Spring Cleaning: How to Refresh Your Computer – Part Three Hardware Cleanup

Dusty Computer

Image Credit: eurleif

If you’ve been following along with our How to Refresh Your Computer series then your computer should be sparkly clean, be de-cluttered file-wise, and should be running a little bit faster.

If you haven’t been keeping up with this series, we recommend you read Part One, Part Two A, and Part Two B to catch up before continuing.

While this article may be the last in the series, it is no less important than other steps. Maintaining your hardware is a good way to ensure your computer’s longevity and may help you avoid costly repairs in the future.

Here are a few ways to clean up and maintain the physical hardware in your computer:

Clean Out Your Case

*Disclaimer: This procedure is for a desktop tower only. If you have a laptop you may not want to do this as laptops are more difficult to open, and much easier to drive dust into internal components where you don’t want dust to be.*

Have you ever looked at the back of a desktop computer that’s been in one spot for a while? What do you notice about it? For most people, it’s probably the pile of dust caked around the fan. But when you notice a pile of dust on the back of your computer, it means a larger problem is brewing– your computer is probably twice as dusty inside.

Computers aren’t air tight, they aren’t meant to be. Air needs to flow to allow hot air out, and cool air in. But, if air can get in, dust can too. And over time, this dust can build up and become a fire hazard.

Luckily it’s easy to clean out your case.

All you need is some canned air, and a nice sunny day. Turn off your computer. Once it’s completely shut down, unplug the power and all other cords. If your monitor(s) sit on top of your tower, remove them. Then, take your computer and your canned air outside.

Open up the case. Each case is slightly different, but typically there are screws on the back that hold the side panels on. Removing the screws should allow you to slide the panel off. You’ll want to slide off the one that gives you the best access to the case (as opposed to the side with all the components and cards against it).

Once the case is open, take your canned air and spray that sucker out. If it’s really dusty, you may want to stand back so you don’t inhale the dust. Spray out any place with dust, including fans, boards, holes in the case, and more.

When all the dust is gone, put the side panel(s) back on, attach the screws, bring it inside and plug it back in.

Assess Your Hardware Situation

While technically not “cleaning”, another thing you can do to clean up your computer is to consider getting updated hardware.

Assess Your Hard Drive Speed

If your computer is a little slower, or if you have a laptop, consider getting a solid state hard drive (SSD), which runs faster than traditional drives. You could even get a hybrid hard drive, which combines traditional drives with solid state drives, giving you the best of both worlds.

Please note however that SSDs are still new, and may not have the same storage capacity as its traditional counterparts.

Need More Memory?

If your computer runs noticeably slower, consider getting more memory. Most of the time, a little extra memory goes a long way in speeding up the computer.

To check how much memory you currently have, right click on Computer (or My Computer) and select Properties. The amount of installed memory will be listed toward the middle of the page.

Should you decide to upgrade your memory, you also need to check your computer specs to determine the maximum amount of memory your computer can handle. Not all computers can handle the same amount, and you don’t want to buy memory only to find out you’re already at your max, so check this first before purchasing anything.

One other quick tip about memory – it should be paired. So, if you may need to purchase two sticks of memory to ensure proper pairing. If you have one three gig stick installed, you shouldn’t just add one gig to the system. Instead, two 2-gig sticks of memory will give you better performance.

And that’s it. If you’ve followed our entire series, your computer should be sparkly clean, and faster than before. Remember to bookmark these tips so you re-visit the procedure at least twice a year.


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *