Prepping your computers and gadgets for storm season
By Eric Geier (Our Founder & Owner)
Originally published by Cox Media Group on 4/19/21
Spring is here, and the storms are coming soon!
I suggest preparing your computer(s) and other gadgets in case of a disaster.
Sure, you can replace the electronics themselves if damaged. But there are certainly some things money can’t buy, like your family photos and documents stored on them. Even if you can reproduce some of the documents and data, protecting them against disasters will make your life a bit less stressful if an unfortunate event does happen.
Tornados and lightning aren’t the only disasters that can cause issues. Even minor non-storm power outages can damage electronics, your hard drive could die from age or just being faulty, or you could get a virus that wipes out everything. So being proactive and having year-round protection is essential. And if you need to, call a computer tech for professional help. I recommend calling a pro anyways for a checkup at least yearly, even if you aren’t having any issues.
There are many things they can check and test to detect issues before they might be apparent.
Here are some ways to better protect your digital life:
Backup your computer(s): If you have anything on your computer that you wouldn’t want to lose, you should ensure it’s backed up regularly. One way to back up your files is to buy an external hard drive, or a USB flash drive that offers enough storage space. You can then use the features built into Windows, the hard drive, or other backup software to automatically copy your personal files or entire computer onto the external hard drive every so often, maybe once per week, per day, or with every file change.
Although backing up your files to a separate hard or flash drive — as just discussed — will keep them safe if your computer crashes, it may not provide protection against bad viruses, theft or natural disasters. If you get a bad virus and the backup drive is plugged into the computer, the virus could also wipe out the backup drive. Or someone could break in and steal your computer and the backup drive, or a tornado or fire could destroy everything. For protection against these situations, I highly suggest backing up your data online as well. That way it’s always kept in the cloud and you can access or restore from any computer.
You can see my recommendations of security and backup solutions at http:// www.onspottechs.com/recommendations.
Backup your phone and tablet: Though cell phones and tablets are a bit more protected from power surges since they aren’t always plugged in, they could be destroyed in larger disasters, or simply dropped, broken or lost in your day-to-day use. Like your computer, if you store anything on your phone or tablet you don’t want to lose, ensure it’s backed up.
For most people, it’s the photos that are important, and in many cases those are irreplaceable.
Both the major mobile devices (Android and Apple) have an automatic online backup feature you should utilize. Both are free for a limited amount of space and then you have to pay once you exceed the limit, which I recommend. Both can also be setup to automatically download the photos to your computer.
Plug everything into a modern surge protector: Your computer (including laptop chargers), monitor, and other computer peripherals should be plugged into a surge protector to protect them against surges from power outages and storms. I recommend replacing your surge protector every couple years. Old surge protectors might not work well.
Unplug computer system during storms: Before bad weather comes, it’s a good idea to unplug your computer, printer, and other peripherals. No surge protector can protect against the worst surges or lighting strikes. So it’s best to disconnect all your major electronics during rough weather. If you have a phone line or network cable going to your computer, consider disconnecting them too, since lightning strikes can also travel through the phone and internet lines.
Get battery backup for better protection: Consider getting an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These can have better surge protection and further electrical safeguards.
Plus, it’s battery backup automatically kicks in when the power flickers or goes out. This allows you to keep working or gives you enough time to properly shutdown your computer.
You might consider this level of protection if you have a higher-end computer system, you use your computer for work and don’t want to unplug it during storms, or if you have frequent power outages.
Get a mobile battery charger: If you end up losing power, you might be able to use a landline phone for communication, but you may want your cell phone and/or tablet too.
So, consider buying a battery pack or mobile charger so you can charge up your cell phone or tablet. These are basically just a big battery that has USB ports on them so you can plug in your phone or tablet charging cable. Depending upon the size, you might be able to recharge your devices a couple times. These are great for power outages, and even days where you might not be around a power outlet like traveling or camping.