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  Computer got toasted by a power surge - looking for advice - please help!! 
 
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Tom Juliano Nov 11, 2012, 04:54pm EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Recently, we had a storm and after one very intense close by lightning strike, our Dell Inspiron 570 (about a year old) would not boot up. Warranty just ran out in July... :) When I hit the power button, there is a solid amber light on the front. I hear the fans start up and what sounds like the hard drive. On the power supply in the back I see a solid green light when it's plugged in.

I've read in other forums/posts that a solid amber light means that the system is not getting enough power, and that it would blink if there was an issue with the motherboard or hard drive.

Does this situation sound like it's the power supply? What seems like the best course of action to take on this? I'd like to avoid taking it in somewhere if it's not necessary.

Thanks for any advice and suggestions you can give!


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john albrich Nov 12, 2012, 04:59am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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>> Re: Computer got toasted by a power surge - looking for advice - please help!!

Tom,

If the system was damaged by an electrical event (e.g. nearby lightning strike), then in general one can't rely on internal/self-diagnostics pointing to the right problem. The hardware/firmware that runs the diagnostics and even the reporting (e.g. LEDs) could have been damaged or corrupted and may provide unreliable results.

It's best to go through a ground-up debug of the system. Search on phrases like
basic debug
system debug
and so on in the HWA search bar (upper right corner of webpage) for some tips and procedures.

If you start using the "easter-egg" approach to debugging, make sure the first thing to test and verify is operating properly is the PSU, as a faulty PSU can damage/destroy any other parts you try to swap in. You may need additional tools to test a PSU more thoroughly (e.g. a voltmeter and/or a "PSU tester"...although there are caveats to using these tools as even they won't test everything in the PSU. Their limitations are discussed in various debugging threads)

Also...

Keep in mind that even if you had a "surge protector", it may not have saved the system from a nearby lightning strike. In addition, a lightning strike can compromise the "surge protector" ability to protect the system from all future electrical anomolies...even if it appears to be working properly afterwards. After a lightning strike in which the system has suffered damage, for future safety it's best to replace the "surge protector" regardless of whether it seems to have survived and appears to be working properly.

Electrical spikes also can enter the system via attached peripherals like printers, communications lines, etc.

w thom Nov 13, 2012, 09:48am EST Reply - Quote - Report Abuse
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Edited: Nov 13, 2012, 09:56am EST

 
>> Re: Computer got toasted by a power surge - looking for advice - please help!!
Tom Juliano said: Does this situation sound like it's the power supply? What seems like the best course of action to take on this? I'd like to avoid taking it in somewhere if it's not necessary.

A surge is a current with one incoming path. And another outgoing path. If both paths do not exist, then no damage. Damage is typically one part in that path. Is the supply destroyed? Nobody can say from a post that is even missing critical numbers. The next post could say if a power 'system' (more than just a PSU) is damaged if important numbers are provided from six wires by a meter.

A typical example. A surge on AC mains is incoming to a computer. The outgoing path might be the network cable, through router, to earth ground via cable or phone line. Damage is often on the outgoing path - ie a network interface - even though that surge was incoming on AC mains.. Reason for damage is a surge not earthed BEFORE entering the building.

You have two problems. Fix the computer. And eliminate what is apparently no properly earthed protection.

Get assistance here by using a digital multimeter to provide important numbers. Only with numbers can a next reply define the power 'system'. Or help you move on to other possible damage.


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