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  Re: How to kill your PC, quickly 
 
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Sander Sassen Nov 07, 2007, 05:39am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Well, apart from a water leakage from that watercooler you installed I think dust is one of the main causes for PC (component) failures. The PC in the column picture had a AMD Athlon FX60 which simply died due to overheating caused by dust buildup, the power supply suffered the same fate.

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Rory Witham Nov 07, 2007, 06:32am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
I have had only one issue with liquiid cooling systems fault, where the water pump fan broke and the CPU cooling block exploded, As a result the computer had the block replaced but suffered no damage.

Dust, is more of an issue with laptops as the dust build up is normally greater due to the small spaces.
Many desktop with dust like you have pictured have been in use for some years. I begs to question if placing a computer on the floor is such a good idea as this is the number one place where dust sinks and therfore makes it way in to the computer.
On the otherhand, all my computer systems and servers sit on the floor and have filters mounted in them to stop the ingress of dust. This however allow smaller particals of very fine dust into the case and to settle on the components, a quick blow and its all gone.

People seam to forget that a computer need to be maintained on a regular basis regardless if there is a visable fault or not, with the same regularity as you may carry out virus scans.

Due to the components used in our servers, it is always important to keep them running 24/7 so these are serviced every 3 months, but never turned off. the only fault has been that one servers NB fan has stopped working which has risen the temperature to 40Oc, I have no bdoubt that if this were a desktop or gaming system, the failed fan would be considerably more noticeable.

We possibly would go over board if we were to talk about the electrical conductivity of dust inside a computer.


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The Bison Nov 07, 2007, 07:05am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Nov 07, 2007, 07:07am EST

 
>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Dang! :/ If im not mistaken that looks like a lovely Calibre GFX Card with a TEC covered in dust ><img src=" title=">:O"> cant imagine alowing mine to come to that, just the thought...... *tears form in eyes*
People just need a hair dryer on high (cold) settings and a couple of minutes every month to keep their pc dust free..... I 'borrow' my girlfriends hairdryer then hide it under my PC desk :D

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daniel ellis Nov 07, 2007, 09:13am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Yeah, ive rescued a few computers from a dusty grave recently. Both were OEM systems, and both had prescott CPUs.
The first one belonged to a friend who complained that his pc didnt run Diablo 2 well, which puzzled me since it should easily run games from battlefield 1942 to even world of warcraft. So I investigated and found that his CPU HSF had like an eighth of an inch of dust on it. I quickly turned the PC off (the cpu was running at a warm 80 C) and cleaned the fan as best i could. The dust came off like a giant piece of cardboard. I applied AS 5 and the temps dropped all the way down to around 30-45 (min-max).
The other computer is almost identical to the first one except it runs off an old nvidia 4400, but it has the same P4 2.4GHz CPU and the same HSF.

Basically, what i learned back in the day when i had a Clawhammer A64 was that a clean computer is a stable computer.

My current and all future build will be in cases with filters, like the CM Centurion 5 or the TT matrix. (low end examples). Its worth the extra $$$. Ive not once cleaned the stock CPU fan on my Windsor AX2 4600+, and it has absolutely no dust on it.

My 2 cents would be buy cases with filters i guess.

David Williams Nov 07, 2007, 09:35am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Hello,

My answer to this question would be thunder storms.

I lost a PC to a thunder storm, apparently because a bolt of lightning struck phone lines somewhere within 50 km of my home and the power spike came down the phone line, into the network cable and straight to my motherboard via the network cable and on-board LAN on the mainboard. When I went to my local PC shop to ask about the chances of rescuing the machine, the owner said he'd alread had several other similar queries that same day, and my insurance company confirmed that this had affected an wide area and hundreds of PCs. Apprently nosurge protector could have helped, as there were no DSL surge protectors available at that time (it was in 2002).

