In one of my boxen, both my power supply and network card died while in overnight hibernation - why?
Spontaneous failure of both point to either static or lightning on both A/C power and the network lines, or outright failure of the Power Supply, which affected one of the always-on circuits of your computer. Have you noticed some of your Ethernet LED's blink even when the system is turned off?
And: What must I do to appease the electricity Gods so that I don't lose more hardware?
You need essential systems on UPS.
You need everything else on a good,
power filtering, lightning arresting
surge suppressors, such as the Tripp
Lite Isobar or the Brick Wall.
You need to eliminate any 2-to-3
prong 110V adapters.
If your network switch or router has
a metal grounding tab, use it.
Connect it by wire to the center screw of a 3
prong outlet plate.
You need Power Supplies with OCP,
Over Current Protection. They shut
down instead of die when shorted.
(Not all cheap power supplies marked
as OCP actually have OCP. I have
In my home I've got... five computers in various states of use (monthly through to continuous), and I've lost power supplies for all of them, including the laptop, generally in lumps (several components around the same time). These losses have also included other bits and bobs, including a hard drive.
I can relate. At work I have seen countless power incidents, due to our proximity to a rather large and careless manufacturer with big power requirements, and a fragile local grid. We have regular brownouts, interruptions, sags, harmonics, voltage fluctuations and power frequency variations. At one point outside we had a 660V line cross some of our 120V circuits, resulting in the rare but veritable Swell or Overvoltage (aka surge).
What you are suffering is probably a combination of poor component quality and bad power. Power conditioning can lower the failure rate of poor quality components.
Do I need some kind of power conditioner? Those power-boards with surge protection, that's just a marketing lie, right?
Some are a big marketing lie, some are not. There are a few nuts on the Net, worshippers of the Real Earth Ground, who insist nothing can work unless it is a whole-house to earth breaker. They are wrong. Of all the power issues I listed, a whole-house breaker can only protect against the overvoltage, but a good surge protector can protect against all but the sustained interruptions. A good UPS will protect against everything. When the 660V line cross our 120V circuits, everything powered-on not on a power strip died. Everything on even the cheapest power strip survived, except for the power strips. Quality power strips will protect against more subtle voltage shifts.
And a cheap UPS isn't going to filter the electricity any, is it? So what do I do, spend up
A good modern UPS has both boost and buck capability, meaning, instead of switching to battery during minor power issues, it will just fix the issue. You may have to pay a little more to get this capability, but (for example) all our recent 1500VA UPS systems have it. Once you get to a certain size of UPS (600-700VA) you are more likely to get it included be default.
When choosing a UPS, don't equate VA with Watts. A 350VA UPS cannot support 350W of power draw.