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  • #2192642

    What gross things have you found during PC cleanup


    by cagedmonkey ·

    OK, I know all of you out there have at one time or another found something repulsive when cleaning up a PC. What I want to know is what items have you found in/on a PC when a user complained something did not work.

    Recently I was called to a users desk because they claimed the keyboard was not operating correctly. Many of the keys were sticking or just not working.

    Well, I got to the user’s desk and picked up the keyboard, turned it over to see what might shake loose. Lo-and-behold. Hundreds of fingernail clippings dropped out and deposited themselves onto the desk. I just left the pile there and asked them to clean it up. I was not about to touch any of it.

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    • #3253062

      Thumbnail full of

      by stargazerr ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      mashed potato.

      The guy was very fond of mashed potato and ate lunch at his desk … When some of his keyboard keys stopped working, I opened the thing up and scraped the potato out with a knife.


      P.S I wore gloves

      • #3132786

        Fur Balls

        by slaterg ·

        In reply to Thumbnail full of

        I was asked to service a Dell Desktop and when I removed the side panel to look for problems it was there staring right back at me!
        The inside was packed full of cat hair and dander.
        The PC was being used as a server in the owners house and had been running for three years 24/7
        and the family cats bed was right beside the computer! I normally blow air over components to clean off acumilated dust but this one I needed to use a vacumm cleaner to contain the mess.

        • #3102118

          Hospital work

          by old_sys_admin_guy ·

          In reply to Fur Balls

          I worked in a 430 bed hospital, keyboards covered in food and coffee, and who knows what else. CPUs choked with dust, not to mention the Intensive care unit PCs, covered in contagious bacteria. No wonder people get sicker while in the hospital! We always wore gloves and used plenty of hand snaitizer. Bleh! Glad to be out of there.

    • #3253045

      Keyboard full of coke

      by jamesrl ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Coca cola not cocaine….

      Someone had spilled and not bothered to turn the keyboard upside down. This was in the early days of the Mac (mid 80s) when a keyboard was $110. So I opened it up and got out the contact cleaner and the q tips.


      • #3102289

        Reply To: What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

        by jvcartera ·

        In reply to Keyboard full of coke

        Another method that worked for me was…
        turn off computer,
        unplug keyboard,
        flush keyboard with fresh running water,
        dry keyboard with a hair drier or leave right side down on top of an air duct, time permitting.

    • #3253037


      by jaqui ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I found, coffee, coka-cola and hot chocolate in one keyboard

      the entire curcuitry was corroded.
      so a complete replace of the keyboard.

      • #3252983

        Sometimes it is the New guy that gets the worse

        by isrowley_03 ·

        In reply to well

        As a Computer PC Manager for Dell, I have seen some pretty gross things. But, this one time, we received a service call on a Dell PC that kept shutting down every 2 minutes. I sent one of my new hire Techs, just to see what he would find. About 30 minutes later I received a call from the client, who told me that my Tech had to be taken to the Hospital, for a severe allergic reaction.
        When I arrived at the client’s house, I noticed 8 Cat Food Bowls and 4 water bowls. My tech, it seems is allergic to cat hair! Anyway when I took the cover off the Half Tower, it looked as if the inside of the PC had been packed tight with cat hair. So tight, that even the client’s central vaccuum could not dislodge even 1 hair. I had to use pointed nose pliers to get the hair out and the hair filled my 3M PC vaccuum.

    • #3253032


      by tonythetiger ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      The computer was on the floor, under the desk, and had not been touched in years. They re-arranged the office and when they turned the computer back on, a bunch of little bits of paper had exitted through the power supply fan. When I openned the case, the little varmints (two) ran out and scared the @#$% out of me!

      Only one thing worse than finding a mouse in your computer … finding half a mouse …

      • #3254610


        by stargazerr ·

        In reply to Mice

        Better Alive than dead I always say 😀


        • #3080683


          by denbrown ·

          In reply to Yikes

          I found a mummified mouse in one PC. I think the person that used it had no sense of smell coz it must have stunk the place out before it dessicated……

        • #3254653


          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Mummy

          Don’t rot. They are too small without enough in them to start rotting. But they should still raise a stink for a while…

        • #3254675

          Mice Stink all right

          by stargazerr ·

          In reply to Mice

          I come from India .. and mice in homes are a common problem … In the rare event that one of them dies … they stink horribly …

          I am guessing this person walked around with his nose clamped shut …


        • #3091422


          by kohat ·

          In reply to Mice Stink all right

          A user phone me about a printer that would not work, paper jam light was on. Got there and there was a slight stench, someone might have cracked one. Opened the printer removed the toner cartridge, closed it again and asked for a bag. Took it to the repair centre and told them that it?s not working and there might be a bug dead inside as it smells. They did not believe me so they opened the plastic bag and removed the toner cartridge mentioned that it smelled a bit as he peered into the printer he saw Mr. Mouse. He got his tail stuck in one of the rollers and he never saw the light of day.

        • #3252194

          I beg to differ…

          by cheesel ·

          In reply to Mice

          They DO rot. So do dwarf hamsters,which are as small as, or smaller than mice.

      • #3254139

        So you

        by dr dij ·

        In reply to Mice

        had to replace the mice?

        I suppose it would be a cordless mouse without a tail.

        I had more of the food thing. I worked for an architect and they loved to eat lunch at their desk also. Back when sun station kbs were expensive, so off came the keycaps to clean, full of crumbs.

        • #3091275

          Gross PC

          by williamrcastillo ·

          In reply to So you

          I had a PC that was in some exchange students apartment. I guess they cook with a lot of oil (chineese food) and the PC was very close to the kitchen. Everything the keyboard mouse and cse where cover with what at first just looked like dust. Turns out it was a combination of all the oil and dust that was so think I could not be reomved. The iside of the case was caked even worse than the out side. I guess the fan pulled all the gunk in. I threw it all away.

        • #3252148

          Vegetable Matter

          by rush2112 ·

          In reply to Gross PC

          I have cleaned keys from an IBM laptop.
          Luckily the keys were removable.

          The Veternarian stated that they keys were sticking and had “VEGETABLE MATTER” on them.

          What it amounted to, was that he had been doctoring-up some cows and the cow had released or rather produced some vegetable matter which got onto the keyboard and the rest of the laptop rendering it useless for typing.

          This particular laptop came in SEVERAL times to the shop for “CLEANING” because someone had sold a maintenance agreement on it and they were due a CLEANING every so often.

      • #3254053

        Mouse cause one to burn out

        by jdclyde ·

        In reply to Mice

        My buds computer just died out of the blue, so I went over to look at it.

        Popping off the cover, I asked him if anything had been spilled on the system, or if it had been by an open window during a storm because you could see where the board had been wet, and the contacts were all corroded up. He said no.

        Looking closer, I found mouse “droppings”. :O

        On of the slots had been left uncovered, so the mice were using this as a nice warm house.

        We threw the computer away.

      • #3080898

        Mice, part 2

        by too old for it ·

        In reply to Mice

        Back in the days of the DIN keyboard connection, the owner of a company I used to work for prided himself in delivering servers without keyboard or video card, relying on a TVI 950 serial terminal.

        Whole families of mice would use them as a nice heated condo. Plenty of room between the hole in the case and the DIN connection on the motherboard.

        • #3252297

          It is surprising

          by tonythetiger ·

          In reply to Mice, part 2

          how small a space those critters can squeeze through.

      • #3080895


        by ed woychowsky ·

        In reply to Mice

        Once saw voles, they look like fat mice. The little critters had moved in for winter. Guess the power suppy was nice and warm.

      • #3252592

        I can relate to that!

        by rknrlkid ·

        In reply to Mice

        My daughter called me once that her computer wasn’t working. I opened the case and saw all this shredded paper and junk, along with mouse droppings. I had to gut the computer and toss the case. A mouse or more had been living inside the case, on top of the power supply. The amount of mouse urine was so great inside the case that the motherboard and all cards but one were rusted and ruined.

