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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

Do You Protect All Your Computers With an UPS? What About Your Network?

Most of you guys and gals know that I have quite a few computers on my LAN.  Most are gaming machines and many of them have an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for protection against voltage surges and power loss.  Being an retired electrical engineer, that's how I like to roll.  But not all of my computers have an UPS in the power circuit.  Three of them have just a surge protector.  Why?  Money I suppose is to blame, but even UPS devices can fail.

Not all UPS devices are what you think they should be.  I had a CyberPower 1500 VA unit, less than a year old, spark and fail a few months ago.  The computer it was supporting was running but it was not damaged.  Did the UPS take one for the team or did it fail from a bad design?  I took it apart and found what I think is a voltage regulator that blew out.  I have another one of these units in service and it's been fine so far, but my trust in CyberPower units has gone down a notch.   That brings us to APC UPS devices, maybe the industry leader.  I have several models of these units, most at the 1500 VA rating but a few of the 1000 VA rating too.  One of them, the APC Back-UPS Pro 1500S, seems to have a consistent failure mode or latch-up condition.  If I don't power it on every month or 5-6 weeks, it won't come on at all.  I must then pull the power plug, lay it on it's side and pull the battery to disconnect one lead (usually the red or positive side wire) for a minute.  Then I reassemble it and it works fine.  That is consistent with both of the units I have of this model, so I will not buy another one.  I also have one Trip-Lite UPS device (no issues with it) and a few smaller 'other brand' UPS devices for my LAN network components.  

So, do you protect each and every computer you have in operation with an UPS?  Do you at least use surge protectors, such as a surge power strip?  What about your network devices, like routers, cable modems and switches?

Maybe my favorite UPS, the APC Back-UPS XS 1500.Maybe my favorite UPS, the APC Back-UPS XS 1500.Yes, I have several of these units.Yes, I have several of these units.I don't know if I trust CyberPower UPS units anymore.I don't know if I trust CyberPower UPS units anymore.I have two of these and both suffer from the latch-up condition.  Pain in the butt sometimes.I have two of these and both suffer from the latch-up condition. Pain in the butt sometimes.Another workhorse on my LAN, the Back-UPS XS 1000 unit.  These have been very reliable.Another workhorse on my LAN, the Back-UPS XS 1000 unit. These have been very reliable.This Tripp-Lite supports both a gaming computer and a Raspberry Pi computer that supports streaming music services.This Tripp-Lite supports both a gaming computer and a Raspberry Pi computer that supports streaming music services.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
51 Replies
mengelag
Volunteer Moderator

I'm using step-down transformer here with lots of built-in protection. I have yet to plug it into a 220v wall socket here in the Philippines

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cpurpe91
Volunteer Moderator

I have looked into UPS units, however they cost quite a bit.

On one hand I would rather pay a few hundred to get a UPS than pay over a grand to build a new system, on the other hand I don't have that kind of money at this time. 

If it was money was a non-issue, I would certainly use a UPS on my gaming machine and display at the very least.

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mengelag
Volunteer Moderator

I'm just worried about blowing mine up on a 220v socket

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mengelag
Volunteer Moderator

A 3000W step-down transformer costs about $160, but I'm not sure how they compare to a UPS.

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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

They must make an UPS unit for 220 Volt power.  Have you looked for one?  I bet you still need the step-down transformer to run your computer devices, and that unit probably doesn't include surge protection.

 

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
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AgCN3
Adept III

I used to use APC UPS's, but after having batteries die prematurely, I decided to give Cyberpower a try.  So far (about 2 years now) it's been trouble free, and has had my PC's back a few times.  Living in California under the jurisdiction of PG&E, it's a necessity to have a sinewave UPS, so that PG&E doesn't undervolt or overvolt your sensitive equipment. 

 

Cyberpower 1500VA UPS - Resized.jpg

 

So yeah, Cyberpower 1500 for me.  👍

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Hehe I use the same...

Michael Alan Horton
jaandoh
Challenger

I don't have ups or power backup source... 

I have a power strip plugged into the wall socket, on the power strip it says surge protection on it, but whether it works or not I don't know...

I guess I rely a lot on the electricity supplier to catch any problems at source...

