How Power Outages Can Damage Your Computer (And How to Protect It)
Do you unplug your computer during severe storms or load shedding? You might want to start. Here are some ways Power Outages Damage your computer.
PCs depend on a constant stream of power to function, but your main supply may not always be reliable. If you live in an area prone to power outages, you might wonder: Can power outages damage a PC, and what can you do to protect yourself?
Here are the risks of power outages damage and how to prevent them.
What are the different types of electrical anomalies?
Electricity flowing through your home is not constant. Currents can fluctuate, dipping above and below the ideal level. Both too much power and not enough power can be problematic.
Blackouts occur when the power is entirely cut off. Most often, they are caused by factors outside your control (e.g., power station disruptions, damaged electrical lines, etc. ), but they can also be caused by self-inflicted damage (e.g., through short-circuiting or overloading circuits).
Brownouts occur when your electrical voltage temporarily drops without fully blacking out. When your lights dim for no apparent reason, it’s probably due to a brownout. The goal is to reduce electrical loads and prevent blackouts, but they can also occur unintentionally. There is also the power surge on the other end of the spectrum. An appliance receives more electricity than it is supposed to for at least three nanoseconds.
Several factors can cause surges, including short circuits and electrical line malfunctions. It’s likely that lightning caused the increase in voltage if it lasted only one or two nanoseconds.
Can a Power Cut Damage Your PC?
So, can a sudden drop in power cause problems for your PC? As it turns out, yes, both for your data and your hardware.
How a Power Cut Can Damage Your Computer?
The main danger to a computer’s health is a sudden shutdown after a blackout. This is because operating systems are complex and must follow a “shutdown sequence” to ensure all running processes are terminated before powering off.
It has the potential to corrupt files and threads if there is a sudden loss of electricity, causing the operating system to malfunction. When the power goes out during a system update, the sudden cut will affect the system files. The sudden cut may corrupt those files if the operating system is editing them at the time. Upon trying to reboot the computer, the operating system stumbles over this corrupted file and fails to boot. If your odds are good and your system files are unharmed, you may still lose vital work if you don’t constantly save your work. A power outage mid-save could corrupt your work entirely.
Furthermore, frequent power outages can reduce a hard drive’s physical life. This is because the reading and writing head, which hovers over the spinning platters while working, snaps back into place when power is lost. A “head crash” occurs when the head touches the platter surfaces, scraping them and ultimately destroying the drive.
In addition, Solid-state drives are also affected by a sudden power outage, which can cause devastating damage to a computer. Problems may range from data corruption to a complete breakdown.
How Post-Blackout Power Surges Can Damage Your Computer?
Even worse, a power outage may not be the end of your problems. A surge often follows a power outage once the electricity comes back online. An outage does not cause much damage to a power supply or motherboard, but a power surge will. This leads to a computer that won’t turn on after a power outage. As a result, if you want to stay safe from a power outage, you should also invest in surge protection. There’s nothing worse than fully negating a blackout, only to find that everything is fried due to the surge!
Protecting Against Power Outages
Although a power outage will not damage your computer as much as a power surge will, you still need to take precautions to protect your data.
Using an Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) to Prevent Power Outage Damage
Uninterruptible power supplies, protect your computer against power outages by containing a battery that continues to operate your computer even when your power is out. The UPS can also include surge-protected outlets, so it serves as a two-in-one appliance. If you live in a location that frequently experiences outages or surges, a UPS will prove a useful investment. UPS units only provide power to your electronics for a few minutes, so they’re not a good solution if you want to continue working through an outage. In addition, UPSs can sound an alarm to alert you of a power outage or even instruct your computer to shut down automatically in those few minutes.
Using a Laptop to Work Through Outages
Why not instead look into using a laptop to continue working? Laptops are not affected by power outages; they switch to batteries when the electricity goes out. As such, if you’re in an area that suffers from power cuts frequently, it may be worth changing to a laptop. While laptops aren’t as powerful as a full PC, they’re far more usable when the power drops out than a computer. You don’t have to break the bank to grab a laptop while you’re out of power. Be sure to look at the cheapest high-quality laptops for an affordable way to continue working even during outages.
Get a Good Surge Protector for Post-Blackout Power Surges
No matter what method you choose to protect your data from sudden shutdowns, you should also enhance it with surge protection. Grabbing a surge protector does not protect your hardware from a blackout, but it shields it from any power surges that happen after one. Therefore, grabbing one protects you from every danger that can occur during a blackout as well as stopping power surges in general. Buying a surge protector can be a little confusing, as they come with specifications that detail how good they are at their job. If terms such as “UL Rating” and “Clamping Voltage” make your head spin, consult our guide on if surge protectors are necessary.
Keeping Your Computer Safe
You should take the time to protect against both power spikes and power outages if you live in a neighbourhood with unstable power. Outages can damage data and system files, and spikes can damage the hardware. In addition to power cuts, there are many ways to damage your hardware, so if you’re buying or building a new PC, you’ll want to learn how to maintain it to keep it running as long as possible.