IntroductionThe prospect of losing work because of system freezes is unpalatable enough for most people to save as they go along. Some things, though, are beyond our control – power losses and surges, for example. In the worst-case scenario, either of these unwelcome events can result in far more than a couple of hours’ lost work: you could be left facing hard-disk damage, RAM-data loss, or fried logic boards.
Such occurrences are rare, but not as rare as you’d think. In early July, the UK experienced violent electrical storms – just the sort of atmospheric conditions that can affect mains-power supply to a computer. And in offices, power “brownouts” are far from unknown. These are dips in voltage levels caused by heavy-duty equipment, such as lifts, air-conditioning units or compressors, and can cause system crashes.
The only guarantee of regulated power is an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). These hook-up to the mains, and then into your Mac. If mains power fails, your machine won’t black-out, because the UPS stores enough energy to keep you up-and-running for up to 30 minutes, depending on your desktop set-up. At the very outside, a UPS will buy you enough time to save any work.
There’s really not much to say about UPSs, because they do what it says on the very heavy box. Aware of this, MicroDowell now offers the “world’s first multimedia UPS”, the HiBox Stereo. This is no more than a UPS with a pair of 60W speakers, that are to the world of HiFi what a kazoo is to a symphony orchestra.
Lose the speakers, and HiBox is £38 cheaper – and it’ll do the job you want. It’s cased in rather outmoded transparent Blueberry and Tangerine, and, like all UPSs, weighs a ton.
The Mac Dialog 500VA UPS is much less compact, and cased in an even-more outdated transparent-Grape plastic. Software is almost superfluous with UPSs, but for what it’s worth, the HiBox comes with a power-monitoring control panel, while the Mac Dialog has software that gives the user a day-by-day log of power activities.
A word of advice: don’t place UPS devices on the floor. I did, and – irony of ironies – lost half of this review because I kicked out the cable connecting the UPS to my Mac.