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How to Troubleshoot Fan Issues

Summary: This article provides information about how to troubleshoot and resolve fan noise, overheating, and other fan-related issues on a Dell computer.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Symptoms

How to Clean Air Vents

Duration: 00:40
Closed captions: English only

Excess heat can cause the fans to run faster and continuously which can potentially damage internal components and reduce the performance of the computer. Your computer may contain one or more fans to keep the internal components cool. Under normal working conditions, it is normal for a computer to generate a fair amount of heat and become warm to touch depending on usage. Fans that continue to spin quickly and make abnormally loud noises might indicate a problem.

    Cause

    Common causes for fans not working, abnormal, or loud fan noise, overheating:

    • Fans or air vents that are obstructed
    • Dust accumulation on vents or fans
    • Not enough ventilation
    • Physical damage
    • Out-of-date BIOS and device drivers

    Resolution

    Expand the sections below for more information and follow the troubleshooting steps.

    Blocked air vents can cause serious performance issues by restricting airflow, this can cause the processor, system memory (RAM), and other hardware to overheat which may lead to a potential hardware failure. Excessive heat can also cause a significant decrease in performance as most processors automatically reduce the speed of the processor to help compensate for heat-related problems. If you notice the computer fan running constantly and making an abnormal or loud noise, this might indicate that the computer is not running as efficiently as possible, and/or clogged air vents.

    It is important to keep dust from accumulating in your computer and ensure adequate ventilation to help reduce heat. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder.

    Your Dell computer may contain several fans to keep the internal components cool:

    • Desktop computers have more than one fan - processor (CPU), dedicated or discreet video card (GPU), power supply (PSU), and one or more chassis (case) fans.
    • Laptop computers may also have more than one fan and may vary between different models.
    CAUTION: Turn off your computer and disconnect the power cable or AC adapter before using compressed air to clean your computer. Follow the instructions on the side of the compressed air can, using compressed air incorrectly can damage your computer.
     
    CAUTION: Do not try to blow the dust using your mouth. Moisture can cause irreparable damage to electronic and electrical components inside the computer.
     
    WARNING: Desktop power supply units (PSU) are also equipped with a fan. Do not attempt to open the power supply to clean the fans. Ensure to turn off the computer and disconnect the power cables and use a compressed air can to clean any dust or debris.
    Cleaning the air vents on your Dell computer
    1. Turn off the computer.
    2. Check the air vents on the computer for dust or debris. The air vents may be located in different places depending on the computer model. See the User Manual of your Dell computer.
    3. Use a can of compressed air to remove dust or debris from the air vents, dust filters (if any) and cooling fan fins.
      CAUTION: It is recommended to use a can of compressed air only. Do not use vacuum cleaners or blowers. Vacuum cleaners and blowers cause static and may damage electronic and electrical components inside your computer.
    4. To prevent overheating problems, keep the computer in upright position and on a hard or sturdy surface, and provide enough clearance around the air vents.

    How to clean computer fans

    Duration: 02:01
    Closed captions: English only

    How to Clean your PC (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 02:26
    Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Settings icon, and then click Subtitles/CC, and then click autotranslate and the language you want.

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    Proper ventilation is important for better air circulation both outside and inside the computer. Adequate ventilation can help the computer fans perform efficiently and also increase their life span. You can also consider placing the computer in a cooler room in your house or office which can help prevent the computer from overheating.

    Guidelines to ensure adequate ventilation

    1. Desktop computer - Place the desktop on a flat and hard surface in an upright position. Provide sufficient clearance in the front and back of the computer (if your computer has air vents on the bottom or side, ensure that there is sufficient clearance on all sides).
    2. Laptop computer - Place the laptop on a flat and hard surface where the bottom and side air vents are not obstructed.
    CAUTION: Placing a laptop on a mattress or other soft surfaces can block the air vents, and leaving it there for an extended period can lead to overheating issues quickly.

    Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware-related problems and provide you troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. To determine if your Dell computer is experiencing a hardware problem, it is recommended that you first run a hardware diagnostic test on your computer. Dell offers both integrated and online diagnostics. Dell SupportAssist or ePSA hardware diagnostic test will help check if the hardware devices are working correctly.

    To learn more about Dell ePSA or PSA diagnostics, browse to the Dell knowledge base article Resolve Hardware Issues with Built-in and Online Diagnostics (ePSA or PSA Error Codes).

    Running Dell Pre-boot System Assessment or enhanced Preboot System Assessment (Dell PSA or ePSA)
    1. Restart your Dell computer.
    2. When the Dell logo appears, press F12 key to enter One-time Boot Menu.
    3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics and press Enter key on the keyboard.
    4. Follow the on-screen prompts and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
      If the test fails, ensure to write down the error code and validation code.

    ePSA Preboot System Assessment (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 02:28
    Closed captions: English only

    See the Dell knowledge base article Resolve Hardware Issues With Integrated and Online Diagnostics (SupportAssist ePSA, ePSA, or PSA Error Codes) for information about how to look up the error code for additional help.

    If the Dell ePSA diagnostics and other troubleshooting steps has not identified the cause of USB issue, we recommend that you consider running a hardware checkup using Dell SupportAssist. Dell SupportAssist diagnostic test helps you troubleshoot a problem and get automated fixes.

    Performing Hardware Scan Using Dell SupportAssist

    Duration: 02:11
    Closed captions: English only

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    Dell recommends updating the device drivers and BIOS as part of your scheduled update cycle. Device drivers and BIOS updates may contain feature enhancements or changes that will help keep your system software current and compatible with other computer modules (hardware and software) as well as increased stability.

