Physical Care for Computer Systems

What’s happening in this picture?

Laptop overheating due to dust-clogged internal heatsinks in 2.5 year old laptop
 Example of how laptop performance slowly declines due to airborne dust slowly collecting on internal heatsinks, reducing performance and increasing noise from high speed fan operation. Eventually the heatsink covers completely, stopping all cooling airflow no matter how fast the fan spins, and the laptop begins to overheat from even just minor load.
As shown in the top-left image, the external appearance of air intake vents provides no indication whatsoever of the internal clogging, and simply blowing air backwards through the exposed heatsink vents is not enough to remove this buildup. Instead the laptop must be disassembled and the dust and lint removed with a ESD-safe vacuum cleaner.

This photo montage was created from a 2.5 year old Dell XPS M170 laptop.

DMahalko, Dale Mahalko, Gilman, WI, USA -- Email:, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Look at the video below for more context:

In Class Assignment

 Create a table showing the dos and don’ts of caring for a computer.
Use the following structure:

Risk to consider Do Don’t
{put risk here} {good practice here} {practice to avoid}

Portfolio Assignment

Update your table to ensure that you have covered the following criteria/areas:

Adverse temperatures; blocked vents;

Dust; Liquids; Magnetic fields; Shutting down;

Unplugging when not in use; Cleaning screen, keyboard;

Battery charging cycles; Repetitive use of certain keys;

Complete the table in your ICT notebook.

Create a hand written copy of your table, that is meant to be inserted into your ICT portfolio for marking.

Suggested Solution to above assignment

Risk to consider Do Don’t
Temperature Use and store your computer system in a cool area. Do not store or use your computer in a heated environment.  (e.g. leaving a laptop in a hot car; Do not use your computer system in a heated room, stored in direct sunlight)
Vents Do use your computer in an environment with sufficient ventilation.   Do clean vents regularly. Ensure that vents are not blocked during use.   Do not use a laptop resting directly upon a bed or carpeted area.
Dust Do use your computer in a dust free environment. Do not allow for dust to build up on your computer system over time.
Liquids Do use your computer in a dry area. Do not use liquids near your computer.
Magnetic fields   Do not use computer systems near objects which produce large magnetic fields. E.g. refrigerator, washer, dryer and large subwoofer speakers.
Shutting Down Always shut down your using the provided interface, e.g. the windows shut down menu.  
Unplugging   Do not unplug your computer while using it.
Cleaning the screen Do clean your screen regularly.

Do not use cleaners that are not meant to clean your screen.   Do not use water or a damp cloth to clean your screen.
Keyboard care/damage Do use compressed air canisters to clean your keyboard.   Do use low powered vacuum cleaners on your keyboard Do not press the keys on your keyboard excessively hard.
Laptop charging   Do not overcharge your laptop


Added video discussion (Wed 29th Sept 2021)

Added image for set induction (Wed 13th Oct 2021)

© 2019  Vedesh Kungebeharry. All rights reserved.

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