I also bought a surge protector to go with it because the salesman said it would prevent the computer from being damaged by lightning.
We had a thunderstorm last night and our power went off. It came back on a couple of hours later but now my TV, dishwasher and iMac are all dead. None of them will do anything when I turn them on.
My question is do surge protectors really work? The iMac was plugged into the surge protector when the storm passed through but it still got zapped.
The reason I ask is because I’m going into town later today to buy a new computer and I don’t see the need to buy a surge protector if it won’t really protect a computer.
Rick’s answer: I’m glad the Best Buy sales person talked you into buying the surge protector, Anna. While they aren’t perfect, they really do protect computers and other electronic devices from all but the strongest power surges.
Just so you’ll know, I have all of my electronic gear plugged into surge protectors, and I’ll never stop using them.
All of that being said, although what the sales person told you about the effectiveness of a surge protector was accurate, it wasn’t complete.
Surge protectors will indeed protect computers and other electronic devices from power surges and most distant lightning strikes, but they can’t prevent a direct lighting strike from causing damage to connected devices.
A lightning bolt that directly strikes a power line in the vicinity of your home can easily over-power even the best consumer-grade surge protectors. That’s just the way it is.
However, that doesn’t mean you should try to save a few bucks by not buying a new surge suppressor to protect new computer!
While they can be ineffective against direct lightning strikes, a quality surge protector can stop most strong power surges and prevent them from damaging the gear that’s plugged into them.
That same surge protector that failed during this particular storm likely saved your iMac from damage at least once during the time you’ve owned it.
In other words, if you hadn’t had your computer plugged into a surge protector you could well have lost it to a power surge a lot sooner than you did.
Bottom line: I recommend that you purchase a new high-quality surge protector to protect your new computer from routine power surges and distant lightning strikes. In my opinion the money you spend on it will be well spent.
Even better, opt for a quality battery backup unit instead of a surge protector.
In addition to having effective surge suppression built right in, a battery backup device will also keep your computer running long enough during a power outage for you to save any open files and shut the machine down in an orderly fashion.
Bonus tip #1: Did you know that surge protectors actually go bad with use and eventually need to be replaced? Read this post to find out why.
Bonus tip #2: It’s possible to get a single device (called a Whole House Surge Suppressor) that will protect all the electronic devices in your home at the same time. These devices work extremely well, and they’re quite affordable.
Bonus tip #3: Want to make sure you never miss one of my tips? Click here to join my Rick’s Tech Tips Facebook Group!
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