What is an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)
An Uninterruptible Power Supply (or UPS) is a piece of equipment designed to protect your computer in case of power failure. It resembles a small, but surprisingly heavy box, and it replaces your multi-plug power bar. It usually has both surge-protection outlets and battery-protected outlets. In fact, it can act as a battery for your desktop computer for a few minutes during a power loss. But mainly, it serves as the first protection against electrical problems going into your computer. Instead, plug all your devices into an UPS and it safeguards it against voltage spikes, electrical storm spikes or power losses. You will never again lose all your saved documents while you work.
Main Advantages of using an uninterruptible power supply
- First, it protects your computer by 'cleaning up' the power fluctuations to create a stable voltage for your computer to use, increasing the lifespan of your components. Power fluctuations can come from the electrical grid, by old/bad wiring in your house or by induction during electrical storms.
- The UPS also protects your computer from unexpected shutdowns by providing a few minutes of battery. This usually gives you enough time to save your work and shutdown your computer cleanly.
- It protects your electrical equipment from damage, when the power is turned back on. This can be after an outtage, or when you're just unplugging and replugging outlets. It can also reboot your computer, at that time.
The most important factor in choosing an UPS is the capacity, measured in Watts. You will need an UPS that can power your desktop computer as well as your screen(s) and essential peripherals. You should only plug your essential components, to maximize the duration of the battery. Make sure that you also plug your modem and router on it, if you need to have internet/wiFi to work! Anyhow, it's always pleasant to have wifi during a power outage.
You can usually aim for an UPS that is a little bigger than your computer's power supply unit (PSU). If you have a computer for 3D renderings, a 900 Watts UPS should be the aim for most users, but no lower than 500 Watts. The higher the wattage, the longer the unit will be able to sustain your computer on battery. You should usually expect to have between 5 and 30 minutes of battery time on a typical UPS. But some great ones can even let you work for over an hour and a half without power. Don't forget to reduce your computer's performances when running on battery, to increase it further.
Brands and pricing
The quality and durability are also a very important factor to consider. Your best bet is to find a reliable brand such as APC or CyberPower, with a model that has a good ratings and reviews. You can expect to spend between 100$ and 300$ for a good uninterruptible power supply. Of course the range goes much higher for professional use, but it isn't a mandatory piece of equipment. If you're just starting up and you're on a tight budget, you can skip the UPS altogether, but you'll be left in the dark during an outage.