No Power?

Dear Computer Lady,

My daughters computer recently shut down. That is, she was downloading a file and all of a sudden her computer began to slowly shut down as if it was slowly losing power. Now she can’t even turn it on! We initially thought it was the power source but have unplugged everything and bypassed the power strip and plugged it directly into the wall outlets (which does have “juice”) but with no luck.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks so much! Bruce

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Dear Bruce,

First, this answer assumes that your daughter’s computer is a desktop, not a laptop.

You are probably on the right track thinking about the power.

Since you have already ruled out the power strip and you know that the wall outlet does have power, there is one other thing you need to get checked.

Your computer has a component inside called a power supply. The power supply is a box that takes the AC from your wall outlet and converts it to the small DC currents that the computer needs to operate. This power supply also absorbs any spikes in the flow of AC into your computer. (I don’t recommend that you rely just on this power supply to protect your computer from the fluctuations in AC power, I always use a good UPS [Uninterruptible Power Supply] for my computer.)

Often, a computer power supply will wear out from absorbing the many small spikes and surges that are often coming into your house through the power lines. If this is what has happened to your daughter’s computer, you can take it to your local computer shop and they will be able to replace the power supply for you. (They will test first to make sure this is indeed the problem). This is a repair that I do for my customers quite often.

In the future, you can protect your computer in the following ways:

1. Always unplug your computer during thunderstorms. Even the best surge strip will not protect you from a nearby lightening strike.

2. Always unplug your computer when the power goes out. When the power comes back on, it often comes on with a surge that can damage sensitive equipment like your computer.

3. Invest in a good UPS. Instead of depending on your computer’s internal power supply, I would suggest that you get a good UPS. It is a heavy duty surge suppressor with a battery that will switch on when the power sags or turns off. This will protect your computer in the event of the lights flickering on and off, and also give you time to shut down your computer correctly when the power goes out. Once you have shut down your computer, unplug the UPS until after the power comes back on.

Elizabeth

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Comments

    • jlbruno
    • December 31, 2009

    Bad idea. If you unplug it from the power outlet and leave either the phone cord or cable still plugged in you could have worse problems. The 110 supply has a 3rd prong, the round one, that goes straight to ground. Unplugged it does not go anywhere. Unplug all connections to computer otherwise you will have other problems not so easy to repair.

    • Sarah
    • December 31, 2009

    Thank you for including #2. The last power outage here, there was a surge when it came back on and we lost computer equipment. What we didn’t know for 6 months, was that the transformer on the pole outside was damaged. We lost several monitors and at least one more computer in that 6 months – for no obvious reason. But there were other electrical problems in the house. When my husband finally got tired of me fussing about the light bulbs burning out in less than 2 weeks – sometimes 2 days! – and checked with a meter, the power coming into the house was at 265-270 volts instead of 240v. It was 130v at the outlets, where it should have been 110v. He called the power company and they sent someone out within the hour to check on it. They changed the transformer that same day.

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