How to diagnose and fix an overheating laptop

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Today we have a great little article for you;
How to diagnose and fix an overheating laptop
We hope you find this article useful. Have a great day.
Happy Thanksgiving America!

A Dan Thompson contribution

How To Diagnose and Fix an Overheating Laptop

Links and other information useful for screenreader users inserted by Dan.

One of the most common issues with aging laptops is overheating, something
many people aren’t sure how to fix. We’ll help you figure out what’s causing
the heat and how to keep your notebook functioning at a lower temperature.

Overheating computers can cause a lot of problems, from seemingly random
blue screens to data loss. You might not even know that it’s the root of
your issues, and before you know it you have a burnt-out motherboard on your
hands. Let’s go step by and step and see how to deal with overheating
computers. We’ll be dealing primarily with laptops, but most of the same
principles apply to desktops as well.

Find the Heat Source

Air Flow and Heat Transfer

The first thing you need to do is figure out where the heat is coming from.
No air flow means no heat transfer, so figure out where the air vents are.
Are they blowing hot air, or is there barely a breeze, even when the fan is

1. Most commonly, an accumulation of dust in the vents and fans through the
cooling channels will be culprit in restricting air flow. Cleaning it out
will work best.

a. Turn your laptop upside-down and look at what you’ve got.

b. Unscrew the fan doors and you should be able to lift out the fan and
clean everything with a can of compressed air.

c. If you find that a fan is spinning erratically, you may want to try
lifting the sticker off of the axle and putting a drop of mineral oil to
keep it going.

d. You can also try to look up the part number from your laptop’s user
manual or by searching your laptop model number online. Once you have that,
you can find replacements pretty easily on eBay and the like.

2. Dying Batteries

There are plenty of different types of batteries, and many different schools
of thought on battery maintenance and life span, but one thing that seems
pretty unanimous is that batteries aren’t meant to be stored at 100% or 0%
capacity. I know plenty of people who buy laptops and always keep the
charger in, never actually using the battery. You can definitely expect to
kill your battery’s health this way, since you’re essentially storing the
battery when it’s full. Bad batteries don’t just give out really quickly,
they can generate heat.

You can buy replacement batteries pretty easily online, even for laptops
that are four years old. You just need to know what model your
computer/battery is. If you can’t find one, you may consider using your
laptop as a desktop and remove the overheating battery completely from the

3. Persistent Overheating

If you’ve taken the air vents and battery out of the picture and you’re
still having problems, then you might have a more persistent heat issue.
Sometimes a dusty hard drive can cause heat problems and data loss. Some
laptops just “run hot,” even without a major load on the CPU. Try cleaning
out these areas as best you can before you move on to another solution.

a. Dust under the processor and RAM doors to get rid of any dust and

b. If you’ve got a netbook or a laptop without compartments underneath,
things might be more difficult. You should be able to find instructions for
getting the back off so you can clean things properly.

Lighten the Load

If your computer’s heat is related to how much data the CPU chugs through,
you might want to manage your processes better. You can use the Windows Task
Manager to see what’s most intensive, then use
Autoruns to see all your startup processes and trim them

Read the article found at the link below to learn how to complete this

If using a screenreader, when accessing the above link, press the letter h
once to reach the start of the article.

You can also
change the order of the startup processes that are necessary.
The staggered loading of software will help balance your processor’s load.

An article explaing this proceedure cn be found at the link below. When
using a screenreader, press the letter h once when reaching the page to
reach the start of this article.

How to Control the Order of Startup Programs in Windows

You can install and run
Process Explorer
to see the files that each process has open and its associated CPU usage
over time.

This program can be found at:

When reaching the link shown above, pressing the letter h if using a
screenreader will land the cursor on a heading entitled

” Process Explorer v15.40″

Three lines below this heading is a download link.

Mouse users will find a link entitled

” Download Process Explore This can help you decide what to get rid of and
what to spare.”

We’re also big fans of CCleaner, which
allows you to clean history and cache files as well as manage your startup
applications quickly and easily.

The program can be found at the link below.

If using a screenreader, press the letter h once when reaching the URL shown
above. The cursor will be placed on a heading entitled

” Ccleaner”

Arrow down four times to reach the download link.

Mouse users will find a “download” link just above the “by now” link.

You can free up some much needed space that way and get a little more
efficiency out of your OS.

If you want to keep an eye on the temperature of your laptop, I recommend
Core Temp for Windows.

The program is free and can be found here.

