24 January 2008

Laptop crashing? Try this cool trick

Recently my laptop started crashing at random times, usually when I was in the middle of something critical. Like browsing YouTube videos, playing StickCricket and, oh yes, working. I've always had a theory that laptops were pressure-sensitive, that's to say they are sensitive to the amount of pressure I am under, and more likely to fail when that is high, purely out of spite.

When I started thinking about it I realised that my laptop had once run rather quietly, but now seemed to be a noisy beast with the cooling fan running all the time, and it had become consistently too hot to have on my lap. I hunted down the excellent, if slightly confusing, free application called Notebook Hardware Control, which lets you monitor hard disk and CPU temperatures, and was shocked to find my CPU regularly running in the 90s (Celsius/Centigrade) and peaking as high as 112 degrees before crashing. Being famous for my insight and deductive reasoning, I surmised that this was perhaps less than ideal.

So I took a trip down to my local electronic hobby shop, Dick Smith, and bought myself a can of air, the compressed variety used for cleaning equipment, and sprayed it in every hole and gap I could find. My machine was instantly cured, and is now running in the high 50s and low 60s. It's also far quieter, because the fan is now only one a fraction of the time, rather than all the time as it was. Cost $15, Time 30 seconds, result, dramatic and instant cure.

I'd be willing to bet that most laptop crashes are caused by overheating, and recommend you try this before anything else. The reason it works is that over time, dust, skin and so on build up inside your laptops fan, vents, and in particular, the CPU heatsink. Just make sure you get the right sort of spray, avoiding freeze sprays, or anything that leaves a deposit. And good luck!Go to eebahgum!