A few weeks ago, there were a number of scary and annoying thunderstorms. That’s nothing new here in Houston. This time of the year, there’s hardly a day without at least a small one. The thunderstorms often seem to materialize out of thin air (figuratively; no meteorological pun intended), and since I don’t want my new computer to get fried, I usually pull the plug until the storm has moved on.

I have the notebook and can do thinking offline, of course, but pulling the plug also takes down my home network and internet connection (talking of internet: SBC offered me DSL Pro for $2 less than my old DSL Express. I’ll soon have 3 Mbps down/512 Kbps up instead of 1.5 Mbps/384 Kbps and $2 more in my pocket). I have a lot of internet resources mirrored on my server, but without networking, I can’t get to it. That means sometimes I get to spin wheels for an hour or so.

While sitting out one of those thunderstorms a couple of weeks ago, I decided the peace of mind was worth investing into an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). It turns out it’s not that much more expensive than a surge protector. I checked the power consumption of the devices I wanted to back up… 350 W for my new machine, hundred-and-some for my server, a few more watts for the two TFT monitors, the switch, and the wireless router.

I decided to buy an APC Back-UPS ES 725 Broadband with 725 VA and 450 W for my workstation and an APC Back-UPS ES 500 for my server and the networking components. My workstation and my server, the monitors, and the entire network including DSL and WiFi will keep on running now. My speakers, the scanner, and the printer are not battery-backed, but at least surge-protected.

My main computer will supposedly keep on running for over 15 minutes now, the server and the network for over 40 minutes. I’ve done short tests of a few minutes, everything went smoothly.

I’m really looking forward to the next thunderstorm or power failure now :)

PS: Instead of getting two UPS, I considered buying just a small one and a generator.


About Mathias

Software development engineer. Principal developer of DrJava. Recent Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Computer Science at Rice University.
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