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Why did my server go POP! ?

I have a server that's 3-1/2 years old and has always made a lot of noise due to it having a powerful fan. I was told the chip generated lots of heat and that's why the fan was a very powerful one.

It's been off for a week and I turnned it on today and it popped. I unplugged it and smelled smoke.
I suspect the power supply failed.

How can I find out?

4 Solutions
Well, open the computer up and look.

Look for smoke and burn marks.  Use your nose to sniff as well.  If you can't see anything use your nose.

Could be anything that has gone.  Could be power supply.  Could be CPU.  Could be capacitors on motherboard.  For this last look at the capacitors and if you have bent, bulging or swollen ones then you've likely got a motherboard with bad capacitors.
Yup, that sounds like a power supply failure. The smell of burned electronics will generally lead you to the source of the problem.

remove the power supply and see if the smell is stonger there than inside the case.
newbiewebSr. Software EngineerAuthor Commented:
I don't see any sign of damage. And when I smell around I mostly smell dust!

I noticed the fax on the motherboard has a lot of dust built up on it.

Is there a way to unplu the power supply from the internal hardware then test if it work still?

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To test a power supply, you need to put it under a load - there are a number of power supply testers out there, like this one: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16899706001&cm_re=power_supply_tester-_-99-706-001-_-Product

Keep in mind this is not 100% sure, because power supplies can work fine under a light load and fail when asked to supply a lot of current.  It's still a good start.
newbiewebSr. Software EngineerAuthor Commented:
I have one server and would never use this tester again. And given the low cost or power supplies, I couild replace it.  If the power supply went Pop! could I simply disconnect it and plug it in?  Wouldn't it fail iin some way?

What's the smartest (and cheapest) way to disgnose this problem

Get rid of the dust for starters.  Use compressed air.  If you are cheap use a vacuum cleaner with a plastic nozzle (not recommended by most experts as you can cause static electricity.  Don't use a metal nozzle at all).

If this is a standard power supply and not some fancy server type power supply then buy another one with a well known brand name such as PC Power and Cooling and try that out.

Also sniff inside the power supply through the fan and intake ports.  You might sense something there.  And if you aren't too worried about the power supply you should be able to open it up and examine it.
newbiewebSr. Software EngineerAuthor Commented:
Sounds like a plan.
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