Would you call yourself somewhat attached to your computer? We know we would. A desktop can be a source of entertainment, work, knowledge, and more. These days, some of us spend more time in front of the computer than away from it. As our PCs are so integral to our lives, it’s important to keep them in top shape.

You may already be taking some steps to maintain your desktop in good health. Scanning for viruses, dusting, and perhaps even the occasional format. But are you prepared to defend your desktop from a surge of power?

Electricity, the very thing that powers your computer, can also be the bane of its existence. Unstable electricity is bad for all electronics, so whether it’s a PC, a printer, or a TV, you want to avoid any and all electrical problems.

How do you do that, though? How to protect your computer from the adverse effects of unstable electricity? There are some easy steps you can take to achieve that. Keep reading to make sure your computer is safe and sound!

What are the consequences of unstable electricity?

We’re not here to scare you, but this list might motivate you to prevent the issue rather than try to fix it once it happens. Here are some of the possible consequences of unstable electricity.

  • Data loss
  • Equipment malfunctions
  • Uptime interruptions (if your equipment is responsible for things such as server uptime)
  • Long term wear-and-tear (every unexpected power surge or blackout has a negative effect on your electronics)
  • Permanent damage or a complete breakdown

Whether you lose that file you’ve been working on for hours or your entire PC malfunctions, unstable electricity is a big no-no.

What are the different kinds of unstable electricity?

There’s more than just your standard blackout, and unfortunately, the other variants of power issues are still dangerous for your PC. What are they?

  • A power surge is a sudden increase in voltage. These surges are usually caused by temporary power interruptions and/or changes in the electrical draw. The reason behind it is often that when several devices share the same power supply, they may cause an unexpected surge when being turned on or off.
  • A power outage is a total loss of power. The cause can be just about anything, from your local power line to an overloaded power supply.
  • A voltage spike is similar to a power surge but worse. That’s right, as if it couldn’t get any worse! These are your computer’s worst enemy and they don’t happen out of nowhere. A voltage spike is often the result of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), a lightning strike, short circuit, static discharge, and other such events.
  • Brownouts and voltage slumps are the exact opposite of a power surge. As a result of, among others, malfunctions, your power supply may experience a voltage slump and it will not generate the power your computer needs to run properly.

Protect your computer using a UPS device

If you’d ask us for our opinion, we’d probably tell you that one of the best ways to protect your computer from unstable electricity is to use a UPS device. UPS stands for an uninterrupted power source. What exactly does a UPS do?

A UPS device protects your computer and other important electronics against all forms of electrical damage and power failures. Some examples of this would be power surges, interference, slumps, blackouts, oscillation, and other such issues.

A high-quality UPS will be reliable and steady regardless of the type of power issues you and your computer are facing. These devices will backup your system, ensuring that no interruptions occur, even if your home experiences a blackout.

Of course, a UPS will not keep your PC running forever — definitely not long enough to finish “just one more game”. However, it gives you enough time to save your work and safely turn off your computer.

Types of UPS devices

There are several types of UPS systems. Some of them are larger and used at a commercial scale, if only due to the much-increased cost. Some are suited for home use and can be used to protect all your electronics. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Standby UPS — This is the simplest (and the most affordable) type of UPS. The battery and the inverter remain on standby and don’t do anything until it’s necessary. This device will select between available power sources to provide a constant surge of electricity.
  • Standby-Ferro UPS — These devices are very similar to the standard standbys but with a twist. Instead of selecting between power sources, they have a Ferro resonant transformer that acts as a backup solution, should the main power source be off.
  • Double Conversion UPS — This one is an online UPS that converts power twice and has next to no transfer time, so it’s very quick to step in.
  • Line Interactive UPS — A line interactive UPS sports a totally different design than the standby UPS. It features a combination inverter/converter. When the power supply is fine, the converter charges the internal battery. If the power is off, the system uses up the battery to provide power.
  • Delta Conversion UPS — This is the latest model in the world of UPS. It’s very energy efficient and quick to react.

When you shop for a UPS, remember to buy one with a built-in power surge protection system. While there is no such thing as a 100% guarantee, a UPS is one of the safest bets if you want to be extra cautious about the safety of your electronics.

What are some other ways to protect your computer from unstable electricity?

Whether there’s a nasty thunderstorm outside or you just want to go the extra mile and protect your computer as best as you can, read on! We’ve prepared helpful steps for all occasions to help you keep your PC safe.

Backup your data

Okay, so this doesn’t protect your computer as much as it protects YOU, but it’s still important. Instead of having to read yet another angry email from your boss, backup your data frequently. A good option for this is an external hard drive.

Turn off your PC

Again, a no-brainer. If there’s a raging thunderstorm outside, don’t chance it and turn off & unplug all your devices. If you have a UPS, this is less necessary, but still — no harm done if you’re able to. Also remember to disconnect peripherals such as external drives.

Get a surge protector

If you haven’t decided to go down the UPS route, at the very least ger a surge protector. These are often found in power strips with multiple outlets, so instead of using a basic power strip, just get one with extra protection.

Regularly check the health of your power lines

Periodically check all your outlets and the general health of your power line. Local malfunctions are some of the main causes of power surges and blackouts, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Conclusion

Unstable electricity is as annoying as it is dangerous to your electronics. While it’s true that computers these days are able to withstand much more than their older siblings (or grandparents), it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to defend your machine against power surges.

We recommend getting a UPS as the top measure of protection for most people, but if you don’t think it’s viable for you, there are many other options out there. We now leave you with a parting word of advice — go back up your data right now! And maybe consider that UPS or a power surge protector so that you can keep your PC safe from even the worst thunderstorm.

Author: Monica J White