Isolating Power Failures In Computer Systems

Isolating Power Failures In Computer Systems

Isolating Power Failures In Computer Systems

24 November 2014
Construction & Contractors, Blog

Workstations, servers and the power systems that support them can be severely damaged during electrical storms, local power company failures or problems within the computer area. Power failure and related technical difficulties may take a different approach from standard computer troubleshooting. If you suspect power failure as the cause of your computer system woes, consider a few inspection and troubleshooting steps that can bring your system back to normal.

Loose Connections After Power Surges

When an electrical storm or overload from the power company happens, the inner workings of your computer systems aren't the only parts in danger. In fact, with many sophisticated fail safes, it may be the cheaper, but still important, components that fail.

One simple fix that continues to plague businesses without dedicated Information Technology (IT) or Electronics Technician (ET) staff is the power cable. After performing inspections of the power supply, system boards and other parts, a burned cable can be the culprit. For this reason, always put the power cable and other basic checks at the beginning unless you can see the specific problem.

Keep the following list of connected components and cables ready at the top of your inspection list:

  • Power cable. The power cable can be burned on the inside without any outer indications. Although power cables can burn with visible melting marks, an unmarred outer shell may hide internal damage that can't be seen without cutting the cable apart. Try another power cable before attempting more expensive replacements.
  • Wall Socket. Violent electrical surges can burn the electrical connections of sockets that are actively delivering power to a device. Either move the device to another wall socket or use an extension cable to reach a far away socket. If other sockets are working, you'll need to check the wires within the wall or contact an electrician for wire replacement.
  • Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) Battery. If computers are on individual UPS units, the batteries may have been depleted or damaged during electrical surges. Either replace the batteries or inspect the UPS for internal failure. Most UPS brands carry a warranty for electrical surge protection, which can be used to cover damages and replacement.

Inspect Power Supply And Connected Components

The power supply for a desktop, laptop or server system is the first part of a device that faces threats from electrical damage. Thankfully, power supplies have fail-safe mechanisms to shut down or isolate damage from the rest of the computer in the case of a power surge.

If you believe that the rest of the system is intact, make sure to try resetting the power supply's power safety. Remove any power cables or battery backups; then hold down the power button for the device for 15-30 seconds, but no longer than a minute. Although some power supply models have varying reset timers, a minute is far too long to wait.

After resetting the power supply, look for any light indicators or spinning fans on the power supply only. If the power supply does not turn on, you'll need to replace it. Avoid opening the power supply itself, as even a power reset may leave a dangerous charge in the supply.

If you need help with specific components, contact an electrician.

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