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One of the most important things you can do to keep computer systems running is to create the proper environment.

Consideration Description
Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) For computer components, design HVAC systems with the following in mind:
  • Keep temperature between 70 and 74 degrees to prevent components from overheating.
  • Keep humidity between 40 and 70 percent to prevent electrostatic discharge (ESD).
  • Make sure server rooms have separate ducting or systems from the rest of the building for better control.
  • Use positive pressure systems. Positive pressure systems protect the air quality in the facility by causing air to be forced out through doors, windows, and other openings. Negative pressure systems draw air in, potentially bringing in airborne particles such as dust or smoke. Positive pressure systems are more energy effective.
  • For areas with heavy smoke or dust, add filters to air intake systems to filter out airborne particulates.
Interference Interference is a signal that corrupts or destroys regular signals. Interference affects signals used by two devices to communicate on a network. Listed below are two types of interference that affect computer networks.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) is interference that affects wired networking signals.
  • EMI is caused by motors, heavy machinery, and fluorescent lights.
  • Use shielded twisted pair cable to protect signals sent on Ethernet twisted pair cabling. If necessary, use fiber optic cables to eliminate the effects of interference.
Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) is interference on the radio channel used by wireless networking devices.
  • RFI can be caused by nearby wireless devices using the same channel, cordless phones, or microwave ovens.
  • Wireless networks that use the 2.4 GHz frequency range (801.11b and 802.11g) are susceptible to RFI.
  • RFI can be reduced by using a wireless networking standard that operates in the 5.75 GHz range, or by using a different channel for wireless devices.
Magnetic fields Magnetic fields located close to a computer can cause undesired effects or even data loss.
  • Floppy drives, hard drives, and tape storage devices use magnetic charges on a disk or tape for storing data. While hard disks are shielded and protected from all but the strongest magnets, be careful with floppy disks and tapes. Getting a magnet too close to these components could erase data.
  • Magnets near a CRT monitor can distort the images on the screen.
  • CRT monitors, speakers, motors, and generators contain magnets (keep sensitive components away from these devices).
  • Solid state storage devices (such as RAM or flash drives) are not affected by magnetic fields.

One of the best things you can do to keep your system running efficiently is to keep it clean. Be aware of the following facts about cleaning your computer:

  • Common computer cleaning supplies include:
    • Lint free cloth
    • Compressed air or air compressor
    • Small anti-static vacuum
    • Denatured or isopropyl alcohol
  • Regular, periodic cleaning gives you the chance to inspect all components. Look for worn or failed components. On electrical components, dark areas might indicate a burned out component.
  • Prior to cleaning computer components, power down and unplug components and let them sit for at least 30 minutes to cool.
  • Use caution with liquid-based cleansers. Use small amounts and always apply cleaning solutions to cloths and cleaning instruments, never directly to component surfaces.
  • Dust buildup inside a computer acts as an insulator for internal components, trapping heat and preventing adequate cooling of components. Use:
    • Compressed air to blow dust off
    • A non-static vacuum to remove dust
    • A natural bristle paintbrush to wipe components off
  • Use a small amount of denatured alcohol on a cotton swab to clean electrical connectors (such as those on expansion cards).
  • When cleaning a CRT monitor screen, spray some glass cleaner on a clean cloth (not on the monitor). For LCD screens, use a lint-free dry cloth or a small amount of isopropyl alcohol (do not use window cleaner or ammonium-based cleaners or paper towels). You can also use special monitor-cleaning solutions or pre-packaged wipes with monitor-safe solution.
  • For a mouse with a roller ball, clean the ball and the roller contacts on a regular basis.
  • For keyboards, use a vacuum or compressed air. For keys that stick use a lint-free cloth and/or cleaning swabs, lightly dampened, to gently wipe each key.
  • To clean a printer, use a damp or dry cloth.
    • On inkjet printers, use the printer's cleaning function to clean the print heads.
    • For laser printers, use an anti-static vacuum to remove excess toner. Note: A regular vacuum will build up an electrostatic charge from the toner.
  • On removable media devices, use:
    • A proprietary cleaning kit, to manually clean the interior of a floppy disc drive.
    • A cleaning utility program, to automatically clean the interior of a floppy disc drive.
    • A DDS-approved cleaning tape, to automatically clean the heads of a tape drive.
    • Compressed air to blow dust and debris off of CD-ROM and DVD disc surfaces, out of drive bays, and off of drive heads.
    • Soft lint-free cloths, dry, to wipe smudges off of CD-ROM and DVD disc media surfaces.

Be aware of the following additional tips for maintaining your computer:

  • When receiving a new computer or component that has been shipped, let it sit for at least 6 hours (24 hours if it arrives in outside freezing conditions) before applying power. The rapid change in temperature can cause damage to components or can result in condensation within the computer.
  • Perform regular backups. Backups protect your data if a hard disk fails.
  • You can use covers and cases to protect some equipment (such as printers) from dust and liquid spills. Be sure to remove covers before use and replace after use.
  • Keep cables organized. Route cables to prevent them from being kinked or stepped on. For best results, use cable ties to bind and organize cables.