Smart UPS: A smart move, but may not be for all...
Feb 4, 2000
Pros: Reliable backup power, software has a lot of useful features.
I love my APC 400 Smart UPS. I have had it for going on 7 years now and it has continued to perform well. On the few times I have it kick on, it has performed as advertised. I though it had more protection than is actually does however, which lead to false sense of security visa-via, the treaded dirty electricity.
The bain of any computers internal clock and processor, is dirty electricity! What is dirty electricity you might ask? It is electricity that does not maintain a constant cycle, and thereby a constant voltage as it travels through the lines to the outlet. The fluctuation in voltage can cause considerable damage to the electronics found in computers, televisions, monitors, telephones, etc.
I know from personal experience. A about a year back I moved into an older house with dirty electricity. Although I had the computer, monitor, and modem plugged into my APC 400 UPS the dirty electricity was passed through to my computer and monitor. After about a month in the house, I noticed that the computer was starting to lose time to the tune of several minutes a day. Not only that, but the computer started slowing down; this was manifested by slow mouse pointer movement and locks, and erratic pointer jumps. Only a hard boot of the computer would clear up these symptoms, but only for about half a day, or so.
After about three months in the house I noticed my Viewsonic 17G monitor screen started to flicker noticeably! In time the picture would flicker and start to fade from the bottom up, and eventually I had to turn the monitor off for about 30 minutes. Afterwards, I could turn in back on, but one for about an hour, then the whole process would start all over again. And this was the time when I was attempting to put together my web page!
Anyway, my point is this: do not expect your APC UPS to protect your system from this surge unless it specifically says it will. There are some APC products that will protect your electronic gear against less than perfect electricity, seek them out of you live in an older building, or house.
The Smart UPS line by APC connects the UPS to your PC via a serial port and allows you to monitor the UPS performance via software called Powercute, which is included with the UPS. The software also allows for the configuration of the UPS and its actions if a power interruption takes place, which I find quite handy since I leave my PSs on 24/7. I have configured the software to conduct an orderly shutdown of the workstation in case of a power interruption. The 400 has enough power to last 15 minutes under its current load, which more than enough time for a Windows 98 computer to shut itself down.
The Smart UPS line are fairly expensive, so if you dont really need the protection afforded by them you might want to try APC line of less expensive UPSs that are designed for home and SOHO use. Bottom line: you can always use some protection against power failure; nothing irritates more than losing a document you have been working on for the last hour due to a power hit! Go to www.apc.com and check the companys full line of products.
BTW, the dirty electric also laid waste to my 19 television VHF tuner to the tune of $110.00, and caused my $159.00 Sony telephone to eventually quit working after continually losing time. The computer is still effected by slowdowns and erratic clock speeds, but the monitor has recovered nicely!
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About the reviewer
Vincent Martin (vemartin)
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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Power problems wreak havoc on today's multitasking networked or stand-alone PCs. An APC Back-UPS Pro instantly switches your computer to emergency battery backup power and allows you to work through brief power outages without data loss or downtime. The APC Back-UPS Pro uses PowerChute plus power management software with WorkSafe to save files and shut down your computer safely in the event of an extended power failure. High-performance surge suppression for AC line and network/dataline protects all paths to your system from electrical noise and damaging power surges - even lightning.