Another Computer Question - Power Surge

A bank of powerful thunderstorms just passed through Washington DC. I was sitting working on my work laptop on battery power. On the endtable next to me was my personal laptop in standby and plugged into the surge protector.

A bolt of lightning hit just outside my back window and I heard a crack from my personal laptop. I immediately unplugged it and tried to boot it up. I am getting nothing. What I wanted to know is what this likely did to my computer. Is my screen shot, or am I completely screwed? I can’t tell if it is trying to boot, there is just a steady low hum from the machine.

I know I will eventually have to take it to a repair shop. I just want to know what a surge protector is supposed to do, if not protect me from this, and what the likely damage is.

Something in the power supply is likely fried, or maybe even someting on the mainboard. Whatever it is, it’s not good–or cheap. Surge suppresors are great for what they’re designed to do, however, if a spike or surge exceeds the capacity of the suppressor to handle, it won’t help. A single strong lightning-induced voltage spike can easily overhwhelm even an expensive surge suppressor, and fry any equipment connected to it. Also, it’s important to note that a surge suppressor’s life is limited. Once it has cumulatively absorbed enough surge energy to exceed its capacity, it will no longer function as a protector, and needs to be replaced. Most units have a “Protected When Lit” indicator on them, and if this light goes out, you need to replace the supressor–because at that point, it’s just a power strip.

If it was a nicer surge protector and not just a crappy power strip with a fuse, there may be a warranty for any electronics hooked up to it, provided (as QED alluded to) that it was being used properly, ie grounded, etc.

Are you getting no response whatsoever when you try turning on the power?

Even if the laptop is dead, keep in mind there’s the possibility the data on your HD is OK. Of course, we’re talking lightning here, so there’s also the possibility that you’re completely screwed. Sorry. Live and learn, eh?

Some questions, fruitbat:

How would you describe the sound? Like a loud “speaker pop?”

Does the hum quit when you hit the power button?

Have you removed the battery since the strike?

It sounded just like a speaker pop. The screen came on showing the desktop, but it was a terrible lime green color with streaks across it. The only way I could shut the machine down was to remove the battery. The hum comes on when I turn on the computer, but I can’t detect the usual sounds of the start up routine. It is more of a steady hum than the whirring of a normal start-up.

Oh boy. I’m sorry, fruitbat. :frowning:

Based on the symptoms (power on/hum/no POST), it’s probably the system board. Specifically, the BIOS chip, the video card or the graphics processor itself. These bits may be replaceable, but depending on the vintage, may be soldered on.

More questions: Did you have a phone cord, network cable or any other accessories plugged into the computer at the time? If yes on the modem/NIC cable, are these devices PCMCIA or are they integrated?

If yes to both questions, you should kick the card(s) out, then try to boot. For good measure, try popping out any modular drives – get the unit as bare as possible.

Also, try bootin’ without the battery – sounds weird, but I have seen Winbooks and Compaqs fail to fire up on a busted battery.

I hope none of this is redundant, just trying to save you wasting $75 on a look-see…