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Which is best?

Posted on 2002-04-19
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Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I've been told two different ways to counteract static electricity when opening my PC to add or reseat a card.  

One person said to keep the PC plugged in and the power off because the ground (when plugged in) is the best prevention against static electricity.  Another said to get a wrist strap or anti-static matt and unplug the PC.
Will you provide your insight?
Thanks
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Question by:jackie33
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8 Comments
 
LVL 31

Expert Comment

by:rid
ID: 6955594
Actually, you should do both to get any kind of safety. If the computer is grounded (power cord connected to a GROUNDED outlet) and you're not, you will zap whichever part of the box you touch first. Toch the frame/chassis first, before grabbing a memory module... Or get a wrist strap and connect it to ground.

The general idea is to equalise the potential between yourself and the box, so even if neither you nor the box is grounded, you MAY be safe as long as you touch the chassis first. Putting both objects (you and the computer) at ground potential first is a good idea.

Regards
/RID
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LVL 14

Expert Comment

by:tmj883
ID: 6955649
It is sometimes recommended to leave an assembled computer plugged in while working in the case. This is a safe practice in older systems but the ATX and NLX power supplies used today deliver +5v current to the motherboard whenever plugged in. This current can be dangerous. With modern power supplies, use an anti-static strap and/or mat with the power unplugged. T
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LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:jhance
ID: 6955823
I DISAGREE with the comment that you should keep a PC plugged in when you are working on it.  This is DANGEROUS TO YOU and should not be done.  

You SHOULD, however, use a WRIST GROUND STRAP to connect your body to the case of the machine.  In the best scenario, both the wrist strap and the CONDUCTIVE mat on which the machine is sitting will be connected to EARTH GROUND.  But the KEY THING is getting your body and the case at the same POTENTIAL and the strap between you and the case will do that nicely.

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Accepted Solution

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jlauster earned 50 total points
ID: 6955833
Having a PC plugged into a plug strip or surge protector that is turned off will both eliminate the potential of electrical shock, and still keep the case grounded, as only the hot wire is disconnected.

A wrist ground strap is a conductor with built in resistance, that will dissapate any difference in potential between yourself and the case slowly, so that a rapid discharge of the potential difference will not occur.

Using both is best. Any static charge will slowly bleed to the case and to earth ground, leaving the potential for ESD at a minimum.
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Author Comment

by:jackie33
ID: 6956223
Sounds good to me.  Thanks a lot.
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by:jlauster
ID: 6956870
Glad we could help.

As rid posted this info for the most part first, I will create a question to toss some points their way.

Thanks,
John
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LVL 7

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by:jlauster
ID: 6956883
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Author Comment

by:jackie33
ID: 6957039
jlauster
I should make this a new question, but I don't know that the same people would respond.  I could have broken the award points up a bit BECAUSE I appreciate all of you spending your time answering questions*.  I didn't because rid did not tell me to use a surge protector as a buffer(??).  (I honestly don't know what benefit is derived from using a surge protector in the "off" position unless it lessens an impact, but I took you at your word.  You've been here a long time and answer questions sensibly.)

* I looked at the number of questions I've asked (shame-facedly) and thought that maybe I could make a small contribution.  So, I bought $10 worth of points last night.  This isn't added for comment, especially because it doesn't help you directly, but I realize what a great site this is and I've often wanted to help somehow.


So, I'll give rid additional points if you'll answer this.  Does it matter whether or not I keep the PC plugged directly into an outlet with the PC power turned "off" (using a wrist strap, as well), or are you going to stay with with your original answer: use both a wrist strap and surge protector?

Hopefully, I'm clear.
Jackie
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