Research shows that lightning strikes the Earth about 8 million times each day. Over the course of a year, that’s roughly 3 billion lightning strikes. While many lightning strikes occur in rural areas, others can occur in cities or other developed communities. Unfortunately, lightning strikes in populated areas often result in a power surge that’s capable of damaging or even destroying connected devices. So, what steps can you take to protect your computer from power surges?
Use a Surge Protector
The most effective way to protect your computer from a power surge is to use a surge protector. Not to be confused with a power strip, a surge protector is a device with one or more outlets in which you plug electronic devices to protect them from power surges. Rather than plugging your computer directly into a wall outlet, for example, you can plug it into a surge protector. You can then plug the surge protector into the wall outlet to keep your computer safe from power surges.
If a power surge occurs, the surge protector will do one of two things to protect your computer from potentially catastrophic damage:
- Block the additional voltage
- Short the additional voltage
Unplug Your Computer
Another way to protect your computer from power surges is to unplug it during lightning storms. By definition, a power surge is a sudden increase in voltage that exceeds the universally accepted standard of 120 volts. While several things can cause power surges, including power companies switching their grids, the most common cause is lightning.
If lightning strikes a power line — or an area next to a power line — massive amounts of electricity may enter the power line, at which point the excess voltage will travel to all connected homes and devices. Of course, the excess voltage will only reach the devices plugged into your home’s or business’s wall outlets. By unplugging your computer, you can rest assured knowing that a power surge won’t damage or destroy it.
Get a UPS With Built-In Surge Protection
Instead of a basic surge protector, consider using an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) with built-in surge protection. As the name suggests, a UPS is a device that provides supplemental power during grid outages. If the grid goes down, a UPS will keep your computer running. And if a UPS has built-in surge protection, it will serve the same function as a surge protector. If you’re going to connect your computer to a UPS, make sure the UPS features built-in surge protection.