Regards,

David Williams

Afrow UK Nov 07, 2007, 11:03am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Yeh my newer desktop shut itself down during a game of Battlefield. Lots of dust in the heat sink that you can't see with a fan over the top.

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dalecosp Nov 07, 2007, 11:15am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: How to kill a PC quickly
Lightning is an issue; so protect yourself. Don't build your NOC on top of a Baldy in the Appalachians, for starters. Use protective equipment, and make a note of the proper color of indicator light when the unit is installed, and compare after every episode of "stormy weather" and weekly otherwise.

However, lightning is a "chance" happening, and I'm surprised that "50km" was an issue ... I've seen very few instances of lightning damage where the storm wasn't directly overhead the night before I get the dead modem/dead computer phone call.

Dust, on the other hand, is ubiquitous and is especially bad around computers. Cleaning personnel should be instructed to carefully clean the computer area as thoroughly as possible. I have seen remarkably "clean" boxes, but they usually come from homes or offices that are quite "clean" themselves. OTOH, in our experience, shop owners, for example auto repair shops, machine shops, woodworking/cabinetry shops, etc. have tremendous issues with dust in the computers. If you have computers in such an environment, open-case cleaning should be done monthly in our opinion, certainly not less than 60-day intervals.

Time marches on, and seems to go by quickly. The computer most people are using today is not brand new.

I believe that anyone who runs a computer 24/7 even in a moderately clean facility should open it up at least twice a year and "get the dust out". An important note I may have learned here: if you do your "dusting" with compressed air, hold the fans still by inserting a drinking straw or similar item between the blades. A fan motor spinning without power applied may act as a mini-generator and send current back into the motherboard with disastrous results.

If your janitor is nicknamed "Dusty", plan a big IT budget.... ;-)

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Rory Witham Nov 07, 2007, 11:43am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
My way of checking the dust levels in my systems are..

Just look in the window, the case has a window and internal lighting, so its easy to see any dust build up.
Often, its not easy to see when the GPU starts to build up dust and this is often hidden and the first place for the build up.
From a design point of view. heat rises, but the gpu's Hotest parts are not on top to allow better air flow.


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Michel Merlin Nov 07, 2007, 11:57am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Guiltizing and Sarcasming the victims - a gangsters' well proven trick!
Sander Sassen said:
I am sure we can all agree that all of that p0rn did not end up on that hard-drive by accident, but I normally just nod without even lifting an eyebrow
I am sure we can all agree that all of that spam did not end up on that hard-drive by accident, but I normally just nod without even lifting an eyebrow.

However today it goes too far so I exceptionally and temporarily part from remaining "without even lifting an eyebrow": no surprise that spammers, as any other gangsters and wrongdoers (big or small, from Nazis to school yards), have plenty support wherever it's useful to them (forums being currently one of their preferred places) and plenty tested and trained tools, tricks, accomplices (as guiltizing and sarcasming the victims). Nothing new!

(Sorry for not keeping this time political-correctly silent. I know I will feel the pain...)

Versailles, Wed 7 Nov 2007 17:57:45 +0100

Phil Nov 07, 2007, 12:21pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Best way a Customer of mine found was Pulling out a PCI-e Graphics card out while the PC was STILL ON!!!!! 'numpty' comes to mind :/

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Dave Van Amburg Nov 07, 2007, 12:27pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
I also get a fair number of requests to either 'fix a slow pc' or to clean off the 'clutter'. Since reloading everything is such a time consuming pain as well as boring, I have developed the following procedure for minimizing this.

When first setting up (or cleaning up) a computer, I install a copy of Acronis True Image and do a full system copy after installing and updating the OS and programs (before adding any user data). I store a copy both on their hard drive and on my net storage in their customer folder. Then I add back in any data files and hand off the machine.

When I get a request to rescue or clean up their system, I:
- dust it out (haven't seen one yet that didn't need this);
- back up their user files and data;
- check for any new programs;
- do a complete hardware check-out;
- scratch and reload their hard drive from the system copy;
- reinstall any new programs;
- update all programs;
- do a new full system copy;
- reload their files and data.

