Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

It is generally known that dust makes computers slower, and that cleaning out the dust regularly can make your computer run better.

What I have not seen, is why this happens. From what I know dust doesn't stop electrons from getting from one side of the computer to the other. Does the dust only clog up the fans, making the computer hotter, thus making the computer slower? Or is there some other more mysterious force at work here?

share|improve this question
add comment

4 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Clogging up the fan is one side effect. It is also possible that dust can cause a short-circuit because it conducts electricity. Dust can also inhibit airflow, which prevents heat from being properly vented.

share|improve this answer
add comment

While a rare occurrence, dust can cause shorts. Mostly it will screw up your fans and coat heatsinks, which negatively affects heat dissipation.

share|improve this answer
add comment

And once the heat goes up your CPU may throttle down to compensate. At least mine seemed to...cleaned it out and over all temp went down and perceived performance went up...never measured clock speed...maybe next time.

share|improve this answer
    
I know CPUs do this now, but when did they start doing this? Older CPUs, they just plain over-heated, right? –  Chris W. Rea Jul 16 '09 at 2:19
    
it was probably about the 2000 era...they used to just explode when they got too hot. –  webjedi Jul 16 '09 at 15:07
add comment

On more than one occasion I have "fixed" a computer that would not power on or wouldn't give any video output by simply vacuuming out all the dust. It can't be a heat issue when the computer is just turned on and doesn't do anything. I think that hair is probably the most likely culprit of the short-circuiting.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.