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Author Topic: Anyone using a UPS?  (Read 6816 times)
David C. Buchan
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« on: January 17, 2007, 03:32:18 AM »

I thought yesterday that it may be a good idea to get a UPS (interruptible power supply) for my home computer. Victoria's raging bushfires took out main lines between states and put 1 million homes offline for several hours. A UPS gives you time to shut the PC down properly.

Has anyone had experience of these in the home environment?

Is there a brand/unit you can recommend?

David
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David Anderson
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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2007, 09:48:28 AM »

David,
During my working life as an IT manager I have always ensured that there was UPS backup for key servers. This is essential if you are running database applications over the network. At home, I'm more relaxed about things. I've lost power to my two desktop PCs on many occasions over several years (before some recent rewiring that put my main computer and my hi-fi system on a dedicated power circuit without RCD protection). The newer PC runs Windows XP Pro. The old PC runs Windows 2000 Pro. I have never had any problem rebooting either PC after a sudden power failure and no hardware or data failures have ever been apparent. I'm not sure if it has any relevance, but all my hard disks are SCSI. Being made to a higher standard than mass-market disks might improve their resilience to sudden power outages, but that is just pure speculation.

Other people may have had more negative experiences, but I have had no real reason to consider a UPS at home. Perhaps my luck will soon run out, but I rely on a paranoid obsession with regular backups to prevent any hardware failures causing me a major problem.

David
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David C. Buchan
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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2007, 02:00:53 PM »

David,

There's no doubt that regular backups are essential and that a UPS is an addition rather than an alternative. At best it's only going to save you the day's work -- and some equipment as well.

My own experience is a little different than yours. We had a big storm hit here unannounced last Feb and a week later my TV and computer started playing up. I could not relate it directly to lightning strikes but the coincidence seemed too high. The main board in the TV was damaged as was the power supply of the PC. Two modems have gone the way of lightning as well.

Like you I've never had trouble rebooting Windows XP from power failure.

We have UPS on work systems. Why not at home? I'd consider the loss of all my personal data more important than the potential loss of a work file. Just thinking aloud here and not stating we should all have a UPS but consider this scenario.

The first server installation I was involved with for a client had 5GB of disk space. I now have 650GB and if I'm to rearrange my backups to follow Peter's suggestions in The DAM Book I require about another 750GB. A 1.4TB system at home (BTW does anyone know what comes after terrabytes - or is a terrabyte just something you get from a tyrannosaurus rex). Ironically it's cheaper than the original server.

David
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Steve Fines
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« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2007, 08:38:48 AM »

Hello,

I have them on all my home machines. They're not that expensive.

The one on my main computer has a small beeping noise it makes when it has switched to battery power - either due to a surge or incoming power levels being too low or whatever. While I cannot see the lights flicker or other apparent fluctuations I'm amazed at how often it goes off (once every 2-3 days - usually for jsut a few seconds).

Seems like pretty cheap insurance to me.
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Mike Guilbault
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« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2007, 08:41:48 AM »

Absolutely - positively essential.  I use the Back-UPS XS1200 at work and the next model down for at home (not there at the moment so can't tell you what model that is).  I wouldn't use a computer without it.
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johnbeardy
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« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2007, 08:58:32 AM »

Is this a geographical thing? I seem to recall someone mentioning that he had UPS and at the time I was surprised. Maybe us Brits aren't as used to powercuts?

John
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David C. Buchan
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« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2007, 12:42:00 PM »

Reputedly, though I can't say I've really experienced it myself, the power quality here is bad and therefore the average life of a power supply is just 12-18 months so geography plays more of a factor than just mindset. I'm looking into prices for a UPS but have to get that extra drive space first.

Thanks everyone for your thoughts.

David
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David Anderson
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« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2007, 03:32:15 PM »

There's no doubt that regular backups are essential and that a UPS is an addition rather than an alternative. At best it's only going to save you the day's work -- and some equipment as well.
David,
Yes, I agree, and if money is no object then the decision is easy. For many people, there are practical choices to be made (Playstation for the kids or a UPS for Dad? Hmmmm). You have to make this cost/benefit analysis for yourself.

