Have you ever had to recover something from the floor under your desk? Is your desktop computer cabinet under there as well? What is usually under your desk that can threaten your computer's performance?
If you ever had reason to check the inside of your computer you would instantly be able to answer the last question above. It is simply dirt and dust.
When a computer cabinet is mounted close to the floor, or anywhere out of constant sight for that matter it is easy to ignor basic cleanliness when it comes to the device. Over the weeks, months and years that the computer operates it will gradually become increasingly filthy inside the case. This occurs simply because the air in offices, especially that under desks and behind desks etc. is full of dust. As the computer runs and the fans internally in the case suck in air needed to cool the computer it also sucks in dust and dirt.
The collection of dust bunnies which collect inside the device can gradually start to degrade performance . Fans start to run a little slower. The blades are gradually coated with residue and the air they produce is a bit less than designed. Electrical boards get dust particles and collections on them and this can lead to slight increases in operating temperature which over time can affect components. Hard drives can be affect by dust and dirt and the spinning components can be subject to wear.
Of course none of this happens in a flash. It takes time for the accumulated garbage which collects in a computer to start to have even minor impacts. However, if the dirt and dust is left to accumulate for a long time then damage is almost a sure thing.
How can you prevent this kind of aggravation for your devices. First, if at all possible, don't locate desktop towers under desks on the floor. At least place them on an elevation shelf which gets them up away from the carpet and the dust which gets generated when it is vacuumed or when you shuffle your feet under your desk. Better still is to mount the tower on a desk side shelf or in another way to get it up away from under the desk.
Of course with smaller mini devices now available it is possible to have a much smaller footprint for your device on your desk making it possible for the computer to mount under your monitor or even behind it sitting on the desk. In this case, still be careful not to let desktop accumulations block the cooling access for the air needed to keep the internal components at a suitable operating temperature. That pile of papers you ignor sitting beside the computer case could be killing it with lack of air.
What if you know your devices have been sitting under desks and on the floor for a couple of years? All is not lost. With care a computer technician can pull the device from under the desk, remove it to a suitable location and open the case for a cleaning. Ideally there needs to be an area where dust and dirt can be blown safely out of the devices (usually done using compressed air) and components can be checked for wear and dirt accumulation.
Can you do this yourself? If you are knowledgeable about the internal components of a computer and have the right place to clean the unit you can probably go ahead. Remember there are electical components in there and you need to take care.
Ideally, however this is a job for a technician who is able to visually inspect the components while the computer is open and who knows what they are looking for. With experience they will know if a fan is intermittently spinning slower or out of balance, or if a component has been affected by accumulations. Making a quick repair with a proper fan replacement or cleaning of a component can mean the cost of having the technician open the case for cleaning will be offset by the continued reliable life of your computer. This is one of the easiest ways to extend the life of computers and to avoid costly issues from premature failures.
Simple, low tech housekeeping is often overlooked as we focus our computer maintenance on software threats, online issues and the other visible parts of operations. The tried and true maintenance of the physical components of the computer can help to extend life and ensure you get the performance you have paid for. Want to see how bad it can get? Check out the details in this article in Tech Republic.
Similar issues can be a concern for network servers as well, but that is a topic for another day.
Is anyone responsible for the physical maintenance of your office computers? Are dust bunnies and other physical threats ignored?
Photo credit: Tech Republic