80% Of Geek Squad Employees Say They Don't Use Anti-Static Wrist Straps

56% of Geek Squad employees responding to a poll on a company online forum said they found “no reason” to use anti-static wrist straps when repairing customer’s computers.

These straps help prevent against against electrostatic discharge (ESD), which can completely fry a computer.

18% of the 129 responding to the December, 2006 poll said they felt using straps was “necessary anytime the case is open.” 17% said “our precinct does not have any or anywhere to attach to the bench.” And 7% said “I am too lazy or there is not enough time to use them.”

Geek Squad’s standard repair operating procedure requires use of the straps, in conjunction with anti-static rubber mats.

Geek Squad employees gave various reasons for not strapping on, like, “we would have to spend money,” and, “I have never worn one…and we’ve never had any ESD issues.”

ESD can build up in a device and cause damage weeks or even months later. Sometimes the damage can be a gradual degrade over time, resulting in random instability and system lockups.

Other employees simply found the straps “uncomfortable” and cumbersome to use.

Some chided their fellow employees for poo-poohing the straps. One employee cited a study where mishandling IBM computers led to $500,000+ in ESD damages. Another said, “We owe it to our clients to protect not only their privacy, but the longevity of their electronic components. “

Full screen shot of the poll, inside…


Click to enlarge.

http://consumermediallc.files.wordpress.com/2007/04/geeksquadscreenshot-thumb.jpg?w=522&h=175

One agent in Liberty, MO provides a cautionary tale:

I was *always* far too good to wear one. Never had a problem with any of my own equipment, precinct work, client’s machines etc.

Then I moved my own motherboard from one case to another to upgrade. Admittedly, I wasn’t taking good precautions changing it on carpet, but I did the same trick everyone here does with grounding the case to an outlet and putting hands on the chassis.

I killed the thing.

It was then that I realized that a freaking dollar and some change dynex wrist strap would have saved me ~$200. I can imagine messing up at a client’s house, and I don’t want the issues frankly. Now, when there’s a screwdriver in my hand, my wardrobe includes the strap.

Some techs say it’s not necessary to use the straps, and that there’s other ways to properly discharge before operating on a computer. But if Geek Squad thought wrist straps were good enough to require in the standard operating procedure, why aren’t they being used in the stores? — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. dbeahn says:

    If you’re an experienced tech you know there are numerous ways to avoid static issues without a wrist strap.

    That said, based on my experience with the geek squad, I think those guys should probably be wearing wrist straps at all times…

  2. The Bigger Unit says:

    I’m surprised Consumerist didn’t go with “82% of Geek Squaders don’t wear anti-static wrist-straps”. Basically what it boils down to, and even worse-sounding than 56%.

    Anyhoo…I don’t wear one either when I bust open my computer. Just discharge any electricity beforehand and I’ve been good.

  3. Sorenso says:

    I have worked in Information Technology for 7 years now and we never use them. As a matter of fact, I know that on a couple of occasions we even tried to fry Dell’s just for fun (we had a bunch of cheap GX50′s) and we couldn’t fry it. Maybe I should try it again before posting just to be sure hehe.

    The static electricity that builds up is easily discharged by plugging in your computer. The computer is grounded to your power supply, the power supply is grounded via the three-pronged cable you plug into the wall.

    I think the rule comes from the same as the no cellphone in the hospital bit. It’s just a precaution. I mean if they fry your motherboard it is from the power supply, or something else not properly seated (CPU, expansion cards, memory, etc) not static electricity.

    Anyone else have the same thoughts, or am I just living on the edge :)

  4. The Bigger Unit says:

    @The Nature Boy: Dammit…”80%”. That’s what I get for being lazy and subtracting 18% from 100…and trusting Geek Squad’s forum data.

  5. FLConsumer says:

    ESD wrist straps aren’t always necessary. Out of the PC components, RAM and processors are the most sensitive and if your work environment is designed to minimise static electricity and you ground yourself periodically, ESD straps aren’t needed for working around PCs. Also, if you live in a high-humidity environment (Florida anyone?), there isn’t even a chance for static electricity to build.

  6. mewyn dyner says:

    I wouldn’t doubt they do have problems with ESD, but just don’t realize it. It is highly likely that if a component is bad out of the box it could have been damaged by ESD. Also ESD damaged, but not made inoperable, components can cause computers to do weird things, lockups, and the like. I do agree with the above two posters about using other means for ESD discharge, but I damn well would want any repair shop to use proper ESD prevention methods when touching my stuff.

  7. axiomatic says:

    If the Geek Squad is not using the ESD wriststraps / ESD pads, then they are not ISO 9000 certified, or about to lose ISO 9000 certification. ;-)

    I have a feeling Best Buy wants to keep that ISO status.

  8. freps says:

    I have been an Computer and Electrical engineer for the past 10 years. I currently design video capture boards. You absolutly need a wrist strap.

    Grounding on the case is not suffeciaent. All you end up doing is bringing your body to the same potential as the case. The second you let go, all bets are off.

    Computers are full of very high density chips, and as such, they are subject to damage from static charge. You may not be able to see the damage with the naked eye, but it happens. You may not notice teh damage when running the computer, but you can have intermitant failures.

    I have repaired many of our boards returned fom the field, and static does damage chips.

