I'd like to share an experience that I think most of us can hopefully benefit from. My main personal computer is pretty decently fast, even tho I have owned it for almost 3 years now it's life span seems like it should go a lot longer then my previous systems. It has never had any major issues, and it has been the center of multiple hobbies, projects, and the source of my relaxation(StarCraft2).
However, I started realizing something I thought was odd, in it's boot up process it was taking longer, and longer, for it to find it's USB Controllers which slowed down the entire process of booting up. Other issues would happen as well, windows and Linux were both becoming extremely unstable even with fresh copies of each installed.
After driving myself crazy trying to find the source of the problem. I stopped doing something that I think we all have been guilty of, especially with our own systems at one time or another. I decided I could not fix this if I do not start fixing the obvious first. I began by unplugging my tower ,opening it up and finally cleaning every little spec of dust I could find.
Of course it was a lot more gruesome then that. I owned this system since before I quit smoking, I own three small dogs who also contribute to dog fur in odd places around the house, etc... Although it was obvious how badly it needed to be cleaned, once I got down to taking fans apart, cleaning all my heat sinks, and everything else I could find it was obvious how bad it really was.
I had a huge plate of dirt, dust, fur, and probably some mutated germs of whatever cold virus I have had in the past 3 years. It was disgusting, but I felt extremely accomplished once it was done. It was good to know that my computer was spotless inside and out, and that it will last a long as possible with proper maintenance that it has been needing on the hardware side.
I boot up my system, and to my surprise, my USB Controllers initialized immediately, windows (which was previously crashed to a blue screen) worked perfect, as well as my Linux OS. My system was like new, and the software was being effected as much as the hardware was by simply not being cleaned.
As technical professionals, hobbyists, enthusiasts, geeks, whatever you want to call us, we all have been guilty of letting our own system go with different things at one time or another. I hope this can be a reminder to all of us regarding the importance of taking our own advice, when it comes to our own systems as well.
AMD Phenom II (Quad Core) 2.6ghz
8 GB DDR 3 RAM
1TB Hard Drive
1GB Video RAM ATI Radeon HD 4850