Friday’s power outage reminded me of another piece of advice I give clients: If you don’t have a generator, make sure you have a UPS! UPS doesn’t only stand for the brown delivery trucks we are all familiar with; in this case, UPS stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply— a battery back-up for your computer and peripherals. I work on a laptop now, (hooked up to a 23” monitor- heavenly) so when the power goes out, or dims in a brown-out, the laptop battery kicks in seamlessly to protect my work and files. I use a UPS as well, though, to protect my external drives and printers. How long the battery will power your equipment depends on the size (and cost) of the UPS you purchase. The smallest office models give you only a few minutes to shut down, the larger ones can give you about 20 minutes to close everything out.
A UPS looks like a very large power strip; on one side, the outlets are supported by the battery, and on the opposite side, the outlets function only as a surge protector/power strip. When the power goes out, the battery starts to beep- loudly- so that if you are away from your desk you have a warning that you are running on battery power and need to shut down. Once my computer shuts down, I turn off each drive before I turn off the UPS. Your UPS will need to be replaced every few years.
I learned this lesson the hard way. A surge protector works when there is a power spike, but doesn’t help in a brown-out, which is what almost fried my hard drive on one occasion. I was able to recover most of my files but I permanently lost almost 20% of my data. Learn from my experience and save yourself a lot of grief!
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