How to do maintenance for 'Dell Inspiron 545' ?


I bought my Dell Inspiron 545 desktop about 5 or 6 years ago and never really did any maintenance to it.

What can I easily do to make it last as long as possible?

In the next few days I want to open it up for the first time to try to get all the dust out, ... but what else would be advisable to do?

I've heard somewhere that the most common reason for a desktop computer to die is a faulty or broken fan. Is this true? If yes, should I replace all the fans with new ones?

I've also read somewhere that some computers/chips use 'Thermal Paste' which needs to be replaced every few years. I'm not even sure if my mainboard uses thermal paste?

Is there anything else I can do to extend the life of my desktop?

Many thanks in advance,

H AAsked:
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Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Fans are like light bulbs ... they can last a LONG time, or they can fail instantly.    If the fans are all working okay; then just leave them alone.

Your system definitely uses some thermal paste between the CPU and heatsink; but there's no reason to replace it if you're not having any heat issues.

I'd just blow out the dust [use compressed air ... NOT a vacuum cleaner (the air from a vacuum can be too humid and have dust particles in it] ... and then close it back up.

I would then install a thermal monitoring program and notice what your temps tend to run.   If the temperatures start to increase in normal operation [It's very normal for them to jump during operations that stress the CPU, but pay attention to what your temps tend to be with your normal usage],  then look inside to see if you've accumulated more dust, or if  a fan has stopped working.    If neither of those are the case, and the temps have risen notably, THEN you may want to remove the heatsink; clean it off good [you can use isopropyl alcohol for that, or get the excellent Artic Cleaning kit -- ]; and then apply new thermal paste and replace the heatsink.

For most CPU's, this little utility works very nicely for monitoring temps:

PAY ATTENTION when you install it ... like many free utilities, it wants to install some additional "stuff" -- but as long as you uncheck/decline them, it will install cleanly with no problem.

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GlingoSystem AdministratorCommented:

Like you said, it would be a good thing to clean the dust out, especially on the fans, if the fans seems to run properly after cleaning them there is no need to replace them.

There is probably thermal paste between your CPU and it's fan, to check it just remove the fan and look at your processor (juste type "processor thermal paste" in google image if you don't now how it looks like), and if you want to replace it you should be able to find plenty of vids on youtube explaining how to do it.

Beside that one of the first component to die is the hard drive, so make sure you have a backup of your files in case you need to replace it.

Also you can buy a power surge protector :)
good advice above; just a couple of things to add :
in some cases, the dust sticks to the fan blades; in that case, use a brush to clean it
look also for dust bunnies around the CPU, disk and cd drives and remove them
look if the power supply fan runs ok - and check also if there is not too much dust in the PS cage - should be removed also!

incase you have problems after restarting the PC -  power it down, and remove and reseat all connectors - probably one came loose during cleaning
H AAuthor Commented:
Many thanks to all three replies!

All the best,

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