Those little dust bunnies aren’t cute, they’re little killers.  Consisting of dust and pet dander, they like to latch onto air vents, cooling fins, and anywhere there is moving air.  Where you find one, you can bet you will find more.  They like to congregate in warm places, especially around electronics cooling components.  One thing that will adversely affect your computer’s performance and shorten its life is dust and animal dander. Your computer relies on proper airflow to stay healthy. If you’ve noticed your computer fan seems to be running louder or more frequently than it has in the past, it might be a sign that your  computer is overdue for some basic  maintenance.

Tools you’ll need

  • Screw driver
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Compressed air – from your local computer store
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Silver thermal compound

Where the dust bunnies live

  • Power supply
  • Processor fan
  • Air intake vents
  • Cooling fins
  • Between case daughter boards

How to remove the dust bunnies

  1. Turn off computer
  2. Remove case sides
  3. Vacuum dust bunnies from their hiding places
    • Power supply back, side & inside
    • Processor fan & cooling fins
    • Air intake fans & vents vacuum  
  4. Scare the dust bunnies out of their hiding places with compressed air
    • Between peripheral cards
    • Dark corners
    • Between memory cards
    • Between aluminum cooling fins
    • Around air intake vents
    • In & around cooling fans
  5. Vacuum up the remaining dust bunnies
  6. Re-assemble case
  7. Turn power on
  8. Activate computer

An undesirable side effect

Even though you may have gotten most of the dust bunnies, you may still have a problem.  This one happened to me recently.  I cleaned up my computer and eliminated all the visible dust bunnies.  When I turned my computer on, there was no familiar beep or processor fan.  Within 30 seconds the computer turned itself off.  So what happened?  The symptom indicates that the processor is overheating and turns itself off to preserve itself.  It turns out the dust bunnies found one last hiding place that was really hard for me to get to.  They hid under and around the processor cooling system.

Final dust bunny extermination

  1. Turn power off
  2. Remove processor cooling unit
  3. Remove dust bunnies attached to silver thermal compound
  4. Clean with isopropyl alcohol
  5. Re-apply silver thermal compound
  6. Re-connect processor cooling unit
  7. Turn power on
  8. Activate computer

Notes

  • The procedure varies a little between desktop systems & laptops
  • Dust bunnies are pretty consistent in their hiding places – you’ll find them  just about anywhere that air flows.