What's choking your computer?

Why you may have to get a jump on spring cleaning this year.

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Editor's note: The topic of this Spyware Horror Story submission isn't among the usual culprits of computer stop-ups, but it was too amusing a story to pass up.

Published by Penny; Fallon, Nevada

My computer was running slower and slower, but it said I still had 75 percent hard drive space. I should have been suspicious when I started digging the ultra-fine undercoat hairs of our long-haired dog out of the keyboard as a way to fix my having to pound on it to get a response! I gave up, sent the computer in, and waited for the tech to call back: "Your computer was full of your hair, dog hair, and dust bunnies."

I had to laugh, and asked if mine was the worst he'd seen. He said no, so I asked what the weirdest stuff was he'd ever had to clean out. His reply? Dried Coke and Gummy Bears.

Editor's response

Before becoming a computer zombie, I was a bookworm. "Stop feeding the library books!" my mother would yell while I craned over the crumbly toast slice or bowl of macaroni I had wedged between me and my read. Books, homework, or keyboards, Mom had a good point. Too bad Penny didn't have my mom around to lend sober household sense. (You see, Mom? I listened!)

It turns out quite a lot of you have experienced a malware scare that had its root in monstrously destructive (but harmless-looking) dust bunnies. Or worse, cigarettes or roaches (see comment #5). The key is to stay aware of your surroundings and regularly douse your keyboard with pressurized streams of compressed air--or bug spray. Keep a screwdriver handy to rid yourself of hardware maintenance excuses, and monitor your energy consumption with a program like the free Local Cooling, to help keep internal processes cool and calm.

And when you can, brush the shaggy coat on your long-haired cat/rabbit/dog outside, not in the computer room.

Do you have a spyware horror story to share? Click here.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.