My understanding was that surge protectors can't protect against a direct lightning strike
That link is correct. NOTHING can protect you from a "direct" strike. Lightning voltages are so high, if something is in its direct "path", it has the "potential" to just blast through it, or "arc" around, past or over it.
I've been pushing UPS for computers for 20 years - ever since a power outage during a firmware update killed a sever motherboard. Not pretty. But it got me the UPS funding I'd been hollering for.
ALL computers should be on a "good" UPS with AVR. Note the AVR (automatic voltage regulation) is the bread and butter here. A surge and spike protector is little more than a fancy and expensive extension cord
as they do absolutely nothing for abnormal low voltage events like dips (opposite of spikes) and sags (opposite of surges), long duration sags (brownouts). And for abnormal high voltage events, they merely chop off ("clamp") the tops off the sine-waves. That leaves a not-so-pretty voltage waveform in its wake, and more work (and generated heat) for the PSU's regulator circuits.
A "good" UPS with AVR will help shape (regulate) the sine-wave into something more easily used by the devices plugged into it. And in low voltage events, it will use the batteries to boost the signal. And in extreme high voltage events, it will use the batteries to dump the excess into (which batteries can absorb with ease - one of their nice characteristics).
Note I keep saying "good" UPS with AVR. Like power supplies, there are cheap, good, and best. The best are very expensive, $400 or more. The ATX Form Factor standard requires all PSUs to "hold" voltages for 19ms (milliseconds) minimum during abnormal low voltage power events. A "good" UPS can react within that time frame.
Note, until now I've said nothing about power during a total power outage - that's because that's just the icing on the cake - and I live in "Tornado Alley" where severe weather is not uncommon. The AVR is the key thing. And note that bad (or good) climate areas have little to do with it. Any major appliance in your home can produce destructive anomalies. A $15, 1500W hair dryer made in some obscure factory in the backwoods of China, using parts from a similar factory upriver comes to mind. Note that anomalies originating from a faulty high-wattage appliance inside the house are why "whole-house" protectors are not good enough.
Finally, with a properly sized UPS, you can protect your computer, your monitor (handy when trying to finish what you are doing during an outage), or monitors (if LCD), and all your network gear with ease. And most come with software to interface with your OS to automatically save your work and "gracefully" shut down Windows and your computer before the batteries run out.
The downside is UPS batteries need to be replaced about every 3 years - with 90% of the difficultly being the batteries are pretty darn heavy.
(Radio Shack will recycle your old batteries, to keep them out of landfills