It's spring cleaning time!

This week we start a two-part series on computer spring-cleaning. Required tools are minimal, but a trip to the store may be necessary for a duster, which is a can of compressed air designed to be used around sensitive electronic devices, and a small paint brush.

Depending on the level of determination a cleaning area may be set up with an old sheet on the floor or something similar. Start with a good wipe-down of everything except the keyboard with a soft cloth dampened with a mild solution.

Mechanical mouse users should flip the mouse over, remove the retainer ring/mouse ball and use a small rigid tool to scrap away gunk on the rollers. Unplug the keyboard, take it outside, invert it, shake out the debris and blast it with the duster. Then give it a good cleaning being careful not to take the characters off the keys.

Clearing the inside of the computer is recommended but obviously a step some users cannot perform. The PC may be too heavy to mess with or opening the case may be hard to figure out (a visit to the manufacturer Web site may help).

Be aware of the potential damage to the system by static electricity. Protect against it by not touching any of the electrical components with your hands.

Disconnect everything (pay close attention to where things are plugged in), open the case, take it outside and remove the dust by blowing with the duster. Trim the bristles of the brush a little shorter and use it to dislodge stubborn dust areas as necessary.

Hook everything back up and know if the system acts like the keyboard/mouse is disconnected it could be the two connections are reversed. If so, remove power, reverse the connections and give it another try.

Keep an eye out for next week's column where we'll delve even deepers into the important chore of including your computer on your list of things to do for spring cleaning!

Ron Poland is a professor in the Computer Information Systems AAS program at Clinton Community College. Poland is certified in company repair and networking by the Computer Technology Industry Association (CompTIA). He is also a Cisco certified network assistant. Questions may be sent to him via e-mail at ron@ronpoland.com.

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