A little while ago, we covered the dangers of power surges, blackouts, and other sudden losses of electricity. In short, electrical anomalies can cause serious harm to your PC. To minimise the risk of electrical damage, many opt for a surge protector or battery backup (uninterruptible power supply, or UPS).
If you would like to protect your computer from unexpected electrical changes, you might be considering a UPS. In this article, we’ll help you decide whether a backup battery is really necessary, or if a surge protector will do the trick.
Let’s get started.
Surge protectors: Straightforward protection against surges
Surge protectors break the circuit and redirect power surges away from your electronics. While this secures them against potentially dangerous spikes in power (caused by things like electrical storms), it does not safeguard your data in the event of power loss.
A surge protector can cost you anywhere from $10 to over $100, with more expensive devices offering more power outlets, plus ports for USB, Ethernet, phone line, and coaxial cable connections. While these additional ports are handy, a more expensive surge protector does not necessarily guarantee a higher level of protection.
When purchasing a surge protector, keep an eye out for the joule rating. This details the level of electrical joules a particular surge protector can stop. And as you can probably guess, the higher the number, the better.
Cheaper models offer around 1,000 joules and under, and more expensive models may protect against over 3,000. We recommend buying the strongest surge protector you can afford.
Uninterruptible power supply: Safeguard your work from unexpected outages
A UPS is completely different to a surge protector, though many include basic surge protection. A UPS does exactly what it says on the box: supplies an uninterruptible stream of power to your device, even if your home, street, or city is suffering from a blackout. In other words, a UPS is basically a backup battery.
A UPS is designed to switch to its own power supply as soon as the primary power supply (in this case, your wall outlet) turns off. Connected devices never lose power, not even for a single second. This will prevent unsaved work from being lost.
Do keep in mind that a consumer-grade UPS can only power a desktop PC and monitor for 20 minutes to an hour, giving you enough time to save your work and carry out a proper shutdown.
Should I use a surge protector or UPS?
We recommend that everyone purchases a surge protector. Power surges can, in worse case scenarios, render your computer unusable and your data irretrievable. The majority of at-home computer users can get away with a cheap surge protector in the form of a power board. Just remember to check that your surge protector is still working after electrical storms – this is usually indicated by a small light on the power board.
If you consistently do critical work on your computer that you cannot afford to lose, a UPS is a good investment. What’s more, if you live in an area with an unreliable power grid, a UPS is a useful addition to your setup. Otherwise, a backup battery for your PC isn’t 100 percent necessary.
Want help with your tech setup?
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