5 Tragic Computer Accidents You Can Prevent

Joe Keeley 30-04-2015

Computers are vulnerable devices and can often seem to screw up by themselves, but user error is a huge problem causer. There might be things you aren’t aware of being potential hazards and that ignorance could end up wrecking your system.


Don’t fear because we’ve rounded up some of the top computer accidents that can have disastrous consequences. The great thing is that they’re all easy to prevent, providing you take action and abide by the advice.

Of course, these aren’t all the accidents that can occur, so be sure to head into the comments section afterwards to share your own advice with us all. You never know, it might end up saving a computer!

Disconnect During a Lightning Storm

Everyone should invest in a surge protector Are Surge Protectors Necessary? Here's What They Really Do A surge protector is not the same thing as a power strip! Here's how they're different and why you need a reliable surge protector. Read More . They are a cheap and useful way to protect your electrical devices from voltage spikes. Simply put, a sudden and drastic change in the power being sent to your devices can damage the components inside. A surge protector will, as the name suggests, block or short to ground any voltage amount that threatens.


However, they aren’t fool-proof. Although they can usually successfully guard you against use of high-power electrical devices within the same system, or against a power cut How Power Outages Can Damage Your Computer (And How to Protect It) Unplugging your computer during severe storms? You may want to start. Here's how power outages can damage your PC. Read More , they aren’t so good when a lightning storm hits. If lightning hits near a power line or your house, then it can cause the electrical pressure to increase by a million volts. If your computer is plugged in, a surge protector isn’t going to be able to cope with that.


Okay, so the chances of it actually happening are relatively slim, but not non-existent. This isn’t something you want to be taking risks with, especially considering the cost of replacing the damaged equipment. As such, the cheapest and most secure way of protecting yourself during a lightning storm is to turn off and unplug your equipment. It’s not enough to just power down – you need to pull the plug, too.

Downloading Something Dodgy

The majority of viruses are written for Windows because it is still the most used operating system in the world. Malicious users know that it’s more likely they’ll get a hit on Windows, which is why time is spent looking for vulnerabilities in the system Every Version of Windows Is Affected By This Vulnerability - What You Can Do About It. What would you say if we told you that your version of Windows is affected by a vulnerability that dates back to 1997? Unfortunately, this is true. Microsoft simply never patched it. Your turn! Read More and taking advantage of it. If you’re not careful about what you’re downloading, perhaps from an untrustworthy site or advert, then you could find your system quickly infected.


One type of a virus is a keylogger Don't Fall Victim to Keyloggers: Use These Important Anti-Keylogger Tools In cases of online identity theft, keyloggers play one of the most important roles in the actual act of stealing. If you’ve ever had an online account stolen from you - whether it was for... Read More , which is something that records every keystroke entered. This can then be sent back to whoever distributed it, giving them a full record of everything you’ve typed. That goes beyond Facebook statuses – we’re talking contents of emails, passwords, security answers… you type it, they’ve got it. The damage can be massive and you might not even know it’s occurring.


As such, not only is it paramount that you’re careful with your downloads, but you also need protection to fight viruses. On top of using anti-virus software The Best PC Software for Your Windows Computer Want the best PC software for your Windows computer? Our massive list collects the best and safest programs for all needs. Read More , you might also want to consider monitoring your network Monitor Your Network and Watch Your Bandwidth With NetworkMiner When your Internet connection slows down to slow motion, it's not always the ISP's fault. The culprit could be in your house! Let's see how you can identify it. Read More to make sure nothing is being sent externally and using tools specifically designed to fight keyloggers.

Laptop Overheats in a Confined Space

Some laptops can get hot at the best of times, let alone when in a confined space. Theoretically, a thermal shutdown circuit should shut everything down if the system is becoming dangerously hot, but it’s never safe to rely on that. If you finish with your laptop, put it to sleep and then leave it somewhere enclosed (like in a laptop bag), it might be time to reconsider.


Putting a system to sleep doesn’t mean that it relies only on you to wake itself up. For example, a system will come out of sleep if it has a scheduled task 4 Boring Tasks You Can Automate With the Windows Task Scheduler Your time is too valuable to be wasted with repetitive tasks. Let us show you how to automate and schedule tasks. We have a few great examples, too. Read More to perform. The same thing can happen with Wake On LAN 5 Ways To Remote Control Your PC With Power Or Wake On LAN Ever wish you could turn your computer on or off remotely or on a schedule or other triggers? Imagine how much time and energy you could save! Time to get familiar with Wake On LAN! Read More . You might consider disabling things like this to stop your system waking on sleep, but that defeats the point if you actually make use of them.


