If you rely on your PC in a home or small office and risk losing valuable data in the event of a power failure, you need more than a simple surge suppressor – you’re in the realms of the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). While the concept of a UPS may sound rather nerdy, Belkin has tried to make its Regulator Pro series as attractive as possible, both visually and practically.
The idea of a UPS is that, if the power fails, it uses an internal low voltage battery and an inverter to maintain mains supply to whatever is connected to its outputs. Obviously, it can only do this for as long as its battery lasts and the length of cover it provides depends on the load your PC represents. The 625 VA unit reviewed here is at the top of Belkin’s range and can support a fairly hefty PC with a 17-inch or larger monitor for up to 40 minutes.
The Regulator Pro tries to break away from the small cubic boxes that UPSs have traditionally come in and the good-looking curved and sloped unit doesn’t look out of place on a desktop. There are eight kettle-style mains outlets on its top surface, four of which are simply surge-suppressed, in the same way as those on one of the £30 blocks you can buy to protect against mains-born spikes. There are sockets on the back, too, to protect a network or modem from the same kind of over-voltages.
The interesting part is the other four kettle sockets, as these are controlled by mains monitoring circuitry and backed up by the unit’s internal battery. This is where you plug-in your PC, its monitor and possibly peripherals such as printer and scanner, or perhaps an external hard drive.
The Regulator Pro is controlled by Belkin’s own Bulldog Plus control software which runs under Windows 95 or later and monitors the UPS via a serial or USB link. Its control window provides copious information on the battery state, the mains condition and settings you’ve made to govern what happens if the power fails. There’s probably more information provided here than most people will need, but it’s comforting to have it, should you need it.
If the power fails, the The Regulator Pro sounds an alarm and the Bulldog Plus utility swings into action. It’s clever enough to close down all open applications, together with any open documents, before the UPS battery gets too low to support your PC. It completes its shutdown by gracefully closing Windows itself, so you should never lose any valuable data.
If the power failure is less than 40 minutes long, you can continue to work without having to take any action. The battery automatically recharges when the mains power is restored.
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