Do you have a lot of information stored in your computer? If you’re like most people, I’m sure you have a ton of important documents, records and sensitive information saved on your hard drive. If your computer breaks down, a lot of vital information will be lost. We’re here to make sure that doesn’t happen, and the best way to do that is to talk about one of the major causes of computer malfunction: power surges.

What is a power surge exactly?

According to HowStuffWorks, “Power surges occur when something boosts the electrical charge at some point in the power lines. This causes an increase in the electrical potential energy, which can increase the current flowing to your wall outlet.”

What causes this?

PowerHouse explains that there are two kinds of power surges, internal and external.

Internal Power Surges

More than half of household power surges are internal. These happen dozens of times of day, usually when devices with motors start up or shut off, diverting electricity to and from other appliances. Refrigerators and air conditioners are the biggest culprits, but smaller devices like hair dryers and power tools can also cause problems.

External Power Surges

An external power surge, stemming from outside your home, is most commonly caused by a tree limb touching a power line, lightning striking utility equipment or a small animal getting into a transformer. Surges can also occur when the power comes back on after an outage, and can even come into your home through telephone and cable TV lines.”

Now that we know what causes this, what do we do to protect our devices from power surges?

How do we protect our devices?

In order to protect our devices, there are surge protectors available in the market today. The inexpensive option is to buy a surge suppressor. This tool is used as an outlet to connect your devices, but unlike a regular outlet, it helps guard the connected devices from power spikes or lightning surges. It helps limit voltage and blocks or shortens unwanted voltage, keeping your computers away from power surges. This typically costs around $20–$50 dollars depending on the brand and the number of outlets.

If you’d like a more heavy-duty power surge protector, you could get yourself an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS). This keeps your device running even after the power has gone out so not only does it protect your device from power surges, it also give you ample time to save your work and shut down your computer properly. A typical UPS device can make your computer last for up to 5 minutes, some promising even 10 minutes. Although this is the most expensive option, with units selling for up to $180, it would greatly help in protecting your work and your devices too. It’s a small investment that could save you from potential breakdowns and computer data loss.

If you simply do not want to have to purchase any of these, then the best way to protect your laptop or computer is to do the basic: unplug it from the socket when it is not in use.

What happens if my laptop is already affected by a Power Surge?

Laptop won’t turn on? Is your computer suddenly slow? Is your PC’s monitor flickering? Chances are, your laptop or computer was affected by a power surge and you didn’t even know it. Joel Lee of MakeUseOf says “Operating systems are complex and they must go through a “shutdown sequence” to make sure all running processes have correctly terminated before powering off. A sudden loss of electricity can interrupt important threads and leave your computer in an inoperable state.” This is the one thing we wouldn’t want to happen to our laptop or computer.

Now that you’re knowledgeable about the pitfalls of power surges and its effects on your electronic devices, get your gadgets protected!

How about you? Have you ever experienced a power surge affecting one of your gadgets? Let us know your story. If you are like me who does not have time to purchase surge protectors, have your laptop or personal computer insured—not only are you protected from power surges, but in case your laptop or computer breaks for other reasons, your insurance can take care of replacing it.

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