By Staff Sgt. Robert Cloys
4th Space Operations Squadron
January was National Clean Your Computer Month. For many, it came and went without notice. For the computer savvy, cleaning your computer may immediately spawn thoughts to delete unneeded files, run an anti-virus or a registry cleaner. For those with less technical insight to the inner workings of a computer “cleaning” may be taken more literally.
In 2008, ABC News ran a story about a microbiologist who swabbed both keyboards and toilets to discover the types of germs that could be found on both. Of the many keyboards swabbed, he found one keyboard that contained five times the bacteria and germ build-up as a toilet seat.
Now that keyboards may never be looked at in the same light again, there are some cleaning suggestions offered by Microsoft which may ease some of the grime:
Internal computer cleaning
• Power down the computer and disconnect the power cord.
• For desktop computers, open the computer case (often there are two screws at the back of the tower holding the side pane on)
• Use a can of compressed air to blow out any dust that can be found focusing special attention on the case’s fans as well as those found on the power supply and computer’s processor. Keep the can of air about 4 inches from the computer to avoid damaging any components.
• Microfiber cloths do a great job of removing dust from the empty sides of a computer case.
Internal cleaning of computers should only be done on home computers. Many government computers are still under warranty that could possibly be voided if the case is opened.
• Turning a keyboard over and shaking it over a desk can often break loose any crumbs that have fallen behind the keys.
• Use compressed air to blow out some of the finer crumbs and dust that may still be left behind.
• Grab some cotton swabs and rubbing alcohol to kill some of the germs and bacteria that may be present. Cotton swabs should be damp but not soaked and then rubbed across all the crevasses on the keyboard. Make sure the keyboard is dry before reconnecting.
Although cleaning a computer on a physical level helps with overall heath and performance there are still a lot of things that can bog down a computer within its software. Milstar IT Systems Support for 4th Space Operations Squadron offers some tips to keep computers running smoothly as well as combat some issues that have surfaced since the Air Force Network migration completed.
• Organize documents; delete files no longer needed.
• Save files to a personal drive as opposed to cluttering the desktop.
• Restart computers weekly to ensure latest drivers and updates are installed.
Many users also experience problems with mailboxes exceeding their storage limits. Taking a moment to clear out Outlook’s calendar of past appointments, especially those with attachments can free up a lot of space.
If users have yet to clean their keyboards from the time the Air Force was still using Windows XP, they may want to take a moment to clean their systems inside and out. No one wants to type on a toilet seat.