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We have a computer in a dusty environment. Worked for more than a year and then PSU died, probably because PSU fan wasn't cooling enought good. I tried to rotate the fan by hand and it was rotating hard.

We have a need for another computer in another dusty environment, so to make a better choice, i`m researching about ways to save computer from dust as i have no experience in such field.

The PC can be low power/performance PC, as it just needs to operate with the database software and work with a printer.

Ways to keep computer clean

I am now reading The dust free computer and it mentions 4 ways to solve the problem:

  • Clean the environment. Not possible, as this is manufacturing
  • Reduce the need of airflow. Computer without fans.
  • Isolate the computer. An interesting and cheap solution - wrap the computer in a dirt bag and that's all.
  • Use filtered airflow.

What i`m thinking about

  1. First of all i look forward for a small PC, wall mounted would be nice, but is there any that doesn't require fans to operate? I'm looking at Dell Optiplex FX160, but would that be an option? I don't actually know if this device has fans, but as i'm reading the technical guidebook, it requires that there is some spacing for the airflow: DELL Optiplex FX160 system placement But as i'm looking that are "so many dots" for airflow, i`m afraid that it could be blocked by dust really fast?

  2. Just buying a regular PC and upgrading airflow as mentioned in the article - will it really solve the problem or just mitigate it?

  3. Well the dirt bag looks like a real option.

But what are your experiences and suggestions?

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Have you considered looking outside of x86? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 14 '11 at 7:16
@Ignacio Navision 3.7 only runs on XP :) – Janis Veinbergs Jul 14 '11 at 8:20
up vote 7 down vote accepted

If your system has to work in a dirty industrial environment then commodity PCs are probably not the way to go. You would be much better off using machines that have been designed for use in those kind of environments. You would be better off researching industrial fanless or sealed PCs or similar. They probably wont be cheap but they should work flawlessly in your kind of environment for years.

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I was thinking if there are solutions like that. I had no idea what to google for. Could you please point out for an example so i could see what it looks like :) – Janis Veinbergs Jul 14 '11 at 7:17
Korenix and Moxa are my preferred supplier of industrial PCs and switches. – Bryan Jul 14 '11 at 7:38

Googling "industrial pcs" or "industrial pcs nema" will get you a bunch of results for suppliers of more robust PCs.

Keep in mind that you get what you pay for - lower-end models or cheaper suppliers are really just putting a regular PC in a tougher-looking case. Adding NEMA to the search gets you suppliers that make truly sealed units, even ones that are waterproof.

I always wanted to try one of those "Dirt Bag" things for a few of our PCs that were on a shop floor, but never got around to it.

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I built something like this:

Might be worth it if you're on a budget ($70 + $50 + $40 = $160 sans ram and hard drive). Even if it was completely filled with dust, you could just blow canned air into one side of the case and the dust would fly out the other

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A cool solution i saw to this was to use water cooling rather than air cooling.

A good write up of this is at popular mechanics.

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That's too much work and too much money. But thank you for a solution, i hope this helps someone. – Janis Veinbergs Jul 14 '11 at 7:37
That example is an extreme setup, but the basic idea in a normal watercooled case should work fine aswell. – Decado Jul 14 '11 at 7:38

Another option may be to supply thin clients (such as Neoware or Wyse) to the Floor which connect to a Terminal Services server with the necessary applications installed.

A previous gig of mine did this in a number of similar conditions (Paper factory, Fiberglass factory, etc.) successfully.

They are generally cheap and usually fanless, but this does require that you have a Terminal Services server. The Terminal Services portion would require testing with your application, as not all play well in TS, but you can test that with any RDP client; you don't need to buy any thin clients to evaluate. You should ensure that your application can ru without the user being an Admin; being on a server you don't want your users to have Admin access.

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This might be interesting option, Mineral Oil Cooled PC:

It seems expensive though.

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