Posted on: November 25, 2008 Posted by: Nicole Harding Comments: 0

Have you ever been plagued by a computer that is frequently crashing or display error messages? Personal computers (PCs) have become an important part of our lives, but we often take them for granted and spend less time maintaining them than we should.

PCs are actually very intricate pieces of machinery that can generate a fair bit of heat, so if something is off and the temperature gets too high, your Central Processing Unit (CPU) can become damaged. Here are some basic inspection tips and solutions you can try if you suspect your CPU is overheating and impeding your speed and efficiency.

1. Inspect your computer.

You can help to determine whether an overheating CPU is behind your trouble by performing a basic inspection of the computer. Do the sides of the computer feel especially warm? Are your fans sounding louder than usual? Both are symptoms of an overly warm CPU.

2. Error messages.

An overheating CPU can often cause one of the dreaded features of Windows called the “Blue Screen of Death,” which appears when something is wrong. If you are seeing this, read the accompanying error message details and determine whether heat is the cause.

3. Blow out the dust.

Dust is the bane of electronics and can really impede your computer’s performance. Try using a can of compressed air to get as much dust as possible out of the unit. Concentrate particularly on the fans as dust can really hamper their performance, causing the internal temperature to go up.

4. Check cable placement.

Depending on what you have installed, the inside of your computer can be a mass of intersecting cables. If not positioned properly, they can impede fan efficiency. Blockages of this type also compromise internal air flow. The result from either of these scenarios is a machine that is running too hot and a CPU in danger of failing.

5. Provide additional ventilation.

Is your computer in an area with little ventilation? If so, try moving it somewhere else or pointing a fan towards it. Once you have done this, monitor whether the unit’s performance has been improved as a result. If you have a laptop, make sure that is positioned in a way that the fans are not blocked and can perform efficiently.

6. Check your CPU temperature.

If additional ventilation was not the solution, there are several programs available online you can download which will display your CPU temperature to help you decide what to do next. In most cases, they will tell you the minimum and maximum recommended temperatures for your unit, along with the current one. With this information, you can help determine whether your computer or laptop may be in need of maintenance.

7. Watch your fans.

Depending on how much hardware you have in your computer, there can be several fans in operation to keep things cool. If even one of these is breaking down, it can cause the internal temperature to rise. Open your computer tower and then turn the unit on. If one of more of the fans does not start, is clearly not running at proper speed, or sounds overly loud or strained, you will likely need to replace it.

8. Control your fan speed.

If you have determined that your fans are in working order, you can try altering them to increase the volume of cool air being generated. There are programs available online which monitor all the fans in your tower. Choose one of these, download it to your computer, and see if increasing the fan speed helps with your issue. Note that not all of these programs are compatible for all computers, so do some research to determine which one will help with your issue.

9. Change your BIOS settings.

If your computer is not compatible with programs that allow you to change fan speeds, many motherboards have fan controls in the BIOS settings. Restart your computer, and when the boot screen appears, press a key (often Delete) to enter the BIOS. Once you have access, search for an option related to the fan settings. Click this feature if it is not already activated and follow the instructions to change the settings accordingly.

10. Use external fan controllers.

If your motherboard does not allow access to BIOS fan controls, you can purchase an external fan controller. These are inexpensive and sit in one of the unit’s drive bays. Such devices allow you to manually control the speed of your fans, which is easy and convenient. On the downside, they do not monitor the CPU temperature, so you will be relying on guesswork and computer performance to tell if this is having a positive effect.

11. Beware of overclocking.

Game enthusiasts want a computer that runs as fast and efficiently as possible and sometimes alter their unit’s internal settings to do so. While this usually has the desired effect, it also generates a greater amount of heat because the voltage and frequency are boosted to new levels. Such changes require more than just the standard cooling systems. If you are overclocked and have not considered this, you will likely end up with too much heat being generated.

12. Replace your CPU.

If none of these methods are helping, you may have to raise the white flag and replace your CPU. This is a major step and can cause a great deal of anxiety and hardship, particularly if you use your computer for business. Make sure that you have backed up all important data, e-mails and other irreplaceable data before doing so.

Your Central Processing Unit is a key component of your computer and excessive heat will significantly shorten its lifespan and possibly cause the loss of your data. An overly hot computer will also run slower, so try to make sure that your unit is in a well ventilated area. If proactive steps fail to help, try the other suggestions listed above. If you feel you do not possess the technical savvy, do not feel bad about having a computer professional address the problem for you.

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