Why Does My Computer Shut Down?

Dear Computer Lady,

Why would a computer just shut down on it’s own?even when we are online,it’ll just shut down,….what could cause this to happen?



Dear Lisa,

I would have to look at a computer to tell you for sure, but the very first thing I always suspect when a computer is shutting down is overheating.

You can run a few low tech tests to determine if this is the problem with your computer.
First, get out a timer and see if your computer is shutting down after a fairly consistent amount of time. If you find that when the computer is cold, it only runs for 10 or 15 minutes, and if it is warm it runs for even less time, there is a good chance that it is overheating.

Try blowing a small fan directly on your tower, and get the timer back out. Does the fan increase the amount of time the computer runs before it shuts down? This also is a sure sign that the computer is overheating.

What can you do to fix this problem?

The first thing to do is take the side off your computer, turn it on and make sure all the fans inside are spinning. If one of the fans has died, you will need to get it replaced as soon as possible.

There is also a fan inside the power supply which is the box near the top of your tower where the power cord plugs in. You might not be able to see the fan inside the power supply, but you should be able to feel air flowing out of the power supply at the back of your computer. If the power supply fan is not working, you will need to replace the entire power supply.

** DO NOT take apart the power supply. It is dangerous **

If all the fans are in working order, put the side back on your computer. If you leave the side off, the air will not flow correctly over the components.

If your computer tower is inside an enclosed space like a desk, move it out into the open.
Sometimes in the summer, I find that I need to blow a small fan on my tower while it is running.
You can also purchase extra fans for the inside of your computer.


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    • Bex
    • June 15, 2012

    While the side is off your computer, you should also check to make sure that the fans that you can easily see are not loaded with dust. If they have never been cleaned, the fins on them will most probably be quite dusty. You should either clean them carefully, or have a technician clean them (and the rest of the interior of your computer, while he has it). You can also download free programs like SpeedFan:
    which will tell you the temperature of the computer’s internal components. You can regulate your fans with this program and use it to alert you to an overheating computer.

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