 

Edit

Plus they're pricey to buy and I'm on a budget or I need a pay rise or more hours work per week. .. 

BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

I hope you back up the information stored on your computer periodically.  

Many people that use an UPS only do so after experiencing a problem / loss of computer or data / in the past.  If you can afford one, it's better safe than sorry.  

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
TR2
Adept III

The advantages of running a UPS are 2 fold. Not sure how a line conditioner works but a UPS will keep you running thru surges of course but also brown outs and flickers. Most electronics can survive flickers and brown outs but a computer will have a problem with power interruption. It does not have to be huge but big enough to outlast power fluctuations. If its a surge the fuse will kick and you will have to reset or with a strike you have to hope it does not jump the gap. Here is something else to take note of, the warranty can be one of 2 ways. A first warranty will pay if your hardware is damaged and is the preferred warranty. A 2nd tier warranty will only pay if you file with your homeowners insurance. I had a Belkin UPS and lightning got it and the PC (yes lightning can jump the circuit when it blows). I sent in the UPS for them to verify the hit. Then I submitted receipts for the new hardware and they paid them and sent a new UPS. In the case of Cyber Power it did have a 2nd tier warranty and was a real hassle to use. I lost a monitor and just replaced it. I only shut my PCs down if leave for a few days the rest of the time they will go to sleep, so I always run a UPS for protection. If your not gonna use a UPS at least protect your PC with a good surge protector and read the warranty before you buy.

Vynski
Exemplar

I live way out in the boonies.  I use surge protectors, preferably Tripp Lite.  Lightning strikes are a major problem for this area on electrical grids.  However one thing that I have noticed is that the phone lines tend to be our major problem.  Due to the problem we have a policy in our home-owners insurance.  We have had claims in the past and if they are not too frequent they don't really complain.  

I have actually seen the phone entrance box on the side of the house blown apart.


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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

Wow, the phone company's box blown apart.  We used to have phone service from the local exchange but now it comes with our Cox cable service.  The old phone lines and boxes are old technology just rusting away in some places.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

The first time in Sept. of 2010.  The entrance box is right outside of my office window and I don't know if it was reaction or of it actually knocked me out of my chair.  When I got up off the floor I smelled smoke and was running through the house to see where it was at.  The kitchen phone was thrown 20 ft. across the room and the wall was black where the line ran from the phone to the jack.  In the spring of 2011 one of our central air units would not cool and the repairman found that the copper cooling line had a 1/8 inch hole burned through where it crossed over the black iron propane pipe, both lines were insulated.  He confirmed that it was a result of that lightning strike.  

To answer this question; No the surge protectors did absolutely not work.  

The second was just last summer when when I saw the flash and heard the boom and our internet was dead.  I was on my cell phone with the phone company and the tech person I was talking with was instructing that I need to go to the entrance box and push the reset button.  As I rounded the corner I see the box cover laying 40 ft. away in the driveway and the box looked like an explosion in a mattress factory.  I told her to send a repairman.  The router died and had to be replaced.

Now we just unplug the router every time there is a thunderstorm or chances of them occurring.  Since wi-fi networking we haven't lost any computers.

It's bad here and they know it's a grounding problem, but they can't seem to locate that problem.  The land line phones got so bad with static it was a blessing when my nephew, (works for the phone company), suggested we try VOIP.  So that is where we're at now.


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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

That's for the detailed report.  I've never heard of anyone having it that bad.  Like you said, there appears to be a grounding problem.  I would consider driving a grounding rod into the ground outside the house, and then connecting a 6 gauge copper wire to it from your indoor water pipes as a start.  

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

We had lightning rods on the house and the barns and it was worse then than since we have had them removed.    


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Axxemann
Forerunner

Just a run of the mill surge bar for me. I might upgrade to a UPS at some time, but the surge bars have done me well over the years.

Performance over Pretty.
ajlueke
Grandmaster

I installed a Square D SurgeBreaker directly at the fuse box to deal with potential power surges.  Naturally, that doesn't protect me from data loss during an actual outage, but my primary system is backed up to backblaze.  Since I like to have an offsite backup anyway in case of a HDD failure.

I just use another 1TB USB hard drive.  For the price, either SSD or HDD, they are efficient enough.


