Having a hot summer is great after all the wet and windy weather we had to endure during the winter of 2013 but the recent heat-wave has brought problems of its own. Immense thunderstorms battered much of the UK overnight on the 17th July and whilst they were spectacular their destructive nature caused damage and disruption in many areas.
Lightning can strike anywhere during a storm, so being indoors is the safest option for a person and it’s very unlikely that it will hit your home. However, even when the storm is some distance away, the electrical energy discharged when a bolt of lightning reaches the ground or hits a power line can have a catastrophic effect and electrical equipment is especially vulnerable to damage.
I have recently been asked to look at two desktop computers that were destroyed by a power surge during the massive storm we had in July, one was off but still plugged in and the other was running but on standby, both were damaged beyond repair. A third PC had an internal component fried (that’s the technical term) and had to have a replacement part fitted but was otherwise unaffected. Luckily in the case of the unusable machines all the personal files could be retrieved from the hard drive but this may not always be possible.
So whilst computers are at risk of failure, you can at least take some precautionary measures.
Surge protectors offer some degree of protection against everyday power spikes or fluctuations but are likely to be overpowered even if lightning strikes nearby, so for a computer the best advice is to unplug it from the wall socket before the storm is too close, or at the very least, if there is one, switch the rocker switch at the back of the PC to the off position.
(Lightning safety sites advise against unplugging any electrical equipment during a thunderstorm).
The best insurance against any type of complete computer failure is to have a back-up (copy) of all files and folders saved to an external drive, USB memory stick CD/DVD or the cloud and how to do this will be covered in a future blog.