I was changing a component on my test box yesterday and noticed that the cpu fan was building up some ‘crunge’ on it. A further inspection also revealed that the power supply needed a cleaning as well. Then it hit me. It is time for a spring cleaning of all my systems. During the past several weeks the wife and I have been in the garden, clearing out the weeds, and trying to get the grass back in shape after the winter season. I also noted that the deck needed staining and also the outdoor furniture and BarBQ could use some touch up as well.

Just like our homes and gardens are PC also needs some attention, since during the winter months we most likely use them more since we can’t go outside much, and we also have our furnaces on which circulates the dust even more. All computers use a simple process to cool hot components which normally consists of a fan blowing cooler air across the parts. But dust collects and can actually over the parts in a layer of dust that acts like a blanket, keeping heat inside. I purchased a air compressor several years ago to clean out computer systems [desktops], because the price of aerosol canned air was getting somewhat expensive. The small compressor I bought has a power setting to control the air flow so as not to damage the system itself. Laptops are different and require a gentle cleaning and not a blast of compressed air to clean the parts.

Back in 2005 Fred Langa did a piece about cleaning up a laptop computer that was over heating from dust build up. His article also covered how to clean a laptop effectively without causing damage. You can read Fred’s article here.

Next comes a software cleanup. We are little pack rats. We store stuff on our systems that we will never need or use again. So this is a great time to either delete these files or folders OR place them on a CD/DVD disk and get them off of the computer. You may also wish to consider removing unused programs. Back in Control Panel – Add/Remove Programs icon, you can view a list of what is installed on your system. If you highlight a program it will also show you the last time you used it by date, and also the frequency of its use, i.e. rarely, occasionally and so forth. Though this may help you gage how much a program is used, you are the best source of knowing which programs you have used and which are just sitting there taking up space.

Uninstalling software should be done one program at a time. Plus it is advisable to reboot after the uninstall to make sure the system is working correctly. Once you have completed this chore, check out Disk Cleanup which is a built in Windows tool to clean off some of the junk as well. Once the system is cleaned up, you may wish to use Disk Defragmentor, another Windows tool to realign the files and folders on your drive.

This is just a basic cleanup of the system. There are many 3rd party software products available to further cleanup and to breathe new life back into your system.

[tags]cleanup, spring, basics, [/tags]