Dust can cause connections between circuits which are not meant to cross as well as clogging fans internally. This can lead to hardware malfunctions, faulty fans, and in extreme cases, defective components. This can be avoided by using compressed air to clear out dust in the system every 6 months. Simply shut down the computer, and use a can of compressed air (available online or at major retail outlets) to blow out visible dust. Also, make sure to spray the air into the fans of the computer to knock out any dust that may have been trapped under the fans or on the fan blades. Keep your computer turned off for an additional 30 seconds to allow the dust to settle, then close up the computer, and turn the system back on. The system should now run just as efficiently as before, and usually cooler as well.
When adding components into the system, remember to keep wires bundled together as neatly as possible. This is not just for aesthetic value. Keeping wires and components spaced out provides room for air to flow through the system. This is very important as many components rely on ambient air alone to cool the parts (such as the hard drive). Wires can be bundled together using wire ties, and major components (hard-drives, CD-ROMs, video cards, sound cards, etc.) should have space between them in order to promote a cool, optimal performance.
Cleaning Up Software
When removing software, do not simply delete the files, and folders. Use the tools provided by the Operating System. In Microsoft Windows, use the "Add/Remove Programs" tool or the "Programs and Featured" tool in the control panel to remove unneeded software. This will help to eliminate possible residual registry files which could slow down the computer's performance.
Defragmenting the computer allows files to be kept closer together on the hard drive itself. The easiest way to visualize this would be to imagine the bedroom of a very unorganized individual as opposed to the office of a high level CEO who keeps everything in its proper place. Because the CEO tends to keep like items in easy to find places, it is faster to find the items that are being searched for. Defragmenting the computer organizes the files on the hard drive to help ensure reliable performance. Defragmentation tools are readily available in the Windows Operating Systems, and can be located online for Linux based Operating Systems. SSDs (Solid State Drives) do not require defragmentation. This process will damage them.
Security is a very important matter regardless of whether the end-user is a student, grandparent, or financial mogul. One should always have means of blocking pop-up advertisements, removing viruses, avoiding malware (spy-ware, ad-ware, and other software that may harm the computer). These security measures can be installed on the computer, a local server, or on the modem/router provided by the ISP.