How to Tell If the Fan on My Computer Isn't Working Anymore

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Your laptop computer contained literally hundreds of tiny metal parts within its compact body that work in unison to power your device. Usually, you have little to no indication any of this is happening. If your computer frequently overworks itself, however, you may feel heat from the bottom of your laptop and hear a loud humming noise -- this is its internal fan, which works to cool down the computer's internal parts to prevent hard drive damage. If your computer feels hot to the touch but you don't hear your fan, its function may be impaired.

  • Run your hand underneath the body of the laptop to feel for heat -- if it isn't already on your lap, in which cases you'll already be aware of it. Listen for the low humming of your fan. If you don't hear it and it doesn't turn on within a minute or so of the heat appearing, your fan is dysfunctional.

  • Take note of any unexpected restarts or shut-downs. If your laptop's fan isn't working and your computer overheats, your operating system shuts itself down to prevent damage the fan would usually work to counteract.

  • Feel for decreases in temperature after your fan has started running if it isn't completely dysfunctional. If you hear the humming of you fan but the temperature of your computer doesn't appear to be going down -- or, worse, goes up -- your fan, although operational, is effectively broken.

  • Take your computer to a repair specialist at your earliest convenience. Regularly subjecting your system to excessive heat causes hard drive damage, which is irreparable past a certain point. The sooner you address the problem, the less likely it is to spell disaster for your system.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your computer's internal fan stops working but you can't afford to have it replaced, an alternative is to purchase an external laptop fan, which plugs into your laptop's USB port and sits underneath it. Such fans are inexpensive and work to cool your computer from the outside.

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