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Dust off your computers

By Mauricio Freitas, in , posted: 7-Jul-2006 09:26

It is winter here in New Zealand now and temperatures are really low. In the last few days the South Island had the largest snowstorms in years (picture here), and rain is pouring in the North Island. Just yesterday the news on TV let us know about a hundred or so skiers who were trapped on Turoa after half meter of snow fall in a couple of hours.

And with all this cold, my Windows Server at home (which runs my Exchange Server and Newsgator Enterprise Server instances) kept shutting down every few hours, with the sound alarm characteristic of overheating CPU. A sound I haven't heard ever on this box.

Wholy cow. It's cold here, what's going on? It's a Windows XP Pro box running Windows Server 2005 R2 and Windows Server as the guest OS. Of course this machine runs only the essential for this task, plus a copy of Skype (seeing that this box is running 24/7 plugged into a Belkin UPS) so that I have all day VoIP access.

So I installed the very good SpeedFan, which I have been using on my laptop and desktop for some time now. It informs you of the temperature from all sensors inside the box, and controls the fans automatically lowering or speeding up those that influence on different components of the box. Very cool. It's great for some laptops that would otherwise be cooking your laps! It also collect information from S.M.A.R.T hard discs and show these (performance, reliability, etc):


I found out that this machine was running at 75C (CPU) and going up when doing too much I/O or when using Skype for voice calls (yep, Skype uses a lot of CPU apparently).

I also have a 1TB Maxtor OneTouch III Firewire drive plugged to this server, to use as a backup in my home/office network, and during the nightly backup it would sometimes heat up the box due to CPU use (caching? Network activity?)

Last night I opened this box, removed all the components, dusted it inside and vaccum cleaned it, removing piles of a gray substance (which must be accumulated dust), and guess what? It runs beautifully again, no more than 54C even under load.

It's still high, comparing with my desktop which runs at 38C, but this is an old machine, not much air flow inside, etc. But it is doing well, the little beast.





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Mauricio Freitas
Wellington
New Zealand


I live in New Zealand and my interests include mobile devices, good books, movies and food of course! 

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