Power surges (or electrical spikes) happen when an increased voltage flows through your electrical lines. They most commonly occur during blackouts or lightning storms, and can hit in more than one interval. In North America, the standard voltage is 120V, so any increase of voltage above this, even for a limited time, can cause serious damage to your computer electronic equipment (i.e. hard drives, RAIDs, Drobo, flash based media, etc.), which may potentially result in permanent data loss.
Whereas mild electrical failures only cause problems to the PCB (Printed Circuit Board), severe electrical failure can easily go beyond the PCB and damage the hard drive’s read/write heads. When this happens, recovery is much more complex, requiring the replacement of the failed Head Disk Assembly with a working one.
Equip Your Computer with a Good Surge Protector and/or a UPS
With the winter season embarking on us, it is crucial to prepare for Mother Nature’s worst. To protect your hard drive data, a surge protector provides simple and effective protection. Although they vary in price and function, even the most basic power surge protector can protect against some voltage spikes—though naturally, the better the quality of the power surge the more reliable protection your computer will get. However, to protect against powerful power surge situations (such as lightening or electrical storms) we strongly advise that you disconnect all sensitive electronic devices, as the average surge protector is likely too weak to protect them. Computers are especially vulnerable to electrical spikes, and any device connected to your computer (i.e. external hard drive) will likely be affected as well.
A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) is another extremely useful device to protect your computer in times when extra or no voltage flows through your electrical system. In addition to acting as a power surge protector, a UPS has the added benefit of a built-in battery, which allows your computer to continue running, so you can safely save your data before shutting down your computer properly. Some high-end UPS units can even safely shut down your computer automatically. Whatever your need or budget, there is a power surge protection solution out there for you.
If you choose not to add power surge protection to your computer, your best defense against potential data loss is a consistent and ongoing backup system.
Image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev’s images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net