The Effect of Winter Weather on Hardware

The Effect of Winter Weather on Hardware

EDIT: The original version of this post stated that there had been no power outages in Texas at the time of publication. This was not accurate. We have changed the relevant lines to reflect the truth. We apologize if this caused any confusion.

-- 6:12 pm, 02/03/22

The National Weather Service has issued a hazardous winter weather warning for the Cincinnati area until 7:00 am on Friday, February 4th. These conditions include icy roads and heavy precipitation. The storm system is not limited to Ohio, however. It extends through much of the Midwest as well parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Colorado. Last year roughly 5 million Americans lost electricity when a major snow storm hit the Texas power grid. There have already been numerous losses of power in the north of Texas as a result of this year's winter storm.*

Firms who rely on advanced computer hardware to do their jobs may be concerned about the effect that cold weather and high precipitation may have on their hardware. What sorts of measures can they take to prevent damage to their equipment during nasty storms, like the one we're experiencing now?

Computers and the Cold

In truth, many of the problems that stem from extreme temperatures and computer hardware are associated with high heat, not extreme cold. Overheating can damage components, leading to data loss. Computer servers and other hardware tend to heat up as they run, meaning facilities that specialize in data storage need to take measures to keep their equipment cool.

Fewer problems are associated with extreme cold temperatures, but that doesn't mean you can just ignore the weather. One big problem with colder temperatures is the effect they have on batteries and other power generating devices. Extremely cold temperatures can increase the rate at which electricity moves through conducting components, which can cause surges.

What's more, moving equipment between extreme cold temperatures to warmer temperatures can lead to the formation of condensation on computer parts. Condensation occurs when water droplets form inside computers upon being turned on. When a device has been left in the cold for a long period of time and is abruptly powered up, the heat from the sudden electrical surge creates moisture along the components within. Moisture is a notorious vector for computer damage, so users should keep this in mind if they're moving between cold temperatures and warmer temperatures. Let your device warm up to room temperature before turning it on. Thankfully, this problem is rare.

A bigger problem has less to do with weaknesses in the equipment itself and more to do with the facilities in which it's housed. When hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, for example, many server facilities flooded, causing numerous outages.

Fortunately for Cincinnati residents, the weather is considerably milder than coastal areas. But that doesn't mean that unexpected disasters can't occur. Anything from a roof leak in your server room to a failed air conditioning unit can cause irreparable damage. If you want to protect your data, you need to have a thorough and easily-deployed disaster recovery plan in place. Titan Tech can help you create a disaster recovery plan, offer secured back ups to retrieve your data in the event of a local failure, and advise on infrastructure changes and other preventative measures. Reach out today to learn how they could help you.

We'll see you next week with more tech news. Stay safe and stay warm!

*If you're interested in following the state of the Texas power grid; KXAN, a local news station out of Austin, Texas; has a handy tool that monitors the conditions of the Texas power grid in real time.