Byte Me #70 Stop your PC shutting up shop, with UPS protection

21 April, 2012

So you’ve bought a new car but are never going to get the oil and filter changed when it is serviced – how long do you think it will last before you start hearing engine rattles and it eventually stops running?  Just the same as filtering contaminants from and lubricating the engine, computers need clean and regular power to last.

As an example – last week Tom spent $2500 on the latest and greatest computer – he got heaps of ram, a large hard drive, a fast CPU, huge LCD screen and all the software.  But today it is displaying the blue screen of death and crashing – why?  If he hasn’t loaded some junk software or got a virus then most likely his PC has copped a power surge (even though he bought a surge protector).  Too few people know that the modern PC is very susceptible to power fluctuations and the devastating effect they can have.

So what is the answer?  In this case a $250 UPS (uninterruptable power supply) a small electronic box sitting between your computer and your wall power outlet is the answer.  A UPS has a small lead acid battery (similar to a motorbike battery) as well as heaps of electronics and the ability totally filter the power going to your PC.  A UPS will keep the voltage within 5% of the recommended 230Volts and will even keep your PC & screen running for 5 minutes if the power goes off to allow you to save files and shut down properly.

So what about the $100 power boards with surge protection from the likes of Dick Smith?  For a PC these are next to useless as they are really only an on/off switch – which turns off if there is a massive voltage spike.  If fact if they do anything you will know because you will then mostly have to press a reset button on them to get them working again – it rarely ever happens.  However, how often do you see the lights dim or flicker in your house / office and these are just the low voltages (brown outs) that you can see, the high voltage situations you won’t see just from your lighting.

We have not supplied a single PC, let alone a server computer for the last 9 years without a UPS – we simply refuse to sell a PC without one – they should be mandatory.  So if your ram or motherboard is fried, or even if your PC is just crashing a lot or “blue screening” then chances are it has coped a power surge and the only fix is replacement of costly components – if you can still buy compatible ones.  If the PC is over 2 or 3 years old the best option is usually to throw it away and start again – but this time get a good UPS.

Why don’t retailers tell you about this – simple, they want their PC to be $50 cheaper than the shop down the road, not $200 dearer.  The consumer once again has to be a bit savvy and insist on a quality UPS to protect their IT investment.  Keep in mind that laptops don’t need this facility near as much due to their built in battery which acts like a UPS.  Kerr Solutions is at 128 Musgrave Street & is contactable on 49 222 400.


2012-04-21 Byte Me Article 70 - Power filtering

  • February 20, 2014