Does dust affect PC performance?

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    One of the biggest threats to your computer’s performance is dust. For such a small thing; that’s almost lighter than air, a dusty computer can cause all sorts of problems.

    Dust can affect a computer’s overall performance if you do not clean your PC regularly.  It can cause heat build-up, reduce airflow through the vents and cause sensitive electronic components to crash and break. In fact, dust is one of the most documented causes of PC failure.

    In this blog, I will explain how dust accumulation can harm your computer’s performance and suggest practical tips to prevent dust-related issues and maintain your PC’s efficiency.

    How dusty do computers get?

    The short answer is that computers get very dusty indeed, however, the amount of dust that accumulates inside a computer can vary depending on various factors, including the computer’s environment, how well it’s maintained, and its location.

    In extremely dusty environments, it is not uncommon for dust to collect rapidly, sometimes even within a few weeks or months. With regular cleaning and proper maintenance, however, you can keep the internal components of your computer relatively dust-free.

    Should you be concerned about dust accumulation?

    Yes, you should be concerned about dust accumulation inside your computer, as it is one of the contributing factors to computer failure. If you want to maintain its performance and extend its lifespan, then we recommend that you regularly clean your computer with compressed air or a computer vacuum cleaner.

    The good news is that a buildup of dust is a problem easily solved – especially by someone like me who knows what they are doing.

    Ways dust buildup affects your PC performance

    Dust can have a negative effect on your computer in many ways. Excessive dust can build up on the internal components of your computer and act as insulation – making them less able to dissipate heat. It also makes it more difficult for the internal fans to take that build up of heat from your computer, thereby decreasing the efficiency of your entire system.

    Blocked cooling fans

    Electronic components generate heat, and to avoid overheating your computer, the idea is to improve cooling and lower the temperature by using fans to increase the airflow over those components. It stands to reason, therefore, that dust clogging the fan blades will be extremely detrimental to its operation.

    Reduced airflow

    As mentioned earlier, dust buildup in your computer means reduced airflow, causing your computer components to retain heat. By trapping heat, those components can, in time, suffer heat damage. Removing dust is the simplest way to prevent this – whether it is dust buildup on the intake fans or on the PC components themselves.

    What are the signs that my computer may be dusty?

    Are your programs taking ages to load? Is your PC running slower than normal? Are you experiencing frequent crashes? Has your computer become unbalanced and noisy? Are you getting an increasing number of performance issues? Does your computer feel hot to touch?

    There could be several factors that affect your computer’s performance and health, but by far, the most likely cause is a dust problem somewhere.

    Hardware damage

    Hardware damage or, worse still, hardware failure in your computer is caused almost every time by a high temperature which will negatively impact your whole hardware system. These high temperatures are, more often than not, caused by dust particles.

    Increased noise

    There may be several fan blades in your computer – they are one of the few moving components – and with all the dust being pulled into the computer case, they are the first place dust will collect and the first thing that needs cleaning.

    Often one of the first signs of a dusty PC is a noisy fan as the dust starts to clog the bearings.

    Trapped dust in the heat sink

    A heat sink is a device, usually looking like an array of fins, that sits on top of your PC’s CPU (Central Processing Unit) and is a passive device to dissipate heat. It is also, unfortunately, very efficient at trapping stubborn dust due to its shape.

    To aid cooling, many heat sinks have heat sink fans mounted on them – another place for dust to gather and another fan to make a noise. The CPU is the heart of your computer and the one thing you don’t want overheating.

    How to keep dust out of your computer?

    Given that prevention is better than cure, the first thing to do is to always make sure that you use your computer in a clean and dust-free environment, away from open doors and off the floor, to reduce the intake of dust.

    It is also advised that you regularly clean your computer. At Lee Harvey Computing, we suggest short bursts of compressed air to blow out all the dust buildup from your components, leaving them spick and span. And you would be surprised what a quick blast over the keyboard will often dislodge (gross!!!)

    As well as compressed air sprays, there are brushes and even special vacuum cleaners specifically designed to safely and effectively remove dust and dirt from computer components and other sensitive electronic equipment without causing static discharge or damage. But for a really clean PC, you will need to open the case and dust inside. And this is not a job for the nervous amateur!

    Lee Harvey has years of computer repair experience and can clean your computer for you, as well as install computer dust filters on the intake and exhaust fans of your computer case. These dust filters are designed to trap dust particles and prevent them from entering your computer’s interior.


    Dust is the number one enemy of your computer, and with the recent phenomenon of Saharan dust blowing its way to the UK, it is only getting worse.

    Regular maintenance, such as cleaning and proper cooling, can help mitigate dust-related issues. However, it is essential to consider all potential factors that could lead to computer failure and take steps to prevent them.

    For further advice on how to look after your PC or to book your computer for a health check service, get in touch and contact Lee Harvey Computing today!

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    Lee Harvey

    Lee is an experienced computer repair engineer and operates across Cornwall from his base in St Austell.

    Computer Repair Cornwall

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