Recently a client of mine brought up the fact that a computer seemed to be making a loud humming noise, and had assumed the hard disk drive was working harder than usual for some reason. Truth is, it’s the computer fans that were making the noise.
Whether a desktop or a laptop, all personal computers have at least one fan, used to create air flow while the computer is operating, to prevent overheat. In a desktop computer, one might find up to 4 or even 5 fans, all dedicated to provide air flow to different parts of the computer.
Not everyone knows that computers nowadays have different temperature sensors at different internal components AND also are able to speed up or slow down the fans speed depending on the temperature reading of said sensors. In some cases a fan is off until the related sensor reaches certain temperature and then it turns on. So when the temperatures inside a computer raise, whether it is because the ambient temperature is high or because the computer is working harder than usual, the fans speeds will raise. Most users will have noticed this at one time or another, and many describe it as the computer “seems to be racing”. This in itself is not bad – higher fan speeds when the computer gets hot is an appropriate response. But it might be a sign of something else if it’s happening too often.
As covered in this article, computers that have not been cleaned internally at regular intervals tend to get hotter. If by design your computer does not have sufficient airflow and is in an environment that gets hot, plus does not get cleaned regularly, chances are it might overheat and thus reduce the normal lifespan of its internal components.
What to do?
1. Make sure your computer internals are dust free.
2. relocate your computer as needed to provide good airflow. It is not a good idea to have a desktop computer in a closed cabinet with little or no airflow.
3. Depending on the situation, it might be a good idea to provide an external fan to force airflow around a computer that is getting poor or no airflow.
4. Keep the room temperature from getting too extreme.
5. There is software that can monitor the sensors’ readings in a computer and alert you if the temperature goes above a certain level, so you can take action before overheating ruins your computer. An expert should be able to install and configure such software.