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What You Said: Your Tech Spring Cleaning Routines

2012-03-16_120931

Earlier this week we asked you to share your tech spring cleaning routine; now we’re back to highlight your tips, tricks, and techniques.

What tools rule the spring cleaning roost? Compressed air and microfiber cloths are the tools of choice by a wide margin. D^Angelo highlights the software and physicals tools he uses:

Backup all the important stuff just to be safe (c:/, my documents, desktop, drivers)
Cleaning the dust with some office depot compressed air, avoiding spinning the fans.
Use a brush for that small places (fans, memory, capacitors, etc).
Use some dielectric spray on the motherboard.

If the pc turned on without problems its time to use ccleaner,
Check if there is a toolbar installed or another unusual software that I don’t want.
Run my antivirus software or malwarebytes; some defraggler maybe.

Finally check for updates in windows and other important software.

My computer is ready for another 6 months non-stop working schedule.

On monitor use a dry cloth only (monitor turned off), in keyboard and mouse use some compressed air + office depot keyboard foam cleaner.

Lady Fitzgerald shares her full computer/peripheral cleaning routine:

I open up my desktop PC every month or so and carefully blow out any dust with canned “air.” Like D’Angelo, I avoid spinning the fans only I make sure they don’t spin by using a small wooden stick to keep them from spinning.

My netbook gets the keyboard blown of with canned ” air” and wiped down with a microfiber cloth that has been lightly sprayed with LCD cleaner. My dsktop keyboard gets the same treatment and my mice get wiped down with a moist LCD cleaner. All of mice are optical so I don’t have to worry about cleaning the ball and internal rollers anymore

The rest of my gear I clean as needed. I wipe off exteriors with a microfiber cloth that has been lightly sprayed with LCD cleaner. I clean LCD screens by gently brushing off as much dust as possible with a soft brush, blow off any remaining dust with canned “air,” spraying lightly with LCD cleaner, and gently wiping clean with a clean microfiber cloth. Stubborn spots I get off by wetting a corner of a microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and use that to carefully scrub at the spot, then wipe clean with the dry portion of the cloth. I make my finishing strokes vertically.

I clean the platten of my flat bed scanner as needed the same way I clean LCD screens.

My Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 ADF scanner gets cleaned as needed. Blowing out dust is verboten since it can cause dust to be blown into the cameras (Fulitsu’s term). I use a vacuum cleaner to get the dust out. While vacuuming , I also remove the feed roller and pressure pad and vacuum behind them. The pad and roller get ink buildup removed with Fujitsu’s F1 cleaner, then I put them back in place. I wet a corner of a microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and gently clean the camera plattens, then wipe dry with a the dry portion of the cloth. I then lightly moisten the microfiber cloth with LCD cleaner and wipe down all exterior surfaces. Adter clean, I feed a sheet of white paper through to make sure the roller and pad have dried and aren’t leavinbg tracks on the paper.

About all I have to do with my old HP Laserjet 1300 printer is brush and blow away dust and wipe down the exterior. If the printouts start to smudge a bit, I run some blank paper through the cleaning cycle. The thing seems to thrive on neglect.

My external hard drive just gets wiped down as needed.

To clean the works of my computers, I run weekly scans with Avast free, MBAM, Spybot S&D (TeaTimer runs full time), SAS, and Glary Utilities.

Semiretired highlights a type of spring cleaning we really need to do around the How-To Geek offices:

My spring cleaning is going to the garage and deciding which parts I will actually use, and which computers, laptops and TVs are worth rebuilding, then trashing the rest. As for my everyday computers, I am perpetually behind as far as upgrading, organizing, backing up, and cleaning up and tidying the wires. My towers actually stay pretty clean, because I keep them away from the floor. I scrutinize the tower fans and power supply fans a couple times a year.

Spring used to mean rebuilding a few computers while watching baseball on the television in the garage (mostly listening)…………I miss that.

Just the other week someone was asking “How did we get an entire box of DVI cables?”—sounds like it’s time to take Semiretired’s advice and start sorting through things for the recycling bin.

Have a cleaning tip to share? It’s not to late; sound off in the comments!

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 03/16/12

Comments (8)

  1. Khai

    for cases, you can’t beat baby wipes. cheap, enough moisture to clean but not flood. and they smell nice.

  2. Rohugh

    Thanks for this, it reminded me to clean my tower unit and it was thick with dust – ugh! It even runs quieter now.,

  3. malachipclover

    I just back up to my 1TB external, format and reinstall Windows.

  4. devan

    I run all my computers off a personal cloud server I custom built. I run over 100 machines off of it. The case for it was custom made because the motherboard was so large no case would hold its size. Very expensive but worth it considering I’m a programmer and game developer for a living. If anyone needs the specs to build one yourself message me at info@devanhcrow.com

  5. will

    My windows install doesn’t last long enough to warrant “cleaning” (ie, I typically reinstall once a month or two, else I end up going crazy!) On the odd occasion that I do need to tidy windows up, CCleaner and Defraggler is pretty much all thats required (AV and Malware scheduled anyway)

    Every 6 months or so I crack the case(s) open and give heatsinks etc a good brush & hoover :D

  6. GraveDigger27

    For the most part I agree with the comments made by others – weekly runs of free applications like Avast!, CCleaner, Glary Utilities, SUPERAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware keep my systems running free of bad stuff and keeping everything up-to-date by installing all the required updates & patches is what I recommend as well as taking my desktop outside once or twice a year to blow out all of the dust with compressed air and check all the connections to the drives and motherboard.

    I used to do a fresh install of the operating system but now I just maintain multiple disk images of my drive and if I need to recover from a bad installation or a virus or malware attack, I just format the drive and reinstall the latest “good” disk image – I have multiple drives in my desktop so I keep copies of the data files (the My Documents folder) on both – if a drive fails all I lose is stuff tha I have a copy of somewhere else.

  7. Alison

    I keep all my backup of software and files on 2 external harddrives. One is so small it stays in my handbag. It’s amazing how many times I’m somewhere else and want to access a file. I back up email monthly on these. I keep my stuff in small ziplock bags. That’s a flow over from lots of travelling. My computer bits box has various cords in their own separate ziplock bags.
    Right now I need to get on with a clean reload on my laptop. I’ve got everything backed up, I think. My list is ready and I’m doing anything to delay starting. Better take the plunge and get on with it.

  8. A

    A software program I use that wasn’t mentioned before is Advanced System Care 5 by Iobit

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