How To Ground Yourself When Building Your Computer

Building A Computer Computers ESD Static Build Grounding Wrist Strap Systems
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Warning: Building computers can be very dangerous. Make sure you know exactly what you are doing. If, after reading this, you either damage your computer, burn your house down, or kill yourself, you or your next of kin cannot sue me over it.

Okay, now that the legal disclaimer is stated, let's get down to business...

When I decided to build my own computer, I started hearing about static and how it can destroy your expensive parts. Just a touch can damage a delicate electronic component. So I thought, "How can I prevent this from happening?"

I started googling, and I found out that practically everybody has there own way to do it. People argue to the death on forums defending their methods of anti-static-ness. So what is right, and what is wrong?

Many people say that while you are groping around inside your computer, you should just touch an unpainted metal surface every now and then and you should be fine. This is pretty decent, and it's the best thing you can do in an emergency if you can't properly ground yourself.

However, my computer's case is entirely painted. It looks pretty, but it's impossible to ground yourself to a case that has no bare metal. Instead, I just installed my power supply and touched the ground prong every now and then.

All that said, if all you're doing is touching a metal part on the computer, you aren't really grounding yourself. You're just putting yourself into a "common ground" with the PC, so to speak. You are transferring electrons to or from the PC until you both have the same charge, and that can zap your system.

So what is the right way to ground yourself? Well, I don't claim to know all the answers, but this is how I ended up doing it...

Step 1- Plug in your PC
I can hear you now. "No! You will kill yourself!"

True, if you just plug in your PC and then try installing parts, you will get a nice, jolting shock. And your computer will instantly die...

Do not do that!

Of course, people always tell beginners to unplug their computer when they work on it, but that's just so they won't accidentally electrocute themselves.

Step 2- Switch off your PSU
This is how you keep from getting shocked. Turn the switch on the back of your PSU to the OFF position. This way, you are grounded, but you are not getting any power into the system. This connects you to the whole planet, and any static discharge that might occur will go straight into the ground instead of your computer.

If your power supply does not have a switch on the back, like mine, just plug it into a surge protector and switch that off. (You really should use a surge protector either way.)

Every motherboard has an LED to indicate power. If this LED is off, there is no power in the system, and you are good to go.

Step 3- Use a wrist strap
You may as well, they're inexpensive little gadgets. I got mine for $4.00, and even if all it will really do is make you feel less paranoid, go for it.

Well, that's it! Three simple steps.

Extracurricular activities
A few extra nuggets of information that might help you...

Where do I attach my wrist strap?
Just stick it anywhere on your PSU that is bare metal. If your PSU is painted, you can take a paper clip, unfold it, and insert its ends into the two middle holes on a 4-pin female molex connector like this one:
(The two middle sockets are for ground)

The other end of this connector must be attached to your PSU. Then you just attach your wrist strap to the paper clip.

Removing the fuse on a UK 3-prong power plug
If you live in the UK (I don't), you probably have a plug like this:

If you take the cover off, you will find a fuse.
(The fuse is the vertical cylinder on the right.)

Remove the fuse and put the plug back together. Now when you plug it in, the plug will not let any electricity into your computer, but your computer will still be grounded.

A special thank you to Double-D and alexoiu for helping me improve this tutorial!
If you have any suggestions to improve this tutorial, send me a private message!