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Seems like computer fans after a while start to become noisy. Is there something I can do about this, or are they simply starting to wear out so I need to replace them?

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Once a fan starts to make noise it's best to replace it. Dusting or spraying with light grease won't guarantee a fix. In the worst case the coil will overheat and you'll set off your smoke alarm(s). I have stripped and cleaned fans before but only as a stopgap until my spares arrived.

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Depends on the fan. A good cleaning (compressed air) goes a long way. If it's a video card fan, see How to silence a loud video card fan

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Hm, interesting... Think I'll have to try this. Suppose this would work equally good non-video card fans too? Would at least be a lot easier to get to regular fans than the video card fan... sigh –  Svish Nov 18 '10 at 1:17
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Removing dust mites is an obvious suggestion. If it's the bearings that are getting worn though: no, you can't really fix that yourself (not in a way that it is worth it timewise, anyway).

To minimize this issue in the future, try replacing small (80mm) fans with bigger ones that can do the same cooling at lower RPM. The fans will be more quiet, and they will last longer.

If you're not on a performance rig, you might also be able to run some components on passive cooling, circumventing the problem.

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