Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Did I damage my RAM stick?

I'm recently going to upgrade my computer with a 200GB HD and 1GB RAM. I've been "messing" for months with the inside of my computer, but something happened yesterday. I opened it and took out both RAM sticks (256 + 128). Did some other stuff also, like cleaning and moving some cables, in order to make room for the HDD. When I closed my computer, opened it, it went directly from the POST screen to a black one. Then windows couldn\'t start because of a file missing. Then I couldn't start the Repair console or the Linux Live CD. It turned out to be the 128MB RAM stick. I took it out and it worked. I have some questions though.
1. Certainly it was damaged by static right?
2. Is there a chance that I ruined something else, including the RAM slot? I ran a 2h stress test and no errors came by.

We can rarely say for definite that ESD is the cause of damage unless expensive failure analysis confirms it to be so. However it certainly sounds as if it is possible, even likely. ESD can weaken semiconductor components and give later failures - so it's possible that another component could be damaged. You'll only know if it fails.

3. I\'m now buying a wrist strap from amazon now... to avoid more problems. Will this prevent any damage from ESD? I have to clip the wire to the metal chasis of the pc, unplugged?

Connect the wrist strap to the PC chassis and wear it in good contact with the skin of your wrist. For safety, the pc should not be plugged in. Don't touch and electronic parts until you are connected in this way.

I may have to work on a carpeted room... but if I absolutely have to, I'll work in some other room.

If you use the wrist strap it will remove most of the risk of damage, carpets or not. The biggest cause of ESD damage is from a charged person to a component at a different voltage. By connecting to the pc via the wrist strap you are "equipotential bonding" yourself to the pc and there will be no voltage difference between you and it - no voltage difference means no ESD.

Try to keep other sources of static such as polythene or foam packaging well away from the pc while the covers are off. Once the covers are back on, it is well protected.