Power Surge Knocks Out Network at Courthouse in Arkansas

July 17, 2017

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

If you’ve been following the Power Protection Resource at all, you’ll know that power outages can happen at any time, for any number of unpredictable reasons, causing disruption to workflows and business operations.  But, the greater risk is damage to equipment, which are filled with sensitive electronic components that can be rendered useless by even a small power surge, as the Crawford County (Arkansas) Courthouse found out last week.

Late Tuesday afternoon, a power surge hit the courthouse, knocking out power for less than an hour, but damaging a module in the core switch that controls the switch’s management features.  The damage rendered most of the courthouse’s technology unusable, including the phone system and network and server access.  According to reports, the module was replaced the following afternoon and the courthouse was able to resume normal operations.

Fortunately, in this case, the damage was minimal and able to be repaired relatively quickly.  But, it serves as an example of how fragile technology can be, and why any business or agency should plan for just these kinds of situations by installing a power protection system that will protect servers, switches and other devices from power surges.

According to Laura Hall, Crawford County IT Director, the courthouse had experienced many surges and outages since the system was installed in 2009, without incident.  The fact is that each of those surges weakened the circuitry in the switch, causing it to ultimately fail.  A power protection system would have provided a safety net for not only the switch, but the entire network.  It’s entirely likely that other components were also damaged, perhaps not quite to the point of failure, but creating a weak link the system that could result in future problems that may not be as easy to repair.

For Hall – and every business executive and IT manager, in fact – the verdict should be an easy one, to proactively install systems that will protect their networks and systems from surges and outages, ensure business continuity and, in the process, extend the life of their investments.

Edited by Alicia Young

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