back to article How to kill your computer

Many people simply ignore the rule "if it aint broke, don't fix it" and end up annihilating their computer through a burst of static electricity or dodgy DIY. Back in 2002, El Reg ran a few pieces on the obscurer ways to kill a computer. Most of the links are dead, so we thought we'd have an updated look into this wacky world …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Arnold Lieberman

    Good Idea

    Using Flash for the videos. Should keep some of the more rabid fanbois away.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      screw those that have low bandwidth? What about those with accessibility issues? Flash also works on the Mac platform BTW. Twat.

      1. TheOtherJola

        I don't know what's funnier

        The fact that he was trolling, or the fact that you bit!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Give me a couple of days

    >Do you know any more ingenious ways to destroy a computer?

    I'm not an evangelist for windows, linux, apple or any other OS and have various machines running the most suitable for a given task but if Windows 7 hangs one more time while swapping between users then I will have some photos for you and they won't be pretty.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      @Chris W

      Win 7 hanging on user swap? Graphics driver.

      Dunno about others, but in the ATI world Catalyst 10.7 and 10.8 hang like that, but 10.9 doesn't. None of 'em handle suspend/resume gracefully.

      10.10 (current) works and appeared to also suspend/resume in an initial test, but it also comprehensively fucks up the colours displayed with the 57xx series GPUs so I ripped it out. I may be putting my tail between my legs and going back to nVidia if these pillocks don't ship a working bloody driver for Se7en soon.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Thanks. It's an nVidia card and the graphics drivers are, as far as I've read, not particularly good. They seem to suffer from a memory leak problem. I used to be able to go about a week between reboots but since a windows updgrade last week, which included new drivers, it hangs at least once a day. I think I'll remove it and use the onboard intel graphics.

  3. Adrian Esdaile

    If he really had balls...

    OOoooohhhh Look at ME! LOOK AT ME DAMMIT! I'm smashing Apple gear! I'm redefining guerilla flashmob anti-marketing against the capitalist corporate zeitgeist!

    I bet he makes a tidy sum out of it. ahem.

    If he had the balls he would crush a Bugatti Veyron live in the Top Gear studio. The Stig would then nut him to death and the world would be a better place.

    Sorry, but but people who just smash up expensive kit are the same as the kind of tuckfards who have to have watches that cost more than 4 average houses: oxygen thieves we would be better off without.

    And yes spellcheck, TUCKFARD is a word. Don't make me change the T & the F....

    1. Anonymous Coward


      Tuckfard - Noun; a person who wants to, but cannot, swear due to a pathological disorder. see Kryton - smeg head, or Adrian Esdaile - Fucktard.

      1. Adrian Esdaile


        Exactly, that.


  4. Florence

    How about the old fashion way?


    Still works fine at destroying most laptops. OK so I did get my laptop back after they replaced the motherboard, hard drive and optical drive, but I think any motherboard replacement effectively means the computer has been killed.

    1. Nigel 11

      Cola and other perils

      Coffee is not a patch on any sort of Cola drink for destroying electronics (and teeth)

      Most laptops can be dropped down a drain these days, so if you sling yours onto the seat inside your car, make sure you retrieve it before someone opens the door.

      Dropping your backup disk (USB, 3.5", aluminium case) a meter or so onto the laptop's keyboard is a good one. Especially if it lands corner down, dead centred on the laptop's hard disk.

  5. JDX Gold badge
    Thumb Up


    Amazed they missed this one.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Here's an image of my own Macbook battery...I was shocked at the sudden expansion.

    Wow that looks like quiet a serious defect, any chance you can post the link to the original story that covered this potentially hazardous failing... Surely there *is* an original story for such a dangerous defect... it wouldn't have been passed over due to a certain brand name would it?

  7. Patrick Evans

    Will it blend?

    Can't believe you didn't include the obvious option.

  8. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    I once took my laptop to the mother-in-law's down in Cornwall. Woke up in the morning to a dead laptop. Turned out the cat had been sick and managed to direct it into the side-vent and toasted the motherboard.

    Never did see any compensation for that and apparently the house insurance "didn't cover it".

  9. Jason Togneri

    Oh dear

    > Do you know any more ingenious ways to destroy a computer?

    Cue the legions of Apple fanbois and Linux freetards chirping out that tired old "install a Microsoft OS into it!" line. I hope something a little more original comes out of this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      this time...

      You can reply with "well you don't need to do anythign to a mac just look what happened to the authors macbook!!"

    2. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      MS Windows machine.

      Just install Norton on it.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Will it blend?

    Almost certainly, but you might have to hack it into smaller pieces first.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Do you know any more ingenious ways to destroy a computer?

