A cleaner, faster computer for you

It is that time of year again. No, we are not talking about the holidays — we are referring to that most important and most overlooked of computer maintenance items: removing the dust and debris from inside your computer case. However, there are those enthusiasts who do more. And, while we do applaud you, we would also encourage adherence to technological jurisprudence in your cleaning and maintenance endeavors.

Question: You can be proud of me. I did my annual computer cleaning of all fans and vacuumed the mother board and case, including the power supply from outside fan grills and the CPU heat sink and fan, disassembled. It’s working, and it’s very quiet again. Should I have some new silicon grease to go between the CPU and heat sink?

Answer: First of all, congratulations! You obviously understand the value of performing a computer cleaning — better air flow for a cooler running and possibly quieter computer. Before we answer your question, we have a question for you. Did you use an anti-static vacuum? This is important because of the possibility of generating static electricity and having it discharged from the vacuum, subsequently shorting out your motherboard and other sensitive components. As for the answer to your question: Yes. Anytime that you disturb the surface where thermal grease is applied in the CPU assembly, it should be wiped clean with a lint-free cloth, not a paper towel or solvents. A new, thin layer of thermal grease should be applied evenly across the surface. Thermal grease is available at computer supply stores such as Best Buy and Computer Stop. You can also purchase it online at, or If you are interested in learning all there is to know about thermal grease and how to apply it with videos and scientific insights, go to

Question: I keep seeing commercials on TV for an online computer service called that is supposed to make your computer run faster and has been written up in Forbes and Wall Street Journal. Is this a good product?

Answer: We have received a few inquiries about this service/software, and we can only offer our personal experience with our attempts at downloading and using the software. We will preface our comments by saying that Ascentive Software has a decent reputation, and we do not believe there is anything malicious associated with this program. However, our three attempts at downloading and installing the software resulted in an “Adware Threat” warning issued by our Internet Security service, which is ESET NOD32. Our advice is to go with who and what you know when it comes to registry and system clean-up software and service.

Wayne Nelson and Jeremy Self own and operate Wired Northwest LLC in Redmond. Send your questions to: or go to

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