Laptop suddenly overheating and shutting down

US flag

This is my first time asking a question here, so let me know if you need more information.


  1. Why doesn't my fan show up in pwmconfig?
  2. Why is my computer overheating on specific programs?
  3. This is either a software issue or a ventilation issue, not a thermal paste issue, because it started suddenly a month ago.

A month ago, my Ubuntu laptop suddenly began randomly shutting down while I was doing various work. It took me a while to figure out why, but I'm 90% sure it's an overheating issue.

Usually it happens after I've been using it for a while, maybe 2 hours or so, but sometimes specific programs make it happen right away.

For example, the appimage I have for Arduino IDE causes an overheat within about ten seconds after launch. I've installed lm-sensors which tells me the temperature, and I've watched it go from 40C to 70C in a matter of seconds, at which point the whole system shuts down. The fan doesn't seem to speed up much while the temperature is spiking.

This wasn't happening before a month ago. I've been using that program for months with no issue, and suddenly it's completely inoperable.

I tried doing the following to check the fan:

  1. sudo sensors-detect (I went through the whole process
  2. sudo service kmod start
  3. sudo pwmconfig - this returns the following error:
/usr/sbin/pwmconfig: There are no pwm-capable sensor modules installed

Which is weird, because I'm pretty sure the fan works. I can hear it running, just not very loud.

I'm running Ubuntu 22.04 on a Toshiba Satellite Radius, which was originally loaded with Windows 8.

cc flag
Sudden overheating problems might be caused by dust buildup or even some other blockage (like a piece of tape came lose and now blocks things). Did you check for that?
computer_hoarder avatar
I did open up the laptop and vacuum out the vents and fan, but that didn't seem to do much. That said, I do live with pets so I'm not ruling that out. What would be the best way to clean it?
aq flag
pwmconfig is for 4 pin PWM fans, usually found on desktops.
computer_hoarder avatar
@rtaft What would I use for laptop fans?
David avatar
cn flag
If it was me I would be taking it for repair.
aq flag
@computer_hoarder `thinkfan` seems to work well with IBM/Lenovo. `i8kfan` works well with Dells. Not sure what would work with Toshibas
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