Everyday Tech Myths

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  • batkerson
    Ahhh, Tom's Hardware's version of Myth Busters! Quite enjoyable, actually. I'd enjoy more on this subject on a regular basis. Thanks.
  • batkerson
    Ahhh, Tom's Hardware's version of Myth Busters! Quite enjoyable, actually. I'd like more on computer "myths" on a regular basis, please. Thanks.
  • I've done the keyboard in the dishwasher trick successfully, but I stayed on the safe side and removed the electronics first and washed it disassembled so the water wouldn't get trapped and it would dry more efficiently. It worked like a charm though - no more sticky keys. Many of today's keyboards are a little more intricate inside though, so this might not be as feasible now as it was 10 years ago.
  • B-Unit
    I would be iffy about the baking portion of the keyboard washing. Just run it thru, and set in front of a running fan overnight.

    Ive used the fan trick 2-3 times when I spilled a glass of water onto my G15, worked great every time.
  • kittle
    ROFL on the keyboard story.

    I had a few of those old PS/2 Style keyboards. and while I never put the whole thing in the dishwasher, I did take all the keys off and run them through the dishwasher several times over the years.

    I also found spilling a can of pepsi into a cheap plastic keyboard will kill the thing in about 20min.

    Other times I would take dirty heatsinks out, disconnect the fan and wash them either in the sink, or put them in the dishwasher if I had several to deal with -- always worked great, and made for less dust floating around the room as well.
  • michaelahess
    I have water trouble with a few mb's, cell phones, keyboards, and even a crt. All but the crt were running when the "incident" happened. After powering down and letting dry for a good long while, they all worked fine. The crt I let dry for two weeks and it worked fine.

    I have also had coke spill in a running crt, that was a nice light show! And I have also washed a bunch of keyboards in the dishwasher, various brands, the ones with tactile switches faired the worst, the rubber membrane ones worked much better. I did remove the electronics before hand though on all of them.

    I had a Microsoft Natural Keyboard die when my son spilled apple juice on it. Good thing I've got a couple spares, those old keyboards are the best!

    I also had a hard drive that used to buzz, an electricl noise not mechanical. But if I walked by it, it would stop. I ended up putting my NAS next to it (in my rack) and it stopped buzzing. No other oddities on any of the machines in my rack so not sure what that was all about.

    Oh yeah, don't bake electronics, it can damage traces, caps (not the key kind), HD platters, wire insulation, and probably a host of other things. Let the devices dry au natural for best results. A fan helps so rust doesn't set in too. And make sure to take any batteries out!
  • jabliese
    A computer that is off resists lightning strikes better. Had a lightning strike propagate through the network wiring once, those that turned off their computer at night still had a computer the next day, maybe with a dead network card. Those that left them on had an expensive paperweight.
  • I disagree with leaving your PC on and in Standby Mode. The average PC contains a minimum of 2 Fans, 1 on the CPU and 1 in the Power Supply. Those Fans contain a Bearing that is expected to run for X hours of use. Higher end PC's will of course have fans with better quality bearings where X is a much larger number, but a theoretical limit just the same. Consilder that most PC users have a Wal Mart or Best Buy Special and never check their fans or clean the dust out of them. When you only use the PC for say 8 hours in a given day but the fan is running for 24 hours, the cooling fans will wear out 3 times faster than if you turn it off. Think of it like running your Car Engine for 24 hours a day, even though you might only spend 3 hours actually driving.
  • I know this girl who can't wear watches. It's not that she doesn't like them, it's because they stop working. Mechanical or digital, after a few weeks of wear the watches would just cease to function (battery dead). Her mom is that way too.
    I liked reading this article. Any more weird phenomena?
  • I tried the rubbing alcohol thing with the keyboard.. wireless keyboard too, took days to dry- fixed sticking keys though :)
  • quantumrand
    I have a few water related stories...I emplore you to at least read the last story. It's by far the most interesting.

    First was a cell phone, a Sony Ericsson s790a. I was pushed into a lake (at 5am no less) with the phone in my pocket. I promptly took it appart and let it sit in the sun. At the end of the day, I reassembled it and all was well.

    Next was a laptop, an older Sony Vaio, I was given because "soda" was spilt on it (I think it was likely an alcoholic cocktail). A new hard drive got it working, but the keyboard was still quite sticky. So I pulled it out and soaked it in warm water for severaly minutes. After that, I sprayed denatured alcohol into it and let it dry for 30 or so minutes. From then on, it worked fine with no stickiness.

    Here's the weirdest story...One day I get home and my internet isnt working, so I go to reset my router (one of the normal troubleshooting procedures). Well when I reach down and unplug it, all of a sudden thousands of ants come swarming out of it! I didnt know what to do, so I ran into the bathroom and grabbed the least corrosive thing I could find that might still kill them...Scrubbing Bubbles. I run back into my room and spray the growing swarm of ants. Surprisingly it stopped them. Then I proceded to open up my router to see if any got in it. Turns out they build their nest in the damn thing!!! So I doused it with a few good sprays of bubbles. Once I stopped the ants, I rinsed out the router, scrubbing gently, and then used denatured alcohol and compressed air to dry it. After about 30 minutes I plugged it back in and all was well.
  • average joe
    I had some keyboards that we ran through a dishwasher every year for a college computer lab. They were old IBM DIN1 PS/2 keyboards with no frills. Very heavy duty units and perhaps even spill proof. I tried it with a multimedia keyboard one time and it didn't work at all. The newer keyboard had some kind of paper in it. Perhaps as an insulator? I never tried the oven thing to dry them. What we did was leave them out on a table for between 4 days and week at the end of the summer.
  • gm0n3y
    I once wrecked my Saitek keyboard by dumping a full beer on it and letting it sit, while still on, for about 12 hours. There's no going back from that.
  • cadder
    Many years ago we had an expensive word processing terminal plugged into our minicomputer. One day I walked by and the secretaries had the lid off of the keyboard and a hair dryer pointed into it. They said they had spilled a soft drink into it. I walked away quickly and pretended I had not seen anything but as far as I know the keyboard survived and worked fine after that.

