Tech Tips

Laptop overheating: Causes, signs and how to fix

You’re hard at work on your laptop when suddenly it starts to heat up, slow down, and maybe even stall. Is your laptop overheating? We’ve all been there.

Laptops can get too hot—and suffer long-term damage—when they run multiple applications at the same time. And with so many of us working and learning from home, it’s more important than ever to make sure your device is running at its best and protected from damage.

At Asurion, our experts help millions of customers get the most out of their favorite tech, from diagnosing your device’s problems to resolving them as quickly as possible. Here are some tips for identifying and fixing an overheating laptop.

Why is my laptop overheating?

Compared to a desktop computer, laptops are compact and have little space for all their components. So when you try and complete tasks that require a lot of computing power—such as loading a video game or streaming TV shows—the temperature of your device can rise significantly. Internal fans will try to cool everything down, but your laptop can still get too hot and start to malfunction.

Here are a few other reasons why a laptop might overheat:

  • The air vents are covered. This can happen when you place your laptop on a soft or uneven surface, like a bed, pillow, or your lap, that reduces air flow.
  • Dust, dirt, hair, and grime can hinder your laptop’s fan, causing it to struggle to cool the device down.
  • There are problems with internal hardware, such as an old battery or decaying thermal paste, a substance that helps prevent your computer from overheating.

How do I know if my laptop is overheating?

The temperature of a laptop isn’t supposed to exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Hampshire College. So when you feel it getting hot, act quickly. If you don’t, your computer may not only suffer permanent damage but also start a fire or burn you.

Other signs of overheating include the following:

  • Your laptop takes longer than usual to perform basic tasks.
  • Applications and programs freeze.
  • Laptop accessories like your mouse or keyboard stop responding.
  • Your laptop suddenly shuts down and fails to turn back on for several minutes.
  • Unexpected error messages appear warning that the laptop is overheating.

Why is my laptop fan so loud?

A loud laptop fan is a sign your machine is going into overdrive trying to cool down. The causes can vary – it could be due to a build-up of dust in the fan, or it could be due to the air vents being covered, like if you have your laptop sitting on your lap or a soft surface like your bed. It could also simply be due to how you’re using your computer. If you have software that’s constantly running in the background or software that draws a lot of your system’s energy, like a video game or video editing software, that could also cause fans to start spinning loudly.

How to fix an overheating laptop

Once you’ve determined that your laptop isn’t working, there are a few ways to get it back up and running.

  1. Turn off your laptop, unplug the cords, and remove the battery (if possible). You should take a break from using it until it has completely cooled down.
  2. Inspect the vents and fan for dirt or other signs of blockage. These components are usually underneath or on the sides of your laptop.
  3. Use compressed air to clean your laptop’s vents. If your fan continues to struggle, make noises, or run at maximum speed, it may need to be checked for other issues.
  4. Change your system’s fan control settings. If you have a Windows model, you can do this in the BIOS menu. There are also third-party power management apps that allow users to access their fan settings.

How to prevent laptops from overheating

It can be difficult to know what to do when your laptop overheats, but making sure your device is properly ventilated is a great place to start. Here’s how:

  • Keep your vents uncovered and remove objects that are too close to your laptop.
  • Always position your laptop on a sturdy, flat surface like a desk or table. If this isn’t possible, try placing a book or solid object underneath it.
  • Clean your vents immediately if you notice any dust, dirt, or hair.
  • Work in a cooler room.
  • Use a cooling pad that raises your laptop above whatever surface it’s resting on and has built-in fans to increase airflow.

Make sure your laptop is covered

Protect the devices your family loves and relies on with one simple plan that covers all your favorite home tech. With Asurion Home+, we cover your computers, TVs, tablets, premium headphones, smart devices, and so much more – plus, 24/7 assistance for your whole family with any tech need – for less than $1/day.

Learn more about Asurion Home+ coverage and how you can get peace-of-mind device protection.

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