Every one of these items have to be done in any case, but restoring from the back-up eliminates the tedious task of reloading the OS and all the original software.

I use Acronis since in my experience, it is easier to use and more reliable than any of the alternatives such as Ghost which has given me many problems over the years. I know others swear by Ghost or their own favorite and that is fine. Use whatever you are familiar and comfortable with.

One other consideration is that I have had much better luck with actually getting clients to do back-ups when I get them to use Acronis than any other back-up software I have tried.


Dave Van Amburg Nov 07, 2007, 12:41pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Question? I have a couple of CM Centurion 5 cases and they don't have significantly better 'filters' than many others I have used. Still get plenty of dust build-up inside.

Are you adding filter material or did your's come with some different configuration including filters?

I have tried adding matrix filter material to some cases used in 'dirty' environments and spraying them with a 'filter spray'. This works well, but sometimes results in a really awkward cleaning and replacement process. Also have to very carefully test and monitor temps due to the decreased airflow (increased resistance) and have had to add a fan or swap out for a higher volume fan to keep things cool.

If anyone has any suggestions about this I would welcome your advice.

Kelly ....... Nov 07, 2007, 02:29pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
I agree that dust/cleanliness is probably one of the top reasons for hardware malfunction.

My brother and I run a small PC repair buisness and have a few of our customers are privately owned local auto repair shops, and by far they tend to have the most problems when it comes to actually having to replace parts in their PC's due to malfunction.

We also do work for this couple that just wont listen about keeping their home office clean and not smoking in the home office, my brother swears to me he found an ashtray turned over behind the PC and a ciggarette butt inside the PC!! In the last year we replaced his CPU, gfx card and HDD. And the PC was not even a year old when we replaced the first part (the CPU).

In contrast, we do work for an elderly lady that keeps her home office spotless and she is still using an old Dell Dimension 4100 (P3) and has not had to replace any parts, only problems we have had with it are finding drivers occasionally.

A tip for your own home would be to get some good air filters if you have central air, we just recently bought a new cooling/heating unit with a really nice air filtration system on it, and we noticed a huge difference in the amount of dust in the house. (Good filters can be kind of expensive (think ours run 60$ for two of the disposable kind) but they are well worth it I think).

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dark41 Nov 07, 2007, 03:22pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
"Anyway, this is not the topic I wanted to touch upon in this column, as p0rn usually does not kill your PC quickly, so I will leave it at that."

I almost fell off my chair laughing at that one. Obviously someone who's had experience with porn. :)

We do repairs for a living. Every other day I get a system in that looks just like the one in the pics. And no, this doesn't necessarily take years to build up, depending upon your environment. If you have cats and your system sits on the floor, that can happen in a month. Heavy smokers will also see dust collect quickly, and it doesn't blow off as easily. We have cheap carpeting with our systems sitting on the floor, a dog that seems to shed more than he eats, and I smoke. Even with filters in every nook and cranny, we need to blow out our systems every 2 months or so.

I'm with you Sander. We supply a surge protector and can of compressed air with every system we build. I also take great pride in tying back cables to keep good air flow and look nice. Yet, it's amazing how many people bring in our own systems to have us clean them up and have never used the compressed air. So far none have died (knock on wood). We make sure they understand that they void their 2-3 yr warranty if they don't keep the systems clean. I guess it's still intimidating for most people to take the side cover off. :~

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Bitmap Nov 07, 2007, 04:27pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Aye, in the summer of 2006, my girlfriend wanted me to tune up her computer. She had no anti-virus, no anti-spyware, and no software firewall. Over the course of about 2 years, the computer had accumulated a bounty of malware, crapware, and over bad wares. :P So she enlisted me in cleaning it up and bringing it back up to pace. I pulled out every trick in my book, and then some, and was able to get it back to a working state (i.e., she didn't have to let the computer sit for a half-hour while it loaded EVERYTHING).

