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Laptop Shutdown for "No Reason"

Most laptop computers have a protection feature that will simply turn the power off if the processor becomes too hot. It is called Thermal Protection Shutdown.

I recently had a case of this on my daughters Dell Inspiron laptop. Her complaint was that her laptop would just shut itself off without any notice and, she thought, for no reason. Well, there was a reason... the CPU was running too hot so the thermal protection circuit kicked in and shut the laptop down. I found that the CPU fan was not running at all because it was clogged up with dust bunnies! Also, I discovered that she was placing the laptop on a fluffy blanket or bed comforter which created two problems.

  1. The "fluffy" surface blocks the air vents.
  2. When the fan was running, it sucked in dust and lint and clogged up the vents and fan.

The Solution:
Using a can of compressed air, simply blow out the dust from the vents and fan. It has worked perfect since. You can also use a soft brush (a old paint brush or tooth brush) to help loosen the dust. In the case that the fan still does not work after the cleaning, these are generally inexpensive to buy (try eBay) and fairly easy to replace.

Note: Most laptop fans will not run all of the time. They turn on and off, or even change speed depending on the temperature of the CPU and other internal components. This helps save battery power. So, while troubleshooting this issue, keep that in mind.
Also, most CPUs these days have this same thermal protection, so if you have a similar problem with a desktop or server, you should check all fans, blow out the dust, and make sure there is no external heat source that may be causing a overheating issue.

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