Earlier today, my mother-in-law experienced a power outage as the result of some heavy storms in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Depending where you live, blackouts can be a rare occurrence or they could be a more regular inconvenience. Certainly, what many people don’t realise is that the electricity coming through the socket in the wall does not come through at a constant voltage which can pose a problem for electronics over time.
In any case, if you are using a computer and power is lost, not only is that inconvenient but there could be a varying loss of data (perhaps only a few cells in a spreadsheet since the last save or significant amounts of data if your hard drive doesn’t park its head properly and lands on the disk surface). Sure, you might be able to claim the lost hardware on your home and contents insurance but that might not help recover data on those damaged or fried hard drives.
Having built a file server at home using Windows Home Server I thought it would be prudent to take extra steps to protect both the hardware and precious data. Windows Home Server does natively provide data duplication on a folder share basis (so you can select which folders will be duplicated on different drives inside the computer) but I have also implemented backups once a week that are stored off site.
So I’ve handled the data so what about about the hardware?
To take care of potential electrical issues, I’ve implemented a UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply), specifically the Eaton Powerware 5110 rated @ 1500 VA (volt-amperes) which a line-interactive UPS. In a nutshell, a higher VA rating affords you longer runtime off battery power in comparison to a UPS with a lower VA rating. A line-interactive UPS can cater for a spike or sag in the power delivered from the power socket in addition to automatically switching from mains power to battery power.
The UPS also comes with some neat software that lets you see what is going on as well as the ability to access historic information. It will also safely shut down your connected computers if there is insufficient battery power to keep everything operating.
As you can see, the UPS has protected my equipment from quite a number of irregularities in the power supply most of which would go unnoticed by the average punter. Some of these incidents could have stressed the connected electronics and incrementally contributed to hardware failure had I not had the UPS.
So if you value your equipment and your data, don’t just get a surge protection power board and get a UPS. If $100 to $300 is a small price to pay when compared to the cost of your equipment and your data (email, documents, photographs, videos, etc) the choice seems to be very clear to me.