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Battery back-up versus surge protector for external HDs, printers, etc.

Michael Seltzer

New member
Hello,

My current surge protector is quite old, so I'm thinking of replacing it. A local store had an APC combo surge protector and battery back-up (four sockets on the battery, four just surge protection). I use a laptop (Macbook Pro) as my main computer, so wasn't thinking I needed battery back-up, but was wondering if the external hard drive and the printer (which like to go through a shut-down process) might be better protected with the battery. Any thoughts?

Michael
 
Hello,

My current surge protector is quite old, so I'm thinking of replacing it. A local store had an APC combo surge protector and battery back-up (four sockets on the battery, four just surge protection).
The main use of an UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is to allow the computer to gracefully power off, and (allow to) save the necessary files. The UPS is usually also a good filter against spikes and other irregularities in the power fed to the computer. Most periferal equipment doesn't need to save data, although it could be useful if a partially executed print job can finish and thus not waste paper and ink (although for that the computer must keep feeding the print data before shutting down). Just make sure that the mAh rating of the UPS is sufficient to supply the required power during the shut down time needed for all equipment you connect to the battery section of the UPS. All other equipment should be connected to the filtered only section.

Bart
 

Michael Seltzer

New member
Bart,

Thank you for your reply. I hadn't thought about being able to finish a print before losing power. Interesting idea. I was more concerned with two things: giving my external hard drive the chance to finish a process without losing data (thought I guess, if I were backing up. the data would still be somewhere), and whether it harmed the printer (or the hard drive, for that matter) to suddenly lose power without being able to go through its shut-down (head-parking) routine.

Thanks again,
Michael
 
The main use of an UPS (uninterruptable power supply) is to allow the computer to gracefully power off, and (allow to) save the necessary files. The UPS is usually also a good filter against spikes and other irregularities in the power fed to the computer.
This is not quite true. It depends on the character of the local power grid. Where I live the main use of a UPS is to cover up brown outs (under-voltage), momentary flashes where power goes out while the grid reroutes power, and to keep a computer running long enough to get a generator running. I have a couple (one for the network and one for my computer) and that one or two seconds of power when a tree takes out a line and the grid reroutes can keep one working during a wind storm.

a regular UPS user,

Sean (whose idea of rush hour traffic is having to stop at a single stoplight)
 
It depends on the character of the local power grid.
That's true, and I guess I'm lucky to live in a country with a good quality power grid. Our national power grid has a kind of redundancy built in (sort of dual rings of supply) so I only experience 1 power failure per year on average, and that is mainly caused by local ground workers hitting a power line (most of our powergrid is underground in populated areas) or a nearby transformer station blowing out.

Bart
 
That's true, and I guess I'm lucky to live in a country with a good quality power grid. Our national power grid has a kind of redundancy built in (sort of dual rings of supply) so I only experience 1 power failure per year on average, and that is mainly caused by local ground workers hitting a power line (most of our powergrid is underground in populated areas) or a nearby transformer station blowing out.
I live on the South end of an island over 30 miles long where the only significant source of power is a set of power lines to the North end of the island. So there is a single point of failure on top of being a dead end in the power grid so power reliability is lower here. We should also note that the USA has some of the most severe weather on planet (wind storms, tornadoes, ...) and here on an island the wind is more potent than many other nearby locales. So we lose power often here, but that is to be expected as there is no financial incentive to provide better power as their are too few consumers here to make it financially viable.

Heck, I know people who live off the grid (are not connect to power or telephones*) nearby.

I also remember in Tennessee the power would flash off for a second a lot when the wind blew, but that was in tornado territory so the wind blew hard there rather often.


But the big one for me is when the alternate power routing kicks in and power is lost for less than a second, then the UPS lets me keep going forward.

Even the big data centers filled with tens of thousands of servers use UPS'es to keep systems running just long enough for their multi megawatt generators to kick in. The power down plan is more for home users or absolute failsafe behavior (i.e., automated shutdown**)

enjoy,

Sean

* They have cell phones.

** Automated shutdown does not work with Windows XP if you have unsaved files as the dialogue boxes that come up asking about saves block shutdown. So an automated shutdown will fail to save files so one may as well just let the computer totally lose power as one is not saving the data unless they are on site anyway.
 
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