Here's our Hardware Tip for.. March 5, 1999
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Warning: Static Electricity Kills
In the "good old days" it wasn't at all uncommon to find warning stickers plastered all over the rear of PC's, warning users that there were "no user seviceable parts inside", and that opening the case might void your warranty. Some manufacturers went so far as to place seals across the case covers so that you'd have to break them to open up your box. This isn't the case anymore, as manufacturers have now actually made it easier than ever for users to upgrade or service their own equipment, even to the point of touting "tool-less" removal of PC covers as one of their selling points. These new cases generally have some kind of tabs or large cap screws in place to facilitate easy cover removal.
Face it, many users these days want to do their own upgrades and service. We've found that routine tasks such as adding a hard drive, adding more memory or upgrading cards isn't really all that hard. But there is one thing that even seasoned veterans tend to overlook, and that's static electricity! Nothing will kill an integrated circuit board quicker than a split-second jolt of high powered static electricity. For that reason, it is extremely important to insure that you are grounded before handling motherboards, cards or other devices inside your PC.
The easiest way to do this is to make sure you touch the metal frame of the computer before handling any internals. This method isn't exactly fool-proof, but it does work - but what if you need a part and talk a long walk across that polyester carpet and back - then forget to re-ground yourself? It can happen. If you do a lot of your own service, a grounding wrist strap would be a wise investment. These devices wrap around your wrist and attach via a drain wire to the PC chassis or frame (usually with a simple alligator clip), insuring a static-free environment. You can even get anti-static mats that work the same way.
Considering that these wrist straps are inexpensive, and readily available at just about any electronics shop, there's really no reason NOT to have one. Get one and USE it.