Hmm, the fourth leading cause of computer catastrophe
is... Acts of God?"...my vicar's house was stuck by lighting and her PC
has never worked again."
We were somewhat surprised about this, but maybe it's because of the climate
in Toronto. Up here, thunderstorms are a pretty isolated event, reserved
to maybe four months a year. Make no mistake though, lightning strikes do
cause serious damage to electronic components, especially your computer, and especially
"It was a
cloudy day, lightning flashed in the next county. Since I am near the county
lines, my telephone lines go into that county. A electrical surge came... my
modem caught fire."
Lightning strikes can cause huge electrical surges in the power and phone
lines entering your house. Over longer distances this gets filtered out,
but at close range it can be devastating.
"...yeah my XBOX, DSL modem, a network hub and every
network adaptor in the house died when lightning hit the phone lines outside.
This fried the modem then the hub and from the hub, all the NICs in the house
including the one in my XBOX."
Often modems and other phone line devices are more vulnerable to this than
other computer components that depend on the better-shielded power lines.
Of course, if your modem is built into your motherboard, it's not looking good
How Not to Kill Your Computer This
Remember when your mother used to tell you not to watch
TV during a thunderstorm? She had it right (well mostly). You should not be
using your computer if lightning is striking anywhere close to you,
and for its safety, unplug the modem from the phone jack. Go
watch TV instead, TVs are easier to replace. Actually, go outside and
watch the thunderstorm; thunderstorms are cool.
If you are in an area that sees frequent lightning
strikes, get a decent quality UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)that also monitors and conditions
power and has a phone line/network cable surge protector. This
will provide protection against sudden surges and other lightning-triggered electrical freakiness through
the power, phone, or cable modem LAN.
The Bad Seed
"I tried powering up the system but it wouldn't. I
tried tapping the switch a couple more times then a bright light appeared,
followed by a bang and some smoke. Turns out the power leads on my $5 lazer LED
accessory were switched."
This is kind of a catchall category, but it's an important one. One of
the major killers of computers is the installation of parts that are inimical to
the system, whether the parts themselves are faulty or just incompatible.
"One day I got an old HDD from my cousin and I
installed it into my computer. It was fine when I booted into Windows but
suddenly the screen showed nothing and I started to smell something burning... I
quickly switched off my computer and removed the HDD and tried again but it
didn't work. When I opened my case to try to figure out what's happening, the IC
of the mainboard started to smoke..."
The Bad Seed. Sounds menacing and it is. Once
a computer component (like memory or a video card) or peripheral goes bad, possibly
due to damage caused by a power supply failure, it can continue to kill system
after system like a virus as its hapless owner tries to figure
out what is causing the problem.