Before You Open Your Computer ...
There are two things you should know about the inside of your computer:
- The computer is not dangerous. You don't have to be an electrician to work inside one; many people perform computer upgrades themselves at home. The only component with any significant amount of voltage is the power supply, and that has its own metal casing so you can't get inside it anyway. The parts of the system you see run at 5V and 12V DC, which is no more potent than a transistor radio.
- YOU, on the other hand, ARE dangerous. You know that little blue spark that zaps from your finger to the doorknob after walking across the carpet? It carries THOUSANDS of volts! You know the static that makes your clothes cling if you forgot to use fabric softener? That static is actually HUNDREDS of volts! Most of the computer's circuitry is designed to handle only 5 volts. If you let static get into the computer, you could blow lots of tiny fuses and cause major damage. Therefore, always remember to:
- Plug the computer's power cord into a grounded outlet (not a two-prong outlet)
- Make sure the computer is turned off; if you are using a power strip, turn that off too
- Keep your skin (not your clothes) in contact with a metal part of the computer's frame, or wear a grounding strap if you have one