Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

QOTD: Worst Thing to Ever Happen to Your PC?

By , Marcus Yam, Tuan Nguyen - Source: Tom's Hardware US | B 194 comments

Breaking something sucks but breaking it in a weird way at least gives you a great story to tell.

Earlier we posted two videos from Lenovo's official YouTube channel that showed people doing horrific things to a ThinkPad T400s. Running over your computer with a DOW truck or leaving them out to feel the full effects of a tornado isn't really something you can do by accident but it got us thinking about all the horrible things that have happened to our computers.

Jane: I used to work in a computer repair place so we got a ton of b0rked laptops. In one week we got water damage (which we fixed), a "sticky substance" which the customer insisted was beer but definitely wasn't (fixed) and "a roof fell on it," which we also fixed. On the Friday afternoon we got a lady on the phone who kept saying "something spilled on it" but she wouldn't say what. Considering the week we'd had, I said, "Trust me, we've heard it all. Just tell us what happened and we'll arrange a collection." Her answer? "My cat peed on it." I lied and said we couldn't take apart something like that because it might be a biohazard but really, I just didn't want to clean cat pee off of someone's mobo, which might not even work anyway. Yuck.

Marcus: Wow, it's been a while since I've seen anyone make use of the word "b0rked." Anyway, aside from the horrific hard drive crashes or power supplies gone bad, nothing terrible has happened to any of my desktop or laptops. I've never set myself on fire while shooting for an ambitious overclock (though the night is still young). So in this case, I'll defer to one of the most unique and interesting cases of notebook damage that I've ever heard of. As you can tell from Jane's story above, people get the weirdest things spilled on their laptops... and so, here's a reason why not to let your girlfriend come near your computer.

Tuan: Well, the worst thing that ever happened, happened to a PC I was using that wasn't really mine. [laughter] It wasn't loaned to me because I was writing a review at the time. I was reviewing a CPU at the time, and literally fried it. The CPU actually went up in smokes. As far as something happened to my PC? The worst thing is probably accidentally shorting out my power supply and then causing an electrical fire. I was plugging in a 3.5-inch drive power cable. Somehow, there was a short. The cable sparked and lit up in flames, also causing a burn to my hand at the same time--and damage to the system.

The question of the day is: What's the worst thing that ever happened to your PC?

Display 194 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
Top Comments
  • 22 Hide
    CrispySilicon , June 19, 2009 1:15 AM
    Whoops, scratch the above.

    Back when the Tualatin core s370 P3 was released. I blew a huge chunk of change on a pair of 1.4ghz engineering samples (were NOT easy to obtain) coupled to an iwill dual socket board, 2gb of ddr2700, and a new radeon aiw, and a scsi raid array.

    Cooled by custom made copper water blocks, an eheim pump and a radiator out of a civic, complete with 20" cooling fans. I had scrimped and saved for a new system for 2 years, took every penny. Clocked to 1.8 it simply screamed, far faster then any p4 system at the time, my pride and joy.

    Came back home one day about a month after I put it together to find a burnt mess. One of the hoses attached to the coolant reservoir ruptured, and hosed down the power supply, burnt the system to the ground.

    I've carried the moniker CrispySilicon ever since. RIP tualatins, they were amazing compared to anything else at the time.
  • 18 Hide
    NuclearShadow , June 19, 2009 1:50 AM
    I once had a power supply blow up on me while playing F.E.A.R. for the first time. It made a loud bang sound and sparks violently shot out of the back of it. I jumped out of my chair and was scared like hell. I was worried that it may be on fire and if it damaged any other hardware. Thankfully the Power supply contained the blast and there wasn't a fire and amazingly all my other hardware still worked.

