Make sure you are really lightning protected

It has only been a few months since I wrote to you about the great basement flood of 2015, in which we lost quite a bit of computer equipment. And now, to follow it up, just last week we had a major lightning strike at work. What’s next? Locusts?

Seriously though, this lightning strike reminded me to check all of our surge protectors, and ensure we had a plan to get back up and going again in a timely manner. How about you? Have you thought about what you have at risk if your computer were to be the victim of a strike? Also, have you thought about the possible avenues to protect from surges?

When talking to most people, I do find surge protectors have become a common peripheral. But, did you know they don’t always stop working when they’re no longer protecting your attached devices? It’s pretty standard for a surge protector to have an indicator light on it. Sometimes that light means something. Sometimes it doesn’t. If you bought a cheaper model, then the light could just be a power light. However, for many other models the light means something.

You should periodically check the surge protector and see if the light is dimmer than normal, flickering or just completely out. If you see any of those signs, replace it! Those are all symptoms the surge protector has done its job and protected your devices from a surge. Like I said though, the light could be just fine and you might still have a problem. For that reason, I recommend you replace the surge protector at least once every two years. If your home experiences consistent electric “blinks” or other types of surges, you might even consider replacing your surge protector more frequently.

Ok, now that you have a brand new surge protector in place, you’re protected right?

Well, maybe not. Is your computer connected to the Internet? If so, then it’s got another source of surges—your modem or network card. These devices are necessary to connect to the Internet. In order to use them, you must connect a wire from a connection provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to your computer. Believe it or not, today I find more people getting hit by a surge through that type of connection than through the electric connection. (Of course, both are possible.)

So, what do you do?

First, when you’re out buying a surge protector look for one that has the appropriate connection to it. If you have a dial-up connection, you will want one that has a RJ-11 in, and out, port. For most other types, you will want one that has RJ-45 ports. That way, you can run your Internet connection through your surge protector and keep your computer safe. Keep in mind you should check the surge protector you’re buying to be sure it’s not slowing down your connection. Some of them aren’t rated high enough to handle certain connections. When in doubt, ask your ISP for a recommendation.

One final thought: for those who have battery backups, please remember that even if the battery backup is still functioning, it may no longer be protecting from surges. In fact, the batteries can last much longer than the built-in surge protector. What’s nice though is that the batteries are the expensive part of the device. You can actually pull that out and just install a new shell with another built-in surge protector.

I hope you never have to experience a lightning strike on your home, or a surge through your Internet connection. If you do, then hopefully you will have been prepared by properly installing and maintaining your surge protectors.

Have a story to share about a time you experienced a lightning strike? Have a general computer question? If so, take a moment to visit www.icl.coop , find the Powered Up section, and share!

See you next month!

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