How to Prevent Hardware Failure due to Overheating of Servers and Desktop PCs

How to Prevent Hardware Failure due to Overheating of Servers and Desktop PCs

July 9

Regular consumers and business professionals are both well acquainted with an overheating computer. This problem is not limited to just desktop PCs, but also affects laptops, mobile devices, and entire server networks. Not only is this excess heat unwelcome to the touch, but it also poses several risks to the livelihood of the device. A computer that is not properly maintained or treated for overheating can lead to a power outage, a loss of data, or permanent hardware failure. Here a few ways to beat the heat and help keep your computer cool during any conditions.

Traditional Desktop PCs

One of the most important things you can do is keep your computer clean. Dust is an effective insulator and when it blankets the PC’s internal components, the temperature can drastically rise. A secondary problem with dust is that it can clog the cooling fan which causes it to slow down and possibly stop. It is for this reason that you should always run your PC with the case closed. Many PC owners make the assumption that an open case provides better airflow; this statement is definitely true in principle, but it also exposes the machine to unwanted debris and dust.

To effectively clean your computer, try using a can of compressed air. Simply turn off the system, open the case, and spray the air across each fan blade.

Another way to prevent overheating is to maximize external airflow. This is easily accomplished by positioning your computer in an open space where it is not sitting alongside other hot neighbours. Allow for at least two to three inches of breathing room at the back of the device; this is where most of the hot air is ejected from. Also be wary of a PC that is housed within a desk or any other confined space. This type of environment forces hot air to be continually recycled, which gradually increases the temperature as the day goes on.

Finally, adding a secondary cooling fan can serve as an effective counter measure. A case fan is a small device that can be attached to the front or back of a PC. A good strategy is to install two case fans, one at either end; this setup allows for the first fan to move cool air into the machine, while the other expels hot air out.


Since servers are traditionally always left on and are in close quarters with other machines, overheating problems are often exacerbated in these circumstances. Most problems arise for one of three reasons: hardware is locked in a storage closet without proper ventilation, air conditioning is optimized for human comfort rather than for server protection, and AC is throttled down during off-peak hours.

According to Datamation, one way to improve ventilation is to arrange the servers in rows. This ensure that when cold air enters through the front, air is properly expelled out the back.

Another suggestion is to avoid using AC designed for humans, also known as comfort AC. This type of cooling focuses mainly on temperature, but fails to regulate humidity. When humidity is allowed to fluctuate, it can lead to either a build-up of static electricity which can damage equipment or lead to condensation on the servers. It is for this very reason that windows should not be left open in a server facility. Most people believe that doing so will improve ventilation and air flow, but unfortunately, it makes it difficult to control the humidity levels. As a result, sealing off the area is extremely important. To do so effectively requires shutting off all ducts and vents from a previous AC comfort system, filling up all cracks and spaces, and eliminating any air pockets that reside beneath doors or where piping comes through the wall. It is advised that instead of using comfort AC, you invest in specialized systems such as cooling racks, as well as wall-mount, ceiling-mount or stand-alone cooling modules.

What’s the cost of server failure? Check out our infographic to find out.

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