Does your computer tend to suddenly turn itself off without warning? Has it been running sluggishly lately? You may be the victim of overheating.
Computer systems of all types, from smartphones to desktops, require to be kept within a specific temperature range to function properly. Your CPU (central processing unit, the “brain” of your computer) will generally idle between 84 and 106 degrees, spiking to over 140 degrees when under heavy load. When your machine senses that it’s getting too hot, it’ll shut itself down to protect itself from damage.
The culprit of an overheating computer is usually dust, although putting your laptop on a pillow or blanket can also be a factor. Your system’s fans need to push a steady flow of cool or room temperature air through the case to remove excess heat, and when that air is blocked by dust bunnies or living room sofas, random shut-offs and burned hands can ensue.
Luckily, the problem is easy to solve! First, get a can of compressed air at an office supply or electronics store (you can also use an air compressor, but make sure the pressure is kept low to prevent damage to your components). Then, open your computer and observe the fluffy dust bunnies happily clogging the fans and heatsinks—these must go! Carefully use the air canister to blow away the dust; I like to also have a vacuum cleaner running to keep it from filling my house with a grey cloud.
It’s also important to use laptops on hard surfaces or elevated cooling pads and keep stacks of papers away from desktop computers. Make sure your fans are unobstructed and clean any dust filters or grates in your case regularly.
Good luck, and may the dust bunnies never return!