I thought it would be suiting today, after our long stint of storms last night, to talk about correct electrical usage during storms. First off, the safest electronic device during a storm is an unplugged electronic device. To unplug the device, simply remove the power cord from the wall. This also includes the coaxial connection to your cable or the phone line from the telephone company. If all connections to outside wiring are severed, you would have to be hit directly by lightening to be affected by it.
If this can’t be done, or if you want to protect your office computers (one can’t simply unplug all the devices at your office if you’re at home), then you’ll need to invest in sufficient surge protectors or battery backups. I think we all know what surge protectors are, but I’ll elaborate. Surge protectors should protect your electronic devices from surges of electricity over the power lines. Nicer surge protectors include inline protection for your network connection and phone connection as well. Surge protectors only work if you have grounded wiring and a grounded breaker box in your house’s electrical system, i.e. you have three pronged plugs. If you don’t, you’re wasting your money.
Battery backups are primarily used for devices that can’t be suddenly turned off, like computers. I don’t even think laptops really require battery backups, since they contain their own onboard battery backup, assuming the battery still holds a charge. But any computer, server, workstation, home theater pc, etc., should have a battery backup. If you don’t have a battery backup, then you should just turn the device off, if possible, or have it enter a hibernated state on several hours of non-usage. The damage caused by abrupt shutoff of computers with active filesystems can be bad or it can do nothing. The worst case scenario would be if you go to turn on the machine the next day and it won’t fire up because the file system has been corrupted by the improper shutdown. It is also possible to damage any open files, which might even get lost. You should save files often anyway; if you don’t do this, call me so I can come hit you over the head with a persistent carp.
In the wake of last night’s storm, I hope everyone’s home and cars are okay and I also hope everyone’s technology is okay. I’ve not heard that type of rain and hail and seen that kind of lightening in all my life. We will be buying a storm radio to catch broadcasts by the emergency broadcast system. Our house does not have grounded wiring, so we unplugged everything from the wall to make sure nothing was damaged. Since we switched to AT&T’s U-Verse, our television signal comes in through an internet connection and through a switch (don’t worry, this will be covered in a future post). The upside is nice content, the downside is, we couldn’t even watch television last night to check for reports of the storm or further emergency broadcasts. They could have been evacuating the city for all we knew and we wouldn’t have heard. Its kind of like how a voip phone doesn’t work if your internet is down, except it your TV. I’m rambling now, so see you tomorrow.