I first noticed that something was wrong when I was installing Windows XP on Monday night on my new home PC. The drive format had frozenand there was a burnt-plastic smell. On opening the case, I saw that the fan on top of the CPU cooler was not revolving. I rapidly pulled the plug and let it cool down.

Rebooting an hour later, everything seemed fine. The fan spun, the burnt smell had dispersed, XP installed. I left the cover off and kept an ear to the fan's noise. Last night the fan whined to a stop. After rebooting, it seems to have settled into a pattern of running for about 20 seconds, then conking out. Even when it is turning, the BIOS system health check reports that it is not running.

I unscrewed it from the heat sink and discovered where the burned plastic smell must have come from - the underside of the fan housing has a few thin adhesive-backed plastic and cellophane layers that are now shrivelled and distorted. It makes sense that it would be the first to go as it's closest to the heat accumulator.

Also a bit amusing that the fan fries itself if it fails temporarily.

Oh well, nothing that can't be solved by a swift application of money - I'll go to PC world and get a new fan (and one for the case) at lunch today.

I suspect that the original fan failure was caused by a wayward IDE or power cable, but I can't prove anything. I just hope that the reason that the fan isn’t turning is because this cheap component is fried. I’d rather that than have to replace a melted motherboard and CPU.

Update. Well, the CPU fan works just great. And I am online from home this evening with a cheap internal modem and my flatmate's connection. Using IE to download mozilla. Yay for home internet! It's been a long time.