We have been getting a lot of storms here in my neck of the woods, so it made me think of a good topic to write about. It’s one that most people overlook or don’t think about, and if you haven’t guessed it yet, it’s about stopping power surges before they fry your polygon playmate.
I live on the side of a mountain, in a rural area, so storms are not uncommon around here. No matter where you live, having adequate protection for your computer is a must. I can’t tell you how many people I see, whose computers I work on, that don’t have a surge suppressor to protect their equipment. When you invest $500 to $2000 in a piece of electronic hardware like a computer, it really is worth it to spend an extra few dollars and get a good surge suppressor to stop power spikes and surges, and keep them from toasting your machine.
Now, I don’t mean a cheap old outlet strip with the little switch and button on the side, I mean real surge suppressor that will do a good job of clamping down on those line spikes that hurt your gear. All of these things have ratings on the packaging (or at least they are supposed to), so compare between the ones you are looking at. If you find one that doesn’t have ratings on it, don’t buy it! Typically the big things to look at are how much of a surge will it stop, and how fast will it stop it or “clamp down”. The more it will stop, and the faster it will stop it the better. Odds are if you get a good, known brand name product, that isn’t the cheapest thing you can find, you’ll be ok. Keep in mind that nothing can stop you from a direct lighting hit. If you get zapped hard enough, it doesn’t matter what you have, but the odds of that happening are rare.
Another thing to think about when we talk surge suppression, that is also overlooked a lot, is phone lines and cable lines. You might have your computer’s power outlet protected, or unplugged even, but if you still have it connected to the phone line or cable line (satellite even) you can get a power surge that will damage your equipment. Of all the systems that I have seen that were damaged by a power surge (lightning, line spike, etc), the great majority have been hit through the phone line. You can get good quality surge suppressors that have the connectors on them to plug in your phone line and cable/satellite line so that you can get the same surge suppression on those as well, and it’s very much worth it. That few bucks you spend on a good surge suppressor will save you tons later when you don’t get your equipment blown up later.
Here’s another tip, get surge suppressors for other expensive electronic devices you want to protect too, like stereos, VCR/DVD players, TVs, etc!