The electrical storms that have swept the UK this summer haven’t just spoilt the fun of cricketers and sunbathers, they have also caused problems for PC users. Figures from the Ontrack Data Recovery call centre show a 25 percent rise in computer mishaps over the two days of serious lightning storms on 5-6 August. All the problems reported were a result of lightning strikes.
“Severe weather can cause significant computer damage,” said Ontrack MD Adrian Palmer. “One caller said the thunder was so loud he instinctively ducked. When he looked back at his computer screen, it had shut itself off and wouldn’t reboot. However, he immediately called Ontrack’s engineers and the data was recovered before it was lost for good.”
Ontrack has offered some advice to PC users on how to avoid losing data due to a sudden power surge resulting from a lightning strike.
Installing a surge protector is a good start - if possible, get hold of one that has guaranteed lightning protection. If you have a surge protector, make sure you check it once or twice a year to ensure it is functioning.
If you are running a server, invest in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which will give a clean power supply and backup power in the case of a blackout.
During an electric storm, turn your PC off and disconnect the power supply, if possible. You should also disconnect your modem from the phone line as surges can enter the computer through this route as well.
In the case of a blackout disconnect the power, as the surge of power when the connection is restored can be as damaging as a lightning strike.
"We can’t stop the power of nature,” says Palmer, “but by safeguarding IT systems if there is a storm on the horizon, the chances of experiencing data loss can be minimised."