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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

I have started using backup SSD drives in my recent computer builds.  Things like a separate SATA 1 TB drive for around $75 USD or less is what I'm talking about.  I don't make much use of them though, at least not like I should.  My most precious data are the pictures I take with my iPhone.  I back those up on a separate 4 TB HDD that I keep near my work bench, so it's separate from a computer that might explode or burn up during a hot gaming session.  But I do have an UPS on most of my LAN computers.  

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

Same here on the photos, but not just my phone or digital cameras.  I have scanned and digitized old family photos from the past.  Some dating back to the 1930's. My cousin paid to have someone put some of her grandmother's (my aunt) 8mm movies on VCR tapes several years back.  A couple of weeks ago we discussed how to get them digitized to share with the rest of the family.  If she had a dual VCR and DVD recorder would be the easiest then distribute the DVD's.  I would really like to have those old movies.  A lot of fond memories.

 


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BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

Better to do it sooner rather than later.  Magnetic tape becomes brittle with age, just like my bones.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

Her and her sister have already moved them from 8mm to VHS.  I have the equipment to burn them from VHS to DVD.  It just takes time.


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In the case of something like a natural disaster (fire, tornado etc.) then both the primary drive and backup would be destroyed.  I prefer the cloud backup as all my data also exists in a completely secondary location.

Also, my machine has well over 20TB of data on it, difficult to backup locally without just creating a RAID 1.

BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

I wonder about the validity of that statement, "In the case of something like a natural disaster (fire, tornado etc.) then both the primary drive and backup would be destroyed."  I think the SSDs introduce new parameters to the question of survivability from things like fire, floods, and earthquakes.  An M.2 drive or a SATA 2.5" drive has no mechanical parts like an HDD has.  The SSDs can take quite a shock load and work fine.  

Now I'm not stupid or anything when it comes to survival of data.  I came from a work environment where data was backed up to several remote sites.  That was more of a protection against attack / destruction of the primary site.  Storage in the 'cloud' is really just storage in a remote server farm or data center.  They are hardened against reasonable weather events (hurricane, flooding, excessive heat or low temperatures, etc.) but they are not immune to hacking attacks and computer viruses that can be accidently uploaded from their subscribers.  

I think the best way for general public use is to have a removable SSD drive that you use perhaps weekly to back up your files and then you store it in a fire safe at home.  That is relatively cheap and not too hard to implement.  The SSD drive is small (unlike the HDD solution) and not subject to impact damage.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".
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The idea isn't that the backup would also be immune to natural disasters, but simply that due to different geographic locations both sets of data would be unlikely to be subjected to an event simultaneously. 

And while your statement about general public use may be accurate, this thread was about our own personal setups and why we do or do not use a UPS.  I do not, as I stated because I run whole home surge protection, and my data is stored off site.

As I have over 20TB of data, a small SSD or even SSDs in general aren't efficient as a backup medium.  The other option is to RAID 1 as HDD storage is relatively cheap, but then you run the risk of both copies being lost in a localized event.  So onto the cloud it is.  With fiber optic internet and fast upload speeds the initial backup isn't nearly as painful as it used to be. 

BigAl01
Volunteer Moderator

I grant you that uploading files has become cheaper.  I personally don't like having all my photos in the hands of a company that could go out of business without warning though.  Either that, or they could start charging high fees for large storage needs.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

You deserve 5 likes for this reply!😃😄😄😃


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I hear you loud and clear.  It's not like that hasn't crossed my mind.  I just don't trust any outsider with my data.  Even the best security on the market is more vulnerable than you might be led to believe.  The sad part about it is how quickly a good hacker can access it.  One example of a hacker I once knew could compromise Google's site in 20 seconds.  That's pretty  sad. 


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In my case, the risk is pretty minimal.  My HDD backed up to the cloud contain my entire movie collection, ripped from the discs.  Many of them, I have gone through and graded them into HDR using Techno3D.  

In the event of a HDD failure or natural disaster, all the movies could be restored from the original disc, but then I'd have to go through the effort of ripping them again and regrading them in 4K HDR.  So backing them up to the cloud saves me all that time an effort.  And of course, if the cloud drive is hacked, then I guess they have copies of all those movies?  Good for them I guess?

