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"Earthing" the computer?

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August 26, 2008 9:42:49 PM

I've got all my components for a new system, but I keep hearing bits here and there about keeping the system Earthed while building it by plugging in the PSU but keeping it off (or something along those lines. Idk for sure which is why I'm asking!).

This goes against common sense to me, so I figured I'd ask and make sure if I was or was not supposed to do this.

So to summerize: Do I need to plug my computer in, or do anything with the PSU before I power it up.

More about : earthing computer

August 26, 2008 9:50:54 PM

Don't worry about all that. It's to keep static from building up. I'm a computer tech myself, and if I do not have my wrist strap handy, what I do is get in a stationary spot where I don't have to move a lot, then touch a metal, unpainted part of your computer case before you touch anything. Myself, if I'm handling a part, I like to hold an unpainted part of the case while moving/installing a part. But when building a machine, I don't plug them in. If you are careful and be sure to touch an unpainted part of your case often, and don't move around, you should be ok.
August 26, 2008 10:01:24 PM

Unplug your power supply when you work on your system. ohio_ugrad-06's advice is very good advice. Sometimes I forget to touch bare metal before I touch my RAM or CPU. I have a wrist strap too, but I don't always use it. Good idea to be like ohio and take his advice. May save you a CPU RMA in the future. Oh, all my floors are tile or wood except the bedrooms. I'm usually sleeping if I work on my system in the bedrooms. 8)
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August 26, 2008 10:17:15 PM

rub a balloon on your head drag your feet across the carpet. then touch the underside of the CPU. Bet your odds of damaging the CPU would be less then 50%... shame I don't have the money to waste to test it.
August 26, 2008 10:34:47 PM

I thought of Electrostatci Discharge as being a possibility? OP is asking if keeping the power supply plugged in while he is working on the system is 'earthing' it. No. Unplug the PSU when you work on your system. I'm guilty myself of just switching off the PSU without unplugging it at times. I think ohio_ was just explaining what 'earthing' is, the use of a wrist strap to prevent any chance of ESD occuring. Anyway, I recently installed an AMD 64 939 4000+ and it worked for a bout a week. I was stunned when it failed suddenly. I verified by installing my 3800+. Still couldn't believe the processor work a week and quit. I thought ESD was cumulative and took more time than a week to cripple a CPU. I could only think ESD or the small OC I put on the CPU caused it to quit. maybe it was a defective unit. I thought AMD thoroughly tested the CPU before shipping it out to distributors? Anyway...
August 26, 2008 10:35:10 PM

Hmm, I could swear when I took A+ 100 years ago I was taught specifically to UNPLUG the machine before making any hardware modifications.

I do some hardware work everyday, I can sincerely tell you I have never used a wrist strap and I have never fried a component. Touch something metal to discharge your static electricity before touching any hardware components.

One day I constructed two computers in a fleecy shirt…I was VERY cautious, no wrist strap and definitely not plugged into the wall! Went well.

-unplug before working on hardware.
-Avoid carpet.
-Avoid Fleecy clothing.
-Avoid scuffing your feet.
-avoid liquid.
-Use common sense.
August 26, 2008 10:50:05 PM

I work on PC's, but I'm also apple certified. I can tell you apple for their laptops says you are not to have the power cord or even the battery attached when you work on a lappy. So there's your answer. On the earthing, I think he really just means grounding, different term though. Just like I said don't move much, touch an unpainted part of your case before you grab a part, and don't act like an idiot with your parts and you should be ok.

As some people find out, ESD seems sometimes to be one of those things, you can get just enough ESD damage to barely damage something and have intermittent issues for years. But never complete failure. Or sometimes you just get bad parts from the batch. But not generally unless you buy junk parts to begin with.
August 26, 2008 10:56:38 PM

hairycat101 said:
rub a balloon on your head drag your feet across the carpet. then touch the underside of the CPU. Bet your odds of damaging the CPU would be less then 50%... shame I don't have the money to waste to test it.



i lawled in my mouth a little. :D 

but seriously when i build (like others have said) i always touch bare metal and never build on a carpet.
August 27, 2008 12:40:12 AM

i've never used a wrist strap, and i don't take very many precautions before installing hardware in a computer. and i've never had a damaged part to date.
August 27, 2008 12:51:37 AM

i wear it becuase sometimes you forget to touch something and the strap is there as a backup
August 27, 2008 12:51:50 AM

i think the actual term is grounding, and touching metal when the psu isn't plugged in does absolutely nothing.... its like touching your desk, it won't do squat

touch any metal in your case when you begin, than unplug the PSU and start from there..yes its to remove any static electricity

i do think i learned something while taking EE in HS, and I'm still majoring in it in college
August 27, 2008 12:53:44 AM

