Having a toolkit dedicated for your PC is a wise idea. Not only will it save you a lot of time when performing basic upgrades, troubleshooting, and repairs, you’ll also avoid damaging the components while you work. After all, you’ve already invested in your computer; what’s a couple thousand bucks more for its maintenance?
With that thought it mind, here’s a list of must-have items in your PC toolkit.
Almost all computer parts, inside and out, are fastened together by screws. At the minimum, you should have two sizes of both a Phillips and a flat screwdriver. If you’re working on a laptop, look for a jeweler’s screwdriver or a 3 mm model to use on smaller screws. For convenience, you can find screwdrivers with magnetic and interchangeable tips; however, some of the more cautious PC enthusiasts advise against using any tool with magnetic parts to avoid damaging some of the components. But no matter your preference, you should definitely invest on high-quality screwdrivers that will last for years.
There are also some computer parts, such as hard drives, that come with torx screws. Usually, components like these are best left on their own; however, if you have enough experience (and bravado), you can invest in a torx screwdriver, also called a star screwdriver, to tinker with these parts.
If you’ve been working on PCs for quite a while now, you’re familiar with this tool. It’s basically a screwdriver with a tip that looks like a socket wrench. The most common hex screws used in computers are the 3/16” and 1/4”, so it’s good to have hex drivers for these in your PC toolkit.
Organizing cables into bundles is not only pleasing to the eye, it also helps optimize the the airflow inside the computer. Arranging the wires to follow specific paths also clears the space and make it easier for you to work. You can use various sizes of cable ties for this purpose. Just remember to not pull them too tight — leave a small allowance so you can cut the cable ties should the need arise.
You can also use cable ties to organize connecting cables, like those on your monitor, printer, speakers, mouse, and keyboard.
Compressed Air Duster
An accumulation of dust is a bad thing for your computer, especially those that accumulate in the fans and air vents since these can disrupt proper air flow inside the computer and cause overheating. If there are magnetic or conductive particles in the dust, it may also short some circuits. Keeping a can of compressed air nearby will help you blow away the dust, down to the smallest nooks and crannies of your PC. Don’t forget to wipe away the dust afterwards so it doesn’t settle on your computer table and other surfaces.
(Alternatively, you can also use a small vacuum cleaner with the appropriate attachments to remove dust. However, it may generate static electricity when you use it in hot, dry weather.)
Regularly wiping your computer case using a lint-free cloth will prevent dust buildup, reducing the frequency of opening it up for a more thorough cleaning. Lint-free cloths are also useful in removing fingerprints and smudges on your computer screen, keyboard, and mouse.
There are some dark corners inside your PC, so a flashlight can come in handy in lighting up these areas. A flashlight is also useful to clearly see markings on connectors and ports, discolored or burned parts (which may need replacing), and other parts that you may be blocked or shadowed by other computer parts.
It can be frustrating if you drop a screw inside the computer case and it ends up in a corner that’s difficult to reach. Using tweezers can make picking up these stray screws a breeze. Again, depending on your preference, you may choose a tweezers with a magnetic tip to make it even easier to pick up these small components.
If you want, there are also specialized “part retrievers.” These look like claws with a spring-loaded handle, so when you pick up the screw and release the grip, the claw closes in tight onto the screw so you’re less likely to drop it.
You can also add miscellaneous items in your toolkit like Ziploc baggies (to keep screws and other small parts) and cotton buds to remove dust build-up between keyboard keys, for example. However, the above-mentioned basic tools can get you by in most situations. All you need is a small bag or box to keep them in and your PC toolkit is complete!