How Often Should My Laptop Fan Come On?

When using your laptop, you usually tune out the fan’s noise so you don’t notice when it changes speed. However, you may start noticing when it runs fast for a long time, non-stop, especially if it’s making more noise than usual. Why does this happen, and how can you solve this issue?

It normally always runs but spins up faster on startup or whenever your machine is under load, like loading software or gaming. A laptop fan running that’s always spinning fast is typically caused by an outdated CPU working too hard to keep up, a dirty cooling system, or old thermal paste.

The fan inside a laptop.

Can a Laptop Fan Run for Too Long?

Before we get to what is normal and what is cause for concern, we need to know what fans are supposed to do and how they work.

Your laptop may have several fans inside, which help the cooling process. The CPU has its own fan because it will likely generate a lot of heat. If your laptop has a dedicated GPU, it may include an extra fan.

Generally speaking, the CPU fan is the most important, typically called the laptop fan.

The CPU generates quite a lot of heat while it’s working, which makes your laptop feel warm sometimes.

The fan helps cool the CPU and other parts of the internal system, spinning at high speeds.

Your laptop fan will speed up whenever the device needs it, which can be pretty often, especially if you’re running multiple programs simultaneously.

Once it’s spinning at higher RPMs, it will run for as long as necessary with no problem, as long as you’re not overworking your CPU.

Whenever you stop using many programs simultaneously or close the more CPU-heavy programs, the temperature of the CPU will drop, and you will hear the fan reducing speed after a while.

Most of the time, a laptop fan can easily run fast for a long time and then reduce speed once the CPU is not working as intensively.

Problems start when the fan doesn’t reduce in speed at all or remains silent where it doesn’t speed up at all.

Why Is My Laptop Fan Running All the Time?

While a computer can run for a long time, the fan should not run continuously at high speed whenever you turn on your laptop.

Your fan working too hard indicates that the temperature inside the device is getting higher, and the components need cooling. 

Ideally, the fan shouldn’t be heard too often, but normally, it should run fairly silently and speed up at times.

A constantly fast-spinning fan is a sign of several issues you must address sooner rather than later.

Here are some reasons:

Your CPU Is Weak

The fan should speed up whenever the CPU works hard to avoid overheating. However, sometimes, the CPU can be pretty old or weak, so it might not be able to handle even simpler programs without overheating.

As a result, the fan will keep constantly running because your CPU will constantly need it to cool the device down.

If this is the issue, you may need to consider getting a new laptop since a weak CPU makes it essentially useless.

You’re Using Complicated Software

Typical laptop CPUs can handle most regular programs pretty well, but they may get overwhelmed when dealing with more complicated software.

For instance, video games or video and photo editing software can make your CPU run quite hot.

If you use these programs constantly, you may notice that your laptop will not stop running because it needs to cool down your device to avoid overheating.

Even with the fan constantly working, you may observe issues with the performance of your device.

Generally, if you need to use the types of software above daily, you need a better device than regular laptops.

You can find something with more processing power, like a gaming laptop or a powerful desktop computer.

The External Conditions Are Not Ideal

The inside of your laptop is heavily affected by the outside conditions. On a very hot day, it’s much harder for your laptop to expel the heat, as much as it might try.

If you’re working on your computer during a hot day, the laptop fan may not stop running the entire time because it will try much harder to cool your device.

Ideally, keeping your laptop out of hot environments and direct sunlight would be best to avoid this issue.

Additionally, placing your laptop on a hard surface would be best to help the cooling process.

Putting the device on blankets or pillows will contribute to overheating, and the fan may not stop working.

There Are Background Programs Running

The CPU deals with programs running on your laptop, even those you aren’t using consciously.

The operating system makes sure that everything is alright by running background programs.

Sometimes, if programs are running in the background in addition to the ones you are using, the CPU might start heating up, prompting the fan to keep working continuously.

Other times, the background programs are enough to keep the fan running to cool down the CPU.

Malware may also cause the CPU to work harder, either because it is designed to overwork the CPU or it’s being detected by antivirus programs running in the background.

You should check all the running programs and eliminate the ones that seem suspicious or unnecessary.

The Thermal Paste Needs Replacing

If the thermal paste is old, it can reduce the cooling system’s effectiveness. This happens because of the poor heat dissipation from the CPU/GPU to the heatsink.

This results in ineffective cooling whereby the cooling fan spins up to keep the hotter CPU as cool as possible, and the heatsink doesn’t receive the bulk of the heat from the CPU or GPU for the fan to cool.

If a laptop hasn’t had its thermal paste replaced two years after its purchase, it is recommended that the old thermal paste is removed and some new thermal paste is applied.

