I’ll bet, at this very moment, your computer and all its friends are protected from your wall outlet by a surge protector or power strip, the surge protector’s less powerful sibling. I know mine are. Ever wonder why?
Easy, you say. To keep them from experiencing a power surge. Duh.
Here’s a thought, though. Our gadgets run on electricity. Why should we protect them from it?
When Good Electricity Goes Bad
I grew up in the Midwest, and although we were northerly enough that ice hockey was the state’s dominant sport, we still could count on a strong storm season from April until August. In fact, about an hour south of us was an area that attracted tornados almost as frequently as the Plains States.
From childhood on, we all knew about thunderstorms and tornados. Any time bad weather threatened, my mom would run around the house, unplugging just about everything and herding us all into the basement. At the time, I thought unplugging all things electronic was overkill. Now, I do it myself.
Electricity is like caffeine. A little bit is good. Gets you going in the morning. A lot makes you uncomfortable. And too much can kill you.
This goes for your delicate electronics as well.
Don’t Laugh at Your Device; It’s Sensitive
Whether you have a desktop or a smartphone or everything in between, today’s devices are all about balancing the need for speed and power with the desire for everything to be as small as possible.
This is great when you want to carry things around all day, but it comes with a downside: small usually doesn’t mean robust. The internal workings of any electronic device are easily overwhelmed, much like my own pre-K years. And, like my pre-K years, it doesn’t take much to make them melt down - only, in their case, the meltdown is literal.
Even if a sudden spike in power doesn’t trigger immediate extinction, it can lead to significant problems. These include various degrees of data loss, an assortment of system malfunctions, and a shortened lifespan due to wear and tear on the physical components of your device.
The thing is, once too much electricity goes into your device, it can’t just flow harmlessly out the other side. Electricity is a current, and like other currents - air and water - it needs someplace to go. When the amount of electricity coursing through them is more than the bits inside your computer can handle, the only thing left for all this energy to do is escape by means of heat. And this excessive heat can cause weakness or outright breakage in components.
So, what can you do to prevent such device distress from happening? We’ll talk about that in the next post. Come back in a few days and find out!