PC Preventive Maintenance against the Critter Kind

I had the unfortunate incident of having my hard disk crash due to ants making a meal out of it. They were trucking the foam that padded the PCB from the hard disk enclosure, to their home base. I heard the most eerie of screeches from my dying hard disk when I turned it on after a few days of inactivity. What really got to me was that this could have been easily prevented by me.

Here are the lessons learned on my part from this encounter as well as some best practice advice from other tech people:

1. Don’t Eat or Drink near the Computer.

Left over food just attracts these buggers. Drinks could not only leave stains that attract pests, but could also be accidentally spilled on to the computer. If it can’t be helped to have food around, then at least be sure to constantly clean your area and empty your trashcan daily.

2. Don’t leave unnecessary open slots in the Computer.

If you spend time talking to your friendly neighborhood computer technician, you’d be surprised with the stories they can tell you on the type of stuff they find sticking to the computers innards: urine and feces to name a few. The much larger pests, such as cockroaches and mice can get in via open PCI slots and vents. The worst thing that they can do is to gnaw on your internal cabling as well as shorting out your electricals with their urine. I usually just tape up the open slots with masking tape.

4. Be wary of the rainy season

I noticed that days of prolonged rains are a great time for the pest population in my house to increase. Because they like to go indoors to avoid the rain. The problem is that food scarcity occurs, hence the urge to consume other things (paper, wood, foam etc) in order to stay alive (You’d be resourceful too if you had a million mouths to feed :D) I was lucky enough to notice that the ants had started to take a fancy on my PC’s CDROM drive. A little ant chalk did the trick.

5. Keep the cabling clean and tidy.

Having properly secured cabling and wires could lead to pogi points for neatness, could prevent the occasional tripping hazard as well as prevent your wires from being pulled inadvertently from its sockets. It could have also helped me to easily spot the creepy crawlies making their own version of the Bataan Death March on my Network Cable.

6. Securing your PC properly when not in use:

The ants were only able to enter my hard disk when it wasn’t on, because a 7200 rpm hard disk is just too hot to handle when it’s running. Yup, I should start using that trusty dust cover that comes free with the PC when I bought it. To the point of inserting the cover edges beneath my PC casing to create a perfect seal.

7. Back up Data Regularly to tape or optical media.

That little crashed hard disk may have set me back a few thousand bucks, but the worst part was all the data that was lost. Especially when you decide to keep your family pictures in digital format. It’s a good idea to keep a regular schedule of burning your important data to CD/DVD format (or even to high capacity tape drive if you have the resources.) Another good reason to invest in a CD or DVD burner. But hey!, be sure you store it afterwards in a proper place, away from direct sunlight.

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  • We had a Toshiba Portege wiped out by cat pee. A shop was able to salvage it but it never worked properly afterwards.

  • I remember our HP printer becoming the home of a happy family of mice despite the constant use of the thing.

  • How big was your printer, for a whole family to fit?

  • Abbas

    I had the same experince with my Quantum Fireball. Ants normally like to eat Quantum and Maxtor Hard Drivers foams. Well, it is very strange that I never seen the ants while they are active eating it. Some times I think this is the Hdd itself throwing out it’s powders 🙂 Well, by observing carefully it becomes obvious that the ants are the culprits 🙂
    Sorry for your data. And thans for your advice.

  • Mike

    I found this site while looking for useful information, since the ants-in-the-hard-drive problem has hit me THREE TIMES! These are usually drives that are brand new and not yet installed in PCs. I don’t understand it at all. The hard disks in question were two Western Digitals and a Seagate. Fortunately, the WDs turned out fine; I hope the Seagate does, too.

    Go ahead and laugh, but the mice in the printer problem hit me, too! TWICE! What’s worse, each time the mouse decided to commit suicide in the printer! I don’t know if them being HPs had anything to do with it, but after that, I bought a Brother. So far, so good. 😀

    (This might be a repost because I hit back at the captcha to add something.)