    As for computer on/off- I have had CRT monitors fail when left on all the time, and fans in power supplies and cpu coolers. I wonder if fans are made better now, and we have better circuits for turning monitors off. Our computer supplier at work says he has more problems with his customers that turn their machines off at night than he does with the machines that stay on 24/7. Our first round of machines ran 24/7 for 4 years without problems, our second round ran 24/7 for 3.5 years. At home I only use my computer about 5 hours a day so I turn it on when I get ready to use it, and turn it off when I'm sure I'm through with it for the day. The machine I just replaced went 7 years that way with no problems.
  • eddieroolz
    Loved this article! Good report on washing your keyboard :)
  • Tomsguiderachel
    quantumrandI have a few water related stories...I emplore you to at least read the last story. It's by far the most interesting.First was a cell phone, a Sony Ericsson s790a. I was pushed into a lake (at 5am no less) with the phone in my pocket. I promptly took it appart and let it sit in the sun. At the end of the day, I reassembled it and all was well.Next was a laptop, an older Sony Vaio, I was given because "soda" was spilt on it (I think it was likely an alcoholic cocktail). A new hard drive got it working, but the keyboard was still quite sticky. So I pulled it out and soaked it in warm water for severaly minutes. After that, I sprayed denatured alcohol into it and let it dry for 30 or so minutes. From then on, it worked fine with no stickiness.Here's the weirdest story...One day I get home and my internet isnt working, so I go to reset my router (one of the normal troubleshooting procedures). Well when I reach down and unplug it, all of a sudden thousands of ants come swarming out of it! I didnt know what to do, so I ran into the bathroom and grabbed the least corrosive thing I could find that might still kill them...Scrubbing Bubbles. I run back into my room and spray the growing swarm of ants. Surprisingly it stopped them. Then I proceded to open up my router to see if any got in it. Turns out they build their nest in the damn thing!!! So I doused it with a few good sprays of bubbles. Once I stopped the ants, I rinsed out the router, scrubbing gently, and then used denatured alcohol and compressed air to dry it. After about 30 minutes I plugged it back in and all was well.

    OMG, that is gross! Good for you for trying to get the thing working again and not just throwing it out and buying another one. I wonder why the ants liked the environment inside the router.
  • infotech2112
    I work in IT a pork processing plant. We run keyboards through a dishwaher all of the time. Just remember taht there are basically two types of keybaords. Those with actuall copper contact "swithches" and the "membrane" type. We only use the memebrane type and they come out of the dishwasher clean and functional after air drying.
  • The ant thing isnt that strange there was a story out of houston, Texas about some ants called I believe Crazy Rasberry Ants from somewhere in south america I think. Actually here is a link to one of the stories

    http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou080514_mh_ants.fdb759a6.html

    Just do a google search for them there are tons of stories about them destroying electronics.
  • apache_lives
    heh need to bust that recovery myth that has never worked for me EVER - when a hdd is failing and wont read files off *apparently* putting it in the freezer for a while helps, i think BS my self but then again - might work?

    otherwise nice article!
  • quantumrand
    TomsGuideRachelOMG, that is gross! Good for you for trying to get the thing working again and not just throwing it out and buying another one. I wonder why the ants liked the environment inside the router.


    My guess is that they liked the warmth. Plus it was cold and rainy out, so more reason to venture indoors. Needless to say, I'm afraid to leave electronics on the floor.
  • sintekk
    I've done the keyboard trick many times... It seems like everyone's trying to get too creative with the drying cycle. All you need to do is fold a bath towel in half on the floor and drop the keyboard from a height of about two feet onto the towel about 10 times. Assuming none of the keys have fallen off, let the thing dry completely in a vertical position and you should have a functioning dishwashed keyboard in about three days.
  • nekatreven
    Older versions of Outlook corrupted saved passwords, and Windows did the same thing to pptp and dialup connections.

    If you put in the right password, it just figures that's what it already has stored and doesn't update it despite that the hash it transmits is actually corrupt. You can spend a long time putting in the right password and getting nowhere.

    The quickest way to fix it is to put in a random, wrong password on purpose to get it to clear the busted hash of the good password. Then you can put the correct password in again.

    I don't have a ton of proof...aside from all of the times that a random bad password made the correct password work...but it works for me.
  • branson
    I say keep the PC on all the time...my friend went on vacation for 2 weeks and turned off his PC at home. When he returned and turned on the PC, the harddrive made a knocking sound and won't be recognized by any computer/USB/Firewire adapter I try.
  • etrnl_frost
    What? If you really want to wash your keyboard, try something like http://www.tripplite.com/EN/products/product-series.cfm?txtSeriesID=334&EID=14701 so. Granted, not the best keyboards ever, but, hey, there aren't many keyboards out there you can roll up and stick in a bag...