Computer Hardware Maintenance

March 18, 2013 under Computer Hardware Maintenance

Computer Hardware MaintenanceLet us go back to some true computer hardware basics: computer hardware maintenance. Computers are volatile creatures. One moment they’re running fine, the next they may just crash. Granted, more often than not this is a glitch in software that is running. However, it may also be caused by a physical problem. Maybe a component is a bit out of place. Or it can even be that a film of dust is causing a part to overheat making the system unstable. Whatever it is, it is always good to take preventative action in order to save your system from any damage that can be caused if something is left unchecked.

Hardware failure’s most common cause is directly related to physical damage. Dropping a laptop, kicking over a tower that is on the floor, being too harsh with internal components are probably most of the incidents that cause damage. Therefore, there are some things you will want to do to limit the number of digital casualties due to our imperfections.

Do you carry a laptop around often? If you do not have a laptop case, then you may be walking around with a dead one very soon. Out of any computers, laptops probably suffer the most abuse, not counting mobile phones ;) . While they are made to take some unintentional abuse, they really cannot take much without loosening or damaging internals. Therefore, if you must drop it, then drop it when it is in a case. Also, if you have dropped it in the past, when you are using it, you may want keep it as flat as possible, especially for magnetic hard disk drives so that the head does not scratch a platter. They are usually very close together, so any jolt can cause damage and make the platter spin unevenly.

Keep your computer free of dust as much as possible. Fans pull in air to circulate around and cool internal components. The air is then pushed out of the system by another fan. Well, our houses are filled with tiny dust particles constantly floating through the air, especially if you have carpeting, clothes, bedspreads, or other things in the room where your computer is.

As the fan pulls in air to cool everything down, it pulls these little contaminants in where they may find a home and settle down on some hardware. As the months pass, more and more of these particles get caught in the computer and form a layer of dust over the hardware. This causes heat from the computer’s running parts to be retained, thus increasing the temperature of the components and possibly damaging them. Dusting the inside of your computer every month or two(or as needed) will help prevent this.

Electric dusters and compressed air do the job well. Dust all of the components on the inside and the fan vents as well. You may want to use an electric duster over compressed air because it is better for the environment and will save you money in the long run.

You should be cautious when handling computer components. You will need to be grounded when touching components to avoid any electrical transfers from you to the machine. It is best to wear an anti-static wrist strap and attach it to a metal part on the computer case.

Also, if you work on computers a lot, it is good to have an anti-static mat to put under the unit or any component you are working with.  This is especially important if you are working in an area where static electricity is easy to come by, like on a carpet.

Remember, before working on a computer, always unplug it from its power source. Then press and hold the “on” button for a few seconds to discharge any stored electricity. Never work on a computer when it is plugged in. Do not work on a power supply, either, unless you are trained to.

It has been said in the past to keep your computer running all of the time. Not only is that extremely wasteful, from an environmental standpoint, but in the long run, it will reduce the life of your computer. Just like your own body or even an automobile, rest is needed. A constant strain on any physical thing is not good for it. It will fail at some point. Even though starting your computer with a cold boot is taxing, unless you start it multiple times a day, there really should not be anything to worry about.

Turning it off, or at least putting it in a hibernation mode after you are done with it each day is good. Throughout the day, sleep modes are very useful for conserving energy and keeping your computer in a ready state for when you need to use it quickly.

Finally, if you remove internal components, it is a good practice to place them inside anti-static bags. This may be going a little overboard for some, it is always best to err on the side of caution, especially if you are working on someone else’s computer.

Physical maintenance of computer components is vital for a computer to stay healthy for a long time. Just remember to always be safe when working on computers. Also, do not take chances when handling internal components as they are very sensitive. Many of the items mentioned in this post are not necessary, especially if your computer is in a clean environment and handled with care. However, they are useful if you are in a dusty environment or you work on other peoples’ computers since you may not know how they treat them. So never slack on computer hardware maintenance.