      • #3090819

        Mice …. again

        by brian.walters2@btinternet ·

        In reply to Mice

        OK, so it wasn’t a PC, computers were still a lab experiment in the very early 1970’s, but in a previous life (employment) I was a Radio technician working on “private mobile radio” systems.
        I was called to site where the equipment had been switched off for some time to do a check before it was all re-activated and the first thing I noticed was the smell from the transmitter unit!
        Closer examination led me to the cause, a mouse had found its way into the final amplifier stage and electrocuted itself on the anodes of the main valve (that a glass jam jar with an electric fire in it to those unfamiliar with the term).
        The mix of 600 volts, mouse droppings, burnt fur and flesh and the age of the corpse was not a pretty sight … or smell!
        I won’t even begin to tell you about the many visits to vetenary surgeries that I was also called to attend.
        Regards, Brian.

        • #3090817

          Transmitters and critters

          by allvord ·

          In reply to Mice …. again

          A nice cozy transmitter bldg atop a cold mountaintop is a safe haven for lots of critters. The worst,however, was a snake that took down the 5500V power supply. A quick cleanup, and we were back on the air. Worst keyboard mess would have to be cola. Luckily, I work for a PC wholesaler with an endless supply of keyboards, so they’re now disposable.

      • #3102018

        Mouse Nest

        by kansan52 ·

        In reply to Mice

        This computer came in with the complaint of a distorted image at times. We knew these people had problems with roaches and had ‘installed’ roach motels the last time it was in for service. We still bagged it (garbage bag and roach spray for 24 hours). Once opened, cleaned out the dead roaches but there was a gooey mass down one side of the memory onto the motherboard. The space between the floppy and the CD-rom was filled with a mouse nest and the gooey mass was mouse urine and feces. The amazing part is that it even worked. The side of the memory facing the nest had two leads corroded away by the combination, but only partially hindered the RAM. That was also the originall graphics problem. A new memory board and cleaning and the unit worked.

    • #3254568

      Just scum

      by sterling “chip” camden ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      We had one support tech whose keyboard was always filthy. This erstwhile white keyboard had brown keycaps from the god-knows-what that came off her fingers over the years. I always dreaded having to help her with anything on her workstation.

      • #3254030

        I had that situation once…

        by fregeus ·

        In reply to Just scum

        I showed up at her (yes, a young woman) desk with surgical gloves, put them on in front of her without saying a word. Fixed her problem. Got up, took the gloves off and threw them in her garbage can.

        The next call, the keyboard was misteriously clean….

      • #3080887

        Hand lotion?

        by jbartlett ·

        In reply to Just scum

        I’ve seen this “black residue” on keyboards, mice and phones. More often than not it is from hand lotion. The lanolin, which is oily, sticks to the keys, collects dirt and hangs around forever.

        • #3102488

          Are you sure…

          by noyoki ·

          In reply to Hand lotion?

          that it was really “lotion”?


      • #3080622

        I have had that – smoker tar

        by deadly ernest ·

        In reply to Just scum

        From cigarette to fingers to keyboad and mouse. One place I went to fix a computer had this lovely light tan / coffee coloured wall paint. Then I moved a cupboard to find it was originally pure white. 32 heavy smokers over 8 years. Normally I work n gear at the customers site, at that place I worked beside an open window.

    • #3254184

      Seafood Salad, coffee, poppy seeds

      by cheesel ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      The seafood salad and poppy seeds were in a keyboard. Then, there was the laptop marinating in coffee. To my surprise after disassembling the laptop and letting it dry overnight I reassembled it and it worked! I suspected after that that it probably had a significantly shortened lifespan, but it seemed fine.


      • #3253611

        Cleaning dirty PC bits.

        by michael_orton9 ·

        In reply to Seafood Salad, coffee, poppy seeds

        Have you seen Fred Langa’s Langalist e-mail list?
        He was editor of BYTE.
        He tells of PC bits, floppy drives, motherboards etc that have been cleaned in a dishwasher and recovered. He suggests this as a last resort.
        I have an IBM PC and Monitor that had spent a few days in a skip, in the rain before I recovered it.
        It still works, but only with the installed win 3.1. I dried it in the very hot conservatory.

        • #3253373

          Just on that one

          by hereinoz ·

          In reply to Cleaning dirty PC bits.

          Relating to that, Michael, I did a data recovery for a customer from their old hard disk to their nice new machine – the old hard disk would still work but would fail after 15 minutes or so.

          After I got “all” the data off the old HDD I threw it out the back in the pile (exposed to the weather) to go to the “computer graveyard”. Four weeks later, customer calls and asks “where are the pictures?”

          Oops – he remembers that they were in a folder called “travel, or something like that, that might be in the Windows folder”. Oh dear!!

          Go outside, after four weeks of winter rain and cold, grab the very wet HDD, put it by the fire for a day, plug it into a box and behold – it fires up, I extract the pictures, and the disk continued to run for several hours until I shut it down and put it back out on the pile.



        • #3091432

          What A Compliment!

          by nishpc ·

          In reply to Just on that one

          What brand was that HDD !?!?

        • #3252131

          Yeah, what brand and how old was it?…

          by btljooz ·

          In reply to What A Compliment!

          Unfortunately, “They don’t make ’em like they used to.”

        • #3090773

          Reply To: What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

          by sbrooks ·

          In reply to Just on that one

          Seriously, you threw a customers HDD out without wiping it?


        • #3252897

          Durable HDD

          by hereinoz ·

          In reply to Reply To: What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

          Well, for starters, there was nothing confidential on the HDD, and I had already questioned the customer whether he wanted it obliterated or not, and the answer was not to worry about it – it was an old Internet Surfing PC that was not used for very much else.

          Secondly, from memory it was a Maxtor 2GB hard drive. Very old, very tired, and I think the one thing that saved it was that when I had lobbed it in the box – yes I actually tossed it in there – it had landed flat, and circuit board facing down, so it was reasonably waterproof. Had it landed up the other way, I reckon that it would have suffered severe water ingression.

          All up a robust HDD plus a bit of luck coming together at the same time.

        • #3088850


          by m_johnson ·

          In reply to Just on that one

          Somebody must’ve left their pc outside because when we took off the cover to find out why it didn’t work, there was cut grass inside. Guess the lawnmower got too close.

        • #3252193

          Oh, I tried THAT once…

          by cheesel ·

          In reply to Cleaning dirty PC bits.

          with my old Amiga. I saw an article on how to disassemble an amiga keyboard and soak the keys in soapy water. I’ll never do THAT again. I lost parts to the keyboard…cost me a mint to get a replacement for it. It had a proprietary keyboard.

    • #3254056

      Fish dust

      by neilb@uk ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I once cleaned out an old desktop PC for someone at Billingsgate Fishmarket in London. I took the lid off the case and took it outside as it was completely full of a strange dust. A quick zap with the air canister and an injudicious indrawn breath and I promptly threw up into Millwall Dock.

      Brrrrr! I couldn’t eat fish for months.

      Didn’t drop the PC, though.

      • #3091468


        by cuteelf ·

        In reply to Fish dust




      • #3252037

        Not so pretty nice!

        by jellimonsta ·

        In reply to Fish dust

        That IS bad Neil! 🙂

    • #3254051

      Lets just say

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      for people I KNOW to be avid porn surfers, I ALWAYS wear gloves when I work on their system and I NEVER shake their hands! :O

    • #3254050

      Listed in the top four places to pick up bacteria

      by jdclyde ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A mouse.

      It ranks HIGHER than the door knob on a public bathroom!

      • #3080582

        Half eaten dead mouse

        by x-marcap ·

        In reply to Listed in the top four places to pick up bacteria

        My brother, whose PCs have been a mess leave me the material for this post.

        Green effluvium in the joint of his keyboard locking a key in place. A half eaten dead mouse in his Desktop. I work on his machines in surgical gloves and the sanitation engineer sees no problem with his machine… The mouse droppings I have just vacuumed out and ignored. (shudder)

        I told him to put in the cover plates and he informed me that since his fan had locked up from dust he was using the holes to cool the system…

        • #3253509


          by jdclyde ·

          In reply to Half eaten dead mouse


          did you explain about air flow and how the whole box is heating up? Cooling via convection.

          (runs away screaming….)

        • #3253371

          That’s OK

          by hereinoz ·

          In reply to holes….to…….the…….system……

          Don’t fix the fan – just cut a big hole in the top of the case – thermo-dynamic cooling.

          Perhaps even set up a pump to deliver a controlled alcohol spray to the heatsinks – thermo-evaporative cooling.

