In the wake of this last weekend’s lightning storm, we’ve seen a rash of clients who have suffered losses due to electrical surges or strikes. Much of the time, these catastrophic losses could have been prevented by adequate surge protection. When a business doesn’t prepare for these events in advance, it can result in damage that ranges from a blown network card to destroyed systems. This week, we have seen the full gamut of damage.

With these things in mind, we would like to remind our valued clients these best practices to ensure system uptime and data integrity:

1. Surge suppressors are typically reliable for one power strike. If this occurs, it may just become a glorified power strip. Make sure that when purchasing a surge suppressor, find one that has an LED that indicates that the unit is providing surge suppression.

2. Many higher-end surge suppressors provide warranty support for information systems in the case that a registered, under-warranty suppressor fails to protect systems. It’s important to make sure that a quality product is chosen in the case of such an event.

3. Many clients make the mistake of believing that a power strip is also a surge suppressor. Make sure that your unit provides suppression, not just power.

4. In the case of a power outage, a computer’s hard drive can become corrupted due to a loss of power, causing the system to become unbootable. Every server or high-function workstation should be protected not only by surge suppression, but also with a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).

5. Power surges typically enter the computer network through power, but they can also enter through the internet connection. It is critical to surge suppress the data leads to the network. Some surge suppressors provide Ethernet or Coaxial protection, allowing the entry point of the data network to be protected. A strike that enters the data network can be deadly, as it can blow out multiple switches, computers, and servers.

6. If your business or home is prone to surges and lightning strikes, it would be worth it to discuss the issue with a qualified electrical firm. It’s possible that your home or business isn’t grounded properly.

Of course, due to the power of a direct lightning strike, sometimes suppressors fail, but the majority of surge protectors can protect from high voltage spikes that might otherwise damage your systems.

As we move into fall storm season, I would urge our clients to form a plan of action to ensure that systems are protected. If you would like assistance with this, On-Site would be glad to assess your needs so that you can avoid downtime in the future.


Brian McMurtry
Sr. Network Administrator
On-Site Computer Solutions