    It is recommended that you installing the following device drivers to ensure optimal performance of the fans in your computer.

    • BIOS
    • Chipset driver
    • Thermal chipset driver
    • Video card (GPU) driver

    To learn how to download and install a device driver on your Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base article Drivers and Downloads FAQs.

    How to download device drivers

    Duration: 02:07
    Closed captions: English only

    To learn how to download and update the BIOS on your Dell computer, see the Dell knowledge base Dell BIOS Updates.

    How to Update your System Setup (BIOS)

    Duration: 02:06
    Closed captions: English only

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    Additional Information

    Here are some additional steps that can help improve the performance of the fans in your computer.

    Windows updates can support your Windows operating system in many ways. Windows updates can solve specific problems, provide protection from malicious attacks, or even add new features to the operating system.

    How to install Windows Updates in Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows 8 or 8.1?

    1. Right-click Start and click Settings.
    2. In the Settings panel, click Update & Security.
    3. In the left panel, select Windows Update.
    4. On the right panel, click Check for updates.
    5. Restart the computer after downloading and installing the updates.

    How to install Windows Updates in Microsoft Windows 7?

    1. Click Start and open Control Panel.
    2. In Control Panel, click System & Security.
    3. In the right panel, select Windows Update.
    4. On the right panel, click Check for updates.
    5. Restart the computer after downloading and installing the updates.

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    SupportAssist helps you optimize your computer by running a series of diagnostics to identify modifications to files and settings of your computer. Optimizing your computer improves your computer speed, storage space availability, and stability by cleaning temporary files, tuning computer performance and optimizing network.

    Cleaning files

    Cleaning your files helps you remove redundant files, temporary folders, and other unnecessary clutter from your computer.

    1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
    2. On the Home tab, under Clean Files, click Run Now.
      After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
      NOTE: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
      If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
    NOTE: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.
    Tuning your computer performance

    Tuning your computer performance helps you adjust the power settings, registry, and memory allocation to maximize the processing speed of your computer.

    1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
    2. On the Home tab, under Tune Performance, click Run Now.
      After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
      NOTE: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
      If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
    NOTE: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.
    Optimizing network

    Optimizing your network helps you ensure network connectivity and updates your computer settings to maintain an efficient and reliable network.

    1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
    2. On the Home tab, under Optimize Network, click Run Now.
      After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
      NOTE: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
      If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
    NOTE: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.

    How to Optimize Your System Using SupportAssist

    Duration: 01:39
    Closed captions: English only

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    Many applications or software that is run in the system tray, or also called notification area. These applications usually launch during startup and stay running in the background but remain hidden. Preventing these applications from launching during startup will not only improve the performance of your computer but also help the fans run slower comparatively due to lesser load on the processor (CPU).

    WARNING: It is recommended that you do not disable the anti-virus or anti-malware program or application from loading during startup. Disabling the anti-virus or anti-malware program may make your computer vulnerable to malware infection.
     
    NOTE: You must log in as a user with administrator rights on your computer to disable startup programs.
    How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or 8
    1. Close all open windows.
    2. Press CTRL + Shift + ESC key together on the keyboard.
    3. In the Task Manager window, click Startup tab.
    4. Select the program or application that you want to disable from loading during startup.
    5. Right-click and select Disable.
    6. Repeat Step 4 & 5 for all the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup.
    7. Restart your computer.
    How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 7
    1. Close all open windows.
    2. Click Start button. In the search box, type msconfig, and in the list of results, right-click msconfig and select Run as administrator.
    3. In the System Configuration window, click Startup tab.
    4. Clear the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup and click OK.
    5. In the confirmation window, check Don't show this message again and click Restart.
     

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    Malware (virus, spyware, trojans, and so on) can cause a computer fan to run constantly due to an overload on the processor (CPU), this in turn causes the fans to run constantly and fast. Spyware and other types of malware are a big cause of many computer problems. If you suspect your computer has been infected, there is a chance that malicious software may be running in the background and slowing down your computer.

    It is recommended that you scan your computer with an anti-virus or anti-malware program. Windows 10 computer comes integrated with Windows Defender which provides basic protection against malware. Most Dell computers also come with a basic anti-virus software that is preinstalled like McAfee but may require a subscription. There are many anti-virus or anti-malware programs (free to use and subscription based) that you may use like McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Micro. Use the anti-virus or anti-malware program that is installed on your computer to run a thorough or deep scan.

    NOTE: Installing more than one anti-virus or anti-malware software on the computer does not give you better protection, instead it will only slow down your computer further. It is recommended to install one anti-virus or anti-malware software and update it regularly for active protection against malware.

    To learn more, see the Dell knowledge base article Protect your computer or remove virus, spyware or other malware in Microsoft Windows.

    Optimizing your system using SupportAssist for Home PCs

    (Optimizes your computer by cleaning temporary files, tuning computer performance, optimizing network, and removing viruses and malware.)

    Duration: 01:50
    Closed captions: English only

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    Informational videos

    How to Fix Computer Fan Noise (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 04:24
    Closed captions: English only

    How to Fix Overheating Laptop (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 02:02
    Closed captions: English only

    How to Fix Overheating Desktop (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 02:12
    Closed captions: English only

    Dell Laptop Overheating Fix (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

    Duration: 02:22
    Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Settings icon, and then click Subtitles/CC, and then click autotranslate and the language you want.


    Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem. Browse to the Dell.com/support website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

    NOTE: Offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, and China personal computer customers. Server and Storage not applicable.

    Article Properties


    Affected Product

    Chromebox, Alienware, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations

    Last Published Date

    30 Jul 2021

    Version

    12

    Article Type

    Solution

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