surge protection

Are Surge Protectors Worthwhile? UPS?

Do Surge Protectors really do anything?  Summer’s a ways off and so are lightning and thunderstorms, but electrical surges can happen at anytime of the year. I recall after lightning storms I always got service calls for modems that stopped working. This is because an electrical surge moved through their phone line and toasted their modem (you’re lucky if the damage limited to just the modem and not the rest of the computer).  Those were the days of dial-up when land-lines were more common, but it still applies today to cable and DSL modems and even apartment buildings.  Many apartments, especially around the university, offer an ethernet jack and provide internet as an amenity.  These lines are grounded according to building codes, but lightning  strikes are hard to engineer protection for and any of these wires into your home are a path for an electrical surge that can damage your computer. I recommend a surge protector like this APC SurgeArrest. You sandwich it between your valuable gear and your wall outlets–electrical or otherwise be it cable, DSL, or ethernet.  With ethernet jack, don’t forget to protect your WiFi router. A surge can also travel to your electrical outlet and damage your computer. This is the primary reason a surge protector is necessary.  Note that power strips provide no protection at all.

If you need additional protection, the next step up from a surge protector is a UPS–uninterruptible power supply, usually used by businesses.  The internal battery pack needs to be recycled about every two years, otherwise the UPS may actually cause a power outage.  They not only protect against spikes and surges, but they also provide a battery to power your computer or wifi router through a brownout, short blackout, and provides time to shut down the machine safely. Software can automate this. UPS prices are usually a matter of the size of the battery, and the amperage the equipment needs to draw.  Contact me if you have any questions and I’ll be glad to help you out.  None of this means you can forgo a backup plan, which I will cover at a later time.

What has your experience been?  I welcome your comments below.