A hot laptop isn't just uncomfortable to use, it can also harm its components. If your laptop becomes too warm to comfortably keep on your lap, you should immediately take measures to cool it down. Just letting it rest while powered off for a few minutes often does the job, but you may need to clean its fans or reduce the workload you are expecting of the laptop--particularly if it's getting old. If your laptop continues to be hot to the touch, it may need service.
Give Your Laptop a Rest
If you have been running your laptop for extended periods, powering it down and giving it 10 minutes to rest will cool it down considerably. When you turn it back on, use only the applications you need and close them when you are finished. The harder your laptop works, the hotter it gets. Several applications running all at once increases the work of the processor and takes up valuable memory. When a computer begins to run out of memory, it uses the hard drive as virtual memory, which significantly increases the amount of heat the laptop puts out.
Keep the Vents Free
Examine the bottom and sides of your laptop to locate the cooling vents. These vents work with the internal fans to bring in cool air and send out hot air. Blocking these vents by putting the laptop on a couch, bed or other soft surface interferes with the laptop's cooling system--much the same as putting on a thick sweater on a hot day. You can also buy a stand that provides more air circulation beneath the laptop instead of it sitting directly on a flat surface, some even include fans to circulate air faster.
Stay Cool Yourself
Working in an air conditioned room out of the sun doesn't just keep you cooler, it keeps your laptop cool as well. It's much harder for a laptop to expel heat if it's sitting in the sun in 100-degree weather compared to a cool room. You can buy specially-designed ice packs to place under a laptop, but in most cases just turning on the air conditioning or placing a fan in front of your desk helps the laptop stay a lot cooler--and you, too.
Clean the Fans
Just like the fan in your living room, the fans inside your laptop, the cooling vents and the cooling channels between the fan and the vents will eventually accumulate dust. Dust restricts air flow, retains heat, and makes it more difficult for the laptop to keep its cool. Use a can of compressed air, available from most electronics stores, to blow the dust from the fans. If you have to open up the laptop to do this, read the manufacturer's user guide for specific procedures, and make sure the laptop is powered down first.
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