compressed air is so passe

Every geek worth his salt is bound to get requests to fix aged and ailing computers. A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, dropped his ancient Dell off in the hopes that I could salvage some of the files off the disk. A few months ago it had crashed so he reinstalled the OS, and got a few more months use before it crashed really hard.

In such cases, I don’t even bother using the ancient computer. I just yank the disk and attach it to my computer using a FireWire ATA bridge. Then I can probe, test, and hopefully extract information from the disk. This is obviously much faster than working with a relic. This evening I pulled the unnamed person’s Dell out from under my desk and removed the lid. The greeting I got was a little unsavory.

656 Click photos to enlarge.

As the inside of computers go, this is not the worst I have seen. Most folks don’t bother to clean their engine before taking their car to a mechanic and they don’t bother to clean their computer before taking it to a technician. My intent in disassembly was simply to remove the drive, which you can see in the lower right hand side of the photo.

To remove the drive, there are two screws beneath the front panel that must be removed. I was thinking I could get the drive out without liberating too much of the dust, but I was wrong. Very wrong. When I partially removed the front cover, my wife, who happened to be watching the dissection, interrupted. With good cause, she insisted I put it back together and take it outside the clean it off.


Other than age, can anyone at home guess why the drive failed?

I heeded Jen’s advice and took the computer out into the driveway to clean it out. I keep cans of compressed air in the garage for just this purpose. Then inspiration struck. I had just, in the previous 10 minutes, come down off the roof after blowing all the leaves out of my gutters. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, I need not explain any further.


3 Replies to “compressed air is so passe”

  1. Well it was thoughtful to leave out Jeremy’s name out of the blog, but you attached on the picture! Sorry Jeremy. I use 120 psi air compressor with a air dry system. Much quicker, remember to stay down wind from the computer while applying the air to the dirty computer.

  2. I do have the handy blow nozzle for my air compressor but it really is not a great tool for the purpose. It basically suffers from the same problem as the little cans of compressed air; they produce a small stream of air that when directed at the dust, creates a cloud that returns in the direction of the operator.

    The leaf blower, is a completely different ball game. *big grin* With the leaf blower, you are the wind! Pressure creates a dust ball, volume carries it down the street. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *