When the lights go out, keep your PC running with power...


February 07, 2000|By Gareth Branwyn

When the lights go out, keep your PC running with power supply

I was skeptical about the need for battery backup on my computers until I moved to an area that seems to lose power more frequently than Russia loses heads of state. My fate seemed to be that the house (and my computer) would go dark at the worst possible moment (while I was uploading credit card info to Amazon, or at the end of a brilliant but unsaved thought typed into my word processor).

Now I don't worry about these glitches. When the house is plunged into darkness, I calmly finish my work and shut down. The glow of the computer screen even helps me hunt for my flashlight.

The reason is Tripp Lite, the popular power management company, which offers a line of uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) and surge suppressors geared to the small office and home market. The Internet Office 280 UPS ($99) provides four to 10 minutes of battery backup time (depending on how many devices are plugged into it) and protection against nasty power surges that can fry your equipment.

The Office 280 has six outlets, three with battery backup and surge protection, and three with surge protection only. Unfortunately, only two of the outlets (one battery, one surge) have "block spacing," which means they're wide enough for an AC transformer box. I guess the thinking is that you're likely have a computer, monitor and modem plugged into the battery side, and that of those, only the modem would use a transformer. Still, it would be nice to have block spacing on all the nonbattery outlets.

On the positive side, the unit has a phone jack to prevent surges from entering your system through your modem line. And there's a $25,000 protection warranty under which Tripp Lite will replace your hardware if it's zapped while properly connected to the UPS.

A higher-priced model, the Internet Office 500 UPS ($159), offers eight to 17 minutes of juice. At these prices, there's no excuse for not having this kind of protection. I'm even thinking about getting one for my television so that brief blackouts won't make me miss a frame of my beloved "La Femme Nikita."

Information: 773-869-1111 or www.tripplite.com.

Utility keeps computers running Linux in top form

Every computer weenie on the planet seems to be talking about Linux these days. Linux is the other operating system: a leaner, meaner OS built collaboratively by programmers from around the world and boasting a reputation for being much more reliable than Microsoft products.

While Linux is in its commercial infancy, its recent success with Wall Street investors and a growing list of big computer companies committing to it have spurred the development of new Linux software and compatible hardware.

One excellent example is PerfectBACKUP+ 6.2 from Merlin Software. This inexpensive ($69) and robust utility package offers scheduled drive backups, remote backups, data recovery and encryption, system security and many other features, all wrapped in a handsome graphical interface. For those new to Linux, there's a series of walk-through "wizards" a la Windows.

PerfectBACKUP+ runs on all major versions of Linux and on PCs and Macs on which the Linux operating system has been installed.

Information: 888-414-3311 or www.merlinsoftech.com.

For information on these and other gadgets, go to www.street tech.com.

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