Johannesburg - State-owned power utility Eskom has restarted rolling power cuts this week amid a shortage of supply.
As Eskom struggles to cope with electricity demand, computer equipment is also at risk of being negatively disrupted.
“PCs are sensitive to power cuts, power dips and power surges, so take the necessary steps to protect them,” says Daryl Blundell, general manager at Sage Pastel Accounting.
“When Eskom cuts the power, you could not only lose the latest changes to the files you're working on, your open files could become so corrupted or damaged that you will not be able to restore them,” he added.
As a result, Blundell has offered these five suggestions on how South Africans, especially smaller businesses, can protect their computer equipment during load shedding.
1. Regular backups
Keep your latest data backed up so that you do not lose hours of work or any important information when the power goes out. Regular data backups are a must, not only because of load shedding, they can also be a lifesaver if your hard drive crashes or your computers are stolen.
If possible, invest in an offsite backup system. Data backups are kept safe on secure servers and can be accessed wherever you have an Internet connection.
2. Invest in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS)
In the event of a power failure or load shedding, a UPS gives users time to exit applications they are working on and save their work before they safely shut down their PCs. Even if you have generators, they'll take a few seconds to kick in after a power failure - a UPS will prevent them from losing power before you've saved your work.
A backup power inverter system is another option. For less than R10 000 you can find one that will keep your routers, a couple of computers and some lights going for a few hours.
3. Switch off all PC's not performing critical functions
Any data that is open on a PC is at risk of being damaged or corrupted in the event of a power failure. For that reason, you need to get into the habit of closing applications and shutting down desktop computers when you are not using them for a while.
4. Switch off PCs and unplug them
To reduce the risk of damage to hardware, switch off your PCs and unplug them from the main power source when power cuts hit. Otherwise, power surges when electricity is restored could damage your hardware.
5. Consider investing in a power bank
A power bank can be invaluable for managing your business when there's load shedding. These portable chargers let you top up the battery of your USB-powered mobile devices so you can keep going when there's a long power outage.