Also, on a whim, I decided to open up her case to see how things were looking on the inside. That... was... a mess. There was a nice carpet of dust on the bottom floor of the case, all of the heatsinks for the CPU, northbridge, southbridge, and graphics card were smothered in dust. I'm honestly surprised her computer was still functioning. Oh, and the clip for the northbridge heatsink had undone itself, and was just hanging but one wire clip.

I take good care of my computer. I have an Antec Nine Hundred chassis, so airflow is definitely good. Every so often, I'll take my video card out and clean it of dust, since that seems to be where most dust collects the quickest.

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Thermalfreak Nov 07, 2007, 04:57pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
thats why i love windowed cases that sit so that the user sees everything inside while using the computer, for me it lets me keep check on everything thats inside, for anybody ive built a pc for it keeps them self concious and keeps bugging them to finally clean it once in a while...

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FingerMeElmo87 Nov 07, 2007, 04:59pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
i usualy just throw a very low power haduken into my pc which vaporises the dust in my machine. its pretty effective, you all should try it.

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FordGT90Concept Nov 07, 2007, 05:10pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Nov 07, 2007, 10:24pm EST

 
>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
I've only encountered one computer (design rather) that almost got killed by dust. It had a star shape design of HSF on the CPU which caught dust like it's its job. It probably would have died because next to no airflow was making it past but the owner noted that the computer was substantially louder than previously. I removed the HSF in order to blow the dust out and, sure enough, it was fixed. Because of how close the fins are at the center of the HSF, it is and will remain to be liable to get clogged up again.

I've seen HSFs that are over a century old work perfectly fine without ever being cleaned so the solution is really quite simple: don't get HSFs with fins too close together.

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B Nov 07, 2007, 06:31pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Dust build up doesn't kill a PC quickly. It takes at least a year or two before the a significant amount of dust builds up which is capable of calling malfunction.

GtoX (capt Guns) Nov 08, 2007, 07:03am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
haha oh i would definetly agree with you guys.. Dust buildup is extremely dangerous, i.e. my girlfriend had me "fix" her computer because it was extremely loud when its supposed to be silent.. some OEM computer, Celeron type computer.. either way the hsf was built so that a fan similar to one 80mm placed on the side of a case was on top blowing in air and dust towards the heatsink, with the fins so tight together that it got stuck there.. literally.. it took me half an hour trying to peel off this dust layer, but afterwards went back to its default silent operation...

another example was my friend, who lives in a 1 room appartment with people constantly coming over, AND smoke ciggarettes and other various substances.. so the airflow isnt really optimal you could say.. :P
his fans were clogged with dust in a way that this particular dust was actually sticky like honey, would stay on ure fingers had to be washed off with soapy water.. the kinda grease u see on ure stove intake fan... haha
i cleaned it out and lowered the temps by about 18degrees...

i feel stupid now because i brought over my other lan computer (e6600), and it really smells like someone stuck 100 ciggarette butts in their... pretty surprised though, as i have a 25cm fan on the side and i get close to no dust compared to my friends computer which sits right beside mine, on a glass table...

does smoking harm a computer btw? passive that is, not actually blowing the smoke into the fans... some have said it doesnt, as long as the temps are all in order...

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Sander Sassen Nov 08, 2007, 07:10am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Re: How to kill your PC, quickly
Brendan Gonsalves said:
Dust build up doesn't kill a PC quickly. It takes at least a year or two before the a significant amount of dust builds up which is capable of calling malfunction.


I'm going to respectfully disagree, the PC pictured in the column had been running for just six months, it all depends on how 'dusty' the environment is it is used in. In this particular case it was standing on the carpet in a teenager's bedroom, I guess he didn't vacuum often by the looks of it.

Best regards,

Sander Sassen
Editor in Chief - Hardware Analysis
ssassen@hardwareanalysis.com

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