Keep It Cool

July 7, 2013

Hot Summer Days are great for going to the beach, but wreak havoc on electronics, especially computers.

Over the last several days I have had multiple laptops come in to the shop that were performing poorly or not all.  The majority of these laptops suffered a catastrophic cooling failure.  The usual culprits, such as: clogged cooling vents, CPU and power supply fans were the cause.  When the tempature outside is  70-80 degrees, these units will still function with poor cooling systems, albeit they may be a little slower.  On hot days, like we are experiencing in the midwest, these units will simply shut down the power to protect the CPU.  A computer that goes into standby mode or protected mode because of excessive heat will eventually fail, there are only so many times that a system can go into protected mode becauese of excessive heat before it becomes damaged.

Three of the laptops that came into the shop had been left in a car, for less than an hour. 

The laptops all were closed with their lids down, but they were in sleep mode, meaning that they had not fully been powered off, which is a common practice for many professionals who are taking their laptops to business meetings, etc. 

In this case, the laptops simply failed.  One of the laptops had poor ventilation with clogged

vents and a weak power supply fan.  The other two, were less than 12 months old and were in excellent working order before being left in a hot car. 

 

Besides keeping a system dust free and located in a cool environment, you need to be careful with power outages and surges.  In excessive heat, air conditioning units are being utilized at higher rates, which causes a drain on the electrical grid often resulting in brown outs.  When a drop in voltage occurs it can cause a computer system malfunction and or burn out.  Surge strips and surge protection will help in many of these cases, but for any system that is critical, a good battery backup system is required, such as a UPS from APC. 

 

Checklist:
  • Make sure your system is checked and cleaned annually for dust/debris and that all cooling system fans are in proper working order.

  • Squeling, squeking, or laboring fan noises require your cooling fans to be replaced.

  • NEVER LEAVE A COMPUTER IN A HOT AREA, such as a car.

  • Turn off laptops fully when traveling, not just closing the lid. (Shutdown).

  • Have your computer or laptop connected to a good surge strip (not the inexpensive kind that you find at a grocery store).  A good good surge strip generally costs between $45-$70.

  • Watch the weather.  Hot weather often involves storms or weather that can cause electrical outages.  Unplug your computer from a power supply during turbulent weather.

  • If your computer is slowing down or laboring, turn it off!  Have your system checked immediately for cooling issues.  Shutting down a computer and having it checked before it fully overheats can save you a lot of money.

A computer can be checked by any service professional or computer center.  If you are in the Traverse City area, and would like to bring in your computer, I offer a free checkup to determine if anything needs to be done.  In a lot the cases, simply blowing the computer out with compressed air fixes the majority of issues.

 

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