How to Protect Your Computer During a Thunderstorm

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Education

Each year computer technicians are flooded with repair requests from customers whose systems have been damaged from thunderstorms, some of which will be irreparable. Damage during a thunderstorm can be prevented by anyone willing to take a few preventive steps.

Surge Protectors:
Surge Protectors contain a fuse or a breaker that is designed to blow or tripRead Morewhen coming into contact with an electric surge. With these devices you literally get what you pay for in protection-some surge protectors come with a guarantee to replace any items that are damaged by surges while plugged into the device. Invest in the best one you can afford.

UPS (Universal Power Supply):
A Universal Power Supply is a step up from a surge protector in terms of protection. UPS devices not only protect your computer from surges but also work to prevent unexpected shutdowns due to power dips and outages. For instance, if your computer were writing information to its’ hard drive when the power was suddenly shut off that information will not get saved-and your hard drive could be damaged by being interrupted during such a sensitive process. A case of data corruption may prevent Windows from being able to load, forcing you to reinstall your operating system and possibly lose precious files as well. Worse-case scenario can result in a failed hard drive as the sensitive drive electronics are interrupted during the write process. A universal power supply will not only protect your computer from power surges during a thunderstorm but will also enable you to gracefully save all of your open files and shut down your computer properly during a power outage, protecting your system from damage.

Knots in the Power Cord:
Some people have learned the hard way the damage that could be wreaked from thunderstorms. Here is one old tech trick. Tie five overhand knots in your power cords, spacing them an inch or so apart. Do the same thing for phone cords as well. The jolt of electricity will burn itself out traveling back over itself, frying the electric and phone cords but sparing your computer. I wouldn’t swear by this method but have heard of some people who have had a couple of scorched phone cords after thunderstorms but did not lost a single modem or computer. I honestly do not know the technicalities of how this one works; only that it is one tech trick that is could be rather effective.

Disconnecting your Computer:
The best way to protect your computer during a thunderstorm is to disconnect it entirely from the electrical system in your house. Unplug your computer from the wall outlet and make sure that any device that is attached to the computer is disconnected from the power as well. Disconnect your phone line/DSL/cable/satellite connection from your modem and power that device off as well. By literally severing the connection between power sources and computer you are removing the pathways for a surge and are insulating your system from any possibility of damage.

A good thunderstorm protection strategy will involve using more than one method of prevention. Plugging your computer and attached devices into surge protectors and tying those five knots into the surge protector cords will help protect your computer system if a thunderstorm occurs while you are not at home to unplug everything. Using a UPS will allow your computer to shut down gracefully whether you are home using the device or not. If you are home when a thunderstorm occurs, disconnecting that machine from any sources of outside power will prevent surges from damaging your system.

If you have trouble after the storm do not continue with your boot up. This may be a sign of having been hit by a surge. Bring your machine to Stafford Technologies immediately and we may very well be able to save all your treasured pictures, iTunes and data.
You can contact us at 678.913.3156 or 678.933.5004.


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