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Review of the APC Back-UPS ES 8 Outlet 550VA 120V – APC BE550

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Do you have a desktop PC with a spinning hard drive with unwritten (cached for performance) data?  Maybe that’s a 1 TB hard drive – or maybe a couple of them.  Did you back that up lately?  What if you needed to get everything back?  Not only your data, but the entire configuration of the operating system and all the installed software?  What happens if you just “pull the plug” on that PC with all those open documents and unwritten data?  Do you know why your desktop PC has a “shutdown” operation and not a physical On/Off switch?  There is a good reason for this.  Desktop PC’s and similar equipment do not like being yanked from the power without warning.  Nor do they like power variations or “brown outs”. 

What is your data (pictures, music, documents) worth to you?  What is your time worth?  How long would it take you to get all this back?  And, could you get it all back if you ended up with a corrupted file system due to a “crash” from an immediate and full power loss?

I have pretty reliable power – unless I don’t.  How about you?  You don’t notified in advance of a fatal power outage, surge, or brown-out.  A few days ago I had a very short power loss lasting 2-3 seconds.  That was enough to cause my running PC to crash.  It  placed my DSL modem into an error condition.  I was able to reboot the computer with no loss of data and there was no damage to the DSL modem or the router.  I was lucky. 

Why take the risk?  If you can’t eliminate the risk then mitigate the risk.  How much does risk mitigation cost?  What would be the value of the loss if you did not proactively plan for a power loss, surge, or brown out?  Do the math including the value of your time and tolerance for frustration in recovering from these unexpected and non predictable events.

What about the EMP?  Can people protect themselves from the EMP?  I don’t know.  

Over the past 10 years I got “EMP’d” – twice.

The lightning strike EMP took out

  1. The tuner on a digital TV set.  The TV set works for other inputs – HDMI, Component, Composit – but no tuner
  2. A radio that was plugged into the wall running on 110v power with a built-in transformer
  3. An Astron 35 amp power supply that was plugged-in and operating.  The Astron power supply was plugged into an ISOBAR surge protector when it was damaged
  4. The utility company’s RF sending device that sends them my Water usage.
  5. The network capability of a computer that was running at the time.  This included a nasty smell from the power supply.  The computer booted but no longer recognized the on-board ethernet.  I purchased a PCI based network card for about $14 and all is well.

Even the Astron Power Supply that was on an ISOBAR Surge Protector did not survive the nearby lightning strike.

The APC Back-UPS ES 8 Outlet 550VA 120V – APC BE550 UPS

All I want is enough time for the UPS to take me through a brown-out or short-duration power loss.  I don’t need to run for hours.  If it’s not a short-duration power outage, then I want enough time to do an orderly shutdown of a desktop computer; or, if possible, I want some software to shut down my PC when unattended.  I also want my DSL modem protected as well as my wireless router.  These latter two devices are low power consumption devices.

Based on the above requirements, I picked the The APC Back-UPS ES 8 Outlet 550VA 120V – APC Model BE550G

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Written by frrl

November 4, 2010 at 2:07 am

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