    Wasn't thermite covered here a while back? if not I demand to know why it hasn't, GO! DO IT NOW (was that subtle suggestion to loud?) I know its snowey but that'll just add to the fun when it hits the ice under the flap top.

    Oh the dilema Flames or Goggles?

  12. Dave Murray
    Jobs Horns

    $800 for a broken iPhone?

    Clearly the guy is mad.

    1. Snapper

      Only Mad?

      He destroyed an iPod Touch in front of his kids to teach them a lesson!

      Mad, bad and dangerous to know!

  13. adfh

    PSUs with voltage switches - set it to the wrong one..

    Wanna see caps go bang? Just flip the voltage switch on the back of some PSUs (Eg. 110/240) to something other than what your domestic supply is.

    1. Toastan Buttar

      Bad memories

      Oh God, please don't remind me about the time I replaced an American plug on a CRT monitor with a British plug. I correctly matched the USAnian colour-coded (color-coded?) wiring to the British Standard 100% accurately. Then FORGOT TO CHANGE THE VOLTAGE JUMPER.

      Zing! Flash! Kaboom! Near instantaneous death.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    "steamroll over a few computers yourself?"

    I seem to remember Dr Fred Dibnah OBE RIP doing that for DEC with the genuine steam powered full size glorious old thing when DEC launched the Rainbow. Links most welcome, if anybody has them.

    Beer. No need to ask.

  15. informavorette

    With all these methods, you end with a mess to clean up

    A very clean alternative would be to just ship it once around the world. With a suitably chosen delivery service, your chances for the parcel to never again be seen on Earth's surface are better than 4 out of 5.

    The best services are even able to convince you that you cannot have shipped the computer with them because it never existed in the first place.

    1. Captain TickTock
      Jobs Horns

      Fly United

      Clear the man is suffering iHate

    2. Stoneshop


      If being dropped out of an aircraft into what is, for all anyone knows,

      a minefield is "moderately rough handling", what would constitute

      "rough handling" or "very rough handling"?

      -- David Richerby

      Being shipped UPS.

      -- Dave Brown

  16. Anonymous Coward

    Talentless knob

    It doesn't matter how great an achievement the best minds of mankind can make, there is always some talentless knob around to destroy it, claim some fame or notoriety from it and call it art.


    1. Aaron Em

      Depressing indeed

      But you can't call him entirely talentless -- anybody can hit a laptop with a sledgehammer; he'd have to be one hell of a hustler to parlay it into gallery openings.

      (Also keep in mind that this is southern California, Promised Land of idiots who believe there's no reason for anyone to have any kind of firearm ever because they're scary and evil and bad, so the fact that he shoots some of the laptops counts for a little extra "transgressive" frisson. Never mind that I've known lots of people who grew up putting holes just like those into road signs -- if rednecks do it, it *can't* be art.)

    2. Rattus Rattus

      Anything is art...

      ...if an artist says it is.

  17. Youngdog

    Install Vista!

    B'dum tish! I'm here all week - try the veal.

    No seriously (Just for Jason T up there) a few of ways to accidentally kill a PC include;

    - disconnecting the fan

    - plugging it into a socket that isn't earthed properly

    - Using it to rest a drink on and then knocking said drink over and soaking the power supply (when switched on)

    There are, of course, many more ways to destroy the build while leaving the hardware intact - the best one I saw was one twonk who, faced with the agony of migrating to new hardware, decided the best thing to do was to export the entire NT Registry from his laptop and import it onto his new PC. Classic.

    1. Michael C

      I tried all this and more

      with a gateway laptop, and it would not die... Though in place of unpredictable liquids, i simply shorted the PS cable, but still close enough... I never did try direct input of 110v, but i know that would have done a lot more than simply trip a fuse on the board, and would have been obvious damage.

      I not only stopped the fans, I sealed the vents and put it in a 115 degree oven running burn-in tests from a linux DVD... nearly a day and I got the CPU and HDD hot enough to melt the casing, but it was not going to die...

  18. William Boyle


    Re. Microwaving the MacBook laptop. Why didn't they put the battery back in and try to reboot it after it cooled down? That would show whether or not it was "toast"! :-)

    1. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD

      Oh, it's toast...

      I am betting microwaves in an oven would likely herf any unhardened consumer level electronics to hell.

  19. Arctic fox

    This guy may very well be quite sincere when he says.......

    ..........that he means no "disrespect" towards St SJ's products (consciously at any rate) but _boy_ has he got some issues!

  20. Gavin 2

    Throw it out the window

    An old boss of mine did this with his laptop after it pissed him off one too many times.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns


    ...just install 10.6.5 and watch your OSX MacBookPro become pretty useless ;-)

  22. Daniel B.

    The Amazing Exploding HP Laptop!