    And no, ram isnot more susceptable to damage than the other items. Any chip can be easily damaged.

    Do you realize you cannot feel static electricity below 2000 volts? Static electricity as low as 20 volt can cause circuit damage. (Look it up on any esd site. Trust me, we go through this training every six months.)

    Use a wrist strap for gods sake!

  9. I would care to bet that I have more experience than 90% of the employees at Geek Squad, but I never use a wrist strap. A quick touch of the case frame and you safely discharge any static you may have built up.

    On a side note: the last time I ever built up static, enough to send a spark, was when I was a kid – and that was intentional. Yes, I know less energy could zap a component on the motherboard, I just got to thinking about how fun it was to zap my younger sister back in the day.

  10. dvddesign says:

    I’ve built around 500 or so systems without a strap, and frankly, I think the need for one is overrated. If you live in a dry environment, sure maybe, but in Houston, it’s always humid here…

    In any case, we did a ton of preventative measures anyway, from touching the case, the table, other computers, whatever, never happened. We set a system on fire a few times from a bad power supply, but never shocked a system.

  11. mantari says:

    “Not only do I not wear ESD straps, but I bring in my own personal stun gun in order to create more revenue for my employer!”

  12. sleze69 says:

    I have been working in IT for 13 years. I have probably used a static strap 10 or 15 times during the uncountable times I have had a computer open on a workbench (or my lap, or the floor, or in a rack, etc). I have NEVER done any damage via static.

    As much as I am entertained by how bad corporate tech support is(having come from it), I find little fault with the Geeks on this one.

  13. storm says:

    I worked in IT for nearly 10 years, and I never used a wrist strap. If you have connected the power supply to a properly grounded outlet, and you discharge the static on that, you’re well on your way.

    Having said that, you can’t lose sight of the marketing aspect of this. We might know enough to get around the need for one, but remember that Geek Squad is caring for SOMEONE ELSE’s stuff. And if that someone is using Geek Squad, that person probably has no idea what’s going on.

    If they ask about the wrist strap, they can say “it’s an extra precautionary measure.”

    What you and I do with our own stuff is our own business, but in business, sometimes even largely unjustified safety measures can help soothe a relatively uninformed customer.

  14. Dan says:

    I worked in IT for five years, and never used one (and don’t recall seeing anybody else use them either). As several others above have pointed out, you can usually discharge static electricity by touching a metal part of the case.

    That said, the straps make great fashion accessories.

  15. SOhp101 says:

    I’m curious to see what these wrist straps even look like.

    In over ten years of computer hardware diagnostics/repair/upgrades that I’ve done, I’ve never worn one… I’ve just touched the case and various other metal objects nearby to discharge.

  16. More important than anything else: don’t work on carpet. Don’t even work on a table that’s standing on carpet. That’s just begging for problems.

    Static isn’t really as much of a problem with RAM as one might think, however. I used to resell memory, and we decided to test it with static shocks (SD-RAM, testing by rubbing our feet on carpet).

    Even after visible sparks were let off from one end of the memory to the other (yes, sparks on both ends!), it usually still passed through the memory tester with no problems (one out of 50 sticks failed – 2% failure with over 2000 volts). The motherboard is probably more of an issue than anything else.

  17. Stepehn Colbert says:

    On the topic of the Geek Squad, it’s just come to light that masturbating is now known to cause hair-loss and baldness.

  18. XianZhuXuande says:

    I got a chuckle out of this one, but it is probably because I still work a few days a week as a repair technician for Geeksquad. As has been mentioned by many people, these straps are hardly necessary for an experienced technician except in special circumstances (if I were moving a motherboard around I would use one simply because it is not my own property and a risk is involved). Installing RAM, rmoving hard drives, video cards — if you know what you are doing, you don’t need an anti-static strap for this. Especially because Geeksquad does not work on carpet or other risky surfaces.

    Many mention a concern about the average intelligence of Geeksquad agents. This is a valid concern at face value! The quality of Geeksquad agents has dropped regularly over the years as their pay rates have plummeted, supervision has been turned over to ignorant BestBuy managers, and fun — the heart and soul of the company — has been viciously ripped out by uncaring shallow suits. The stories you read about Geeksquad declining are true.

    But don’t worry, in most Precincts, these idiots aren’t the ones handling most of your computer work. At my store, for example (a store which used to be staffed by technicians of amazing skill and personality), most of the people you speak to at the counter should never be trusted with serious computer work. Once your computer is checked in, though, one of several highly skilled technicans — people who you almost never see in plain view — do the actual work. I am one of these people. For the most part, I only help customers I have initiated contact with for additional supplies (e.g. recovery discs) or payment.

    In over ten years of computer work, I have rarerly used a wrist strap, and I have never worked with a competent co-worker who has done so either. And I have never — not once — seen a case of component damage due to ESD. If the company continues in its present direction, though, this may become more and more important. But hey, if the person working on your computer doesn’t know how to handle these situations naturally, you have bigger problems.

    Sidenote: standalone Geeksquad stores are still wonderful.

