Fan in overdrive, overheats(?) then dies

My son's Acer laptop worked fine for quite a while (i.e. beyond the warranty period) then developed a fan fault (?). The fan stepped up into high gear and ran for a few minutes before the computer switched itself off. Although the bottom of the laptop gets quite warm, it's not as hot as some laptops that I've come across - mine, for example.

I suspect that the laptop has an infection (a pop-up keeps coming up advising him of an infection and inviting him to download a disinfecting programme - to me, indicative of the origin of the infection) though I suspect that this wasn't the start of his problems and is just something else that needs to be resolved.

He can run most things in battery mode but the machine won't allow him to use SpyBot - the fan speeds up and the machine stops.

I've looked in his Device Manager/System Devices and there's no indication of his fan. His sister's laptop, also an Acer, has two references to ACPI Thermal Zone. My laptop, an Asus, has one reference to ACPI Thermal Zone as well as one to ACPI Fan. It seems that none of these devices require a driver - as indicated when querying driver details.

I'm looking for advice on where to go next. Is it a trip to a repairer to get something replaced? Or is it a software problem that's preventing the fan from working correctly? Could it be solved by something as simple as loading the disk that came with the computer?

All advice appreciated.

I would be very aware of a scan on the net which purports to find something. When you download the free remedy, you actually download a virus, or trojan. I would check running processes and google any you are not sure of. Can easily find a free removal tool for any problem ones on the net. If he has a restore point can restore to previous - does not sound like a big problem
My daughter uses an Acer, and the fan as you would expect responds to the load being put on the processor. She visits many 'advert intensive' sites such as MySpace, Snotmail etc, and the laptop has closed down on her regularly after a period of intense fan running. Conversely, I can play Travian all day and the fan rarely squeaks or speeds up. If it is used at a table, try propping it on each side so that there is a clear path for air to circulate undeneath.

You can buy a handy cooler tray from Maplins for £30 this might help.

By the way, I agree on the pop-up and avoiding following it, these can be blocked by using something like ZoneLabs.
You may find its simply the inlet and exhaust to the fan is blocked up with fluff and shite. My other laptop used to suffer quite badly from it due to it having a very fast processor (lots of heat = lots of suction for the fan). It used to shut down whenever it started working hard (CoD etc). Regularly brushing out the gunk from the fan radiator does the trick and keeps it cool and working. The access plate for it is on the bottom and easily accessable. May be worth a try before you start reformatting and the like.
Mine does the same every couple of months, just give it a good old blast with the hoover to suck all the shite out.
Thanks for the suggestions so far.

An update:

Because it would run on battery power, I adjusted the CPU settings to maximum to run SpyBot a bit quicker - son had told me that it kept running out of battery before SpyBot completed its task. This seemed to have caused overheating, causing shut down. On restart, it powered up for just long enough for son to enter his password, then died - not long enough to change the CPU settings back to medium :oops:

I've now got a hairdryer squirting cold air into the back of the laptop (ON MAINS POWER!) and SpyBot has been running for 10 minutes, so fingers crossed.

Once SpyBot's finished, I'll give the back a vac, though it looks clear.
After six hours of running the hair drier, Spybot finally diagnosed 17 nasties.

The vacuum cleaner worked a treat, curing the overheating problem.

Then tried loading Virgin Media PCGuard. After 10 hours and having reached 98% on the installation, the numbers crept backwards, achieving 20% installation after 20 hours. (This was in Safe Mode).

I restarted the laptop in normal mode and tried the installation again, but it wouldn't let me. I traced the problem to Norton Internet Security - it appeared to be blocking the installation even though all the components of NIS were turned off (NIS still on, though). I tried disabling NIS, but was informed that I had insufficient priviledges - even though logged on as my son, the SOLE user!

Time for NIS to go (no f'kin software is going to tell me that I can't meddle with it!), so it was uninstalled.

Following reboot, PCGuard loaded in less than 10 MINUTES. It found a further 7 nasties and got rid of them.

The laptop seems to be working fine now, so wife and daughter can stop playing musical laptops when son needs to get his internet fix.

Many thanks to all.
Hello putteesinmyhands,

are you running Vista by any chance?
It has security features built in which can stop you doing things even though you have an administrators account.
Just renaming a file may need you to run through twenty steps to "take ownership" of it first and often you will need to rightclick on programs to "run as administrator".

If it is Norton giving those messages this might help:

Personally I would remove Norton first if I was going to install another security program to avoid conflicts.
If you do uninstall it you may need this to clear it completely:


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