Question from Bill: Yesterday morning I took the cover off my computer to see if the fans were running because the machine has been sounding quieter than usual.
They appeared to be running just fine but I think I might have really messed up. I dropped a screw onto the motherboard and the computer immediately shut down.
I removed the screw and pressed the power button and Windows started to boot up. But then it gave me an error message stating that Windows didn’t shut down correctly. It did finish booting up though and everything seemed to be working ok.
Should I be concerned?
I shut it back down and powered it back up several times and every time Windows loaded normally (except for the first time when it gave me the error message).
Do you think I might have caused any kind of damage to the computer by shorting something out with the dropped screw?
Rick’s answer: Bill, these things are pretty much hit or miss. Sometimes a dropped screw will cause permanent damage, and other times it won’t. It all depends on where it lands inside the case and which components (if any) are subjected to a short circuit.
I believe you got lucky in this instance. If a component had sustained damage there would probably be some indication of it (the machine would fail to power up or boot into Windows for example).
Short answer: I really believe your computer is fine.
The error you message you received is typically displayed any time Windows isn’t shut down properly .
Your computer did an immediate hard shutdown when the dropped screw caused a short circuit on the motherboard, and that prompted the message you received the first time you tried powering the machine back up again.
Is it possible that the short circuit caused some type of partial component damage that will manifest itself at a later date? The answer is “yes” but I don’t think you should worry about it since there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.
Just be sure to always have a recent backup on hand just in case the machine does go belly-up at some point in the future.
Update from Bill: Thanks Rick. Your response put my mind at ease.
Bonus tip: Click here to read about HWiNFO, a fantastic free download that will give you tons of detailed information about your PC’s hardware.