          Thirdly, get a mouse to run around inside a wheel all day, attach a drive belt to the axle of the wheel, and use it to drive an auxiliary fan to assist the two options above – thermo-rodential cooling.

          Fans are just way too noisy anyway – should never be used 🙂

        • #3272326

          I like that….

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to That’s OK

          thermo-rodential cooling,
          it’s got a nice ring to it,
          I wonder if anyone has ever tried it.

          – You’re idea on the heat chimney at the top of the case is solid, I’ve seen new cases with this option specifically built into them, a plastic chute that you can open & close (looks like a chimney). Makes perfect sense and less noise than a power supply fan or a cpu fan.

          thanks again for the laugh, I will be thinking of thermo-rodential cooling for a little while now.

          What did they do back in the days of the room sized computers, univacs, etc? Mice are too small, wonder if they used lowly employees on a giant sized running wheel – just kidding, thought I’d add my own spin to that.

          You should market that or trademark/copyright the name for that, setup a website or something,

          …. fridays are always good for a laugh

    • #3254024

      Not for those with a weak stomach…

      by techster1994 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Infestation of roaches. Opened the computer case and hundreds(?) of them scattered in all directions.

      A bit off the mark: I also do board level repair + refurbish work on cell phones — pubic hair inside the phones… often. (Cell phones vibrate; think twice before borrowing someones cell and before buying a ‘new’ phone of a model that was introduced more than a few months earlier, retail packaging notwithstanding.)

      • #3253992


        by bschmidt ·

        In reply to Not for those with a weak stomach…

        I worked at a place that repairs PCs, one time a person brought one in and as soon as you opened the case roaches went everywhere. The baby ones are hard to see until they crawl on your hand. And they wanted the PC back…

        • #3080866


          by roy penfold ·

          In reply to same

          I’ve had rats nesting in the (and chewing through) cable looms in the loft space, than had to crawl through the loft space after planting poison to clear up the remains….yeuch…..

      • #3080890

        Roach Hockey

        by too old for it ·

        In reply to Not for those with a weak stomach…

        When I leaved in a cheap double a number of years ago, I had a couple of cats that were particularly fond of roach hockey.

        Roach would scamper across the floor, one cat would slap it across the kitchen to the other cat, who would slap it back.

        For some reason, we never had the problems with roach infestation that our fastidious (no cats) neighbors had.

        • #3254636

          Good chuckle

          by cactus pete ·

          In reply to Roach Hockey

          Ah, thanks…

          But in honesty, you had the same roaches the neighbors had, just not out in the open…

        • #3091386

          Out of sight out of mind..

          by goal120 ·

          In reply to Good chuckle

          Like many things, if you can’t see them, then everything is fine. A few dead roaches — la-la-la! no problem here. Alive? Eeek!

          I just got a new dog which likes crunching on dried up roaches and batting around crickets, which is cool. The sawdust eating, however, makes me envision future large vet bills.

      • #3253399

        Been there, done that

        by nicknielsen ·

        In reply to Not for those with a weak stomach…

        Haven’t been lucky enough to find a snake in the power supply yet ( – 3 pages), but I have seen the roaches scatter. When I popped the case, out they came, even down my leg (eeuw!). The heat sink was completely filled with eggs/droppings/etc; guess that explains the “processor thermal fault.” The customer opted for a new PC.

        I took the old one out, hosed it off, took it apart and let it dry for about a month, and put it back together. My then-employer gave it to his son for college; it lasted him all through pre-law and law school.

        Have also seen the coffee and other foodstuffs in the keyboard, not to mention a plant (!) on top of an old flat-top monitor.

    • #3253966

      PC, desk…chair…everywhere

      by cgoeckel ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      At a company I used to work at I was on the national helpdesk and we had level 1 & 2 folks. When I started I was level 1. I got to do shadowing with one of the level 2 folks for about half a day before I went to my manager and told her that there was no way I could sit there anymore.

      She asked why and I told her that his desk was covered in crumbs from chips and whatever else along with spilled drink on there as well and you could see stuff growing literally.

      His keyboard was worse. There were brown splotches from coffee on it and worse I could see stuff sticking out of the keyboard.

      His chair was covered in stains from coffee and whatever soft drink he had along with food mashed in.

      The guy was a walking disaster. She had never really noticed it because she never stepped foot in his cubicle till after I told her.

      She made him clean it all up and keep it that way because she was afraid of mice showing up. Not that I don’t think they already had!

      It made me wonder how bad his home was!

    • #3080896

      Oh yeah, tar …

      by too old for it ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Chain smoker, (Camel studs) and her ashtray was parked right in front of the air inlet on her desktop. Opened it up to check some card seating or the other, and everything inside was coated with tar.

    • #3080872

      Mice, rats and tar stains

      by jbartlett ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      “Back in the day” my first job out of school was cleaning and refurbishing old gear for resale.

      The worst were old key-tape machines that had come from a grain mill. There were cooling holes in the bottom that rats and mice would crawl into. They could wander around in there and were safe until they raised their heads and touched the bottom on the power supply. ZAP! dead rodent, emtombed in the bottom of the machine.

      These machines had loop chambers and vacuum lines to handle the tape so there were constantly pulling air from the room into the machine. The operators were heavy smokers and the air lines which were clear vinyl would be stained a deep yellow by the tar in the smoke.

      Taking one of these apart to clean up the dead rodents and the smoke stains was a real joy…

      If you’ve never seen one, a key-tape machine lies on the evolutionary path between card punches and terminals. Operators would sit at the keybord to do data entry and the data would go right onto tape. The tapes would then be loaded onto the mainframe and processed. Lots of motors and air pumps etc. The non-switch mode power supply weighed about 50 pounds and looked like an aerial view of a oil refinery.

    • #3080776

      Could not see main board

      by zlitocook ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I worked for UPS in the late 90’s as a field service tech. UPS would loan computers to good shipping companys. One of those companys was a car electronic repair place, they would rebuild and repaint the parts. Inside the case of that computer all the parts were paint covered and any dust was cemented to them.
      At a hospital I worked at one of the nurses wore so much make up that the keyboard was brown and the phone head set was just nasty.

      • #3252314

        How About Spiders?

        by dcrandell ·

        In reply to Could not see main board

        Had a machine under someone’s desk for quite awhile in a very rural area. They sent it in for repairs and we found it FULL of spider webs. We called it our “new web server.” 😉

    • #3080773

      You name it.

      by mjd420nova ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      In Hawaii, cockroaches are the worst and the
      biggest, but a couple geckos solved that infestation. Mice urine will disolve traces
      right off the board. In the mid 70’s, main
      frame terminals had sheets of plastic
      stretched over the top of the switches for the
      keyboard and then the keycaps put on, no
      trouble there but these things now go nuts
      if you sneeze on them.. Best to just replace
      them and get it over. Field mice love under-
      ground cables, esspecially the lead sheathed
      ones and can really mess up a telex system,
      Flooded the lines with water and strained the
      pumps in the manholes. OOEEYY GGOOEEYY

    • #3080770

      Restaurant kills keyboards fast

      by swlchris ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I had the joy of cleaning out raw meat remnants, bits of vegetables.bread crumbs, not to mention soda milkshakes etc etc. I should have just waited for a customer to order a deluxe combo or something and handed them the keyboard.
      I can at least be grateful they placed the case up high on a shelf so nothing got dumped on it, but the air and exhaust extractors didn’t take all the oils out of the air and those were always coated in this nasty yellow residue that was sticky. That made reseating nic’s and modems much fun.

    • #3080705

      Urine, tar, hair (duh), food

      by garion11 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Need I say more…people are dirty…sheesh!

    • #3080696

      spiders and mice

      by deadly ernest ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      1. – A few years ago I was in Queensland on holiday visiting some relatives when they offered my technical services to a friend whose computer had stopped working. Got to the farm and undid the case, slide the side off and ran for my life (I figure I did ten yards in around ten nanoseconds) as about 10 billion redback spiders poured out. Ok I may have exagerated the numbers, but it sure looked like that many, waves of the things. The bloody thing was full of these little venomous buggers. The owner went through three cans of insecticide setting up a safety zone aound the damn thing. I refused to work on it anymore and suggested they hit it with a flame thrower, better yet burn the whle shed down, and buy a new one.

