How to Protect Your Electronics When You Lose Power

This week, I’m going to talk about what happens when you lose power to your house or business and how it affects your electronics.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #182

power outageNot too long ago, a huge summer storm came through, taking out power for a number of hours here where I live. It’s always interesting to me to see how electronics fair when power is unexpectedly lost. Given that it's summer time in California, it also means that on a hot day there’s a ton of power being used for air conditioning. This huge use of power can cause dips in the power supply which can also damage you electronics.

My hope is to arm you with all of the information necessary to safeguard your electronics from power failure and power surges.

OK, so you’ve probably heard of both blackouts and brownouts. Most people are familiar with blackouts; they are when the lights go out due to loss of electricity. This can be caused by a number of things, such as downed power lines, scheduled shutoffs, or some other event that causes power to be cut.

Most people experience this a handful of times a year and, depending on the situation, blackouts aren’t that big of a deal. However, they can wreak havoc on your electronics at home or in your office. But why is this?

It’s because a blackout is exactly the same as pulling the power cord right out from the back of your computer. Aside from the fact you might lose whatever file it is you were working on, they will also force all of your programs and your operating system to stop instantly.

The problem with this is that if you're in the middle of writing a file to the hard drive, installing a program, or just making changes to something, it will get cut off midway through that process, which may lead to file corruption, or a problem with your operating system when you turn it back on.

Modern operating systems are pretty good about dealing with an unexpected power loss, but nonetheless, it should be avoided if possible. A sudden loss of power also isn’t good for the physical hardware of your computer because it doesn’t give it an opportunity to slow down before it shuts off.

This is probably not an issue if it happens a couple of times, but if this is something that happens frequently, your hardware won’t last nearly as long!

Now that you know about blackouts, let’s look into the lesser known brownout. A brownout is when electricity dips, surges, or is just all around unclean. If you think of electricity like water, it normally comes into your house at a fairly consistent rate with the same amount of pressure. If you picture the water coming out of your shower as like electricity, all of a sudden there would be a burst of water, then a trickle of water, a burst of water, and then a trickle of water.


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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