If you've had your laptop for a year or two, it may be dusty. Dust clogs fans, vents and heat sinks and prevents your PC from cooling properly. You can remove a large amount of this dust even if you can not open your laptop.
Dust accumulation can not cool a PC, and heat can even cause hardware damage. The fans on your laptop may be running at full power, draining the battery. Your laptop can even reduce performance to stay cool.
If You Can Open Your Laptop
Most laptops, especially the newer ones, are not designed for opening up their users. This is a serious problem. On a desktop PC, turn off your PC, open the case, blow it out with a can of compressed air and close the case. You could dust a laptop in a similar way – if there's only one way to open it and go inside.
Your laptop may have a bottom plate (or multiple bottom plates) that you can unscrew to access the interior. Check your laptop manual or search online for a special "service manual" for your particular laptop model. Turn off the laptop, remove the battery, and unscrew the cover to access the inside of the laptop. If a service manual is available for your laptop, you will be guided through the process.
When your laptop is open, pick up the laptop in a place where you have not placed it. It does not matter to get dusty – like in your garage or even outside. Use a can of compressed air to blow out the inside of your laptop. Make sure you blow the dust out of the case of the laptop, not just the inside of the laptop. For example, you could blow more towards the vents on your laptop to get the dust thrown through the vents and out of the laptop. Be careful when blowing the fans in the laptop with air. If you turn the fans too fast, they may be damaged. Blow the fans from different angles with short bursts of air.
We recommend compressed air – also called canned air – for a specific reason. Do not use a vacuum and take special care when using an air compressor instead of a pressure cell.
When you're done When you're done, you can screw the cover back on, plug in the battery and turn the laptop back on. It gets cooler and the fans should run less often.
If you can not open your laptop
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Regardless of whether you upgrade your laptop's hardware or only Manufacturers do not want you to open most laptops. However, dust forms in a laptop, regardless of whether you can open it yourself or not.
Even if you can not open your laptop, you can still try to remove some of that dust. Take the laptop to a place where you do not mind getting dusty. You probably do not want to blow off dust anywhere on your desk or bed.
Take a can of compressed air, aim it at the cooling holes on the laptop and give them a few short bursts of air. With a bit of luck, the air jets eject some dust and escape the ventilation holes of the laptop. They do not get all the dust out of the laptop, but it ceases to clog the vents, fans, and everything else that's there. This is not the ideal way to dust a laptop, but it can be anything you can do.
Be careful when doing this. Directing a jet of compressed air directly at a fan in a vent valve can cause the fan to turn too fast. Do not direct the air directly at the fan and give it a long pressure. Instead, blow in short bursts of air and wait until you turn the fan too fast.
If your laptop has serious problems with overheating and you have it you can not clean it yourself, you may need to contact the manufacturer. If it is still under warranty, they should hopefully help you.
If you've had your laptop for a year or two, there's probably some dust in its case. Regular cleaning of the laptop is a good idea, but you do not have to go overboard constantly. How often you need to clean your laptop depends on the laptop itself and how dusty your environment is.
Credit: nick @ on Flickr, Rick Kempel on Flickr, though on Wikimedia Commons, Cheon Fong Liew on Flickr