  19. Echodork says:

    This is a poorly constructed survey. Don’t get me wrong, I loathe BB and Geek Squad and everything related to them, but this particular survey looks like it’s skewed toward highly negative answers. There are three negative responses but only one affirmative answer, and it comes with a universal qualifier. There is no response you can give which approximates “yes, I use a wrist strap when it is necessary to prevent static discharge.” Nobody uses a wrist strap every time they open the case. But to express that opinion in this survey, you have to give a negative response and get lumped in with people who claim to be “too lazy” to use a strap.

    Meh. Hate Geek Squad, but not impressed with this.

  20. Kat says:

    What do they mean, hooking the wrist strap to the bench? Psht. In college I was taught to clip it to the computer case.

  21. TechnoDestructo says:

    My favorite way is to work on a metal table, take off a shoe and keep my toes on the leg.

  22. jwismar says:

    I’ve spent the last 20 years working on and around computer hardware. The first several years, I was assembling hardware at the chip level. My degree is in designing chips themselves. More recently, I’ve moved to home-building my own PCs. I have never fried a chip via static, and I don’t know anyone who has. Wrist straps are a complete waste of time.

    You know what it’s like? It’s like the guy who fails his blood test because opiates were detected, and he claims it’s because he ate poppy seed bagels for breakfast. Meanwhile, everyone who knows the guy always figured he was doing drugs anyway, so no one really believes the story about the poppy seeds. That’s roughly what ESD is like.

    Anyway, quoting from the original post:

    ESD [electrostatic discharge] can build up in a device and cause damage weeks or even months later.

    This doesn’t even make sense. An electrostatic discharge is an event. A discharge can not build up. If the quote is intended to say that static can build up over weeks and months, that at least makes sense, it’s merely untrue.

  23. EtherealStrife says:

    @TechnoDestructo:

    As amusing as it looks to an outsider, I do the same. :) Wrist straps are overrated.

  24. mrosedal says:

    I have been working on computers for quite some time. As the first comment said if you know what you are doing you can ground yourself many other ways. I personally don’t carry anything in my back pocket for such a thing :-). But if it were my computer I would rather see the person with the wrist wrap.

  25. bastarre says:

    @jwismar:

    I’ve been an electronic technician in military for over 15 years and you should absolutely wear a wrist strap. I’m required to have annual training in ESD at least once a year. I’ve seen countless dollars thrown away because of ESD.

    To the comment regarding damage over time, while your component may not caue it to fail the first time, it and subsequent zaps will certainly weaken it leading to eventual failure. That’s what they meant.

    And last, those talking about the 3-prong outlet grounding the system…in what universe is it ok to work on equipment with power applied or hooked up (as most computers have a continual voltage applied to the back of the power switch)? Sound like asking for trouble to me.

  26. velocipenguin says:

    Impractical Tip of the Day:

    ESD is a serious problem, but only for circuits based on MOS logic families. If you work on PDP-11s for a living, you should be able to safely omit the wrist strap.

  27. FLConsumer says:

    To those who swear by the ESD straps: I’m willing to bet your equipment is getting damaged more by improper power distribution & cheap power supplies than true ESD. For that matter, I almost never seen buildings with well-designed power distribution systems, especially when it comes to grounding and surge protection.

  28. LandruBek says:

    There are way too many people here saying that wrist straps are superfluous. I strongly disagree! I’ve zapped chips unintentionally, and I know ESD can be a real problem. I’m an electrical engineer, and everywhere I’ve worked, our assemblers, technicians and engineers use wrist straps when working on digital chips. We also use humidifiers to lessen static buildup. Grounding yourself against the case is better than nothing, but you have to stay grounded to stay safe. Even if you aren’t walking across shag carpet, but say have a fan blowing on you, you can still build up a hefty static charge. So sitting still is no guarantee you won’t zap.

    Many have said, “I don’t use them and I’ve never done any damage,” but the fact is, severe damage is the only kind you might notice right away — and even then you might miss it, depending on what you damaged. You probably aren’t going to notice when a zap causes an intermittent failure.

    The inside of digital chips contains millions of very delicate panes of quartz insulation, and it only takes a small shock to damage or destroy them. (@jwismar): The damage is what can accumulate over time, not the static charge itself.

    And the prognosis is . . . negative(*). The chip makers work very hard to make the electronics inside smaller, because this is what lets them pack more processing power into each chip — but one consequence is that the chips get more and more vulnerable to ESD damage. So if Geek Squad isn’t strapping up now, they better start doing so.

    (* Apologies to Seinfeld. I just love that movie title.)

  29. Type-E says:

    The question if it is really necessary.

  30. freps says:

    Have you ever been to Intel or other large chip fab or even a board integrator site? They all practice esd. Do you think they do that for nothing and “waste” all the money in esd training and eqipment?

    If you have worked on a chip level, you know what damage it can do.

  31. XianZhuXuande says:

    @freps: Working on a chip level is, in no way, comparable to swapping hard drives and the like. Strong ESD precautions (such as a wrist strap) certainly have their place when working with sensitive electronics, but for an experienced technician doing basic work on simple components this is something akin to worrying about pesticides on your daily orange.

  32. Trumps says:

    I love the people that say no ESD strap is needed. They have never had a computer fail because of it.


    Thats like saying:

    “I don’t need Service Pack 2. I don’t need antivirus software. I have never had an infection”

    How do you know if you have any sort of infection unless you check for it

    Latent ESD damage can cause complete failures months later. It can cause instability weeks later.

