Do You Use Your Laptop or PC in a Thunderstorm?

Lightning on the Columbia River

You’re working away on your laptop and your online. There’s a rumble of thunder. What would you do? Turn off your machine and unplug it or just keep working. Thankfully it’s not a big problem where I live in Scotland – we might get two or three thunderstorms each year. What’s the best advice? I read a great forum thread on PCMech on computing in thunderstorms. There was a good spread of responses ranging from unplug everything, to get behind a UPS, to just keep working.

If it’s storm force winds, a UPS with surge/spike protection will give some protection during voltage spikes, but I would unplug the PC/laptop and router from the mains, and the router from the telephone line, during lightning when there’s a chance your building could be hit by it. A surge protector won’t protect your equipment in the case of a direct lightning strike. But if you have a laptop and you really must keep working, it can be done. Just unplug it from the mains and work off the battery, unplug your router and work offline if you can. Of course if you have a tablet, smartphone or old netbook lurking somewhere, use this. If you must work online, use a wireless connection rather than ethernet and make sure your router is behind good UPS with surge/spike protection. But it will get fried in a direct lightning strike. If you have an old wireless router, get it out and plug it in during the storm. If it gets fried, at least you’ve saved your good router. Obviously, if you buy a new router it’s great to keep the old one as backup for this sort of situation.

Well that’s what I would do. If you live in an area with frequent thunderstorms, I’d love to hear what you do.

Image Credit: Lightning on the Columbia River

One Response

  1. Ducky Says:

    I usually don’t care when there’s a storm, I haven’t been hit yet! 😛
    I have a Belkin Surge board with the connected equipment warranty which will cover up to $75k worth of damage to any connected equipment. <– That's the one

    I've heard good things from friends about them too, if for any reason it stops working you just claim it on warranty.

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