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Old 2007-05-25, 03:35   Link #1
toru310
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Can blackouts savatage your pc components? and data alternation?

I just got a blackout today while I was watching anime. So can blackouts destroy computer parts such as hard drive and ram or can make data alternation(corrupting of files/rar.and mp3 files?? This happened today so.. Well Its quite annoying I mean the electricity men didn't say anything about the blackout today I could have prepared my self and shutdown my pc immediately..darn.
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Old 2007-05-25, 04:51   Link #2
xris
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Yes, a power failure of this nature can cause hardware failure in components such as hard disc, motherboard, etc. It can also cause data corruptions on your hard disc such like.

But please remember, just because it might cause a problem doesn't mean it will cause a problem every time you have a power fail. I have no real data to offer but from practical and observed occurences of sudden power fail on PCs I would say the chances of direct hardhare failure is in the order of 1% or 2% (and it may be closer to 0.1% in reality).

There is also a chance that such a power fail might stress some hardhare components such that they have a higher chance of failing in the future, but again we are talking of long term effects and low probilities.
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Old 2007-05-25, 05:42   Link #3
toru310
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xris View Post
Yes, a power failure of this nature can cause hardware failure in components such as hard disc, motherboard, etc. It can also cause data corruptions on your hard disc such like.

But please remember, just because it might cause a problem doesn't mean it will cause a problem every time you have a power fail. I have no real data to offer but from practical and observed occurences of sudden power fail on PCs I would say the chances of direct hardhare failure is in the order of 1% or 2% (and it may be closer to 0.1% in reality).

There is also a chance that such a power fail might stress some hardhare components such that they have a higher chance of failing in the future, but again we are talking of long term effects and low probilities.
I see well its a good thing I didn't play heavy games during that time..
The chances alone calmed me a little. This really caught my attention because when reading a file the hard drive's actuator arm is moving so when theres a power failure the actuator arm is still at that position which is bad?

PS I'm only worried about data alternation might affect my life's worth of work.(downloading anime wallpapers etc hehe)

Edit: Can I ask what are the files often affected during power failure?
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Old 2007-05-25, 05:50   Link #4
KNETTER2000
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A loss of power shouldn't cause problems on hardware, it's the same as taking out the plug after you shut the PC down with the difference being you couldn't shut it down properly so softwarewise things could go wrong, from minor errormessages when you reboot to a total loss of OS functionality as an example..

But when they suddenly turn on the power again ( the powercompany that is) things could get damaged.. the sudden surge of power (wich in case of an external poweroutage often has a higher peak than the normal power supplied to your house.) could damage a number of devices in your PC.. powersupply, motherboard, harddrives etc..
Here we normally have 230V, and years ago we had such a peak after a poweroutage that was much higer, causing several attached devices to die or get damaged, while others had nothing wrong with them..

but, just as xris says, saying it could doesn't mean it will..

[edit] being worried about your life's work has a very easy solution: backup in onto an external device, being a DVD or an external Hd you only use for backupping. that way, if the PC dies, you still have your precious data saved [/edit]
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Old 2007-05-25, 05:54   Link #5
toru310
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Well I googled my worries and I found this thing called power surge protector they say that it can protect your computer from getting power surge when theres a power failure?
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Old 2007-05-25, 06:01   Link #6
KNETTER2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Migufuchi Fusutsu View Post
Well I googled my worries and I found this thing called power surge protector they say that it can protect your computer from getting power surge when theres a power failure?
yes, such devices, when presented with a surge, act like a buffer for the devices attached behind it..

UPS devices have a simmillar functionality with the added function of keeping the pc running an X amount of minutes ( hours if you go for the really big ones) so you can shut it down safely..
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Old 2007-05-25, 06:08   Link #7
toru310
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So how much here are we talking about? The protectors I mean?
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Old 2007-05-25, 06:20   Link #8
KNETTER2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Migufuchi Fusutsu View Post
So how much here are we talking about? The protectors I mean?
I have no idea where you live, but here the cheapest ones go for around €9.95 wich roughly translates into about $13 US.
But depending on what kind of protection or suppression you want, the prices go up

this might also be an interesting read for you
On the right there's also ads with prices for surge protectors.
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Old 2007-05-25, 06:41   Link #9
toru310
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Are there protectors in a hardware store? I guess a little window shopping won't hurt.
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Old 2007-05-25, 08:06   Link #10
xris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Migufuchi Fusutsu View Post
Are there protectors in a hardware store? I guess a little window shopping won't hurt.
You would tend to find them in specialty stores (PC World), you might find them in hardware store but they would tend to cost a lot more (by hardware store, I assume you mean a nut and bolts / electrical goods store).

While they (Surge Protectors) are a good idea, it's down to risk. The chances of such a device protecting your PC during a powerfail is rather low, they are really for situations such as mains spikes during thunder storms. A nearby lighting strike can and does cause mains spikes which in turn might cause a hardware failure (typically in the PSU itself).

A small UPS (which usually has a built in surge protector) is a very good idea but they are rather expensive. They allow you time to shut your PC down durng a loss of mains power, a godsend when you are in the middle of an important job.

