Saturday, April 25, 2009

When Lightning Strikes

Imagine this:

You are working in your home rushing a report on a cloudy night to be submitted the next day, when suddenly a lightning strikes. Simultaneously your computer went blank.

or

You come home from your extended trip to find that your house has been struck by lightning.

Minimal damage has happened to the structure, but you go inside and find that many of your electronic items, including a 3-year-old TV and a $1500 computer have been totally destroyed by the seemingly minor lightning hit!

What happened? You had all these electronics turned off and plugged into surge protectors, why did they get damaged so badly?

The telltale words in the previous sentence should give you a clue: ‘plugged into’. This assumes that the surge protectors themselves were still plugged into the wall … and they were.

Could this really happen?

Absolutely!

This is an actual account from a resident who went for a month to visit the kids and grandkids. When they returned, they found all of the damage to their electronic equipment throughout the house. Luckily, they had good insurance and the items were replaced.

I also experienced this event twice, one in our school (a year old, slightly used computer) and another in our house. A computer technician test which parts are not working. The power supply, hard drive, keyboard and mouse are functional. The DDR2 memory module still work. However, the motherboard, 15-inch LCD monitor and CD-ROM drive weren't functioning.

But getting a new computer is not like getting a new TV, where you take the TV out of the box and plug it into the wall and turn it on. It takes a lot of time to set up a new computer and reconfigure the software as well as take the backed up data and restore it to the new computer. I made a good amount of money that day but learned a great lesson that I will pass on to you.

First of all, if you have important data on your computer, back it up. If you don’t know how to do it, find a good technician or at least a friend who knows how to help you. Backing up data just means that you make a copy of the information that you work with on a regular basis on your computer, whether it is pictures or financial information or a book that you are writing … whatever is important to you, needs to have a copy that resides off of the computer. This client found out the hard way just how important it is to create these backup data discs, and was very grateful that she did! Programs that run on your machine can be replaced, but the data that you create with the program cannot be replaced, unless you have a copy of it!

Secondly, when you leave the house for any length of time and there is a chance that a thunderstorm will arrive near your building, you must shut down your computer and any electronic devices … if you want them to survive the storm. And, to absolutely play it safe, even if your devices are plugged into a surge protector and they are shut off … unplug the surge protector from the wall socket and the connection from the phoneline if your computer is connected to the internet.

That little act will save you from tons of costly grief! During thunderstorm season in the spring and summer, I shut off and unplug every computer that we have running at the office, as well as any other important electronic item that I don’t want damaged.

I hope you do the same!

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