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yaschan

Removing dust from Mac Pro

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I noticed my Mac Pro is getting a lot of dust inside of the chassis.

I never realized there is so much dust in my house. And you know, I do actually clean my house..

 

So I open the machine monthly and use bulb blower to get rid of the dust in the heat sink and the fan of the video card.

 

I get kind of nervous about the dust. Is there a way this can damage the machine, other than by affecting cooling?

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in my experience, and I only preface this because I've been answering this question for 25 years, that disturbing the dust often leads to other problems. here's the story. my computer store had a service contract for a bunch of computer located around the country. every 6 months we were required to show up to "maintenance" them. for one of the runs there were 8 computers that had to be touched. after tech would leave one site to go to the next the site they last left would call in with failures. won't boot, won't read, "Y" key failed. in this case it was 8 failures in a row that always happened the next day. what we found was the compressed air was pushing the dust bunnies into places that dust bunnies shouldn't go. once we discovered that the problem was "Dust Off" we stopped using it for this job and the computers didn't break immediately after we left.

 

usually people use a can of compressed air that is blown full open until all the dust is gone. as you know from physics class that as compressed air expands it cools. the longer the valve is open the colder the air will get. it doesn't take too long for it to get to sub freezing. and it's this very cold air that pulls surface mount components from the circuit board.

 

the next problem is dust hold a charge. it doesn't matter if it's positive or negative. this is why it's sticking to a surface. as the compressed air rips off the dust from that surface static electricity is released. depending on where that static charged is released it can zap any of the electronics.

 

so there's cold and there's static what else can possibly go wrong? too much of a good thing. the thinking is that a "clean machine" is a good machine. so you dutifully blow out your computer every 3 months. and every time you do that you risk another encounter with static or cold.

 

I'm not saying that you should not bother cleaning a computer but you should be careful about how you go about it. so now you ask "how should I clean that?"

 

0) go slow.

1) use not very damp paper towels to wipe up the major dust areas in the case. DO NOT touch any electronics. distilled water is best, but just water is fine. don't use much.

2) if you insist on using a cleaner spray it on the towel and NOT directly on any surface.

3) remove fans before cleaning them. you need to work all around them not just on one side. if a fan is noisy because it's full of dust it's best to replace it instead of trying to ungoo it.

4) cleaning airways is the most problematic part of the job. aiming compressed air at these vents is only blowing dust back inside the case. don't do that. instead remove the power supply or duct work then clean it outside. once the power supply is remove use the not very damp cloth to remove the bunnies.

5) sometimes compressed air is the way to clean. just do it in short bursts. puff. wait. puff. wait instead of PFFFFFFFFFFFFFFffffffp for 30 seconds.

 

but overall my rule on cleaning computers is DO NOT DISTURB THE DUST!

Edited by johnfoster

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I never realized there is so much dust in my house. And you know, I do actually clean my house..

 

 

Every time you open a window or door, or come in the house from outside, you get the dirt and dust as well :( It builds up everywhere. Also, I think the heat of the computer attracts the dust as well.

Edited by R94N

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I deal with a lot of electronics not just computers. I have always vacuumed the inside of electronics out. To me compressed air is just sending it elsewhere and just like Know Tech said sometimes deeper into a system. If for some reason you have to use compressed air I would do it in conjunction with a vacuum. The other choice is if the dust is thick I have used a soft paint brush on it. Personally I have used these tricks on electronics costing from $50 to $500,000 (large audio mixing consoles) and never had a problem. Only a small portion has been computers I will admit.

Good luck with it.

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Thanks for your replies. I appreciate your advices.

 

How do you guys think, will bulb blower do harm if I detach the processor tray and quickly blow few times to the processor sink?

It seems that most dust gathers into that location.

 

(advice from a friend of mine, whatever you do with your 3000$ mac pro processor tray, don't drop it!)

 

I wonder though, if I keep repeatedly removing the processor tray, how long will the fragile looking connector will last

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why does everyone have a need to do maintenance to electronics like a car? if it's working don't fix it. some amount of dust is a normal. get over the need do something.

Edited by johnfoster

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I suppose some people just like it to be clean all in there.

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I wonder though, if I keep repeatedly removing the processor tray, how long will the fragile looking connector will last

 

repeat after me. DON'T DO THIS! DO NOT DO THIS! I WON'T DO THIS!

 

the statement "fragile looking connector" is your first clue. the next clue is "how long" like you're going to do this every 3 months. STOP IT. JUST STOP right there. this stuff was not designed to withstand clean freak. and it doesn't have to be "cleaned" in the first place. put away that stupid lens brush and blower. and don't open that case again unless you are changing the hard drive.

 

dust will not make the processors slower. dust will not affect pixels drawing on the screen. and data won't copy slower because there is dust on the cable. its harmless. the only thing that cleaning can possibly do to your Mac is break it.

 

so I'm saying once again. LEAVE THE DUST ALONE.

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