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Computer hairballs

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  • Computer hairballs

    Starting a few days ago I started having random system freezes. No BSOD or anything, just everything would suddenly stop, no mouse, no keyboard, my computer screen became a still photo. So, I started investigating.

    In spite of the fact that all my internet research said it was a hardware problem, I started with software. I replaced all my drivers, uninstalled recent software, ran every utility I own, all to no avail.

    So I started on the hardware side. I opened up my computer, everything looked OK, but I took out all my cards and memory and then put them back in (per multiple internet tips). At first I thought this fixed things, but it just made the freezes further apart (every couple of hours instead of every 10 minutes).

    This got me thinking...what was different? Well, my case was still open, and that got me thinking about cooling. I pointed a room fan so it was blowing inside my case, and that actually got me an 8 hour period with no freezes.

    I was baffled. So I downloaded a utility from that reads out the CPU and motherboard temperatures. I let it run until a freeze happened, and sure enough there was a CPU temp spike right at the moment of freeze. But my CPU was reporting fine, even though I ran several diagnostics.

    Finally I grabbed a Q-tip and poked it between the fan blades attached to my CPU. A-HA! It came out with a hairball the size of a mouse! After 5 minutes of digging I was still coming up with dust bunnies, so I went out and bought some canned air and blew it out (all the above is with the computer off, of course). In spite of the few pounds of dust I'd already dug out I stirred up a veritable dust storm. My CPU had been for all intents and purposes "insulated" with the dust (it's a 5 year old computer and this is the first time I'd dusted inside, and yes I am a bachelor).

    Well now my diagnostics tell me my CPU is running 10 degrees cooler, and not a freeze since. I suspect it's actually even running a bit faster, since CPU's have a throttling mechanism that slows them down when they start getting hot.
    Learn by teaching
    Take responsibility for learning

  • #2
    I vacuum mine...especially the fans. I also have a long hair cat so it is pretty important to keep up to date on my vacuuming. It's amazing what gets inside the computer case. Also you wouldn’t believe the hairballs that a mouse can get….luckily I have an optical one now.

    My latest problem (still haven't fixed my non burning TEAC DVD+RW issue), is since the latest windows updates, windows hangs every so often. I haven't pinpointed it exactly, but I think it occurs when a Java/JavaScript operation a new window. I am also running Zone Alarm and I know windows service updates have affecting that program before. I uninstalled Java today and so far so good.


    • #3
      ewww i think i am going to throw up...Your alittle bit too graphic Doug LOL!


      • #4
        I repair computers and build them, so if anyone has any questions just feel free to ask.

        I've seen it all.. from the Chinese guy that brought a PC for repair under warranty, it got sent out and they would not touch or fix it because it was infested with dead cockroaches. He must have owned a Chinese food place and kept it in the back or just had a dirty house.

        Someone else came in with a computer it was like a PII400Mhz or something older. It had about 1 to 1.5 inches of thick dust on it. So one of our guys goes "Foof!" you know he blew on it to blow dust off and the CPU flies off too. The clip was broken and we had nothing to put it back together with, so he used some bubblegum. Worked great after the system was all cleaned out. Usually we won't work on anything that old.


        • #5
          What is a good vacuum for cleaning out the computer insides? I can't seem to find a small one that I can navigate ok. What about static building up?


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