I have a Dell N5110 laptop and the fan is running quickly and noisily often. I'm concerned my laptop might be getting damaged.
Is there any way to identify what is causing this and, if so, how I might fix it safely?
you should consider installing jupiter
you can select power modes with it, its very easy to controll, and I just set it to power on command, you wont notice that your laptop is on, until you start using heavy apps
open terminal and do this.
add the repository
and to other people reading this and are using an Asus EEPC netbook, install this asswell
Have a nice day :)
Looking at earlier questions, it looks like your laptop is one of those hybrid laptops that have an integrated (Intel) and discrete (Nvidia) GPU. You probably do not need a lot graphical power, so if your BIOS has an option to choose for the Integrated card (disable Optimus mode), do so. Alternatively, you can install Bumblebee which is described in How well do laptops with Nvidia Optimus work?