What to do if you’re PC overheats and shuts down-which software can help?

Posted by: Rea Maor In: Hardware and Gadgets - Thursday, April 28th, 2011

There can be many reasons why a computer suddenly decides to shut down or crash. One of such reasons is overheating. It is not the same, though, which part of your computer is overheating and causes the computer to shut down. Sometimes simply leaving your covers open – unless you have a cat in the house – helps right away. But many times problems are much more complex and some software solutions can help you to put an end to it.

What are the reasons for overheating?

Very often the computer temperature in the case rises above acceptable values and that is the reason why people have many fans inside, besides the already common CPU fan, bus fan and the occasional graphic card fan. With the latest technologies it is not generally the CPU that is causing so much heat, but the hard disk. While all components that are running current will emit heat, hard disks are sometimes capable of getting surprisingly hot. It is possible that the cumulative warmth of all the components causes the computer to crash, but that is very often not the main reason.

What is the most likely reason for the computer to crash, due to excessive heat?

There are two simple reasons why a computer crashes, when overheated. Either one of the fans – CPU, bus, graphic card – has stopped working, or the hard disk is overheated. Every other reason is much too complex and requires technical knowledge to fix. Do not panic, it is probably not a wrongly installed driver that you have downloaded from the internet. Such overheating problems stem almost always from hardware. While it is easy to see if one of the fans stopped working, it is even easier to find out about the hard disk. If your computer case is open, when the computer crashed, simply touch the hard disk. But careful, it can be as hot as a hotplate.

If you almost burned your hand, then you found the culprit. Simply make sure that more air gets to the hard disk for cooling purposes and all is well. The next thing you will have to do is install some software that checks you hard disk operating temperature, while you are working. Some popular choices are HDSentinel, HDDTemp and Speedfan, all commercial software and trialware, available on the internet for download.

More info is available through such solutions like Argus Monitor, which not only controls the hard disk temperature, but shows the CPU and GPU temperatures as well, can access critical S.M.A.R.T. attributes and a few other things. Another one of such useful programs is Hardware Sensors Monitor, which in the Pro version supports fan throttles and covers also S.M.A.R.T. monitoring.

Some Solutions

The cheapest solution is to keep your computer cover open and all of the fans whirring. If you have no small animals running around your house that can get into your machine and your children know not to put their hands in there, then you should be okay, at least for a while. Make sure that no heating elements are in close proximity of the computer as well.

If overheating persists and it is not the hard drive and also all the fans are working, make sure that the values set for your CPU in BIOS are appropriate. Furthermore, check if your driver controlling software for your GPU is not set on overclocking. Also make sure to clean out the dust bunnies that get stuck in all of your fans, including the power supply. It will increase the lifetime significantly and lower overheating prospects.

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