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For some reason I experienced an extremely brief power cut (half a second or so) and it corrupted my desktop PC's BIOS (ROM?) which had to be restored and reconfigured.

This is despite using a surge protector mains splitter for my PC and peripherals. (A cheap IKEA one).

I want to know what I can do to safeguard my PC equipment from future mains supply issues. (Spikes and outages).

Obviously I should get an uninteruptable power supply. But my concern is about surges / spikes:

  1. Could the BIOS have been corrupted by the brief power cut? Or would it have to have been a spike/surge?
  2. Shouldn't the PSU have protected the low voltage circuits (eg BIOS) from such spikes?
  3. My ultimate question:

What specs should I look for in power conditioning hardware (surge protectors, UPSs, PSUs etc) to determine how good it will actually be in protecting equipment from spikes? (and any other factors that could cause equipment failure, other than simple outages which would obviously be handled by a UPS)

I'm wondering if I need something like an isolation transformer, similar to those used by audiophiles, construction sites and telecommunication equipment that basically creates an independent mains supply from the household supply, which would give the best chance of keeping the supply to equipment clean. Is this common? Is it overkill? Is it the default for none/most/better UPSs?

  • Whist I fully understand why you're asking this question, I feel it's too broad and too opinion based for this site. I'm sorry, I will guess it will eventually be closed as such unless you Can make it more focused 😢. Despite it being off topic, +1 – Dave Jan 31 '16 at 21:22
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Defined was a blackout. But was a blackout preceded by a surge? Unknown.

Blackouts do not corrupt any properly designed/assembled hardware. Otherwise power off (that looks to hardware just like a blackout) would also cause hardware damage.

Defined was what sounds like an adjacent (point of connection) protector. Somehow it must 'block' or 'absorb' a surge. How many joules does it claim to 'absorb'? Destructive surges can be hundreds of thousands of joules. Was it hundreds or a thousand joules? Obviously a near zero numbers. But if it is called a surge protector, then most consumers would just know it should be 100% protection.

An adjacent protector can even earth a surge destructively via an adjacent computer. It does not claim to address that anomaly. Due to an adjacent protector. a surge might even bypass superior protection inside that computer's PSU - connect directly to a motherboard. Could that explain BIOS corruption? Maybe. But without more facts (ie how a motherboard mounts to its chassis and other information), then one can only speculate.

We know blackouts are a threat to unsaved data - not to hardware. A UPS provides time for unsaved data to be saved. A UPS in battery backup mode is often 'dirtiest' power. No problem due to superior protection routinely found in every computer's PSU.

Again, assuming a blackout was preceded by a surge. Protection means that surge is not anywhere inside a building. Take a classic example. Lightning strikes utility lines far away down the street. So that surge is incoming to all household appliances - every one. Are all damaged? Of course not. It is electricity. That means both an incoming and an outgoing path to earth must exist.

Which appliances needs that protection? Everyone. A surge earthed before entering means protection for everything. How good?

A typical lightning strike is maybe 20,000 amps. So a minimal 'whole house' protector (with that always so critical low impedance - ie less than 3 meter connection - to earth ground) is 50,000 amps. Protector must never fail on any surge - even direct lightning.

Separate hearsay from reality. Reality comes with numbers - quantitatively. Hearsay recites advertising and myths - qualitatively.

Even that Ikea device, a miracle $300 power conditioner, or UPS need that protection. Again, protection is about where hundreds of thousands of joules are harmlessly absorbed. Described is the only solution always found where transients (ie direct lightning strikes) must never cause damage. This superior and best solution may cost as much as $1 per protected appliance. But the most difficult part is getting a consumer to learn why it works. And why a UPS, Ikea protector, power conditioner, etc do not even claim to protect from that typically destructive anomaly.

Meanwhile, it is possible that the adjacent Ikea made BIOS corruption easier. Because a protector is only as effective as its earth ground. UPS provides time to save unsaved data; does not even claim to protect hardware.

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