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Dust Is Not Your Friend
One of the most important things you can do to protect the health of your computer is to keep it away from dust. This means dusting near it frequently, vacuuming, and not storing it in a dark hidden place like a cupboard or under a desk. If you are using a laptop, use it on clean flat surfaces. Avoid setting it on the floor or on top of blankets, especially for long periods of time.
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Carpet = Bad
If you absolutely must store your computer under a desk, do not ever set it directly on top of carpet. Instead, use something like a plastic roller mat on top of the carpet, under the desk. There are two very important reasons for this. One, as mentioned above, is avoiding the excess dust that carpet harbors and produces. The other is that you need to avoid static electricity, which carpet mass produces.
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Smoke Is Not Your Friend Either
One of the absolute worst things a person can do to their computer is to store it or use in near anything (or anyone) that produces smoke. Cigarettes, particularly, release smoke and tar that very quickly coats fans and clogs heat sinks, causing your computer to overheat and damage components. Similarly, burning incense near your computer or using it next to an open fire or fireplace can be equally detrimental. Keep your computer away from smoke of all kinds.
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Canned Air IS Your Friend
Try as we may, computers are filled with fans that will eventually suck in and blow out all the air in the room. There is no possible way for us to keep them completely dust free. That is why it is important to purchase and use Canned Air - compressed air that can be blown out of a straw at high velocities to remove dust from your computer. It is important that you do not blow the dust INTO the computer. Rather, remove the cover from your computer, and blow the dust away from it. Afterwards, vacuum the surrounding area.
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Cleaning an LCD Screen
LCD screens have a knack for getting covered with dust, hair, fingerprints, and unknown matter. It is crucial that you use the correct method of removing it all. The cheapest and safest way to clean the screen is to use a very soft cotton cloth lightly dampened with water. Alternatively, you can purchase special one-use wipes for the specific purpose of cleaning your monitor. It is crucial, though, that you never use any glass-cleaning products or other chemicals to clean your monitor. Many, such as Windex, will not only fail to clean it, but they will also eat away at the screen, possibly burning holes into it and damaging it permanently.
For more tips on how to care for your computer, continue on to Part 2 of this series.