My Home-Built desktop system is a few years old now but it has served me well and I hope it will continue to do so. I haven’t used a Battery Backup or UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) before and didn’t think I really needed one. I have a recent disaster recover backup of the system and I save my files often as I work so any loss from a power outage would be minimal. At least that’s what I told myself until the Summer of 2009 changed everything. Our community which is a bit north of Baltimore had several unexpected and unexplained power outages which caused my system to suddenly shut down. Unfortunately, my mail program was doing its routine of compacting data at the time and I lost all the messages in my Inbox. About a week later, it happened again and my Inbox disappeared a second time. That was enough for me. I went in search of a Battery Backup to save my Inbox and my sanity.
After checking out a number of different kinds of battery backup devices, I settled on the BE550G Battery Backup ES series from American Power Conversion. The APC website shows a suggested list price of $59.99 for the device but that week it was on sale at the local Best Buy in Bel Air for about $20 less so I ordered it online from Best Buy for Pickup at the local store.
The BE550G has 8 power outlets. Four of these are for Battery Backup plus they are Surge Protected. The other four outlets are just Surge Protected and will continue to receive power even if the BE550G is switched off. Since I switch off my computer by turning off the UPS, this is great of you need to plug in a lamp or other device that you might need even if you’re not using the computer. This is NOT great if you have speakers plugged in to one of these outlets because they continue to hummmmm after the computer is off. A second power strip that can be switched off for the speakers took care of that little problem.
On the side of the unit is a Data Port to connect the, included, special cable to a USB port on your computer and ports where you can connect your phone line, fax machine or telephone. The PowerChute Personal Edition software lets you customize how the Battery Backup will function. Choose such things as how long you want the keep your computer running before the software shuts it down in the event of a power outage or to enable the sound option for power alerts and warnings or turn the sound off if you find it as annoying as I did. Other more technical options may be adjusted or you can just accept the default settings. The software has a very good Help section which offers the information you need to make those decision.
The Current Status window will let you see the status of your battery capacity, if it’s charged or charging, when the last blackout occurred and what the Input Voltage is at any given moment. At the bottom of that screen it will show if it is currently on Battery Power or AC Utility Power and the Estimated time you would have on Battery Power.
This unit has a user-replaceable battery which they recommend replacing every 3 years. Many UPS devices need to be sent back to the manufacturer to have the battery replaced so a user-replaceable battery is a huge plus. A push-button circuit breaker is also on the side of the device for easy recovery from an overload or short circuit.
When I got the APC BE550G Battery Backup home, I plugged in my computer, monitor, external hard drive etc. And installed the PowerChute software. Then I connected the special USB cable and my phone line and telephone. I accepted the default settings and then went back to doing normal computer activities. I hadn’t had the Battery Backup set up for more than an hour before there was another one of those strange power outages. My computer never missed a beat or even flickered when the switch was made to battery power. I was so amazed that I had to go to another room to confirm that the power was really off in the rest of the house. It usually takes a lot longer than an hour to determine that my money was well spent but I can definitely recommend the APC BE550G Battery Backup. I am impressed with how easy it was to set up and the quiet operation and efficient protection of my data when an outage strikes. It was a very affordable solution to my power problem.
It’s essential to choose the right Battery Backup for your computer and attached devices. Visit the APC UPS Selector Wizard and APC will recommend the correct model for your needs.