      The next day I helped them buy a new computer, a plain Jane, and set it up for them – in the house. Never did find out what they did about the old one.

      2. – I now live in rural NSW and recently we had a mouse plague. My son (trainee tech) opened up his computer to add a new hard drive and found a dead mouse wedged between the box base and the floppy connector at the edge of the motherboard. It appeared to have been deceased for sometime, stiff as a board and dry.

    • #3080648

      Potatoes !

      by powerit ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      When I used to work in PC World (UK), there was a guy who brought in a computer that we sold to him and said it wouldn’t turn on when he got it home and could we have alook at it.

      Expecting to open it up and fine the power cables disconnected or a cpu fan loose I diligently started to opened up the chasis. Nothing could surprise me more that to find it stuffed with potatoes – yes potatoes!

      He said that he just took it home and plugged it in and that it wasn’t working; we didn’t know what to do. We had experience of dodgy “friday afternoon” jobs where cpu’s or cables were missing but nothing like this. Had head office developed a new all-in-one starch-based method for carrying bits and bytes around?

      Anyway, we begrudgingly gave the guy a new computer and were bemused at what we had in front of us. Getting an RMA for this sucker was going to be difficult.

      As the weeks went passed we forgot about the PC, when we then heard of a similar case in another one of our branches. Apparantly it was the same guy!

      What this guy had been doing is buying a new PC, taking it home and stripping out the innards and replacing them with potatoes. What beggars belief is that he did it twice! If he hadn’t of been so stupid, then he might have got away with it! We soon arranged for the police to “feel his collar” and as expected he still had some of our components in his house. He couldn’t use the excuse that he just bought them as some of them were specific to our branded PC’s – Doh! To top it all of – he was a farmer.

      Anyway, we were keeping our eyes peeled for anything of that nature for quite some time after that.

    • #3252676

      Disk milk

      by frank_boston ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Years ago I was called to recover data on a 5 1/4″ floppy. I was told it wouldn’t work. I looked at it and saw stains, then realized it was stuck and wasn’t spinning inside the jacket. I asked, and discovered the user had spilled milk on it. After I thought about it for a few minutes, I slit open the jacket and pryed out the mylar disk. I washed it in the sink with a sponge, then inserted it into the jacket of a new disk. Voila, 100% data recovery!

    • #3252613

      Gray Matter

      by cortech ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      We had an employee commit suicide while driving. His laptop was running a GPS mapping program at the time. The laptop must have been in the line of fire. I had to remove the hard drive so we could run the GPS log file to retrace his movements prior to his offing. I wore surgical gloves and we had the laptop incinerated as hazardous medical waste afterward.

      • #3101808

        You win!

        by photoit ·

        In reply to Gray Matter

        Can’t say it could possbily get any worse.

    • #3252602

      The absolute best one…

      by rknrlkid ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      The most bizarre thing that I have found was a spider the size of my hand. No kidding.

      I removed the motherboard from a computer that had been in storage, and this big green/brown field spider raised up. Somehow it had been under the motherboard in the space between the motherboard and the risers. Scared the bohunky out of me.

      Needless to say, that spider didn’t last too long. And hey — did you know that that canned air stuff freezes whatever it lands on? 😉

    • #3252601

      Child Pornography

      by arcticwerewolf ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      At some point and time during my career as a Computer Technician here at Compustar Computers, we worked on a computer that the customer claimed was running slow, had adware, spyware, and viruses.

      During the cleanup we noticed abnormaly large amounts of videos and pictures being cleared out of the temp folders. On investigation of what these files are we decided to stop the process and open a random video file titled “Noone is too young.mpg”

      Now, we all really thought this customer was a fan of music and when we opened it.. that all came crashing down to running franticaly around the office trying to figure out what to do. All boils down to we had to report the customer to the Elizabeth City Police Department.

      Our minds are scard, however we’re happy to help get another pervert off the street and placed into jail.

      • #3252581

        Good for you, and a suggestion

        by rknrlkid ·

        In reply to Child Pornography

        Good for you for turning that kind of guy in.

        I’ve run into similar (though not as bad) situations before. In order to make sure I have sufficient CYA, whenever I look at a computer (and especially when I have to reformat the hard drive) I make a copy of temp files, My Documents, and everything in the temporary internet files. I’ve only had one person accuse ME of putting that stuff on their computer (a husband who was caught by his wife), but after that, I made sure I burned that stuff to a CD so I could prove that it existed BEFORE the date they turned the machine in for repair.

        I look at EVERYTHING to make sure my backside is covered. Yeah, there are some ethical problems here, but I will NOT go to jail for foolishness the client does.

        • #3252215

          I don’t believe either one of those stories

          by rpitera ·

          In reply to Good for you, and a suggestion

          they both smack of urban legendry…

        • #3252155

          Believe it

          by bcmayes ·

          In reply to I don’t believe either one of those stories

          I can’t vouch for the two specific incidents above, but stuff like that really does happen. If you’re around southeastern Pennsylvania, I’m sure you recall that the Director of Libraries at a major University was caught in just that way. It was in the news (search the Philadelphia Inquirer 2004 archives for “library director pornography”).

        • #3252152

          I ran into the same thing…

          by mickster269 ·

          In reply to Believe it

          My “dilemma” though was the client was actually a 16 year old boy/man.

          He had pictures of underaged girls on his computer too, in an “invisible” folder that his parents didn’t know about/ didn’t know how to find. Now, while illegal, they WERE pictures of kids his age. So it wasn’t wierd/sick in the normal way. Just a kid looking at pics of girls of his own age.

          They also weren’t true porn pics, but more like teenaged Playboy pics.

          After discussing it with my boss, I ended up formatting the HD, and when the kid came to pic up his computer, I told him that he should be very careful what he stored on his computer. He turned white as a sheet.

        • #3252711

          Workplace Porn

          by mmathewson ·

          In reply to I don’t believe either one of those stories

          THese things do happen. I was working at a technology company back when the Lovebug virus first hit. We were testing an antivirus signature file against a quarrantined computer to test it’s ability to detect. The corporate comtroller was looking over my shoulder as I ran the test and when the virused files weren’t detected I went to show him where the files were located. We stumbled across a number of file folders containing pornography, downloaded by the system administrator for this company. The finding raised eyebrows, causes a new policy to be written and was used to terminate the admin’s employment at a later date.

        • #3132793

          Believe it

          by jamesrl ·

          In reply to I don’t believe either one of those stories

          My company sells or leases servers that run our software to small business. Often they will fill up their server with non db files and ask us to help them clean stuff up to eke out some more room.

          One of the things we do is do a search of the largest files. We ignore the databse files, and look at the other files.

          Just last week when doing this, we found some files labelled “pre-teen” which were .mpg movies. Yes we called the police.


        • #3132728

          Mine is very true…

          by rknrlkid ·

          In reply to I don’t believe either one of those stories

          and I have CDs to back it up.

          I didnt go into too much detail, but this type thing happens more often than I would like. Two recent incidents were courtesy of coworkers. (I do freelance repairs for co-workers. And no, not for free!)

          In one instance, this very nice woman said her computer had problems connecting to the internet, and a new icon suddenly appeared on her desktop. When I looked at what was on the computer, she had a porn dialer. Her college age son had been coming home and looking at gay porn on his mother’s computer, and had been doing this for a period of about 4 years (based on the time/date on the files found.) The other also involved a son home from college, but it was his own computer that mom brought to me. He was only looking at playboy-model type stuff. But in both cases, serious harm to the reputation of the women involved could have happened because of the actions of thier kids. I burned all that stuff onto CD so I could show them the times and dates so no one could blame me.

          Trust me, this stuff happens!

        • #3132606

          It does happen

          by cagedmonkey ·

          In reply to Mine is very true…

          Recently I was asked by a friend at church to examine the contents of her soon to be divorced husband’s hard drive. She was concerned that he was surfing porn and other assorted stuff.

          Come to find out, he was surfing porn but apparently he was also having an affair with her best friend. Unbeknownst to the best friend he was also having gay with a couple of business partners. I was not there to provide judgement on what I saw just provide the information.

