What to do with computer during thunderstorm?

ginny12July 24, 2008

We seem to be stuck in a summer of non-stop thunderstorms here and in other parts of the country. I usually shut down my computer but is that enough? Should I unplug it from both electricity and cable? How do I unplug the cable connection? Will I lose my settings by unplugging?

I have a big surge protector but I am told nothing will protect the computer if lightning strikes the house electric system. In fact, today a man here in the Boston area was injured by lightning while working at his computer. So what to do?

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You will not lose any settings by disconnecting. Some people just turn off the computer. Others disconnect from electrical and cable wall outlets -- this is the most protection. If there is a connection and a nearby or direct strike, it will probably burn something. As to the cable, it is likely a screw-on connection, sometimes a little troublesome to re-connect (nothing more than getting the threading correct). If the cable is connected into a modem and from there into the computer, it can be disconnected at any place prior to the computer -- at the wall, into the modem, or at the computer connection. I live in Florida, the capital of lightning.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 11:09AM
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I unplug the computer , and the modem is disconnected and unplugged. I have a wireless router installed also but I do not shut it down since it is not my property, it is my daughters. She has a laptop and likes to use it. She piggybacks my modem connection when she is home and using her computer.
Fruitjarfla, where at in FL? I live in FL also, in Polk Co.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 11:45AM
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Everything stays plugged in here in NJ. We had a lot of lightning yesterday, nothing real close. I have surge protection on the ac power, don't know how much that will help if we take a hit.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 12:51PM
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I do as Jerry does. Twenty years of computing and never a hit. Not to say this afternoon's storm may not take out my equipment.

When televisions first appeared it was recommended to unplug those too but who does that today? And today the television is never turned off as it was with those old models.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 12:58PM
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Lightning controls us, we do not control it. Do everything you can. In rural areas this is particularly true.

I have personally seen the impact a bolt can have and I can assure you nothing man-made will deter it if the conditions and location are right. Unplugging is the safest including for you DUN users the telephone modem line.

On the safe side, take a moment to review your homeowners insurance policy to see what appliances may be excluded. Also, check to see the limits on your unscheduled computer equipment and if deductibles apply. Don't take anything for granted or assume your "fully" covered. Your review of the policy may be reassuring or unsettling.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:09PM
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Thanks everyone for their replies so far. I was told that if lightning strikes your house, everything plugged in is fried and I do know people that has happened to. But frankly I am more worried about losing data than the machines themselves, tho that would be bad enough.

We are in a crazy weather pattern here in New England--just heard there is a tornado watch out for the entire state of Maine. Maine, for Pete's sake. We just don't get that kind of weather.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:15PM
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I always unplug my computers and disconnect them from the modem as well as disconnecting the modem from the wall. I figure better safe then sorry, especially after a friend wound up with a fried computer even with the surge protector.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:47PM
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Most low end surge suppressors aren't rated for lightning strikes. A UPS would do a better job and would provide battery backup also. Most UPS have several outlets that have battery backup and several that are just surge suppressors. Make sure you use the right ones if battery backup is important.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 1:48PM
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I unplug my cable and power supply to the computer. I have not always done that, but have the last couple of years, especially when I leave for a couple of weeks.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 2:17PM
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Wanted to add to the above post. A couple of years ago we had a TV that had 13 parts destroyed by lighting/power surge, so I am more careful of it now.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 2:18PM
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What are the odds? I do back up my data.

I am, well old, and neither my house nor I have ever been hit by lighting. I do know one colleague who had a hit on his house about 15 years ago. That's the only one I can think of.

Look I even fly in airplanes :>) and drive on turnpikes and interstate highways. Now that's taking a risk.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 2:50PM
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My brother had a lightning strike take out part of a desktop computer he had. There wasn't a lot left of the surge suppressor. Without the surge suppressor, he probably would have fried the entire PC. After that, he bought better surge suppressors.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 3:56PM
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ravencajun Zone 8b TX

if it is a bad storm with a lot of lightening I turn off all my computers mainly so they will not just go down when the power goes out, with severe lightening storms I unplug my master supply box that everything is plugged into so there fore it is all disconnected from the wall socket. Sometimes I disconnect from the router but not always, the router power is off with the rest of the stuff.

I have all my tv, home theater system plugged into one master box too so I also pull the main plug on that if it is real bad.

When I leave home for several days everything is unplugged.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 6:14PM
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I am never rude so I do not intend to be. This is not that difficult to comprehend. If you want to preserve your system and data disconnect all wire/cables accessing the wild. Lightning damages on direct hit, static electricity generated by the strike and "wire" travel. It will jump breaker boxes, power strips, surge suppressors and whatever else we might try. In the case of wire travel the telephone line is the most effected. Nothing will stop it if the circumstances are right.

Let's look at it this way. Take a hand grenade which is definitely less powerful than a lightning bolt. Be sure to have all your protection hooked up to your system. Stand next to your system. Now pull the pin. :)

Visual lightning is not an indicator of threat or safety. As long as it is booming/thundering the threat is real. lightneing created the thunder by charging the atmosphere.


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 7:46PM
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My brother-in-law is a TV and computer repairman in Iowa and says that lightning has made him more money than any one other thing.

On a computer that is hooked to the phonelines, he says that the modem is the first thing to go even with a light strike.

The best way is to unplug the electric and telephone lines completely if you don't want to take a chance on losing all your data.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 9:56PM
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Great analogy DA! I live in NY and our house has been hit 3 times in 15 years. Last one was 4 years ago and it blew up every TV in the house. Six TVs. It hit the phone line travelled into my garage and blew up the FIOS box (was on fire) as was the garage wall. All TV's were unplugged, but not uncabled. Came through the cable and blew the TV's. Computers were spared because I ran around the house unplugging them and pulling out the cables.

Everything happened so fast, I didn't get to all the TV's. Insurance covered the TV's only if I had the original receipts to prove what we paid. One TV was 15yrs old and we got nothing on it (worked perfectly before), our large screen was destroyed and they gave us 1/3 of what we paid. All the others were flat panel (13-17") and they gave us around $25.00 each.

We had a $500.00 deductible so we got nothing. BTW, all the telephones were fried also. We went almost a month with no TV's and telephones before it was repaired. I wanted to shoot myself!

Unplug those cables and forget surge protectors. A direct strike melts everything in its path. I was never bothered by thunderstorms before. Now, I'm like a lunatic!


    Bookmark   July 24, 2008 at 10:01PM
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daylilydayzed -- I live in the Villages (around Lady Lake) where the old people live, play golf, dance, drink, do crafts all day, hire others to do their lawns, drive golf carts, play golf - or did I say that, talk, read the good-times local paper, eat at restaurants, visit their relatives in the north so they do not come south, wonder what I did yesterday, and other daily chores.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:10AM
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fruit, sounds like a typical day for a senior except for me of course. No golf here.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2008 at 9:30AM
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I am not quite a senior yet. I am a school crossing guard and I am getting ready to go back to work on Aug. 18 But I like to do crafts and and travel to see my relatives but they have all started passing away so many are gone. My sister is still over in the Bartow-Lake Wales area. I live in Lakeland. My youngest sister is up in North Ga. Younger than me sister is in Tampa area. Brother is in Calif. but over in China teaching at the moment. Most of the traveling I have done recently was to travel down to Big Pine Key in the Keys to see my youngest son and to celebrate the youngest grandson's 3rd birthday.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2008 at 5:25PM
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