It’s been cold outside, even in the south. That’s why I want to talk to you about a power outage and your computer. When it’s cold, icy and windy, a power outage and your computer crashing are a strong possibility. When the computer suddenly shuts down is when the most problems with your hard drive occur. Sometimes, the computer doesn’t even come back up. Sometimes, it will come up with disk errors. Operating systems are complex and they must go through a “shutdown” sequence to make sure all running processes have terminated before powering off. A sudden loss of electricity can interrupt important threads and leave your computer in an inoperable state.

What you can do

First thing I would do when bad weather is predicted, is to shutdown and unplug the computer. I know it’s not always possible, but if it is, do it. The second thing I would do is get a surge protector. This will help divert electrical surges away from the devices plugged into it. They are made to withstand a certain amount of voltage. Keep in mind that once they are triggered, they need to be replaced. Keep an eye on yours if you have one. They don’t last forever. The last thing you can do is get a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This apparatus contains a backup battery that will continue to provide power to your computer even when your power goes out. Most UPS devices only last a few minutes, but that should be enough time for you to issue a proper shutdown. If you are at home, and you notice the power goes out, you will hear your UPS beeping, as it has kicked into action. You should have anywhere from 5-7 minutes to go over to your computer, and properly shut it down.

Sudden changes in electrical voltage can cause real damage to your system and/or your hardware. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it would never happen to you. Protect yourself early, protect yourself adequately, and don’t forget to backup your data!