Solo Newsletter

Volume 11, no. 3

Computer Upkeep: A Clean Machine

By Carol L. Schlein

Imagine your office if it hadn’t been cleaned in three years. Visualize the dust bunnies under your desk and the stacks of paper on the floor. OK, maybe your office isn’t a disaster, but what about your computers? Have you ever opened them and checked for dust?

Dust inside the case can wreak havoc. For starters, it can cause the fan to work harder, which makes the system more prone to over-heating. It’s worth it to periodically vacuum the innards. (Any decent vacuum will do; no need to buy a special “computer vacuum.”)

First, unplug the power cord and all connectors on the back. Second, discharge any static that may have built up in your body as you crossed the carpeted floor by touching a piece of wood or plastic. Finally, make sure that you don’t accidentally disconnect or loosen any components. While you have your computer open, it’s a good time to reseat all your cords and cables to be sure they are firmly seated. (You’ll know quickly when you start the computer and it doesn’t work at all or gives an error message that something that used to be there now is missing.)

The CD and DVD drives (or floppy drive, if you still have one), plus the system tape backup unit, also need a regular cleaning. Those old enough to remember phonographs recall what your favorite vinyl record sounded like when you set a dusty needle in the groove. There are inexpensive kits to clean these devices. (Check a computer or office supplies store or go online.) While you are cleaning, don’t forget your mouse and keyboard. With the computer turned off, turn your keyboard upside down over a garbage pail to get rid of the crumbs under the keys. Your mouse will also work better after a cleaning. I’ve often seen clients ready to replace a mouse, thinking it was defective, when, in fact, it had huge chunks of dust inside.

Finally, dust inside the computer is less of a problem if the environment around your computer is kept as dirt-free as possible. Even a computer likes to breathe clean air.


Carol L. Schlein is president of Law Office Systems in Montclair, New Jersey, a training and consulting firm specializing in law firm automation. Visit her online at This article is adapted from the author’s column in the New Jersey Lawyer.

Online Cleaning Tips

For more on how to clean your computer, including monitor, keyboard, and mouse, see and click on “Computers,” “Computer Hardware,” and then “Clean a Computer’s Insides Safely.”

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