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In the Oil and Gas industry, our computer users are often several hundreds of miles away from a hamlet, let alone a city. The average user is also much more of a hands-on kind of person and is usually a novice computer user. The environment they work in is rife with dust and dirt and, of course, oil. One of the biggest problems I’ve experienced with my users is CPU overheating due to all the dust and dirt and lack of experience in taking care of a computer.
While looking for a solution to the problem, I came across SpeedFan from the awesomely altruistic Alfredo Milani Comparetti. I saw it on MakeUseOf, over at Monitor Your Computer Fan Speed With SpeedFan. That article covers all the neat stuff, like adjusting fan speed, graphing temperatures and so on. But what it missed is what was most important to me, and anyone else who has to monitor computers on a shoe-string budget – it can send me an e-mail when conditions cross thresholds that I set! Awesome!
SpeedFan can also be set to popup a message, execute a program or script, or beep.
Here’s how I set up SpeedFan for my users:
Open SpeedFan and click on the Configure button.
From there, you need to click on the Mail tab to set up access for SpeedFan to your e-mail account. It’s got to send the message somehow.
The profile name will be default, since Alfredo hasn’t added the ability to have multiple profiles yet. No sweat Alfredo. It’s epic as it is.
Then click on the Events tab.
The bottom of the screen is where you can set the parameters for the event you want triggered. On this example I’m using the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) temperature, but on the work laptops I used the HDD and CPU temperatures. There are an awful lot of variables that can be monitored beyond that though. Check a few:
That’s about half of the list. As you can see, you can monitor your HDD health as well. That should help you head off a few hard drive failures at the pass, and keep your data doggies rolling (remember, I work in the oil patch in Alberta. Gotta have a cowboy analogy in here somewhere!).
I researched the operating parameters of the laptop’s CPU and HDD and then used 80% and 90% of the maximum operating temperature as the trigger points. The lower 80% temperature triggers a pop-up to let the user know that the computer is too hot and that they should blow out the dust and elevate the back of the laptop.
The 90% temperature setting then sends me an e-mail so I can phone the user, wake them up with some Macarena and let them know they are about to have a dead computer. So far I haven’t had to do that.
The For n times parameter allows you to decide how many times the temperature has to exceed the limit before it triggers the event. The temperature is in Celsius. The Allow every n seconds parameter determines how often the event will be triggered. If 60 seconds hasn’t passed since the last e-mail was sent, then it won’t send another one. Keeps form crashing my mail provider.
Then I chose the event send mail. The next field is the subject of the e-mail that will be sent. I use the laptop’s name so I know who to call. Finally, the last field determines which e-mail profile to use. This will be default until the developer adds the ability to have more than one e-mail profile.
Here, let me show you what I mean….
Of course, feel free to adjust those numbers to meet your needs.
All 55 of my field computers are set up with this system that runs silently in the background until something happens. Since I’ve put this into place, I haven’t lost a single laptop to a burnt out CPU or HDD. The time and money this has saved the company is in the thousands. And the software is free!
If you’ve used a different software to achieve something similar, let’s hear all about it in the comments!