Weekend Open Forum: Your biggest tech failures

By on April 22, 2011, 7:55 PM
We've all been there: you're kicking ass and taking names when all of a sudden you're staring at a memory error, blue screen of death or, in the case of one TechSpot moderator, a plume of smoke. During a recent round of Team Fortress 2, Leeky's four-month-old Corsair HX750 exploded, taking practically his entire system down in a blaze of glory.

Flames charred his chassis while the electrical surge fried his Asus ROG motherboard, Core 2 Quad Q8300, GeForce GTX 280, 8GB of RAM, 256GB RealSSD C300, and even his aftermarket CPU fan. Only his hard drive and Blu-ray player survived to tell the tale. It's unclear what caused the issue, but the PSU is on its way to Corsair for inspection.

Although tech catastrophes of that magnitude are uncommon, we imagine most of you have witnessed the partial or complete destruction of some electronic device. Have you lost data during an HDD failure? Fried a processor by forgetting to apply thermal paste? Dropped your smartphone in a pool? Share your greatest tech snafus after the jump.

User Comments: 100

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Guest said:

lost data from a 500gb barracuda because the pcb on it fried :(

Guest said:

My 8800M GTX in my Alienware m15x died and alienware didn't have any left in stock. It was discontinued.

Bought a desktop pc... lol

Cueto_99 said:

So this story starts when I wanted to go for the 3 way crossfire with a set of 4830's and an Asus m4a79T Deluxe... but they all had the stock Sapphire cooler (it takes two slots)... I set them up and everything was fine, although the temps of the one in the middle were a little bit high (around 90C... yeah right... a little bit... LOL) so you know how it ends... I was playing Dragon Age Origins when suddenly the game freezes... after a couple testings... one of the cards is gone so know the remaining ones have a zalman cooler, just in case...

Cueto_99 said:

I also lost a seagate external 500gb drive when it fell off my desk... Don't know which one hurted more between the drive and the graphics card...

Koof said:

One of my friends when first learning how to build a computer stuck a stick of RAM in the wrong way somehow and released the blue smoke of death.

Recently we had an electrical storm go through and it somehow made its way onto our home network. So we ended up losing the ethernet port on our main computer (eventually the whole computer stopped working), two Xbox 360's (one can now only connect wirelessly, and the other won't display anything, this is alright seeing as we had 4 Xboxs before the incident), our main router/modem, a 8 port Ethernet switch, and now our dish receiver, blueray player and networked printer can't connect to ethernet. Not as much of a significance but we also lost an old CRT tv and a coaxial splitter. I suppose this isn't really a tech failure on my part (surge protectors don't protect against lightning, and I suppose I could've unplugged everything, but that would just be a pain), but it still sucks.

spikester48661 spikester48661 said:

Buying a dell laptop and a HP laptop two tech f#$k-up at one time.

Guest said:

I was having issues with random memory dumps and whatnot, come to find out when I changed out the chassis on my desktop gaming rig. I was little too harsh on my motherboard. However at the time I couldn't pinpoint the issue. So I bought a new motherboard and powersupply in the process. Live and learn

Guest said:

Very first i7 920 i bought i switched the crappy fan cooler for a water block. But while tightening up the water block I was far to rough on it, trying to get the max cooling out of it I ended up crushing the cpu onto the motherboard. The pins shorted out burning the cpu and the motherboard both at the same time. 700 bucks gone with one tighten of a screwdriver.

LinkedKube LinkedKube, TechSpot Project Baby, said:

biggest fail for me is by far breaking my 40inch samsung lcd while sneezing trying to put a bluray disk in the player. My sneezes are kind of uncontrollable.

Cota Cota said:

One of my costumers HDD was lost after the external enclosure cable got suck on some keyboards and such things, when i realized it was pulled it fell a bit and the cable saved it from a sure death only get disconnected and fall when i tried to grab it

Since then i use backup cradle's nailed to the desk, and about the costumer well i told him the truth and i gave him a new one (but better one since he did lost his files).

