Compressed Air

Prevent your laptop computer from overheating with this one simple tip.

The easiest way to prevent your computer from overheating is by simply keeping the fan free from dust. You can blow out a lot of the dust by using a can of compressed air. Think it can't be that simple? Think I am full of it? Read on.

About a year and a half after I bought a new laptop, I noticed every once in a while, it would get real hot then shut down. It would only happen if I was ripping or encoding a CD or DVD. After another year, it started happening more frequently. I thought it was because I was using bad programs, or because of my operating system (I didn't remember it happening in Windows XP, it only happened in Ubuntu Linux. I think this is because I never use Windows though) or something that was using too much processing power. After a while, I started monitoring the temperature on my computer and noticed that it was running about 150-160 degrees F without me running any programs. Once I would do something a bit process intensive (sometimes just opening up my browser with a lot of tabs) the temperature would go up to about 200 degrees and my computer would shut down.
I didn't think it could be the fan because my computer was so new and my fan seemed fine. I didn't think it was possible for enough dust to accumulate to have an effect on the processor. I really thought something was wrong with my computer.

Before taking my computer somewhere to get checked, I finally decided I would buy a can of compressed air and see if I could clean up my computer again.

Compressed air cans can be bought at just about any computer store or large supermarket (unless you are in China... then it is surprisingly difficult to find).
After I bought the compressed air, I decided that I would take my computer apart to get it really clean. After seeing tutorials on how to do it, I decided taking it apart was not worth the effort... so I just sprayed the fan exhaust area and TONS of dust came out. I did it a few times, booted up my computer, and it WORKED! My computer was running at about 100 degrees F without any programs running. Cleaning some of the dust out of my computer has made it consistently run about 30-40 degrees cooler. It has not shut down from overheating since.

Before you clean out the dust, make sure you turn your computer off. I like to start from one side and go to every slot and spray the air. You will probably hear the fan spin quite fast.

Be prepared to see a lot of dust come out if you have not cleaned it before. I generally don't spray for too long, just short bursts to get the dust out. I go back and forth to each slot until dust no longer comes out.

This obviously will not get ALL the dust out, but it is a cheap and easy solution to keep your computer a bit cleaner and keep the temperature down. If you keep your laptop regularly in the same spot, it might be a good idea to get a cooling pad and keep your laptop on that.

About McKay


  1. I have ongoing problems with shutdown on intensive use, that happens both on XP and my Mint 15 Linux boot, so I know it's hardware. I've tried the crevice nozzle on our vacuum cleaner, seemed to work for a while, but maybe time to spring for a can of air. I googled to learn there are local shops that will open and clean PC guts for about $50, but not sure if that works.

  2. I didn't think it could be the fan because my computer was so new and my fan seemed fine. I didn't think it was possible for enough dust to accumulate to have an effect on the processor. I really thought something was wrong with my computer. Computer Repair

  3. Nice idea, But why bothering with this,,you can get a powerful cooling pad to keep your laptop clean of dust and reduce the heat!

  4. No advice that includes "preventative measures" such as better fans or regular cleaning is of any use to anybody. There should never be any possibility of an overheat regardless of what you do with your computer. Go ahead, put it on a stove and fill the room with dust and compute away and the thing should NOT overheat. I repeat NOT overheat.

    When your house happens to be spontaneously busting into flames because you're using too much power, what would expect as advice from a well train electrician? Use less power? Ventilate the wires? Get rid of dust?

    Oh, and by the way this fictitious house does not have a fuse box. Just as processors do not come equipped with a "heat fuse" that would cause the system to go to sleep at a certain temperature. If you disallow the machine to run at a dangerous temperature then it will NEVER overheat ever. Not once and no matter how badly you treat it. It may become annoying having to wait for it to cool down all the time. One way to address that problem are the usual so-called "solutions" to the overheating problem which has a trivial fix that doesn't exist.

    - Alan


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