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When the lights go out

Over the past week I have been dealing with a great number of calls related to power outages and equipment failures due to lightning strikes. For many businesses the rash of thunder storms and high winds has had no impact on revenue or productivity while others are left to calculate the losses while their employees stand idle as equipment is replaced or repaired.

So what can you do to avoid such a disaster in the future? Be prepared!

As I see it there are three levels of protection a business should consider to avoid costly outages related to weather. Which level is right for your business? That depends on budget and risk aversion.

Basic Protection (Cost $20-$50/computer)

Every computer system or piece of electronic should be plugged into a surge suppressing power bar. Although providing no backup capacity, these suppressors are designed to shut off the power to your computer or electronic devices in the event of a power surge such as a lightning strike. Not all power bars or surge suppressors are built the same so make sure you read your labels. Some provide no guarantee while others provide monetary compensation if their device fails to protect your electronics. As a basic (and fairly cheap) way to protect your investment this is truly a no brainer.

Medium Protection (Cost $50-$500)

Using just a power bar won’t necessarily protect you from losing important information. In the event of power loss or a surge a power bar will simply shut off your computer without warning. This can lead to loss of data or data corruption. Not the end of the world if you have reliable backups but it can be costly to restore gigs and gigs worth of data. If you can’t afford this risk, most battery backups will automatically switch your computer or server over to the battery if a power loss occurs. In fact the battery will even communicate with the computer and shut it down cleanly (avoiding data loss) if the power outage causes the battery to drain.

Maximum Protection (Cost $500+)

If you really can’t afford data loss or downtime it is time to look at a gas generator combined with battery backup. This combination will ensure that your key systems remain online as long as you have gas in the tank. Cost ranges from $500 for a small generator to keep your servers online to tens of thousands to keep your entire building powered. Again, this is not for everyone but for firms that have the funds it is the only way to go.

There is never a reason to go without basic protection for your electronics. Protect your electronics and save yourself a lot of headaches!

If you have any questions regarding this article or would like computer or network advice/service please contact Jeremy McMaster, Director — IT Services, The Dunham Group Inc. 905-312-8444×106 or

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