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Power Viruses: The Source of Electronic Influenza & The Cures

Prevention of power viruses is possible only when prevention is systematic

By Dennis Ver Mulm July 13, 2012

Software viruses are common occurrences in the computing world.

In fact, almost everyone is familiar with their potential for damage, and the news media routinely reports the details of system disruption related to their appearance.

It’s a reasonable term to apply to these rogue programs. They enter a system unseen, often incubate in silence, and eventually come to life with results that range from merely annoying to disastrous.

Electrical disturbances are quite similar.

In fact they could reasonably be called “power viruses” since they, too, are unseen and can cause serious and expensive electronic system failure.

Power viruses are contracted the same way as other viruses. They’re passed along – often by your system’s electrical neighbors. Plug your system into the wall, turn it on, and look out. You’ve just been exposed to an epidemic, and there are a lot of very sick electrons looking to cause problems.

Some of them may take time to cause noticeable damage. Others are immediately catastrophic (like a lightning strike).

How do power viruses affect an electronic system? What can you do to prevent power viruses in the first place?

Start by understanding them, and then you can tackle the job of immunizing your system against their harmful effects.

There are six main power viruses that can invade a system. The symptoms they cause can vary as can the proper course of treatment.

Voltage Spikes & Impulses
This virus is mostly the result of electrical equipment inside your facility. Electrical loads like elevators, motors, relays, induction furnaces, copy machines, and similar devices can cause sudden large increases in voltage inside the electrical system.

Conditions outside your facility can be to blame, too. Switching activities by the electric utility and lightning strikes can cause transient impulses so intense they literally “blow up” sensitive micro-circuitry.

This virus is deadly to electronic systems – but not always immediately. Sometimes voltage spikes and impulses are relatively small in amplitude. In these cases, the virus weakens the system components over time leading to deteriorating health and eventual failure.

Other times the impulses may be so large that they cause immediate system failure.

Electrical Noise
Like voltage spikes and impulses, electrical noise is generally created inside the facility by the system’s electrical neighbors. Almost every electricity- consuming device contributes its share of electrical contamination.

Things like appliances, photocopiers, laser printers, and electronic lighting ballasts are all noise sources that can cause computers to lock-up, lose data, or behave unreliably.

Even computers themselves generate electrical noise. It’s truly a paradox that our computers often infect other computers with power viruses.

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