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The recent storms and many power outages have once again brought home the importance of surge suppression and backup power supplies. Sometime after midnight on Saturday night/Sunday morning we were hit with a partial brownout. The scream of our carbon monoxide alarm and the frequent beep of the APC unit on my desk woke me up at about 2:30 AM. Half the circuits in the house were fine, but the rest were running on reduced power. My iMac and it’s various backup drives were connected to said APC unit, and after the time limit set for running on battery backup, it proceeded to gently shut down the entire system, probably saving system repair problems later on. The other circuits in my office that power things like router, laptop, cable box & TV never flickered.

Backup UPS (universal power supply) units can be found for as little as $50, and it’s little enough to pay for the safety they bring, but don’t buy with just price in mind. Look for a unit that can handle your needs. Some have only 6 outlets, some up to 10. Battery capacity varies, too. How long do you need to run on battery? Can it handle your cable modem or phone lines? Look at them all, comparing stats, and don’t be afraid to ask for help in selecting the best unit for your requirements. Above all, remember that a lightning strike can fry an entire system. A friend had everything protected but his modem. A ground strike a couple of hundred yards from his house managed to take out not only his modem, but his main router and a switch in one of his outbuildings, as well as frying the ethernet port on his iMac that was connected to the router. Not sure how we overlooked that one connection, but it was an expensive mistake.

So, my friends, if you don’t have at the very least a surge suppressor, and better yet a UPS unit, make it a priority to add one. It’s cheaper in the long run.

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