Is It Asking for Help? What You Need to Know About Weird Laptop Noises


In the US, the average household owns a whopping 24 electronic products. So, it’s no wonder that each person in the country generates about 44 pounds of e-waste each year.

Some of the most common sources of e-waste are laptops. Even if they have an average life span of three to five years, many choose to upgrade within a year or two. Without an owner to serve, many laptops end up in the trash or a recycling facility.

Some computer users also tend to replace their devices as soon as they hear laptop noises. The thing is, a laptop making a weird noise doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to die. Sometimes, it may only be due to dirt build-up, or in other cases, only a specific part needs a replacement.

So, before you trash your laptop making noises, it’s best to troubleshoot it first. Use this guide to pinpoint where the sound is coming from so that you can save your device and all the data it contains.


Loud Whirring Sounds

Speakers aside, the loudest physical component of a laptop is its internal fan. All computers have a built-in fan since they produce heat by using electricity. The fan dissipates this heat by creating air and facilitating air circulation.

Of all parts of your laptop, the CPU and GPU generate the most amount of heat. Whenever they’re active, they trigger the fan to go faster than usual. However, the fan turns on as soon as you switch on your laptop.

Either way, the more tasks you require your device to perform, the faster its fan needs to rotate. The same goes when you run resource-heavy apps, such as complex programs like video games. Creative tools, like Photoshop and photo/video editors, are also resource-hungry.

In many cases, your fan’s operation is often inaudible. However, it can start to produce loud laptop fan noises in certain situations. Here are some of the common culprits behind these annoying, sometimes panic-inducing sounds.


Filthy or Blocked Vents

Most laptops have intake air vents at the bottom and exhaust vents on the sides. Some have both types of vents at the bottom. Either way, if these airways get blocked by an object or clogged with filth, heat can build up within the device.

The less air that flows in and out of a laptop, the harder it is to facilitate internal cooling. So, the computer gets warmer, triggering its fan to run faster and noisier.

Aside from dirt and dust build-up, vents can get blocked if you use your laptop on a soft surface, such as your bed. Placing stuff too near the vents can also impede airflow. Even the ambient temperature of a room can also add to your laptop’s internal heat.

The best way to prevent vent blockage is to clean, brush, and wipe down your laptop regularly. You should also avoid using it on your bed or any other soft surface.

If you still want (or need) to work while lying down, you should use a portable, elevating lap desk. A post from also advises the use of chill mats or adjustable laptop stands. Some of these come with extra fans, while others have holes that help boost ventilation.


RAM-Hogging Browsers

Did you know that of all Internet browsers out there, Microsoft Edge is the biggest RAM hogger? Ten active tabs of this browser can already consume an average of 3 GB!

Firefox needs a little less, with ten open tabs eating up at least 2.6 GB. Chrome has the least RAM usage rate, with ten tabs having an average utility of 725 MB.

With that said, the more browser tabs you have open, the more resources they require. This, in turn, makes your laptop work harder, so it ends up creating more internal heat. The hotter your device gets, the faster your fan rotates, resulting in loud whirring.

So, be careful when choosing which browser to go with. Also, experts suggest running only nine tabs per session.


Too Many Apps Running At the Same Time

Too many simultaneous active programs can also make a laptop’s fan work harder.

Let’s say that you’re running Google Chrome, Adobe Photoshop, and a music player all at the same time. If you have a smaller-capacity laptop, all these active apps can overload your CPU. If this happens, your laptop’s fan has to work harder, thus; sound louder.

Depending on your laptop’s available memory, you may need to cut back on the number of apps you open. You should also make it a habit to quit programs you no longer need. This way, you can free up valuable RAM, which helps minimize your laptop fan’s workload.


Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs) Running in the Background

Not all PUPs are dangerous and malicious, but for the most part, they are still unnecessary or useless. They take up precious space in your storage, and depending on how they’re set up, use valuable memory.

Researchers also found that of all the adware and PUPs they studied, 45% withdrew data from users. That means that they can track and even steal your sensitive information!

What’s more, many types of PUPs can make themselves launch upon start-up. From here, they’ll continue to run in the background and consume resources.

So, the more of these programs you have on your laptop, the harder your device will work. Over time, they can overload your gear to the point that they can make its fan whir loudly.

The easiest way to deal with PUPs is to install a reliable cybersecurity tool. Anti-malware programs can detect PUPs and then remove them from your laptop.


Malware Infection

An estimated 9.9 million cases of malware attacks took place in 2019. Not only can these malicious programs destroy computers, but they can also steal data. At the very least, they are resource-hungry apps that can cause your laptop fans to operate loudly.

As with PUPs, the best anti-malware tools can help you get rid of these dangerous programs. They can also provide round-the-clock protection against incoming malware.


Loud Snapping or Clicking Laptop Noises

These sounds are good indicators that your mechanical hard drive is about to fail. They often signal a dislocated or faulty arm or disk from within the drive itself. In any case, never ignore these noises, as they’re usually a sign that your hard drive is going to die sooner or later.

If you can still get your laptop up and running, back up your data while you still can. You can use an external hard drive for this or opt to clone the entire drive itself. If you decide to go with the latter, you should consider using a solid-state drive (SSD).

SSDs are at least four times faster than HDDs, and they also don’t have mechanical parts. As such, they’re pricier than traditional hard drives, but they also last longer. Besides, if you use an SSD to clone your existing drive, you can boot your laptop using the clone itself.

Do note that dirt-loaded fans can also make clicking or thumping noises. They can produce these noises if their fasteners or bearings go bad. You may also hear a sort of knocking sound if your laptop’s fan blades become loose.

If you have dirt build-up on your laptop’s fan, you can use an air blower or compressor to clean it up. The need to open your device would depend on its construction. You may only have to direct the compressed air toward the intake and exhaust vents.

If this doesn’t do the trick, your best bet is to have a pro technician take a look at your gear. They may need to open your laptop to see what’s going on inside and what’s making all those horrible sounds.


Weird Sounds from the Optical Drive

Sometimes, the optical drive is to blame for a laptop making a clicking noise. This is the drive where you insert a CD or DVD. It also has moving parts like hard disk drives, such as an arm that allows it to read, interpret, or write data.

Just like with HDDs, these parts are also often the culprit behind optical drive noises. A worn or damaged drive arm, for instance, can make snapping, clicking, or grinding sounds.

However, a laptop making a buzzing noise while reading a disc can also be due to a non-working disc. This sound can occur as the drive tries to read data off of the bad storage medium. If you replace the faulty disc with one that’s working, your drive should stop making noise.


Keep the Laptop Noise Down With These Easy Hacks

As you can see, something as simple as where you use your device can already contribute to laptop noises. Lack of cleaning and maintenance can also make your gear produce weird sounds. So, before you panic and end up buying a new device, try the tips we’ve listed here first.

Ready for more awesome and nifty guides like this? Don’t forget to check out our other news and blog posts then!


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