Believe it or not, where you keep your PC can affect its lifespan. If you keep your PC inside a closed cabinet the lack of ventilation allows more heat to build up than the fan(s) can disperse. This can damage vital components from the processor to the motherboard. Be sure to prove proper ventilation. Do not block any of the vents. Air needs to be able to reach all sides and the top. Additionally, if the machine is placed too close to the wall behind it, hot air from the exhaust may not have any place to go.

With good ventilation, comes another problem: Dust! All homes and offices have dust. It is inevitable, but you can do your part to see it does not clog vital components or block vents. The first thing you can do is raise the CPU 6 to 10 inches above the floor. As people (and animals) move through the room, dust and hair from the floor or carpet is constantly stirred up. The additional elevation keeps the CPU above most of the particles.

Another environment issue to consider is power. Unless your office has filtered uninterruptable power available at the wall receptacle, you should purchase an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS). These devices provide always on, filtered power to your PC and monitor and will keep them running long enough for a graceful shutdown in the case of a full power outage. Most modern UPS devices have the ability to tell the PC (via USB cable and software) that the power has failed and the PC should automatically shut down to prevent data loss or damage to the OS. A UPS is rated in watts and should provide enough power to run your critical components for 15 to 20 minutes. Most home users will find that a 550 to 750 watt device should suffice. Check the rated power draw of your PC’s power supply from the back panel of the supply and the power usage of your monitor. You need enough power to supply at least these two devices and your DSL or cable modem if they do not have built-in battery backup.

In the next installment, I will address care of your computer case, monitor, and accessories.