Easy Fixes for a Loud Computer

June 30, 2015

A loud computer is not immediate cause for concern. The noise could be caused by a clogged fan or slow program and can be easily fixed at home.

Easy Fixes for a Loud Computer

My computer is really noisy and hot

Reduce its workload and improve ventilation

When your computer gets too hot, its cooling system kicks in. Most computers have one or more cooling fans that circulate air within the casing to carry heat away and protect delicate circuits.

  • Close down some programs, especially those that demand a lot of processing power (and so generate heat), such as graphics-intensive games or videos.
  • Make sure that air can circulate around the computer, especially near the fan vents at the rear. Don't enclose the computer in a cabinet or push it up too close to a wall.

The fan is noisy and the computer is slow

Calm down your machine with some software therapy

In normal use, your computer runs hundreds of mini-programs, or processes, in the background. Sometimes, one of these processes will get stuck — as if in an eternal loop. Your computer responds by slowing down, crashing or running its cooling fans to cool its circuits. You can stop a looped process to resume normal service.

For Windows:

  1. Save any files you have open, if possible. Press Ctrl+Shift+Esc simultaneously to bring up a new window called the Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Processes tab; this shows all the processes that your computer's CPU is running and what percentage of your computer power they are using. If a process is out of control, it will be taking up close to 100 percent of the power. To turn off a suspect process, just double-click its name in the list, then click the "Stop" button.

For a Mac:

  1. Navigate to Applications -> Utilities -> Activity Monitor and select All Processes from the drop-down menu.
  2. Locate the suspect process and click on Quit Process on the top left of the window.

If the problem recurs and the same process is to blame, seek expert help — you may need to reinstall part of your software.

The fan is still loud

Clean off the dust for quiet cooling

If the fan remains noisy — and if your computer shuts down when it's been on for only a short while — the computer's cooling fans or its heat-sink vents may be clogged with dust.

  1. Switch off your computer and open the case. Locate the fans and the heat sink — they are easy to spot.
  2. Use a can of compressed air to blow dust from their surfaces; an old toothbrush or fine paintbrush will dislodge more persistent dust.
  3. Heat sinks are assemblies of metal fins designed to radiate heat away from sensitive components. Brush dust from their surfaces with an old toothbrush to maintain their efficiency.

Words to Know

CPU: The central processing unit of a computer is the key piece of hardware that carries out the instructions written in a computer program. Computers can have one or more CPUs — sometimes on a single physical chip.

RAM: Random access memory is a type of computer memory that temporarily stores programs that are in use along with the data they're processing. RAM can be accessed very quickly and it has no moving parts.

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