A few days ago, I was working on my desktop when I heard a bang from the tower, and about 10s later I started smelling smoke. I immediately switched the computer off (it was still functioning as normal), and ended up taking it to a pc repair shop.
I found out that a fan accompanying the cpu had stopped running, causing the motherboard to overheat. I was told by the technician that this was probably due to age (the computer is about 7 years old), and there was a lot of dust within the unit.
However looking back, I remember using Matlab about half hour before the bang/smoke. Due to some memory errors (I was looking at very big files), I had set the Matlab process priority to 'high', to let it access more memory (indeed, this worked).
Could this have contributed to the hardware failure? From what I understand, the cpu has a maximum limit of work capability, and changing the process priority simply directs its focus to a certain process. From this, I can't see how the process priority could cause any problems. In the back of my mind though, I can't help thinking that setting the priority to high, and then a fan failing half hour later, is a direct cause and effect (things in life are rarely coincidence).