Aug 17 2010


It’s not good when you wake up in the morning after a bad storm and discover that your computer won’t boot up. But it’s really bad when you find that the other computer won’t boot either, and then when you pull your 10-year-old third-string backup system out of the garage so you can get online with a text-only browser and at least get some troubleshooting documentation, you realize your router and cable modem are both dead to the world. That was my Saturday morning.

At first I thought surge protectors must be even more useless than I guessed — how much protection can a $9 piece of plastic from China really give you from a million-volt attack from the heavens? — but it looks like it came in through the cable, after hitting the pole in the alley. Of couse, that’s the one place we weren’t protected. So far, the damage is:

  • System 1: power supply and the on-board Ethernet interface (which makes me wonder how much I can trust the rest of the motherboard now).
  • System 2: motherboard at least. Fortunately, we were planning to replace this system soon, but not last Saturday.
  • Router: The two Ethernet ports our PC were plugged into seem to be dead, but the other two and the wireless still work, so that might be okay for now. (Actually, the wireless was working at first, and then seemed to quit, so the router might be on its way out.)
  • Cable modem: Dead. And a new one couldn’t make a connection, so we had to wait until Monday to find out the problem started out at the pole, and get that fixed.

The only bright spot is that we didn’t lose any drives, so there’s no data loss. We keep good backups, but restoring from backup is still a pain.  I was able to get System 1 running with a borrowed power supply and an old network card.  Parts for the new system are on the way, soon to be followed by a UPS with cable protection. I guess that’s one advantage to having a wireless home network even if you don’t need it: power surges don’t travel across wireless. That introduces security and speed issues, though, so I still like wires.

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