    If you have been working on computer components for 15 years and have never used an ESD Strap, THEN YOU HAVE BEEN DAMAGING COMPONENTS FOR 15 YEARS AND HAVE BEEN DOING YOUR JOB INAPPROPRIATELY.


    Just because it passes Memtest, or RAMCheck, or PC-Doctor, or whatever you are using to test, doesn’t mean it is 100% good.


    for those people who say the poll is biased, look to see where that poll is based. Wow GeekSquad posted that poll theirselves.


    BTW if you are going to hold on to the case to ground yourself, YOU CANT LET GO. Your clothes constantly produce static. Also make sure everything is grounded to the case otherwise your “grounding” is pointless.


    @jwismar look up the definition of latent ESD damage


    “Latent failure due to prior ESD damage was witnessed under laboratory conditions. As a result of EPS packaging, ESD damage was suspected of having occurred on customer premises while the PWB assemblies were in service. This, in conjunction with other reports of latency, supports previous conclusions that ESD damage can adversely affect the reliability of bipolar devices.3″

    http://www.ce-mag.com/archive/02/Spring/dangelmayer.html

  33. Trumps says:

    Im sorry what is a “simple component”?

    RAM? HDD? SB?

    what do you consider “simple” All of these have ESD Vulnerable chips. All of these can be damaged just as easy. Is ignorance really that much bliss that you can tell yourself that it is “simple” therefore it is “basic” and cannot be damage whatsoever. You owe it to your clients to protect their equipment at all costs. If you don’t want to, then send them to my company and I will do the job correctly.

  34. quagmire0 says:

    I can count the number of times where static electricity *MAY* have caused a problem when I was working on a computer on 1 finger. :)

  35. Trumps says:

    Wow quagmire0 do you have an oscilloscope at home or something?

  36. Havok154 says:

    The only reason to use a wrist strap is to make your customer feel at ease. It’s not necessary to use as long as you make sure you discharge on the side of the case or in another place before hand. Since we recommend it to Joe Blow, knowing if he doesn’t use one, he’ll send a huge static charge from his shag carpet into his computer, they’ll think everyone needs to take the extra precautions.

    That being said, I rarely use one, unless it’s someone who is untrusting of my knowledge or skill.

  37. Trumps says:

    read above and do some research about ESD. Then come back and retract your statement Havok

  38. oldhat says:

    Wrist straps are like the safety belts for window washers or helmets for bike riders:

    1) Of course it’s a good idea.

    2) No it won’t always prevent accidents.

    3) If you take care of yourself you don’t need one.

    Discharge *excess* static charges on the chassis and only tough components on the edges and corners.

    What BS about minute, incremental damage that shows up months later. You mean more than all the other damage the computer is suffering during those months? Heat, dust, temp extremes, moisture, bangs, drops, noisy power, general wear and tear? Give me a break you blowhards, don’t swim after eating either. We are talking real world here.

    (I’m a engineeer, waaaahhhh!)

    Further: Don’t take anything in or out of the motherboard while it’s plugged in. Hard drives etc are fine.

    Finally, for Geek Squad, it should all be part of the show: stupid uniform, stupid car, stupid schtick, stupid wrist strap.

  39. jurgis says:

    Yeah, ESD protection is not overrated (as another long time nerd who builds his own PCs and used to program embedded systems).

    When I was an undergrad and given full run of the modern physics labs we “shocked” some leftover (damaged) wafers from Intel and did a before and after viewing with a small electron microscope (the tower was very tiny, it was a donation from HP/Agilent). You could see physical damage done.

    The thing about insulation is true too, I used to work on Jet Engine sensor computers and they got constants “shocks” in a rough working environment and the insulation would eventual go out and they would cease to work.

    To nail this coffin shut: in 94 I shocked an Sound Blaster 16 (visible sparks) and it quit working.

    Anecdotal evidence aside, ESD is a real problem and Best Buy is pretty amateur for letting this go. (If you work IT, I’m not remotely impressed very few IT guys I have met were that sharp to begin with. Like the one who told me “I couldn’t ping a computer running Unix (Solaris).”)

  40. jurgis says:

    @oldhat: I don’t think you understand enough about computers and electricity, in general. Even if you “ground yourself” by touching the edge of the case you can still pass a charge through the other components. Electricity flows like water down a mountain: path of least resistance. So you can “ground”, build up a charge and then blast other components as you “complete the circuit”. All you are really doing is localizing the potential, but you can still do dumb things and add more charge (i.e. it’s localized to your “circuit” but the motherboard/component doesn’t ground except through the power supply… otherwise you would shock yourself whenever you touched a conductive part of the case). Like rubbing your feet, etc. To say nothing of inductive charging.

    You see this all the time in spacecraft design: charge collects as ionized particles on the surface of a satellite, and one day “poof” it blasts through (even things with low conductivity) and frys components. Big problem for designers.

    Small shocks damage ram (any circuit), ram that is “slightly damaged” (in terms of silicon dioxide insulation) may pass tests, but I can guarantee that it is no longer as efficient (heat buildup). Ram or a CPU running hot will result in performance problems that will not be as apparent as something “failing”.

    So if you actually care about performance over the life of your PC, you should be using ESD protection. You can get away with it, if you don’t, but you are robbing people of performance.

