A faulty power supply in a computer can be a difficult problem to diagnose. When a power supply fails to provide adequate wattage to computer components, the results can include random shutdowns and erratic behavior. Tracing the fault may require the use of specialized diagnostic tools, but the expense may be worth it due to the damage an unstable power supply can cause to business equipment.
The symptoms of an unstable power supply, unfortunately, can be extremely variable. A lack of power to a video card can cause screen artifacts and video crashes, while lack of power to a hard drive can mimic the symptoms of bad sectors or a virus infection. If your computer suddenly seems plagued by a variety of unrelated problems, and you can rule out malware and other common causes, it may be a good sign that the power supply is on its way out.
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Failure under Load
Another key sign of power supply instability is failure under load. The highest-demand components of any computer system are the CPU and graphics processor, and if the failures tend to happen when these components draw a significant amount of power, it may indicate a problem with the power supply. If your business involves engineering or design, computer-aided design programs are good for giving CPUs and GPUs a workout. You can also download programs designed to test and benchmark your video card's 3D capabilities from the Internet.
Most motherboards contain a variety of different sensors used by the operating system to detect and identify performance issues and failures. You may be able to take advantage of these sensors to diagnose your power supply problems. A motherboard monitoring program can read the data from these sensors, providing you with information about temperature, fan speeds and most importantly, voltages. If the voltage provided to your motherboard fluctuates wildly from the expected values, it is a good sign that your power supply is ailing.
The best way to diagnose an unstable power supply is with a hardware PSU tester. These devices contain sockets for various power supply connectors, and can give you a definitive reading on any problems with your power supply. A PSU tester can identify any fluctuations in voltage present with any of the connectors, and may be able to diagnose other problems with the hardware. If you have a large number of computers in your business, investing in a PSU tester can help you head off instability problems before they result in major component damage.