Should you have an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) aka Battery Backup?
There are two issues with power flow that need to be addressed and as far as this topic goes, they are mutually exclusive. This means that you can face one or the other at any given time but not both at the same time, however, you need to be protected against both at all times.
- You don’t want your machine to power down unexpectedly in the middle of an update
- You don’t want a power spike to enter your computer and fry it’s components
A lot of people assume that if their laptop has a working battery they don’t need battery backup but with a desktop, it is a good idea. If you have a good laptop battery and the power goes off or below tolerance (brown out), your laptop battery will keep your computer running so nothing is lost and you can just go on your merry way, right? Well kinda. You have issue 1 above covered in most cases but you had better have a high-end power bar with good surge protection to defend against issue 2. And we’re not talking an $8 power bar from Dollarama.
A UPS not only gives you emergency power for a short period of time so your computer can complete it’s running tasks and you can shut down gracefully, it can also be set to regulate the amount of power that it outputs so you can keep it within the tolerance levels of your device(s) and defend against both issues above.
Two of my clients have recently faced these issues below. One was a laptop and one was a desktop.
The laptop had a working battery and was plugged into a power bar. Lightning struck nearby and the computer instantly went dead. Diagnosis … A fried power supply on the mother board. Price to fix … $150 to replace motherboard and no computer for 2 days.
The desktop was an older model running Windows XP Pro. The lights flickered while the machine was doing an Anti Virus update which was in the process of writing to a Windows system file. The system lost power for a split second and rebooted but the write to the system file was not complete when it powered off, leaving the file that was being written corrupt. Windows could not reboot and could not recover from the error. Diagnosis … Corrupt Windows. Price to recover data, reinstall Windows and it’s updates, reinstall drivers and reinstall programs … $125 and no computer for 2 days. This was at a considerable discount because it took several hours to complete these tasks. (Incidentally, my office is very close to this client’s office. My lights flickered at the same time and my $85 UPS clicked on and off when the lights flickered but my computer was rock solid. 10 minutes later the client called me).
In my office I use an APC, 330 watt UPS that has 4 slots with both Power Surge Protection & Battery Backup and 4 slots for Power Surge Protection only for a total of 8 slots. Canada Computers and Tiger Direct carry APC and other brands as well and a lot of the time you can check their websites and find them on sale. I use the 4 Battery Backup slots for my desktop computer, it’s monitor, the network router and the network modem. I use the Power Surge Only slots for my printer and scanner because I don’t really care if they power off unexpectedly as long as they don’t get fried. It’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made because it has kicked in several times since I purchased it and given me peace of mind that I can’t put a value on.
A $60 – $100 UPS would have prevented both scenarios for my clients above.
Just sayin’ …