Thelukeman worries that his laptop may be getting too hot.
Several warning signs can signify a possibly overheated laptop. If your fan is always running at maximum speed, chances are it's having trouble keeping things cool in there. You know there's a problem if your computer has a tendency to shut down on its own, and there's a good chance that that problem is temperature-related. If you react to touching your laptop as if it was a plate fresh out of the oven, you've either got a problem or are well on the way to having one.
But what can you do about it?
First, consider where you put the laptop while using it. Never ever rest it on a pillow, blanket, or mattress while it is turned on. Use a flat, hard surface like a desk or table.
Better yet, put it on top of a laptop cooler. These are pads, often with built-in fans, designed to whisk away heat. But you don't have to buy one. I put my laptop on an empty but sturdy cardboard box that a large-format book once arrived in.
Dust-clogged vents can keep a PC from cooling down. Unfortunately, cleaning the inside of a laptop isn't as easy as cleaning a desktop. Using a compressed air canister (you can buy them at any computer store) to blast air through the ducts might help.
If it doesn't, you'll have to open the laptop and clean it. If that task scares you (and I wouldn't hold it against you if it did), hire a professional to do the job.
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Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter.