Things to think about regarding you Power Supply

The power supply is to the computer what the engine is to the car -- quite possibly the most crucial component of the entire machine! Without a properly functioning power supply, a personal computer (or its cousins, the laptop, notebook, etc.) is nothing but a receptacle of wires, cables, resistors, and plastic. On a personal computer, the power supply is clearly visible on the back of the machine. Follow the central processing unit’s power cable back to the source, and you will have located it. Right next to it you will be able to see a fan, which serves to ensure that the power supply does not overheat the computer, thus causing irreparable damage to the machine.

Generally speaking, in the United States computers run on 120-volt AC power oscillating at 60 Hertz. Unfortunately, even in these modern times continuous voltage delivery cannot be guaranteed, and at times the power delivery to the power supply may be interrupted or disturbed. For example, if the voltage suddenly increases beyond expectation, also known as a voltage spike, or if it decreases even momentarily, which is referred to as the voltage sag, the sensitive power supply of the personal computer will most likely shut it self off. The same is true if the oscillation rate of the power is not the specified 60 Hertz. Last but not least, a power failure, such as may be brought on by a blown fuse, a power grid emergency, or simply a naturally occurring event, such as a lightning storm, will interrupt the workings of a personal computer’s power supply.

While the average computer user, who may just use the PC as a “toy” in order to play a variety of computer games or as a communication tool to interact with others in chat-rooms or via e-mail, see a power interruption as an annoying occurrence, the professional computer uses views power interruptions with akin to dread. A computer failure for a medical professional or public servant may quite possibly have serious repercussions for the public good! For this reason, personal computers may now also be powered by alternate power supplies referred to as “uninterruptible power supplies.”

Uninterruptible power supplies (also referred to as UPS) come in two important variations: the standby UPS and the continuous UPS. A standby UPS will enable a personal computer to run by using electricity from the normal grid until is detects a problem. At that point the standby function will alert a power inverter and allow the personal computer to be powered from an internal battery -- which may at some point lose its charge. A continuous UPS, on the other hand, is a self-contained, self-sufficient unit which operates under the same principle as the standby UPS, except that it will recharge itself continuously.

Power supplies are obviously prone to failure. The main weakness in the system is the cooling mechanism which relies on adequate air flow to perform its functions. In an age of DSL allowing users to be continuously on-line, computers are not shut off as often as they used to be in the heyday of dial-up services. Adding to this many users’ aesthetical requirements of moving unsightly computer components as far to the wall as possible, and quite frequently hiding them behind curtains, table cloths, etc., it is no wonder that cooling is becoming a number one problem. In addition to the foregoing, extreme temperatures within a home may add to a potentially disastrous outcome. Computer will do well to think through their power supplies’ needs prior to allocating a location for their CPU.

Please remember to place your central processing unit, which contains the power supply, in a room that does not suffer from extreme heat. Do not cover up the back of the CPU with a heavy cloth, and allow some room behind your unit for air to flow in and out unobstructed. If you smell as slightly burned smell, immediately shut off your system and unplug it from the wall. If you use your computer for business or anything other than recreational activities, consider purchasing a continuous power supply that will keep you up and running even if the power supply from the public grid is interrupted.

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How to Install a PC Power Supply