    When the IT department groans about every little upgrade to the user base, (like in a large company). It matters to people.

  41. Trumps says:

    Jurgis thank you for supporting ESD protection. I feel so dismal about most of these supposed “IT” people because of their ignorance. It is nice to hear someone that is well informed about the subject.

    Here is a question for everyone:

    If ESD precautions for working on computers is pointless, how come companies like LENOVO, DELL, HP, & SONY spend millions of dollars to make sure their repair techs are properly grounded. AND why is there even an certification for proper grounding?


    For all the people who say they have never damaged a component with ESD…. How much did your oscilloscope and electron-microscope cost you?

  42. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I’ll chime in on this one. Do I use a wrist strap on my own cheapo PC?…sometimes. Sure, you can get away with not wearing one if you discharge yourself to the case and/or if you’re careful and handle memory and daughter boards by the edges. Would I take the chance on somebody else’s computer? Not if I could help it.

    Would I work on a customer’s $4000 telephone switch card or MUX card without a strap? No way (unless I really hated them).

    I have cooked stuff with ESD before. Sure, only once or twice in the last 10 years, but I’ve done it. But beyond the obvious board that all of a sudden quits working, there’s also the chance of causing latent damage by weakening CMOS gates..and no, it’s not BS and has been well documented in the lab. If you don’t believe me, read the ESD rules set out by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory or Google “ESD” and enjoy the results.

    If you fry your own $100 motherboard, who really cares, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be aboard an aircraft or a spacecraft put together by any of you people who seem to think ESD never happens.

  43. oldhat says:

    I definitely know “enough” about computers and electricity. That’s how I make my living, that’s the definition of enough…it’s enough for the folks who pay me.

    I’m not arguing physics or spacecraft design. I’m talking real world, knowledge for the masses.

    You people sound like whiny audiophiles complaining that a lossy codec (mp3) can never sound as good as the full size version. What else? Overzealous oil-changing tips? How dangerous my kitchen sponge is? How my cell phone is killing me? (shh, I don’t wanna hear that one)

    I agree with the principle of ESD, but there are amazing amounts of personal experience towards a sensible, competent tech being able to get by with out a wrist strap…and not hurting the longevity of the $500 Dell computer, any worse than it’s inherent manufacturing flaws.

    And please…a wrist strap?!? Real ESD protection goes so far beyond the stupid strap. ESD-protected tables, floor mats, uniforms, humidity-control, etc etc etc.

    So stop with your whining and bitching about this already. The rest of the world need to get to work.

    Good info, though…you guys sure are smart! MIT?

  44. Trumps says:

    Oh so in other words you dont give a shit about other people’s PCs cause they only cost $500? And you don’t care if their computer lasts after your repair?

    People like you are the shady repair techs that give decent HONEST ones a bad name. You know, but you don’t care. I despise people like you. You make my life so much more difficult because of your ignorance.

    And i reiterate my question to ANYONE who says they KNOW for a FACT that they have never damaged a computer due to ESD. How much was your oscilloscope and electron microscope. If you dont thoroughly check every component you have ever touch w/o proper grounding, then there is no way you can EVER say honestly that you have never damaged a computer component.

    Just because the wheels still move, doesnt mean the car runs properly.


    oldhat you are a disgrace…

  45. Mary says:

    Peronsally, I know almost nobody that works on computers that actually uses a wrist strap. There are plenty of ways to make sure you don’t fry your computer without actually wearing a strap.

    That said, it would help if we know how many of these techs KNOW these things and DO these things. But I don’t find it a very telling statistic by itself.

  46. faust1200 says:

    Would I feel better knowing that the weak squad is wearing wrist straps as they are fixing my machine with a mallet and chisel? Not really.

  47. velocipenguin says:

    ESD can blow away the gate oxide layer on a MOSFET with as little as 20 volts. Accumulated static charges – even those too small to feel – tend to be much higher than that. Since virtually all modern integrated circuits are based on MOS technology, there is a very real risk of causing damage whenever you work on any electronic device without taking the proper precautions. Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t know what they’re talking about.

  48. Rider says:

    While I agree with all the previous posts about the Geek Squad, this one seems like just useless bashing to me. I’m amazed 56% use them, if you did a survey of the tech repair industry in general I’m sure you would find much lower numbers. I personally have never used one. I don’t know anyone who has. There are much better ways to avoid static.

  49. agent86 says:

    I’ve come to learn that in many walks of life, there are a lot of people who don’t know what they don’t know. They are unaware of their blind spots. That’s what a good education is for. To fill in those blind spots. Listen to the guys who have been educated in these matters. They know what they are talking about. ESD can and does damage components. You just don’t always see it, especially if you are already convinced it won’t happen.

    “Typhoid Mary” was a professional cook in the early 1900s. Every place she worked people came down with Typhoid fever and many died. She refused to believe she had anything to do with it, but in fact she was a carrier of the disease. Because of her vehement denial and refusal to do anything about it, many people died.

    Don’t let pride be your downfall. Learn about ESD. Don’t spread the damage through ignorance. With a little knowledge, you can do things better.

  50. oldhat says:

    @Trumps: No, you missed my point with all your righteous anger.

