Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Is your PC freezing?

It may seem a strange symptom description, but if your laptop or desktop PC crashes or hangs up, its often referred to as freezing. The most common cause of freezing can be because your device is actually overheating!  Any unexpected hang up and shutdowns are often due to heat rather than any other cause.

My Desktop PC has been acting a bit strange of late. It has one of those variable speed cooling fans. Intended to keep the PC as quiet as possible. (Have you noticed how noisy PC fans can be?) I noticed that the fan was changing speed on a more regular pattern. So I thought I would check out the main culprit for overheating. Which is what I would describe as belly button fluff. 

After turning off the power, I had a quick visual check inside the box. I could see that there was a thin coat of belly button fluff and dust everywhere. Getting out the Dyson, I plugged in the hand tool and proceeded to suck out the dust and fluff. Afterwards the computer was back to normal operation and the fans ran much quieter afterwards.

Have you ever noticed that the belly button fluff you find in a computer or in your vacuum cleaner is always a uniform gray/pale blue colour?

However, it's easy to monitor your system's temperature and to correct the most common causes of overheating. I am comfortable taking the lid off a computer and working on the internals. As long as you don't disconnect anything then you can do the same. When it comes to a laptop, its not so easy to take them apart and unless you know what you are doing. It's best left to someone who does. However, some modern laptops have a small user removable filter in line with the fan that can be removed, cleaned and replaced.

Heat is a byproduct of all electronic devices and is to be avoided where possible. A PC that's running too hot can display erratic behaviour, including data errors, spontaneous reboots, and other intermittent and often mind numbing problems. Most computers have temperature sensors built in and at the same time most operating systems ignore these sensors. But with the right software, you can tap into your PC's built-in sensors to tell exactly how hot it is inside the case.

A good temperature-related tool is SpeedFan, a free, multipurpose program that can monitor your system's temperatures, fan speeds, and internal voltages. SpeedFan can in certain cases also show you your hard-drive temperatures. SpeedFan can also let you control your system's fans, adjust the CPU clock speed. These are expert-level features that should be left alone. But the basic temperature readings require no special configuration and are safe for anyone novice to expert. SpeedFan works with Windows 9x, ME, NT, 2000, 2003, XP, Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8. SpeedFan works under Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2012 too. SpeedFan works fine on 64 bit too. And this all costs you absolutely nothing!

Click Here to download.

SpeedFan's download-initiating link is buried in the phrase SpeedFan 4.49.

This is what SpeedFan looks like on my laptop.

HD0 is the hard disk drive and is running at 39C which is OK. The blue down arrow means that the temperature is falling. A red up arrow means that the temperature is increasing. SpeedFan will try to identify your system type so it can accurately interpret the temperatures but it is an approximate approach.

CPU Usage monitors the work being done by each CPU - There are 4 CPU's in the case of my laptop. Green means that they are working just fine.

Temp1 and Temp2 are additional sensors one on the chipset and one inside the case.

Core 0 and Core 1 are the two CPU temperature sensors. The maximum working temperature according to the intel website is 79C. So 41C is well within the limits. However, the CPU are only working at 11.5% of their capability. The harder a cpu works the hotter it will become. I ran a stress test on the PC after cleaning out the belly button fluff. The core temperature never went above 65C. You should only need to monitor your PC if it starts to display problems. However, you can also test the system by giving your PC a good workout. In a healthy system, the temperatures will climb for a few minutes, level off and then stay below the allowable maximum temperature.


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