Technology Triumphs

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Loud, obnoxious fans


I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that it was in my car with me, but I couldn’t pinpoint exactly where. It teased me with little hints, and when I turned my head in its direction, it stopped. I tried to ignore it, but that didn’t help because it never tired of its annoying little game.

I blasted the radio and sang out loud to make it go away. This didn’t help because I knew it would stay.  When I tired of singing and I turned down the radio, it resumed its nagging torment.

Finally I pulled of the road, stomped around the car and opened the passenger door. I got in on my knees and jabbed my fingers between seat cracks to flush it out. I poked and prodded between the vinyl and rubber around the edge of the windows. I was late for an appointment, but I didn’t care because at that moment I felt that this grating squeak in my car was interfering with my constitutional right to pursue happiness.

I can think of few things that are as annoying as a persistent, unwanted sound. My clients are as annoyed by unusual sounds coming from their computers as I am about squeaks in my car.

Bryan called me and said, “Geoff you’ve got to get down here and fix this noise in my computer or I’ll lose my mind.” He protested the fact that I couldn’t get to his office within two days, but he booked me anyway out of desperation. When I arrived, I understood. His computer sounded like it had the biggest, most tireless bumblebee buzzing inside. It was so loud that other people in his office suffered with him.

I shut off the computer, opened the case, took it outside and used compressed air to blow out a cloud of dust. The power supply was clogged with dust and a screw on it had worked itself loose creating a metal on metal vibration. After an internal cleaning and a screw tightening, his computer piped down.

Fortunately, most annoying computer sounds can be easily fixed and usually aren’t very expensive. If your computer is making a strange noise, there are several things you can check.

Homemade CD’s with an off-center label can make a humming or buzzing sound when they spin unbalanced.

More often than not, computer noise is due to a problem fan. If you turn on the computer while the case is open you can usually find the culprit. If it is the power supply fan, turn it off, give it a good blowing on all sides with compressed air and check its screws for tightness.

Most other fans inside the computer case are fairly simple to replace. They range from $5 to $20 and have clearly marked power connectors that plug into the motherboard.

I can’t stand annoying rattles and buzzes. For me, quelling them is so satisfying -it’s worth pulling over and being late.

Geoffrey Neil  writes from the the perspective of an “unusual” computer-guy who actually likes people more than keyboards.  He owns Mollifiers, a Technology Anger Management company, offering computer technical assistance. Check out or

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.