    I actually have pics of one truly exploded HP Laptop which "went off" when I was in college. Our friend had just bought it about 2 weeks before so it was still new when this happened. He had the laptop on and was carrying it under his arm when it suddenly started sparking and leaking battery acid. He proceeded to lay it down on the ground, and ran to the bathroom to wash off the acid.

    Meanwhile, another guy tried to open up the laptop because there was smoke coming out of the thing. He had just opened up a bit when it started sparking again... and then proceded to detonate. It burst up in flames, exploded two times more, one of them expelling a battery cell about 10 meters away from the laptop, leaving a hole like an Alien chestburster had burst out of the laptop. We all stood dumbfounded watching the whole thing, until the security guard brought the extinguisher to stop the fire.

    This happened about 2 years before the "exploding laptop batteries" pandemic, so when my friend called HP to tell them that the laptop exploded, they didn't believe him. It was until he sent pics from the exploded laptop that he got a free replacement and an HP public apology being made to him and to the college.

    Hell, I still have the pics somewhere in my HDD. I should probably send 'em...

    1. Chemist

      Pretty impressive !

      "until he sent pics from the exploded laptop "

      And still able to connect to the interwebs !

  23. John Fielder
    Gates Horns


    Anyone else think the close up of the smashed IPad screen is a wonderful work of art?

  24. kain preacher


    I was thinking let a TSA person look at your laptop. My favorite is an idiot that set his laptop on a hot burner.

    I had a coworker tell me about an user that put his laptop in the oven, forgot about it and turned the oven. I called bullshit on that one. Then one day I saw on the news how an idiot burned his house down by forgetting that he put fire works in the oven to hid the from the kids .

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Wow, and I thought it was bad...

      ...that my neighbour used to keep her cat litter tray in the oven.

      Accordingly, I never *ever* ate anything she cooked. It's just... too gross...

      1. Anonymous Coward

        The oven

        The most sterile place in the home. And is self sterilising everytime its used. I'm surprised the marketing twonks haven't cottoned on to this USP for thier compainies ovens yet, but then science/reality really isn't thier strong point.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    power supplies

    Before the days of keyed ATX power supply connectors, AT power supplies were connected to the motherboard with two separate connectors side by side.

    These were not keyed, the trick was to keep the black wires together in the centre. I once reversed this arrangement on an IBM 286, magic smoke ensued.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Idiots can and will find a way.

    386 era power supply died. Having a fuse inside, yes I could replace that, but I only had a 2.5 amp rather than a 2 amp fuse, close enough.

    All back together turn it on, wow the pure white light from the computer, case a really good image of power supplys grill on the wall. Intense! Pull it all apart and the control circuitry had dissapeared, just a few metal legs left....

    Note to self, only replace fuses with the correct values.

    1. Chemist

      "Note to self, only replace fuses with the correct values."

      I doubt a 2amp fuse would have saved you - something was very wrong. Fuses are just not that sensitive anyway

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        Re: "Note to self, only replace fuses with the correct values." → #

        "I doubt a 2amp fuse would have saved you - something was very wrong. Fuses are just not that sensitive anyway"

        Now stop and think about what you've said. He had to replace the fuse. Why? Because the original fuse had blown. Yes, the original fuse Had Blown. It HAD BLOWN. It's quite likely that any replacement 2A fuse would also blow. If you don't understand why...

  27. Aussie Brusader

    I just lend mine to friends and family

    Laptops and PCs that have worked flawlessly for years last about 1 week. Dead drives, jammed keys and operating speeds that make turtles look like speed junkies. I just don't get it.

    I now only give away old stuff, cause I know I won't want it back.

    The people in the videos seem to have some serious anger issues and way too much spare time.

    I can't be bothered with doing anything apart from leaning across and dropping broken stuff into the bin.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    And they missed this...

    Here is another:

  29. Stewart Wood

    I have a few ways

    - Old CRT Flyback Transformer

    - Piezo Lighter (The Igniter part)

    - Plasma ball + Tin foil

    - Camera flash gun (Cap Wired the Evil way to low current devices will soon make them pop)

    - Tesla coil

    - LHC (Let see what a Hi Speed atom does)

    - Power utility Sub Station (Temp fuse)

    - Give it to a child that likes taking stuff apart

    - Steel Mill Steam Hammer

    - Volcano

  30. polossatik

    just an efficient way to get MB replaced

    Back in the dark ages I did PC hardware support for a big bank. 1000's of pc's.

    All pc's where under repair contract from dell, IBM etc.

    Once in a while you had one pc who always crapped out on irregular intervals without repoducable cause on a blue screen or freeze etc.

    So to make sure we got those replaced and not returend "without fault found" we simply lifted the processor, put some tin foil under it, put the processor back with the foild between the cpu and the socket, and hit the power button, pulled the plug , removed the tin foil and made a call to get a new mainboard.


