Why Your Sony Laptop is Overheating

Written by josh baum
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Why Your Sony Laptop is Overheating
(Photo by Ian Britton)

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Considering the Causes of Heat Buildup

All laptop CPUs generate heat, and all Sony laptops are outfitted with small fans that expel this heat, preventing a thermal build-up from damaging sensitive parts. When a computer does overheat, the cause is almost always that the fan was either not running at all or was being impeded. The common situations that can lead to these problems are more diverse, however. The following sections detail possible causes and the ways in which you can avoid overheating.

Checking and Clearing the Vents

As the fan in a Sony laptop expels hot air, it expels dust along with it. Over time, dust particles may build up along the plastic vents that encase the fan. Thick dust can restrict airflow, causing excess heat build-up inside the computer and, potentially, overheating.

Maintain the vents by cleaning them periodically with a small vacuum and a compressed air canister. If the vent is very dirty, the excess dust and dirt should first be vacuumed off with a small electronics vacuum or with the smallest wand attachment of a carpet vacuum. When only light dust remains, this can be cleared away with a few bursts of air from a compressed air-dusting canister, available at most computer and office supply stores.

Checking Fan Functionality

With the vents clear, you should be able to see and hear the fan running inside. Turn the computer on and look into the vents. If you cannot see the fan, put your ear to the vent to see if you can hear it. If you see or hear the fan running, the overheating was probably caused by dusty vents or one of the other issues described below. If you see or hear that the fan is not working, then the inactive fan is almost certainly the cause of the overheating. The cause of the broken fan can be one of two things.

The fan could have experienced a mechanical failure. If it is under warranty, Sony should be contacted immediately about the problem. It can determine if the fan failed, and can replace it without rendering your warranty void. Otherwise, the laptop should be taken in for repairs at a shop that is authorised to work on Sony laptops.

Another potential problem could be with the system software that controls the fan. If your laptop is brand new, this could easily be the real issue. If overheating began shortly after installing a new operating system, editing the system registry or installing other software, it could be that the fan regulating software was affected. If your computer began overheating out of the blue and no major changes were recently made, this is not likely to be the cause.

Reinstalling the operating system or reformatting the hard disks, while drastic, can typically correct issues of this type.

Evaluating Environmental Heat

If you use a Sony laptop in an exceptionally warm environment, you may experience overheating. High environmental heat will eventually take its toll on the exhaust fan's ability to effectively expel heat. If you've been in a warm room every time your laptop has overheated, this is probably contributing to the problem, if not causing it altogether.

Avoid using Sony laptops in direct sunlight on hot days, in hot vehicles and directly next to or on top of heat sources.

Checking for Other Obstructions

Since laptops can go anywhere, they're often used on a variety of surfaces, laps included. Sometimes these surfaces can actually obstruct the fan vents. A laptop balanced on a lap may overheat if the knee is placed directly under the vents; the same may happen if the laptop is used on a pillow, towel, bed or blanket. Some retailers sell decorative laptop covers that can block the vents and help trap heat in laptops. These should generally be avoided, or should at least be removed before turning on the computer.

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