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Both computers zapped by power surge. What now?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Got home last night to discover everything with an internal hard drive wasn't working. Our BT Vision box is broken - happened before because of a power surge. Both iMac and Macbook refused to switch on. Eevntually I got the Macbook to power on by battery, but it then had to be charged again in the mains and was very slow. I plugged the iMac into a different socket on the surge adapter and that also switched on (eventually) and whilst in some respects it seems to work ok the screen redraw can be really slow, in a way I've not had before ie. scrolling in Safari white boxes appear where the screen isn't redrawing properly.

First of all, should I (as I am) be worried that both systems may have sustained damage? Secondly, I'm speaking with the home insurance. Should they agree to replace them I have no idea what to opt for. I'd been waiting for the iMac to be upgraded to Blu-Ray as I have several discs and would want to watch them on my next home computer system. Also, I largely use the laptop to work in the library and had thought eventually about getting an iPad with keyboard as it's lightweight and I could avoid RSI by having a separable keyboard and screen.Am now less sure.

What would you all advise?

Apologies if this is in the wrong thread - I realise it could be Genius Bar, Current Hardware or Future Hardware
post #2 of 14
You have two computers, both of which suffered damage. In neither case is the damage total, but it serious in each case. You should take your computers to a technician who can assess the damage and give you a quote for the required repairs. I gather that you do not have AppleCare.

At any rate, you are wasting your time waiting for Apple to upgrade the iMac's optical drive to Blu-ray. Just to be safe, you want to to wait until June 7. After that, you should consign your dreams of a new Mac with a Blu-ray drive to the world of fantasy. Reality demands working computers. Have them repaired!
post #3 of 14
Zap me once... shame on the weather or the power company. Zap me twice, shame on me. Zap me three times, I get what I deserve.

Invest in a high-quality surge protector. Not one of those $10 Radio Shack things.
post #4 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpw_amherst View Post

Apologies if this is in the wrong thread - I realise it could be Genius Bar, Current Hardware or Future Hardware

None of the above. General Discussion (General tech discussion, including purchasing advice and industry trends) would have been best, since you're mainly interested in purchasing advice.

Until I read the bit about insurance, my first response to "Both computers zapped by power surge. What now?" was: CRY!!!
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Me View Post

You have two computers, both of which suffered damage. In neither case is the damage total, but it serious in each case. You should take your computers to a technician who can assess the damage and give you a quote for the required repairs. I gather that you do not have AppleCare.

At any rate, you are wasting your time waiting for Apple to upgrade the iMac's optical drive to Blu-ray. Just to be safe, you want to to wait until June 7. After that, you should consign your dreams of a new Mac with a Blu-ray drive to the world of fantasy. Reality demands working computers. Have them repaired!

Besides originally waiting on an iMac with Blu-ray I was also hoping for (at some point) a Macbook Pro with i5 or i7. Is it big enough to cope with that? Are we waiting for next update?

Incredibly both my computers seem to have revived. I've checked the hard disks and no errors were found either, although I repaired all the permissions. A very odd occurrence to have them both refuse to switch on only later to revive. All seems well, even if I'm a little cynical about how this could be.
post #6 of 14
As tonton said above, any computer plugged directly into electrical power without serious surge protection is a disaster waiting to happen. Not just computers, either. Any electronic device. Invest in a good quality Uninterruptible Power Supply/Surge Protector, such as APS or Tripp-Lite, for your electronics.
post #7 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by mpw_amherst View Post


What would you all advise?

Apologies if this is in the wrong thread - I realise it could be Genius Bar, Current Hardware or Future Hardware

My home owners covers this but I have a computer rider (best deal in the universe). Insurance is the only sure way to manage damage. All the surge protectors in the world won't protect you from a real lightning strike. The best thing to do IMO is unplug everything if you have a chance.

Steve
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Steve Devino
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post #8 of 14
BrickWall. They are expensive but they will protect you for sure, and they last forever. Only way to go.
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Zap me once... shame on the weather or the power company. Zap me twice, shame on me. Zap me three times, I get what I deserve.

Invest in a high-quality surge protector. Not one of those $10 Radio Shack things.

Tonton is right... invest in a high quality surge protector... ONE THAT COMES WITH AN INDEMNIFICATION POLICY. One of my has a $100,000 warranty and the other a $50,000 warranty. You're essentially looking at a one time $40-80 insurance cost.

A surge protector probably won't be able to protect against a lightning strike, so some kind of indemnification is the best protection.

And remember... backup your data frequently and often to a drive that is not usually plugged in.
post #10 of 14
Take the computers to an Apple Store Genius. You *cough* may not *cough* have to give them the full details of what happened if it is still under warranty.

Nah, just kidding. Be upfront about what happened, see how much it might cost to replace whatever parts. Other than that, hopefully your home insurance will cover it all.

Good luck
post #11 of 14
It may surprise you, but many people consider high quality surge protection to be snake-oil. Hell, some people even consider plug-in surge protectors to be relatively worthless. I wouldn't go that far, but if you've got a power strip, that is sufficient for a plug in SPD. Basically, they all operate in the same manner, with the same components, and those components cost pennies.

Beyond that, or even before that, a whole-house surge protector, installed at the main panel, is the way to go.

If you really want to cook your noodle and attempt to understand surge protection, here's one of the biggest discussions i've ever witnessed. Keep in mind though, it appears that Westom is rather irrational in his belief that plug-in SPDs are worthless. He does have a valid point though that whole house protection is far more effective.
http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1224494
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by icfireball View Post

Tonton is right... invest in a high quality surge protector... ONE THAT COMES WITH AN INDEMNIFICATION POLICY. One of my has a $100,000 warranty and the other a $50,000 warranty. You're essentially looking at a one time $40-80 insurance cost.

It seems that collecting on those policies is nearly impossible. This topic comes up repeatedly on most tech related boards. Never once has anyone been able to point to a single case of one of those insurance polices paying out. It might happen, but if so, it is so exceedingly rare that it is impossible to confirm. On the other hand, reports of rejected filings are quite common.
post #13 of 14
Oh, one more thing...
Surge protectors wear out. The age of the surge protector is far more important than the price tag or brand name.

But really, whole house protection is waaaaay more effective than plug in surge protectors. (Reference the link I posted previously.) In a nutshell, the amount of power to be dissipated is so high that a branch circuit is insufficient. A whole house protector is installed in the panel and is guaranteed to have heavy gauge wire straight to the grounding array (ground rods, water pipes, ufer-grounds).
post #14 of 14
All surge protectors based on MOVs including the cheap (or expensive) power strip protectors will eventually wear out. These are sacrificial surge protectors, and work by sacrificing themselves in order to protect your equipment. Problem is, a high enough surge (e.g. from lightning) will cause them to melt or burn up!

I have lost several VCRs and UPSs along with the cheapo surge protectors they were plugged into, during lightning storms and also during a planned outage by the electric company. I have gone through almost a dozen units from APC, Belkin, and other companies over the past 20 years. The most I ever got back was $25.

For the past 5 years I have been using BrickWall exclusively. These units DO last forever. Do some research on BrickWall and similar products, and see how they work. And yes, check AVSforum.
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