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My PC is a bit weird: Sometimes, I can switch it on just by touching the front side near the power button. Very fun in fact, I love it!

But sometimes, when I connect a USB key, the PC just crashes. In fact, I just have to touch the USB port with the key to crash it. I think there is a little problem of static electricity and maybe a small electric leak.

Do you think I am right? I am a software developer, not an electronics guru. How can I figure out what is going on, and how I can correct this?

The PC runs Ubuntu Linux, but I am not sure this is related.

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If touching the case induceses a change in state of the power, there must be a pretty severe grounding problem. I don't recommend even touching that one for risk of shock. Consider buying a new case or a new computer because odds are the hardware has already taken damage from static which can produce latent problems that are difficult to pinpoint (ruin RAM, motherboard, CPU, basically entire thing). –  P.Brian.Mackey Apr 22 '11 at 15:21
    
(This web site needs "humour" votes -- this post definitely deserves a few because of the "very fun in fact, I love it" comment!) –  Randolf Richardson Apr 22 '11 at 15:21
    
Do you have grounded outlets? In case you don't have: handymanusa.com/articles/ground1.html –  Aki Apr 22 '11 at 15:21
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1 Answer

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Your AC likely isn't grounded properly. You may need to get an electrician to check your wiring (or you can buy a $10 simple AC circuit tester and plug it in to see if things are wired correctly -- if ground is missing, then the three lights will indicate that immediately).

simple AC circuit tester

  Image of a simple AC circuit tester
  http://www.testersandtools.com/images/QVTIMG20050902111828578.jpg

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+1 great answer. @Cédric Girard Once you get the issue of grounding resolved, I recommend running memtest x86 to test the components for failure due to static. memtest.org –  P.Brian.Mackey Apr 22 '11 at 15:32
    
In addition to the excellent suggestion to run a memory test, vacuuming out any dust can be helpful too since dust can also carry static electricity. –  Randolf Richardson Apr 22 '11 at 15:49
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