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Let It Breathe

Computers Hate Heat

Hot CoalsThe innards of computers generate quite a bit of heat, and the harder they are working the more heat is generated. And the hotter they get the harder they have to work.

Heat and moisture are the arch enemies of computers, they hate moisture and really, really don't like being too hot. The little electrical pathways are so small that the physical expansion caused by excess heat can really muck them up. That heat has to be dissipated otherwise eventually, bits start to melt and then catch fire. I've never had one catch fire but I have burnt myself on the bottom of a laptop.

In modern computers the processor will "scale back" if it gets too hot in an effort to help cool things down. So the computer will slow down and when that happens things wont happen as quickly as they should.

If the fan in your computer is whirring away constantly even when you're not doing anything it may be a sign its getting too hot. Even if its not I rarely find a computer that doesn't have at least some dust clogging its airways.

Turn your PC off before you do this, and unplug it from the power.

On a desktop computer you will usually find two or three places on the back (sometimes sides) of the box with holes or vents designed for air to get in or out. On a laptop they could be on the sides, the back, the bottom, or all of the above. Often you'll find them blocked with dust, you need to get rid of it. A brush can do the job, a vacuum cleaner is better. Of course its better if the dust doesn't go inside but inside is better than blocking the vents.

If you are feeling adventurous you can clean inside the case as well. Look at your manual or look online for instructions on how to get inside. Often its a matter of removing a couple of screw and sliding the side off but sometimes its a bit more complicated. BEWARE if your PC is still under warranty there will probably be a sticker telling you you'll invalidate the warranty of you open it up, don't. If it's still under waranty it's probably still OK inside.

If you use a laptop make sure that the vents aren't blocked when you're using it. Ironically the worst place for most laptops is just that, on your lap. Your lap blocks the vents in the bottom. You can buy trays designed for the job, I put mine on a dinner tray.

Don't be ashamed of your cleaning abilties or get cross with your better half for not vaccuming enough,. Computers literally suck air in and push it out again and the dust in the air just gets stuck in there. There are also static electrical charges that help attract dust.

I've recently revived an old laptop of mine that would simply stop after a few minutes use, it was just getting too hot. I had to take it to bits to clean out the air flow channels which involved undoing a zillion tiny wee screws and took me a whole day but now it runs fine. There was a wad of dust completely blocking the air flow, it looked like a centimetre thick felt pad, it took me a few seconds to realise that it shouldn't be there!

For me it was worth the effort as the laptop was useless as it was and I wasn't going to spend any money on it, but I don't recommend taking a laptop to pieces unless you are prepared to scrap it. And if you are paying someone else to look at it make sure you get a quote first.

Computer Tips

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