Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Making a Power Play with Your PC

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Making a Power Play with Your PC

Article excerpt

Electricity is your computer's gasoline, the fuel that moves the moving parts. It can be equally explosive. Most people don't think twice about the electric current flowing into a PC until something disturbs that flow. In the event that lightning threatens, these disturbances can cause the bits to bite the dust, big-time.

A few years ago, a nearby lightning strike zapped my computer during a crucial stage of an important work project. It toasted the hard-drive controller, a backup floppy disk in the floppy drive and the modem.

But I was lucky. The lightning didn't total the PC, sparing the hard disk and my work. I did. however, spend a hair-pulling clay waiting for the computer repair shop to inform me of this.

One misconception about electricity is that lightning never strikes twice. In actuality it could zap my home office equipment all over again in the same way or worse. If you're not prepared, your PC could be an accident waiting to happen, too.

Another misconception is that a surge suppressor will protect your equipment against lightning. Truth is that lightning can surge past even the best surge suppressors. also called surge protectors, which are typically used in home and small-business settings. The same is true with uninterruptible power supplies, also called backup power supplies, which typically incorporate surge suppressors.

A surge suppressor, however, is helpful in protecting delicate computer electronics from smaller but much more common surges that inadvertently emanate from other office machines or household appliances and from surges caused when the power comes back on after an outage.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is helpful at the onset, of a power outage as well. If the lights go out, a UPS will provide juice to your PC long enough for you to save any unsaved work and power down properly, preventing files from getting corrupted. In areas of rolling power blackouts or where the local electric company for other reasons can't keep the electrons streaming dependably, a UPS is a must-have.

Don't wait until you're sadder but wiser. If you haven't already, invest in either of these pieces of equipment, which can be thought of as the equivalent of air bags in a car. They may not save you in the worst crash, but you're a lot safer with them. You should plug modem and network lines into the unit as well or buy a separate phone-line surge suppressor. …

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