Severe weather, trees falling on power lines, or a vehicle running into a pole are common reasons for a power outage. If this happens to you, your first thought may be about food spoilage if the outage is long-lasting. But if you were working on your computer when you lost power, did you also lose critical data?
Electronic devices do not tolerate sudden breaks in their electrical supply. Your computer, for example, can be corrupted by a power outage, primarily if the outage occurs during a data writing or copying process. Solid-state drives (SSDs) have made this less of a problem than it used to be, but a power outage can still corrupt this kind of modern technology. If a critical update is underway, you will feel helpless if a power outage “bricks” your device (renders it nonfunctional). A surge can occur right before the power goes out or directly after it comes back on. Voltage spikes are problematic, especially if they are frequent. Too much voltage can cause permanent damage to a CPU, for example, or even a power adapter, which is supposed to resist power fluctuations.
Between a power surge and a full-blown power outage is a power dip. With this, your power dips to a lower-than-normal level and then returns. Modern electronics have voltage regulators, capacitors, and similar components that allow them to manage power dips that only occur for milliseconds. But if a power dip lasts longer, the power supply becomes erratic, possibly resulting in simultaneous voltage surge damage and data loss. You’re probably looking at a brownout, meaning a partial disruption of your electrical service. You will often hear of such disruptions occurring in summer heat when a major city’s electrical grid is overcome by widespread air-conditioner use. You will know a brownout is happening if your lights dim or flicker. Unfortunately, these brief fluctuations in voltage can damage appliances and electrical devices.
Planning for a power surge or outage is a good idea. To begin with, you can protect your electronics by investing in quality surge protectors. These prevent excess voltage or current from reaching your electronic devices.
Consider using an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) device. A UPS system can serve as a portable power station, allowing your electronics to operate for hours if necessary. However, in its simplest form, a UPS provides a few minutes of power to turn off all your devices safely. Finally, a laptop is a good solution for computer use. Unlike a PC, you can unplug a laptop from the wall and continue working with no power surge risk. And a laptop has its own built-in UPS.
A hurricane, earthquake, or other significant event may cause a severe power outage in your area. You may find excessive voltage has damaged your computer or other electronic devices beyond repair. There are certainly better situations than this, but if it should happen, keep us in mind. Urban E-Recycling will take the devices you can no longer use and dispose of them properly.