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Can a power surge transmit through a router and blow up a PC?

Last response: in Networking
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February 4, 2013 11:31:51 AM

Hello,

Our local, and only, computer store in town stated that a Power Surge, NOT a lightning strike or from a storm, recently took out a server on the network. Here is the scheme of things.

He stated that a power surge went from Router 2 (Wireless) > to Router 1 > to a Network Switch > through the Ethernet cables > Across the building > and blow up the server motherboard...

No storms and no lightning. All other devices including the routers and switch still operate fine.

Is this possible?

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February 4, 2013 11:52:23 AM

You would know if it was a direct lightning strike things tend to be very burned. It is also unlikely that a power surge traveled across Ethernet cables. A lightning strike nearby could I guess generate a field in the cable but it is unlikely. Ethernet cable generally does not have the ability to carry much power. The twists in the wire make it very resistant to external fields.

Any surge that came in via the power lines most likely somehow passed though the power supply of the server to do the damage. Surge protectors do not always stop this, you would need a real UPS that always runs from the DC.

Then again stuff just fails
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February 4, 2013 12:10:13 PM

bill001g said:
You would know if it was a direct lightning strike things tend to be very burned. It is also unlikely that a power surge traveled across Ethernet cables. A lightning strike nearby could I guess generate a field in the cable but it is unlikely. Ethernet cable generally does not have the ability to carry much power. The twists in the wire make it very resistant to external fields.

Any surge that came in via the power lines most likely somehow passed though the power supply of the server to do the damage. Surge protectors do not always stop this, you would need a real UPS that always runs from the DC.

Then again stuff just fails


Thanks bill001g,

I told the company it was not feasible when they asked me but that I am no electrician. There were no storms, no lightning, but he claims because the 2nd router was plugged into a surge protector and not the UPS, it caused the server motherboard to blow up after a power surge, that no one even witness happen. By power surge I mean the building lost power and it came back on.
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February 4, 2013 12:42:32 PM

That would be crazy. If you reboot the router via software command it will go though a hardware reinitialization of the port to the server. If that alone causes issues the server has a bad problem. From a power standpoint there is no way for electrical power from wall outlet to get to the ethernet ports....well unless you fried the router completely.

If the server lost power even for a very short time it is very common that that they do not come back up. After running possibly for years they tend to have issues once they cool down.

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February 4, 2013 1:27:32 PM

bill001g said:
That would be crazy. If you reboot the router via software command it will go though a hardware reinitialization of the port to the server. If that alone causes issues the server has a bad problem. From a power standpoint there is no way for electrical power from wall outlet to get to the ethernet ports....well unless you fried the router completely.

If the server lost power even for a very short time it is very common that that they do not come back up. After running possibly for years they tend to have issues once they cool down.


"That would be crazy" sums it up.
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February 4, 2013 4:37:56 PM

Ass Bill001g has stated this doesn't seem right. Little power current can actually go through the ethernet cable, and how a power surge, occurring at the switch power supply, somehow translates to the ethernet port and then to the server doesn't really seem clear. However, it could still be that you had a power surge that indeed damaged your server (and possibly other equipment connected to power.) This power surge most likely though came from the wall power outlet or power unit and then affected the server. A power surge can damage multiple devices across multiple power outlets or rooms, not always just a single outlet or device. And just having a surge protector on your device isn't going to always catch it. A surge suppressor may stop some power surges where too much electrical current occurs, but not always do they protect from too little voltage, such as can occur with a brown out. A flat power outage can even damage devices even when connected to a UPS simply because cutting power to a running system can be bad on components.
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February 4, 2013 5:09:31 PM

choucove said:
. . . A flat power outage can even damage devices even when connected to a UPS simply because cutting power to a running system can be bad on components.
One very good reason not to buy cheap UPS devices and to run them with the automatic shutdown software, and not to have systems configured to automatically power back on when the main power comes back on.

edit: and I agree with the others that it wasn't a "power surge," but may have been the unexpected shutdown. Voltage drops alone can be damaging to electronics without the power even going out completely.
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February 5, 2013 1:33:23 PM

Best answer selected by TWDesigns.
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