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I have an older Dell E520 that I've been using as a sort of development server. Over the last 6 months I've had two hard drives and 2 DVD drives fail in this box.

Is this just really bad luck? Is this box just cursed, or could there be something else causing the failures? Maybe a bad power supply?

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Either a bad PSU or really nasty AC supplying it –  Moab Dec 31 '10 at 2:48
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Bad power supply, or even bad power to the system, causing over- or under-volting.

Replace your power supply, and run off clean power (you can get a reasonable UPS for a reasonable price).

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Incidentally, I refer to undervolting as "brownouts" and get funny looks. What does everyone else call that? –  user3463 Dec 31 '10 at 2:48
    
I've always said "brownout", but undervolting is more obvious, I guess. Probably the safest option. –  jcrawfordor Dec 31 '10 at 4:18
    
I guess it's just semantics, and funny looks aren't always a bad thing. At least you get noticed :-) –  user3463 Dec 31 '10 at 4:19
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