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Protecting Your Computer from Power Outages

Well, it happened again. This past week, the power went out all throughout Selkirk. As you most likely already know, power outages can have major negative effects on computers. If a computer is shut down without going through the Windows shut down steps first, damage can occur to hard drive and data can be lost. A power spike or surge can be even worse and could potentially damage the hardware inside the computer. While there is really no way that you could ever fully save yourself from power outages (short of creating your own nuclear power generator,) you can certainly make sure that your computer is protected.scorched-outlet2There are many different types of power issues that you may run into. Here are the most common:

  • Level 1: Surge/Spike – A sudden increase of flowing electricity and can occur when something boosts the electrical charge at some point in the power lines.
  • Level 2: Brown Out – A reduction in the amount (but not a complete outage) of flowing electricity.
  • Level 3: Black Out – A complete drop of electricity.

Unplug Your Computer – Level 1 (kind of…)

The first step you can take against damage from power problems is to unplug your computer from the wall when not in use. Even if the computer is shut down, surges can still travel through the power cable and damage components within the computer. This measure is not so much protection as it is relying on luck and hoping that you might catch it in time and should not be the only protection plan that you have. It should also be noted that lightening is not the only cause of surges and spikes; they can occur no matter what the weather is like. This measure should only be used once you are done reading this article and you head directly to the store to purchase a proper power protection device, such as a…

Surge Protector – Level 1

The second preventative measure you can take is to plug your computer into a surge protector. When I say surge protector, I don’t just mean those small white ones with the red light-up switches. Are you really going to trust your $600+ with a $10 “surge protector”? If you’re not sure what type will protect you the best, ask the guy at the store or even call us. We can point you in the right direction. A surge protector (even the most expensive one you can find) will only have level 1 protection. It will only protect your computer from bursts of electricity flowing to the computer but will not keep the computer from shutting down during a blackout. For complete blackout protection, you will need a…

Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) – Level1; Level 2; Level 3

The best kind of protection against all types of power issues is a UPS. A UPS is commonly referred to as a battery backup because if there is actually a large battery inside of the UPS. During regular electricity schedules, the UPS is plugged into the wall, acting as a surge protector and slowly charging the battery. The second that the UPS loses power, the computer automatically starts pulling power from the battery. There is no noticeable change in performance and if the blackout lasts for just a few seconds you can continue to work as if nothing had happened at

So, what happens if the blackout lasts for more than just a few seconds (as the blackouts in Selkirk usually are)? Well, the battery backup will run the computer long enough to give you a chance to close and save any documents you were working on and properly shut down Windows. Many UPS devices will also come with software that will detect when the UPS has switched to battery power and the battery is running low. When this happens, the software will initiate Windows to properly shut down while there is enough battery power left. This is perfect if you are out of the house and can’t get to the computer in time. The UPS is truly the best option and REP4 recommends it for both home and business users.

Luke Sterzer is a leading technician at REP4 Technologies. Luke has achieved his CompTIA A+ and Network + certifications and is currently working on MCITP. When not telling other people how to use their own computers, Luke can be found contemplating how much an electrical outlet looks like a tiny man frightened by the notion of you sticking a plug into his face.

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