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What are they?

Power failures, also known as blackouts, are the easiest power
problem to diagnose. If the lights go out, chance are there has
been a power failure. Any temporary, or not so temporary,
interruption in the flow of electricity will result in a power
failure which can cause hardware damage and data loss.

Where do they come from?

Violent weather is the first thing that comes to mind, but there
are any number of other causes. Overburdened power grids, car
accidents that bring down power lines, lightning strikes, and human
error are all likely sources.

What can they do?

Power failures are more than simply inconvenient and annoying.
They can cause computer users to lose hours of work when systems
shut down without warning. Power failures can even damage hard
drives resulting in loss of all data on a system. Consider the fact
that a single power outage on a high traffic network can stall
hundreds of users, and the seriousness of power failures becomes
evident. Even worse, when the power returns, it often brings
after-blackout spikes and surges to cause even more damage.

What can be done?

Computer users should consider a UPS system to protect their
systems. These systems monitor line levels and switch over to
battery power when utility power fails.