Instead, it’s advisable to shut down your laptop entirely if you’re going to leave it somewhere where it can’t ventilate properly. There have been horror stories of components melting due to the heat. Unless you’re going to be installing a sprinkler right above the laptop, just turn it off completely.

Dropping Your Hard Drive

Hard disk drives are sensitive pieces of equipment. Unlike solid state drives Hard Drives, SSDs, Flash Drives: How Long Will Your Storage Media Last? How long will hard drives, SSDs, flash drives continue to work, and how long will they store your data if you use them for archiving? Read More , which have static components, hard drives are mechanical devices that have a head that floats above a spinning platter in order to read and write data. Although the platter is coated with a non-electrostatic lubricant that helps protect it from minor collisions, if it has serious impact then it’s going to scratch and damage the platter.


If the platter gets damaged in any way, there’ll be a major risk of data loss. It’s where your data is kept and if it gets damaged then there’s no way that the head can access it. If you consider that dust landing on the platter can potentially cause harm, which is why you should never open up your drive in anywhere but a specialised clean room, imagine what would happen if the head collides with it.


As such, you need to be ultra careful not to drop a hard drive, especially if it’s an external one that’s constantly on the move. It might sound obvious, but although something like a smartphone can survive a drop, the chances are less likely on a hard drive. It’s always important to ensure you have a backup of your data Disaster-Proof Your Data! 4 Offsite Backup Solutions Laptops, desktops and tablets are ultimately trivial items that can be replaced and hold little value, but the same might not be true of the data they contain. Losing a project you’ve worked years on... Read More and this is just another reason to show why.

Using Aggressive Disk Cleaners

We all like to keep our systems running smoothly. It’s satisfying to make a change that makes your computer run that bit quicker or to clean out your hard drive to free up a bunch of space. But you need to be very careful when using disk cleaner tools because if you’re too aggressive with them, you could end up causing more harm than good.


It’s not uncommon to hear about people corrupting their registry because they don’t understand the importance of it. The registry saves settings at a system-wide level What Is the Windows Registry and How Do I Edit It? If you need to edit the Windows registry, making a few quick changes is easy. Let's learn how to work with the registry. Read More and using a poorly designed registry cleaner can end up wiping out things you actually need, rendering programs or the operating system useless.

In the past we’ve written about the ways overzealous cleaning can break Windows 5 Ways Overzealous Cleaning Can Break Windows It's easy to go overboard with cleaning your PC. When you're cleaning your PC, be sure you know what you're getting into -- it's easy to break something. Read More , so be sure to read up on things not to do – including deleting your recovery partition, erasing system files and deleting important drivers. It’s great to have a clean system, but make sure you know the limits before you begin chopping.

Help Prevent an Accident

A power surge, a dropped hard drive, an over-cleaned computer… all of these and more are accidents waiting to happen, but hopefully you’ve now been successfully informed and can ensure they don’t happen to you.

But there are many more accidents out there waiting to happen! We can’t cover our computers in bubble wrap and call it a day – systems are prone to breaking and there’s so many opportunities for things to go awry. To that end, please share your own advice in the comments.

Have you ever suffered from any of these accidents? What advice can you give that might help save someone’s system?

Image Credits: lightning Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Computer Security, Hard Drive, Registry Cleaner.

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  1. francesco
    May 6, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Waiting affordable prices of external SSD , unique solution for external hdd is an external anti-shock case like those of Transcend

  2. Sunni
    May 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I like the comment about UPS. They are great at protecting from low voltage or power loss, but their surge protection is minimal. Always use a good quality surge protector and plug the UPS into that and the computer into the UPS.

  3. Riley Mullins
    May 1, 2015 at 7:19 am

    Search for a website Do NOT type it in the address bar, misspellings or typos can lead to you to a lot of bad websites, especially when using Internet Explorer. Most popular sites have a proper redirect, if for example you type or they'll direct you to there proper site.

    • CTownBOS
      May 1, 2015 at 1:10 pm

      thx, good tip

    • Lee Hamilton
      May 4, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Make sure that the link goes to the proper site. It is not uncommon for a frequent typo to have a website at that address that will take you somewhere else, usually loaded with links to related sites but sprinkled with lots of malware. I think it is actually safer to type the actual address wanted. If you've been there before and it is still in the browser history, most browsers will show you an autocomplete selection; or use your browsers bookmarks to access frequently used sites.

  4. Hildy J
    April 30, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Don't bother with surge protectors, invest a bit more and get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Power goes into a (replaceable) battery and the computer draws its power from the battery. This prevents surges and also brownouts (insufficient voltage) from affecting the computer. You can also use the battery to charge your electronics during a blackout. I'd also recommend them for your big screen TVs.