So if I strap on my wrist strap, unplug the power supply then clip the wrist strap to the bare metal of the case...I am not grounded?
August 27, 2008 12:55:30 AM

I think when referring to touching the bare metal of the case, the reference is to discharge static electricity in that manner. Not grounding out.
August 27, 2008 12:58:15 AM

no your not, but its difficult to damage hardware, i worked on a carpet before, nothing was damaged... of course my parts weren;t on the carpet, i was

you have to be trying to damage the components to actually do anything
August 27, 2008 12:59:32 AM

im pretty sure when you discharge the static, you are grounding it
August 27, 2008 1:00:12 AM

When it's warm and the relative humidity is above about 30 to 35% static electricity is harder to form around you and your gear. Cool dry air helps to increase static. I also stay away from synthetic cloth in my clothes when I work on equipment.
If I feel my arm hair being attracted to anything I am working on I then take extra precautions. This is my easy test for static.
August 27, 2008 1:00:31 AM

Splinter7700 said:
I've got all my components for a new system, but I keep hearing bits here and there about keeping the system Earthed while building it by plugging in the PSU but keeping it off (or something along those lines. Idk for sure which is why I'm asking!).

This goes against common sense to me, so I figured I'd ask and make sure if I was or was not supposed to do this.

So to summerize: Do I need to plug my computer in, or do anything with the PSU before I power it up.



Let that sink in for a minute. . .
August 27, 2008 1:04:17 AM

Electrostatic discharge can be cumilative. It's like radiation. When you walk to your car the only reason you don't die instantly from the radiation is the distance the sun is from the earth and the atmosphere protecting you from excessive amounts of radiation which is cumlative. Your body can only be exposed to a pre determined amount over the course of your life. Radiation exposure is cumlative like electrostatic discharge is. Your processor could be effected years from now from the ESD you caused presently. Anyway, I'm not overely concerned about ESD, but I think touching bare metal does discharge any ESD present and I also belive attaching my wrist strap to the bare metal of my case 'earths' me.
August 27, 2008 1:05:34 AM

@jkflipflop...yeah funny LOL.
August 27, 2008 1:12:03 AM

eklipz330 said:
no your not, but its difficult to damage hardware, i worked on a carpet before, nothing was damaged... of course my parts weren;t on the carpet, i was

you have to be trying to damage the components to actually do anything


Kind of my point from my post above. Of course, it was meant to be a very extreme example, but most of us have put together our systems on the kitchen floor or even the living room carpet... without wrist straps and we've been ok.
August 27, 2008 1:17:02 AM

I rarely use my wrist strap. The other day I stuck a new DIMM of RAM in a gal's system for her. She was there watching and opened the RAM holder and started to take it out of the holder. I cautioned her to not touch the 'chips' on the DIMM and to hold it by the edges. She had no idea.

Funny, I bought a couple of DIMMs of PC3200 the other day to have around. I considered buying and installing heatspreaders so they would be easier to handle. I'll probably end up installing them in someone's machine I'm working on. No heatspreaders for now.
August 27, 2008 1:29:39 AM

It's as I said everyone thinks they don't do any damage without taking some kind of precaution. A lot of times ESD damage can be the little issue that you don't even think about as being that.

As far as badge talking about heatspreaders, believe it or not, I don't think I want heatspreaders on my memory honestly. I remember getting some supertalent memory, and this was a Christmas gift, but I had recieved one stick that had no heatspreader, one with it. Worked fine for a couple of months. But believe it or not I had a stick of ram that went bad. It was the stick that had a heatspreader on it. Started getting lockups and all, went to check, and the ram with the heatspreader was very hot and smelled funny. Everything tested fine when it was taken out. Replaced it with a different stick with no heatspreader, and no problems since.

Would think cooling would be ok considering my case has a 250 mm side fan.....
February 12, 2012 10:45:19 AM

the best way to discharge static from your body is to touch something that is earthed (grounded is the american term for earthed), meaning that static charge will flow into the mass that is the earth.

touching a metal computer case that is not earthed will not discharge anything, thats why people sometimes have psu's plugged in, but you shouldnt do this.

to be 100% sure you need to use a wrist strap and connect it to a copper pipe in your house (or something else that you know is earthed)

as people above have mentioned, the chances of frying something are slim, but if you've ever touched a door knob and got a shock, this usually means your body has been charged with 3000 - 4000 volts, easily enough to fry computer parts.

im not sure how many volts it would take to damage a part but its common for the body to be charged with hundreds of volts and you wouldnt know about it.
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