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by Ray DeCosta

Q. My computer is making a strange noise all the time. What should I do?

A. The usual cause of continuous noise is a buildup of dust. You should plan on cleaning your computer once a year, more often if you have pets. It's not a hard task to accomplish, but you do have to be careful.

First, you'll have to open your computer case. Most cases will open on the left side (as you view the computer from the front). Remove two screws from the back of the computer and slide the left side to the rear. This technique will work on most computers - if not, you'll have to read the manual.

Once the case is open, you will want to gently blow out all the accumulated dirt. A vacuum will not generate enough suction to adequately clean everything. If you change the hose connection to the exhaust port, it will create an air stream that will generally do a decent job. You can also use a can of compressed air, available at almost any retail store.

But you MUST not allow the nozzle of the vacuum to contact any computer component. A vacuum generates static electricity which may destroy delicate parts. You should also use a small piece of wood to prevent any circulating fans from spinning and generating additional damaging electricity. There's usually also an air filter on the front of the computer which should be cleaned.

Put everything back together for a clean and quiet computer.

Published: Courier 6/5/11 - Page 5C