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Protecting Your Mac From its Best Friend: Electricity

TMO Quick Tip - Protecting Your Mac From its Best Friend: Electricity

by , 7:30 AM EST, December 18th, 2006

Electricity is the fuel that keeps your Mac running, but it can also bring tragedy and destruction if you don't take a few precautions. Of course, licking electrical contacts is right out, but what I'm really talking about is making sure you have some level of protection between your Mac and anything that can send an electrical surge back into it.

Most people get over the first hurdle of electrical protection fairly easily by using a battery backup, or uninterrupted power supply, that offers some level of line conditioning and surge suppression. I'm partial to the Smart-UPS systems from APC.

In addition to protecting your Mac from electrical incidents that come through wall outlets, you also need to add protection for other potential damage points including modem, USB, FireWire and Ethernet ports. Many of the uninterrupted power supplies include special connectors for filtering the current that runs through phone cords and Ethernet cables, but USB and FireWire are typically a different matter.

To be sure that your Mac is properly protected from damage that can be caused by power surges and drops, every device that is connected to your computer needs to be protected as well - hard drives, printers and monitors all qualify. You also need to make sure that any device that's wired into the same network is protected, too. That means your network printers, other computers, network hubs and switches, and cable and DSL modems.

A strong enough electrical surge can potentially jump back through one computer or printer, through your network, and into other devices - which could turn into an expensive disaster peppered with destroyed Macs and lost data.

As if you need a bonus to go along with protecting your Mac from electrical damage, there is one: uninterrupted power supplies also provide a limited amount of electricity if your office or home power goes out. Depending on how long the battery in the power supply lasts, you can gracefully shut down your Mac, or continue working until power is restored.

Jeff Gamet is TMO's Morning Editor and Reviews Editor. He lectures, teaches and speaks on Mac OS X and design-related topics, and is the author of The Designer's Guide to Mac OS X from Peachpit Press.

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