I've been seeing a lot of posts about ESD, what it is, and how to control it. Therefore, I am writing this post. What exactly is ESD anyways? ESD is Electro-Static Discharge. It is the rapid exchange of electricity from one object to another. What causes ESD? Static electricity builds up on the surface of any non-conductive object that rubs against another similar non-conductive object. Wool rubbing against rubber will cause static to build up on BOTH surfaces. One of the objects will become positively charged while the other object will be negatively charged. Even objects you wouldn't expect to hold a charge can be culprits of ESD. This includes wood and wood products (desks, cardboard boxes), styrofoam (packing peanuts, cushioning foam), and other items such as clothing. Even our own skin holds a charge (which is how those touch lamps work). A static charge can jump from one object to another as well. You can cause ESD damage to a CPU just by waving your hand a few inches from it. Have you ever noticed, the spark that occurs by touching a doorknob actually jumps a few centimeters to your hand BEFORE you touch the doorknob? ESD damage can occur to static senstive devices with as little as 1 volt of electricity. Most devices need about 100 volts before they are damaged beyond repair. People can't feel the static discharge until about 2,000 volts and higher. So just because you didn't feel the zap, doesn't mean it didn't occur. So what can we do to prevent ESD? There is no way to completely prevent it. All we can do is minimize it. Ok, so how do we minimize it? There are all sorts of things we can do. Working on an ESD mat, while wearing an ESD wrist strap is the best way. Keep your work area clear of all styrofoam, plastic and even paper, and work on a hardwood floor if possible. So now on to the truths, myths, and lies. ESD only occurs in the winter. MYTH. ESD occurs at all times of the year, but humans feel it in the winter because of the drier air. Even if ESD occurs to a device, it will still work. TRUE and FALSE. If the ESD damage is high enough, the device will completely fail. If the ESD damage is low enough, the device will not function properly. Things like BSoD's, memory errors, and corrupt data are often caused by ESD, but are diagnosed as bad hardware. Often a "bad" stick of RAM was good when it shipped, but then the installer zapped it with ESD unknowingly, and now it doesn't work. If I work in my barefeet I will lessen the ESD. TRUE. You will still build up a charge, but at a slower rate. Cotton or wool socks are more similar to carpetting than bare skin is to carpetting, so you will build up a charge at a slower rate if you are barefoot. I can just ground myself to my case instead of using an anti-static mat or wristband. TRUE. However, you must be in contact at ALL times with the case, and the case must be grounded to your home's electrical system. If the case is just sitting on your floor and not plugged in, then grounding yourself to the case does no good at all. Compressed air can cause ESD. TRUE. Remember, ESD is caused by 2 similar objects rubbing together. The air is rubbing against the air, causing ESD. However, air particles are so small that they lose most of their charge before they hit the surface of whatever you are spraying it on. I can just lay my motherboard on an ESD bag when I need to work on it. FALSE. An ESD bag will only work if the item is completely enclosed in the bag. The object must be completely surrounded by the bag, and the bag must be sealed for it to do any good. When I mount my motherboard inside my case, I like to mount the piece of foam that ships in the box in between the case and the motherboard as an insulator. WRONG. While that piece of foam is ESD foam, it is meant to cushion the board while in shipment. The ESD foam is a semi-conductor, and it can conduct just enough electricity to short out your motherboard. The styrofoam peanuts that Newegg (and other places) ships their products in must be safe then, right? FALSE. There is no such thing as ESD-safe packing peanuts. Ever notice how they want to stick to your arm, and everything else when you pull your items out of the box? Yup, you guessed it. That's static electricity making them stick to your skin. This guide is not meant to be an end-all on the ESD subject. Please feel free to add anything I may have missed.