          She basically wanted to have ammunition when it came time to the divorce settelment. She was reasonably suspicious that he was gay/bi but just was not sure. What tipped her off was when she had a blood test and came back positive for and STD, when she knew that the only partner she had ever had was her husband.

          Seeing as how he is a 911 dispatcher he does not want any of the information made public if at all possible.

          After looking over the HD, found many pictures; letters (some were encrypted, it was kind of a give away he was hiding something, just ran a brute force attack on them); and many very lengthy chat sessions between his mistress and his gay buddies.

        • #3272322

          what’s so hard to believe…

          by unclerob ·

          In reply to I don’t believe either one of those stories

          these stories are too easily real – urban legendary my a$$,

          You’ve no doubt heard of p2p clients like limewire, kazaa, imesh, bearshare, shareaza, morpheus, etc. They’re not just good for people who illegally download music, they’re also warehouses of the largest assortment of smut on the net – perverts by the millions download this crap on daily basis.

          Have you heard of the r&b/rap artist R.Kelly?
          He was found guilty of downloading tons of this crap and also of performing said acts with minors.

          I only wish this sort of thing was mere urban legend, unfortunately that’s not the case.

          Don’t be so foolish to dismiss that this kind of thing can happen, don’t turn a blind eye to reality, it’s scarier than you think.

        • #3090584

          simular incident

          by d.husmann ·

          In reply to Good for you, and a suggestion

          While volunteering for our local Sheriff’s Toy Project that accepts used computers, refurbishes them and gives them to local schools, I was checking a PC before reformatting and loading Linux onto it. And to my surprise (and the deputy watching me), child porn….needless to say, I stopped there and the DA was called.

      • #3271832

        Parallel story.

        by ddhiggins ·

        In reply to Child Pornography

        The user called confessing he had spilled iced tea into his PowerBook, while up and running. It wouldn’t restart after that. [DUH!] He brought the system in to see if it could be recovered. He REALLY needed his files. After a couple of days of drying out, it powered up, but wouldn’t boot up. I was able to recover his files and restore the Mac OS. While restoring his data to his HD, there were large numbers of JPEG files that had suspicious names such as, UndiesBoy and Cute Boy. I took a look a two of them and immediately called the police department. As it turned out, the state police and the Feds had been aware of this guy and the PowerBook was the key piece of evidence they needed. Even though I will never be able to erase the look of those little guys eyes from my mind, I am thankful I did the right thing. Ditto,”Another pervert off the street and placed in jail.”

    • #3252586


      by wmlundine ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I work at a beauty school/full service salon multiple locations. Hair and nails are like dust and crumbs…just about everywhere. I’m just glad it is not oil and chemicals (although some of the hair treatments have lit up my skin.

      • #3252439

        Bat (flying mammal, not baseball)

        by memphisdan ·

        In reply to Norm

        I found a dead bat behind a server I was moving. And in the unused trays in laser printers I have found mice nests and droppings, but no actual mice.

    • #3252548

      Bugs Bugs and more Bugs

      by barnold ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I work for a help desk where people can bring their computers to us for troubleshooting, etc. One user brought in his laptop case and I was opening it up to remove the laptop when several cockroaches ran out of one of the pockets. I screamed pretty loud and to this day my co-workers still tease me about that incident (it was about three years ago). That was the most disgusting thing that has happened to me in the IT field.

    • #3252428

      Blue Goo

      by cagedmonkey ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      About 2 years ago I was working for a wood preserving company. Late one night one of the 25,000 gallon pressure tanks that holds the wood preservative overflowed and spilled over a wall into the office. About 3,000 gallons of smurf blue liquid oozed down into the office and coated and got inside about 50 PC’s. I had the task of trying to recover as many of the PC’s as possible. Not many were recoverable because the chemical that was used was corrosive to aluminum and ate away many of the chassis’s. It was pretty much pull hard drives and recover what I can and pitch just about everything else.

      • #3091538

        Cleaning PCs

        by mjd420nova ·

        In reply to Blue Goo

        I’ve recovered large numbers of units that have been water damaged. I use a solvent like simple green or deterg 20 to 1 and spray it on the items. If needed, a soft bristle tooth brush bent in the middle of the bristles to clean the board an obvious dirty areas. Check all board edge connectors and especially around the standoffs. Rinse with clear water or spray with squirt bottle. Next, hang the items with fishing line and wash with CRC electra clean in aerosol or Blue Shower, allow to air dry or if DRY air is available (no canned stuff) blow dry and wipe connectors dry. Severely dirty board edge card connectors can be cleaned with a simple pencil eraser.

    • #3252424

      Aluminum foil pieces, staples…

      by geekchic ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      dental floss and a piece of a tooth, along with cookie and cake crumbs, fingernails, a small thorn of some kind and unidentifed small gooey yellowish green globs of … oh man I don’t even what to think about it.

    • #3253489


      by conundrum ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A coachroache stuck in the CPU fan dead, of course. Eww.

    • #3253395

      Reply To: What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      by squirrelgirl ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A client gave me a Compaq laptop (to keep) because most of the keys on the keyboard were stuck or inoperable. During the install of the new keyboard I found the dried carcasses of MAGGOTS in the case. She later confessed to spilling chicken soup on the keyboard, closing it up, and never dealing with it. I still use that laptop on occasion…it works fine.

    • #3253387

      mouse nest

      by bert.neutel ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Years ago when I was doing a PM at a client (print shop) I was taking the cover all of the PCs (Olivetti M24s, am I dating myself or what!)and sucking up the paper dust with a vacuum. One of the machines had a mouse nest with the mother and half a dozen or more little ones in it.

      The owner of this particular machine, a partner in the firm, a real lady, stopped her complaints about how we were just charging her firm for needless service. After a lengthy pause I asked her if she would mind being a reference for our PM service. She shakily agreed.

    • #3091564

      A few years ago

      by luther_world ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I had to fly cross-country so I grabbed my 386 laptop (and I use the term loosely) so I could keep up on email (strictly text, as dial-up was about the only type of internet service available). After being there a couple days with no computer problems on this particular day I fired up the laptop, and midway through the session the thing died with no explaination. When I opened it up I found ants had found the powerboard could double as a destination resort for their kind. They had packed themselves in and started raising the next generation. Apparently the ant love-making created enough steam to short out the board. After extensive cleaning and replacing a hard-to-find fuse the machine came to life again, but it never had the same vigor anymore. I must have carried the ants across the United States with me as I was not there long enough for the ants to build their recreational project in my computer.

    • #3091441

      Cat pee

      by j*r;) ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      My brother called me over when his keyboard didn’t work anymore. As I lifted it up, there was still a dripping puddle of cat pee under the keyboard. Needless to say that keyboard was disposed of.

    • #3091433

      A list of some of the things I have found. My personal TOP TEN.

      by pcmedic_dartmouth ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I work in a computer repair shop, and it never fails to amaze me where people think is a good place to hide things, top ten list.
      1. Mouse nest, Dead mice
      2. Dead rat, and a big one too, chewed right through the back plates.
      3. Dead bugs of all sorts.
      4. Live Hamster.
      5. Bottle of Jack Daniels.
      6. Drug stashes of many different types.
      7. Magazines of the porno kind.
      8. M&M,s in the CD drives.
      9. Bottles of hand cream and shampoo?
      10. Last but not least a petrified cold cut submarime sandwich the foot long kind.
      I have also found many more things but some are too crude to mention. This is why I always open the cases when not in customer view.

    • #3091429


      by wfs1946 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Several years ago I had a customer bring me a PC that was in his house that had burned down. All his personal information was on the hard drive and he brought me the pile of melted plastic, wire and soot/water coverd metal and asked if I could help.
      I pried the machine open, disconnected any uncessary wiring, checked all other wiring for damage, plugged in the PC and believe it or not it booted up.
      I turned it off, hooked up a second drive, rebooted and “Ghosted” his hard drive to the new one. I shut the machine off and put the new hard drive into his new machine. He was estatic that I was able to help.
      Oh, by the way, the old machine would never reboot after those two times. Someone was watching over him.
      (Everyone got out of the house unharmed).

      • #3252036

        Very cool!

        by jellimonsta ·

        In reply to Fire

        That is cool that you were able to save the data easily. It is not cheap to go to a data extraction service.

        • #3101213


          by wfs1946 ·

          In reply to Very cool!

