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Keeping your PC physically clean - The interior of a keyboard

Madhava - Wed, 15 Jun 2005 22:22:16 +0530
Hopefully everyone is already aware of the fact that it's a good idea to open up your PC case at least twice a year and clean out the vast amounts of dust and stuff that accumulate all around, most significantly around the CPU cooler.

However, yesterday I discovered, there is yet another place I had neglected. Ever wondered what happens to all those small things that fall inside your keyboard since years? No, they don't vanish. There is no automated garbage purging functionality there.

Here's what I found inside mine:


Apologies if it looks a bit gross, but that's what I found. That's on top of what I've been holding my hands for a while now. And we do not have pets, nor am I in the habit of eating next to my PC. OK, I scratch my beard sometimes when I'm thinking, that amounts to some of what you see. Mostly it's dust, pollen and miscellaneous small garbage. Some of it was held together by a greasy substance, most likely accumulated from the occasional frying in the wok and the subsequent oil in the air. Your keyboard could be hiding something much more horrible.

You can remove most Microsoft and Logitech keys with the rear end of a simple table spoon or a fork, or any other thin and flat tool. Gently, though. And I do not take any responsibility for broken keyboards resulting from a sporadic effort to desinfect it as a result of seeing the picture above.
Attachment: Image
DharmaChakra - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 00:22:53 +0530
Hear, hear.. I just did this at work last week. And under the same conditions - a keyboard that hadn't been cleaned for 3 years. I noticed some grime on the keys, so I decided to pop them off & Windex them.. and I was looking at a situation much like the one above. Gross!

BTW, the grease may be from something put on the keys to keep any squeeks down, since I had it at work as well. Turned out to be about a 2 hr job, but I'm so proud of my spankin' clean keyboard tongue.gif
Madhava - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 00:28:56 +0530
Actually the main reason for my opening up the keyboard (Microsoft Natural Keyboard Pro) was the terrible clanging it made when I was typing. You could hear it across the apartment loud and clear. I applied vaseline around the stems of all the keys with a cotton stick to bring down the noise. All in all, a successful operation, resulting in a keyboard four times quieter than it used to be. It's really irritating when you're trying to focus on something (like chanting the names, or more commonly, daydreaming and dozing off) and it sounds like someone (your better half) is trying to take the life out of the poor keyboard.
brajamani - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 02:45:33 +0530
Boy you must do alot of thinking in front ofthe PC to get thqat much hair in there bud!

With all that DNA we can now clone you , MUHAHAHAHAHA :smile:
DharmaChakra - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 02:56:15 +0530
A quick comment. If you decide to do this, take care with the space bar and shift keys. All of these keys have small parts (springs and/or metal brackets) that can pop off & get lost. Not having them will change how your keyboard works (those keys won't 'bounce' like they used to) & you won't be very happy smile.gif
Madhava - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 03:15:45 +0530
QUOTE(brajamani @ Jun 15 2005, 10:15 PM)
Boy you must do alot of thinking in front ofthe PC to get thqat much hair in there bud!

Actually most of it was dust... it just looks weird thanks to the flash. (Well it looked pretty gross even without, but it looked more like dust and stuff.)

* * * * *

Some friends have also asked about cleaning the inside of your PC.

The first thing you want to do is to turn off the power and moreover to pull the plug out, since there's a small current in the PC at all times unless it's unplugged or the switch at the back of the power supply unit is turned off.

You should be aware that there is sensitive equipment inside. Don't wear woolen or synthetic fibre shirts, or other clothes that are known to generate static electricity. One good snap on a sensitive circuit and it's done with. When you open the case, the first thing you should do is touch the bare metal of the case to unleash any static charge to that rather than to the components.

After opening the case, you can use a vacuum cleaner (obviously just the tube or a suitable small mouthpiece, remove the piece you use for floors!). However don't bring it into direct contact with the components. Generally most dust gathers on the bottom of the case and to the fans. You can hold the vacuum cleaner just above the heatsink and let it suck out whatever is available. You should also vacuum through the grill of the power supply unit on the outside of the case, right next to your power cable.

If there are sections where you can't quite fit in, such as on top of the hard drive, you can blow the dust off and then vacuum it out. I recommend blowing and then immediately turning your face away unless you want to inhale a cloud of dust.

Regarding the heatsink:


That's the common brand of heatsinks that come boxed with Pentium 4 setups. Sometimes dust also accumulates between the fins of the heatsink under the fan, obstructing the airflow. You'll need to be careful poking around there, but basically you can scoop it out with a match, a straw or whatever else suits the purpose. Fans and heatsinks stuffed with dust are the most common reason for processor overheating that leads to system freezes and also to increased noise in setups where the processor fan is temperature controlled. It also shortens the life of the fan.

If you haven't a clue about computers and are among those who break everything they touch, you should probably leave this for a friend to do. However, you don't need to be a computer wiz to clean up your PC. It's a fairly routine operation.

I've found spider webs inside PCs. smile.gif
Attachment: Image
brajamani - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 08:14:58 +0530
My heatsink is full of dust on my main workstation...thanks for that!
nabadip - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 19:16:45 +0530
Is this applicable to Notebooks as well? unsure.gif
DharmaChakra - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 20:26:47 +0530
QUOTE(nabadip @ Jun 16 2005, 09:46 AM)
Is this applicable to Notebooks as well? unsure.gif

Well, yes. The keys may be harder to get off tho. Computers have intake fans, so all internal components will get dusty. I've heard putting a cut-out from woman's nylons over the fan iintake will help with the dust, but not reduce airflow. I personally have never done it. I just vac it out a few times a year.

BTW, I work in a school system with some VERY dirty schools. I was in one this AM & looked under the keys of a machine I was working on.. ugh! Thanks Madhava! pinch.gif
Madhava - Thu, 16 Jun 2005 21:00:00 +0530
Most notebooks are damn hard to open, though. Opening a notebook shouldn't be attempted unless you are experienced with handling hardware.