What will you do when some hacker encrypts your account, not if but when?


Famous last words of a RedNeck "Hey Ya'll, WATCH THIS"

I just use a surge protector to protect my PC. I supposed i should upgrade to using a UPS, but I've been alright so far. *nervous chuckle* And now I'm jinxed.

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Many people only learn the lesson after they have lost data.  But you can lose data in many ways that an UPS cannot help - like a failed storage drive or a ransomware attack.  An UPS will generally protect you from voltage spikes and brown outs (voltage drops).

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

Yeah that's a fair point. I don't think I have anything saved locally that I rely on, but I can see how that can be a huge issue for some people.

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quentincrews
Adept I

Most of my computers are on a surge protector. One thing I’m curious about is what we can do to upgrade the electrical in our 110+ year old house. When something pulls a lot of power, like our laser printer on startup, the lights in some of the rooms dim a bit, which doesn’t seem ideal. Maybe it’s mostly because we still only have a 100 Amp main panel? Apart from that I would prefer a whole-house surge protector for convenience so I don’t have UPSes all over the place.

I know what you mean about the wiring in an old house.  Our daughter has a house in the suburbs of Philadelphia that was built in 1900, so it's 123 years old.  She bought it after the place was renovated, which I believe meant upgraded wiring and the addition of central air conditioning.  They don't seem to have dimming lights or things of that nature.  I recommend you have an electrician give you an estimate on how to best deal with the old wiring in your house.  It could be extensive replacement of older 'aluminum' wiring or it might just be an outdated electrical panel with the old glass fuses.

That's my wife Sandra next to my car at our daughter's house (the section on the left).  At least they have a driveway.  Their street is lined with cobblestones, so people drive real slow!That's my wife Sandra next to my car at our daughter's house (the section on the left). At least they have a driveway. Their street is lined with cobblestones, so people drive real slow!

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".

First of all, do you own the property?

Second, How much electrical experience do you have?

If you have to hire a contractor it will cost considerably.  

I can sympathize with you on old homesteads.  Part of my home was built in the late 1800's then remodeled in the 1950's.  I added about 1800 square ft. in 2001.  I did all of the wiring in the new part and rewired the old part around 2006.  I have 2 x 200 amp breaker boxes, 2 x HVAC systems, 3 x chest type freezers, 1 x upright freezer, 4 x desktops, 4 x laptops.  Get the picture.  I only use copper wiring and various gauges of wiring (12 - 00) depending on load and distance.  My wiring exceeds any and all codes.

But there is always one thing you can't control, and that is your source of power.  If your power service provider is crappy with brownouts and blackouts along with a failing power grid, your just kind of SOL.

Sounds like you first need to upgrade to a 200 amp box and check your existing wiring and make sure you have an adequate entrance into the breaker box.  I would not recommend anything but 00 copper cable from the meter to the breaker box.

There are far to many things to consider and a lot of thought needs to go into rewiring.


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The only way to deal with things like that is to run an additional circuit.  High draw items, like Microwaves, driers, stoves etc should be the only thing on their particular circuit to avoid effects like what you mentioned.  So the plug that powers the laser printer should not be on the same circuit as the lights.

Whole home surge protectors are pretty easy to install, but it needs to be done directly at the panel.  They were actually added to the electrical code in 2020, so if you have work done that requires pulling permits, one will likely need to be added since everything will need to be brought up to code.,

quentincrews
Adept I

We have a modern panel with flip breakers but it’s still only 100 Amp. Don’t really feel comfortable doing electric work, so we’ll just look into getting a contractor at some point. Maybe once we get our first EV or PHEV vehicle. Until then our computers will just have to deal with their own individual surge protectors :).

My neighbor has a house just like ours with the flip breakers and I think it's a 100 AMP panel.  He recently bought a Tesla Model Y and had a good electrical contractor install a 240 outlet in the garage for him to charge the car batteries.  They had to move a few things around in the electrical panel to make room, but they got it done for around $1500 USD.  I still want to go see how they did the electrical work.  I would never do that myself; even if you do it correctly yourself, when you go to sell the house, it becomes an issue to address at closing.

As Albert Einstein said, "I could have done so much more with a Big Al's Computer!".