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Windows 7: How to assess lightning damage to my computer?

09 Nov 2012   #1

Windows 7 Professional 32bit
How to assess lightning damage to my computer?

Hi everyone. I would like some help from you. Recently there has been some damage to my PC due to a lightning strike. I would like to assess the extent of the damage to decide the further course of action. Firstly here is my config:

Win 7 Pro 32
AMD Sempron 145 2.8GHz (running as Athlon II X2 4450e Dual core)
BIG GF 8600GT 512MB
2x2GB Kingston DDR3 1333MHz
WDC Blue 500GB
If you need more specific info please ask.

Now there was a lightning strike, most probably to the phone line, which damaged my ADSL modem (Netcomm NB4Plus6W), and then my MB. The modem no longer turns on. When i first started the PC after the strike, i got no display but the PC seems to have booted normally, which i hibernated with my keyboard. Then i tried the MB DVI port, after removing the 3d card, and got display and logged in ok.

Now from SMART the HDD seems ok, and from basic system properties, all the RAM and processor seems to be there. The sound is working like before. But the network adapter neither works nor shows up in windows. The orange light on the jack is on though, with or without anything plugged in.

Now should i be worried any further damage occuring? Any silent data corruption? How do i see if the CPU or RAM is damaged? Will Prime95 help? I don't think i can RMA the MB since it's lightning damage. So, what will let me decide whether i can keep the MB? Shoud i repair the LAN or just get a wifi dongle / PCI LAN? What about the PSU, how do i assess damage there? Please don't tell me to get a new computer.

Please help me with these queries. Thanking you in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
09 Nov 2012   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

You should get a new computer. (just kidding)

In a case like yours you just use the machine and note any irregularities. Other than the hard drive there is not issue of ruining your data. Any data corruption of the hardware processes will result in bluescreens, shutdowns, or freezes. So that is what you are checking for.

Make a list of the parts that are damaged and replace them. I would start with the modem. If there are on board components that no longer work then you can install add on cards. It is up to you as to how much money must be spent to consider the PC "totaled".

Definitely run Prime95 to stress test the PC. Also run Memtest86+. Also any graphics test. If the tests do not produce crashes then just consider yourself lucky and continue using the machine..
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Nov 2012   #3

Windows 7 Professional 32bit

@TVeblen: Thanks for the reply.

Sorry for the delay in posting back but here is my current status.

ADSL modem dead. Modem power supply works, but modem doesn't turn on, so i'm sure its damaged. Short of opening it and replacing components, it can't be salvaged. Replaced with TP-Link TD-W8961ND.

PSU wasn't showing any problems, and voltages looked normal in 'Speedfan'. But I took the opportunity for a minor upgrade. Now using Corsair CX 500 V2.

Motherboard was damaged. But the damage seems to be limited to the Ethernet controller / RJ-45 jack. The board was repaired under warranty but when I brought it home, it wasn't working. Earlier, no network adapter showed up in device manager. After repair, network adapter showed, but said Ethernet cable not connected or broken. Tried with laptop and modem, no joy. Tried uninstalling and reinstalling driver too. Not even the lights came on. Earlier the orange light was stuck on. So took the board to the service center again. They checked and said all is well. I asked for a demo and they showed it to me, working in Linux. Brought it home assembled it again and tried and voila, its working now. There seems to be no other damage.

CPU and RAM seem ok. I did a 10 hour run of Prime 95 and got no error. So im operating under the assumption that CPU, RAM and MB are fine.

HDD is ok under SMART but im backing up data. No errors otherwise, and speed also seems fine.

It seems my BIOS settings were altered, so every thing was reset.

I also upgraded to a MSI HD7750 1GB D5 OC.

Planning a MB ug to ASUS M5A88M and CPU to Phenom 2 560 BE.

So all in all, only my LAN was damaged from what I can see. Probably the Anti-Surge feature of the mother board helped prevent any further damage.

BTW one Q. The M5A88M MB has 4 ram slots. So will 4x 2GB DIMMS be faster or 2x 4GB?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

28 Nov 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

All told, you fared well, I guess.
The better MBs have ESP's protecting the crucial circuits. It sound like yours had one on the LAN (Electro-Static Protection circuit breaker). The LAN was sacrificed but the rest of the system was protected, if that was the case.

All is moot if you are replacing the motherboard anyway.

On a Dual-Channel motherboard you would get the same performance from 2 sticks of 8GB as you would from 4 sticks of 8 GB. I'd go with the 2 personally.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
28 Nov 2012   #5
Layback Bear

Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64

My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2012   #6

Windows 7 Professional 32bit

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by TVeblen View Post
All told,....... I'd go with the 2 personally.
Thank you for the help.

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Layback Bear View Post
Thanks for the suggestion, but 1) The surge was from the ADSL phone line that killed my modem and LAN. 2) I already use a 1kVA UPS. Here in India, if you have no UPS, you'll be re-installing OS evey week. Brownouts and blackouts occur more than a few times a day.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
01 Dec 2012   #7
Layback Bear

Windows 10 Pro. 64/ version 1709 Windows 7 Pro/64

Do a little research on surge protectors. You will find that many also have connections for phone lines and cable. Going by memory; most lighting does use phone lines to damage computers. Their are many stories on line here are just a few. Lightning Telephone Deaths
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 How to assess lightning damage to my computer?

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