There are many things and events that can destroy your computer. Even you can do it yourself using your fists fueled by enough crashes from Google Chrome or losses from Fortnite. But those are expected threats, we’re discussing unexpected threats such as a power outage. And you can’t exactly prevent a tragedy that you didn’t expect.
So, can a power outage damage your computer? It can. The simple answer is that it has the potential to.
Generally, when a power outage happens, a power surge is soon to follow if and when the power comes back on and that has a higher chance of damaging your computer. The sudden surge of power might be too much for your computer’s power supply unit to handle so some of it might burst through and short your computer’s components.
But that’s a power surge. The power outage has a lower chance of causing that, if at all. A power outage or cut is more or less the same as a sudden shutdown and might just cause you to lose data or whatever you’re working on.
It’s just that power outages usually go hand in hand with power surges so it’s best to treat power outages like power surges when it comes to protecting your computer. Here are the best ways to protect against such occurrences:
- Use a dedicated surge protector, uninterrupted power supply (UPS), or voltage regulator for your PC.
- Whenever a power outage occurs, unplug the computer from the power source, even if there’s a surge protector or voltage regulator. Keep it unplugged until the power comes back on and is stable.
- Avoid using the computer or keeping it plugged in during a lightning or thunderstorm.
On their own, power outages aren’t really that threatening; it’s when they’re followed by power surges that they become stealthy menaces to computers. But there are other unexpected threats as well to consider apart from power fluctuations. Be wary of the following occurrences or objects.
Old hard disk drives are still in use these days and if you stick a strong enough magnet to them, they’ll lose all their data. Most computers these days have shifted to SSDs and those don’t get wiped by magnets thankfully.
Still, strong magnets can certainly interfere with electrical signals and can cause interruptions in your computer hardware.
At most, magnets can destroy your HDD hard drive and force you to reinstall Windows and everything else, but that’s about it. These days, most modern electronics are safe against magnets.
Vacuum Cleaners & Carpets
It might be tempting to just clean that old PC tower with a handy vacuum cleaner, but this is a consistent recipe for destruction. Vacuum cleaners are known to build up lots of static electricity enough static buildup might damage the circuitry of the computer.
Sadly, the best way to clean a computer is to just blow the dust out instead of sucking them in through a vacuum. You will have to clean the displaced dust afterward.
Apparently, it only takes as little as five to 10 volts to cause damage to a PC. And those five to 10 volts could well come from static electricity generated by something like a carpet filled with enough pet dander to cause static.
Granted, you won’t see the shock and you definitely won’t smell something burning, but the damage will start rearing its ugly head once you’re not able to power the PC on for some reason.
Worn-out Thermal Paste
The hottest PC components, usually the CPU and the GPU have coolers attached to them and the thermal paste acts as some kind of microscopic filler between the two metal contacts to ensure maximum conductivity.
Problem is, thermal paste degrades over time (slowly but surely). And once it’s worn out, your computer will start overheating stealthily. It might overwork the fans to compensate, but if there’s too much thermal paste degradation, then there’s likely not enough heat getting transferred to the heatsink to make the fans louder.
That means your only way of knowing whether the PC is overheating or has a degraded thermal paste is if you monitor the temperatures manually or if the computer suddenly shuts down during heavy activity.
Most CPUs and GPUs have fail-safes built into them, and they’re instructed to shut down to prevent burning themselves. But of course, too much heat followed by sudden cooling can weaken the soldering of the electronic components and cause cracks in the capacitors.
So if your computer is overheating but it’s not dusty, then it might be time to check its thermal paste or pads.
Moisture & Microscopic Liquids
If you like using spray cleaners all over the house to clean and wipe stuff, be careful not to spray near a computer that’s powered on or any computer at all. These microscopic liquid mist can easily find its way into the intake vents of a desktop or laptop computer to be blown right onto the components.
It might not cause damage right away, but any kind of moisture or water in the system can cause the metals to corrode. In small amounts, the liquid might evaporate or dry out after getting sucked and spit out by the fans, but it’s best not to risk it.
Sure, it’s easy to see corrosion or even rust inside the computer, but by then, it’s already too late and the metal is on its way to degradation. Rust is certainly bad for conductivity and some parts require that.
In case your computer does get introduced to microscopic liquids or moisture, turn it off and keep it powered down until the liquid has dried.