    I have personally worked on boxes that have lasted perfectly fine for many years, still run in fact, or have been decommissioned and replaced. So have countless of other people, through the years.

    But here’s the deal: how can you tell me that the cheapo box won’t die on you anyway? Work on it in a fuckin clean room, I don’t care.

    These boxes have finite lifetimes…stuff will burn out anyway, no matter how you baby them. You trying to say if only that GS dude wore a wrist strap 6 months ago then the MB or HD would not burn out? 2 years?

    So all this chatter about how preciously delicate everything is, yeah, I agree. Also how incredibly cheap and piss-poor Q&A, too. And that that ratty-ass cheapo box that the vast majority of us have and work on will blow on it’s own time, pretty much unaffected whether some chump touches the chassis with his hand or has a cable connecting his wrist to the chassis.

    It’s real life, people. That device that you love to pay so little for isn’t designed to last very long no matter what you do. And blaming wrist-strapless techs is bullshit.

    You might as well be arguing that premium gas and 3000-mile oil changes will make your car run forever. “I seen it man, under a microscope, the carbon buildup on the pistons, it’s HORRIBLE!!!”

    You folks are like religious nuts with this…get a grip…we’re not talking spaceships.

  51. Trumps says:

    I didnt miss your point at all. You are not willing to put on a wrist strap in order to be sure you are not damaging a component. People like you piss me off. Too lazy to make sure you do your job right. Its simple. Hard to miss my point.

    I don’t care if your machine lasted you 20 years. If you are handling the components inside the machine w/o proper ESD equipment you are risking damage. It can be a performance hit, it can be complete failure, it can be instability. Just because you are too proud or ignorant to admit it does not change the facts.

    “But here’s the deal: how can you tell me that the cheapo box won’t die on you anyway? Work on it in a fuckin clean room, I don’t care.”

    That right there shows that you dont give a flying fuck about doing your job right. Who is to say your car wont die on you eventually? Why dont you just not change the oil for 20,000 miles. I’ve seen cars that run for 20,000 miles on the same oil. ITS THE EXACT SAME POINT.

    Just because it boots, does not mean it is running properly. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t have latent ESD damage, doesn’t mean that it won’t fail or have instability.

    “You trying to say if only that GS dude wore a wrist strap 6 months ago then the MB or HD would not burn out? 2 years?”

    YES! Finally you understand. (Probably not though, you were trying to make a sarcastic remark, but your ignorance validated my point.)


    It isnt YOUR PC. If you don’t care about your PC fine. I dont care! Take a piss on it for all that matters. But if it is other people’s computers you are working on, it is your responsibility as a responsible tech to take precautions to protect THEIR INVESTMENT.

    I never said the wrist strap to the chassis was the best. In my shop we have properly monitored ESD equipment grounding everything to an earth ground. There is no static in my body when I am touching components.

    Your whole excuse for not using ESD protection is that they didnt spend a lot of money on the machine. That is a pathetic reason.

    IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE FOR FACTS!

    ESD Damage can cause:
    1. Immediate Failure
    2. Instability
    3. Latent Failure
    4. Depreciated Performance

    Im sorry you can not comprehend this. I am sorry you are a bad computer tech. I am really sorry for the owners of the computers you touch.

  52. XianZhuXuande says:

    @Trumps: I don’t think anyone is contesting that ESD causes damage to components. I think anyone who works with computers knows perfectly well what kind of damage it can cause to exposed electronics.

    But theoretical concern does not trump real-world experience. Just because you say something is so does not make it true. A technician standing on an electrostatic discharge mat, opening a computer case and discharging himself properly, then removing the optical drive with no anti-static strap is not going to damage that CD-ROM in the process unless he decides to walk off the mat, find some carpet, and start working at it. And even then I’d be impressed to see the component damage. On the other hand, you can easily kill RAM with a quarter of this effort. But following the same steps, combined with common sense, you’re not going to damage that RAM either.

    As long as you discharge yourself appropriately, work in a proper environment, and are knowledgeable enough to regulate further ESD buildup, you’re going to be perfectly fine handling menial computer repairs.

    And because I can guess what you’re thinking at this moment, this depends on what you’re handling. If you’re swapping motherboards or a CPU without taking extensive precautions you are gambling with someone else’s property.

    Heck, components could be safer in a clean room being worked on by technicians wearing Pentium man uniforms, but that doesn’t make it practical. A person could, I’m sure, present an argument for it, but it doesn’t mean much without real-world data to back it up. (Yes, I know you can find studies supporting both arguments — you can also find a study explaining about how global warming is going to ruin our world in a few decades right below one that says it is a natural phenomenon).

    In short, if a technician ensures they are properly discharged, and errs on the side of caution in doing their work, they need not take every precaution that has been dreamt up to do their job properly.

    In general response regarding the ‘$500 Dell’, I would venture to say its brand, lifespan, and quality really don’t matter at all. A technician is being paid, and trusted, by a person to take care of their computer. That technician, if he is ethical at all, should treat that computer with the same respect and caution he would afford a computer belonging to his parents or significant other.

  53. Trumps says:

    @XianZhuXuande


    No they would not need a wrist strap if standing on a grounded conductive surface while wearing heel straps. There is no need to “discharge yourself” if you are already doing all of that.


