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Why Do Computers Break?

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We know computers always break at the worst possible time. But what exactly prompts that failure? It’s easy to think it was something you did since you were using it at the time. But normal user actions are rarely the cause of a broken computer.

Physical Damage

Accidents happen, but they don’t always mean you need to buy a new computer. As an electrical item, liquid spills are a big problem. This could be any of the following:

1. A liquid spill on the keyboard

2. Going overboard with the screen cleaning spray

3. A flood that reaches the computer.

If you are a laptop user, watch for liquid on tabletops in coffee shops and cafe’s. The liquid spill may or may not fry the circuits inside the computer. But over time, your computer circuits may suffer from ongoing corrosion.

A dropped computer isn’t going to be happy, nor is one that’s been knocked around. Even a light thump of frustration can cause loose cables, disconnections and internal damage.


Computer parts have an expected lifetime, especially moving parts such as fans. Some computers can run 24/7 for up to a decade, while other gently used computer fail within warranty. When age is the issue there are usually early warning signs like extra noise or slowing down. But the actual ‘break’ generally happens when you go to turn the computer on. Sometimes after a crash, or it being off overnight. It might make a valiant effort before giving up, or nothing happens at all.

Computers that withstand the test of time can be simply a luck of the draw. Quality parts also plays a big role in how long the computer will last.

Power Surges

Computers are particularly sensitive to fluctuations in electricity. Both surges (too much electricity) and brownouts (not enough electricity), can be damaging. A surge protector can guard against mild increases in voltage. Brownouts and strong surges will still cause damage.


Overheating is a big contributor to premature computer death. Some computer parts run hot and need plenty of cooling to keep them working. Internal components can rapidly build up heat that needs to go somewhere. Airflow vents will allow your computer to get needed air circulation. Airflow vents that are blocked with dust or pet hair stop the flow of air circulation. This causes the temperature of your computer to increase, causing failure. Computers are designed to shut down when they reach a certain temperature. If this happens frequently, your computer is likely on the fast track to crash and die.

Hard Drive Failure

Your data is stored on a hard drive inside your computer. Traditionally, hard drives are mechanical and work much like a record player. They have a spinning ‘platter’ and a needle that reads it. Small bumps, liquid, age, surges and overheating can all trigger hard drive failure. Along with making your computer unusable, hard drive failure means your data is also lost.

Now that you know what could cause your computer to break, you can keep an eye out for the signs and symptoms. AND, if you have critical data on your computer, make sure you have a good backup routine.

Like a car, your computer needs to be serviced. We can give your computer a TuneUP, which will keep your computer happy. Give us a call at 360-567-8838.


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