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My PC was unplugged for 3 weeks. Came back, plugged it into outlet and turned it on, then came a mighty BANG and smoke. The PSU is (was) a 5.5 years old Antec TRUEPOWER II TPII-380 380W. Would this have happened if I had left the PC plugged in outlet?

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Others also had similar experience at plugging PSU to the mains: superuser.com/questions/106099/power-supplies-keep-on-blowing –  user377178 Jan 12 '12 at 12:00
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Components are always stressed at power on/off times because of current surge. Given the age of your PSU I'd be inclined to blame a capacitor but it could have been anything. Leaving it turned on would, most likely, have extended it's life but you have to trade off the running hours against the risk of shortening component life. In general, because I use a ups I leave old equipment turned on or in standby but turn new equipment off.

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White smoke is typical to blowing capacitors. Capacitors aging loose their capacity and increase internal resistance. In PSUs they work coupled with induction coils, which produce current spikes by design at high frequency. When internal capacitor's reistance raises enough due to aging, the inflow of current from the coil causes bigger and bigger spikes of voltage enevtualy reaching limit at which capacitor blows. –  user377178 Jan 12 '12 at 11:47
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Probably. I'd suspect that the tipping point might have been a build up of dust (but that's just a guess).

The only reason it might not have been would be if the socket was unswitched so the power was returned as you were plugging it in - but that's a remote possibility.

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I've seen an old PSU blow up the very same way. I suspected dust as well –  Journeyman Geek Jan 12 '12 at 10:06
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