How a smart home became stupid. The story of one fault.

Igor Mullin
4 min readFeb 8, 2022


This year, something happened that I have been waiting for so long. One day absolutely everything stopped working in the house. The reason for this was a server failure…

This is a translation of my article in Zen. Also, do not forget to read us in other services: Instagram, telegram (RU, EN, DE), YouTube.

The story was sanctified in my channel in this (RU) and this (RU) post. When, for the third time in a week, I received a message in a telegram that the smart home was turned off, it became clear that plans for the evening had already been defined.

Let me tell you the complete story. I will say that the first time I just rebooted the server and did not pay attention to it. The second time I was smarter and measured the temperature of the computer — it was hot. The third time happened when I was not at home. When I came home, it was cold. There were several versions: 1. SSD failure; 2. Failures in the OS 3. PC failure.

Since I am a lazy person, I did not make backups. I was hoping that if it’s an SSD, then the damage is only partial, because after a reboot everything works. Therefore, first I took a backup copy from the disk, and then decided to check it with “Victoria”. My respect to the disk — although it is old, but there were no problems with it.

The OS was next on the list, but I decided to leave this version for later. Linux is not an OS that fails suddenly and completely. Moreover, a week earlier — I updated it. It was after the first crash.

We turn to point 3. Suspicions did not fall on the computer also, Pegatron proved itself. I decided to start with a basic service.

  1. Completely disassemble everything, remove all parts, clean from dust.

2. We clean the all contacts with an eraser

3. Remove the old thermal paste, put a new one

4. Lubricate the cooler if necessary.

I made another decision for myself — to remove the WiFi adapter from the board. It is not used in my configuration, but takes up resources for itself. We assemble the computer back and check.

What can I say — after this procedure, I had to re-configure the Bios, because it was reset when the battery was removed (I don’t think it was the root cause).

A few days later it became clear that the problem was gone, but it is unclear what was the cause. The computer is not heated in operation, so overheating of the processor would not lead to a hang, but only reduced performance. Disk — no problem. Oxidation of the contacts is also not very likely, there was no wet nearby. The bios participates in booting the computer and should not affect the operation of the system that has already started. Perhaps the thermal pad has lost its properties and caused failures in operation. In any case, I did something right. In six months, I will be able to test the theory by conducting partial maintenance, from point to point, but I hope it won’t be necessary.

And that’s it, make your smart home smarter, brighter, more colorful, more informative, set up automation correctly to get maximum pleasure. You can also follow me on other sites: Instagram and telegram (RU, EN, DE), LiveJournal, YouTube (new channel).



Igor Mullin

I´m a Hardware and Software Engineer and a PhD. In my professional activity I focus on such things like smart home systems and electric development.