When the power goes out numerous problems can result in regard to your
computer. First, you can lose the data that has not been saved.
Although, some programs can be set to periodically save your data in a
temporary file so it can be restored after the power comes back on.
And, when data files are not saved properly and programs are not
exited correctly, corrupted files are left on your hard drive and inside
your operating system. When files are saved properly, they are recorded
into a File Allocation Table (FAT) so the computer knows what programs
they are related to and how to retrieve them. When we lose power data
files and information can be left on your hard drive that is not in the
FAT table, and the computer does not understand what to do with this
information. These files are called corrupted files and eventually can
cause your system to slow down or crash.
Even fluctuations in power (such as "brownouts"), can damage
computers and other electronic devices. These fluctuations partially
shut down your system, sometimes followed by excess power that will
weaken or damage electronic components. For this reason, computer
equipment should not be put on the same circuit as appliances that use a
lot of power such as a garage door openers, air-conditioners or washers.
These appliances can draw power away from your computer equipment,
thereby causing an uneven power flow.
If the power goes out completely, it is recommended that you
unplugged your computer equipment if it is not adequately protected
(read the next paragraph about protecting your equipment). The boards
inside your computer equipment are very sensitive, and if there should
be a surge when the power returns, it can burn out the circuit boards
inside your equipment.
The best protection you can have for power outages and brownouts is
an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). A UPS is basically a battery that
is being constantly charged up by being plugged into a wall outlet.
Normally you plug your computer and monitor into the UPS (not your
printer), and they run off the battery. If the power fluctuates or goes
out your computer still has a steady, even power source to run, giving
you ample time to close down without losing data. Because the UPS is in
between the wall outlet and your computer it functions as a buffer and
eliminates brownouts and surges, so it protects your equipment.
Simple surge protectors or strips are not as reliable in protecting
your equipment as an UPS, and they do not provide you any backup power.
Basically a surge protector is a device that has a fuse or circuit
breaker, that burns out or pops before excess power gets to your
equipment. However, the circuit board's inside computer equipment is
more sensitive than most other electronic devices, and sometimes the
system board in your computer equipment will burn out along with the
fuse or the breaker popping.
UPS are highly recommended on all computers, and are a necessity on
servers. UPS's have come down in price and you can get a small UPS for
an individual computer for under $75.00. Larger UPS's are available for
servers or heavier equipment, and some of them have power management
software that will automatically shut down the equipment before the
battery is depleted, and provide you historical information on the power
fluctuations. We highly recommend Uninterruptible Power Supplies for
your computer equipment; they are very inexpensive, when you factor in
the "peace of mind" and protection they offer.