Free Certification Practice Tests and Study Guides
Join Us! | Login | Help

A+ Study Guide: Domain 1.0: Personal Computer Components: Maintenance

:: Return to the Index ::

Outside of the Case
Inside of the Case
Input/Output Devices

Regular cleaning of computers and their components can extend their lifespan, prevent accidents and injury, and save money. Computers and their components are delicate pieces of equipment, so proper and regularly scheduled care is very important. Below are cleaning tips for various items.

Outside of the Case:
Cleaning of outer surfaces of a computer can be done with soap and water as long as the solution does not enter the internal parts of the computer. The solution should be applied with a lint-free cloth. The cleaning should be followed with an anti-static spray that can be made out of water and fabric softener.

Computer equipment should not be placed in areas of extreme temperature or humidity. It should also not be located near any magnets such as those found in speakers.

Inside of the Case:
Internal dust can be cleaned with canned air, a soft brush, or anti-static vacuum. Anti-static vacuums are specially grounded to prevent static discharge like regular vacuums. Dust can contribute to overheating problems. Making sure that all expansion slot covers are in place can reduce dust buildup. Missing covers can also disrupt the airflow design of the case and cause overheating problems. Additional fans can be added to help cut down on internal temperature problems. As mentioned in the CPU section, there are newer cooling options such as liquid cooling for CPUs.

Oxidation corrosion can slow down or even prevent electricity from flowing through contact points. Oxidation buildup can be removed by rubbing with an emery board or eraser. It can also be cleaned with a special cleaning solution.

Floppy drives can be cleaned using a cleaning kit available at computer stores, or use a cotton swab with isopropyl/denatured alcohol to clean the inside of the drive.

Other than keeping the dust off of them as described above, hard drives don't get physically cleaned. There are, however, 2 important maintenance tasks that are done through the operating system. Hard drives can have clusters go bad so it is important to check for these so that the operating system knows not to use them. In Windows, error checking can be done in the following manner:
  • Open My Computer
  • Right click on the drive to be checked and select "properties".
  • Click on the "Tools" tab.
  • Click on the "Check Now" button.
Hard drives can become littered with unneeded files. To clean these up, follow the instructions above, but click on the "Disk Cleanup" button on the general tab instead.

If a CD-ROM or DVD-ROM player is no longer reading discs, you might want to try a cleaning kit. If the problem only appears to be with one CD or DVD, it is either scratched or dirty. If dirty, use a CD cleaning fluid and anti-static cloth.

Input/Output Devices:
Monitors should be cleaned with an anti-static wipe. Do not use household cleaning solutions as they can damage the screen. Some LCD screens have to be cleaned with a special solution. LCD monitors should not be located in overly cold or humid environments.

Keyboards can tend to collect dust between the keys. They can be vacuumed with a small vacuum or the dust can be blown out with compressed air while holding it upside down. If you spill liquid inside a keyboard, it can often be repaired by taking it apart and cleaning the inside, however, most keyboards are so inexpensive that it usually isn't worth it.

Ball mice need to occasionally have the X and Y rollers cleaned with a lint-free swab, while little maintenance is needed on optical mice. If an optical mouse starts behaving strangely and you know the batteries are good, try cleaning the optics with a damp cotton swab.

Printer and Scanner care instructions are discussed separately in Domain 4.0.