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Do I Need an iMac Dust Cover?
Opinions on whether a dust cover can be beneficial to your iMac or not vary depending on who you are talking to. In the opinion of this long time Apple Computer user your iMac will benefit very little from an iMac dust cover unless your iMac is going to be stored for a long period of time outside the box. You may encounter this situation if you are, for example, spending the winter in Florida and leaving your iMac behind on your desk.
Some users will argue with me and say you should have an iMac dust cover on your iMac at all times when you are not using it. They will talk about dusty environments, moist environments and contaminants that can get into your iMac while it sits unused. While I do not disagree that there are many potential contaminants that can damage your iMac, I do not agree that an iMac dust cover alone will protect you from these issues.
If your iMac is placed in an environment that has enough external factors that you are concerned about the health of your iMac it shouldn't be there in the first place. In my opinion if you are in a situation where the health of your iMac is a concern, a dust cover is going to help very little, no matter what the manufacturers of some "iMac dust covers" say.
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What About Household Dust?!
It is true that everyday household dust can get into your iMac through its external ventilation points; it is also true that having a dust cover on your iMac while not in use will reduce the dust that your iMac is exposed to. My best advice when it comes to dust and your iMac though would be to keep the area that your iMac is in as dust-free as possible. If your iMac is placed in an excessively dusty environment the dust cover will help while your iMac is not in use, however your iMac will still be exposed to this excessive amount of dust when you are using it.
A "normal" amount of household dust, in theory, can shorten the life of your iMac but generally not before it has outlived it's usefulness. If you are forced to keep your iMac in a very dusty location, by all means, get yourself an iMac dust cover but your best option, if it's available, is to move your iMac to a room with a limited amount of dust. Keep in mind that many iMac dust covers on the market today cover the front (LCD) of your iMac but do not cover the exhaust vent in the back of the iMac which still allows dust to enter through this opening.
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Should I Worry About Dust At All?
There are some very real situations where dust can do damage to your iMac. This is especially true with the 24" aluminum iMac. The reality is that dust is most dangerous to your iMac when it's turned on and in use, and thus, not covered by the dust-cover. This is due to the fact that your iMacs fan will be running and can bring the dust in through its exhaust hole and deposit it on the inside of your screen. One major problem I have had with my 24" aluminum iMac is in the form of "cigarette dust." I have had to remove the front bezel from my iMac's LCD screen and clean the inside of it frequently over the past year. Something to keep in mind ... iMac's are generally not smoker friendly.
In situations where your iMac is going to be exposed to excessive amounts of smoke and/or "cigarette dust", dust from a workshop or placed close to a kitchen you may encounter problems due to these environmental factors. Placing an iMac dust-cover over your iMac when it's not in use will help but I would recommend a thorough cleaning of the internal components of your iMac, by an Apple certified technician, once a year.
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Other Environmental Factors
Aside from dust, there are other environmental factors you should take into consideration when deciding where to place your iMac. These include moisture, pet hair and room temperature. Both moisture and a constantly fluctuating room temperature can cause condensation on the inside of your iMac screen and we all know what pet hair can do to electronics. I personally consider this a design flaw and doesn't happen to everyone but there are enough cases of it around to make it a concern.
I love my iMac and am a great supporter of Apple products. However, in the past year I have had occasion to take my iMac in for servicing on three separate occasions due to screen problems from "external environmental factors" (and this is with the use of an iMac dust-cover). My 24" aluminum iMac has had dust on the inside of the bezel covering the LCD screen on several occasions as well as one instance of condensation, also on the inside of the bezel. The Apple store I take my iMac to for service work has been great about the issues and cleaned my screen for me each time but within a month of bringing my nice clean iMac home the problem is there again and gets worse as time passes.
The moral of this story? Don't smoke around your iMac, the iMac cooling fan tends to cycle the smoke through your iMac causing a buildup inside the front bezel on the LCD, and be sure to keep it a good distance from a window if you live in an ever-changing climate.
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- Avoid smoking around your iMac.
- Keep your pets out of the room you keep your iMac in.
- Shield your iMac from frequently fluctuating temperatures.
- Keep your iMac away from high condensation zones such as kitchens and bathrooms.
- Dust your iMac and the room it's in frequently.
- Place an iMac dust cover over your iMac if it is going to be left for long periods of time unused.
In the end spending $40 on an iMac dust cover will have some benefits, depending on the environment you place your iMac in, but in the long run external environmental factors are going to play a larger role when it comes to the health of your iMac. If you keep your iMac in a bad location it won't matter how many top of the line iMac dust covers you buy. Keeping your iMac away from the environmental factors mentioned above and making use of an iMac dust cover will give your iMac the best chance of living a long and healthy life.
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A Final Thought ...
If you do decide to purchase a dust cover for your iMac I recommend a ScreenSavrz iMac dust cover from RadTech. I am in no way affiliated with the company but should you end up in the situation I was in at one point, too lazy to keep the dust-cover on my iMac when it was not in use, you still have a high quality screen cleaning cloth for your iMac. Then if you ever do encounter a situation where you are going to leave your iMac unattended for a long period of time, whip out your iMac cleaning cloth (the dust cover) and you're protected. I'm a big fan of multi-use products.
- Author's own experience.