Also note that a power failure is unlikely to effect any files you are not currently using. If you have a disc full of data, then a power fail might cause a prolem with a file you have open or is in use, but it's unlikely to effect the others on the disc. The worse thing that might happen is for the power surge / fail to damage the hard disc itself in which case the entire disc becomes usless (which is why having regular backups is a good idea).

With a power fail, the hard disc should be designed in such a way that loss of power doesn't cause any phyiscal damage. The heads are retracted to a safe zone with loss of power, they will not plow into the disc surface. You would only get data corruption if the disc happened to be writng when the power failed since this would most likely cause a write error.
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Old 2007-05-25, 08:24   Link #11
toru310
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Quote:
If you have a disc full of data, then a power fail might cause a prolem with a file you have open or is in use
Oh no I was watching anime that time when the power went off well its .avi so I think nothing will happen..plus I did a manual hash check to be sure.

Regarding the small UPS whats the price range for that?
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Old 2007-05-25, 14:56   Link #12
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The price of a UPS depends on its "VA" (volts X amperes) rating. (I always thought volts X amperes = watts, but for some reason they report a VA number for UPS's.) NewEgg has some in the $60-100 range. I'd go for a least 500 VA models for a single computer; NewEgg has these for under $100. Never connect a laser printer to a UPS, and I usually don't connect monitors to them either. In addition, most of them come with software that you can load on your PC that can monitor the UPS over a USB or serial cable and shut the computer down automatically if there's a power outage.
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Old 2007-05-25, 15:09   Link #13
Vexx
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I'm having some trouble conceiving that someone sold him a computer and didn't *suggest* a powerstrip surge protector....
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Old 2007-05-25, 16:51   Link #14
xris
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Migufuchi Fusutsu View Post
Oh no I was watching anime that time when the power went off well its .avi so I think nothing will happen..plus I did a manual hash check to be sure.
Sorry, I didn't make it very clear. If you are only reading a file (such as when you are watching anime or listening to music), then it's very, very unlikely a mains power fail will ever cause data corruption on your hard disc.

It's only when you are writing to a disc that a power fail may cause problems. The design of a hard disc is such that loss of power when reading the disc will not cause any long term damage. The heads retract to a safe zone and then the disc spins down safely. Any data you are reading would be lost but that's no big deal (because the PC itself is also in the process of turning off due to to loss of power). In addition, it's also possible that even if the disc was currently in the middle of writing data that a power fail wouldn't cause any data corruption. It all depends of the drive electronics and the exact point the power was lost, some designs are better coping with unexpected power loss during a write cycle.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SeijiSensei View Post
The price of a UPS depends on its "VA" (volts X amperes) rating. (I always thought volts X amperes = watts, but for some reason they report a VA number for UPS's.) NewEgg has some in the $60-100 range. I'd go for a least 500 VA models for a single computer; NewEgg has these for under $100. Never connect a laser printer to a UPS, and I usually don't connect monitors to them either. In addition, most of them come with software that you can load on your PC that can monitor the UPS over a USB or serial cable and shut the computer down automatically if there's a power outage.
The reason UPS are rated in VA instead of Watts is because they are AC devices and would need a power factor conversion taken into account (since they convert AC to DC (to charge the batteries) and then convet the DC back to AC).

I agree about not conneting a printer but I would say that you should never connect any printer to a UPS, simply because in practical terms it's no big deal if the power goes in a middle of a print job. You can simply print the file again when the power is back.

I would say it may we worth connectiing the Monitor to the UPS simply so you can continue to use the PC if there is a power fail (and by this I mean you can then shut down the programs you have running, save any data that need saving before turning off the equipment). Without a monitor it can be difficult to do that Be aware that monitors can take a fair bit of power so it does mean a need for a bigger UPS. But as you say some UPS will shut down the PC for you but I like to have some control over the final few minutes of power the PC has while running on the UPS. Connecting the modem / router (to the UPS) is also a good idea since it means your connection won't die with the power and such devices take little power anyway.
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Old 2007-05-25, 19:29   Link #15
WanderingKnight
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If there is a sudden return of power after a blackout, wouldn't only the PSU be affected (that is, potentially fried)? I'm asking this out of pure ignorance and curiosity. A friend of mine got a couple of PSUs fried because his ground connection was not working properly (false contact... lots of it), and the PC kept disconnecting/reconnecting randomly until the PSUs died one after the other... but he never saw another hardware device damaged. Sure, maybe he lost his data some time or the other, but the rest of the PC went on working perfectly. For the record, I saw his PSU fry right in front of my eyes... in fact, it was me who suggested replacing the ground connection .
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Old 2007-05-25, 20:56   Link #16
toru310
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Quote:
Sorry, I didn't make it very clear. If you are only reading a file (such as when you are watching anime or listening to music), then it's very, very unlikely a mains power fail will ever cause data corruption on your hard disc.

