Computer Turns Off Without Warning

by Mitz Pantic from

Computer Turns Off Without Warning

If your computer turns off without warning, it’s a sign that something is very wrong. Maybe your computer turns off while playing a game or maybe it turns off after a few minutes even when you are doing nothing.

There are several common causes of sudden power offs and a few more exotic causes. I’ll start with the common and move to the less common.

The Computer Turns Off Without Warning When It Overheats

The most common cause of a sudden power off is overheating. The BIOS program which resides on your computer’s motherboard is designed to power off your computer immediately if your computer gets too hot—typically higher than about 150C (300F). This helps protect your computer from heat damage.

One simple reason computers overheat is because they’re in hot rooms. If the temperature in your room goes above about 45C (110F), the fans on the computer may not be sufficient to dump the excess heat from the computer processor (CPU) or graphics processor (GPU). A simple solution (besides getting an air conditioner) is to take the case off of the computer so it can cool to room temperature much faster. Be careful doing this if you have pets or young children who might stick their limbs in the fans or on the hot parts of the computer.

If your room isn’t that hot, your computer could be overheating because its fans aren’t working properly. If your computer doesn’t make any noise when it’s turned on—especially after it has a few minutes to warm up—the fans probably aren’t working. (Note: some mini computers don’t have fans.) Turn off your computer, open up your computer case, and turn your computer back on to see if the fans are working. If they aren’t, you need to fix them yourself (usually by buying new fans), or you need to take the computer to a repair shop.

Sometimes the fans are working but the computer still overheats. This happens when you get too much dust inside the computer. Dust is a terrific insulator—dust is made primarily of cellulose, the same stuff they use for premium home insulation. The dust collects on your computer’s heat sinks and prevents the heat from moving from the CPU or GPU to the air so the fan can whisk away that heat.

Cleaning the dust of your computer takes only a couple minutes. Buy a can of compressed air from the supermarket, turn off your computer, remove the case, and clear out any dust.

If none of the tricks above fixed your problem, your computer probably isn’t overheating, so move to the next section.

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5 thoughts on “Computer Turns Off Without Warning

  1. You also need to warn that if the computer is in a room where cigarette smoking is the norm, that smoke is also inhaled by the computer. As the smoke makes it from the air intakes and moves through the computer, the smoke settles and coats the parts including the fan and especially its blades. This sticky smoke gives the dust a sticky surface to settle to. It’s a repeating process in that the settled dust is also coated with smoke, and helps to establish a more stubborn coating of dust on all internal surfaces of the computer. This results in higher temperatures quicker and is one of the more time consuming problems to correct, often with parts replacements as the only fix. The cleaning of this type of contamination cannot be removed by canned compressed air or a dust buster vac. This is a detailed-total disassembly cleaning with appropriate brushes, chemicals, and a hose type vacuum, with frequently discovering a damaged fan. This is only one of the many types of problems not mentioned here that can cause computers (especially laptops) to shut down or freeze up. So if a user has this occurring, don’t play tech. Take it to a known good reputable tech and have it checked out.

    What’s with the two finger pivot? New style cheap laptop hinges?

    • @Test: I have cleaned thousands of computers and have never seen one that bad! I am happy that smoking indoors is not so common now days with all the rules and regulations about passive smoking. 🙂

  2. Forget the can of compressed air, which is a waste of money, instead just get a Data vac Dust buster. Its a little mini hand held air blower that plugs into the wall, and they work great.

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