Remove.IT – dust in desktop PC, that is!

Yesterday, a neighbour from down the road knocked on my door. He asked if I could have a look at his PC that wasn’t working properly. I had previously fixed up a laptop for his mum, which is why he came to me. I said, “Sure, bring it over”.

So, he goes back and brings back the PC in his ute. He says he thinks there is a virus or something on it. Now, I remember that his mum had contacted me some time ago about his computer, but he never brought it to me, so it looks like things are worse now.

What I usually do is to open up the computer and have a look inside. When I did this, I noticed a fair amount of dust, so got the vacuum cleaner out and went around the insides with a brush and got most of the dust out. This is when I noticed something about the cpu heatsink, it looked like more dust inside. Fortunately, this heatsink fan, could be popped off by levering a couple of small latches, then pulling off the fan.

What I saw could best be described by thinking of something Crocodile Dundee might have said, if he was a computer repairman – “That isn’t dust, this is dust!”.

SONY DSC

I took a photo for you people to look at – it wouldn’t be surprising if the cpu was getting hot and maybe shutting down at times. It would have been worse in summer. I vacuumed all of that dust out, and brushed the fan as well, so now it looks almost like new. There were two hard disk drives in it, a 1TB drive and a 80GB drive. I took both out, and checked them on my test machine – I found a bad sector on the 80GB drive, and some directory problems on the 1TB drive which will have to wait.

Anyway, installing it back together and powering on, showed the screen that Windows tells you if it didn’t start properly, so I chose to go to Safe Mode with Command Prompt. From the command prompt, I did a chkdsk /f of the 80gb drive that had the bad sector – it fixed a few minor errors. Next, I rebooted and let it start up normally. The desktop came up and there were a number of invalid pop-ups which I closed, and left it for a while. The PC was still ok, no signs of sudden crashing, so I decided to do a thorough check of both disks.

chkdsk /R will fix any errors and also check free space for bad sectors. I did this for both drives, except that of course, it cannot lock the drives to do this, so chose to have it run automatically on next startup. Reboot, and let the disk scan run – several hours later, all errors were corrected on both disks, the bad sector was mapped out on the second drive, and all seemed well. So it looks like, this dust was the culprit – how about you check your PC now?

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