Is your PC safe from surgesand blackouts?

2011-08-25 00:00

IT’S a normal day at The Witness, where journalists are uncovering corruption, drinking coffee and working hard as usual, when suddenly …

Boom! Hiss! And other four-letter words denoting doom. Then the smoke and the flames. It’s a computer that looks and smells like it’s experiencing the equivalent of a heart attack.

Immediately the conspiracy theorists in the office blame the media tribunal advocates. But soon their fears are set aside when the all-knowing IT crew perform a post-mortem on the computer corpse.

They blame the recent power outages and subsequent surges for the PC’s death.

Matrix computer technician Rauchek Cara said power surges or faulty power supplies can cause a computer to react the way it did.

He said it could also be wear and tear on the actual machine. But “computer stuff doesn’t go out unexpectedly like that”.

Sykes Industries’ technician Gareth Nel said the dramatic way the PC had expired “sounds a bit hectic” as power outages have not affected business computers at his firm.

Nevertheless, it can and does happen, he said, recalling with a chuckle a fire that was caused by a computer’s CD-Rom drive.

I-Tech Solutions technician Roxanne Nothnagel said computer failures are “common with power surges”. She suggested users buy an uninterruptable power supply (UPS).

The UPS is hooked up to the computer’s power supply and breaks the power from the wall to the machine in the event of an outage or unusually powerful surge . Its batteries keep the computer working long enough for the user to power it down without losing data or damaging the processor.

Nel said a surge protector plug is also effective and serves the same function — protecting computers from unexpected increases or surges in voltage.

Mark Blomeyer of Blomeyers Electrical said a funeral parlour owner recently contacted him for a surge protection plug after his computer was damaged.

He said electronically sensitive items are most likely to be affected.

Computer and fridges are worrisome, but items such as toasters are most likely fine.

A service department assistant with Hirsch’s, Sue Darson, said the retailer has not received items from customers that have been damaged by power surges. She advised customers to buy surge protector plugs.

Anything with an electrical board can be affected, such as computers, cordless telephones and televisions, she said.

So take care to protect your electrical and electronic devices, and don’t forget to switch off the power to your devices in the event of a thunderstorm.

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