Protecting Computers Against Electrical Problems

Electrical Problems LightningWhat types of electrical problems can cause computer damage?
Most people don’t realize that even the slightest electrical blip poses a danger to all programmable appliances, whether the device is a telephone, computer, or high-priced server.  If your computer or telephone no longer works after an electrical fault, the manufacturer’s warranty is unlikely to cover it.

People tend to worry most about power surges, but decreases in voltage and split-second losses of electricity are actually more problematic.  Most inexpensive power surge protectors guard in times of surges but are ineffective against drops in power, irregular voltages, or brief power loss.  Small, momentary fluctuations can cause damage to computers over time by corrupting or erasing data on your hard drive.

The three common electrical faults are:

  • Blackouts (total loss of power)
  • Brownouts (decrease in voltage level)
  • Spikes and Surges (increase in voltage level)

Each of these electrical faults can contribute to motherboard problems, power supply failures, and data corruption on your hard drive.  People often wonder why their computers break down after a storm or electrical problem even when they have it on a surge protector, not realizing that any voltage fluctuation, not only surges, can be detrimental.

How can you prevent voltage fluctuation from damaging your computer or data?
Invest in a surge protector and battery backup/UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply).  The extra investment is worthwhile to protect your data.  Look for UPS with Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) technology, which provides clean electricity by increasing low voltage or decreasing high voltage to keep it within a safe range of 110–120 volts.  Some UPS or surge protectors have more features than others, so you’ll have to do your research to find the right fit for your needs.  Several brands have the ability to shut down the computer if they detect a loss of power after a certain period of time.  As these protectors provide a safe way to shut down the computer, rather than suddenly turning off when power is cut, the UPS backup is the type we most recommend.

PC Ninja does not stock battery backups/UPS, but we are able to order them and install the automatic shutdown function on the computer, which is not setup out-of-the-box.  If you purchase a battery backup/UPS independently, be sure to enable that function to avoid electrical problems due to unexpected power issues.

(As discussed on a WEEU radio broadcast 10/10/13.)

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