          The gentleman was very fortunate in several ways, one the hard drive never worked again, and he and his family (including the son that started the fire playing with matches) were safe.

    • #3091427

      Hygiene For computists . . .?

      by nishpc ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      It really gives me the creeps to see people exit the restroom – without washing their hands – and immediateyl go sit rignt down at shared computers in a lab or other setting.

    • #3091398

      Nasty Mess

      by computerguru ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I was using an air compressor to blow out the pc case of a customers pc. This person was an avid smoker. Well when i started blowing out the case a few dust bunnies came out and I excpected them. What I saw next was nasty a huge solid mass of dust and just stuff came flying out of the case from under the motherboard. I wish I had a picture of it but when measured it was about the size of the entire atx motherboard which as you know is not small.

    • #3091378

      A carcass…

      by el guapo ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A half decomposed mouse carcass with the tail chewed off…

    • #3091364

      Human Tissue

      by gsg ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I work in a hospital. We have pc’s in various clinical areas, and specialized dictation phones as well. People will remove or tear the keyboard condoms and blood, etc.. might get in the keyboard. Those get destroyed. The worst was the dictation phone in the morgue where they did autopsies. We finally just replaced that and installed a special footpad so they’d quit touching the phone with their hands. When you work on that stuff, you have to gown up, double glove, put booties on, mask, eye shield, the whole enchilada.

      • #3252125

        Not What You’d Expect

        by observant ·

        In reply to Human Tissue

        In a Hospital setting, I could understand some of the things that could occur to a PC.

        For me, I was on a OS rollout for a 13 state area. During a visit, I had finished the typical electronic cleanup of the PC (Files etc) and the filthy environment around the tower. This was a heavy smoker so the ash had turned the carpets an off gray color and crunched when you walked on it. The tower itself had turned from the off-white to tar brown, especially near the vents.

        I could get past all that since I’d been crawling around in such stuff for days on other locations. What topped the day was when I reached inside the PC and felt something kind-of soft. Pulling it out, I held it up for the secretary to see. It was her purple thong. Her comment was “Oh, that’s where that went!” Needless to say, I did not want to know the circumstances of how her thong ended up inside a PC or how long it had been there.

      • #3090247

        Have you ever…

        by medadman ·

        In reply to Human Tissue

        …considered getting the h-ll out of there and working for a normal company like the other “finders” here?

    • #3252313

      public school with too many workstations

      by crabbyabby86 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      All I should really have to say is: Public School District. But now it’s story time.

      A few other students and I were hired last summer to do some network and workstation maintenance at a public school district that has somewhere between 3000 and 4000 students. I think. The high school alone was 1050 students…

      Anyway, here in South Dakota, several years ago now, the governor decided that every district in the state should have at least one computer lab, more if the enrollment suggested more. Since they disregarded the four labs we already had when they crunched the numbers, we, of course, got far more gateways than we knew what to do with or even wanted.

      Almost any teacher in the high school that wanted a computer lab got one. In the classroom they already taught in. This was a logistical nightmare. The network had to be totally revamped, and the teachers weren’t happy about their cramped conditions. We tried to tell them that’s what happens when you ask to have a computer lab in your room, but… I’m sure you understand how well that worked.

      This past summer was the first time many of these machines were cleaned up. The five other students and I literally opened every machine in the district to clean it inside and out. Apparently neither teachers nor janitors think they have any authority to even dust the outsides of the cases. My favorite was one particular high school teacher’s room, where the workstations were packed in so tight that there is always a battle between keyboard and mouse space. I had to remove all 30 monitors from the room just to get at the cases and cables.

      And I found everything but rodents, which wouldn’t have been too bad. The little gray mice that live in the area are kinda cute, actually, and far superior a find than the lovely brown bat literally hanging around in a rack at the middle school. I’ll be honest–mammals that fly around and swoop at your head scare me. Mice do not.

      On the disgusting side of things for that room: the dust and cobwebs were a half-inch thick. Many cd drives were jammed with pencils, candy, cardboard, etc. Insects–alive and dead–Everywhere. A whole ant farm. A melted pool of something or other all over one of the tables that was extremely sticky and required soap and water just to un-jam case covers and keyboard keys. Candy wrappers–Everywhere, like the insects they attracted. Exploded ink-pens, muddy shoe-lace, fingernails, hair. Contact lens. Tylenol and other pills. Some high school girl’s thong. Toilet paper and a tampon. Unused, thank god.

      Four extra mousepads and an extra power cable turned up, but six mouseballs and one keyboard were missing.

      Unreported issues I discovered that day, in just that room: 2 bad monitors, 8 jammed cd drives, 2 broken cd drives, a mouse or keyboard issue with almost every workstation, 1 bad power supply, 3 bad network cards, 1 bad mobo, 2 blue screens of death, 4 bad patch cables, 1 ethernet jack ripped out of the wall… and I’m sure I’m forgetting something else, too. I just don’t see how the lab was even used for schoolwork. And the only reason we didn’t just remove that lab is no one else wants it. We had enough extra machines from the governor’s generosity that we’d been cannibalizing them for parts already, and could rather easily find replacement parts for this lab.

      So… high schoolers are pretty bad, even malicious, and the middle and elementary kids are not much better. Some first grade brat even took half of his teachers cd-rom discs and shoved them inside the cases of two different machines in their classroom. At least I’m assuming it was a student, and not the teacher, but maybe I shouldn’t make those assumptions…

      In any case, it’s all pretty gross. There are seven buildings in the district, and the first thing we did for each one was take the vacuums and open every machine. Ugh. Just… ugh.

    • #3252271

      Not gross, but how did it still work

      by cagedmonkey ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      This one does not really fall in the gross category. But more of a how did it still function.

      I worked in a cable manufacturing facility and they dragged mobile carts around with older HP9000 workstations on them for testing the cable. When it came time to test they pulled out 4 inch Milwuakie hand grinder to open up the cable. This flung copper chips everywhere, mostly right into the vents of the workstations.

      One day I decided to open one up to clean it and found almost a 1/4 inch layer of copper chip dust inside on almost every cicruit card. I just could not believe it still functioned properly without shorting out.

    • #3252217


      by davidsfl ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Roaches dead or alive are allways a shocker. They like the warmth of case.

    • #3252168

      Whole Lotta Stuff

      by grimshiire ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Enough Crumbs For A Buffet!

      A Tear in The Fabric of The Space Time Continum!

    • #3252013

      no rodents but this if funny

      by kevinf ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      When I worked at a bank, we had a guy call the helpdesk complaing that his keyboard would no longer work. In speaking with him, we asked if he moved the computer or did anything out of the ordinary with it. He satted he had just “cleaned” it. He had Windexed the monitor and keyboard.

    • #3252009

      Dust and hair

      by tj.itsme ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Probably the worst I’ve found is dust and dog hair. A friend’s computer kept on cutting out, so I assumed heat problems. It had been sat on a shag pile carpet next to their long-haired dog’s basket…right next to the side intake.

      Opened up the case and hair was EVERYWHERE. It had jammed every fan in sight, and it had somehow got inside the ethernet port so you couldn’t plug a cable in. Under the front panel was a 2cm carpet of hair and dust. It was also inside the CDROM, causing it to jam up.

      It needed a new PSU (the other one had died from overheating), CDROM, case and CPU fans…

    • #3252008

      Things that go in the case!

      by ariking ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A couple of years ago I was called to check on a PC which was installed in a dairy unit. The user told me that before the PC’s powersupply blew out, he kept hearing loud bangs inside the case and components shorting out!
      Pulling the case out from under the desk, I was shocked in finding a small snake (about a foot and a half) hanging from the fan vent of the power supply.
      The snake probably made it’s way in the previous evening and found a warm nest in the PC… that is until the user turned it on!

      Quite a while back, I was called on checking out a floppy drive which was malfunction, and upon opening it, coins started falling out. The user had at some point brought here child to work and loaded up a game. Naturally, the child thought that it was an arcade machine and started dropping coins in the drive so that he could continue playing!

      Athens, Greece

    • #3090840

      Ant Farms

      by c o r ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Let’s see…

      I’ve found years and years worth of caked on cigarette ash (not uncommon actually considering I am in the south), dead spiders, clumps of cat hair, ant colonies, and a cockroach nest!