Guest said:

Very similar to the story you quoted: My old Pentium based PC literally blew up after a 7-day session of Counter Strike. The PSU exploded, and there were flames coming out the back of the case. Everything was lost, including my thesis.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I think it was 2000 and my sister in laws little girl thought that the 80mm fan atop my machine was where apple juice was supposed to go. I watched everything go up in smoke including my new thunderbird 1.2 Ghz and my badass Voodoo3 card. (which was more of a pain in the ass) If memory serves, It was over $300 (which was a lot of money back then ...heh heh)

There were no survivors.

Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

@ work i had to assemble some old cases from 3 years ago with a pair of new Micro-ATX boards, etc....

But after having started one of them up i heard a sound coming from the case it's powersupplie. To me i know that electrical sound as if somethings about to burn or explode. So i pull out the powercord without hesitating. Right after that, i see some smoke coming out. Lucky me i reacted fast enough to safe the other components in that pc =p.

My pc had another problem. My DDR2 had some kind of defect. I don't really know if something inside had burned on those ram sticks, but for some odd reason it gave me a lot of blue screens since the day i bought it. And i thought it was something else until i replaced them and tested them with prime95

Mikymjr Mikymjr said:

By the way that picture is nice!

dividebyzero dividebyzero, trainee n00b, said:

A couple of years back I moved house. Most everything went into the moving truck, except some delicate glassware and of course my computer + components.

Last trip from the old place to the new- full trunk of components, front passenger seat and footwell crammed with parts for a new build, back seat....family pet -German Shepherd....45+kg.

Stopped off for some supplies at the store on the journey. A short while afterwards a woman tied her dog to a litter bin outside the store while she shopped.

I came out of the store to see my large shepherd raving like a loon from the front seat of the car (closer to the other dog) jumping up and down on an EVGA 790i Ultra motherboard. The box, strangely enough, did not afford the motherboard the protection it required from having a large animal pounding on it and the board itself must have attempted to conform to the seat it was being pushed into - 2 corners broke off the pcb, along with a good portion of the suface mount capacitors and the main heatsink and fan. Strangely enough the CPU I'd been to lazy to uninstall for the move survived intact.

An object lesson in Murphy's Law and not thinking ahead! (although I still can't work out how a large dog managed to hurdle a high back (tombstone) car seat).

techfiend4 said:

had 4 toshiba 2.5" hard drives in my hp dv series laptops die, 4th was just 2 days ago. the rest all died with in the same year they were purchased. i stick to WD!. then a week ago on my month old rig i just built i was getting random bsods and traced it down to the ram (4x2gigs g skill ripsaw rated very good ram!!) all were bad, no over clocking, power supply was tested, and have a battery backup/surge protector. weird to see all the ram go bad at once!

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Biggest actual failure was frying my computer when I decided to splurge on a newfangled CD-ROM drive. Nothing dramatic, but after about 10 hours of plugging in everything 20 times wondering why it didn't work, went to buy a new motherboard. And a few hours later, a new CPU.

An almost catastrophic failure was knocking over a glass of juice on my current computer. It seemed to have just spilled on the side of the case, so I was very thankful, nothing bad happened, I wiped it up, computer worked fine.

Then when I was upgrading the computer a few months later, putting in a H50 cooler, and took the whole computer apart. I found dried cherry juice all over the inside of the case, motherboard tray, hard drive cage. Somehow it managed to avoid every single component and just get all over the case itself. Now all my drinks go on a side table, and not the computer desk.

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

I did a BIOS update on an Intel 965 board with the jumper in the reset position.

After the board went to the great beyond, I put the HDD into another computer. The first message I received on the screen was, "The BIOS update was unsuccessful"!

No s*** Sherlock.

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

I did a BIOS update on an Intel 965 board with the jumper in the reset position.

After the board went to the great beyond, I put the HDD into another computer. The first message I received on the screen was, "The BIOS update was unsuccessful"!

No s*** Sherlock.

Thats a 10!

Matthew Matthew, TechSpot Staff, said:

Agreed haha.

Kibaruk Kibaruk, TechSpot Paladin, said:

The first time I tried installing Linux on a command line... partitions simply went kaboom >.<

Nima304 said:

I killed my 400GB 5,400RPM laptop hard drive after I set the swap size to 50GBs once. I let the computer hibernate so I could eat dinner, then came back to find a SMART disk error staring me in the face. I owned the laptop for a single day.

