Dust Will Kill Your Computer

Posted by: Jason | | No Comments »

I’ve run a business IT support company for more than twenty years and time-and-again my team visit company’s PCs that are crashing and randomly locking-up. More often than not, when we open the machine, we find that it’s full of dust. Dust will kill your computer.


Certain components inside your computer run hot; modern CPUs working hard are too hot to touch. A processor that is running too hot will crash (Blue Screen of Death in Windows) or randomly reboot your machine. The dust and lint coats the cooling mechanisms and causes components to overheat. If you want to avoid these problems we recommend taking a look inside your computer every six months to make sure that there not too much dust inside. Here are some things to lookout for…


1.       Check the air vents – Computers breath-in cool air from the front and expel hot air from the back. You need to make sure that these openings are not blocked either by dust or by external obstructions. I once visited a customer to examine their server and found the air intake to be covered in a mat of short brown hairs. I asked the business owner about the hair and whether they bought their dog to work, he said, “Oh, that’ll be the rats.” I took care of the blocked air vents , they took care of the rats and their server ran much more happily.

2.       Dust the insides – Completely disconnect the machine before you open it. Take the side off and have a look for dust, dead insects, etc and remove them from the machine. Try not to touch the delicate components inside; we find the best tool for cleaning the dust from inside a computer is a can of compressed air (these are often referred to as ‘air duster’ and can be found from any number of online retailers.) If the machine is particularly dusty (and the weather is fair) you may want to take the computer outside before you use the air duster; a surprising amount of dust will come out so it’s better to do the work outside. When using the air duster, pay particular attention to the heatsink (metal fins on top of the motherboard) and the fans that move air around the machine. When using a compressed air duster on the fans, hold the fan still so that it doesn’t turn in the jet of air. Some hard drives run hot so make sure they are also free of dust.

3.       Check your fans – Dust will work its way into the bearings of the fans that cool your computer. Make sure that the fans will turn freely, just move their blades with your finger, a fan should turn with very little effort. If the fan won’t turn or turns stiffly, it must be replaced. New fans are readily available online but you may wish to find a local expert to do the work for you.


It’s our experience that if you do this every six months, you will have a nice, quiet, reliable computer. Many modern computers have protection from overheats so physical damage is often avoided but a regular maintenance routine will ensure that these problems don’t occur. Oh, and try not to have rats running around by your computer!


Jason Timmins – Technical Director – Micro-Business Maintenance Ltd – https://www.mbmltd.co.ukBusiness IT Support

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