    But the “real world experience” argument is BS. Most computer techs don’t test for ESD damage after they finish working on a PC. They see if it powers on and if the component functions. There is no way for the to check to see if they have actually caused ESD damage to a component without thoroughly examining it with aforementioned tools.


    “And because I can guess what you’re thinking at this moment, this depends on what you’re handling.”

    It doesn’t matter what you are handling. If it has exposed circuits than it is ESD Sensitive. ODDs are not generally ESD sensitive as they do not have exposed planars.


    “In short, if a technician ensures they are properly discharged, and errs on the side of caution in doing their work, they need not take every precaution that has been dreamt up to do their job properly. “

    But thats the thing. “Touching the Case” is not a valid precaution when you have had years of ESD training. You know how useless it is to just touch the case and keep working.


    Other than that i agree with your post

  54. agent86 says:

    My Typhoid Mary story above was an analogy to make a point; here is one more. Suppose you went to a skydiving facility, and you found out that they weren’t putting reserve chutes in the packs they gave you. When you asked why, they said that in the thousands of jumps that people did at their facility, no one ever needed the reserve. When you got upset and accused them of being reckless and endangering their customers, they arrogantly replied that they are experts, they pack chutes all the time, and if you pack the main chute properly it will work just fine. Who the hell are you to tell them how to do their job. Some kind of parachute engineer or something?

    Do you think they are doing their job properly? Would you give them your business?

  55. axiomatic says:

    FYI, some of us IT guys take ESD seriously. I can’t say which vendor I work for, but we make the best servers. ;-) And to accompany our good servers, our service contract with our customers requires that we observe ESD standards as set by ISO 9000 rules and to tell you the truth, we do it.

    I’m wearing a ESD wrist strap as I type this message from our main lab, and don’t see what the reason for the cavalier attitude is from you other techs. It’s good business, it is not a waste of time.

    To you guys who think touching the case while the unit is plugged in is good enough? When was the last time you checked the ground in that plug? We have a tester in the lab to watch that as well.

    DO YOUR JOB CORRECTLY PEOPLE! OR DON’T, AND MAKE WAY FOR YOUR REPLACEMENT!

  56. Occum says:

    $100 says that Trumps either works in the ESD certification business, or signs a huge check to said business to certify his employees and needs justification.

    I’ve seen Geek Squad benches, and they have both anti-static floor and table mats. I don’t believe that they wear boot straps, but they touch the side of the case to discharge whatever small amount of ESD could be built up in that environment. They aren’t touching CPUs, they’re installing / replacing HDs, RAM, and video cards, and unless they’re idiots they’re never touching any circuitry on those items. Even RAM has the two large PCB sections on the end with no circuitry where you are supposed to press down on or pick it up with.

    Hey Trumps, can I buy some carbon credits from you, too?

  57. adriennezurub says:

    @mantari:
    Sounds like an ‘Employee of the Month’to me! Can I find you on Guru.com?
    Where’s the tar, where’s the feathers! ;)

  58. oldhat says:

    @Trumps: OMG Trump! But what about latent static build up by your ass hairs rubbing together?!? Now you need special ass hair straps to make 1000000% sure that there is absolutely no threat of horrible, terrible ESD.

    Bill and Melinda should be putting their money into ESD awareness, the plague of the 21st century. Not some stupid poor people disease. Thanks Trump, you changed my life.

  59. oldhat says:

    @agent86: Well, if my mother’s life was on the line, I suppose, maybe, if she begged me and did my laundry with starch this time, then……maybe….I would wear a wrist strap. But only that one time.

  60. oldhat says:

    @axiomatic: So apart from telling you to get back to work you lazy sot….what will you do when you have to repair a unit onsite? In a war zone? In a trailer park?

    Let me guess…tell the client, “no sir, I dare not touch it without proper care and equipment or else it will blah blah waah wahh…I’ll need to take it into a ISO 9000 facility for proper care and feeding. $500 extra, chump.”

  61. Trumps says:

    @Occum

    Actually I have worked for major computer companies and have had proper ESD Training.

    “I’ve seen Geek Squad benches, and they have both anti-static floor and table mats. I don’t believe that they wear boot straps, but they touch the side of the case to discharge whatever small amount of ESD could be built up in that environment. They aren’t touching CPUs, they’re installing / replacing HDs, RAM, and video cards, and unless they’re idiots they’re never touching any circuitry on those items. Even RAM has the two large PCB sections on the end with no circuitry where you are supposed to press down on or pick it up with.”

    This entire statement is full of lies and ignorance.

    Most GS dont use ESD or even have access to it.

    HDD, RAM, AND VID CARDS ARE ESD SENSITIVE YOU MORON!!!

    WTH is wrong with you people? Its not only CPUs that are sensitive. THEY ALL ARE. If it has an exposed planar then it is Sensitive. And just because you dont touch the circuitry on those items doesnt mean you arent damaging it.

    Plus HOW DO YOU KNOW WHERE ALL THE CIRCUITRY IS!?!?!?! Can you see through the multiple layered boards? See all the traces 3 or 4 layers beneath the surface?

    Love your try though. Try to discredit me by claiming “im on the take” then lie your ass off.

    Ill take my $100 bucks, message me and ill send you my PO Box#

  62. Trumps says:

    @oldhat:


    oldhat you know what you do when you are on-site? USE A WRIST STRAP!!

