How Blackouts damage your computer and how to protect against them.

As with any other electrical device in the home or office, your personal computer relies on a constant stream of electricity to remain turned on. In the case of a laptop, this stream of power comes from the battery while a desktop will generate the power directly from an electrical outlet.

If you live in an area that’s susceptible to blackouts, you may be worried about how this affects your PC. The bad news is, that repeated power outages can indeed have a detrimental effect on computer equipment. The good news is you can take some basic steps to avoid this damage. Before we get into how to protect your equipment, let’s discuss power outages in a little more detail.


What are power outages?

The electricity that flows through a building is not set at a constant. The electricity is subject to ebbs and flows. Sometimes this flow dips below the ideal electrical rate while at other times it becomes too high – like in the case of an electrical surge. A blackout or a power outage is when the electricity completely shuts off. Normally a blackout is beyond the control of the property owner. And can be attributed to power lines being damaged, or an unforeseen issue with a power station. Blackouts are also sometimes scheduled, like in cases where the ESB may be working on electrical lines near your home or place of business.

A drop in electrical flow doesn’t always result in a blackout. A brownout, or a dip or a sag in electrical levels occurs when the electrical flow dips but doesn't completely shut off. This is usually only noticeable when lights flicker or dim.
Blackouts and brownouts aren’t the only issues that can affect a home or business's electrical system. Electrical surges can also damage electrical systems and appliances in the home. Surges happen for a variety of reasons. Everything from short circuits, electrical overloads or lightning strikes can create a power surge.
Power surges can decimate electrical equipment which is why we always recommend our variety of surge protection Ireland packages. These packages are designed to protect Irish homes and businesses from all types of power surges.


How a Blackout affects a PC

The major way in which a blackout affects a computer is in the sudden and unexpected shutdown. Computers have a shutdown button for good reason, to safely stop the computer's complex operational systems. When you click the shutdown button, the computer begins a sequence that stops all its running processes. The computer is designed to only turn off when all these running processes are off.
When a computer suddenly shuts off, these running processes are cut off, perhaps halfway through an important operation. This can lead to the corruption of everything from files to applications. In some cases, this corruption can severely affect the computer’s operating system.
Although certainly frustrating and sometimes infuriating, a corruption of a Word doc or an excel sheet isn’t the biggest concern here. A sudden unexpected shutdown can affect system files. The corruption of a system file could severely damage your computer's software.

Power outages don’t just damage software, they can also cause accumulative damage to your hard drive. When a computer suddenly turns off, the read and write head snaps back into its original position. This sudden jerk can leave tiny scratches and imperfections on the internal components of a computer which, over time, can destroy the hard drive.


The dangers of a sudden post-blackout surge

Oftentimes a complete power outage can be followed by a sudden electrical surge. A strong surge can destroy any plugged-in electrical equipment. Due to their complexity, computers are particularly suspectable to damage from a power surge. While a blackout can cause a small amount of damage to a machine, a power surge can be catastrophic. Again we highly recommend investing in surge protection in Dublin or Ireland.


How to prevent blackout damage to a computer

To help prevent blackout damage there are a few steps you can take. For example, you can invest in an uninterruptable power source (UPS). A UPS will keep your machine stay on during a blackout. Most electrical retailers stock these devices. We recommend looking for UPS' with built-in surge protection.
Most UPS devices only hold power for long enough to shut down a machine. While others can be fitted with software to shut down your machine automatically when a blackout is detected.
Alternatively, if you live in an area with frequent outages, you should consider using a laptop rather than a static desktop.

If you have any more questions on how to protect your computer equipment during a blackout or a power surge, please contact our surge protection experts today.


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