This week, I received an email from a reader who was having one of those problems that almost everyone has eventually — his computer was shutting down by itself:
My computer is beginning to just turn off on it’s own. Thought originally it was a heat up problem, this morning is very cold in our computer/office room and do not believe this is the problem.
Need suggestions. Don’t know if this is a hardware or software problem. All my software is up to date. Could this be a virus?
When you have a problem like this, you can always take your computer to your local shop if you don’t feel comfortable working inside your computer. As an alternative, you’ll probably find that some of your more computer-knowledgeable have a sideline business.
Like Don, I suspect that his problem is heat in the computer. More particularly, I suspect that the CPU fan might be going bad — cool day, or not, wouldn’t matter with that. The motherboard will do a high-temperature shutdown but the chip will also.
Let’s back up a second — I think the underlying problem is probably dirt in the CPU heatsink. It might be a fan that’s going bad, but that would be my second choice.
Get a can of compressed air. Take the computer outside and blow out the dust in the CPU”s heatsink. The fan on the heatsink is designed to force air through the heatsink, which can pack the dust between the heatsink’s fins.
If you can’t get the heatsink clean, then you can replace the heatsink and its attached fan, or take it to a local shop to get that done.
Even if you think your house is clean, you’ll be amazed at the amount of dust that will accumulate in a computer, its fans and its heatsinks. I replaced the heatsink in one of my family computers because it got packed with dust and caused the CPU to have heat-induced shutdowns.
This is great preventative medicine for your computer, too. Dust and resulting heat buildup are enemies of your electronics. If you’ve never opened your computer and cleaned it out, you’ll be surprised at all the dirt and "dust bunnies" you’ll find. Don’t forget to blow out the dust from the power supply, too.