    How hard is the comprehension?

    At least i know that you know you’re wrong. You have abandoned any kind of argument and just resorted to insulting.

    Yay intelligence wins!

    I still feel sorry for your customers. They don’t deserve an incompetent tech.

  63. agent86 says:

    @oldhat: Alright, so we know you’ve got a heart in there somewhere! So now we’re just quibbling over which customers are worth the effort? ;-)

  64. axiomatic says:

    @oldhat: Yeah sorry to burst your bubble there, but there are wrist straps that can be grounded to a wall socket, the PC, hell take your pick of grounded object and the wrist strap just attaches to any of that with a clip. Or what some might call a “roach clip.” ;-)

    Also, I don’t go on site, I’m a developer, I live in a lab. (hole?) But I work closely with the “services” types. Hence my following of ESD practices.

  65. JustThisGuy says:

    I’m not an engineer. I don’t know much about IT, except how to fix trivial problems and swap out certain parts. I’ve never seen a wrist strap in my life. But as a consumer, if I’m paying you to fix my computer, you better be taking every single precaution necessary to ensure you don’t fry my shit.

    Seriously: could some of you IT guys explain why– if you’re not working on your own machine–you’re not taking every practical precaution possible? Putting on a damn wrist strap sounds reasonable; it’s not like asking someone to fix their computer in a goddamn clean room.

    My mind boggles. Boggles, I tells ya.

  66. ngwoo says:

    I work on a Linoleum floor in bare feet. I make use of the anti-static bags that come with components, and I ground myself on my ceiling fan before sitting down – that’s more than what most people do, and they never fry anything.

    Wrist straps are overrated. This poll shows nothing.

  67. justadakaje says:

    @ Trumps – Geek Squad Precincts DO have access to ESD mats. Every single Precinct has a mat in front of the repair bench that is not only ESD, but also Anti-fatigue. ALL of the counter surfaces on teh repair benches either ARE ESD material or have an ESD mat laid across it that has been properly connected to a grounded source. These mats and counter tops have a snap located near the rear corner of each section where someone with the proper ESD wrist strap could snap in place. The Standard Procedure “COULD” be for each Agent to wear their own personal Wrist Strap and then then at each corner, the cord is already there to be plugged in.

    @ oldhat – I want to thoroughly thank you for continuing to fuel Trump’s fire because your bantering is quite humorous. Even though I’m right in the stuff every day, I do have the ability to take a step back and I totally see what you are trying to say. Interesting and insightful.

    We all have to keep in mind that these are only opinions of the posters…

  68. Trumps says:

    @Zeke129:

    “and they never fry anything.”

    how do you know?

    This is my main problem. You people don’t know if you are frying something or not. You don’t check for it. All you know is that the component still works. You dont know if you just halved its lifespan or performance by improper handling.

    And wtf with the ceiling fan? WTH is that besides a static creation device? Do you know the whole purpose of touching the case or grounding yourself to the case? It is not to discharge all the static from your body. It is to equalize the static charge safely so that there is no discharge onto components.

    “Wrist straps are overrated. This poll shows nothing.”

    Seat Belts are overrated, as well as safeties for guns. Go drive your car into a wall with your finger on the trigger of a loaded gun…. I have never seen anyone get hurt doing that so you will be fine.

  69. Her Grace says:

    So, what I’ve learned is that oldhat is a bit of a troll, the people who are engineers think wrist straps are a good idea, and the rest of the hacks who dick around with computers think they’re useless.

    I think I believe the engineers.

  70. Trumps says:

    @justadakaje

    A majority of GS Precincts do not have ESD Equipment. Unless you are referring to their “special flooring”. That is a joke.
    1) Its not grounded
    2) They arent even wearing heel straps
    3) It isn’t even cleaned properly

    I dont know where you are getting your info justadakaje, but it is wrong. Look at the poll above your head….

    105 out of 129 people dont use Wrist Straps. 80% of GS polled dont use Wrist Straps.

    The Counter surfaces are not ESD material or grounded either. Maybe you work at one of the lucky ones who do have ESD equipment, but you are a minority.

  71. Trumps says:

    @Her Grace:


    OMG!!! Look its a smart, responsible, intelligent response!

    RUN Her Grace!!! Run before the trolls get you! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!!1!!11!1111!1!!!eleven!!!111111!!!!!!

  72. billco says:

    Funnily enough, in 15+ years of PC work I’ve never worn a wrist strap. I can’t recall zapping any computers anyway, they’re usually brought to me after they’ve stopped working anyway ;)

    The mere fact that I’m handling the PC case should be enough to ground any static build-up by the time I actually touch sensitive components; or maybe I’m just lucky. I’m also the kind of guy who thinks portable storage means an IDE hard drive in my jacket and I drag my 50lb workstation to lan parties every other weekend.

    They’re machines, not endangered albino koalas… I find a lot of these recommended safety measures are just excuses to sell gimmicks.

  73. oldhat says:

    @justadakaje: wow, somebody finally gets me!

    People keep calling me a troll…what a bunch of pansies.

    I think by troll they mean funny or engaging. Or right.

    Ah…I tore this one up tho…classic stuff in here. Put this one the big board, bobby…