Storm Season is Here! How to protect your devices from disaster
The storm season is upon us here in Florida once again. Lightning strikes and power surges pose a real threat to our electronics. Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. The electricity flowing within a lightning bolt can reach 2 million volts. That type of current can take out your surge protector and your computer, not to mention anything else in its path. If it does, it can also destroy your hard drive and all the data on it. As we all know, we cannot live without our computers and our computers are very susceptible to electrical surge. There are many ways to take precautionary measures, but they are not foolproof. Lightning strikes can travel through any means of conduction including electrical outlets, coax cable, network cable, phone lines and of course air if the conditions are right. There are standard surge protectors with a breaker built in to stop minor surges and UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) devices that will act as a surge protector and maintain power to a computer for a specific amount of time in case of power loss. There are also some home warranty services that will replace or repair computers in the event of surge damage, but check the fine print and deductible. FPL offers a built-in surge protector that installs at the meter for a monthly fee, but only protects the electrical circuits in your home or business and not the phone, network cables, etc. They also offer Protection for sensitive electronic equipment and smaller appliances, such as your TV, computer, etc. at an additional charge. The only sure-fire way to protect against a direct hit to your PC or other devices is to disconnect all cables that come in from an outside source, such as network, coax, phone and power cables each time a storm rolls in.
Since that is typically not a reasonable solution, here is what I recommend. Purchase good quality UPS surge protectors for your devices such as APC, CyberPower and Tripp Lite. UPS devices typically have two sections, a row of outlets labeled “Battery” and a row of outlets labeled “Surge”. Plug the PC into the battery backup side of the UPS and all other devices into the surge protection side of the UPS if possible. This will reduce the power load on the battery so you can get the most out of it during a power failure. You should never plug a laser printer into the battery backup side of a UPS as they draw a tremendous amount of power and can cause the battery to overload during power loss. Also make sure you have surge protection devices installed for cable, phone and network cables. Some UPS devices have these features built in to the unit. Next and most important, make sure you have a good, reliable backup of your data. I recommend using an offsite cloud based backup such as Carbonite. Backing up to an external hard drive is good, but susceptible to surge as well as hardware failure from defect in workmanship or components. Disaster recovery is something we should practice in the home as well as the office. There are other threats we may face such as fire, flood, hurricane, theft or Virus. Remember… You can replace your hardware, but you cannot replace your data! Here are some links you may find helpful.
FPL Protection Plans and Services
Carbonite Cloud Backup Services