Computer Repair And Magnetic Screwdrivers

Posted November 21, 2009 3:32 am by with 28 comments

For a long while, I would never use a magnetic screwdriver when working on a computer. I had an experience where a motherboard was working prior to the ‘repair’ and not working after. I had taken the usual precautions so I did not believe it was due to static, rather the magnetic screwdriver I was using. Since then I haven’t used one.

After doing some searching on the Internet regarding this subject, it appears my case was isolated to say the least. From what I can tell, they are used by just about everyone with no negative effects. I can certainly see why because dealing with tiny screws is difficult without one.

I imagine most of our readers use a magnetic screwdriver when working on computers. If you do, have you ever experienced a failure you would attribute to the use of one?

28 responses to Computer Repair And Magnetic Screwdrivers

  1. Computer Repair And Magnetic Screwdrivers | PCMech | GA Publications November 21st, 2009 at 6:43 am

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    • Gary November 23rd, 2009 at 7:11 am

      I use one all the time installing motherboards and never had a problem.

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    • Mark November 23rd, 2009 at 9:24 pm

      I have equally used magnetic screwdrivers for the last 6 years I have been building computers. I have had zero problems with EMI relative to screwdrivers. In fact, as Jason asserted, working with tiny screws will be very problematic without the use of magnetic screwdriver. I believe, however, failure to properly ground oneself or discharge EMI before working on a computer, combined with the magnetic screwdriver significantly contributes to damaging a motherboard. If grounding is achieve, magnetic screwdrivers are relatively insignificant in contributing to systemboard damage. I know this contradicts what we learned in A+, Network+, etc. Those theories still remain true. However, the reality on the ground is different.

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  2. Computer Repair And Magnetic Screwdrivers | PCMech | Damn Right Straight November 21st, 2009 at 7:19 am

    [...] the rest here: Computer Repair And Magnetic Screwdrivers | PCMech Share and [...]

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  3. Monte November 21st, 2009 at 7:49 am

    Hi Jason,

    The only time I had a magnetic screw driver (really it was a Snapon ratchet screw driver that a magnet held the bits) in my tool bag with my floppy case.

    The magnet wiped the floppies, not good when you arrive at a cutomers site to fix a computer and all the floppies are blank.

    That is when I stopped using magnetic screw drivers, now we don’t use floppies much anymore but I still don’t have any magnetic screw drivers on my computer repair bench…

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  4. Floyd November 21st, 2009 at 8:42 am

    I use one all the time. Never had a problem. Keep in mind, that although we don’t use floppies anymore, we do use flash drives, and they are magnetic media. So keep your magnets away from them.

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    • Sharron Field November 21st, 2009 at 6:17 pm

      Please explain what you mean about flash drives being magnetic media.

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      • Floyd November 22nd, 2009 at 9:07 am

        I stand corrected. I had been told that, by someone whose advice I usually respect, but it turns out after some research that this is not the case. Flash drives are immune from damage by magnetic fields.

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    • BLyons November 22nd, 2009 at 1:55 am

      I thought Flash drives wer just memory chips. If so Magnetic screwdrivers should NOT affect them in any way.
      I’ve been using magnetic screwdrivers for almost 30 years now and have never had a problem.

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    • Sebastien November 22nd, 2009 at 2:11 am

      This is interesting information that I have never heard of before now. Please do explain.

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  5. Alex November 21st, 2009 at 9:36 am

    I have been repairing electronics for over 30 years, from televisions to vcrs and now, finally desktop and laptop computers. I carry a powerful magnet gleaned from a defunct hard drive in my toolkit to remagnatize my screwdrivers (six swipes over the magnet in the same direction does nicely). I have never had an issue resulting from magnetized screwdrivers. In fact, many of the repairs I have done would have been down right impossible without them. I routinely disassemble and reassemble laptops using these. No problem.

    Yesterday I replaced the tube in a laptop display, this job would have been impossible without a good set of magnetized screwdrivers. The screws were minute and the screholes hard to see. When I removed the screws there was no danger of loss as they stayed on the driver. Reassembly was only possible because I was able to mount the screw on the driver for insertion.

