Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Can my computer components ( Monitor, Motherboard, RAM, HDD, CPU, SMPS) become damaged due to a sudden power flux. It's only needed to shut down Windows properly.

Can I solve both Hardware and Software problems without UPS?

share|improve this question
    
Related question: superuser.com/questions/3986/… –  Gnoupi Mar 22 '10 at 19:29
    
One thing to keep in mind is many UPSes have a attached equipment warranty. I've never had any problems with plugged in equipment, but it's a bit of extra insurance. –  emgee Mar 29 '11 at 2:29

5 Answers 5

Computer power supplies are switching power supplies that can handle small (~20V) variations in power automatically. Newer computer power supplies that are high efficiency (Active PFC) may even have a wider operating range.

That said, when the AC mains (line) power is outside (above or below) the standard range, the power supply may fail to deliver the right voltages (Volts) at the necessary or expected current (Amps or Amperes) levels. If the power supply fails such that it delivers either too high a voltage or current, this may damage the components in the computer, including low voltage, "high" current devices such as the CPU and RAM.

Here are two short articles about how overvoltage may damage components. Why does too much heat/voltage damage the CPU? from Overclockers, and Overvolted RAM May Kill Your Core i7 CPU from Tom's Hardware. Though they are oriented to overclocking, the damage is the same (that's a discrete transistor, CPU transistors are much smaller).

As far as software / data -level damage, this can be reduced (mitigated) but not eliminated by use of more advanced file systems that support journaling and backup files / file systems.

Two devices that are related but do not replace an UPS are:

These devices are generally simpler and thus less expensive than an UPS.

That said, I personally and professionally always try to use UPSes to protect the computers I use. The cost of a good UPS is about 10-20% of a mid-range desktop system, but a decent UPS with replacement batteries can last 10+ years of services so the cost it amortized over quite a numbers of years, and in my own personal (and professional) experiences every single UPS I have bought has paid for themselves either in cost savings in terms of preventing premature hardware failure, or in terms of cost of preventing data loss.

The batteries do need to be replaced 3-5 years depending on circumstances (frequency of battery usage, battery chemistry, avg/peak temperature, discharge amount), but are $40-50 per UPS for an average mid-range system suitable for a home or office desktop system.

I tend to view UPS like anti-virus, they are a "best practices" or simply good computer hygiene, that help to prevent costly failures.

share|improve this answer
    
Any particular brand you swear by? +1 for separating surge protection from UPS. –  Moab Feb 3 '11 at 23:04
    
I prefer companies that also have commercial or industrial grade UPSes or power conditioners. APC (Eaton), Tripplite, Powerware, and Liebert are examples of companies that have higher-end (larger) models for commercial and industrial applications. –  mctylr Mar 28 '11 at 23:47

It depends on your situation. There are those who will disagree, but I believe that in most of what we call the "first world", the power grid is reliable enough that a UPS doesn't provide much additional protection beyond what a good surge protector will give you. A rare power failure isn't going to damage most things.

Where a UPS really shines is in situations where you have a lots of small brownouts — the power doesn't cut out entirely, but it wasn't all there for a brief moment either, and this happens frequently (numerous times per day). This can happen in places where the power is less reliable. For example, you may be in an older building, a very rural location, or in a country where the power situation is less stable. In that case, a UPS will definitely pay for itself quickly, and you want to get one that not only provides stand-by protection but also what they call "sine wave output".

And, of course, you might also be going for a high-availability solution. In that case, a large UPS (and maybe even generators) is a must.

share|improve this answer
    
yup, the brownouts is what damages computers and makes a UPS worth it. See superuser.com/questions/113113/why-are-brownouts-so-harmful for an explanation as to why. –  Earlz Mar 22 '10 at 18:11
2  
I swear by them when flashing a bios, I didn't one time and it turned out ugly, a bricked bios, what are the chances of this happening, evidently pretty good in my case. I can say however that I have never had a PC damaged otherwise when not using a ups, knock on wood. –  Moab Feb 3 '11 at 23:04
    
It also depends somewhat on your geographical location in those "first world" countries. Here in Florida, a UPS is a really good idea not just for the occasional brownout but during our frequent thunderstorm-induced power failures. –  kronenpj Oct 22 at 22:50

Looking at your location .. In India, the quality of power is not good (there are power fluctuations) and not to mention that we dont have continuous power supply 24X7, UPS helps in providing the backup power required to clean shutdown your system and save your work in case mains is down. Invest in a good UPS which also provides Surge protection /Voltage stabilizing

share|improve this answer

A couple good answers here already, but it really comes down to you: what are your work habits, and how much is your time worth?

If you figure a good, cheap UPS is around $100 then, over the life of that (say, 3 years), given the power reliability of where ever you live, what's at risk? Do you work for hours before saving, or save every 2 minutes? Does your power go out rarely, or a few times a month? How much do you worry about losing components to a power surge or brownout?

How much is your peace of mind worth?

share|improve this answer

That depends on the quality of your local power supply, and the quality of the UPS.

A cheap (offline/standby) UPS gives you no significant protection from over-voltages (about the same as a surge protector) and will only give you a chance at a clean shutdown. If you have regular power outages however that itself may be enough.

A good (online) UPS gives you some protection against over-voltages (how much depends on the type of online UPS), as well as a chance at a clean shutdown. Of course, instead of replacing your PC you may simply have to replace the UPS.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.