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Surge Protector vs Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS)

Many people wonder what the difference is between a surge protector and an uninterruptable power supply (UPS). They’re often unsure of what to purchase for their computers.

Surge protectors, or surge suppressors, will protect your computer equipment from variations in electrical current, such as surges and spikes. Surges and spikes are increases in voltage that may last one nanosecond or longer. Increased voltage on electronic equipment, such as computers, can damage components of those systems. Even if nothing is immediately destroyed, over time, the increased strain of electrical voltage on components can cause them to fail, often prematurely.

However, surge protectors do not protect against drops in power. In order for your computer to continue to function even if there is no power available, you need a UPS. Though more costly, a UPS has an internal battery that will allow equipment plugged into it to continue to run until power is restored. Some UPS units will shut down your computer for you if power is out for an extended period, longer than the runtime of the battery. In addition, most UPS units have the benefit of performing the same functionality of surge protectors, protecting against spikes and surges.

So, which should you purchase? For servers, Amnet recommends the installation of a server-class UPS for protection. This ensures that your servers continue to function in the event of a power outage and, if needed, shut down cleanly if power is out for a lengthy period. For workstations, determine how critical the workstation equipment is to your functionality. If having the workstation protected by uninterruptable power is needed, purchase a UPS. If less protection is needed to protect against spikes in power, such as those caused by lightning, purchase a surge protector. At the minimum, purchase a surge protector. It is not recommended to plug your computer and monitor directly into power outlets for extended use.

Whichever you purchase, it’s a good idea to verify that the UPS or surge protector has coverage of 1,000 joules and 40,000 amperes. This will ensure that the equipment is protected in the event of heavy power spikes, such as those that happen during lightning storms. Also, review the manufacturer’s coverage information within the documentation of the UPS or surge protector. Often there will be some additional warranty or guarantee provided by the manufacturer which will ensure reimbursement if your equipment fails due to their product not providing adequate protection.

If you need help, feel free to contact Amnet and we’ll gladly help you find the proper solution!

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