    To my thinking it is far more dangerous to use cheap or wrong sized screwdrivers when doing a repair. There is a far greater danger of a bad driver slipping off the screw and damaging the work.

    As Floyd said, magnets are death on floppies, but that is hardly an issue anymore. Most computers don’t even have floppy drives and cds and dvds are not affected.

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  6. Justin November 21st, 2009 at 11:27 am

    I use one all the time too. I would think that the one I use doesn’t have a strong pull so it is safe, hell sometimes the screw falls off into the case anyway. I am careful to only touch the spots where screws go. It is hard to build a computer without one.

    Doesn’t every screw driver have at least some magmatic pull?

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  7. Steve Stone November 21st, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Never had a problem with magnetic tools and computers as long as I stay away from magnetic media devices or the media itself.

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  8. MMS Dave November 21st, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    Ever take appart a HD? If those monster magnates that are used in them don’t kill everything, then a little comon sense with a screwdriver should be all that’s needed. I have an aluminum coin that I drop between a HD magnate and slows down to a crawl as it passes through due to the EM field generated. In fact these magnates are so strong that ones fingers can be pinched if not carefull.

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  9. Matt November 21st, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I repair computers for a living, and all of my screwdrivers are magnetic. I, too, use the same idea as Alex with the magnet from an old HDD. I’ve never had a problem.

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  10. sdc November 21st, 2009 at 3:26 pm

    the only time was I was working on a system that had a magnetic pickup and the driver removed the magnatism from the stater other than that mb.s are not megneticaly effected unless very strong.

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  11. sdc November 21st, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    hard drives can be damaged with a strong magnet

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  12. sdc November 21st, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    all tape and magnetic media can be erased or damaged by magnetic force

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  13. Dr Mike November 21st, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    If you’re concerned about magnetic screwdrivers, use some beeswax on the end of the screwdriver or on the head of the screw. Works every time.

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  14. Sharron Field November 21st, 2009 at 6:15 pm

    No problems with magnetic screwdrivers to report here.

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  15. Eli November 22nd, 2009 at 12:39 am

    A very powerful magnet is needed to damage a hard drive. A little big of magnetism from a screwdriver isn’t going to hurt it. I use regular screwdrivers that I magnetize prior to using.

    Never had a problem.

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  16. Sebastien November 22nd, 2009 at 2:09 am

    Back in the day when I used to take appart and clean my Apple 2C Computer I used magnetic screwdrivers. You just made shure you didn’t have any diskettes around or it would shurely go down the crapper. These days I still use magnetic screwdrivers to do my repairs. They just make the job easier.

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  17. Larry Thompson November 22nd, 2009 at 9:37 pm

    When Im working inside a PC I always take off my wedding ring After all capacitors are devices that hold charges and gold is one of the best conductors . Taking off your wedding ring at other times though could lead to a severe static discharge from your wife .

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    • Sebastien November 24th, 2009 at 2:37 pm

      LMAO!

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  18. Ah-Lord_Ghana November 27th, 2009 at 7:42 am

    I have been using a magnetic screwdriver in my lab to repair PCs and fixed all other parts. I have not suffer much form that to the best of my knowledge. But since I read about the effect of magnets on PC componets I have limit the use on motherboards, expansion cards, etc, But not stop usage entirely since working with tiny srews without magnet screwdrivers is a hell.

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  19. PC Repair December 5th, 2009 at 10:18 am

    I too work with computers and will not advice people to work with magnetic screwdrivers. I once had a terrible experience and won’t like to go through it again.

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  20. volt December 8th, 2009 at 1:41 am

    What exactly is the problem? Does it effect the processor? motherboard chip? RAM? or where?

    I don’t think they are so susceptible to magnetic as long as the power is OFF. If the power is ON then you might get some Electrical Field or flux nearby, and since there are million on wiring on the motherboard the flux might amplitude each other hence creating greater flux. CMIIW.

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  21. Theressa February 3rd, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I’ve used one for at least 15 years and and have had no negative effects. I do however avoid static.

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