Correctly maintaining your UPS

Most modern computers have many background processes that require a proper shutdown. An Uninterruptable Power Supply (or UPS) is a great piece of equipment to have in your computing system. It functions as a battery backup for your personal computer. Having a UPS insures that you have a chance to power down your system properly in case of power failure. Most UPS’ can supply around 20 minutes of backup power, which can save you the trouble and stress of losing your hard work! It can also protect your PC from dangerous power surges and fluctuations that can damage your PC’s internal systems!

So while having an uninterruptable power supply can make your computing more secure, they do require maintenance to keep in great working condition. Here are a few quick tips:
1. Keep your UPS free of dust and heat! Just like your computer, dust can clog your UPS’s vents and cause heat buildup. Too much heat will hurt your UPS longevity and could cause a fire hazard. Pick a well ventilated and cool spot for your UPS and keep it clean!
2. Buy the correct type of UPS for you! Check the amount of power that your PC system (including monitor, modem, speakers, etc.) draws and buy a UPS rated for over that amount. Most modern UPS will have several battery supported outlets and several non supported ones. The supported ones add up to the total amount the UPS is rated for. So, for example, if you buy a UPS rated for 20 minutes of backup at 300W and it has 4 supported outlets, then that 300W is split between all four outlets. Most UPS will sound an alarm if they are overloaded to let you know.
a. Additional Point: Make sure that you plug both your PC AND monitor into the battery supported outlets on your UPS! It will be somewhat challenging to save all your work without a working monitor!
3. Ground your UPS! Plug the UPS’ power adapter directly into an outlet with three prongs. Do not use an adapter in between the wall and the UPS. A power surge will just overload the adapter and possibly damage the wall outlet.
4. Allow the UPS to charge! A lot of our current technology is “plug and play”. An UPS is not. If you do not allow the battery to charge fully, you will limit the capacity of the battery. And since the UPS is primarily a battery system, you will ultimately reduce the life of your UPS. Most UPS need at least 6 hours to fully charge, but check your UPS’ manual for specific charging times.
5. Read the manual! Many tech-savvy people don’t like manuals, but for a UPS, the details are important. Some UPS’ have power monitoring software and USB cables that must be installed and connected before they can monitor the power supply. Others require you to check the battery periodically for degradation. You won’t know unless you check!
6. Test Regularly! If your UPS fails at a crucial moment because of neglect, you wasted a purchase. Most UPS periodically self test themselves and will sound an alarm if there is a problem, but you may need to recalibrate the system from time to time. Again, check the manual!

Uninterruptable power supplies can be a life saver when the power goes out. They can also save wear and tear on your computer’s sensitive internals. But only the proper care and attention will maximize the value of your investment for years to come.