In the world of computers and electronics, there are two types of people. Those that have lost hundreds if not thousands of dollars due to some sort of electrical event, and those that will. A small investment in a good battery backup will save you lots of time and money and will protect your computer and cutting machine.
I Have A Surge Suppressor, I'm Fine!
Nope, you're not. Your surge suppressor (power strip) will usually handle a power surge, but they offer no protection from sudden drops in power. If your hard drive is in the process of writing data (this can be something like downloading and saving a file) and power drops, you'll end up with corrupted (damaged or incomplete) data. This sort of damage can impact something as simple as SVG files that you're downloading, your own files that you're creating, your cherished family photos or something as substantial as your operating system which can result in the computer not being able to start up. While this sort of issue does not indicate that your hard drive is fried, you're still looking at a lot of time and money to get it corrected. If you've ever taken your computer in for repair, you know how much it can potentially cost you. This also holds true for your cutting machine. One good jolt of lighting can damage the electronics and make it unusable.
Average Cost Of Hardware Repair
According to Geek Squad (I picked this since it's the most popular and most accessible to people in the USA), you're looking at $129.99 just to schedule the appointment. This doesn't include the cost of any hardware that you'll need to replace.
Average Cost Of Data Recovery
If you're hard drive crashes and you need your data recovered, here is what you can expect to pay (prices from Geek Squad)
$49.99 just to schedule the appointment and anywhere from $249.99 to $1600.00 depending on your specific situation. Yikes!
I Plug My Computer and Cutting Machine Directly Into The Wall!
Oh boy. Big no-no! If you don't want to spend the $50 on a Battery Back Up, at least get yourself a power strip. While the power strip won't protect you from sudden drops or fluctuations in voltage, it will protect your precious equipment from surges (lighting strikes etc).
How A Battery Back Up Works
A UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) or Battery Backup, is simply a special power strip that has a battery inside of it. As soon as the UPS unit detects any fluctuation in voltage, it will cut itself off from your home's power supply and uses the battery to run any electronics you have connected to it. This includes voltage spikes, loss of voltage and if there is any weird voltage noise.
In the case of a power outage, a UPS will give you anywhere from 15-45 minutes of backup power. The length of time depends on the model you purchase and how much you have plugged into it. No, this thing won't run forever and that's not really it's job, nor should you continue to use your computer and cutting machine on backup power. The main objective of the UPS is to give you enough time to properly shut down and turn off your computer and cutting machine until power is restored. The UPS will actually beep every few seconds to let you know that the power is out and that you should turn off your equipment.
Which Battery Back Up Should I Get?
I've been using battery back ups from APC for over 10 years and have never had one fail me. I do have to replace the batteries every 3-4 years, but they're very affordable! Here are some models I recommend. Note: The UPS models below contain anywhere from 8 - 10 outlets for your electronics, but only a few of them run on battery backup power so make sure you plug your computer and cutting machine into the battery backup portion. You don't need to plug your lamps into a battery backup, they are more resilient to surges and dips in voltage.
Wrapping Things Up
I've been involved in some form of IT work for half my life and I've experience data loss firsthand as I'm sure some of you have too. While a UPS won't guarantee that your hard drive and computer will last forever (all hard drives crash at some point which is why you should backup your data....this will be another article), it will help prolong the life of anything you have connected to it and protect it from electrical issues. Every computer should have one. We have one connected to every computer in our house and in our studios. $50 bucks isn't very much considering how much money you can potentially save. And don't get me started with how much stress it'll save you. LOL