Managing Your Computing Environment – CompTIA A+ 220-902 – 5.2

Your computing environment requires attention to keep everything running at peak efficiency. In this video, you’ll learn about disposal procedures, room control, surge suppressors, and more.

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As IT professionals, we have to dispose of some hazardous materials. And if you’d like to know more about how to dispose of these materials, then you need to reference your MSDS. This stands for Material Safety Data Sheet. In the United States, this is something required by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA. And if you want to know more about OSHA, you can find their website at

The MSDS will tell you everything you need to know. Whether you’re dealing with batteries or display devices or solvents or anything else where you’re not exactly sure how you should dispose of this, all of the pertinent information will be inside the MSDS. You may hear the Material Safety Data Sheet abbreviated as SDS for Safety Data Sheet. Different countries have different ways to provide you with this information, but you should always be able to reference this to find out how to dispose of these materials.

The MSDS is going to contain information about what company and product this happens to be. It will talk about the composition of the product and the ingredients inside of it, any hazard information, especially dealing with hazardous materials. You’ve got first aid measures if anything ever goes wrong, how you should fight a fire if this particular item was to catch on fire, what you should do if there’s an accidental release or leaking of the contents of this item, how to handle it, how to store it, and so much more. You can find all of this inside the MSDS.

It’s also important to control the environment where all of these materials might happen to be. We need to make sure that the temperature is appropriate for devices that may be up and running and for the things that we’re storing as well. The humidity is also very important.

If you have a high humidity, there will be a lot of condensation. And of course, water is not good for electronics. Low humidity means there will be a lot of static discharges, which we don’t want either. A 50% humidity is generally a good number, but that can be difficult to do in an air-conditioned environment.

One thing that’s always true, though, is that these electronic components get very hot very quickly. If you put them in an enclosed environment, like a closet, it will heat up very quickly. And you’ll want to think about having some type of ventilation to keep things cool in those environments.

Our electronic components obviously require power, so it’s important that we also make considerations for when the power source may not always be reliable. That’s why it’s very common to use in an Uninterruptible Power Supply, or UPS. This will provide backup power at times when you lose all power or times when you might have brownouts or voltages that might drop below normal.

You’ll usually see three different kinds of UPS devices marketed. One is standby UPS. On a standby UPS, you’re always on the primary power, and if that power was to disappear, it will move to the backup batteries. A line-interactive UPS has capacitors that allow you to handle brownouts and surges without having to go to the battery system. And an online UPS is always running from the battery, and if you lose power you don’t have to worry about switching over to the battery backup, because you’re already running on the battery system.

Different UPS systems can also provide different capabilities. For example, a UPS may include an auto-shutdown feature. When it goes to battery, it will tell your computer to shut down normally, rather than abruptly turning off the power to that computer. They might also have different capacities for the batteries, that they can stay on battery power for a longer period of time. There might be a different number of outlets depending on the model of UPS you purchase. And some will have a phone line or network line suppression so that you can stop any power that might be coming through those lines as well.

Most of the time, the power that we’re using for our computing devices doesn’t deviate from the standard voltages. But occasionally, there might be noise or spikes on the line and you might want to use a surge suppressor to be able to clean that power before it gets to your computer. If a surge suppressor sees a spike in voltage, it can take that additional voltage and send it into the ground connection that’s on your electrical system.

If it’s seeing any noise or needs to filter out anything, there are noise filters built into the surge suppressor. If you look at the specifications of your surge suppressor, it should show you the Db level that’s used for filtering. A higher Db level will be able to filter out more noise on your electrical system.

Another important specification is how much of a surge that this suppressor can handle. It measures these as a joule rating. The higher number of joules, the more protection it can provide for these types of power surges. As we use more current, the number of amps that we’re using will increase, so we want to be sure whatever surge suppressor we’re using can handle the number of amps that we’ll need at any particular time.

In the United States, Underwriters Laboratories categorizes surge suppressors with a let-through rating to identify how much voltage will be let through the surge suppressor. You’ll see surge suppressors rated at 500, 400, and 330 volts. And you want to find the surge suppressor that has the lowest number on its rating.

If your computer is on a manufacturing floor where there might be smoke or oil or other particles in the air, then you might want to consider getting an enclosure that will protect the computer from those particles. You also want to protect yourself from these particles, so if you’re working in one of these environments, it might be a good idea to wear an air filter or a mask. This can be really useful when you’re working inside a very dusty computer case or if you’re working inside of a laser printer, where some of those toner particles might be in the air.

If you’re cleaning the inside or the outside of one of these devices, you want to use as neutral a cleaning detergent as possible. Try to avoid any cleaning liquids that might be ammonia-based. And you definitely don’t want to use any isopropyl alcohol unless it’s specifically requested by the manufacturer.

If you need to vacuum anything up, you may want to use a vacuum cleaner that is specifically designed for computing environments. These will minimize the amount of static that builds up during the vacuuming process. And of course, you want to make sure you have plenty of ventilation in that area.

If you need to blow out the inside of a computer case or some other component, you might want to try using a compressed air pump rather than using a disposable can of compressed air. The chemicals that are inside of these cans can sometimes leak out onto your components. And it’s always better for the environment if you can use a compressed air pump rather than something that might be chemical-based.