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One of my PCI slots – the one that hosted my network card – went down in a bang during a power surge. The network card itself, however, still remains intact.

I can still get my computer on the Internet, however, because there is another PCI slot that's not spoiled yet (I'd better get a power surge protector!). But I am worried that the defects in the broken PCI slot will spread to other parts of motherboard, just like bad sectors do in hard disk.

Is my fear warranted?

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4 Answers 4

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I'm pretty sure that it will not. A similar thing happened to me but both the card and the slot were dead. The rest of the system worked until it was replaced some years later.

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You might be OK, but it all depends on what actually got fried during the power surge to actually give you a solid answer. Most of the time, whatever breaks just breaks at the time of the power surge and everything that works, continues to work. I would make sure though you have a proper surge protector or battery backup (UPS) from now on and please make sure your data is backed up in case something does go wrong again or get worse.

Even if things continue to work after a power anomaly, the parts life span might have been significantly reduced due to the stress/condition of the power trip.

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As always, each case is a little different. I once had a sound card that bricked itself; in the process of it expiring, every other item on the PCI bus lost its magic smoke, too. A couple of other PCI cards, as well as the on-board devices that were part of the bus. CPU and RAM survived, the drives themselves survived, but the MoBo was a total write-off.

In my case, though, it wasn't an external event; at least, I don't think. Whatever caused the caps (all of 'em) on the sound card to pop just ranged through everything it could get to electrically.

That was, officially, my weirdest "massive failure."

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In your case, how long it took for all the other failures to manifest themselves? –  Graviton Aug 20 '09 at 15:51
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Visually, the sound card was the only thing that looked damaged (blown caps and scorch marks). Pulled the sound card, it booted, but started acting wonky within a day. By the end of the second day, I had determined the full extent of the damage. –  Adrien Aug 20 '09 at 16:18

Note that the "power surge" was most likely on the network cable, not through the power lines. If you have a cable modem the point of entry would have been the cable connection. The place to install surge protection is on the cable before it reaches the modem.

It's doubtful that the the damage would "spread", save for the possibility that the adapter may have been damaged somehow by the surge.

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