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Domingo M. Caya Jr.

There

are many aspects to system care and maintenance that affect the system as a whole, or every component in the system, as opposed to being specific to a particular component. These factors are discussed in this section.

In

the last few decades we all have become much more tuned into our external environment and how it affects us. Well, it affects your PC as well. We're much more important than PCs of course, but as it happens, many of the things that make humans sick or uncomfortable, have a similar impact on computers. This section takes a look at these issues.

The

general rule of thumb for room temperature is that PCs like the temperatures that (average, normal :^) ) people like. Generally speaking, good operating temperature for a PC is about 60 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 24 or so Celsius). Cooler than this is of course, better than warmer.

Operating

a PC in a hot room that is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit can make it very difficult to cool. Remember that some businesses have thermostats on a timer that will make air conditioning shut off at night; in this situation you might want to make sure a PC is not left running overnight, or that a special computer room is designated with independent controls.

Most

PC hardware can tolerate being at much lower temperatures (or moderately higher temperatures) when they are not running. If you are transporting equipment or storing it, the temperature concerns are much less than if the equipment is actually in use. However, if you have equipment that has been exposed to very low temperatures and is then immediately turned on, you risk permanently damaging the equipment.

It

is essential that very cold equipment be brought up to room temperature slowly before use. This is called acclimation.

If

you take a PC that is at freezing temperature and plug it in, it will warm up very quickly, much more quickly than it would if you left it on a table to warm up in its own time. In some cases, you can raise the temperature of equipment from 0 degrees to 150 in only a matter of minutes. Thermal stress is a leading cause of premature failure of electronics components.

Even

more dangerous than this is the possibility of condensation

It

is quite possible for this to happen with electronic equipment as well. This does not cause any problem as long as you give the condensation enough time to evaporate. If your hard disk platters are "moist" when you spin them up, you risk destroying the drive.

Much

as the case is with temperature, computers prefer moderate humidity as opposed to either extreme. PCs are not as sensitive to humidity issues as they are to temperature, but they are still affected by it.

Obviously,

computers and moisture don't mix well; you need to keep your computer dry. That means keeping it away from places or things that can get it wet. This includes the obvious: don't put a PC in the bathroom or kitchen, for example. It also includes

Humidity

leads to corrosion and possible condensation risk, which can damage equipment. It also makes cooling the PC more difficult. Conversely, air that is too dry can cause problems in two different ways.

First,

it increases the amount of static electricity that is in the room, increasing the chances of a discharge. Second, it can cause faster wearout of some components that dry out over time. This includes some types of capacitors, as well as rubber rollers on laser printers.

Finally,

humidity can exacerbate problems related to dramatic climate changes. Going from a cold environment to a warm one can lead to condensation, which is why you must wait for the PC to warm up before turning it on. Obviously, if the warm environment is also a humid one, the chances of condensation are increased

Computers

operate best when they are used in a clean environment, and when they are cleaned regularly. Most offices and homes are clean enough that a PC requires no special treatment other than regular cleaning as part of routine preventive maintenance. Industrial environments however can be murder on PCs.

PCs

that are going to be used in dirty circumstances should be protected or cleaned more often. One easy preventive measure is to use an air cleaner in the room where the PC is located. There are also special cases and enclosures for PC hardware designed for industrial environments to safeguard against damage due to dirt. The average PC owner only has to remember to clean their equipment occasionally and no problems will generally result.

Cigarette

smoke is bad for your lungs; it is also bad for your PC, and for very similar reasons. simple facts of the matter are that cigarette smoke, especially in high concentration, contaminates and damages computer equipment. The smoke particles are very small and work their way into all sorts of places that they do not belong.

Many

problems, especially unreliable storage devices, are related to cigarette smoke accumulating on read/write heads and media.

All

electronic devices give off electromagnetic emissions. This is radiation that is a byproduct of electrical or magnetic activity. Unfortunately, the emissions from one device can interfere with other devices, causing potential problems.

Interference

can lead to data loss, picture quality degradation on monitors, and other problems with your PC, or problems with other devices such as television sets and radios. These are generally categorized as electromagnetic interference or EMI problems.

Two

different issue

EMI emissions by the PC, EMI emissions received by the PC.

PCs

generally do not cause very much interference with other devices; they are required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to be certified as Class B devices. This certification is used to show that the PC conforms to standards that limit the amount of EMI that a PC can produce.

The

only catch to this is that you have to keep the cover on the PC. This is one reason why the cover is always made from metal. (Keeping the cover on is also an important part of ensuring proper ventilation).

PCs

can be affected by electromagnetic interference from other devices, in two major ways

direct effects through proximity with other devices electrical interference over the power lines.

EMI

if you think it is affecting your PCs:

Physical Isolation: Devices that emit electromagnetic radiation should be kept a reasonable distance from your PC, peripherals and media. This includes television sets, radios, lights, kitchen appliances, and stereo speakers (the ones designed for use with PCs are generally shielded and are much less of an issue).

Use

Dedicated Circuits: Many office buildings especially, have separate power circuits that are intended for use by PCs. Keeping your PC on a circuit that is separate from the circuit running your refrigerator and air conditioning unit means that there will be much less interference passing to the computer from the other devices (and this will also improve the quality of the power being sent to your machine in general).

Power

Conditioning: The use of a line conditioner or uninterruptible power supply can filter out interference caused by other devices that share a line with your PC.

keeping

your system cool is very important. A cool system runs more reliably and lasts longer than one that runs hot. Overheating of the internal components can lead to data loss or even damage to your equipment. In recent years, as processors in particular have gotten faster and hotter, the subject of cooling has become more important than ever.

Internal

Air Flow

The "first line of defense" in cooling the overall system is the fan that is used to provide overall air flow within the system case. This is normally the fan located within the power supply at the back of the case; some newer machines, especially full-tower cases, employ more than one fan, to provide more cooling.

It's

important to realize that the fan (or fans) used in the case and/or power supply work by establishing a flow of air through the case.

There

are two basic designs used.

In a standard baby AT style case, the power supply fan blows out the back of the power supply, and in doing so it draws air through the rest of the case and thereby, cools the components inside the case.

In the newer ATX style of case and power supply, the power supply fan is on the inside of the case and blows inwards, pushing air throughout the case and drawing it in through the back of the power supply, exactly the opposite.

In

both cases, for the cooling to work properly, the flow of air must not be interrupted. The better, and stronger, the flow of air, the more cooling it will accomplish. If the flow is not established correctly, at best only some of the components will be cooled.

General

System Care

Factors