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by Ray DeCosta

Q. What should I do in the monsoon season to protect my computer equipment?

A. The monsoon season is approaching and you should be aware of what danger that may pose to your computer equipment. Lightning strikes, power surges and outages can easily damage some of your expensive computer and components such as printers, scanners - anything that is actually connected to your computer.

Even if the lightning is not nearby, a strike or surge can travel for miles across the power or phone lines. These surges can be very unpredictable and cause expensive damage. An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) will provide surge protection plus sufficient electrical power for several minutes to give you time to save your work and properly shut down your computer.

Even if you feel you don't need a UPS, at a minimum you should purchase a GOOD surge protector. This is defined as one costing at least $25; anything cheaper is little more than an extension cord and will probably not provide you with the necessary protection. You should look for a surge protector with an Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 1449 rating to ensure a reasonable amount of protection.

For best protection, shut down all your equipment and pull EVERYTHING out of the wall when there's lightning anywhere around. That way nothing can get in to cause damage to your equipment. This means ALL wires between your computer (including its related equipment) and the various outlets (electrical, cable, phone or DSL lines).

Even the smallest power surge can cost you money for repair or replacement of damaged computer parts. This damage is avoidable if you pay attention and disconnect your computer when those monsoon storms start rolling in.

Published: Courier 6/21/09 - Page 4C