ESD Damage – With Computer Components Basics and Overview

I had an individual, try to comment on one of my YouTube videos, claiming that I should never place a computer component on an ant-static bag. I made a YouTube video demonstrating the installation of a TP Link TL-WN881ND wireless card into a computer with Windows 10. I pulled this wireless card out of an anti-static bag, and placed it on the anti-static bag.

His assertion is just flat out wrong and what is ironic is that in this video, I actually was working on carpet. Yet, I was seemingly attacked, questioned, trolled, etc. or whatever you want to label it, for placing this peripheral component interconnect express card on an anti-static bag. You see anti-static bags that computer components are shipped in are generally NOT conductive.

It may depend on materials used. Many of them are not anti-static on the outside. They use what is known as a Faraday Cage. When a computer component is stored in these silver lined bags they are protected.

Carpet is much more of a threat because it acts as an insulator, which can be more conductive. What this commentor failed to mention is ground. Grounding yourself is very important when working with computer components.

From my understanding you do NOT want to earth ground yourself. When working with computer components to avoid ESD damage, you want to unplug a computer from a power source. Disconnect that power cable from a wall outlet.

You can even press the power button thirty seconds to a minute to clear the Electro Static Discharge and avoid any ESD damage. Now you can ground yourself using a wrist guard or just simply touching a larger metal object like a computer case.

Remember, you don't want to become earth grounded. I have worked with computer components since nineteen ninety four and never had any problems with ESD damage. Also, I once worked for International Business Machines, and was required to pass Electro Static Discharge training.

Placing computer components on their anti-static bags is much better than placing them on carpet. You can even place them on the cardboard box they came in. What is important is making sure that you do not place them on conductive meterials.

Water, many types of metal, and people are electrical conductors. Yes, you and other humans are conductive. Materials like wood, plastic, paper, and cardboard are not conductive.

Carpet is conductive to a certain point, because it is an insulator. You need to understand what ESD or electro static discharge is first. Electro static discharge is the friction between two objects that come into contact with each other.

This friction can cause a charge.

“the rapid, spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge induced by a high electrostatic field. Note: Usually, the charge flows through a spark between two bodies at different electrostatic potentials as they approach one another”

A lightening strike is a large scale electro static discharge. This sudden flow of electricity between two objects can be caused by contact, electrical short, or electrical breakdown. If you are that paranoid or concerned you can measure the amount of ohms in for example an anti-static mat.

Obviously, you can test the amount of ohms in an anti-static bag with a multimeter. Turn on your multimeter and set it to test for highest amount of ohm. My Radio Shack multimeter can test up to two million ohm.

In closing, properly grounding yourself and computer components with anti-static bags, mats, wrist guards, etc. is recommended. Never working with components while a computer is turned on is imperative.

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About Author Aaron J. Berg



Aaron J. Berg is the owner of Anet Computers, host of the Reality PC podcast, and blogger at AnetComputers.com. For over thirteen years, he worked for fortune 500 companies and the United States Federal government supporting computers. Now he helps you solve your most common computer problems.

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