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It is often advised when repairing a computer that one should use special anti-static bracelets to protect the electronic parts from electro-static discharge.

Would plastic gloves or latex gloves (e.g. medical disposable gloves) protect from electro-static discharge as well?

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I added proper static guidelines to my answer –  PsychoData Sep 13 '13 at 20:23
    
The plastic gloves would have to be made of conductive plastic (e.g. carbon-loaded PVC), and grounded. –  Kaz Sep 13 '13 at 23:17

3 Answers 3

No, they do the opposite and build up static on the outside of the glove and from rubbing on your hands. not a good idea if you like your electronics.

They also often have powders on them that you don't want to get on electronics.

Now there are specialized static glvoes that work wonderfully and I highly recommend. BUT, these are not your run of the mill glvoes. They are special ones.

EDIT: There has been some confusion with proper procedures relating to static, So I'm throwing it in here too.

Proper Static Guidelines

To follow good static safety procedures, you want to make sure there is no difference between YOU (the person), the equipment your working on, and ground (literally, the actual ground.)

The way that we do this is to use a number of possible pieces of equipment and procedures. First we usually use some piece of equipment to keep ourselves from having a potential difference in electrical current from the ground. An example of this would be the Anti-static wrist band. Now the wrist band comes in multiple flavors: ranging from a screwed down version that will ground itself to the table (and from there to the wall plug and from there to the electrical company's ground either outside the building or back at one of their power lines) or through a strap that plugs in to a wall outlet (skipping the table portion of the previous example) or has an alligator clip that allows you to clip onto the station that you are standing at without removing your strap.

All of those versions of the wrist band do one thing: keep you and the ground at the same electrical potential. Now the problem here arise that, even if you and the ground are the same level, what if you and what you're going to be working on aren't? Then there is still potential. This is why you want to ground yourself to the case or a ground screw or something like that in the device you're working on. That way you (who are already at ground potential) have just brought the whole devices ground potential down to nothing. This way it is safe for you to touch the components on the devices without worry that you will have a difference in charge from the device that will find the path of least resistance through the random chip that you touch and push waay to much voltage through it, frying the chip. You also want to repeat grounding the case to you and the ground every few minutes to make sure that nothing has built up in the mean time from you moving around.

Now, responding to a point made by another answer-er, you do not either want to overly handle the devices PCB overly much. These are covered in enamel in most places, yes, but they are also very sensitive to the oils in your skin. And these oils will wear through the enamel and cause problems over time. The best way to avoid this is to handle the PCB either by the edges, or by the case (which just grounds you to it all over again :) )

Should you have to touch the PCB directly, it is recommended to clean the board with a astringent like pure rubbing alcohol to clean any oils off and then dry the area with a clean cotton swap or ball or lint free rag.

There you have it: Psychodata's Guide to static eletricity, electronics, and the ground. Now go not fry electronics!!!

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Technically, your hardware is slightly safer when you use some of these devices but the truth is they don't work as well as a little common electronical sense does. They also fail when not used properly (which includes doing exactly what I'm about to tell you to do).

It is FAR more important to not have a static build up in the first place than having a cheap wire attached to your wrist. It is REALLY simple to avoid any problems by just touching the metal structure of your case before messing with the hardware. If the power cable is plugged in that is an extra bonus because the ground wire on your PSU is also connected to the case metal (which you may have noticed if you've ever touched a PC case and been shocked).

While this is generally all that is needed, it doesn't hurt to avoid touching any exposed metal on your boards (grab them by the PCB material as much as possible). This is a good tip but in reality there is very little exposed metal on most boards because they are painted with enamel before leaving the factory.

As long as you aren't standing on a wool blanket while moonwalking that will be plenty to protect your hardware. Repeat this every few minutes while working just to be on the safe side and you'll be set and able to tackle any hardware issue like a pro (even while roughing it).

Anyone who says differently really has very little experience. The reason this isn't dangerous in most cases is because static electricity is very high voltage but at a very tiny current. I keep saying 'almost' because there IS one piece of hardware which CAN be destroyed with high voltage at low current and that is RAM. When you handle RAM never touch the metal contact points where it plugs into the board. That is really the only vulnerable spot on a standard PC. If you can avoid that you are golden. This is coming from someone whom had worked as a PC tech for nearly a decade and has been a computer geek for much much longer and fixed countless machines...(I mean myself).

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This is mostly accurate. Ideally, you do want to be using some kind of grounding tool or static protection (like the wrist strap) to prevent any buildup. What @krowe describes isn't grounding yourself, it is grounding yourself to the case. That being said. Grounding yourself to ground isn't enough. You want to make sure that you ground yourself AND the object. Just picture if the object happens to have built up 400 units of energy. you touch it from 200 and you and the object are both then at 300 (roughly). Wearing a grounding strap it would bring you, the object both down to full zero. –  PsychoData Sep 13 '13 at 19:57
    
except this part "Technically, your hardware is slightly safer when you use some of these devices but the truth is they don't work as well as a little common electronic sense does. They also fail when not used properly (which includes doing exactly what I'm about to tell you to do)." They do indeed work much better, when used properly. Just because you wear a strap doesnt mean you get to dive straight in and poke the processor. Who's to say the difference between ground and the processor isn't a big one and would cause damage? No. Wear static protection AND ground the case (and you) to ground –  PsychoData Sep 13 '13 at 20:04
    
I added proper static guidelines to my answer. These outline how to ground yourself and keep the electronics safe from static –  PsychoData Sep 13 '13 at 20:24

No. If you get a good zap it will go right through thin latex gloves. You need to discharge the static into the ground, which is what the wrist band does ( by having a wire connected to ground ). You can get the same thing just by touching anything with a metal chassis that is also plugged into a grounded wall outlet, then try not to move around to avoid building up more charge.

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The wrist band is there to protect the electronics not you. If you hit a cap big enough to really shock you the wristband will do nothing. –  EBGreen Sep 13 '13 at 17:52
    
@EBGreen, no kidding. I didn't say otherwise. –  psusi Sep 13 '13 at 17:54
    
Sorry. this bit: "No. If you get a good zap it will go right through thin latex gloves. You need to discharge the static into the ground, which is what the wrist band does ( by having a wire connected to ground )." sounds like you are saying that the strap protects the person ("If you get a good zap..."). –  EBGreen Sep 13 '13 at 18:23
    
@EBGreen, get or give is just a matter of perspective. It's all the same to the electrons... –  psusi Sep 13 '13 at 19:05
    
It should be pointed out that the difference between something like a capacitor's charge and static buildup are very different. A capacitor builds up a set voltage at high amps, while static builds up high volts at low amps. Thus meaning that capacitors have enough push to actually be able to power things (for a short time anyway) while static doesn't have much in the way of push, but it does have high voltage to break through barriers. For example poking capacitor leads wearing a plastic glove is fine, but static will go right through it. I added proper static guidelines to my answer. –  PsychoData Sep 13 '13 at 20:27

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