Replacing Oops! with UPS

BY STANLEY ZAROWIN

Q. I’ve been running my computer without a “seatbelt”—that is, without an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). So far, I’ve been lucky; I haven’t been hit with a power outage or other power problems. But now I’ve decided to buy a UPS and wonder what special features I should look for.

A. You’re wise. As you know, a UPS’s main function is to protect your computer and its data from sudden electrical power outages. When power goes out, the UPS’s battery kicks in and gives you time to save your data and power down. But a good UPS will do more. For one, it will save and power down automatically, even if you’re not around when a problem occurs.

You should find a UPS that can do even more such as handling brown outs and spikes. Because, as good as many power utilities are, they still occasionally generate electrical surges. Such a voltage spike can zap your computer.

The UPS can guard against more subtle problems, too, which are hard to spot or diagnose until after they’ve done their damage. For example, one problem they can mitigate are under-voltages, which are caused by heavy power drains from air conditioners, say, and result in sharp voltage drops. Both spikes and under-voltages can cause file corruptions.

Prices are reasonable—considering the safety they provide. You can get an excellent model for about $200.

Do you have a technology question for this column? Send it to Senior Editor Stanley Zarowin via e-mail at zarowin@mindspring.com or regular mail at the Journal of Accountancy, Harborside Financial Center, 201 Plaza Three, Jersey City, NJ 07311-3881. We regret that we cannot answer letters individually. If a question asked by a reader is deemed to have sufficiently broad interest, we will answer it in a forthcoming Technology Q&A column.

—The editors

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