Mac Tips And Tricks - Power Problems

Mac Tips And Tricks - Power Problems

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Last week, we wrote about ways to beat the heat by staying indoors and enjoying some quality time with your Mac. This week, as Summer continues to march on, we want to talk a little about a big side effect to the summer heat: big storms.

We have all heard the horror stories about computers being damaged during an electrical storm. Don’t take these stories lightly. One of the biggest reasons Macs get damaged is due to electrical problems, be it a surge in power, such as an electrical strike, or low power, which occurs during a brown out.

Brown Out

What’s a brownout? Have you ever been in your home, and all of a sudden, the lights dim for a second, then come back just fine? You don’t actually lose power, but for a brief moment, there was a decrease in the amount of power coming into your home. Well, that is a brownout, and they are not rare. In fact, they happen all the time, but not usually to the extent that it will cause your lights to dim noticeably.

How is a brownout damaging?

During a decrease in power, your Macs power supply has to work even harder to keep your computer running with the correct voltage. This causes a lot of stress on your power supply, which can lead to long-term damage.

Surge protectors

We all have them. They look like a power strip. The surge protector works by attempting to reroute a big surge of electricity away from the outlets, thus protecting anything plugged into it. But no surge protector will work against a big lighting strike. None.


A better solution is a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). The most popular brand is APC. I have one to protect my Mac, and the other to protect my big television in the living room. A UPS has built-in surge protection, and has the added benefit of supplying electricity during either a brownout or a power outage. A UPS will keep your electronics running long enough for you to properly shut them off. They are not intended for extended use during the power outage. A UPS is nothing more than a case of large batteries for use during a power outage or brownout.

No UPS can withstand a lighting strike

Again, no UPS or Surge Protector will protect your Mac from a lighting strike. They will protect your Mac during a brownout, which is more common. WiseBreak has a good article on some of the best UPS’s on the market today.

The only protection during a lighting storm is to physically unplug your Mac from the electrical outlet. That’s it, the only sure-fire protection.