TorturedChaos, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Nothing too bad for me so far (Knocks on wood A LOT!! :P) Had my Nvidia 512mb 9800GT die on me a couple months back. Made me really sad . Luckily I had just picked up a computer at a garage sale for $20 that had a 1gb 8800GTS in it with the dual slot cooler . I think it actually runs better than my old 9800gt :P

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

There were a few, but one that's particularly memorable was when I borrowed a Radeon 9500. In the early days of shaders ATI had a programming competition and I decided to program Frogger using pixel shaders. I did most of the work using the reference device (very slow software emulation), but the last weekend before submission I wanted to run it on a real card for debugging.

So I borrowed a Radeon 9500 from work, and installed it. It worked fine, but I guess the extra power wasn't connected well (I remember having problems with it), or the board just didn't tolerate the power use well enough. I didn't notice anything immediately, but the PC began to freeze occasionally, even after returning the card. Long story short, it turned out that not only had something in the AGP slot fried, but a memory slot along with it.

I ended up replacing that Pentium 3 and motherboard for an Athlon XP. It was a pretty cheap upgrade and a great performance boost.

Timonius Timonius said:

video card fan burnt right off the card. I needed a newer better one anyway

ET3D, TechSpot Paladin, said:

By the way, I won a Radeon 9800 Pro on that competition, so all in all I had a much better PC in the end (had a GeForce 3 before that).

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

In late 90s (I think 98/99) I lost a Quantum HDD, I was using excel preparing some financial briefs, and when I hit Ctrl + S, PC just hung up, and as last resort when I pressed the reset button, nothing happened ..... so the long and short of it after fiddling around for a while it was clear the HDD had suddenly decided to die on me taking all my data along with it (as when it was disassembled it was beyond any recovery attempt). Other minor issues has been losing motherboards few times (once in a P3, and twice last year on my C2D rig).

One last bit, recently I found a fin from my Radeon 5770's fan resting on the PSU after somehow it decided to part ways with the fan (have no idea how it happened as I usually clean my system once every 45 days or so .... so it was discovered when I opened it for the same purpose), a minor blip hopefully which won't affect fan's overall performance

Davidoff Davidoff said:

My Monitor fried due to a power surge....on my birthday

Julio Franco Julio Franco, TechSpot Editor, said:

I'm sure there have been a few over the years, but I remember one story in particular...

At the time I was running an AMD K6 processor. I didn't properly secure the heatsink and the processor was toast after a few minutes. The funny thing is the merchant put a small white sticker on the CPU for warranty purposes but when I came to inspect the processor, the sticker was falling off the CPU and was now brownish-yellow. I removed the sticker and sent the computer to their RMA department. When they asked about the sticker I acted like I didn't know what they were talking about. I got a new replacement K6 processor that I still laying around somewhere in the house.

Besides this I've had my share of dead monitors, hard drives and graphics cards, but nothing that's been my own screw up.

T77 T77 said:

"Flames charred his chassis while the electrical surge fried his Asus ROG motherboard, Core 2 Quad Q8300, GeForce GTX 280, 8GB of RAM, 256GB RealSSD C300, and even his aftermarket CPU fan. Only his hard drive and Blu-ray player survived to tell the tale."

My deepest condolences...

BTW the picture is cute..:P

rajwraith said:

Was playing Counter Strike Source multiplayer one day and then all of a sudden my pc just shut down, no warning whatsoever. My PSU had died. I had bought it from another country where appliances used different voltages to function. Total mistake from my part.

nismo91 said:

i killed my D946G board (probably) by cleaning it up w/o grounding equipment. it randomly shut itself down and soon after won't start.

and killed 2x microsoft wireless mouse in the process of replacing its led due to moist hands while soldering it, short-circuit, again.

hellokitty[hk] hellokitty[hk], I'm a TechSpot Evangelist, said:

Biggest F-up was when I decided that I didn't want linux anymore.

