Most owners of a desktop computer understand that they need to protect their investment by connecting their computer to a surge protector.
However, surge protectors only addresses one type of damage that can be caused by electrical disruption (surges) and completely fail to protect you and your computer against far more frequent (and harmful) disruptions like complete power loss (black outs), under voltage (brown outs), or line noise.
These types of power problems can damage your computer and can result in damage to your system (or cause complete system failure).
Protect your computer with a UPS to protect against power disturbances and damage caused by surges, dips, and blackouts.
A simple Uninterrupted Power Supply or UPS is a cheap investment that helps keep your computer running throughout all of these electrical disruptions, and is a must have when considering your basic computer maintenance.
A UPS is essentially a surge bar with a battery built inside of it. They have two sides of electrical outlets.
One side offers Surge Protection only and is meant for your desktop printer, your lamp, and your adding machine (i.e. stuff that doesn’t need to run during a power outage).
The other side offers Surge Protection + Battery Backup and is meant for your computer, monitor, and any other mission critical systems like your external backup drive.
In the event of a power outage or under voltage, the UPS quietly and instantly switches to battery power, supplying your critical systems with a seamless transition to alternative power.
When the power gets restored or the power disturbance stabilizes to within a safe threshold, they switch back to house power and begin charging the reserve battery.
We also recommend these for places with a backup generator. Often the generator takes 10 to 30 seconds to kick in, by which time the computers have long since shutdown (possibly with damage).
With a UPS in place, you can safely and smoothly transition from house power to backup battery to backup generator.
We like the UPS from a company called American Power Coversion: http://www.apc.com/
A residential model like the APC 750 costs about $90 and a more robust, longer running unit for businesses machines like the APC 1300 cost about $200.
The more expensive the unit, the longer it can run on battery and the higher total volt amps (VA) it can support.
In reality these units really only run for 10 to 30 minutes, which is enough time for you to safely save your data and shut down your system.
If you are not in attendance, these units work with your computer to attempt a safe shutdown (via a cable that connects to your computer and a bit of monitoring software) when the battery reaches ~10%.
These units are designed to be, and should be considered, sacrificial. That is, they will fail before your computer gets the shock of its life.
Don’t forget, this isn’t just about protecting your physical machine from damage from electrical damage, this is about saving yourself the headache and cost of resetting up your computer, software, and workflow, should it get fried.
It is a small price to pay when you know what it can save you in lost time and money.
If you have a laptop then you already have a battery built into your machine so you don’t need a UPS to provide power in the event of a power outage.
Your laptop is rated for 220 V (which covers a lot of over voltage situations for us here in 120 V land) but you may consider just using a reputable laptop surge protector.
I have been in stores and have overheard sales people telling people to keep their laptop batteries out of the machine to help keep it “fresh” and the number of “cycles” down.
Hogwash. Your laptop is only going to last ~3 years, use it and use it up. Because I can guarantee you that you aren’t going to be too happy when your dead laptop is staring up at you, but you have a fresh battery in the drawer!
Put the battery in and protect your investment.