One of the worst things for your computer is a fluctuation in the power source. Computers are pretty delicate devices when you get right down to it. The microchips and logic boards carry very distinct accurate currents that if overloaded will cause big problems. Unfortunately lightning thunder storms are also a fact of life in St. Louis, MO, and do not play well with sensitive computer devices and electronics.
Electrical surges caused by power fluctuation and lightning can cause odd behaviors in your computer. The following are a few signs that your computer may have electrical damage caused by lightning or other power anomalies.
Not Booting (No Power)
If you computer will not power up at all, no lights turn on even though you press the power button and the computer is definitely plugged into a working outlet, then your power supply may have been fried by a lightning strike. The power supply is typically the computer’s first line of defense against a fluctuation in power like a lightning strike produces. The power supply typically can handle minor power fluxes, but the amount of power fluctuation a lightning strike causes can do damage to the power supply. If your computer is not doing anything after you press the power button, it may be time to have South City Computer test your power supply.
No Internet Connection (No network)
Lightning does not just travel down the power lines, it also travels through the telephone lines. Most computers are indirectly plugged into a phone line through the DSL connection, however some computers that still use dial-up modem may be directly plugged into an old fashion phone jack. If you computer boots up and appears to be functioning normally, but the Internet connection fails, the network card could have been fried as a result of a close lightning strike. Many times the cheap routers the Internet service provider (ISP) installs in your home or office do not have much defense against a power spike and cause that power signal to travel down the network wire to your computer’s network card. This typically causes havoc to the network boards sensitive electronics and causes it to stop working. Some newer computers that have the network card embedded on the mother board can really suffer from this power spike, and could even break the entire motherboard. If your Internet has stopped working after an electrical storm, you may want to have South City Computer test your network card.
Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)
Are you seeing the infamous Blue Screen of Death after a lightning strike? This is probably caused by a corrupt system file that could have been corrupted as a result of a lightning strike. It is hard to explain exactly how these things occur, but basically the hard drive would have been reading or writing at the time of the power anomaly, causing an error to be written as 1 or 0 on the hard drive, corrupting a system file, which can cause the Blue Screen of Death. If you are seeing this BSOD error when you use your computer after an electrical storm, it may be time to bring your computer into South City Computer for a computer repair diagnostic.
Black Screen Blinking Cursor
After booting the computer and after the BIOS screen shows, the computer just locks up and shows a black screen with a blinking white cursor. This is usually caused by an error in the boot loader, and happens similar to the corrupted system file error that is typically associated with the Blue Screen of Death after a lightning storm. This issue usually arises after a power brown out as well, where the power in your home or office may have gone off and on a few times (known as a power brown out). You will probably need the techs at South City Computer to diagnose and repair this computer issue for you.
Hard disk error
The hard disk error is the worst sign that your computer may have been struck by lightning since your data is at stake here. The hard drive is a very sensitive device with a logical controller that cannot take huge spikes of electrical current, and in-turn stops working after power spikes or brown outs. You should bring your computer to South City Computer asap to try to recover any data if possible.
The best thing to do when you hear thunder or see lightning is to unplug you computer completely from the wall. This includes the power, monitor, speaker, microphone, and network cable. Basically make sure that no part of the computer is connected directly or indirectly to the wall since this is the only way the computer can be harmed by electrical storms other than being struck directly by lightning which is very rare.
Also if you are going out of town, going on vacation, traveling, or going to be away from your computer from an extended period of time it is a good idea to unplug your computer from the wall just in case a lightning thunder storm strikes while you are away.
Another time to consider unplugging your computer to save it from electrical damage is when you know or notice the power company servicing the electric lines in your neighborhood or area. The electric company usually fluctuates the power off and on several times and this can cause damage to your computer.
Losing your data, having a computer that stops functioning properly, losing your Internet connection are all very frustrating experiences. So be protective of your computer, don’t leave it in the hands of mother nature.