Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

My Power Is OUT

Folks, yesterday we had a wind storm and our electricity went out. It is still out. I had to go mobile to do today’s publishing. So I will let this event serve as a reminder to me to remind you that power outages happen and you can mitigate their effects on your digital devices– I am reposting:

A Power Outage Wake-up Call

This morning I experienced something that I haven’t had happen to me in a very long time — a total electricity outage that lasted for more than an hour. I do not want you to think I’m a complete wimp (in the days of my youth, “brownouts” and “blackouts” were fairly common and frequent), but it did serve to give me a reminder of just how electricity-dependent I am… the fact that I had a page of un-Saved work suddenly and irrevocably lost was my ‘bad’.

Tip of the day: Give yourself time to save your work, invest in a UPS.
I was made aware of my suddenly electricity-less state by a funny sound, and my screen shrinking to a single white dot… followed by black. This was all the evidence I needed: the house had no juice. (…no phone, no light, no motor-car. Not a single luxury… Ahem. Sorry.)

This told me two things; I have gotten lazy with my preventative, regular Save-ing (and Save As Draft-ing), and I need to get my sister an Uninteruptable Power Supply, or “UPS”.
I used to be as regular as clockwork. Start a new document and “Save As” it and give it a name/location. Every paragraph, a “Ctrl+S” (Save). This was a routine I developed not so much because of daily brownouts, but because in Windows 95 (through 98 SE) you simply never knew when the next BSOD would strike. Losing your work was a much more common frustration.

And if there had been a UPS between the wall outlet and my sister’s PC and the modem and the monitor, I would have had ten to fifteen minutes to complete and save my work, and get it published on the Web. That would’ve been nice. Would have saved me an “aaarrgg!!” Even nicer would have been an industrial strength portable generator, tied into the house’s grid… but those ain’t cheap.

A UPS is, essentially, a battery. It draws current to charge itself  from the line, and then just sits there in case of an outage. When a major dip in the current, or complete failure occurs on the main line, the UPS switches to the charge it has stored in its battery. Because of this fact, a lot of people call a UPS a “battery backup”.  Dependant on the size (which affects the price) of the battery is how long a time you have to run before it runs out of juice. Typically, this is 10 minutes or so.

When you are shopping for a UPS, it is preferable to get one that is “line interactive” (also called “line conditioning”), as opposed to an “offline” type. This is because they will “even out” the ’spikes’ and ‘dips’ which you get from municiple utilities.

There are several reputable UPS manufacturers, and some are even based here in the good ‘old US of A, APC and Tripplite being the best known, but there are others. You can get a very good unit for about a hundred dollars. If you work out of your home as a “telecommuter”, you seriously should have one (or more) of these devices.

Today’s free link:Today another file recovery program. This one works on both FAT32 and NTFS files. Recover Files 2.0. From site: “Recover Files is a small, fast, useful, practical and powerful. It has a clean, simple interface. Recover Files will work with Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista operating systems.“

September 30, 2009 - Posted by | computers, tech


  1. Hi paul, read your post about UPS. I have had one for three years ( frequent spikes, outages in N. Fort Myers, Fl) and also have Generator. During hurricane “Charlie” we lost power for seven days, but phone lines were still good and played on the internet with all other pleasures (cold beer too) When you grew up in Key West (long time ago) you learned to become self-sufficent.


    Comment by Dana W Berry | October 1, 2009 | Reply

    • Dana Berry,
      I seem to have found ways to avoid putting it off.. but it’s way past time to get myself a backup generator.. and do the necessary wiring for the “switchover”.
      It is not a question of “if” the power will go out, it’s a question of “when”.

      Trouble is.. it’s not a $50 fix.. :(


      Comment by techpaul | October 1, 2009 | Reply

  2. Yes Paul…I installed UPS a few years ago…it has been a Saving Grace many times…saving my work and also “some” protection from lightening strikes.
    Not only is it stormy weather that causes power outages. We lost power one day when a squirrel got too friendly with the hydro lines and Electrocuted Itself… “poor thing”…causing a big “boom” and “power outage” for a few hours. Again a Saving Grace… thanks to my UPS.
    Hope all is up and running…back to normal for you.


    Comment by Gaia | January 20, 2012 | Reply

    • Gaia,
      Yes.. squirrels..

      Some people think they’re adorable and fun to watch, I understand.

      Anywho.. yes, the heroes in the trucks managed to get the power restored in just a few hours. Linemen; engineers; technicians — always get my salute. (IMHO, they’re the “oil” that keeps the “gears turning”.)


      Comment by techpaul | January 20, 2012 | Reply

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