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Power Up! UPSs and Surge Protectors

By Martin Coleman

They happen to the best of us. "I'll be alright" you say, watching the approaching storm while finishing off that game of Solitaire. Then Boom! The lights go out, your computer blinks off. Once the power has been restored, you press the power button to start it up again, but nothing. You check the plugs. They're fine. You press the power again. Nothing. Bad news. Your power supply has been blown. Chances are, your modem was blown as well, if not more. I guess you wont be finishing that game of solitaire after all.

Now that above scenario was completely preventable.

What caused it? A lightning strike causing a power spike is all it takes. But you can protect your computer from this in the future and even go so far as to give your computer 5-10+ mins of extra time even if the lights have gone out, to quickly shut-down that machine. How? By using a surge protector or a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). Depending on the model, it can protect your phone line and your computer, if not your monitor as well. That way, you can rest easy knowing that in case that storm decides to rear its ugly head back your way, you'll be prepared, your computer will be safe and protected and you'll have time to react properly, save your work, shut your machine down and unplug it for maximum safety.

Or, the simpler way, though I love UPSs myself, is to get a simple surge protector that doesn't provide battery backup, but will protect your computer in case of power surge, spikes and brown outs. You can plug your standard power adapter for your modem or ADSL line, your computer and your monitor into it and be assured that it's in good hands. A word of caution, you can find a surge protector for a few bucks, or up to $100 or over. With surge protectors, you get what you pay for. Look at the details for response time. They're counted in ns, nanoseconds. It measures the amount of time between a strike happening and how quick the protector is to "react" to protect your computer. The lower the time, the better. Keep in mind though, that some protectors can get quite pricey, almost to the point of matching the price of a UPS with a fast surge protector in it, so shop around or ask your computer user friends if they have one and where they got it from to get a good idea.

All in all, if you get the plain surge protector, you'll be safe. If you decide to go the whole hog and get a UPS (they are definitely worth it, but it's entirely your choice of affordability), then next time that storm heads your way and blows out the power, you might be able to finish that game of solitaire after all.

About The Author

Martin Coleman is a freelance writer and internet consultant. More information about his services and other articles can be found at

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Last Update: 14-Mar-2009

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