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May 16: Midday Fix - Computer Maintenance

McAfee, Inc.

Computer Maintenance

Bust the Dust
PC's can get dusty, which is a risk to the long-term, well-being of your computer. First, make sure to turn off the PC before doing any cleaning tasks. Then look at the fan on the back of your system: if it's fuzzy, use a can of compressed air to spray off the dust in a sideways direction.

Kill keyboard crud
More goodies may lurk in your keyboard than live under your couch, as crumbs from every muffin or sandwich you've eaten at your desk wind up in between the keys. Unplug the keyboard, and then turn it upside down and shake out the cookie crumbs and edible artifacts. You can also use a can of compressed air and an antibacterial wipe to really get it squeaky clean. While you're at it, give your mouse a thorough wipe-down -- it can collect plenty of dirt and finger grime, too. Pay attention to your printer! To prevent printer jams and other foul-ups, give a small burst of compressed air to the printer mechanism that rolls in the paper. With an inkjet printer, make sure to print at least a page once a week in order to avoid cartridge clogs.

Improve your view
Do you have a dirty smartphone screen, monitor, tablet or flat screen TV? Unplug it or power it down and dust it with a disposable dusting cloth. If dirty fingerprints are making it hard to read the screen, unplug it and use a slightly damp cloth with water only. Avoid using glass cleaners or household detergents because their components could damage your screen.

Don't forget to "clean" the inside too

Update your Operating System
In between your other cleaning chores, make sure to keep your Windows or Macintosh operating system updated. Otherwise, invaders worse than bathroom mildew could take over your computer.

Check for spyware
Is your system running slowly? Do your Web browser's settings seem to change automatically? Do you have strange icons in your system tray? Then it's definitely time to check for spyware. Norton, Kaspersky and McAfee have free anti-spyware software scans and trials.

Defrag the hard drive
Your PC's hard drive needs help to stay in tip-top shape. When you regularly defragment your hard drive, you're rewarded with quick access to files and software programs. Windows 7 will do the work for you: from the Start menu, select All Programs, Accessories, then System Tools and click on Disk Defragmenter.

Spring Cleaning Don'ts

Don't forget to back up your important data before optimizing your PC.

Don't use a vacuum to bust the dust on your PC. Vacuums create static electricity, which is deadly to sensitive electronic components.

Don't use glass cleaners or household detergents. Their chemicals are not made for electronics and could damage your gear.

Don't ever spray water directly on your monitor.

Avoid holding a bottle of compressed air upside down. This shoots out chemicals in a liquid spray -- which is not good. Use short, controlled bursts and follow the instructions on the can.

For help from a Geek Squad member:

www.geeksquad.com 1-800-Geek Squad

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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