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Six Power Viruses

You’ve heard about the dangers of software viruses. But did you know that power viruses can do just as much damage to your system? And that a typical office experiences as many as 6,000 power viruses or more, every year?

Some of these power disturbances are obvious, some are almost unnoticeable, but they all cause problems that can seriously damage your productivity, from lost data and lock-ups to communications errors and hardware failures.

Common-mode voltage problems
Probably the most serious virus facing computer users today, common-mode voltage problems can cause unexplained data losses, glitches, system failures and “no trouble found” service calls. The only way to immunize against common-mode voltage is to install a power conditioner or UPS that has an isolation transformer output.
Electrical Noise
This virus is spread by electrical neighbors such as electronic lighting ballasts, appliances, printers, photocopiers and even other computers. Over time, and in connection with low-voltage spikes, noise can wear away electrical components and cause them to fail for no apparent reason.
Voltage spikes and impulses
Like electrical noise, this virus is also spread by equipment inside your facility. When elevators, motors or air conditioners stop and start, they can cause sudden large increases in voltage inside the electrical system. Other causes include electric utility switching and lightning strikes (which can cause transients so intense they literally “blow up” sensitive electronics).
Voltage regulation
In the past, unregulated voltages wreaked havoc with linear power supplies, making it hard for computer-based equipment to function. Failures were common. But thanks to the switch-mode supplies used in today’s computers, today’s systems have developed their own immunity to voltage regulation viruses. (This immunity is a by-product of the same technology that makes switch mode supplies smaller and more economical.)

Although they’re the most visible—and memorable—of power viruses, blackouts account for comparatively few power disturbances each year. An uninterruptible power supply (or UPS) will keep your system up and running during a blackout, but it won’t immunize against the other power viruses

Backdoor disturbances
This virus infects your system via a pathway you’d least expect: the backdoor. Even though it’s not an AC power connnection, damaging electrical disturbances can enter electronic systems through modem and phone lines, network connections, and I/O cables.

Fiber optic connections are one means of protection, but if your system uses ordinary communications wiring and connections, you need to immunize it against this often unrecognized but very dangerous virus.

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