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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Power Sources and Power Protection Devices ]

I've noticed that the lights flicker occasionally in my office and sometimes when they do, the PC will hang or reboot

Explanation: The PC is exhibiting instability or strange behavior at the same time that other symptoms of power fluctuation are apparent.

Diagnosis: Low quality input power to the PC is causing it to behave erratically. Flickering lights means either power grid problems (brownouts, electrical storms), poor wiring in the building, or draw from large electricity-using devices, especially air conditioners.

Recommendation:

  • If you are not using any sort of power protection device, get one and see if it fixes the problem. Even a $20 surge protector is better than nothing since it will provide some line filtering. If possible, try using a UPS and see if that solves the problem--it probably will.
  • Try the PC in a different location and see if the problem resolves. This will clearly implicate the power coming from the wall.
  • If you are in a home with central air conditioning, see if you can tie the light flickering to when the unit comes on. If so, you may want to see if the PC works better on a different circuit. You may want to consult a qualified electrician if the air conditioner is causing this much draw, or simply get a UPS.
  • Look here for more ideas on system instability.

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