Isaac on the approach has the word “hurricane” on Southwest Florida’s mind for the first time in awhile. We’ve had a nice stretch of relative calm, but eventually we’re going to get doused and rustled by some kind of tropical disturbance.
So what do we at PRR Computers do – and recommend – for protecting valuable electronic equipment, computers, and the data stored on them, when we know a storm of magnitude is growing near? I’ll outline the simple precautions we take, below.
- Unplug Everything. These storms bring lightning, and lots of it. But a downed tree can also bring down powerlines, cause a transformer to blow, etc. One massive surge can literally fry all your appliances and electronics in one instant. Best not to take any chances – unplug all power cables from the wall, from the PC, monitor, and anything attached to it. And don’t forget to unplug data/phone lines from your computers, too. While these lines are normally very low voltage, a lightning-driven surge doesn’t tend to respect the rules.
- Wrap It Up. Have you ever seen a home / business breached by hurricane-force winds? One little window broken by a flying object, and the pressure difference between inside and outside can make the building virtually explode. It’s a really ugly mess, and everything gets wet. Everything. Appliances can usually recover from a little external moisture, but for computers and TVs it can be very very bad. Wrap up your computer tower or laptop in heavy grade plastic and seal it with tape. When in doubt, seal it up like you plan to take it with you on a scuba diving trip. ** Let your equipment cool down before wrapping it up.
- Ground Floor – Off the Floor. If the computer in question is on the ground floor of your house or building, whether you think you’re above the flood plane or not, hurricane storm surge can break all the rules as far as flooding goes. Flooding will mean standing water, and even a few inches of that can be something even your well wrapped up PC might have trouble with. If your tower sits on the floor, go ahead and put it up on the desk.
- Take a Copy of your Data on a Hike. Get a spacious external hard drive if you don’t have one, get a current backup of your important data, and put that hard drive in a nice Zip-Loc bag. Ideally, you’ll take that drive to somewhere other than where the original data is located. If you’re evacuating, take it with you. If you’re staying in town, get creative. A safe deposit box is a no brainer, if you can get one in time. Partner up with a trustworthy friend in town, offer to safeguard each other’s hard drives at different houses. Any safe distance you can put between the backup and original is generally a good thing.
- Charge Up. Your battery-powered devices will be valuable if there’s a power outage of significant duration, so don’t forget to charge up your cell phones, iPads and tablets, laptops, etc. before you lose the electricity required to do so.
Like you, we’re hoping this hurricane misses us. But just in case, these precautions – in addition to all the other things you’ll be doing to secure your home and family – can really make a difference.