How Hot is Too Hot? Safe Computer Temperatures

fried-eggOverheating greatly reduces the life of electronics. To protect your computer from overheating the manufacturer will add safeguards that will shutdown the system if it reaches a critical temperature. Prevent unintended shutdowns by running at safe computer temperatures.

A maximum safe operating range is often 60-70 degrees Celsius (140-158 degrees Fahrenheit) depending upon the components.  You can purchase higher-temperature tolerant devices which are often called hardened or military-grade, but they cost more.

To keep computers at safe temperatures, the case design will have cooling systems. These cooling systems usually consist of a series of fans strategically placed but may also include liquid circulation systems. Removing the cover or side panels can disrupt the desired airflow and actually increase the temperature of critical components.  Dust build-up can also impede air-flow and cause overheating. It is important to minimize the amount of dust, dirt, lint and hair in your computer’s environment.  Ventilation and filtration systems are needed for computer health.  If you have a computer in a dusty area, you have to keep a close eye on it and clean as needed.

Humidity is also a hazard for electronics. It worsens in dusty environments which is why carpet is not recommended for server rooms.  The relative humidity should be between 40-60%. If the humidity is too low, static electricity can shock you and your computers. If humidity is too high, condensation can cause hardware corrosion.

The room or ambient temperature is a big factor of the temperature of the internal components. Server rooms can be uncomfortably cold for humans but toasty for electronics.  For the average server room, temperatures from 16-24 degrees Celsius (60-75 degrees Fahrenheit) are common, but even lower temperatures may be necessary depending upon the number and location of servers.

With the summer coming be sure that you have adequate cooling to monitor and keep your computer at safe temperatures.  Computers should be in a cool, dry, dust-free (or minimized) environment to maximize useful life.  If your computer overheats, you have to cool it to prevent damage.  If the fans are not working or if there is too much dust to get airflow the computer will shutdown – temporarily or permanently.

About Mary

Mary is the CEO of LAN Systems. She is an electrical engineer who feels her greatest strength is the ability to connect with people. LAN Systems provides IT managed services and solutions to growing companies and non-profit organizations. You can contact Mary at mary@lansystems.com.

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