Computer Is Overheating

Your computer is overheating and you may not even know it. Aside from viruses, heat is one of the most dangerous threats to a computer. Many users even think they have a virus, because an overheating computer has similar symptoms: PC runs slow, PC might reboot or the computer might crash frequently. Heat sensors on newer computers will often shut down the computer and force a cool-down period before allowing the PC to be powered on again. It is essential that users remain aware of heat issues and perform upgrades or maintenance that fixes the issue before permanent damage is done to the hardware.

Top Five Computer Is Overheating Fixes

These are some of recommended fixes if you suspect your computer is overheating.

  1. Perform routine maintenance. Dust is a cumulative, silent killer. It clogs and slows down your fans, puts a blanket of dust on the motherboard, video card and other components that traps heat inside. Every few months, vacuum the front and rear grills of the computer case, and then open the case and blow off the motherboard and internal fans (when blowing off the fans, hold the blades with one finger to prevent them from over-spinning and damaging their bearings).
  2. Consider upgrading your power supply. Seems harsh, but a modular power supply–meaning a power supply that has separate cables that are not hard-wired to the power supply. You only connect the amount of cables you need to power the devices in your computer. A traditional power supply will have a tangle of wires–most of which are never used. This restricts air flow that could cause overheating. Here is an example of a modular power supply.
    computer is overheating
  3. Evaluate your hard drive setup. Some PC cases allow you stack hard drives directly on top of each other. Hard drives generate a lot of heat. If you have multiple hard drives, it’s best to space them apart, if possible, to allow for better circulation. In addition, if you have older IDE drives, replace them with SATA drives which use a thin interface cable as opposed to the wider IDE cable. Even better, the next time you replace a hard drive, replace it with a Solid State Hard Drive, as these have no moving parts and will run much cooler.
    laptop is overheating
  4. Reduce the amount of programs you have running. Programs equal CPU cycles. CPU cycles equal heat. Reduce the unnecessary background programs by going to Start>Run and typing msconfig, and then hit OK. This will launch the Microsoft Configuration Utility. Under the Startup tab, deselect any programs you know do not need to startup when you boot your computer. You’ll be surprised to see how many programs that automatically load themselves.
  5. Install a rear fan. Most cases will have a grill for an extra 80mm fan. that can be mounted to the rear of the computer, and will help draw air out of the computer and prevent it from being drawn up into the power supply. Some cases will even have a place to mount a fan in the front of the computer. The concept is to pull in cool air so it can help circulate air over the CPU and out the rear of the case. But this can also increase the amount of hair, dust and other debris that enter the case. So if you use a front fan, be sure to elevate your computer off of the floor.

Computer Is Overheating Resolution

If your computer is overheating, follow the aforementioned tips to help keep your computer healthy and out of the computer repair shop. Most of these tips will help if you laptop is overheating, as well. If you have a laptop,though, they require some additional care:

  1. Remove batteries when plugged into the wall. Batteries generate heat and are unnecessary if you always keep the laptop plugged in.
  2. If you use the laptop in bed or while watching TV with the PC on your lap, consider using a notebook cooler to help dissipate heat and keep the vents and fans unobstructed by blankets or clothing.
    laptop cooler

If your computer is overheating, this video will help you visualize the cooling process:

For other tips, be sure to read our other hardware tutorials.