Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Protecting Your Electronics*

TOPIC: The most overlooked ways of protecting your electronic devices. (I am a ‘computer guy’, so my emphasis is on ‘puters, but the advice here is applicable to all your electronic gear.. that new LCD TV, for instance.)

First Line Of Defense – The Powerstrip

hardhat areaYesterday, the hard drive on one of my testbed machines gave up the ghost and died: one machine down. Then last night we had a storm and some funny things happen to our electricity — all of my lights got really bright and then ‘poof’ darkness; then, quickly, about three times in a row, the power tried to come back on, but failed. A couple of minutes later, it was on and stayed on.. long enough to develop a false sense of relief. Then it was out for an hour. Basically, a “surge”, followed by “line recycling”…

Another of my machines was plugged into a cheap, old, powerstrip pstrip.jpgwhich did not react to the surge. So, that machine experienced the full roller-coaster ride of a surge in power, sudden outage, rebooting, outage, full reboot+full outage.. which, apparently, it didn’t like very much. Second machine down. 

Due to these things, and the fact that I simply cannot live without a computer, a trip to my local electronics store was my first act of the day– and because there is a moral to this story (actually, a couple of them) I will share with you my purchases:
Moral #1: the devices I had plugged into modern, rated, and “not cheap” powerstrips suffered no ill effects. (I had used the old powerstrip because it had happened to be handy.) There is a difference in the quality of powerstrips, and their protective abilities. I made a conscientious inventory and have replaced all my old powerstrips with ones specifically designed belkin.jpgand rated for sensitive electronics. (If you are in an area that has lightning [and who isn’t?] it is a good idea to protect your phone line and coaxial cable lines too.) Such as with this “media center” surge-protecting powerstrip from Belkin.

Moral #2: My machines attached to a UPS (aka “battery backup”) also were unaffected by the surge and recyclings. However, I never got around to attaching my DSL modem and router to a UPS, as they are somewhat distant from my work area. And so, while I was able to have a computer running, the network, and the Internet was unavailable. I remedied that as well.
[note: I wrote an article on Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), which you can read by clicking here.]

Moral #3: Hard drives do fail. Fortunately, replacing them is not a very difficult task. And restoring the first machine I mentioned was not all that difficult or time-consuming either.. in fact, I had a side-benefit as the new drive is quite a bit larger than the now-dead drive was.

But I must point out, I can make the statement I made (immediately above) because I had a full system backup stored on another drive. If I did not have that full backup, I would still be reinstalling programs and reconfiguring settings and updating my software and… well, anyone who’s done it can tell you, it’s a royal pain. So I remind you, again, that it is very important to make backups of your computer.. and to store those backups on two different storage media types.

If you do not have an automatic backup plan in place…


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* condensed from an article posted a couple years ago. The upgrades to my powerstrips and UPS devices has proved a wise investment over time.

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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October 4, 2011 - Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, how to | , , , , , ,

6 Comments »

  1. Hey Paul,

    Spot on!! The most important topics are also always the least “sexy”.

    I am writing to ALSO mention a topic you may or not have covered in the past.

    In my e mail I now include this phrase at the end:

    When Sending/Forwarding Email Protect Privacy by Using “BCC”

    People forward email threads without thinking of the exposure to their contact list…

    “SAVING THE UNIVERSE ONE EMAIL ADDRESS AT A TIME”

    Thoughts?

    Best,

    Bob

    Like

    Comment by Anonymous | October 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Bob,
      Over the course of the more than four years I have been posting Tech – for Everyone articles I have mentioned that a time or twenty, yes. But I think my friend and fellow tech blogger Rick Robinette says it best here, Tip: Bcc Protects Private Email Addresses.

      It boggles my mind that email has been with us, what, 20 years, and we still need to tell people that… (makes me wonder how we ever made it out of the Dark Ages..)

      I do like your idea of making it part of your signature.. kudos for that.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 4, 2011 | Reply

  2. Thanks for the article Paul.

    I’m going to use a surge protector now. I had thought that power supply in the US is already surge protected, but looks like no.
    (btw I’m basically not from the US)

    Grr

    Like

    Comment by Grr | October 4, 2011 | Reply

    • Grr,
      I’m fairly sure there are various devices/methods in “the grid” that attempt to mitigate/prevent disastrous variations in the power “supply” — though I have never talked with a lineman about that.. but our “high tech” devices (aka “electronics”) can be adversely effected by relatively minor variations, they require a bit more .. um.. “insulation”.

      And if lightning hits a line nearby, well, all bets are off.

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 4, 2011 | Reply

  3. 3.I would like to add that there is a Home Surge Protector that is installed next to your home electrical supply/breaker box, the one I installed is a Eaton-CulterHammer CHSP Ultra Ultimate Home Surge Protector with a life time warranty, that is the first line of defense to stop the surge before it goes through the home wiring. I also use ‘plug-in’ protectors and battery back-ups. I believe that we just can’t have enough surge protection. NOTE THAT THE WHOLE HOME SURE PROTECTOR REQUIRES INSTALLATION BY A QUALIFIED ELECTRICIAN.

    MikeyK…

    Like

    Comment by MikeyK | October 5, 2011 | Reply

    • MikeyK,
      I agree and I thank you for sharing your experience with us!

      Like

      Comment by techpaul | October 5, 2011 | Reply


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