Thereafter, the thermal paste would need to be replaced every two to four years, depending on the properties of the thermal paste that was used.

Why Is My Laptop Fan Too Noisy?

One of the most common issues people report is that their laptop fan runs too loud, prompting them to believe something is wrong. In most cases, something is indeed wrong and needs attention.

Laptop fans are not supposed to be too noisy. Typically, you should not be able to hear them at all or only hear a faint noise that blends into the background.

The problem starts when the noise becomes noticeable and even distracting.

Generally, this is also when people notice that their fan has been running non-stop, which is a problem in itself, as mentioned above.

Your laptop fan may be too loud when working harder than before. If your CPU is overworked and risks overheating, the laptop fan will spin faster to lower the temperature inside.

Any of the reasons mentioned above, like a weak CPU, background programs, or external heat, can also cause the laptop fan to be too loud.

However, a loud noise does not necessarily mean the fan works faster and harder.

Sometimes, the fan may be physically damaged due to continuous spinning. Any components with moving parts can be quite delicate.

Physical damage can cause a fan to be loud, even when it’s not spinning faster; it might be even slower than usual.

Why Is My Laptop Fan Not Making Any Noise?

As I explained above, you shouldn’t be able to hear your laptop fan most of the time.

The noise should be minimal when you’re not running intense programs, and your CPU works normally.

As a result, you don’t need to worry if you don’t hear much noise from your laptop. 

However, if you can’t hear any noise coming from a device that is usually quite loud, there might be a problem.

You may be dealing with an issue when running complex programs, or it is hot outside, and your normally loud fan is completely silent.

The laptop fan may be no longer spinning or spinning at such a low speed that it doesn’t make any noise.

This problem could lead to your computer overheating fast, causing it to slow down or permanently damage.

To ensure this is the issue, you should take your device to a specialist or run diagnostics to identify the problem.

You should replace the fan with a new one, either by yourself or by an expert.

How To Fix Laptop Fan Issues

As you can see, many issues can cause your laptop fan to keep running non-stop or too hard.

Whenever you notice this happening with your laptop, you must check your device to understand and solve the problem as soon as possible. Here’s what you can do to fix laptop fan issues:

  • Clean the cooling system of your laptop. Open up the laptop case and check the cooling system of your CPU if it needs cleaning; make sure the fan and the heat sink are not covered in dust.
  • Clear the vents. Airflow inside the laptop is essential to get rid of excess heat, and the vents make it possible. If you notice that the vents have accumulated dust, clean them carefully.
  • Replace old thermal paste. If the thermal paste is old, heat isn’t as efficiently transferred from the CPU to the heatsink. This will cause the fan to spin faster in an attempt to cool the hotter CPU with diminished success.
  • Stop using CPU-heavy software. If you feel that your laptop fan has been running continuously or it’s too loud, you may need to stop using specific programs to let the CPU rest. Consider shutting down your device for a while.
  • Use Task Manager or Activity Monitor to check the tasks keeping your CPU busy. Remove the ones that seem unnecessary or are using too much processing power.
  • Update your operating system. Sometimes a bug in the system may cause issues with background programs, prompting your CPU to work much harder; a system update would eliminate any glitches or bugs.
  • Cool your laptop externally. To ensure your laptop doesn’t overheat, you need to take steps so that the external environment will help the cooling process rather than hinder it. For instance, you can use cooling pads.
  • Run diagnostic tests on your device to understand the problem. Laptops have diagnostic measures that detect issues with internal components. A diagnostic test will let you know if there is a problem with your CPU or a fan, but it can be a bit complicated, so follow the device manufacturer’s instructions.

How To Stop Your Fan From Running All the Time

If your laptop fan keeps working non-stop even after you’ve tried all the different fixes above, you can change the settings to make the fan stop occasionally.

This setting ensures that your device won’t overheat when the fan stops by slowing down the CPU, so you may be unable to use many programs while the fan is off.

This solution is a good option for people dealing with a weak CPU or high temperatures outside and simultaneously don’t need to use their device for particularly complicated programs.

Here’s how to change the settings to make your fan turn off once in a while:

  1. Go to Start and then choose Settings.
  2. Find System.
  3. Select Power & Sleep.
  4. Choose Additional power settings, which you can find under Related settings.
  5. A new window will open; go to Change plan settings next to the selected plan.
  6. Find Change advanced power settings.
  7. A new window will open, allowing you to control the power usage of different parts of your device; select Processor power management and then System cooling policy.
  8. Change the option from Active to Passive.
  9. Select OK and restart your laptop.

Once you have changed these power settings, your fan will stop working once in a while. Your CPU will automatically slow down when it stops working to prevent overheating.