I had a terrible experience last week.

I had set up brand-new network equipment at a customer’s place. It was a stock configuration that I had deployed several times before. Yet for some strange reason, their network began to fail and recover mysteriously at highly irregular intervals. It took an after-hours troubleshooting session to identify the culprit: an energy-saver power strip.

Most of these strips have a master outlet which controls current flow to all of the other outlets. If the equipment plugged into the master outlet is turned off, or goes to sleep, then all of the other outlets are powered off. The manufacturers label the outlets, but that is not terribly helpful when enormous plugs are covering up the labels. If I had not had the opportunity to closely inspect these power strips while the staff was at home, I may have never figured it out!

So, if you have low-power electronics (wireless access point, Roku, DVD player, ethernet switch, home router, etc.) failing and recovering unpredictably, try checking the power strip. If it is an “energy-saver”, pitch it and get a real surge protector.

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