When reaching the URL shown above, do the following to reach the correct

1. Press control plus the letter f.

2. Type in the next line exactly and hit enter.

Core Temp 1.0

3. Arrow down once to the download link and hit enter.

4. You will be presented with other add ons through the installation. Just
say no to them.

5. You may also be asked to update your browser as happened to me.

It’s an extremely light-weight app that won’t pressure your CPU, but lets
you keep an

Core Temp isan extremely light-weight app that won’t pressure your CPU, but
lets you keep an eye on your internal temperature.

You can tell it to display the temperature when it’s in the system tray. One
of the best features is under the Options menu: Overheat Protection.

Here, you can define a temperature that will trigger your computer to Sleep,
Hibernate, or Shutdown. Core Temp also works as a Windows Gadget, though if
you’re overheating from CPU-intensive processes, I’d turn Desktop Gadgets
off. Another thing you can do is
turn that fancy Aero interface off,

An article explaining how to achieve this is found here.

If using a screenreader, press the letter h once accessing the URL above to
land on the start of the article.

and you can
create a shortcut to quickly toggle it if
you can’t live completely without it.

An article entitled ” Create a Shortcut to Enable/Disable Aero Transparency
in 7 / Vista” explaining how to achieve this action is found here.

If using a screenreader, press the letter h once accessing the URL above to
land on the start of the article.

If you’re using Linux instead, you might want to consider a more spartan
distro. I’ve personally had a lot of success with

This program can be found here.

If using a screenreader do the following to get the program.

1. Once reaching the URL above, press control plus the letter f.

2. Type in the line below and hit enter.


3. You are placed on a page with varying downloads for Crunchbang.

a clean install leaves me with Openbox as a window manager, a nice dock, and
some nice desktop effects, along with only 80MB of RAM usage. It’s based on
Debian, so there’s a good amount of compatibility with software. If you run
Arch, you might want to try ArchBang instead, which
is the same thing but built on Arch instead of Debian.

This program can be found here:

Behavior Changes

Laptop owners have a lot of luxury by not being tethered to a chair and
desk. We develop a lot of habits, like browsing in bed, that can actually
work against of computers. A lot of laptops are designed with their air
vents on the bottom for some ridiculous reason, so setting it down on soft
bedding or carpet for prolonged use is a bad idea. You’d be surprised at how
quickly the heat can build up. If you this is a habit, you might consider
investing in a laptop stand to keep the air flow unobstructed.

CoolLift Laptop Stand

If interested, visit the page below to buy one online.

If none of the above methods helped cool your laptop sufficiently, you might
consider using a cooling pad,

There are several available at Wal-mart, Staples, or Best Buy.

The authors of this article recommend the “coollift laptop stand” found
online at the direct link is below.

The fans will help direct cool air into the underside vents of your laptop.
Some even come with USB hubs and other bells and whistles.

If your vents are placed on the sides or elsewhere, but the bottom of your
notebook is still really warm, you can try out a thermal (passive) cooling

Targus Thermal Cooling

That can be found at . These are soft pads filled with special
crystals that are designed to conduct heat away from the source. You can
find thermal cooling pads in smaller sizes, too. I used a 9″ one for my old
netbook and it did wonders for me.

Sure, these will make your laptop less mobile, but if it helps with
overheating then at least you’ll have a laptop that runs.

Repurpose It

If you can’t use it as a laptop anymore, consider repurposing it. The
compact motherboards fit great inside of older and smaller computer cases
and cardboard boxes. These kinds of rigs are great for in-drawer HTPCs,
closet-servers, or under-the-desk mounted workstations. You’ll have to be a
bit more careful if you leave the guts exposed, but depending on the room,
it can cut down on dust problems. You can also regulate air flow a bit
better and mount some standard computer fans in clever places, like in the
back and sides of the drawer or desk.

Another idea is to try running a very light-weight version of Linux, and use
it for something that isn’t very CPU-intensive, like a file server. The lack
of processor-heavy tasks will keep the temperature low, but you can still
get some use out of it. And, if you’re only ditching the battery, then you
can leave things inside the case and stick it on a shelf as a head-less (SSH
and command-line only) server. The possibilities are endless!


I hate seeing machines go to waste. My last project took a seven-year-old
overheating Dell Inspiron 9100 and turned it into a cool-running
under-the-table HTPC.

Consult our guide to diagnosing and
fixing an overheating laptop for help with cooling down a hot laptop.

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