Electrostatic discharge (ESD), harsh climates, and poor-quality sources of electricity can cause damage to computer equipment. Follow proper handling guidelines, be aware of environmental issues, and use equipment that stabilizes power to prevent equipment damage and data loss.
Static electricity is the buildup of an electric charge resting on a surface. ESD occurs when this buildup jumps to a component and causes damage. ESD can be destructive to the electronics in a computer system.
At least 3,000 volts of static electricity must build up before a person can feel ESD. For example, static electricity can build up on you as you walk across a carpeted floor. When you touch another person, you both receive a shock. If the discharge causes pain or makes a noise, the charge was probably above 10,000 volts. By comparison, less than 30 volts of static electricity can damage a computer component.
ESD can cause permanent damage to electrical components. Follow these recommendations to help prevent ESD damage:
- Keep all components in antistatic bags until you are ready to install them.
- Use grounded mats on workbenches.
- Use grounded floor mats in work areas.
- Use antistatic wrist straps when working on computers.
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is the intrusion of outside electromagnetic signals in a transmission media, such as copper cabling. In a network environment, EMI distorts the signals so that the receiving devices have difficulty interpreting them.
EMI does not always come from expected sources, such as cellular phones. Other types of electric equipment can emit a silent, invisible electromagnetic field that can extend for more than a mile.
There are many sources of EMI:
- Any source designed to generate electromagnetic energy
- Man-made sources like power lines or motors
- Natural events such as electrical storms, or solar and interstellar radiations
Wireless networks are affected by radio frequency interference (RFI). RFI is caused by radio transmitters and other devices transmitting in the same frequency. For example, a cordless telephone can cause problems with a wireless network when both devices use the same frequency. Microwaves can also cause interference when positioned in close proximity to wireless networking devices.
Climate affects computer equipment in a variety of ways:
- If the environment temperature is too high, equipment can overheat.
- If the humidity level is too low, the chance of ESD increases.
- If the humidity level is too high, equipment can suffer from moisture damage.