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Wednesday, 18 December 2013


When it is time to replace the battery, just order it from Amazon as well. I have been using an UPS unit for many years and also learned the hard way.

Most cheap (less than $1k) UPS's are of the standby variety, so they actually feed your electronics (filtered, surge-protected) line power when not in battery mode, and switch over to batteries in case of power loss/brown out.

Thus the fact that they generate a sine wave only matters when running on battery power, which is probably too infrequent to worry about.

The typical home network these days are several laptops or tablets (which basically have their own UPS builtin) running on a WiFi network.

A DSL MoDem and a wireless router plugged into a UPS could run for days.

I've tried several UPS devices over the years, most of them costing about $80-$100. I was lucky to get even one to last up to 2 years. They would die w/o warning, but what irritated me just as much was that when the power would go off (or they were unplugged after having been charged)they would beep continuously, and wouldn't shut up. Not too funny when the power goes off at 3am. Yes there are more current units that have an off switch for the alert tone.

But what ticked me off the most was that on more than one occasion the unit would die w/o notice(one was a lower-priced Cyber power unit) during a power outage (or before) and no UPS functionality was apparent whatsoever, and didn't provide any protection. Since then I've used just Tripp-Lite Isobar power filtering and surge protection units.

Maybe the $160+ UPS units are built better and work properly, and are therefore worth looking into. If they really do so, then perhaps I'll change my personal definition of UPS from Unbelievable Piece of Sh_t back to Uninterruptible Power Supply.

At first I thought you were talking about UPS the parcel delivery company! I REALLY can't stand them! I do, on the other hand, love UPS power supplies!

Dear Darr and Dan,

Yes, a good point-- just as with data backups, it's important to periodically check to make sure your backup actually WORKS!

It's a good idea, once a month, to run a test. Recover something from your backup drive, just to make sure it's not corrupted. And shut off the line power to your UPS, to make sure it really does pick up the load.

Assuming your backup systems are infallible is about as realistic as assuming your primary systems are infallible.


Dear Mike,

Yeah, the sine vs square thing only matters when the UPS kicks in. But then, it might matter? I dunno, I'll wait for the expert commentary to show up.

pax / Ctein

My past experience mirrors that of Dan B., unfortunately. But, Ctein's warning is certainly hard to ignore, so I just ordered the same unit. We'll see if it ever saves my bacon before the battery dies.

I got an UPS this summer, and it its protecting my QNAP file server with all my files and images. The QNAP is connected to the UPS with USB and will turn itself off if power does not return within one hour. That way the file server and its content is protected from corruption even when I´m not around to power down myself during an outage. The Mac Book Pro takes care of itself and goes into sleep when the battery runs down.

A couple of weeks back we had a series of short power cuts as something went wrong during the major power rewiring of our nearest town - my Windows machine just rebooted without problem every time.

funny thing about UPS, I have had more problems with them (causing computer crashes, not working, creating all kinds of noise, and costing a bloody mint) then they have ever helped me out.

ONly once have they done there job, and I would not of lost anything at the time.

I just stay away from them.

I first bought a UPS after a scare involving a HD error, and have been really satisfied for many years.

I've had a number of inexpensive (55$) UPS units. I have one for the DSL modem, router, and DVR in the family room, and one for a very low power (45w) pc and an external hard drive that I use for photo storage. The goal there is to allow enough time to force a shutdown and prevent disk damage, which the software handles automatically via a usb connection. It is never connected to the internet, by the way, which I've found to be a great timesaver in missed OS patches alone.

By far the UPS on the DSL modem is the most useful - the internet never goes away anymore, and I'd estimate the runtime to be in hours, not minutes.

I also purchased one for my mom's mac mini, mostly for my peace of mind.

I'm interested in your fiber situation. My neighbor has fiber from Verizon, and it 'comes with' an 8 hour battery pack* to allow enough connectivity for a dial tone during outages. A requirement set by either the state public service commission or the FCC. Perhaps your utility has a similar requirement?

*some exclusions required, read the fine print, and pay through the nose every month. I still have DSL.

I agree, but a word of caution...

Don't buy a cheap one. It is like buying a cheap parachute....

Don't rely on auto-shutdown software. Close apps and hibernate your PC/MAC (which parks the drives) when you are not around. The UPS can support this for hours and if the power does fail, the drives won't crash (it will just give an error on startup and force a cold boot).

Check the power requirements of everything that is attached. The UPS should COMFORTABLY exceed the maximum draw in case you have that outage in the middle of a 10 layer edit session, or level 3 of DOOM...

For the cat5e we have used these to control surges on ultra sensitive measuring equipment. To stop any false measurements form anything coming into the room. I don't work for the company or have any relationship with them.

Hope that helps.

i've been using cyberpower ups devices for years and have had too many power failures with which to test their effectiveness. passed with flying colours.

whereas a previous apc ups failed me - too long of a delay between the mains failing and it taking over meant the computer had already crashed. plus its battery life was pathetic.

Dear folks,

It's really really important to distinguish between surge protection and backup power. A *good* UPS includes surge protection, but that's a side benefit. Its primary function is to ensure power when the line voltage/amperage drops out.

Contrariwise, surge protectors offer no backup power whatsoever. Their function is to filter out spikes and transients that could fry equipment. They do no good if you lose power or have a brownout.

There are lots of crappy surge protectors out there–– pretty much anything built into a standard cheapo power strip. This is something you have to research fairly well, because unfortunately there is no way to test it yourself, whereas it's easy to test if a UPS actually works.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Thank you, Will.
I'll look into your recommendations.

Re: square vs. sine wave.

With the square wave, you get all of the harmonics for free!

Dear Peter,

Not true! You only get the ODD harmonics!

What a ripoff...

pax / Ctein

touche ;)

No comments regarding UPSes, beyond "yes, have one." But I wanted to suggest to Ctein perhaps he consider keeping all of his (data) files, even the Windows ones, on the Mac side of things.

I work on a lot of files in a VM environment, and I find my back-up needs have been greatly simplified by restricting the VM environment to only the OS and programs I need, with my data kept with my other Mac data and backed up via Time Machine and cloud backup.

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