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Bugs & Fixes: Turning power off turns trouble on

#1 User is offline   Macworld 

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Posted 21 December 2012 - 12:15 PM

Post your comments for Bugs & Fixes: Turning power off turns trouble on here
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#2 User is offline   JMHammer 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 02:26 PM

Mr. Landau- I enjoy your articles, and usually find them informative. But "Turning power off turns trouble on" – for you, in this specific instance. Based on what you wrote, I think your surge protector did its job by burning itself out when you reactivated your gear instead of allowing your gear to become damaged. It's a shame this happened and you experienced a short period of frustration before identifying the problem, but if this sort of thing never happened then there'd be little point in having surge protectors in the first place.

After the damage occurred the surge protector probably began delivering "noisy" power to your devices, which can cause all sorts of problems to attached devices as varying draws are made through the damaged surge protector.
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#3 User is offline   rocky19460712 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 03:29 PM

Do I understand that when you state, "When I return, I flip the switch to get everything up and running again", that it means you do not power down your MacPro by selecting Shut Down… or turn off the printers by using their On/Off switch and likewise for any other device in your system?

Does that mean you only turn off the surge protector while these devices are still up and running?
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#4 User is offline   klasseng 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:09 PM

I've had the case where it was the surge protector/power bar that made noise when a certain level of power was being drawn.

From having dealt with electronic equipment for 40+ years, I've come across two modes of thought:
1. leave the equipment on 24/7. Don't put the equipment through the physical strain of heating up / cooling down. Weak electrical (mechanically weak) connections don't move around and break down.
2. have the equipment on only when you need it, saves energy.

I leave my stuff on 24/7.
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#5 User is offline   ted_landau 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:50 PM

Quote

I think your surge protector did its job by burning itself out when you reactivated your gear instead of allowing your gear to become damaged.


That is may well be what happened. Although I don't know why a surge occurred in this case, when it never had before. And as everything seemed to be getting power normally, it didn't occur to me that "noisy" power (whatever that may be exactly) would cause the display system. But I suppose it did.
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#6 User is offline   ted_landau 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 04:53 PM

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Does that mean you only turn off the surge protector while these devices are still up and running?


Absolutely not. I turn the devices on and off separately from using the surge protector.
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#7 User is offline   ted_landau 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 05:11 PM

I might add that, of all the symptoms I had upon returning home, only the Cinema Display issue appeared related to the surge protector. Most of the other devices were not even plugged into that protector.
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#8 User is offline   oneirish 

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  Posted 21 December 2012 - 06:38 PM

When you turn your surge protector off and leave devices plugged in, you have zero protection from surges/spikes while you are away. This may sem silly since the devices are off anyway but they can have just as much if not more damage exposed to surges this way.

All of our Tripp Lite ISOBAR ULTRA surge blocks at a research group have this clear warning on them - if they are off, there is nothing preventing surges from hitting your equipment and as bad, insurance will not cover the loss.
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#9 User is offline   kbear2 

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  Posted 22 December 2012 - 12:34 AM

There are units that have constant power coming in to some outlets even when the UPC is turned off (not unplugged from wall). These are usually the non-battery backup outlets.

""The Surge Protection outlets will protect your peripheral (non-data sensitive) equipment such as printers, faxes, and modems from physical hardware damage caused by surges, spikes, and over voltages. These outlets are ""Always On"". They are not controlled by the On/Off switches on the front of the UPS. As long as there is good input AC power from the wall, these outlets will remain on."
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#10 User is offline   lwdesign 

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  Posted 22 December 2012 - 05:17 AM

I usually turn off all my equipment just before leaving on a trip, including my UPS (uninterruptible power supply) but I always unplug it from the wall as well. I live in Clearwater, Florida, which is just across the bay from Tampa. This area is known as the lightning capitol of the world. If our building gets hit by lightning, it will fry any electronic equipment that's plugged into the wall whether it's on or off, so it's a very good idea to unplug any equipment to make sure there is no direct path the surge can follow.
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#11 User is offline   dougscripts 

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  Posted 22 December 2012 - 07:42 AM

Quote

1. leave the equipment on 24/7. Don't put the equipment through the physical strain of heating up / cooling down. Weak electrical (mechanically weak) connections don't move around and break down. 2. have the equipment on only when you need it, saves energy. I leave my stuff on 24/7.

Yep. I've had many an engineer prescribe the exact same thing over the years. I don't restart or shut down unless necessary.
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#12 User is offline   bwhite 

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  Posted 25 December 2012 - 07:20 AM

When I read an article like this what I really want to know is the how and the why of the solution. We do leave everything on 24/7.
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#13 User is offline   whitedog 

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  Posted 26 December 2012 - 01:09 PM

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When I read an article like this what I really want to know is the how and the why of the solution. We do leave everything on 24/7.

I like to know the how and why, too, but it's been my experience with troubleshooting that you don't always find the proximate causes even when you fix the problem. We cannot all be experts in everything. Troubleshooting, almost by definition, is a matter of trying this and trying that until the problem is resolved. Though Ted doesn't need me to speak for him, this is clearly the procedure he followed in this case.

By the way, though folks seem to be assuming Ted was using a UPS, most affordable surge protectors do not include a battery back up. Replacing a UPS unit can be a costly proposition. Even replacing the battery is expensive - not to mention the toxic chemicals from the old battery that need to be recycled.

As for whether the surge protector was "doing its job", if it was tripped by a power surge large enough to break the fuse that provides the surge protection, it should have no longer been able to supply any power to plugged-in devices. That's the whole point, if I'm not mistaken. If it was damaged by a surge and continued to function, even at a sub-par level, it was simply defective, which seems to me to be a more plausible explanation than some otherwise undetectable power surge. Indeed, from the symptoms Ted describes, the surge protector was creating irregularities in the current. This would explain the original malfunctions in his peripherals. And, even after they adapted to the new power stream, which may have been more erratic at the moment he turned the surge protector on, it appears it continued to provide flawed current, to which his monitor was more sensitive than his other devices.

Now I'm no electrical engineer and I may have the mechanics of the surge protector wrong. Perhaps it was designed to block a surge and still be usable after the surge had passed. Still, it was clearly performing badly, however it was designed to work. Given the amount of stress a surge protector can experience in daily use, even without a surge event, it should not be surprising that they can fail from time to time.

Whatever the cause in this case, I feel forewarned to pay closer attention to my surge protectors for signs of malfunction or fatigue.
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#14 User is offline   JonThaler 

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  Posted 28 December 2012 - 07:16 AM

"What if my backup software then backed up the corrupted data to my backup drive, leaving me with no valid copy of the data anywhere?"

Don't you use Time Machine? It preserves a history of your data, as a backup utility should.
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