Gulp. As you stare into the darkened screen, the realization that something awful has just happened begins to sink in. Your laptop has overheated and caused a major problem.

Faced something similar? Or come close to a computer overheating?

I can tell you from bitter experience that it’s not pretty.

Especially when the computer that’s overheated contained irreplaceable documents and files vital to your work.

It happened to me a few summers ago.

Working from Home One Summer’s Day

I had been working from the dining table at home one summer’s day. Happily typing away at tasks for tight deadlines.

Working from home has many productivity benefits – personally I get my best writing done in the quiet and comfort of my apartment.

It was a glorious day outside. The sun was blazing, traffic murmuring softly, and birdsong merrily drifting in through the open window.

It was also unusually humid. The air cloying and hot.

A desk fan pointed in my direction, keeping me cool and my head clear.

Mid-way through the afternoon, my laptop froze, and then switched off. It was unresponsive to my attempts to turn it on again.

5 Ways to Avoid Catastrophe

The heat had gotten to it, and destroyed not only hours’ worth of work from that day, but years of work from hundreds of days before.

And the worst part is that I could easily have avoided it.

Having learned my lesson the hard way, I now know that there are some very simple ways to avoid this kind of computing disaster from occurring.

If you work with any devices in warm conditions, it’s worth spending the little effort up front to ensure you avoid this kind of eventuality.

#1 – Is Your Computer Running Hot?

It might seem like the most obvious statement in the world, but the easiest way to spot that your computer is overheating is if it’s running way too hot.

This is very easy to identify with a laptop positioned on your lap. If your legs feel uncomfortably warm, it’s time to take action for the sake of your device.

Slightly more difficult to spot is if a desktop computer is running hot.

If you suspect it might be, a quick palm on the side of the computer will let you know.

Solution: Make sure your computer is well ventilated. Got a PC crammed in a cupboard? Or a Laptop enveloped in clothing? Not ideal.

Think about ways to ensure your computer gets enough air.

Also – keep your computer out of direct sunlight!

#2 – Fan Noise

What’s that irritating sound like a small aircraft trying to take off? It’s probably your computer’s fans working overtime to try to keep its insides cool.

Like I needed the desk fan on my face to keep working on my tasks, so computers need fans to regulate the temperature of its components.

Any time it sounds like your computer’s fans are working at their maximum rate, your computer could be running too hot.

Solution: Consider the tasks you’re asking your computer to complete. Heavier workloads, such as video editing, increase the heat generated by components inside your computer.

Also, regularly clear out dust that may have settled in places blocking your computer fans’ performance. Just be sure to check the warranty before opening it up!

#3 – Grindingly Slow

Why is Word taking so long to open? It never does this normally.

Yikes – if your computer is struggling to perform basic tasks then it could be overheating, or moments away from a computer virus ruining your day.

Either way, it’s time to investigate before a catastrophe unfolds.

Solution: Save and close all the programs you can. Identify if it’s the heat getting to your machine, or Malware of some kind.

If it’s the heat, find a way to cool down your computer before using it to work on anything else further.

If you suspect Malware – perform a system scan. And while you’re at it, make sure your computer continually updates your anti-malware solution, and runs regular scans.

#4 – Jagged lines or Pixilation

Something funny going on with your screen? Lines appearing where they shouldn’t, or pixels acting up?

This is often an indication that your graphics card can’t take the strain.

Either you’re asking it to do more than it’s capable of, or it’s overheating.

Solution: If you’re working in a warm environment, like I was, consider whether or not that graphics-intensive work needs to be done now, or whether it can wait until your computer is operating in a cooler climate.

Aside from that, always make sure that your graphics card is in working order and is getting enough ventilation.

#5 – Crashing and Powering Off

Computers that overheat may crash and power down. Sometimes a warning mechanism takes effect, and protects your computer’s system by taking this action.

Other times it’s too late – the computer has overheated, with vital components damaged, sometimes irretrievably.

Solution: If you’re lucky, and your computer has taken preventative action – give it a helping hand by allowing it to completely cool down before you resume working with it again.

If you’re unlucky, and your computer is fried – I’m afraid there’s nothing for it, other than hand it over to a recovery specialist to see if any data can be retrieved.

Reduce the Damage of a Worst Case Scenario

I could have taken all those steps above with my computer.

But there’s little value in lamenting about it once it has happened.

Instead, I should have had a backup of all my vital documents and files ready. So that in a worst case scenario I would be able to replace the device, import all my data and resume working.

There are now many ways to backup data, store data in home servers, or in the cloud.

The point is, that any catastrophe – be it overheating, Malware, or theft – can be mitigated by having important data stored elsewhere.

Key Takeaways

Don’t let anything get in the way of your enjoyment of the summer.

Small actions now can pay dividends further down the line. To avoid an overheating catastrophe:

  • Pay attention to the heat emanating from your computer
  • Listen out for computer fans working overtime
  • Take action when your computer is grindingly slow
  • Look out for strange behavior on your screen
  • Allow computers to cool down completely if they crash and power down
  • Have a backup of all your important data ready

What are your tips to avoid a computer overheating?