer, this is one of our favorite features.)

The channels available for use depend on which country you live in. Most countries allow you to use channels 1-13; however the USA only allows usage through channel 11, because channels 12 and 13 are reserved for. And only the Japanese have access to channel 14. For in-depth information about channels and usage, please refer to this Wikipedia article about the List of WLAN channels.

If you can find a channel with no devices listed, then use that channel. Otherwise, try to find one with the least number of items to help reduce the possibility of interference.

Once you locate your channel, log into your router and change the frequency. Generally this is located under the wireless portion of the settings, but may vary by router.

And that’s it. You should now see a difference in your wireless speeds.

Buy a Router with a Different Frequency

However, if changing the channel doesn’t help, or if something simple like running the microwave causes your wireless network to go down, you may want to consider buying a 5 Ghz router instead.

Most devices, including most wireless routers, run at 2.4 Ghz. When there’s major interference taking down your network, you need to switch to a router that runs at a different frequency. While these routers tend to be more expensive, they can make a major difference in the health of your network, especially where interference is concerned.

So the next time you find you are having wireless slowness issues, take some time to research what’s really going on with your network. You may find that the problem is very easy to fix, allowing you to immediately reduce your frustration, and return to surfing the web at full speed again.


Julie Strier is a freelance writer who likes to help reduce your technology frustrations. Email:julie@mybusinesswriter.com. Website: www.mybusinesswriter.com.