Is There Any Means Or Way To Test One's Computer For Lightning Damage Or Electrical Surges And Show This Degree of Hardware Damage?

Posted on 2011-09-27
Last Modified: 2013-12-13
Hello. I have a question to ask you.


Is there any means or way to test one's computer for lightning damage or electrical surges and show the degree of hardware damage?

Sources and/or methods I would "think" would be applicable to determine by:

1. Using some software program to install that tests one's computer to detect minute levels of electrical computer damage with various hardware components?


2. Performing some other mechanical means with hardware testing with specialized equipment to detect minute levels of electrical computer damage with various hardware components?

This applies to both desktops and laptop computers. The operating system is Windows based for a software program answer and solution. Obviously,  would work on the LATEST Windows operating system.

Other than what I have mentioned, I am leaving this question 'open' and general in nature without detailed predefined restrictions established. I'm leaving this question open as to let numerous EE experts from different computer IT fields comment on this with answers and/or solutions.

Please provide your own detailed steps with suggestions, hints, and tips; and/or the best possible  well written, detailed and documented website links hopefully containing images and demonstrations along with the instructions.

DO NOT USE or similar-like web links in your reply. I consider its use very unprofessional for EE experts. If you do, you will not get acknowledged and receive no credit.

Please reply.

Thank you!
Question by:RegulaOne
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LVL 48

Assisted Solution

dbrunton earned 83 total points
ID: 36714798
Short answer.


You are talking of electrical circuitry.  A motherboard may have seven layers in it's construction.  You can't inspect or even test layers you can't see.  The same applies for electrical components such as hard disks or power supplies.

You can inspect components for damage such as capacitors (blown, bulging) but there may be components not working that have no signs of visual damage.
LVL 18

Assisted Solution

Rartemass earned 83 total points
ID: 36714911
Only things I can think of is a multimeter to test that voltages/current/resistance are within tolerance and as expected, and an oscilloscope.
The PicoScope 9000 is an oscilloscope that has included software to analyse high speed electrical signals. These are pricey however.

But even then you won't get a full picture of damage on the level you are requesting.
LVL 92

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 83 total points
ID: 36715004
is there a test for it ? YES : the system runs, or it does not
you must troubleshoot each case; they all have different failures and problems
what you can do is use the minimum setup, as described in my article, to have a starting point :      (Short-overview-of-how-to-troubleshoot-bad-hardware-when-a-pc-does-not-post)

then - test devices on a working system : ram, disk and cd drives, cards...even PS
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LVL 69

Assisted Solution

Callandor earned 83 total points
ID: 36716326
The best way to deal with suspected surge damaged equipment is to stress it and see if it fails - if it doesn't, it is indistinguishable from equipment that was not damaged, and there is no way to predict failure in the future.  For stress testing, run Memtest86 on the memory, Prime95 on the cpu, and the FutureMark benchmark for everything else.  There are power supply testers which will tell you if a power supply is working, but they won't tell you what will happen if you load up a lot of devices on it.
LVL 32

Accepted Solution

Mark earned 85 total points
ID: 36716385
This kind of electrical testing is done at a manufacturing level where they have an electrical jig setup for this particular motherboard. In essence the answer is no because this type of jig is not accessible to us, and if it were the cost of it would be well beyond what a new motherboard would cost.
There are logical steps to take when you are trying to pinpoint a problem component and swapping parts out or trying them on working systems can find damaged components that can be removed from the PC, laptops have less removable components so most issues occur on the motherboard. These issues need very technical oriented approaches using oscilloscopes and high end multimeters.
In the end the cost of replacing a motherboard is cheaper than spending countless hours testing thousands of onboard components and hundreds of electrical traces both seen and buried in the multi layers of the PCB board.
The best test is essentially if it works it's good, if it works sometimes use a stress test like  passmark benchtest to see where  anomalous errors are coming from.
If it doesn't work, swap components like ram, remove cards and drives from the system and try it stripped of components, if it runs then add one component at a time until something shows up.
LVL 10

Assisted Solution

LMiller7 earned 83 total points
ID: 36716870
Unfortunately, what you are asking for is impossible with current technology and will likely remain so for the near future. Lightning places stresses on electronic components beyond which they were designed to tolerate. The results of such damage is unpredictable, but for the most part will be undetectable by any known method until the component is no longer able to function properly. A skilled technician with adequate test equipment may be able to detect some damage before this but the results would be far from conclusive.

The detection of problems with software would be even more difficult and even less reliable.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 36907476
@ all that have replied.

I have closed this question/thread at this time since I have not received any more comments for a few days and the comments. I have received comments that encompass both of two methods (software/hardware) as well in combination with all the experts comments provided.  

Hello.  It's nice to meet dbrunton, Rartemass, sparkmaster, and LMiller7! It's nice to see nobus and Callandor again! Thank you for your responses in your comments!

Okay, this question is one of those questions/threads where all expert comments are diverse and covers all my questions I ask -- like detailing both the software and hardware issues. I never stated in my initial post about "me" actually doing the testing, so your expert comments implicate me as the tester and also references to third party technical assistance.  There is no overlapping in anyone of your expert comments either. Like I said, 'diverse' answers.

Now regarding solutions. Answer: There is NO 'specific' piece of hardware or a 'specific' case scenario for an issue I presented, it is understandable you cannot reply with such an answer. That is okay. Your comments should remain 'general' and they all do.

All expert comments provide a hardware answer to an electrical surge, except callandor where callandor provides me a software answer and sparkmaker and LMiller7 provide me both answers to hardware and software.  

Okay, so who wins the ONE AND ONLY "Accepted Solution"? Again as I have alluded to above, this is somewhat a difficult question/thread to clearly assign a winner for the "Accepted Solution", but I will say from all the choices of comments, the only way to *TRULY BEST WAY TO DETERMINE THE ROOT CAUSE BY THE MOST DEFINITIVE MEANS FOR ANY DEGREE OF POSSIBLE DAMAGE WHETHER DEMONSTERATED IN SOME WAY OR NOT* is marked by sparkmaster's comments. Ultimately, sparkmaster is correct when sparkmaster states, "This kind of electrical testing is done at a manufacturing level where they have an electrical jig setup for this particular motherboard. In essence the answer is no because this type of jig is not accessible to us, and if it were the cost of it would be well beyond what a new motherboard would cost." . This will give the user or hardware owner the 'definitive answer' as the damage or partial damage done.

In terms of points since the answers are all 'diverse' and practical in all realistic posssibilities, with 6 experts comments from 6 experts; each expert, except the "Accepted Solution" comment will receive 83 points evenly as "Assisted Solutions". The one "Accepted Solution" will receive 85 points.

Again, thank you!

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