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[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | System Care: Protecting Your PC | Care of Specific Components ]

Motherboard and System Devices

The motherboard comprises several different components. Some of these are physical devices, such as the motherboard itself, while others are more logical or software-related devices such as the system BIOS. Obviously, maintenance procedures focus on tangible hardware, since it's pretty hard to perform maintenance on a DMA channel for example :^).

The motherboard itself doesn't normally require any maintenance, other than the standard "keep it reasonably clean". However, some of the components in it occasionally do. I recommend the following maintenance procedures be considered in this area:

  • Clean Motherboard and Expansion Cards: As part of an annual cleaning, the motherboard and expansion cards should be cleaned. This will improve cooling of the motherboard components. The easiest and safest way to clean out the inside of the box is using compressed air, available at most computer stores.

Warning: Do not clean the gold contacts on expansion cards with a pencil eraser. At one time this was considered the thing to do, but apparently over time the abrasion can erase much more than the dirt!

  • Check For Connectivity Problems: The motherboard, any expansion cards inserted into it, and all cables that connect to it, should be checked annually to make sure they are still making good contact. Over time some cards can start to come loose, especially if they are not screwed down properly and are subjected to "tugging" by cables that attach to the back of the PC. This is not typical but it does happen and an annual inspection can prevent this sort of problem.
  • Check for "Chip Creep": On older boards, "chip creep" can be a problem, where over time chips can work their way out of their sockets due to repeated thermal expansion and contraction. This is one reason that memory now comes on SIMMs and DIMMs instead of individual chips.
  • Back Up the System BIOS: As part of a regular backup routine, the system BIOS settings should be "backed up" occasionally to ensure that you have a record of your current system configuration. This is discussed in more detail here.

Next: The Processor

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