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Beginners Guides: Most Common Ways to Kill a PC

Beginners Guides: Most Common Ways to Kill a PC - PCSTATS
Abstract: Ever wonder what are the most common ways by which you'll eventually kill your PC? Despite your best intentions, computer hardware's worst enemy is YOU, as it turns out.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Feb 11 2009   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Power Struggles

A large portion of your computer's well being depends on the quality of the power being fed to it. Power surges, blackouts, brownouts and defective cables can all contribute to making your beloved system's stay on earth a short one.

"So one day, there was a short somewhere in the house, and the only place that there was a ground, was.... you guessed it, my computer. Mom smelled smoke and went running down the stairs to find a thick, black cloud floating in the living room. My computer had flames coming from the top fan hole about 10 inches high..."

Now it could be argued that this category could also be lumped in with power supply failures, but we wanted to make the distinction that lousy power can make even the best power supply turn into a demon.

How Not to Kill Your Computer This Way

Every computer system should be covered by a surge protector at the very least. Better to buy a UPS if you can afford one. For maximum protection, buy a UPS that conditions power to make sure that the voltage being fed to your precious system stays consistent. A good UPS costs a little over a hundred dollars, how much does your entire PC cost to replace?

Common sense rules also apply here. If there is an outlet in your house that has been unreliable with other electrical devices, don't plug your system into it. Avoid the plugs that have that telltale smudge of smoke on the wall above them too.

The Short Circuit
(Number 5 may be alive, but your system is DEAD).

As we mentioned above in the 'assembly issues' category, using the spacers that come with your case when mounting the motherboard is a good idea. The reason for this is that some parts of your computer are just not supposed to touch other parts. Given the miniscule tolerance for current that most integrated circuit components have, creating a short circuit to them is really not the best thing for your system's health.

"...a power cable had fallen from the bundle of un-used power cables that I tie-wrapped to the chassis frame and had was sitting on the video card. The electrical contacts of the power cable are insulated, however, this particular cable had dropped perfectly on a somewhat "raised" solder joint on the video card. bang !"

Short circuits in computer systems are generally caused when a component of the system is installed incorrectly, and metal from one component ends up touching the circuit traces or electronic parts of another. This allows current to pass between them, possibly bypassing any of the normal safeguards that might be built into either components circuit path. A common source of these incidents is lost screws which tend to get lodged in all sorts of wacky places. A screw making contact between the wall of the case and your motherboard can have disastrous consequences.

How To Avoid Killing Your Computer This Way

If you are assembling your system or adding new components, take a moment to ensure that everything is in place and that no components or unshielded cables are touching the motherboard (excluding components plugged into the board of course). Make sure to retrieve lost screws promptly. Forget about them and you might well regret it later.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Most Common Ways to Kill a PC
 Pg 2.  Power Supply Failures
 Pg 3.  That Heat-Sinking Feeling
 Pg 4.  Computer Assembly Issues
 Pg 5.  The Wrath of Zeus
 Pg 6.  Bad Gear, Dead PCs
 Pg 7.  — Power Struggles
 Pg 8.  USB Device Mishaps
 Pg 9.  Static Shocks and Integrated Circuits

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