Each month, the typical business or home experiences several electrical disturbances — from infrequent blackouts to spikes and surge fluctuations. What most people don't realize, however, is that even the slightest electrical blip poses a danger to all programmable appliances, whether the device is a computer, or a high–priced server. And if your computer or server no longer works after a power surge, it most likely won't be covered by the manufacturer's warranty.
Types of power problems
Even momentary power fluctuations can cause damage to computer components over time. The chips and circuit inside PCs and peripherals are highly sensitive. Unless these components receive clean, steady 120/ 220–volt AC current, they won't perform as designed. Small power fluctuations can also corrupt or erase data stored on hard drives.
Here are the most common types of power problems and how they can damage your computer:
Blackouts – Total loss of utility power
While most blackouts are relatively brief, storm–related blackouts can last hours or even days.
Blackouts can harm computers in two ways:
The sudden loss of power can crash the system and erase data
When power is restored, a momentary surge may result
Brownouts – Decrease in voltage level
This is the most common power problem. Brownouts often happen when unusually high demands are made on the power grid. They can also occur when large electrical devices are turned on nearby.
Brownouts can harm computers in several ways:
Spikes and Surges – Increase in voltage level
Spikes, which are often caused by lightning strikes, are brief but extreme. They can literally fry computer components. Surges are less intense than spikes, but tend to last longer.