How to Clean and Care for your Laptop
For most people a laptop constitutes a large investment on their part. I know that when I first purchased my laptop, about two years ago, it cost me more than I had ever spent on a computer at any one time. Therefore, I was determined to make sure that it worked efficiently and has as long a life as possible. When it comes to electronics, I am a clean freak, mostly because I used to work as a service technician and I have seen on many occasions where equipment has failed simply because it was not cleaned on a regular basis.
A laptop is no different from a desktop in that is has a cooling fan, vents, and electrical components that depend on air to flow over them unobstructed by dust and dirt in order to keep them cool. In my previous article entitled “Spring Cleaning your PC” which can be read at this location http://tranquilbeach.blogspot.com/2008/07/spring-cleaning-your-pc.html I explained how to clean and the importance of maintenance on your PC desktop. In this article we will cover different aspects of keeping your laptop running smooth and error free.
The trouble with giving you a break down on taking apart your laptop for cleaning is that there are so many makes and models that it would not be possible to cover them all. However, there are some certain rules and tips which I can give you in order to make the process a little simple. After two years of use I have decided to take apart my Gateway MX3230 laptop and perform a complete cleaning of all of the interior parts, the CPU cooling fan, and yes, even the keyboard. As a side note, this is not for the squeamish and if you have any doubts as to the degree of your technical expertise, please do not attempt this. Also, I would like to advise you that there is no need to take apart the LCD screen because it does not really get dirty inside and you will be presented with more trouble than it is worth.
With all of that said, let’s begin taking apart our laptop. First and foremost, find yourself a nice flat area to work on with plenty of space to layout all of the covers, parts, and screws. The trick is to try and keep all of these aforementioned in a layout which is similar to where they go. Doing this will ensure that you have no extra parts when all of your work is done and plus your layout will act as your reassembling guide. On a personal note, I like to layout a soft towel of other similar fabric at my workstation. This prevents scratches in your laptop and will also prevent the screws from rolling off of your table and onto the floor where they will be lost forever.
On almost all laptops you will be working on the bottom side where all of the screws are located, the only exception is taking apart the keyboard. Start off by removing the battery first. There are usually locking tabs that you must slide in order to remove the battery. The battery should always be removed prior to taking apart your laptop. Next, it makes things much simpler if you remove all of the covers on the bottom of the laptop. These covers are easy to distinguish and are generally only held in place with tabs and one to two small, short screws. At this point you might actually be able to see your cooling fan and enough of the interior to clean it out. However, in some cases, such as my case, I need to go a little further because I want this really clean.
Now for the difficult part, you must start removing the screws that hold on the bottom plastic body. This is mostly done with trial and error and many of the screws will be obvious, others may be located inside the parts where you removed the covers. Luckily, I only had two screws to remove from the aforementioned places. Now, that we have all of those chassis screws removed you should be able to feel the covers start to come apart. At this point do not force or pry anything, as a matter of fact, never pry or force anything. If you do things correctly they should come apart with little effort. When this is done right and everything is nice and loose, then we must remove the keyboard.
The keyboards on laptops are usually pretty easy to remove and are in general only held in by plastic tabs and a ribbon cable. The ribbon cables inside of a laptop are very delicate and special care must be taken when removing them and putting them back in. Most ribbon cable receptacles are plastic and have a slide locking mechanism attached to them. The locking mechanisms are usually brown, or gray, but I have also seen blue ones. All that you must do to free the ribbon cable is to pull the slide lock away from the receptacle and the ribbon cable will pull free. To reinstall the ribbon cable just place the end of the cable in the receptacle and then push the slide lock towards the receptacle.
Once you have the keyboard removed, you may see some other screws hidden beneath it that you may need to remove in order to completely separate the chassis. Once this is done then you can, if you want, remove the cable that attaches the LCD monitor to the mainboard so that you can separate the two halves of the chassis for easy cleaning. The LCD monitor cable is usually just a push in type connector with some very small wires attached to it. As I have stated before, it takes a very light touch to work with these intricate components and cables so do not try to force anything. Now that your laptop is apart and you can see all of the dirty parts you can now start to clean them by using a soft brush.
As I stated in my previous article I prefer to use a soft paintbrush and a vacuum cleaner to clean out my PCs and I feel the same way when it comes to my laptop. It is a good idea to clean the vents, the CPU cooling fan, and any parts that are dusty or dirty from the flow of air moving over them. It is also a very good time to clean that keyboard, you would be amazed at what drops out of these things when they are taken apart. I must say that after two years of use, my laptop is fairly clean and although I did find some dirt and dust, it was not enough to affect the operation of my laptop in any way.
To put your laptop back together just reverse the process of how you took it apart. This is where your layout comes in handy and simplifies the matter of getting it all put back together. Another key piece of advice is once you have taken apart your laptop, do not take too long to put it back together again because in the span of a half of an hour you can forget some pretty important information. That is it, I have included some pictures of my laptop while I was taking it apart and cleaning. When I was finished I ran some tests to ensure that all was working properly and that chassis fit together correctly. In order to test the keyboard’s functionality, I wrote this article on my laptop and everything seems to be in perfect order. Enjoy keeping your laptop clean and healthy, but remember, if you are in doubt take it to a qualified service agent.
In order to keep the exterior parts and your LCD monitor clean I recommend a soft cloth and Windex. Never spray the cleaner directly onto your computer, but instead spray it onto the cloth and then wipe down you laptop and screen. I hope that this information is helpful and I wish you the very best with your laptop maintenance program.
Tags: Laptop , Gateway , Clean , Disassmble , Maintain
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