Stay cool – get out the vacuum…

Old 2 Comments on Stay cool – get out the vacuum… 41

Once a year I try to remove dust from my companies PCs. Not the most glamorous of jobs but someone’s got to do it  – or do they?

Last week I vacuumed out a Fujitsu Esprimo – this PC is used 24/7 so the dust/fluff build up around the PSU and CPU was around 1/2 inch.  The sharp end of a vacuum a 1/2 inch paint brush and a the odd squirt of canned air and the PC was like new. Replaced the lid, fired it up, logged on and job done.

4 days later I get a call reporting the PC is dead! Upon inspection the PSU had died ! Coincidence ?

In a previous role I used to maintain DEC VAX VMS systems on Ferries  running retail/POS systems. On some older vessels the air quality was poor and laden with heavy particulates of smoke and carbon. I remember removing the outer casing on one unit on an Irish Sea vessel and basically the black coal like dust completely filled the casing. The contents could literally be removed by the handful. How these units kept on running was a mystery, the quality of the components used were exemplary.

Now I know that dust and PCs don’t mix, blocked vents, heatsink and fan =  restricted air flow , heat build up and premature component failure and/or reduced performance. All that’s a given but just sometimes I think it would be better to leave alone but then I wouldn’t sleep at night.

In a way this example sums up IT for me.  If you “fiddle” and it breaks it’s your fault – if you don’t  “fiddle” and it breaks it’s your fault.

Maybe I need another job ! Cleaning maybe



John R

John Reidy is an IT Manager for a Transport & Logistics Group of Companies in the UK. John’s background is in Network support and design for the Ministry of Defence, commercial premises, Ports and Sea going vessels serving the European Ferry industry. A BICSI trained and qualified Technician and promoter of the methodology for optimised best of breed information transport systems he designs LAN/WAN solutions together with hosted and on premise Telephony PBX solutions. John currently supports 190 users over 8 companies throughout the UK and Middle East supporting all aspects of the business associated technology and infrastructure on a 24/7 basis.

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  1. Martin Lehner August 2, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I’ve seen this happen before too. Sometimes, especially in power supplies, when you used compressed air, you may be blowing the majority of the dust out, but you may also be blowing dust IN, and into areas you can’t reach. As well, if a system literally runs 24/7 and you power it off and on, that in and of itself could cause a failure. The hardest thing on electronic components is that first surge of electricity when you power it on and it comes to life. If you ever use an ohm meter, or are able to track wattage, you’ll see that in the first few seconds of power up, energy demand spikes and then comes back down to a stable level. It’s always a delicate decision on whether it’s worth cleaning things out or leaving them, but I always advocate on keeping things clean. If you keep up on it and do it regularly, even if fails one day, you’ll have cleaned it so frequently and ‘on schedule’ that no one will think twice about you having caused the failure.

  2. John.R August 3, 2014 at 8:15 am

    Thanks Martin – forgive the innuendo but I suck both intake and exhaust and only use air as a final blow out.

    As with most jobs time is the enemy but yes a little and often is the best policy.

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