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Power Supply Gone Bad

Friday, November 16th, 2007 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help
 
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Q:
Last week, you wrote a tip about a computer’s power supply going bad, but you didn’t really discuss what we should do if that actually happens to us. Can you please go into that a little more? Thanks!

A:
I surely can! The response I got from that tip was simply amazing. The power supply article ran in last Friday’s newsletter and let me tell you, on Monday morning when I got back to work from over the weekend, my e-mail Inbox was filled with questions just like this. I couldn’t believe it! So, I knew I had to get this problem taken care of right away and that’s exactly what I’m going to do today. If you’ve ever had trouble with your computer’s power supply, you’re definitely going to want to tune in to this. It’s some very helpful information for any computer user!

To begin, if you think your power supply has gone bad, there are a few things you should check on before you go out and buy a whole new one. For one, make sure your power cord is plugged into both the wall socket and the power supply. Next, check on your power strip or surge protector (if you use one). Is it turned on and does it seem to be working properly? If the problem lies within your power strip, that will be a lot easier to fix than replacing your whole power supply. Lastly, make sure your power supply is actually turned on. It should have an On/Off switch, so just double check to ensure that it is powered up. Now, if after checking out all of those things, you still think your power supply is faulty, continue reading to see what you can do next.

If your power supply has gone bad, you will obviously need to replace it. It’s a pretty easy procedure, so you should be able to do it on your own, but if you don’t feel comfortable with it, please find some help. Before you do anything, you’ll need to remove all of the plugs, cables, etc. that are attached to your computer tower. You don’t want any power flowing through your system while you’re doing this, so make sure everything is unplugged. Next, go ahead and open up your computer case. There are several different cases, so I can’t tell you exactly how to take yours off, but you should just need to undo a couple screws and the outside panel should slide off for you.

Once you have your case open, you will need to locate the power supply. It is basically a metal box with several colored wires that hook up to the motherboard and some of your computer’s other components. Next, unhook all the connectors that run to those components inside your unit. You don’t need to tug very hard on them, as they usually come out pretty easily. You may have to work a little harder on some, but they should all disconnect with little effort. It’s also a good idea to take notes of all the components you disconnect so that you can reconnect them quicker when you’re installing your new power supply.

Once everything’s unhooked, you will need to remove the power supply from your PC’s case. It is usually put in place with mounting screws, so just remove those and slide the unit out. If any of the other components are in your way, you may need to remove those as well, but make sure you keep the screws lined up so that you can easily reattach everything later on. Also, you do not need to use much force when taking the power supply out. Just gently slide it out of its position.

Now, the next thing you need to focus on is purchasing a new power supply. Most power supplies these days are the ATX version, but it mainly depends on how old your computer is. For example, if your computer still has an AT style power supply, that’s rather old and you may want to think about replacing your whole computer, instead of just the power supply. On the other hand, if you have an ATX motherboard plug and an ATX connector to your power supply, you’ll be good to go. If you’re not sure what kind to buy, refer to your computer’s user manual for help. It should tell you how many watts you need, but again, that also depends on what you use your computer for. If you’re big into gaming, etc., you may want to add a little wattage to your new power supply. A good rule to go by is to check the wattage your current power supply has and then increase that by 100 or 200 watts to be safe.

Power supplies aren’t really known by brand names, but you can always search for them with your favorite search engine to learn a little more about them before you actually purchase one. I know Tiger Direct is a good name if you want to order yours online. Otherwise, power supplies are available at most electronics stores.

Okay, let’s take a breather. I know all of this is quite a bit to take in, so I’m going to stop there for today. I don’t want to overwhelm you too much with all this power supply talk, so we’ll just finish this tomorrow. We’ll go over how to install your new power supply and how to get your computer back up and running like it should be! So, go ahead, read through this a couple times and I’ll meet you right back here tomorrow to finish up. See ya!

~ Erin

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