Keep it cool: 12 tips to prevent your laptop from overheating

Let me tell you a cautionary tale. When I first got my laptop as a freshman in college, there was a liberating feeling of professionalism that made me feel I can accomplish my schoolwork more efficiently. A few months later, as I was working for 6 hours straight through the wee hours of the morning to finish some term papers due the next day, my laptop started overheating. Suddenly my screen froze – much to my delight *sarcasm* – and the Blue Screen of Death flashed before my tired eyes. And that, people, is how I almost failed a class for a late submission. I got a C for my final grade though.

Keep it Cool: 12 Tips to prevent your Laptop from Overheating

Moral of the story: Save your files as often as you can, and always keep your laptop from overheating. Through the years, I have used three different laptops, occasionally spaced out from schoolwork, games, etc., and come to the same point more or less. The good thing is that the experience helped me learn proper techniques to keep my hardware in relatively good condition.

Follow these simple techniques and hope never to face to BSOD, and other technical errors that will destroy your life (or other stuff at home because of uncontrollable rage *sigh*).


1)  Work away from direct sunlight or high temperatures.

Your laptop’s already handling a large chunk of your heavy workload as it is. At least keep your gear comfortable and work in the shade or a relatively cool (preferably air-conditioned) area or room.

Work away from direct sunlight

2) Never set your laptop on soft surfaces that could block your laptop’s ventilation.

Few examples of these surfaces are leather cushions or on the covers of your bed. I know it’s very, very comfortable to lounge as you work, but please… please do it for your laptop. You can do that after you finish your work.

Never operate on soft surfaces

3) Don’t overcharge.

Not only does this overheat your laptop, but this could also damage your adapter and battery over time. Soon as your battery’s full, either remove the plug or remove the battery and let your laptop run on AC power.

Do not Overcharge

4) Put your laptop in Standby mode when it’s not in use.

This allows your computer to take a break and controls its power consumption. Do this if you’re using your computer irregularly the whole day.

Put your laptop in Standby mode when you leave it

5) Shut down your computer.

If you’re calling it a day, save your progress, and let your laptop catch some Z’s to cool down for a while. Let it rest its gears while you go do something else. (What do you mean what’s ‘something else’? Run. Clean. Go out – yeah I don’t do that either, so maybe you can just sleep?)

Shut your computer down

6) Before placing it in the case, remember to shut down your laptop.

If you travel a lot, you should always turn off your computer before you put it in its case, so it can properly rest during the trip. If you don’t want to shut it down, at least put it on Sleep mode so that when you arrive at your destination, you’re ready to continue where you left off.

Before placing it the case, remember to shut down you laptop

7) Regulate use of media-heavy apps.

For media-savvy professionals, this might be a bit of a dilemma. Performance-hungry apps like the Adobe Creative Suite or online plug-ins like Flash require your system to work at greater capacity, meaning a higher risk of overheating. If you really need to work with these apps, it’s even more important that you follow these tips to keep your laptop cool.

Regulate heavy-media apps

8) Control fan speeds using third-party apps.

Thanks to users who can create miracles (hurrah!), we normal folk can utilize third-party apps to take control of how our system performs when under pressure. Lifehacker recommends Speedfan for Windows users and smcFanControl for Mac users. The only downside to this solution is that your computer vents might be making sounds that are a little louder than usual, but, you know: earphones (wink wink).

Control fan speeds using third party apps

9) Check your laptop’s exhaust fans.

Always check your hardware for irregularities and ask yourself the important questions: “Is my fan working fine?”, “What is that weird sound coming out of the vent?”, “Why is there a piece of chicken stuck in here?”.

Check your laptop’s exhaust fans

10) Clean your hardware regularly.

First things first, get rid of the chicken. Second, if you’re a little short on bucks, and if you’re brave enough, you should periodically unscrew your laptop’s hinges and clean out dust or other foreign particles accumulated in your laptop’s internal system to ensure that the heat can easily make its way out. These particles can block heat’s path and cause your laptop hardware damage over time. If you DO have the extra dough to spend, let the professional laptop cleaners handle it.

Clean your hardware regularly

11) Elevate your gear to get air flowing beneath.

Always, always put something under the hinges of your laptop to elevate its rear end, as this area is usually the location of its vents. This allows cool air from your surroundings to permeate your laptop and naturally cool it. Or you could direct an electric fan towards you for extra coolness.

Elevate your gear to get air flowing beneath

12) Get a cooling pad

AKA the better alternative to elevating your gear. You’ll have to shell out some money for a cooling pad, but it does provide efficient cooling, with a fan is pointed directly at your laptop’s vents.

Get a cooling pad

If your laptop still overheats after following these tips, drop by MacMall retail stores at Santa Monica, Torrance and Huntington Beach and let Apple-credited experts give you professional recommendations on all your laptop problems, be it Mac or other trusted brands.

Visit for exciting promos and exclusive offers for all your tech needs. For the latest news from MacMall, follow @MacMall on Twitter and connect with MacMall on Facebook.

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