Computer Corner Blog


July 17, 2017

Monsoons in New Mexico

We need the rain here in New Mexico, and like many parts of the world, we have a near drought (and sometimes an actual drought), just before we get hit with more rain than we can handle. That’s not the only thing that comes with the rain. There are power outages, power surges and lightning strikes.


I’ve got some tips for you during this important season. The Monsoon (season) that is. Sigh... I know that saying Monsoon season is redundant since the word Monsoon means “rainy season”, but it just sounds wrong without saying “season”, too.


Why is this season important to computer users everywhere (not just in New Mexico)? Because storms mean power outages, black outs, brown outs, lightning strikes and power surges. In New Mexico that also means it’s HOT and computers are like people; they like temperatures between 50° and 82° Fahrenheit to function at their best.


What do you need to protect your laptops and desktops from surges, lightning and power outage damage? A GOOD surge protector. Not just a “power strip”, but a Surge protector. Don’t take the cheap route when it comes to surge protection. A good one will cost at least $19-$35 (not $5-$8). I got a free “surge protector”, with my last appliance purchase at a local retailer. It had two outlets was about the size of a Saltine Cracker. I gave it to Good Will….. Then I felt guilty about even giving it to them.


My favorite brands are APC, Tripp-Lite and Belkin – all well-known brands in the computer and electronic industry for surge protection. They typically carry a warranty, not only for the product itself, but a warranty for the equipment that they are protecting. Caveat emptor: choose your surge protector wisely because it needs to be rated to protect all the equipment plugged in to it, or your warranty could be voided.


Surge protection is rated by the number of Joules (a unit of energy) and clamping voltage. I recommend buying a model that’s rated at a minimum of 1,000 Joules. The higher the better. I also recommend a model with a clamping voltage of 400 volts or fewer because that’s an indicator of how fast your surge protection will clamp down. The longer it takes, the more likely that your equipment will become damaged from a surge or strike.


Surge protectors don’t last forever, in fact, if they take a power hit or if lightning strikes the power line near your home or business, it will probably “zap” (technical term), the surge protector…. And if it happens twice in a row, like it did to a friend of mine, you will lose the surge protector (and its protection), then lose the components inside your computer – it usually starts with the power supply, then the processor, but can literally “zap” almost every component in your computer.


Additionally, miss-wired outlets can cause any surge protector to fail. Some of our older homes in New Mexico are not wired “to code” or at least to the current code. You can also buy an outlet tester, if you suspect your power outlets are not up to par.


Tips:

  • Buy a GOOD surge protector rated to protect all the equipment plugged in to it.
  • Laptops need surge protection too! Get a surge protector designed for laptops.
  • If you get hit with a big power outage from a lightning strike, you probably need a new surge protector.
  • Keep your computer or laptop out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time and do not leave your laptop in a hot car. As so many entries in my high school year book said, “Keep it cool, man”! (Manzano, by the way, and I’m not telling the year).
  • As always recommended, back up your data, in case of any disaster.

 

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