    I never played F.E.A.R. again...
  • 17 Hide
    Anonymous , June 19, 2009 2:28 AM
    I used to work for the silly black and orange people. One day we had a customer try to return an BFG 6800 GT OC (at the time the fastest card the big blue and yellow store sold)... he had an AGP motherboard, but it was PCI-e... well since it didn't fit his AGP slot, he had taken tin snips, cut off a bit of the wafer with the PCI-e pins, and jammed it in his AGP slot... after we showed the card to everyone behind the counter, and got our good laughs, we told him there was no way he could return it and he was out his $400 bucks, he couldn't understand how tin snips violated our return policy and made a scene...
Other Comments
  • 0 Hide
    Purrorritt , June 19, 2009 1:06 AM
    The worst thing that every happened to one of my machines was a fried motherboard. You could hear the sizzle and popping sounds and everything. I even let the magic smoke out of one of the larger chips.
  • 2 Hide
    unlicensedhitman , June 19, 2009 1:07 AM
    A power outage during last summer, and it lasted for two weeks. I couldn't play on my pc =(.
  • 2 Hide
    B-Unit , June 19, 2009 1:10 AM
    My best was with an old Athlon XP. I was convinced it was running too hot, and the cause HAD to be the way I installed the heatsink. On about the 4th remounting, I chiped one of the edges off the exposed die. Spent the next 6 months using an old PII 233...
  • -8 Hide
    CrispySilicon , June 19, 2009 1:14 AM
    jh
  • 22 Hide
    CrispySilicon , June 19, 2009 1:15 AM
    Whoops, scratch the above.

    Back when the Tualatin core s370 P3 was released. I blew a huge chunk of change on a pair of 1.4ghz engineering samples (were NOT easy to obtain) coupled to an iwill dual socket board, 2gb of ddr2700, and a new radeon aiw, and a scsi raid array.

    Cooled by custom made copper water blocks, an eheim pump and a radiator out of a civic, complete with 20" cooling fans. I had scrimped and saved for a new system for 2 years, took every penny. Clocked to 1.8 it simply screamed, far faster then any p4 system at the time, my pride and joy.

    Came back home one day about a month after I put it together to find a burnt mess. One of the hoses attached to the coolant reservoir ruptured, and hosed down the power supply, burnt the system to the ground.

    I've carried the moniker CrispySilicon ever since. RIP tualatins, they were amazing compared to anything else at the time.
  • -3 Hide
    ravewulf , June 19, 2009 1:21 AM
    I've accidentally reformatted my hard drive with all my stuff on it quite a few times. Each time I was able to get everything back using free software (although getting back a few hundred GB's of data took a long time). That's about the worst that's ever happened to me.
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , June 19, 2009 1:22 AM
    Bad caps.
  • 1 Hide
    aspireonelover , June 19, 2009 1:25 AM
    My worst accident?
    It was a while back, when I was mounting my e4300 cpu into my P5K mobo. What happened back then, I thought to myself "Why is it so hard to mount the cooler, and pushing the pin it in?!". Me being stupid enough, I took out the mobo, and clipped the heatsink on with force, and guess what? My Motherboard snapped in half! WTF.
    I've mounted LGA 775 coolers before as well, but never as bad as that mistake.
    Another time was, my power supply blew up! It was scary, especially gaming.
  • -1 Hide
    xyzionz , June 19, 2009 1:25 AM
    Harddisk went kaput...
    thats the worst..especially I didn't backup my songs and movies..
    like 300GB of them just gone like that
    I rather my mobo or anything else in my PC burnt but not my HDD lol...
  • 1 Hide
    rbarone69 , June 19, 2009 1:34 AM
    Not talking about hardware here but back in teh 90's my system was infected with a virus that stored itself on boot sectors and would load in memory whenever the disk was "accessed". It infected floppies and hard drives. The virus spread to all my friends and to my family.

    Ya, so the point, the virus erased the bios settings after every boot. I got real good at setting up the virus and wasted LOTS of money on new batteries (thinking that was the cause) and eventually wasted money on buying a whole new motherboard to find out it simply happened there too! Lol, lots of time wasted... not to mention none of my friends were happy either.
  • 1 Hide
    brendano257 , June 19, 2009 1:37 AM
    Corsair 750TX sparked when plugged in or turned on, blew the fuse to my bedroom, had to reset it every time I tried to turn it on...just got back the working RMA from Corsair, which didn't turn on for 20min the other day until I hit it o.O
  • 2 Hide
    cadder , June 19, 2009 1:43 AM
    1. Something over 20 years ago my company bought a Unix minicomputer. It was installed and we were trying to get it configured. I was sitting at the terminal next to the machine along with the installer when he suddenly reached over and hit the power button to turn the machine off. He had seen a wiff of smoke come out of the machine. We opened the case the one big resistor in the power supply had turned into a little pile of ash. I guess this is the definition of "smoke test".

