[ The PC Guide | System Care Guide | System Care:
Protecting Your PC | General System Care Factors | Power Care Factors ]
Power Problem Protection
Power problems include line noise, surges,
brownouts and blackouts. When power problems strike, they can cause permanent
damage--either to your equipment or your data. The only effective way to deal with power
problems is to prevent them from happening in the first place. Here are some steps you can
take to greatly reduce the chances of power problems with your PC:
- Use Power Protection Devices: There are many different types of devices on the
market that can be used to protect against power
problems; these include surge suppressors, line conditioners and uninterruptible power
supplies (UPSes). Some are much better than others, and accordingly, cost much more. You
can get fairly reasonable protection for your PC though, far more than you get when you do
nothing, for less than $50. You need to decide how much protection you need based on what
you can afford and what you are willing to risk, along with what the power system is like
where you live. But whatever you decide, you need to do something. Just plugging
the PC into the wall socket is asking for trouble.
- Check Protection Devices Regularly: At least once a year, you should inspect your
power protection devices to make sure that they are functioning properly. Most good ones
will have a signaling light to tell you when they are protecting your equipment properly,
but it is only of use if you look at it on occasion!
- Don't Cut Corners With Power: Due to being either lazy or, uh, "excessively
fiscally conservative", some people like to do things like snipping off the grounding
plug on their PC's power cable so they can make use of a 2-pronged extension cord. Again
here, you are asking for trouble if you do this sort of thing, and it isn't just your
computer you are risking.
- Use Dedicated Circuits, If Possible: Putting the computer on its own power
circuit, so it isn't sharing the power with your air conditioner, space heater, and vacuum
cleaner, greatly improves the power quality and insulates the PC from power sags when
these devices are turned on. It also reduces electromagnetic interference from these
devices that might be carried over the power line.
- Turn Off Power During a Blackout: If you lose power, when the power comes back on
the signal can initially be inconsistent, which can make things more difficult for your
power supply. I have also seen false starts, where the power comes on and then goes right
off again, during storms. If you have a blackout, turn off your equipment so you
can control when it comes back on, not the electrical company. Turn the PC back on once
you feel the power has returned and is stabilized.
- Turn Off and Disconnect the Power Cord During an Electrical Storm: This is a
simple precaution that protects your system from possible problems during a thunderstorm
(it isn't as important if you are using a UPS, of course.)
In addition, there is the whole matter of power cycling, a.k.a. the great "on or off" question.
Regardless of what decision you make about turning your PC off at night, you should always
wait at least 30 seconds after turning off the system power before turning it back on
again. This gives components such as hard disks a chance to settle before they are asked
to spin up again.
Next: Leave the System On or Turn it Off? (Thermal Stress vs. Wearout)
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