It's only when you are writing to a disc that a power fail may cause problems. The design of a hard disc is such that loss of power when reading the disc will not cause any long term damage. The heads retract to a safe zone and then the disc spins down safely. Any data you are reading would be lost but that's no big deal (because the PC itself is also in the process of turning off due to to loss of power). In addition, it's also possible that even if the disc was currently in the middle of writing data that a power fail wouldn't cause any data corruption. It all depends of the drive electronics and the exact point the power was lost, some designs are better coping with unexpected power loss during a write cycle.
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Old 2007-05-26, 00:30   Link #17
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Just a slight redirection on the topic, if your PC for any reason shuts down whilst the hard drive is writing (or has data cached) then the file system type can make a difference to if you get data corruption or not and the extent of it.

The general types are non journaling v journaling

Examples are

for Windows, fat and fat32 non-journalling and ntfs journalling. So for long term data storage ntfs is better then fat32.

for Linux you have ext2 non-journalling and ext3 journalling.

The non-journalling file system types are still used, ie fat32 for compatibility with other devices and operating systems.

Note using a journalling file system does not mean you can switch off your pc via the power button, or god forbid the power switch on the wall socket. It just gives u an added layer of security in regards to your data integrity.
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Old 2007-05-26, 01:20   Link #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vexx View Post
I'm having some trouble conceiving that someone sold him a computer and didn't *suggest* a powerstrip surge protector....
Yea, and not to mention how many electrical outlets Migufuchi Fusutsu must have in the vicinity for all his computer peripherals etc.

This happened quite a few times during particular nights for me during this past winter. For some reasons my power company was having issues for my part of the lower mainland. Nothing was damaged nor any files corrupted. I'd be more worried about the chances of some drunkard crashing into a power pole and causing some ridiculous surge/whatnot. (Happened in my neighboring city, killing practically all electrical devices along a prominent street )
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Old 2007-05-26, 02:26   Link #19
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This is exactly how my old computer got fried. I didn't know it for a while, but I left my computer on one night during a thunderstorm where the power went out and a week later I noticed my modem was transfering data much slower and that it had been scrambled by the thunderstorm. A couple weeks after that I was just sitting back watching videos on Youtube when my screen went blue with white scratchy lines going diagonally across it. After that I booted and started to back up my files preparing for the worse and the automatic overheating shutdown kept kicking in after I finished a burn. Ultimately I got about 4 burns out of my data before it stopped powering on altogether. The rest is one really long story about Future Shop taking 6 weeks to get me a new motherboard, only for me to have to take it back because the USB ports didn't work. Then they fried the new motherboard when trying to repair it somehow, but ultimately I got a new computer out of it (and recently it's Sandisk port has stopped working, but I'm not letting them touch it).

So yes, it can and you won't even know it's happened sometimes until a while after. That's why I always power down during a thunderstorm now and unplug my power cord from the wall.
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Old 2007-05-26, 03:19   Link #20
KNETTER2000
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WanderingKnight View Post
If there is a sudden return of power after a blackout, wouldn't only the PSU be affected (that is, potentially fried)? I'm asking this out of pure ignorance and curiosity. A friend of mine got a couple of PSUs fried because his ground connection was not working properly (false contact... lots of it), and the PC kept disconnecting/reconnecting randomly until the PSUs died one after the other... but he never saw another hardware device damaged. Sure, maybe he lost his data some time or the other, but the rest of the PC went on working perfectly. For the record, I saw his PSU fry right in front of my eyes... in fact, it was me who suggested replacing the ground connection .

You'd think that, because it's the first device being powered.. the nasty thing is:
PSU's (ATX) are always powered on ( when plugged into an outlet) and are always giving standbypower to the motherboard.

You switch the PC on using a simple one touch pushbutton wich signals the motherboard to turn the power on and the electronics in the PSU powers up further.. This is also how windows for instance, is able to turn off your pc without you touching it.. it signals a circuit on the motherboard to open up the electrical switch and the PSU goes into standbymode (in case of WOL: Wake On Lan through LAN or WOR: Wake On Ring with a normal modem you can also turn the PC on from a remote location).
On some ATX PSU's there's an on/off switch on the back so you can completely turn the power off.

On some motherboards, after turning on the power on the PSU or just plugging it in, the PC momentarily turns on for a second, powering everything and then turns off again. If this would be after a poweroutage and with a surge, this could damage your hardware because of a sudden higher poweroutput from the PSU before it dies because of it being overloaded.
It's not really limited to only that situation where the pc turns on for a second though..
The standbypower that powers the standbymode of the motherboard can also get much higher in a case like that (where the PSU is being overpowered by the surge) and just blow the mobo.

Back in the days with the old AT PSUs, this wasn't the case. You had big heavyduty switches wich physically turned on the power to the PSU to make your PC startup.. and you had to switch it off manually too, physically cutting the juice from the PSU, stopping it to work.

In case of a surge it's not limited to PC's either.. that has impacts on all electrical equipment in the house.. TV's blowing their guts, radio's, VCR, you name it, everything that's plugged in gets presented with that surge.

Now these are ofcourse worst case scenario's and are ofcourse not the standard ways things go, but it's all a possibility.
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