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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Power | External Power | Protection Against Power Problems ]

Protecting the Modem and Other Peripherals

As discussed in the section on power problems, voltage spikes (such as those created by lightning strikes) can be carried along any wire that runs into your PC. In particular, wires that run between buildings are susceptible to major disruptions due to lightning--which is why it is illegal in many places to run copper network wiring outdoors. After your power line, the next biggest problem area is the telephone line that connects to your modem. Power can be carried along the line and into your home, damaging your modem and possibly even your motherboard or other components. It is also possible for a spike to be carried along a networking cable, causing similar effects. In fact, a spike on a network line can damage every PC on the network!

Most better power protection systems include protection for the modem line. This includes most higher-quality surge suppressors, line conditioners and uninterruptible power supplies. If you are using a modem then you should protect against surges along the telephone line. The network will generally be protected if every PC on it is properly protected, as long as you don't run any network cables outside between buildings, but some UPSes now offer specific protection for network cables as well.


These very small surge suppressors are designed for use
with laptop PCs. They protect the PC as well as the
laptop's power converter, which laptops use to charge
their battery and provide power off AC electricity.
You can see the jacks on the side of each unit
for phone line protection.

Image American Power Conversion Corp.
Image used with permission.

Warning: You can use many peripherals with a UPS, but you should not run a laser printer off a conventional PC UPS, especially one rated at less than 1400 VA. These printers draw a tremendous amount of power when they start up and most UPSes do not have enough power to handle them. See more on this here. Since anything that can be printed can be reprinted in the event of a power failure, it rarely makes sense to plug a printer into a UPS in any event.

Next: Uninterruptible Power Supplies

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