Q: My computer’s fan has been running almost constantly of late and at times it seems to be really laboring. What’s going on and what can I do about it?
—Tom G.,Vero Beach
A: The fan you are hearing is most likely the one used to cool the interior of the machine.
Computers require their internal parts to stay below a certain temperature so that none of the hardware within the chassis gets damaged due to overheating (there’s a lot of plastic in there, after all). The cooling fan plays an integral part in keeping that interior temperature down.
If you hear the fan working harder than normal, or being louder than normal, or running for longer than normal, then it’s likely due to the machine’s internal temperature being too high and the fan working harder than usual to lower that temp but not being successful in its attempts.
Often this is caused by computer vents being obstructed by dust or debris build up, which can accumulate over time if not cleaned now and then. That dust restricts airflow through the vents, leaving the fan with little air flow to cool the internal parts and thus causing it to work harder and longer to try to reduce the internal temperature.
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In addition to dust and debris, the same situation can be caused by seasonal changes in heat or humidity in the room where the computer resides (common during the hotter summer months in Florida, especially if you keep your system in a hotter room of your home), because the system has been placed in an area where little or no air circulation is available to it (like a deep corner or inside a closed cabinet), or because of hardware issues pertaining to the fan itself.
Typically it’s a dust issue though.
So to fix, dust the vents thoroughly with a duster (never a wet paper towel), removing as much as you can. You can use a can of compressed air help too, though be sure to direct the pump spray carefully so you don’t push more dust into the computer by accident.
For machines without much visible dust on the outside, try moving them to a new location where there is more airflow around the vents (even an extra inch here and there can make a difference) — or for laptops, consider placing the machine on risers.
If none of that helps, consider unplugging the machine, opening the chassis and dusting inside as well as possible as it can accumulate there as well.
If none of these steps work, or if the fan continues to run even after the fact, or if the fan ever makes grinding or screeching noises, then take the machine into a shop to have a tech look at it, as the part may need to be replaced.
Last week’s column
My recent column about how to fix a freezing mouse drew much feedback from readers, some of which I’d like to share.
Donald E. of Port St. Lucie wrote: “I’ve also often experienced a maddening mouse freeze in the middle of communicating or working on spreadsheets. When my cursor freezes on any of the devices now, I very simply switch the mouse to the ‘off’ position and back ‘on’ again in less than three seconds. That maneuver has yet to fail me.”
Virginia N. of Port St. Lucie said: “Thanks for your help with the ‘frozen mouse’ issue. I was just going to defrost it in the refrigerator overnight!”
Untangling the web
Need help keeping tracking of medications, refills, dosage schedules and more? Then this free app should help. Simply download it to your Android or iPhone, create an account and enter your prescription and dosage information as prompted. After setup, the app will notify you with an alarm when it’s time to take your next dose, let you know when your medication stock is low and/or needs to be refilled and more. There are also options to share your medication information with family, friends and caregivers, if you choose, so they can help with management, as well as the ability to communicate virtually with a physician if need be.
Contact Eyal Goldshmid at [email protected]
This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: Computer questions: How to quiet a noisy computer fan and a free app to track your medications and dosages