Springtime Brings Seasonal Storms – Protect Your Network!

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

It’s a topic I touch on every year around this time – the criticality of power protection and backups for your network. The sad fact of the matter is, no matter how often I preach about it, too many of our clients still aren’t adequately protecting their systems.

Adequate power protection entails three things: Prevention, protection, and testing.

During thunderstorms, many people leave their computers unprotected. Simply turning a computer off during a thunderstorm does nothing whatsoever to protect the computer.

Nearby lightning strikes can cause surges through the power lines or phone lines into your house or office, and these often damage your equipment.

The easiest way to prevent problems caused by lightning and power surges is to unplug your computer during a storm. Don’t forget to unplug your phone line or cable Internet from the computer too. These are the second most likely way for surges to get into your computer.

Having a good, quality surge protector is great for the day-to-day power surges that happen mostly unseen in the background. Don’t skimp on your power protection.

The $9 “surge strip” you can pick up at a hardware store simply gives you more outlets to use – it doesn’t provide protection against power problems.

A good surge protector should run you around $50 – a small investment when you consider the cost of the computer and the value of your data.

Servers and critical workstations should be protected by a battery backup system. We prefer APC because they offer an equipment insurance policy, but any good, well known brand will protect your network.

Power protection devices, whether a surge protector or battery backup, are designed to fail. They absorb the power fluctuations that could damage your server or workstation.

Your battery backup unit should be tested at least twice per year to ensure it’s functioning properly. The test can be as simple as plugging in a lamp, and disconnecting the unit from utility power. The lamp should stay lit. If it doesn’t, it’s time to replace the batteries in the UPS.

In general, surge protectors and battery backup units should be replaced every three years. This ensures your network, servers and computers are protected by the latest technology in surge supression.