Andy: Good Morning Charlie Brown.

Charlie: Hi Andy. Last week I talked about Data Safety. This week I want to talk about Equipment Safety. First I want to remind everyone that it is Summertime! And with the heat and humidity there are several ways that computers can be harmed.

Andy: Good point! I can think of one possible problem right off the bat and that’s lightning.

Charlie: Right! We have already had a problem where lightning struck a tree near a home with a computer and it damaged some of the electronic equipment.

Andy: Did it get the computer?

Charlie: This is the good part of the story. The lightning came in on the cable equipment and got the cable modem and their router. However the computer was plugged into a plug strip with a surge arrester and didn’t have any problems.

Andy: Ok, what is a surge arrester and how do they work?

Charlie: A surge arrester has electronic components in it that can absorb voltage surges and make sure that whatever is plugged into them only sees normal voltage levels. You may have to replace a surge arrester after it has absorbed a lightning hit, but its much easier and cheaper to do that than to replace your computer or other electronic equipment you had plugged into the surge arrester.

Andy: I can certainly understand that. But are all surge arresters the same?

Charlie: No they are not. They are rated by the amount of energy or the joules that they can absorb…and more is better. Here are some features to consider when looking for a plug strip with surge arrest capabilities:

  • Able to absorb about 3000 Joules…more is better.
  • Number of plugs on the strip…any plugs widely spaced to accommodate wall warts (transformers)
  • Need for phone and coax protection is not as great as it once was when everyone used a phone modem.
  • Protection Insurance. We like APC because they do offer insurance in case the surge gets through them and damages your equipment.

Andy: So get a surge arrester plug strip to plug your valuable electronic equipment into to protect it from lightning. You said you could think of a couple problems that come with Summertime. What’s number two?

Charlie: Heat. Computers and most electronic equipment likes cool to moderate temperatures. We see a lot of computers and laptops coming into the shop with a lot of dust and debris plugging up the cooling vents on the sides of the systems and around the cooling fans. We don’t expect you to get inside your equipment, but use a vacuum cleaner or a can of compressed air to clean the dust from the vents on your PC or laptop. And make sure that air can get into the vents. Operating your laptop on top of your bed covers is not recommended…they do like to have some cooling air in and out of the vents.

I might mention that our PC Cleanup service does include cleaning dust from inside your computer or laptop as well as cleaning malware from the system.

Andy: That’s good to know. So if you need a PC Cleanup or if you have further questions about surge arresters call Charlie and Dave at PC Applications, 533-6510, or visit their web site

Charlie: Before your computer’s down, just call Charlie Brown!