      Ah the joys of Best Buy (thank the Lord I don’t work there anymore 😉 )

    • #3090828


      by donwoodward ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I was called to a classromm to work on a computer. When I got there I found that a student had thrown up on the keyboard. The teacher got a new one amd the old one went into the circular file.

    • #3090811


      by phrogman ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      The nastiest thing I’ve found was when I was called in to service a Cognitronics scanner that was attached to a specialized system. It?s a large unit about 2 ?? square and 3? tall with an opening for the document feeder on the top. I found some gel like foreign material running down the document feeder into the mechanism. It turned out that the night operator like having her boyfriend visit her and they were having sex on top of the machine with the ?excess material? from these encounters running down the document feeder. After the second call for this problem, I installed a Plexiglas plate over the top of the feeder entrance so they could clean up their own mess.

    • #3090800

      Mouse Pad

      by ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I had a computer that failed on boot, message said “unable to find operating system on C:\”.Also could not boot from a floppy. Took the case off and a mouse had made a nice pad, stuffed with paper from the shreder, what killed the system, the mouse ate the ribbon cable to the hard drives & the floppy drive. Chased out mouse, cat caught it. Cleaned out mouse’s pad, replaced ribbon cable. Computer booted ok. Installed a slot cover that was left open, mouse’s rear door.

    • #3090765

      Worst Ever

      by papa4357 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I was working on a neighbors computer and thought I would be a nice guy and blow the dust out. When I opened the side panel, there was rust on the botton of the tower. Thought it was a little odd, but then I caught a whiff of a really bad odor. Turns out she had a male cat and the cat had been peeing on the tower as it sat on the floor… Beat this one…

      • #3272425

        A Bit off the beaten track

        by thefrown ·

        In reply to Worst Ever

        … but we once found a dead cat under the false floor of a computer room. (The building I used to work in suffered with an infestation of mice. We had several cats who were allowed to roam through the buildings to catch said vermin. One weekend some electricians were working in the computer room and had the floor up; unbeknown to them one of the cats went under the floor, which they then relaid. Poor moggy couldn’t get out and consequently died … you should have seen the flies coming out of the floor grills …)

        I have scraped, shook or otherwise blown the following out of keyboards:

        Dried scabs
        Fingernail/toenail clippings
        Congealed tomato ketchup

    • #3090751

      Maybe Funniest if not worst

      by ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I work in Industrial automation, hence we get our fair share of PC type “incidents”. Got called out one Friday Afternoon, (why do these things alays happen on a Friday ???) when this guys Tape Backup had mysteriously stopped working. After ‘draining’ around 100ml of this oily residue it transpired that the mechanism had developed a squeak (no mice !) so to quote the end user “I gave it a squirt of WD40 – it stops everything else from squeaking”

    • #3090736

      Here kitty…

      by doogal123 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Years ago I received an original IBM AT (6 Mhz bus). These boxes were very heavy, built out of lots of steel. This one had another surprise. The mice in the office were using it as a home,and taking the dry cat food inside the PC to store it for a rainy day. I shook out about 2 LBS of dried cat food et al. Never did find the mouse.

      Close up those rear case slots!

    • #3090660

      Really gross stuff in a bag

      by manager mike ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      While returning a laptop to inventory due to an employee quitting, we removed the laptop from the bag and found a soiled thong under it. It clung to the laptop as we removed it.
      Even though the laptop was only 6 months old, it was sent to the recycle vendor.

    • #3090585

      dirty underwear

      by d.husmann ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      The user had removed the CD-ROm and didn’t put a plate in. When the PC quit working he called me. When I openned the case there were 3 “D” size batteries, 6 caryons (melted), a couple marbles and one pair of child’s soiled underwear!…I left all alone and let him clean it up!

    • #3252982

      Roaches, crumbs. tar

      by pauldg ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I’ve been spared the dead mice. Spider webs, tar from heavy smokers, a sandwich worth of crumbs – with sesame seeds – from a keyboard. And these people wonder why their stuff doesn’t work. I also help maintain the LAN here on the kibbutz. When I went to one of the switch boxes to see why it wasn’t working, I noticed some ants going in and out. Once I got the cover off, well I couldn’t move fast enough, and they were all over my hands and moving fast. So was I and I went to get a can of RAID. Unplugged the switch and started spraying carefully around the edges. That’s when the monster 2″ long roaches started pouring out from behind the board that the switch was mounted on. I don’t know how they all fit back there. UGH! Those things give me the heebee jeebees.

    • #3252981

      Inexpierence Users

      by tapri ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Hey i truly understand your situation, even though i am not from IT background i ahve seen people spilling coffee on the keyboard not only that they accidently lossen the power cord & make a hue cry stating that their systems gone carzy & has stopped working

      • #3252945

        And the winner is……..

        by hdunn17 ·

        In reply to Inexpierence Users

        “Vegetable Matter”…That was funny!

        • #3252871

          Barfworthy items

          by dnsb ·

          In reply to And the winner is……..

          Of the items I’ve found in or associated with computers, the worst was a new mother who ruined her laptop by stuffing a used diaper in the bag and then forgetting about it for a week. For some strange reason, the laptop and bag were written off as BER (beyond economic repair). The second worst was a computer which had been stuffed with leftover food by a kindergarten class who found the cover below the CDROM could be removed. By the time, the teacher noticed the computer “smelled funny”, there were maggots crawling through the food. Another BER unit.

    • #3252826

      creepy crawlies

      by threasam_1 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      small, brown, tiny, little spiders! its, cold outside and my windows aren’t tight enough!

    • #3132812

      Very Filthy Used Motor Oil

      by dr_zinj ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Our maintenance shop used a magnetic particle oil analyzer hooked to a PC to test whether a vehicle’s engine oil was too contaminated and needed replacing. Seems they’d dumped a quarter cup-sized sample bottle on the keyboard, and didn’t tell me about it until it stopped working. They’d cleaned off the outside, but never cleaned inside the keyboard (of course). You know all those sheets of plastic/rubber membranes inside the keyboard (there were about 5 or 6)? The plastic and rubber are all synthetics and petroleum based. You guessed it, half the sheets transformed into something else entirely. And the ones that were still sheets either were crumbled, crinkled, or warped.

    • #3132658


      by cometsr ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Since I work for a hospital, I have found many ‘gross’ things. I guess it would be a tossup between the vomit and the time both the keyboard and mouse were clogged with blood.

      I carried both ‘with gloves’ to the cafeteria and ran them through the dishwasher. Both survived. I am not sure of the patients. (g)

    • #3132655

      Fun at the Doggie Doctors

      by jmrk ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Was asked to do a system cleaning. Arrived on site and was greeted by a couple of cocker spaniels. They were friendly, I can’t say the same about what I pulled out of the computer case at the receiption desk. There was 1 lb of hair in the tape drive, and a dust bunny with hair the size of a full grown rabit in the case proper. Yet the Xenix OS was making backups and had not crashed for heat reasons. I had to replace the cpu fan, and the power supply for the obvious reasons, but the system rebooted fine and continued to work as long as I was located in that corporate office.

    • #3132513

      Nothing out of the ordinary, but…

      by blueknight ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I’ve not found anything really gross working on desktops, just the usual stuff: staples, paperclips, spilled coffee, spilled soft drinks, crumbs and plenty of dust.

      I got a call one day long ago from a user who reported that the diskette drive in their PS/2 wouldn’t work. The machine sat on a desk near a window. I figured it was just dirty (nobody ever cleaned them) so I ran a head cleaner through it. Still no go so I got my tools and pulled the cover to check things from the inside.

      When I got the cover off the machine, the dust, dirt and furballs were so thick you couldn’t make out anything on the motherboard — it looked like a flat panel of fuzzy dirt with cables coming out of it. I vacuumed it out and one I replaced the diskette drive it all worked just fine.

      The worst (gross if you like) stuff I have encountered was when I was installing new network cable. Ceiling tiles that rained rat terds when removed and quite a number of rat skeletons. After the first fwe that simply covered me with dust, I took to wearing wrap-around safety glasses which I’m sure saved my eyes from a lot of grief.

    • #3101993

      Urine and Blood

      by rebecca.buffington ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I did desktop support in the hospital for years and the worse thing I can think of is Urine or Blood spills in the lab. Keyboards are trashed, of course, but Yuck!!

