Dust and heat can be detrimental to electronic equipment. I often joke with my wife that dusting can actually be BAD for her computer. Thus far, she has not let that stop her! As dust floats in the air, the assorted fans running to keep our stuff cool suck it in. Dust, being a great insulator, then contributes to things heating up. If you notice your computer suddenly sounds like a jet taking off, you may have dust issues.
Before following the tips below PLEASE be sure
to TURN OFF your equipment to prevent damage!
One thing you can do to remove some of your dust from computers and laptops is use the little hose attachments on many vacuum cleaners. Simply running over the vents around your equipment can remove quite a bit of the coating dust leaves on surfaces. You can also use the blower feature on some vacuums to give a quick burst of air to dislodge the more stubborn dust. I have even seen someone take the computer outside and use the leaf blower! A little over-the-top, but I admire their style!
There comes a time when you have to get more aggressive with a dust problem. This may involve the opening of the equipment to get inside and clean things up. IMPORTANT: I would NEVER recommend a regular user open up their laptop. Even those with experience in such things cringe at the thought of doing such a task. Your desktop computer, however, tends to be an easier beast to tackle. After making sure the computer is off, gently use your vacuum to clean inside the box. Some people also use cans of compressed air for those hard to reach nooks and crannies.
(FYI: This article is reprinted from my book, "Don't Throw IT, Get to Know IT (A Computer Guide for the Technically Challenged)" - Wiltz Cutrer)