Q: I’ve had my computer several years now, and I was wondering if I needed to clean it—and if yes, the right way to do it.
A: Over time, computers do accumulate dust (and fur, if you have pets) within their interiors. This happens because the intake fans suck in air to help cool your system, and any free-floating particles in your environment get pulled in, too. As a result, in multi-pet or smoking households, build-up can pile up faster. Same too for homes in areas with big wildfires.
Layers of grime can reduce the efficiency of fans, which can in turn affect your PC’s performance, so it is ideal to clean them semi-frequently. For folks with less particulate in the air, that can be once a year. For others, it may be several times a year. The easiest way to figure out a cleaning schedule is to visually inspect your machine. If you can see a thin spread of dust on your parts, it’s time. Do that often enough and you’ll know about how often to check up on your PC.