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Uninterruptible Power Supplies

An uninterruptible power supply, or UPS, is the best thing to have for hooking up your computer system to the wall socket. Basically, an uninterruptible power supply is a power strip combined with a battery to keep your computer running when the power goes out.

The notion behind a UPS is not to keep computing while the power is out. Instead, the UPS is designed to keep your basic computer components — the console and monitor — up and running just long enough for you to save your work and properly shut down the computer.

The following figure illustrates the proper way to set up your computer system with a UPS and power strip.

Use a UPS to power your PC for a short period of time.
Use a UPS to power your PC for a short period of time.

Keep the following points in mind:

  • A UPS only gives you about five minutes of computer power. Be expedient and save your stuff to disk, and then shut down Windows and turn off the computer. You can print, scan, or do other tasks when the power comes back on.

  • Leave the UPS on all the time. You need to turn it off only when the power is out and the computer has been properly shut down.

  • In addition to providing emergency power, a UPS provides higher levels of electrical protection for your equipment. Many models offer surge, spike, and dip protection, which keep your PC running smoothly despite any nasties the power company may throw your way.

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