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If your laptop’s fans are constantly running hard, fast, and loud, this is almost certainly caused by your system overheating. In order to fix it, you will need to find out what is causing the overheating. This could be anything from physical barriers to software use to failing hardware.
Reason 1: The Position of Your Laptop Does Not Allow It to Cool
Two of the biggest advantages of laptops are their small size and mobility. The problem with this is that people often place their laptops in locations and positions that make it difficult to cool.
Unlike desktop computers, laptops do not have a lot of empty space within their chassis. This means that they have almost no capacity to build up heat, and any heat that they generate needs to be blown away as soon as possible.
They expel this air through vents on their sides, underside, and occasionally around the keyboard.
If these vents are blocked, the heat remains trapped.
Examine your laptop to find out where its vents are and make sure these vents are never covered.
For example, if your main vents are on the laptop’s left side, do not position it with a wall or desk panel immediately on its left. If your main vents are on the bottom, do not place it on a blanket or other soft surface that it will sink into.
Reason 2: Your Laptop Is Too Dusty
A laptop’s cooling system works by moving air. Its main goal is to move hot air away from its hardware and move cooler air in its place. This constant airflow means that your laptop’s cooling system will accumulate dust over time.
The more dust builds up, the more it interferes with the airflow. If the flow of air is impeded enough, heat will build up faster than it can be gotten rid of at the fan’s intended speed, so it will speed up to compensate.
The build-up of dust is inevitable in any laptop with an air cooling system, and its logical conclusion is a critical overheat that will leave you unable to use your computer.
You will need to clean all parts of your laptop’s cooling system. These include the vents, the fan itself, and any space between the two through which the air is blown.
If you are doing this at home, remember to unplug your laptop and remove the battery before you begin. When you are ready, you will need to open up your laptop’s chassis with a screwdriver. Once it is open, gently remove any dust you see before closing it back up again.
Reason 3: You Have Malware or Bloatware
Your laptop fan may be doing overtime because your computer is overheating due to unintended software use. This can be either malware, software designed for malicious purposes, or bloatware, which is not necessarily malicious but is still installed and running without your approval.
To find out whether you have malware or bloatware causing your laptop to overheat, while you have all programs closed, open the Task Manager on Windows or the Activity Monitor on an Apple computer. You can do this by pressing Ctrl-Shift-Esc on Windows or by pressing Command-Space on Apple and typing in “Activity Monitor.”
If either of these applications show CPU usage that is consistently above 50%, unless your computer is performing a legitimate background task like updating your operating system, you almost certainly have malware or bloatware.
In the case of malware, running any sort of antivirus or antimalware scans should be able to remove it. If it is not, you may need to speak to a professional for a more aggressive approach.
Bloatware will need to be uninstalled or deleted manually. These programs can take any form, so if you are not able to identify what is bloatware, you may need to take your laptop to a professional.
Reason 4: Your Laptop Is Not Powering Down Properly
If your problem is that your laptop fan won’t turn off even when it is off, it is not powering down correctly.
A laptop not powering down can be caused by any number of issues unrelated to overheating or your cooling system and therefore beyond the scope of this article. As a quick fix, however, you can force your laptop to power down by holding down the power button for 4 seconds.
Reason 5: Your Hardware Is Failing
Computer hardware gets old, and like every other machine that ages, it begins to fail. The older a laptop is, the more likely it is to experience faults. An old laptop’s fan not turning off could be caused by the cooling system itself beginning to fail or parts like the CPU and GPU generating more heat than they should.
Faulty hardware needs to be replaced. Laptops are not as modular as desktops, so you may need to replace the entire computer if it is old enough to justify it. If you want to try one relatively simple hardware fix before replacing your laptop, you can reapply the thermal paste and see if it makes a difference.
Reason 6: You Are Doing Something Resource-Intensive
A loud laptop fan that goes on for a long time does not necessarily mean that something is going wrong.
If you are doing something resource-intensive, your laptop fan will speed up to compensate for the extra heat that is generated by this activity. This is perfectly normal and not harmful.
It may also be a resource-intensive task that you did not initiate, like a Windows update.
There is nothing to fix in this case unless you believe that a program is continuing to run after you have stopped using it. To determine this, check if it is running in the Task Manager or Activity Monitor in the same way as described earlier in this article and terminate it from there. Google Chrome, for example, is infamous for continuing to run in the background after closing.
Bonus Fix: System Cooling Policy
If you are running Windows 10, there is a way to slow your fans down regardless of what is causing the problem without it leading to your hardware overheating. This is done by changing the system cooling policy from active to passive.
An active cooling policy will only begin slowing the processor down when the fan is unable to cool it in any way. A passive cooling policy will start slowing the processor down before the fan needs to reach its maximum speed.
To change this policy, click on your Start Bar, type in “Edit power plan,” and press Enter. In the window that opens, click on “Change advanced power settings.”
In the new window that opens, expand “Processor power management,” expand “System cooling policy” in the list that appears, and change the “Setting” field from “Active” to “Passive.”
Unless your hardware is simply faulty, if your laptop fan won’t turn off, it is likely due to overheating. We have learned about 6 specific reasons and fixes as well as a bonus fix to get your computer’s fan slower and quieter again.