Tuesday, December 03, 2013

UPS power supplies - are they really worth it

It's 11:00 PM at night and you are at work finishing up a presentation for tomorrow. Suddenly, the power goes out. Now this is the part you have control over. You can choose to lose all of your work and leave the presenter (or you) hanging tomorrow. Or you can choose to have your work saved, for a thousand dollars or more out of your wallet. You may think "is my work really worth all of that money?" UPS power supplies can save your work (or game) when the power goes out, at the expense of your paycheck. UPS power supplies are basically like big batteries. When power is flowing it charges up. Then when disaster strikes, it switches to a battery and, in some higher end models, alerts you and your computer through USB that you are on battery power and you need to save and shutdown. UPS power supplies can be priceless for those who tend to forget to save their work every once in a while. But as with every helpful product, they come with disadvantages. Like all tech products, mixing and matching products and manufacturers can lead to headaches. One such example is some desktop product lines from Dell refuse to turn on when connected to certain power supplies that don't produce a 60-hertz sine wave signal. Another example is that most UPS power supplies don't support Linux. This means that if the power goes out and you are not physically close to your UPS unit to hear it beep, It will do you no good other than make you lose an extra 10 minutes of work. And OS X users are no better off. I'm not saying that UPS power supplies are bad, I'm saying that people need to carefully consider whether or not they really need a UPS. If you are already in the habit of saving every few minutes, a UPS may be more of a hassle to maintain. But if saving never crosses your mind until you finish, or you live on an unstable power grid, a UPS may be worth your consideration. UPS units are like insurance. Some people will invest in it, never need it, and their investment goes to waste. But others will get it, and the power will go out, and the work it saves may be worth tenfold the price of the UPS.