Heat is one of the most damaging things for electronics. People are often not aware of this and are causing their computers and other devices to fail long before their time because they’re not doing what they need to do to keep them cool.
You’ve probably noticed that computers typically have fans which you can spinning whenever the computer is running. You may also have noticed that the fans get louder sometimes more than others.
Most parts of a computer generate some amount of heat, with certain parts such as the hard drive and the processor generating more than others. The fans are designed to keep the computer from overheating and burning out.
Because of this, it’s important to make sure the fans are able to do their job, or you might end up having to replace your computer before its time.
A few steps you should take to help keep your computer and other electronics from overheating:
- Keep them out of direct sunlight - I often see people who keep their laptop or desktop computer near a window where it’s exposed to direct sunlight for a few or several hours a day. This will, understandably, raise the temperature in the computer above what it’s supposed to be.The internal fans are designed mainly to cool off components from the heat those parts generate themselves, not from external heat sources
- Don’t put them on a desk right next to a radiator or over a floor vent – this one is pretty self-explanatory; basically the same idea as keeping them out of direct sunlight
- Don’t put your computer in a tight space – this is one I see a lot. People will hide their desktop computer in a cabinet or one of those desks with the internal space for a computer, or perhaps they’ll hide the computer in a cramped space between the desk and the wall.
This is a bad idea because this usually will block the vents and trap heat, or trap the heat in the space surrounding the computer, which is just as bad.
- Never pile stuff on top of the computer – a couple of things is fine, but don’t go overboard with stuff packed in around or on top of the computer as this can also trap heat and block vents
- Avoid using a laptop on a soft surface where the computer sinks into the surface, such as in bed with the laptop resting on the blanket; this will usually mean at least one of the fan vents is blocked, plus the blanket is an insulator (that’s why it keeps you warm, after all) and it will trap the heat in the laptop, causing damage over time.
If you like to use the laptop in bed, or while sitting on the couch wrapped up in a blanket, you can still do this, just rest the laptop on a hard flat surface to give it plenty of airflow and to avoid blocking the vents.One great way to do this is by using one of those trays you can buy very inexpensively that have a nice flat surface on the top and a built-in cushion underneath.
These help protect the laptop from trapped heat, and have the side benefit of make it more comfortable to work with the laptop by keeping your lap cool and putting the computer at a more comfortable angle and height.
- Use a laptop cooling pad whenever possible – this will help save your computer and keeps your legs cool too. Some of them come with fans, and this is the type I suggest using as it does the best job cooling. Usually these will require you to provide power through a power cord, or more commonly, through the laptop’s USB port.
Just as with the internal fans, make sure not to block the fans on the cooling pad with papers or a bedspread or anything similar, or they can’t do their job.
- Avoid keeping computers in dusty environments such as on the floor – dust can get inside computers and coat the parts inside and can even block the air vents in extreme cases. If either one of these happens, heat is trapped inside causing damage.It’s also a good idea to use a can of compressed air, which you can pick up pretty much anywhere that they sell electronics, and periodically open up the case and use the compressed air to clear out the dust.
Be careful when you do this, however, as touching the electronics inside can cause damage, something I explain in another article. If you feel more comfortable doing so, consider letting a technician do this for you to prevent accidentally damaging something.
Hopefully by following the advice I’ve given you, you can avoid causing your computer to break down before its time by not making these common computer mistakes.