This spring, Nebraska has seen some historic thunderstorms. In April alone, Omaha saw over 5 inches of rain, which is well above the normal amount. While we’d like to think the worst is behind us, the forecast is predicting more storms in the near future. So, what in the world does the weather have to do with computers? These storms can come full of electrical charges which can wreak serious havoc on your devices. A thunderstorm is always accompanied by lightning. Lightning is an electrostatic discharge accompanied by the emission of visible light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation. Basically, it’s a giant spark of electricity in the atmosphere between clouds, the air, or the ground. See a pattern here? Thunderstorms are full of electricity. Since lightning emits electricity and radiation, it can cause power surges, which are often noted when your lights flicker during a storm.
Power surges can create a volatile environment for gadgets plugged into your walls, including your television, tablet or computer. You don’t even have to be in the direct line of the lightning strike; a power surge can occur when lightning hits a power line and the surge travels down the line to your home. That surge of electricity can overload the electrical capacity your home can manage, either burning the conductor of your electrical equipment or causing a short circuit. So, what can you do to keep your electronics and data safe?
- Routinely back up your data
- If you store electronic files on your computer or tablet, ensure that you are backing them up on a regular basis. You can use options like Dropbox, Google Drive or iCloud for cloud-based storage. If you prefer to use a physical backup, you can invest in an external hard-drive. Choose one depending on the amount of storage space you need and its stability. Backing up your data has another advantage: in case your computer crashes on its own.
- Unplug your electronics
- If you are at home and have the opportunity to unplug your electronics, do so BEFORE the storm hits. Remove any gadget you’d like to protect that is plugged into the wall including the TV, computer, microwave, etc. Please use caution if you attempt this – keep yourself safe and don’t try to unplug things during an active storm. Don’t attempt to race a storm if it is nearby. Find the safest place in your home if weather conditions are dangerous. Remember, your well-being is more important than an iPad.
- Use Surge Protectors
- Always keep your electronics plugged into a surge protector to help prevent damage if a power surge occurs. It may not always be convenient or possible to unplug your electronics before a storm, so a surge protector may give you some peace of mind. Some lightning may be too powerful for the surge protector, but it is a good line of defense. For your best option, consider one of these surge protectors.
If your computer or device displays any of these things: a smoky/acrid smell, failure to boot, no network connection, a blue screen, a black screen with blinking cursor or a message that says “Disk Error”, it may have been damaged by the storm. You’ll need a professional to check it out; however, the damage may be permanent and it may still need to be replaced. If you have any questions or think your gadget may have been damaged, bring your device to Friendly PC for a check-up.