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Assuming we are talking about a case fan, bring out a flashlight and possibly a magnifying glass, and start sweeping your main/motherboard, every place you see free pins or connectors there will be a tiny white text next to it on the circuitboard. Fan connector should be between 2 and 4 pins, and be labeled "CASE FAN 1/2" or similar.
Secondly secure the fan itself using either metal screws or anti vibration rubber screws, and you can mount it anywhere it fits / where the power cable allows it to go.
Bare in mind the direction of the airflow when positioning the fan, note that it is generally better to have more fans sucking air into the case than blowing out, creating a higher pressure inside the case and thus preventing dust from getting sucked in & clogging small openings like unused USB ports and most of the media ports on PC back side.
If you didn't create recovery disks when you got the computer, you will need to contact Gateway for them. I would question the supposition that you have a virus. If you do, you can usually at least get into safe mode. I would suspect a hardware problem in your case.
1. Bad temp sensor
2. Bad voltage, but that will usually cause the whole system to restart
3. Too low maximum temp setting inside the chassis(setting is in bios), often denote as max case temp.
One way to bypass the problem is rig the fan to a molex adapter with a variable voltage molex to 2/3/4pin fan connector and adjust the speed to the maximum quiet setting.
The 831's did run a bit warm so if the case temp setting is set to low it will fluxuate quite a bit. Try adjusting the max case temp up around 50c just to see if that does it, if it does either use the variable voltage dial solution or add a second case fan that's always on, prefferably a low RPM running direct off molex so it will reduce the average temp and therby the need of the monitored case fan to rev up.
Your CPU fan has failed! your heatsink overheats quickly and then shuts down to protect itself from burning up. Your motherboard is Not the problem, the fan is. This fan can be replaced by any compotent laptop technician. Make sure the tech has access to Gateway or has a source that supplys Gateway parts, as the part must be made for Gateway laptops and your model exactly! 90% of this type of problem can be repaired! Don't let non-techs at Best Buy or any other dept. store tell you your PC is "No Good". Take the time like your doing and do some research the problem before giving your hard earned cash to a 16 year old "Technician/salesman/commision/bonus" person.
If the Harddrive is undamaged and it can be mounted yes, your stuff can be saved to DVD or such. Be prepared though, this type of service can be costly so ask around and get quotes.