OK, you’ve bought your brand-new sparkling computer or laptop and you are resolved that this time, you’re going to take care of it. You’ve lost valuable photos or documents on it before and you doesn’t want it to go as slow as a Tortoise this time.
Well hopefully I can help you prevent you from getting your computer into such a state with a few words from my IT experience.
Right, down to the nitty-gritty.
Dirt and Computer don’t mix
Computers collect dust and biscuit crumbs like you wouldn’t believe. Dust causes the computer to overheat by blocking fans which also causes the fans to fail before their time and the dust collects on the Motherboard and eventually causes computer crashes and odd symptoms.
Not surprisingly dust usually takes about a year to accumulate enough in your computer to cause it problems. Which nicely avoids causing a problem during your initial guarantee period. It’s almost if the shop designed it that way isn’t it?
Biscuit and crisp bits seem to leap into the keyboard and starts to smell as it rots. This can stop the keys working if you’ve pressed them if it gets bad enough.
So buy yourself a can of compressed air. You can get them from Maplin Electronics or PC World (look around as they’re usually on promotion) and you spray the nozzle into the back of the computer (keeping the can upright) if it’s the type that sits on a desk or on the floor. Oh about that. Don’t keep your computer on the floor please! Most fans are just a few inches off the carpet and that is where most dust lies ready to be kicked up as you walk past and be sucked in. Your computer is not a Hoover™ and shouldn’t be expected to behave like one.
You can get a cheap computer trolley (also called CPU stands) which the computer sits on via four wheels and this raise the computer just a few inches off the floor and this greatly reduces its chances of wanting to be a Dyson™. Plus you can move it about much easier. Maplin Electronics sell these.
Most Computers have a side panel that can come off. See how yours does, switch the computer off at the Mains (but don’t remove the Mains lead from the Mains socket or from the computer end as that’ll get rid of any static electricity that electronics don’t like) and remove the panel. But be prepared for a dust shock as big fluffy balls of fluff are found lurking in the bottom. It’s not pretty but it’s got to be done!
Squirting the air into the back and front should cause a minor dust cloud inside. But if you have a real Hoover hose ready and waiting you can suck it all up. If any of the computer cards you see inside are laid out horizontal they”ll collect dust too, so give them a close range squirt of air. Don’t wear a jumper or cardigan when doing this as the dust will just love to jump into it and live there.
If you’ve got a laptop, then with it switched off, use the air bottle to squirt the air into the vents at the sides, the underside and back. Not forgetting the gaps between the keys and into the USB sockets, etc..
Honest, if you do this you’ll be doing it a favour and increasing its life. I suggest you do this once every six months or when you see your black fronted case turning grey!
What is it sitting on?
Computer don’t like heat and they don’t like vibration. Keeping dust levels down inside will stop it overheating. But if you have your computer on a dodgy table or work-desk that swings back and forward like a jelly then it’ll kill the computer and you’ll lose your data eventually. No doubt about it.
I’ve seen people show me their faulty computer to fix as they unconscionably rocked their computer with their knee as it was sitting on the floor next to them. Keep your computer stationary!
Feed it clean electricity
The power we feed our gadgets from the Mains socket is surprising dirty these days. Either the wires pick up all manner of noise from the radio and wireless networks around us or the power station has a temporary hiccup and drops the power briefly. Then there is the Weather. If a Thunderstorm hits close to our area then it can destroy our phones or any gadget plugged into the Mains. A Lightning strike is so enormously large that nothing can protect us against it if it hits right next to us.
But did you know that if a Lightning strike hits within 10 miles to you it can zoom along the Mains wiring and give your gadgets such a jolt that fuses can blow and computers that need to be otherwise shut down gracefully can switch off instantly. Therefore ruining their Hard drives and losing your data.
But we do have things to help prevent this.
At the most basic level you should have your Mains sockets you use for gadgets and your computer fitted with a Surge Protector in them. This will remove any hiccups of extra Power that may be travelling down the wire during a Lightening Strike in your Region.
Of course what can also happens is that a Lightning strike can hit a Pylon or Sub-station and your Electricity company will immediately shut down that area for a second (this is called a brown-out or sag). This’ll save your gadgets but will knock out your clocks, microwaves and of course your computer may switch off. Perhaps all you’ll notice is that your clock on your microwave needs resetting. But your computer hard drive could now be so much junk.
The device you want to protect yourself from this event is called a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). This device as well as doing surge protection, filters your electricity and feeds your computer clean energy. If the Power goes down then it will continue to supply your computer for around 10 minutes which is long enough to let you close it down normally. Some models will even do that for you automatically.
Businesses and people with one-off images or valuable data use these all the time. (I’ve got one too.) They don’t cost much (from £45) and can save you from a lifetime of regret.
If you want to know which model to use or how to figure what model to get for your computer, there are a few calculations you need to do to ensure your model is going to be suitable for the job, so give me a call.
- Next we look at ensuring the hard drive is with out errors – see part 2