Quote
We have UPS on work systems. Why not at home? I'd consider the loss of all my personal data more important than the potential loss of a work file.
Don't quite understand you here and it contradicts your earlier statement, quoted above. The absence of a UPS (or a bad disk, or a house fire, or a lightning strike, or a burglary, etc, etc) should never cause you to lose all your data. Only the absence of a regular backup process carries that risk.

David
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David Anderson
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« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2007, 03:45:44 PM »

....the power quality here is bad and therefore the average life of a power supply is just 12-18 months so geography plays more of a factor than just mindset.
David,
Do you really mean that you have to replace the power supply unit in your PCs every 12-18 months? If so, that's very different from my experience in the UK Sad. There are plenty of power protection devices on the market that address such risks and prevent spikes, etc, from damaging computer equipment. Do you make use of such kit?

David
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David C. Buchan
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« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2007, 11:15:16 PM »

....the power quality here is bad and therefore the average life of a power supply is just 12-18 months so geography plays more of a factor than just mindset.
David,
Do you really mean that you have to replace the power supply unit in your PCs every 12-18 months? If so, that's very different from my experience in the UK Sad. There are plenty of power protection devices on the market that address such risks and prevent spikes, etc, from damaging computer equipment. Do you make use of such kit?

David

I have a filter on the line but not the same as what a UPS would provide. It protects against big spikes. The claim by every IT company in town, and to honest it's not effected me yet, is that our power quality is somehow variable (voltage changes etc) and that's what causes the outages. Any more than that I'm not going to be able to explain.

David
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DJ Webb
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« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2007, 03:44:35 PM »

I've got an APC-500 UPS. its like a very big "trailing socket". I use it with my NAS and got it cheap off of ebay so figured its well worth the money to protect my data that little bit extra.
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peterkrogh
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« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2007, 02:44:54 PM »

I'm using them on all my omputers here - various brands bought on sale at the Big Box.

Seems to be a pretty limited battery life on most of these - the battery dies after a year or so.  Thinking about buying a car battery (most all of these are 12 volt) as a replacement and Frankenstein the thing up.

Lots of thunderstorms here in DC, as well as snow/ice power failures.
Peter
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rskoss
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« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2007, 03:26:10 AM »

I have an APC on the PowerMac that will shut it down when the power goes off.

I also have one in the family room to keep the Tivo's running and the cable box on when we get a power glitch.

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Steve_Spiegel
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« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2007, 07:01:22 AM »

I have UPS devices on all of my desktops as many others have mentioned. However, be aware they are not all the protection you need.

In August 2005, a nasty summertime lightning storm ruined two computers that were running with UPS on. The issue was that the surge hit the cable companies equipment and took out these machines through the cable connection to the internet.

The answer:

1. If a storm is approaching, turn your equipment off and unplug it.
2. Make sure you run everything that is powered and going into your computer through the UPS.
3. Backup religiously. Other than replacing damaged equipment, this was more of a bother than a disaster because all critical files were backed up. (Homeowners insurance covered all this equipment plus a 60 inch TV that was connected via cable.)

Steve
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alanrew
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« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2007, 05:00:02 AM »

Seems to be a pretty limited battery life on most of these - the battery dies after a year or so.

I'm thinking about buying a UPS and I'm very concerned about the limited battery life you mention. Is 12 months typical for UPS batteries? Does anyone else have experience of longer (or shorter) lifetimes?

WRT the benefits of UPS, what I _don't_ want to happen is for any of my external hard drives, that are used for backing up my data, to be fried or otherwise corrupted at the time when I'm doing a backup (or a restore). As unlikely as this may seem, my lifetime experience in IT suggests these events are somehow more likely if they cause more inconvenience (I think this is called Sod's Law). And yes, I do keep duplicates of my external HDDs, and the only time they are actually powered up & connected to my PC is when I'm doing backups or restores.

Thanks in anticipation for advice about battery life...

Alan
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