Here at AllisonHouse, we provide you are services as-is. We don’t, as I have explained in earlier blogs, claim 100% uptime. Maintenance, NWS outages, and maybe one of hard hard drives going kerblooey means 100% uptime is not achievable. Nevertheless, we have gotten 99.9% uptime, and we do everything we can to keep it that way!
But one thing we also want to do is keep you as close to 100% uptime as much as possible. Since many of you use desktops, tablets and laptops, I want to point to something which can deceptively make you think you are protected from a hidden enemy, but are not. And it can cause the loss of your device before it would have normally given up the ghost. Yes, I’m talking about surge suppressors…the thing that can save your bacon, or turn your computer into burnt bacon.
Let’s make the distinction here, before we move on, to what the difference is between a power strip and a surge suppressor. A power strip enables you to plug in multiple devices into the strip, instead of just two. These offer NO surge suppression capability whatsoever.
A surge suppressor, however, does the same thing as a power strip, but it also clamps down on high voltage, which will damage or destroy your electronics. They can be shaped just like any other power strip, but its special design lets it take the “hit” whenever a surge of high voltage is present. This ruins the surge suppression part of the device. But it can save your electronic devices from damage or destruction.
These suppressors’ useful lives are measured in joules. The higher the number, the higher the amount of surge(s) the suppressor can take. One with at least several thousand joules is recommended.
Many people have one these days. But, how do you know when one has gone bad? Unfortunately, most of the cheap ones won’t tell you, and even some of the more expensive ones may have an indicator light that doesn’t really work, if it is more than a few years old. Most of the brand new ones these days that are brand names have corrected that issue.
So, do you need a new one? Unfortunately, even if the suppressor part of the power strip is fried, it will still give you power, in nearly all cases, to the device. There is no “magic time” to replace them if you haven’t taken a direct hit by lightning. I have read from experts that you should replace all of your surge suppressors every 2 years. That seems a little high if you are not in Florida, or other locations where power surges occur on a regular basis. A better yardstick would be replace it once every 4 to 5 years, even in areas that get hardly any lightning, when you get a new computer/tablet, desktop, TV.
One thing I need to mention. Under most circumstances, most suppressors, even the expensive ones, are overwhelmed by lightning strikes if they are, say, on the pole right behind your house. You still may get your electronics destroyed, even with a suppressor, Google is not immune to it:
They have massive surge suppressors, but 4 lightning strikes to the same data center did them in. Fortunately, they had replicated almost all of the data on other data centers around the world. And, thankfully, almost all surges are not as bad as what Google’s datacenter took, and the suppressors can handle most of them well. Common surges are caused by people veering off the road and hitting utility poles; critters meeting a sad fate while chewing on wires; old wires breaking and coming down, causing a power imbalance and surge throughout the area, and very high utility load, for example, on a hot day.
For the ultimate in protection, if you are using a desktop, get an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). They not only clamp down on surges even better than most ones that are designed with power strips, but they will also protect you from an unintended power loss, as they have batteries that will keep the computer on for around 10 minutes. An unintended loss of power can damage your computer as much as a surge can. Although these devices are anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a small desktop computer, to millions of dollars powering a datacenter, they are the ultimate in protection, and they can even shut down your computer when the batteries get low. If you have a laptop, a UPS is redundant, because the laptop has a battery to keep it on in the event of a power loss. At AllisonHouse, massive UPS’s and generators keep our servers happy and on the air flawlessly when the data center loses commercial power.
So, do you want to keep AllisonHouse up and running on your computer? Don’t be cheap: make sure that surge suppressor hasn’t fried itself. We can’t replace your fried computer or components/accessories, nor the agony that occurs when you’ve got a moderate risk of severe and your monitor is permanently black. Get a surge suppressor, or, for must-save electronics, a UPS, to keep you—and your products from AllisonHouse—happily working to keep you informed as severe weather strikes.