    2. My computer switched to PC's, and I was there late on night upgrading a couple of machines. I had the covers off of 2 machines and was alternating working on one then the next. Somehow I got confused and pulled an expansion card out of a running 286 computer, before I realized that it was running and not the other one next to it. However it didn't have any affect on the computer.

    3. We had been running a Novell server and had it installed in the back of my office under a table. One morning it was not running, and it seemed that the motherboard was bad. I knew that we had several workstations with identical motherboards so I took one apart, pulled its mobo and put that mobo into the Novell server. It would post but wouldn't boot. Looking further I noticed that the pcb on one of the big hard drives (5 1/4" full height!) looked funny- some of the little components were missing. We looked over the hard drives and original motherboard and discovered lots of scratching and gouging, and missing components. Someone had apparently disassembled the server, worked it over with a screwdriver, and put it back together. We had to build a new server and restore our data from tape. This was a small company with limited access. We never found out who did the deed, maybe a disgruntled employee. We built a locking server closet after that and the head of our production department took over babysitting of the server. We didn't have any vandalism after that but the server never ran nearly as well as when I was in charge of it.
  • 0 Hide
    IzzyCraft , June 19, 2009 1:46 AM
    bad pbc made my wires melt all smokey...
  • 2 Hide
    arete , June 19, 2009 1:49 AM
    When I turned 21 I had purchased a new hard drive to add some storage. So after installing I turned on my pc and found that it successfully registered. Leaving my PC laying on its side open I proceeded to party. I awoke the next morning to find my pc turned off. Confused I pressed the power button and nothing... looking around the floor was wet and I noticed an empty beer can on the floor... possibly fallen off of the edge of the desk. I guess my PC was thirsty too! Fried everything except my HD's, Happy birthday me.
  • -5 Hide
    arete , June 19, 2009 1:49 AM
    When I turned 21 I had purchased a new hard drive to add some storage. So after installing I turned on my pc and found that it successfully registered. Leaving my PC laying on its side open I proceeded to party. I awoke the next morning to find my pc turned off. Confused I pressed the power button and nothing... looking around the floor was wet and I noticed an empty beer can on the floor... possibly fallen off of the edge of the desk. I guess my PC was thirsty too! Fried everything except my HD's, Happy birthday me.
  • 18 Hide
    NuclearShadow , June 19, 2009 1:50 AM
    I once had a power supply blow up on me while playing F.E.A.R. for the first time. It made a loud bang sound and sparks violently shot out of the back of it. I jumped out of my chair and was scared like hell. I was worried that it may be on fire and if it damaged any other hardware. Thankfully the Power supply contained the blast and there wasn't a fire and amazingly all my other hardware still worked.

    I never played F.E.A.R. again...
  • 1 Hide
    doormatderek , June 19, 2009 1:52 AM
    ya i had a power supply go out on me; A generic included with a case. I saw and heard the pop and spark, and then smelled the aftermath. Luckily it didn't take anything out with it. I have never used a pos power supply after that :) 
  • 2 Hide
    Spanky Deluxe , June 19, 2009 1:55 AM
    I managed to corrode the pins off an Athlon 64 processor due to condensation thanks to the seal failing on a phase change cooling head. There's nothing quite like seeing the pins fall off your $$$ CPU in front of your eyes, trust me.
  • 1 Hide
    7amood , June 19, 2009 2:00 AM
    Format the HD thinking that the backup is safe in the D: or other drive while in reality the data is not safe, or partially not safe.
    I think the most valuable part of the PC is the data on the hard drive since it is not possible to replace it like any hardware part.
Display more comments