[On to literary present tense]

Opened up Acronis, and deleted the partition, and shut down...few days later, GRUB ERROR 22. Oops. Ok, well at least I learned that GRUB is installed on the linux partition for future reference.

Timing's not bad either, I just made my flashdrive bootable and wanted to test out some of the disk utilities. This should be easy to fix.

I went through a frustrating series of reinstalling linux, trying to overwrite the MBR with windows XP default, screwing with my flashdrive utilities and what not I don't even know.

Screw it, I'd need to clean out viruses and uninstall untold hoards of bloatware and sh%! in general anyway.

Boot up into my flashdrive; SELECT VOLUME TO FORMAT:

14983268 KB

56538921 KB

15298478 KB

Uh, bleh...IDK I think my flashdrive is the third one...WRONG.

Blanked my newly set up flashdrive; no backup.

Somehow, it also really effed $#@! up and the computer would not even boot off a CD, so it was completely toast.

Well, I got to build another one.

My computer got an extra 80GB, and I picked out the power supply to use the 12v rail. Of course I learned a lot too.

Leeky Leeky said:

"Flames charred his chassis while the electrical surge fried his Asus ROG motherboard, Core 2 Quad Q8300, GeForce GTX 280, 8GB of RAM, 256GB RealSSD C300, and even his aftermarket CPU fan. Only his hard drive and Blu-ray player survived to tell the tale."

My deepest condolences...

BTW the picture is cute..:P

Thanks dude. Still very gutted about it tbh.

On a more positive note I kind of have an idea of what I'd like to build as a replacement, and am busy building up the components needed.

I have a feeling it might take a while to replace my 256GB SSD though! Donations are always welcome!!

.....Was worth a try!

abe10tiger abe10tiger, TechSpot Paladin, said:

My laptop is super selective, the WiFi only works at home, in my grandmother's house and in a friend's house. When I try bringing it to other places, it suddenly goes Blue screen!

another thing..

I bought a new USB last last week I think. Stored valuable files, pictures, videos and installers that took hours to get. Removed it(properly) and plugged it in after a few house and poof! all my files suddenly disappeared.

A really really sad story.

herpaderp said:

I was once formatting an old hard drive, hooked up with with a usb adapter and external power supply, when suddenly, I heard a loud crack, followed by a stinging sensation in my arm. I had the drive upside down, with the pcb facing up, and apparently, the controller chip exploded and I got a nice piece of cmos fragment in my left arm, dug in about 5mm. I can't imagine having gotten hit in the face with that.....

Lokalaskurar Lokalaskurar said:

Koof said:

Recently we had an electrical storm go through and it somehow made its way onto our home network. --- I suppose this isn't really a tech failure on my part (surge protectors don't protect against lightning, and I suppose I could've unplugged everything, but that would just be a pain), but it still sucks.

Dude, I've been there. That really stinks. A ground-to-cloud lightning struck our home back in the 90's, split a 150 year old oak in half, landed in the house's ground-wiring, took out almost everything grounded inside the house (TV, dish, water heater, telephones, you name it). Not the computers though, but the telephone jacks virtually exploded! Nothing a fire extinguisher couldn't handle, fortunately.


Some big failures (been through a lot of them...) would include the installing of my Corsair TX850 (brand new). I installed it in a pretty neat PC (2008), and the PC did not start any more. I repeated the process on another PC, same results - both PC's did not start. I restored them, but to no avail, they both went ka-putt. Turns out the Corsair PSU was faulty, and shorted out both PC's on contact. Only an ATi Radeon 7000 survived, and even it is a bit funny sometimes.

Oh yeah, my sister once dropped her cellphone in liquid nitrogen. Don't ask how it happened, it's embarrassing - It still worked, but the SIM-card froze. Literally...

During the construction of the newest PC (the old one accidentally burned due to cable shortage), once completed - did not start. Five hours of intense hardware diagnostics followed to no avail. Hey presto, the PSU-button was flicked off...

James Bond failed his mission so to speak. He forgot to refuel his car.

Guest said:

Always had a desktop with PSU capable of switching voltage.

As my tower CPU was always placed below the table and one fine day? my baby cousin came and accidentally switched the voltage of the PSU.

