Category Archives: Computer Repair

Dirty Computer

Heat Makes Computer Freeze

I hear that lament almost daily My computer freezes. Computer freeze is often caused by exactly the opposite.

Try to guess for a moment what is the most common threat to your computer? Believe it or not heat ranks high among threats to your computer. Running computers generate heat. They are cooled by heat sinks and fans that work in concert to cool your processor from harmful heat. These cooling systems are marvels of tiny handiwork that bring in cool air across a heat sink much like your cars radiator. It then blows the air out to keep things running cool. Several things get in the way of this process.

#1. Broken Fan. Many computers will simply not run if there is a faulty fan. They will even alert you that a fan is not working at start up. Other systems will allow the computer to run but will automatically and abruptly shut down when it reaches a predetermined temperature that the computer considers unsafe. Some will just keep running until the failure messes up the boot up and your computer shows a file corruption and it just won’t start.

#2. Covered Intake. This is caused by placing a computer in a location where it is not allowed to take in fresh air or little fresh air is available like a closed cabinet. All too often a laptop overheats while using it on your lap because a knee or thigh plugs the intake and the computer overheats. (Seems ironic they call it a laptop since your lap can actually ruin it. Some manufacturers call them notebooks for this very reason) Running laptops have been known to start fires while left on a bed while being unable to take in fresh air from underneath.

#3. Dirty. This is easily the most common reason a computer overheats. The cooling system continuously pulls in fresh air with its airborne dust. Eventually tens of thousands of cubic feet of air blows into the computer. Overtime this sucks in enough dust to clog the system. Computers must be cleaned regularly to keep them from overheating. Twice per year on average is about right. Blowing out your computer thoroughly is critical.

There are clues that will tell us our computer needs cleaning. Much like a vacuum whines when you cover the intake so will a computer. But the change is subtle and gradual. Many computers have various fan speeds that ramp up when over heated. If you notice fans running louder or faster than they used to it may be the last warning sign before disaster. When a computer freezes up or is unresponsive it is often caused by excessive heat.

If your computer has run everyday for a year I guarantee it needs a physical cleaning.

Few things kill a PC faster that heat.

laptop_smoking

Gresham Computer Repair

Computer repair in Gresham and Portland allows me to resolve my neighbor’s frustration and that is very rewarding. But some repairs never need to happen in the first place. When it comes to computers there are few things more frustrating for basic computer users than to be visited by friends or family that feel compelled to tweak on Mom’s computer.

After family visits I get calls from irritated customers that tell me their well meaning “kids” visited them and made changes to their computer. Whether it’s a different browser, missing or added toolbars, rearranged icons or changed defaults it’s an amazingly common complaint from my clients with adult or near adult children.

Why family wants to mess with dear old dad’s computer is beyond me. But I have included a couple of practical suggestions to limit this problem.

Let’s start with the most aggressive solution first. Just don’t let anyone touch your computer. If you know how to create a password do so and forbid all interlopers on your system. It is true that younger people seem to have more computer knowledge than older ones. But unfortunately their skills seem to rise just high enough to do harm but not to reverse the harm. The wisdom that comes with age teaches us not to start anything if we don’t know how to fix it. But such experimentation is the hallmark of youth and inexperience. Many young people install games or piracy software for downloading free music that will wreak havoc on your computers security. Such intrusions must be forbidden on your computer! I have seen evidence that such downloads secretly occurred then were uninstalled apparently with the assumption that no harm would occur. This assumption is utterly wrong. Dangerous permissions often remain even after uninstalls take place. So no changes should be made even if a promise is made that they will reverse things back to the way they were before.

Older folks love to see their young family members enjoy themselves and don’t want to interrupt such moments with a reminder to not mess with settings or download anything. Total PC denial does resolve the problem but older folks have a soft heart and do not want to be so difficult toward well meaning family. This brings us to my next best suggestion.

Many of my customers have had success from family messing with their computers with one simple instruction. “You are welcome to use my computer but I have a few simple rules. Feel free to check your email or browse but please don’t download anything, or update anything or make any changes without checking with me first.”

Browsing and email are the most common things we do on the internet so no one should feel restricted with those rules. If their intent was to only check email or browse there should be no problems. But your rules will put them on notice that you would disapprove of even well meaning changes.

Finally, I would not let anyone use my computer under the age of 20 without my direct oversight unless I had absolute unwavering trust that they would follow my rules. The combination of high confidence and little experience will cause young ones to set aside your rules because they assume their knowledge can out perform your wisdom. Until they are self aware of the immensity of what they don’t know leaving them alone with your computer is perilous.

Most changes on a computer can be reversed by using the system restore feature on your computer. But this is for more advanced users and should not be employed as a regular way of handing the changes made by family and friends. There are many things that can be done to your computer that a system restore will not correct. But it is a last resort way of correcting some problems.