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Old 06-08-2010, 05:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Power surges damaged computer?

What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

I moved into a mother-in-law addon about 2 weeks ago. It comes with a small microwave oven and a toaster oven. There is a sign on each of these warning that they cannot be used at the same time. The people who own the house said that it would cause the power to go out and I'd have to flip a switch on the the circuit breaker to get it to come back on. What they failed to tell me was that several other combinations of power use could also cause a power outage. I tried to vacuum on Saturday and the power went out. It took me three tries to figure out that I can only vacuum if everything else in the place is turned off: TV, lights, ceiling fan, everything.

My computer was plugged into a surge protector, but I don't think that was enough protection. My computer will no longer boot up. The hard drive is no longer detected. I've checked the cables and switched them out with a spare set. That didn't help. I'm going tomorrow to buy an HD enclosure to see if something is actually wrong with the HD. If it's not the HD, I'm thinking maybe the motherboard got fried?? I have no idea how to fix that.

Does anybody have any idea what might be the problem? And could it truly be the result of these power outages? I've owned this computer for about 3-4 years and have never had a problem with it until I moved into this place. The first year I had it, I upgraded the power supply, graphics card and hard drive, but that was 3 years ago and caused no problems.

Thanks for your advice in advance. I'd like to know if the problems really are a likely result of these electrical problems, because if so I might consider going after the landlord for property damage.

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Old 06-08-2010, 06:51 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Power surges damaged computer?

My 1st guess would be the power supply.

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Old 06-08-2010, 09:41 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Power surges damaged computer?

with a problem like this you need to think outside of the box (outside of the computer case lol)

Start by re-checking circuit breakers, switches, etc etc.

Try the computer on a different outlet, different power cable, etc etc

Try using a multimeter on the PSU (there are plenty of tutorials on how-to test the PSU, you might even be able to find a how-to right here on this VERY site!)

If the PSU failed.... Get a new one and install it yourself (save $$$$$) Just make sure if you buy a new one it will support your current hardware (ie: power hungry video cards, multiple hard-drives, optical drives) But if your PSU failed, you can always come back here and TF members will be here to help.

Worst case scenario, the power surge bypassed your PSU, fried your motherboard, your RAM, CPU, GPU... (could be just the motherboard, but.... it can ALSO damage any and or all of the above.)
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Old 06-08-2010, 11:10 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Power surges damaged computer?

Thanks, guys, for the fast responses. I haven't yet attempted Uzi's advice, as I jumped on here as soon as I woke up (from a very restless night). Let me give you some more information about the problem and how it's progressed.

The computer turns on fine. It just won't boot to Windows.

After the last power outage, when I tried to turn on the computer I got the message "NTLDR is missing." A Google search revealed that this meant the boot up files had been messed up somehow. I was able to do a startup repair using the recovery disk. And the computer booted to Windows.

I shut down the computer. This time when trying to start the computer, I got the message Err1Err3. No idea what that means and a Google search didn't clarify things for me. I wiggled the cable connecting the hard drive to the power supply and used some compressed air to clean out dust, honestly because I didn't know what else to do. (I'm not a guru). The computer booted to Windows. That's what initially gave me the idea that the cables were the culprit.

I shut down the computer. I ran out and bought an APC UPS. Now when I start up the computer, it tells me it needs a boot up disk. Huh? I press Esc to go to the boot menu and the hard drive is no longer there. The only option is to boot from the DVD drive. I press F10 to enter the Setup menu and the hard drive is also no longer there. The computer is only detecting the DVD drive.

I switched out the cable with a spare I had from a few years ago. I still have the same problem, and this time wiggling and blowing air doesn't help.

I know how to replace the power supply. I've done it once before. So if that's all the problem is, I'll be very relieved. Do you still think that's what it is?

Also, what other precautions can I take in the future? Is the UPS enough? I have a year lease for this place and I'm pretty sure this won't be the last outage, simply because I have no idea which combination of device use could be a problem.

Thank you again for your help! I feel panicked as I see dollar signs flying out the window.
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Old 06-08-2010, 02:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Power surges damaged computer?


Try this.

Download and burn a copy of **** Small Linux
**** Small Linux, Download the ISO

Boot that up and see if your computer is operational under a live linux enviroment. It does not require a hard drive at all to run, it runs directly off of the CD drive(or USB drive)

If your computer is fully functional under DSL, I would say it is safe to assume that you need a new hard drive... Worst thing that can happen is you buy a hard drive from a retailer that has a good refund policy, and if it does not work, take it back.

Also it would not hurt to take a look at the functionality of your RAM, with Memtest86+
Memtest86+ - Advanced Memory Diagnostic Tool

Faulty or Damaged memory can lead to corrupted data on a hard drive.

If your computer will not work under DSL, just stop by and I got some more tricks up my sleeve.
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Old 06-08-2010, 06:50 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Power surges damaged computer?

I changed the power cable and tried a couple different outlets as suggested. The computer booted up on the last one. On the old outlet, I noticed the HD light wasn't even coming on. I think it blinked once. On the new outlet, the light came on and Windows loaded as if there'd never been a problem. I have no idea what's going on because the computer worked fine for a week on the old outlet, with two different surge protectors. It was only after the power breaker popped that it would no longer boot up and I began getting error messages. I've unplugged some stuff to different outlets, but I left my externals, computer and monitor connected to the UPS.

Do you think problem is solved or is this just a temporary fix? Is the APC UPS sufficient to protect my computer in the future?

Thanks again for all your advice.

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