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Back in the day

    a fellow student who uttered the fatal "I know about computers" before pushing nice and hard to seat the new processor.

    The one that should have just slotted in with Zero Insertion Force. Cue bent legs (like I said, it was a while back) and even worse, something went crack on the mobo and it refused to work even with a new processor.

    so TLDR; saying "I know about comupters" or similar leads inevitably to issues.

    Another fine way is to not bother with thermal paste. Yep, it's a couple of quid extra, but saves so much in the long run.

  32. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD


    I wonder what the people at Foxconn have to say about all this mayhem.

    "Jesus Mary and Joseph.... Gian Mai, lookit what they're after doing to that iPhone! FFS... all our blood sweat and tears put 'to making these yokes and would you ever look at it, all those yanks want to do is destroy them? For art it would seem. Jesus Christ on a bike....God help us all here."

  33. John I'm only dancing

    Method for destruction 9.

    a) Immerse said computer in liquid Nitrogen for 30 minutes.

    b) Remove and drop into warm water.

    Doesn't matter what the OS is, destroyed in milliseconds!!

    As an alternative at step b), Remove and strike once with a sledge hammer.

  34. Andy Enderby 1


    I worked for a UK PC manufacturer who received a monitor rma'd from a university down south..... On close examination it had in fact been pissed upon, though whether by student or lecturer was unclear.

    We also received a near dead PC from a customer of a well known PC hardware store that exhibited all manner of unexplained instability. One team had disconnected all the external indicating LED's but left it powered up. As a PFY, I then set upon it and performed what amounted to a hotswap on the processor...... Thankfully, a warped motherboard and broken CPU socket, caused by finger trouble at the factory (something large and metallic betwixt board and case) had already ensured both board and processor were past their sell by.

    Outside of that there was the old and knackered Apricot FTS, a big beefy server in a sturdy steel overcoat, that was assisted at the end of its life off a 1st floor fire escape directly into a skip......Batteries already removed thankfully...... "Regardez !"..... Boom ! Talk about a drop test.

    I would imagine readers in the USA have disposed of annoying/excess/scrap hardware with more technological/ballistic means at their disposal.

  35. Tom 7

    Give a man a fish

    and you feed him for a day.

    Teach a man to fish and he'll bore you shitless.

    Ditto webcams.

  36. Andrew Woodvine

    Burn it!

    Someone I know set fire to his (broken) Powerbook -

  37. Carl Partridge


    "Tompert saw his kids fight over an iPod Touch. To show them it was just a silly

    gadget, he smashed one up in front of them"

    And he's proud of doing that? Sure, I understand kids should know there's more to life than staring at a screen, but it's not exactly a great message to be sending out about wasting the planet's resources.

  38. Rambler88
    Jobs Horns

    "Bad day at the office homage" video health warning

    You have to warn people not to view that video while they're eating. I almost choked to death when the monitor hit back.

    sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD was right on when he said "Install Norton on it". I've seen it work like a charm for PCs, and on several generations of Macs, too. I'm convinced that Peter Norton set out to develop a virus that people would not only install voluntarily, but pay for.

    But there's better than that. After freelancing as a Mac operator at dozens of ad agencies and other firms (in the USA), the best way I've ever seen to inflict the maximum damage, anguish, and expense in the course of destroying a computer is to set up the permissions on an OSX machine so that no-one except IT can fix it.

  39. Captain DaFt

    I can't believe nobody's mentioned the classic way to destroy a PC

    Reboot, several times, with a sturdy steel toed boot.

    (A laptop can catch some amazing air when rebooted this way!)

    Smiley face because you feel so much better afterward!

  40. Oli 1
    Paris Hilton

    Drop from PARIS 2?

    Operational MacBook dropped from space?

    Thats some facetime i would gladly indulge in!

  41. HFoster

    Old School

    Piezoelectric "clicky thing" from an electric lighter + an external port = bye-bye computer.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Destroy all Computers

    - Years ago, a Cyrix 586 motherboard, install the RAM taken out of the 486 that preceded it without checking voltage ratings. Seemed to kill that one.

    - Place beer beside laptop on desk when home from holidays. Forget new kitten in house. Kitten sees mouse pointer moving, pounces for the kill, becks all over the keyboard of a new Vaio (years ago when Vaios were good).

    - Get PCs shipped over from the old office in the states. Forget to switch the voltage on the PSU and plug them in. Do it twice for extra BOFH points.

    - For those who enjoy horror/torture flicks. A pair of pliers to any resistors, capacitors on the motherboard. A slow painful death entails.

    - Buy a Dell laptop. Push charger into socket. Note charger lead falls out, socket now in the internals of the machine.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like