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Tips for Preventing Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Damage

Components inside a PC are extremely sensitive to electrostatic discharge (ESD - also known as static electricity).  Electrostatic discharge can quickly and invisibly damage damage such components without warnings and more than likely you won't know it has happened - until, that is, your system won't work!

However, if you take proper care to ground yourself properly and handle components correctly, you can easily avoid the such damage occurring. 

Preventing ESD 

  • Wear a grounding wrist strap if you have one.  These are available at most electronic stores and are very cheap and last years. 
  • Turn off the computer. 
  • Remove external device cables, except for the power cable. 
  • Remove the case cover, taking care to use the appropriate screwdriver for all screws. 
  • Ground yourself by touching the metal case of the power supply while it is plugged in. 
  • Unplug the power cable. 

Safe Handling of Components 

  • If installing new components, leave it in the anti-static bag until you are ready to use it.  
  • Don't lay components on top of anti-static bags as this provides no protection. 
  • Never slide PC cards or other components over any surface. 
  • Avoid static-inducing materials such as plastic and polystyrene (styrofoam) in the work area. 
  • Always hold PC cards by the edges and the metal mounting bracket. 
  • Avoid touching the components on the cards and the edge connectors that connect to expansion slots.

Read more in chapter 6 of the book

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
Last updated: May 4th 2004
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