    • #3101973

      Talk about annoying bugs

      by runmyowncompany ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      We designed and service automated toll road solutions. One of our installations was on the North end of the Causeway toll road in New Orleans, LA. These computers are under a desk in a toll booth and are semi-protected from the elements. The first time I went out for a tech call the current tech warned be that about half of the PCs out there get BLACK WIDOW’s nests … he was right.

      • #3102693

        Ordinary stuff

        by doug m. ·

        In reply to Talk about annoying bugs

        like dust bunnies, cobwebs. In the floppy drives and CD drives I do find all sorts of pieces of paper, playing cards, notes, etc. ( I work at a school) These kids do a lot of damage to computer equipment, which is why we are moving to thin-clients as they get replaced.

    • #3102656

      Hamburger Grease….

      by boonefly ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      And all that exists in this universe that could stick to it. This guy kept a George Forman grill under his desk to cook his lunch with. He set it on top of the pc and needless to say over the year or so he was apparently doing this – all the grease spattered and was sucked into the pc (not to mention all over the outside). It reeked of old food smell and it gooed up the entire system. Needless to say – we scrapped it rather than try to replace what we couldn’t clean. BTW – IT Dept didn’t know about this going on but all the co-workers around did.

    • #3102633

      Maybe not a gross as others, but

      by techrep.2.send-me-no-spam@ ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I bought a used computer for my son to use. The first thing I always do with used computers is open case to make sure everything looks ok. I found a thick althetic type sock inside the case. I suspect it had been put there purposely to cushion some rattling from some additions that had not been properly secured. It’s just amazing how much abuse most computers can take.

    • #3102570

      Many things I’ve found

      by mmalouf ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A recurring problem was with old Zenith Z-100 computers. At that time people were allowed to smoke in their offices. The smoke left a yellow residue on the circuit cards which would cause them to quit working. We would have to remove the cards wash them with hot water and a sponge and let dry. Work fine after that.

      The Zenith Z-248 was another problem child in dusty areas. Dust would build up under the motherboard until it reached the motherboard and short it out. The system would act erratically, if at all. Periodically would have to clean them out.

      Had an ALPS 2000 printer that worked great on Friday, but Monday morning made funny noises and did not print clearly. Turned off the printer and removed the top cover. This mouse came flying out of the printer. Scared the S*** out of me. He had been in the printer while it was running and those printers are LOUD and shake a lot. He had apparently moved in over the weekend and chewed up the ribbon and some foam for a nest. Removed nest and replaced ribbon, worked great. Never did see that mouse again, must have scared him REAL good.

      Had a user spill soda on a propriety keyboard and no spares available. Opened up the keyboard and rinsed with hot water. Let dry and worked good.

      Have found the usual roaches and dead mice in computers; along with crumbs, paperclips, and staples in keyboards.

      Guess I fortunate not to find some of the items mentioned in this post.

    • #3102840

      feeding station

      by publiclarson ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I got a call one day for a sticking keyboard. When I arrived at the workspace, the user was gone but I saw numerous soft drink cups and empty (or partially empty) food containers and bags everywhere. There was a small mountain of paper, basically obscuring the desktop machine. Cups and bottles were stacked on top of the monitor and shelves and crumbs were crunching under me as I moved about the area.

      I looked at the keyboard and noticed that there were no empty spaces between the keys; it looked like the thing had been filled with grout! I picked it up and turned it over, shaking looses a steady rain of crumbs! DISGUSTING! Apparently this dedicated worker ate every meal at her desk hunched over the key board. I put down the keyborad, went to the manager and told him that I could not work on this machine as the area was a health hazard and asked him to call me when the area had been cleaned up. He called a couple of days later and I returned to find the work space completely cleaned out except for the machine. I replaced the keyboard and never did see the user.

    • #3100459

      PC freezing

      by ed.gaffey ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      asked to look at why this guys PC was freezing up I popped the lid only to discover the inside completely covered in brown tar type substance. Fan was completely covered just spinning round, found out problem, but what was the horrible brown stuff. Turned to the user and asked him if he had any idea’s, “none” he replied as he lit up his third cigarette in the time I had been there!

    • #3272463

      The Grossest Yet !!! hope I spelled that right-:+)

      by techpro34yrs. ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Our company used to loan out Laptop’s to our customers and Staff for free as long as they brought it back in one piece! All was documented and signed and logged out. I rec’d a call one morning from a customer that said they were bringing the Latop back because it didn’t work. Well, the first thing I thought was that the laptop never got checked when it came back from the previous person and this is probably why it’s not working. Well, I was wrong, I checked the log book and sure enough it was checked in and operational from the previous time and worked when brought back. Well, “The customer” dropped off the Laptop and promptly left. A few minutes later I was called down to pick it up and get it working for the next customer in line to use it. I grab it and was heading back to the Tech Center and kept feeling something on my shoes. Since the Laptop was in front of me I really couldn’t see what was going on with the shoe thing UNTIL I got to the office and put the laptop on the work bench. I looked down at my shoes and said OH, Sweet Jesus, what is that on my shoes, NO, it couldn’t be!!!! and then the smell wiffed up from my shoe and from the Laptop. I still counldn’t believe it, so I opened up the top cover on the Laptop and OH MY GOD, the previous customer PUKED all over the keyboard and screen. Needless to say I almost PUKED and I was also extremely angry that someone would do this to another human being. Yes, I was instructed to clean up the mess and get it working again if possible. Well, that possibility didn’t happen, that laptop was died as far as I was concerned. Oh and by the way, to add insult to injury, that previous customer must have had the FLU cause a day and a half later I came down with the FLU and was sick as a dog for a week.
      Ok Folk’s, lets see if you can top this!!!!
      Will never work on a Laptop again!

    • #3273227

      Deadly eight-legged critters.

      by newby7718 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      Working as a consultant, several years ago, I was in the process of replacing (upgrading) a server in a child-care facility in Apopka, FL. When I pulled the tower configured server from under the counter a very large (almost terantula-sized) brown recluse spider jumped at me. Two of us chased the spider around the room trying to kill it and we finally did. After that, I though there may be more — so, I opened the case and sure enough there were dozens of them crawling around inside.

    • #3088061

      Monitor up in smoke

      by krush1189 ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      I got a call that a monitor had just smoked, popped and stopped working. When I got there with a new monitor the users admitted that one of them had accidently knocked a urine sample into the top of the monitor. I let them take it to the trash.

    • #3090337

      Snot Makes Pretty Good Glue

      by ajbuckspa ·

      In reply to What gross things have you found during PC cleanup

      A very wealthy, but disabled, client calls me. He suffers from severe palsy, and it’s gotten worse every year as he ages. (Yet, he is a true genius, a former teacher, have huge respect for the man.) He is hard to understand over the phone, but I catch the gist: Can’t boot the PC.

      I show up at his nursing home. The poor guy’s been drooling uncontrollably for a few years now; but he must have been hit with a bad cold, or allergies, because he’s dripping snot all over. I sit down at the keyboard — normally embellished with a few spit-flecks, understandably — and it is Caked Over. Gobs of white, flaky, dried mucus, all over. His PC wouldn’t boot because the left Shift key had been glued into the down position by his own boogers.

      After I recovered from a 2-minute dry heaving episode, which I tried to hide out of respect, with eyes watering, I asked him if he has any Windex. Luckily, he did, so I sprayed the keyboard and trackball down, and with the largest wads of paper towels I have ever wrapped over both my hands — and with one eye closed and the other squinting, just to make it harder to see anything — I “unglued” whatever I could, shook out the keyboard, gagged some more, and wiped it down again.

      After the visit, I called my wife and tried to relate the story, and couldn’t stop gagging. Later, I told my coworkers, and they kept laughing at me because I can’t tell it without dry heaving. I had to swallow to keep the bile down just writing this!

      • #3090068

        oh god..

        by bekk31 ·

        In reply to Snot Makes Pretty Good Glue

        I think yours wins as grossest.

        I haven’t seen anything as gross as most of you folks.. however, a few friends of mine, trying to get back at an annoying coworker put a sardine in his PC on top of the power supply.. 😀

        He never could figure out where that smell was coming from..

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