Recently, we had a city wide power outage which yet again, affected technology across the board. During the Christmas break, we had a power outage through out the city for a significant amount of time. Due to the ice storm that swept southern Ontario at that time, many systems not only powered off but had a hard time coming back on. It put UPS systems to the test and many older and faulty systems were immediately identified and put in the queue for replacement.
Here is a quick list of things to remember when dealing with power fluctuations and your computer technology.
#5 – Protect against failure. A power fluctuation, whether it is an outage or a spike, can cause damage to any electronic system. Having a surge protection power bar and/or a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) will minimize any effect the power will have on your equipment. Though a UPS will only last a short period of time, sometimes only a few minutes is needed for proper shutdown of a system. More advanced systems can alert users and properly shutdown automatically. Obviously a spike is worse than an outage in terms of electrocution however that leads us to #4.
#4 - Sudden Reboot or Restart can lead to damaged software. After a power outage, computers generally can be turned back on or are set to turn back on automatically, however if they were in the process of doing something when they lost power, those processes can affect the operating system. It is common for a “dirty” shutdown to causes errors during boot up. In most cases, the systems will recover and repair themselves but occasionally, repair may be needed by an IT technician. That is why we always recommend UPS systems for servers and critical systems.
#3 – Don’t open a PC without proper caution. – During a power spike or outage, computers can build up and discharge stored electricity from their internal capacitors. This means that there may only be a “static” charge running through the circuits of a computer even if the main power is out. There have been incidents where users have taken it upon themselves to open computer cases and fiddle around with connectors and plugs internally. If the power does not get disconnected properly, it can be very hazardous to the safety of the person and to the computer itself.
#2 - Power Transformers for laptops or devices are NOT swappable - Sometimes a power supply sometimes known as a “transformer” for laptops, tablets or smartphones will become damaged from a power surge or outage. A common mistake it to take another supply from a device that “looks” similar and use it. All power supplies are NOT the same even if they look the same. Each power supply has its own voltage and amps listed on the Output sticker and should not be used for another device if they are not rated equally.
#1 – Do not power any device on after a liquid spill! – Many people believe that if they spill liquid on their laptop or drop a smartphone into their coffee, that as long as they wipe it off, they can turn it back on. This can be extremely dangerous to the device. It is true that electronics usually can be dried off and will operate normally HOWEVER that assumes a few things.
a) was the device on when it got wet? If so, it will most likely electrocute itself or at best, turn itself off.
b) Is there still moisture inside the device? Liquids can seep into nooks and crannies and can create conductive junctions between circuits which can result in electrocution.
c)Was the liquid just water or was it a solution? Solutions of soda, coffee or tea have sugar, cream or any combination there of which can not be easily removed.
In any case, a properly trained technician should look at it BEFORE it is powered up to maximize its survival. If the unit didn’t fry itself initially upon contact with the liquid, then there is a good chance for recovery.
For questions about this, please contact us anytime.
If this article was of interest, you may find this one useful too: Why backing up your data is more important than worrying about your anti-virus software.