Protecting Your Computer

Don Trauger – Kennett

You are probably wondering what I mean by the title of this article. Believe it or not your computer
may not be in the best environment in your home. If you have a desktop computer, the tower portion
should be elevated to the level of the monitor. When placed at floor level, the cooling fans suck in
dust and over time the dust can cover the sensitive electronic parts. This results in a layer of
insulation that can actually trap heat and if severe, can shorten the life of the computer. Heat is
an enemy to electronic devices. As a do it yourself task I recommend using a shop vac or a similar
device that can blow reasonably clean air with some force to thoroughly clean the inside of the
computer. To gain access to a desktop computer’s interior; remove either the left or right side panel.
Pay attention to cleaning the fans. A small brush can be handy for reaching the hard to reach spots on
the fans. DO NOT BRUSH ANY OTHER ELECTRONIC PARTS. Doing so creates static electricity and will
potentially damage the sensitive electronic parts. Let the shop vac do its job as best it can on the
rest of the interior. Try to clean everything. Also check the bottom front of the computer. If you see
a buildup of dust, use the shop vac in the vacuum mode. The computer should be inspected every 2-3 years
for excessive dust buildup and cleaned out as necessary. Laptops have no significant dust buildup problem;
however, check the vents on the bottom and/or rear to make sure there’s no dust blocking the air flow. Use
a brush to clean the vents if necessary. To clean a streaky screen, spray a small amount of window cleaner
(Windex or similar) on a soft cloth and rub gently. Do not spray directly on the screen! If it remains
streaky after using window cleaner try again using only a damp cloth.

While I’m discussing laptops, here’s a tip to extend the battery life. Once a month remove the charger
unit and run the battery down to 10-15%. Then reattach the charger and fully charge it (100%). When
shutting down after normal usage don’t leave it fully charged at 100% and plugged in. I would suggest
leaving it between 50-90%. For example, if you plan to use your laptop for several hours certainly plug
it in but think about unplugging it near the end of your session to stay within the 50-90% range. This
may seem strange but it’s all due to the chemical reaction taking place in the lithium-ion laptop battery.
Most batteries can take about 500 charges before capacity is reduced.

Although I’ve mention the following in years past it bears repeating. When there is thunderstorm
activity nearby or forecasted, disconnect your Comcast cable from your cable modem and unplug the power
cables to your computer equipment. Don’t depend on your surge protector to protect you. They are
virtually worthless when a major surge hits. Do not remove the Comcast cable if you have the Comcast
telephone service. Leave the cable in place otherwise you won’t have telephone service should an
emergency arise. If you have Verizon DSL Internet service, you can remove the telephone line at the
rear of the DSL modem. Be careful not to disturb any connections to your telephone. Remember, a nearby
lightning strike can induce unwanted voltages into the ground that “leak” into our underground utility
cables. This of course includes our electrical, TV (Comcast), and telephone cables. Sensitive electronic
equipment and lightning just don’t mix!

Please come to our PC club meeting for answers to your computer questions. It starts at 7:00 PM in the
Ardmore room upstairs in the Community Center on the second Tuesday of each month.