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Preventive Maintenance

Preventive maintenance includes certain procedures performed to prolong the life of a computer. Some computer companies sell maintenance contracts that include preventive maintenance programs. A computer in a normal working environment should be cleaned at least once a year. Typical preventive measures include vacuuming the computer/printer and cleaning the optical drive laser, keyboard keys, printers, and display screen. Be sure to power down the computer and remove the power cord for any computer, remove the battery and AC adapter for a laptop/netbook, and allow a laser printer to cool before accessing internal parts. Preventive exercises for many individual devices are described in their respective chapters. For example, the steps detailing how to clean CDs/DVDs/BDs are included in Chapter 8. This section gives an overview of a preventive maintenance program and some general tips about cleaning solvents.

When performing preventive maintenance, power on the computer to be certain it operates. Perform an audio and visual inspection of the computer as it boots. It is a terrible feeling to perform preventive maintenance on a computer only to power it on and find it does not work. You will wonder if the cleaning you performed caused the problem or if the computer had a problem before the preventive maintenance.

Repair companies frequently provide a preventive maintenance kit for service calls. The kit normally includes a portable vacuum cleaner, special vacuum cleaner bags for laser printers, a can of compressed air, a floppy head cleaning kit, urethane swabs, monitor wipes, lint-free cloths, general-purpose cloths, general-purpose cleanser, denatured alcohol, a mouse ball cleaning kit, an antistatic brush, gold contact cleaner, and an optical drive cleaning kit.

The vacuum is used to suck dirt from the inside of the computer. Ensure that you use nonmetallic attachments. Some vacuum cleaners have the ability to blow air. Vacuum first and then set the vacuum cleaner to blow to get dust out of hard-to-reach places. Compressed air can also be used in these situations. The floppy head cleaning kit is used to clean the read/write heads on the floppy drive. Monitor wipes are used on the front of the monitor screen. Monitor wipes with antistatic solution work best.

Urethane swabs are used to clean between the keys on a keyboard. If a key is sticking, remove the keyboard before spraying or using contact cleaner on it. Touchpads normally require no maintenance except being wiped with a dampened lint-free cloth to remove residual finger oil.

General-purpose cleanser is used to clean the outside of the case and to clean the desktop areas under and around the computer. Never spray or pour liquid on any computer part. Liquid cleaners are used with soft lint-free cloths or lint-free swabs.

Denatured alcohol is used on rubber rollers, such as those found inside printers. An antistatic brush can be used to brush dirt away from hard-to-reach places. Gold contact cleaner is used to clean adapter contacts as well as contacts on laptop batteries and the contacts where the battery inserts. A useful CD/DVD/BD cleaning kit can include a lens cleaner that removes dust and debris from an optical lens; a disk cleaner that removes dust, dirt, fingerprints, and oils from the disk; and a scratch repair kit used to resurface, clean, and polish CDs, DVDs, and BDs.

Many cleaning solution companies provide MSDS (material safety data sheets) that contain information about a product, including its toxicity, storage, disposal, and health/safety concerns. Your state may also have specific disposal procedures for chemical solvents. Check with the company’s safety coordinator for storage and disposal information.

To perform the preventive maintenance, power off the computer, remove the power cord, and vacuum the computer with a nonmetallic attachment. Do not start with compressed air or by blowing dust out of the computer because the dirt and dust will simply go into the air and eventually fall back into the computer and surrounding equipment. After vacuuming as much as possible, use compressed air to blow the dust out of hard-to-reach places, such as inside the power supply and under the motherboard. If you are performing maintenance on a notebook computer, remove as many modules as possible, such as the optical drive, battery, and hard drive, before vacuuming or using compressed air. Inform people in the immediate area that they might want to leave the area if they have allergies.

If you remove an adapter from an expansion slot, replace it into the same slot. If the computer battery is on a riser board, it is best to leave the riser board connected to the motherboard so the system does not lose its configuration information. The same steps covered in the disassembly section of this chapter hold true when you are performing preventive maintenance.

When you perform preventive maintenance, take inventory and document what is installed in the computer, such as the hard drive size, amount of RAM, available hard drive space, and so on. During the maintenance procedure, communicate with the user. Ask if the computer has been giving anyone trouble lately or if it has been performing adequately. Computer users like to know that you care about their computing needs. Also, users frequently ask questions such as whether sunlight or cold weather harms the computer. Always respond with answers the user can understand. Users appreciate it when you explain things in terms they comprehend and that make sense.

A preventive maintenance call is the perfect opportunity to check computers for viruses. Normally, first you clean the computer. Then, while the virus checker is running, you might clean external peripherals such as printers. Preventive maintenance measures help limit computer problems as well as provide a chance to interact with customers and help with a difficulty that may seem minuscule but could worsen. A preventive maintenance call is also a good time to take inventory of all hardware and software installed. In a preventive maintenance call, entry-level technicians can see the different computer types and begin learning the computer components.

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