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Why your Mac should have a battery backup

Submitted by John Dickson, CEO of macWorks, Inc.

If you’re wondering how to improve your Mac’s operation and safeguard your data, consider a battery backup.

One of the most overlooked and cost-effective additions to any computer setup is to buy an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). They can cost as little as $65 or can cost thousands of dollars. If you have a computer, whether you’re a businessperson or a homeowner, you should invest in a UPS.

The purpose of a basic UPS is to protect your computer from power surges and outages, as well as keeping the computer running for a few minutes during an outage. That gives you time to properly shut down the system and avoid potential damage. The better (and more expensive) UPSs also “condition” the incoming power going to your computer to prevent low power and spikes.

Many people have a surge strip connected to their Mac and think that is adequate. It isn’t. Systems have been damaged by power outages when connected to a surge strip. With most Mac systems costing upwards of $1,000, an additional $65 or so for a decent UPS makes sense.

If you are a homeowner and have an iMac or laptop, you can probably get by with a less expensive UPS. If you have a tower Mac with several external hard drives connected to it, you might consider a UPS that is in the $100 range. A lot also depends on the power in your neighborhood. If you have frequent outages or brownouts, you want a UPS that conditions the incoming power.

Before buying a UPS, look online at some office supply stores and check manufacturer’s websites. Some companies have online power calculators that suggests a suitable model based on the equipment you will have plugged into it.

When you get your UPS home, remove the cover and plug in the red wire to the positive terminal on the internal battery. It is also worth checking the directions that come with your UPS, because some require that they be turned on with nothing plugged into them for 24 hours to let the battery fully charge.

Things to remember after purchasing a UPS

  • The internal battery eventually goes bad after several years. When it does you can take either the battery or the entire unit to a battery store and they will replace the battery for about $30. Don’t just throw the UPS away. The battery stores will also recycle the old battery for you.
  • Don’t plug a laser printer into a UPS. The high power surges generated by a laser printer coming on and off are not good for the unit. Inkjet printers can be safely plugged in.

Dickson is CEO of macWorks, Inc. He’s been working with Macintosh computers for more than 19 years.

As of July 7, 2011, this service provider was highly rated on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


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