After bidding farewell to them, I switched on the power and my desktop got fried..

Guest said:

Lost data on 3 hard drives, two nvidia graphics cards over the years , and my mobo is starting to go at the minute some peeps have no luck lol lol

fpsgamerJR62 said:

About 6-7 years ago, I had a Pentium 4 gaming PC which was in an upstairs office. After I came back from dinner one evening, I found my PC completely turned off. It appeared to have been hit by some kind of power surge while I was having dinner. While the motherboard, CPU and video card seemed to be alright, I lost 2 of my 3 hard disks, 2 out of 3 memory sticks, a PCI Raid card and my Creative sound card. For a while, I tried running Windows XP with just 256 MB RAM but eventually built a new Athlon 64 PC. By the way, the motherboard, CPU and video card died a few months later. It turned out that the battery on my MGE UPS was dead already so my PC was no longer protected

Win7Dev said:

Had a 4 and a half year old 160gb WD HDD that had the boot sector go bad. Had to get a new HDD as the boot sector could not be rebuilt by the Windows install disk, nor could I format it as it thought that the disk was "in use". Only later did I learn that the sata port was bad.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I had a beloved "all singing and dancing" 650 Watt powerbox a few years back that i spent all my saved cash on.

The noise it made when it blew up made me leave a stain on my chair that's still here today...Bad times

Technochicken Technochicken, TechSpot Paladin, said:

A few years a go I was booting up my computer when the power went out for a second while windows was loading. I reboot, but it kept shutting off after a few seconds. I tried unplugging everything and reconnecting it all, but all that did was make smoke come out of my HDD's PCB. I RMA'd my motherboard and HDD, because they were dead. When I got the replacements, I put everything back together, booted up, and found out that my optical drive had also been fried.

A little more recently, one of the push pins holding the heatsink and fan onto my 8500gt broke, while the computer was on. Everything artifacted and shut down. I fixed the heatsink and stuck it back on, but when I tried to boot up, a chip on the video card exploded and started spewing smoke until I yanked out the power cord.

Guest said:

i have been building systems since 1980 and enjoyed reading all the postings, and can say my only experience with a blowup was when my boss hit his fist on a eagel computer because it

hung up and the power supply went up in smoke.

YOU FIGURE that was the problem !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


superty12 superty12 said:

BSOD's for a long time. And for a period after each BSOD, I got the NTLDR error. If I had been registered (or known what it was), I would have posted. I don't have the error code. The computer is not in use. I'll never know what caused it. It was an old XP computer.

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wow Leeky! Go big or go home right?

Mine wasn't quite as exciting as that, but I was building a computer for a customer, and one of the ram modules I got with her parts was bad, so I took one out of my system to put into hers. Apparently, I had a static charge, and zapped my motherboard, cpu, graphics card, and the rest of my ram. Somehow the ram I took out for her survived, so now she has an awesome machine and I have a paperweight. I RMA'd everything and it took about 2 weeks to get back.

That was the last time I will forget to wear my antistatic wristband.

seefizzle said:

I've cracked 3 $400 touch screen panels when replacing them.

Other than that I haven't had that many problems with hardware. Knock on wood.

A friend of mine fried his motherboard with a shop vac hose though.

Jos Jos said:

I usually leave my PC on at all times without any problems, but once I came back home to find my Radeon's fan spinning like crazy, a burning smell and the computer unresponsive... just a black screen. The card never worked again of course, and I'm not sure what triggered it was supposed to be idle.

Other than that my first Xbox 360 RRoD on me just one day after buying it (the replacement lasted for about a year), and I once went into a jacuzzi hot tub with my cell phone on the pocket... didn't even realize until jumping out 30 minutes later so the sucker never stood a chance

Wendig0 Wendig0, TechSpot Paladin, said:

seefizzle said:

A friend of mine fried his motherboard with a shop vac hose though.

I'm afraid to visualize just what was happening there.

Quinneypoo said:

My PSU burnt out my 2 500Gb SSD's, turns out my PSU was faulty and was giving out way too much voltage, $2,000 gone

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