By Fred Langa/Windows Secrets Newsletter
Overheating in PCs can cause unexpected hangs and shutdowns — and even shorten the life of your computer.
Fortunately, it’s easy to monitor your system’s temperature and to correct the most common causes of overheating.
Heat is the inevitable byproduct of all electronic operations. Have you ever wondered at the size of that heat sink sitting on top of a desktop system’s much smaller CPU?
Heat is also the scourge of all electronics hardware. Mild overheating will shorten the life of a system’s components; excessive overheating can cause a PC to cook itself to death. At the very least, a PC that’s running too hot can have erratic behavior, data errors, spontaneous reboots, and other intermittent — and often baffling — problems.
Sometimes, the first and only sign of serious heat-related trouble is a sudden failure such as the one described by reader Richard Thornton:
“I have a laptop with Windows 7 Home Premium [installed]. Recently, while I was watching a streamed Netflix movie, everything froze. It was a panic-initiating experience. I had to use a forced shutdown.
“I noticed that the power AC adapter was very hot. Upon restart, CHKDSK ran. It found and fixed some damaged files. Afterwards, the computer seemed to function properly, but I haven’t tried to watch a Netflix movie yet.
“I’ve tried many support venues, but so far nobody can answer why the computer froze.”
This sounds like a classic case of overheating. If the ability of a PC (or laptop, or netbook, or whatever) to cool itself is partially compromised, the system may work fine under normal load but suffer heat stroke when asked to work hard. Streaming a high–bit rate, movie-quality video feed is indeed a hardware-intensive task.
What can cause a cooling system to fail? Sometimes it’s a dead fan, but most often it’s simple grunge — dust and dirt — that slowly builds up in a system’s air passages and prevents proper cooling.
Obviously, it’s better to find out about thermal problems before you experience freezes, hangs, data loss — or premature system death!
That’s what the rest of this article is about: How to tell whether your PC is being properly cooled — and what to do if it isn’t!
This post is excerpted with permission from Windows Secrets.