6 Mistakes to Avoid When Your Laptop Overheats – MUO – MakeUseOf

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When your laptop overheats, avoid these “fixes” like the plague.
It may not happen often, but we've all experienced it: Your laptop's fan suddenly turns on, accompanied by an extra bit of heat. Maybe your legs are sweating underneath your usually cool MacBook; maybe the desk your Windows machine sits on is suddenly warm to the touch.
Laptops are bound to overheat at some point in their lifespans, but those temperatures are rarely permanent or dangerous—provided you don't make matters worse.
Avoid these well-intended cool-down mistakes, and you and your device will be back to room temp in no time.
Sticking your head in the freezer may do the trick for humans suffering from a hot summer day, but laptops do not share in this sweet relief.
Dropping a warm laptop into cold air will put too much stress on its internal components. Abruptly shifting temperature can cause condensation on the laptop's components, leading to electric shorts. Moreover, as electronics get harder and smaller with time (e.g., microprocessors), manufacturers place tighter tolerances for temperature extremes; that means dropping your device in a below-freezing environment could further damage it beyond repair.
As mentioned above, temperature fluctuations are brutal on laptops—but liquids can be an abrupt game-ender. Never attempt to cool down a laptop using any non-standard liquid cooling system, such as ice packs or misting fans, without explicit permission from its manufacturer. Breaking this rule of thumb will void warranty contracts faster than you opened this article.
Instead of reaching for an icy brick, consider an industry-approved alternative. The best cooling mats for laptops feature passive or active cooling solutions. Some offer additional options, such as adjustable stands that can lift your laptop and improve airflow between its body and the surface it sits on.
In this case, no action can do more damage than taking the wrong action. Most people will understand a device needs time to cool down after its temperature gets out of hand; however, don't just drop what you're doing and leave the device to fend for itself.
Always save any current projects and exit all apps before powering down your hot computer. We recommend you power it down manually and leave it off for at least 15 minutes; stay away longer if your laptop has been used for multiple hours and is nearing a critical temperature threshold.
Location matters almost as much as the action(s) you take. If you're sitting on the couch as your laptop begins overheating, for example, don't toss your device into the cushion next to you and give it some space. Soft surfaces, such as beds and pillows, will block heat from dissipating away.
The best practice is to place a laptop on a flat surface large enough for its battery and body; be sure it doesn't touch anything while resting. Try flipping it upside down or placing the device on a cooling rack to increase airflow.
Removing the battery reduces the insulation properties, allowing more heat to escape from the bottom of the laptop, which sounds like the dream solution. However, the battery itself may not be causing the overheating, and removing it won't address the underlying problem. Additionally, constantly removing and reinserting the battery can stress the battery’s connectors and potentially cause long-term damage.
When you hear or feel signs of overheating, triage the problem using MacOS Activity Monitor, Windows Task Manager, or System Monitor on Linux. These tools can confirm whether your laptop is overheated and help you find out how much each activity is drawing from the computer's RAM, CPU, and GPU resources. These computer processing components are often in overdrive when a laptop starts to heat up, so it's imperative that you not keep them running at full steam.
Force quitting or disabling applications will reduce strain on any of its processes that put your device at risk for overheating (such as apps with extensive graphic processing). You have several options to close applications on Mac and Windows devices. We also recommend avoiding resource-draining games until temperatures come down to normal levels.
Laptops can be fidgety friends when it comes to temperature control, but you have plenty of practical troubleshooting and resolution steps at your disposal. Avoid drastic measures, such as a time-out in the freezer or an ice bath, and you'll both be back in business soon.
Alexandra is a trained Agile product manager, web marketer, and digital copywriter with 10 years of experience discussing web hosting and internet jargon, iOS and Mac products, and wellness topics. She holds a master’s degree in Information Technology and is an avid user of smart home products. As a MakeUseOf author, Alexandra loves unpacking online security topics, advocating a healthy remote work-life balance, and introducing readers to the next must-have smart device.


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