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Dirty Computer Stuff

Have you ever cleaned out your computer? Now I’m not talking about deleting old files that you no longer need or (gasp) deleting your web browsing history. All desktop computers and all but the smallest of laptop computers have fans in them meant to pull cool air in and push hot air out.

The CPU (main brain) of your computer generates heat. And the faster or more powerful a CPU you have the more heat it will generate. An intel i5-10400 process (an upper middle class CPU) will heat itself up to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit when under a full load (that is, when asked to do a big task).

The fans move air over the CPU (actually across a heat sink on top of the CPU) cooling it and keeping all of the components in the computer cooler. The CPU has internal heat sensors and if it decides it is getting too hot it will begin to run slower (drawing less power, and creating less heat) in an effort to prevent damage due to excessive heat.

As these fans move air into and through the computer, it is also moving contaminants (dust, debris, pet hair) into the computer where they will most likely get stuck or caught. This causes 2 distinct problems:

1 - As the fans themselves get dirty, they become less effective at moving air, causing even more heat build up. They also start to run louder.

2 - As this debris builds up on the internal components it produces a layer of insulation, keeping the “cool” moving air from directly hitting the things producing heat, further reducing the cooling.

If a computer senses heat has built up to a “critical level” it can and will shut itself off to try to prevent permanent damage.

While cleaning the inside of a desktop computer is fairly straightforward, precautions involving static electricity need to be observed and some components should be removed to be fully cleaned (most notably the fans should be removed, the fan blades cleaned, and the “opening” in the case the fan draws air through should be cleaned or de-clogged).

On desktops over 2 years old, the heatsink on the CPU should be removed, the old thermal conductive paste cleaned off, and new fresh paste applied.

Laptops are much harder to take apart and best left to someone with some experience in the process.

High end video cards may come with their own fans, heat sinks, and applications of thermal paste that should be cleaned and refreshed as well.

How often do I have to do this (or have it done)?

Depending on your environment, pet situation, or the industrial setting (if it is a work computer), the computer should be cleaned every six months to one year. It should definitely be cleaned at least every 2 years.

Is this something Village Tech does?

Why yes, yes it is!

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