Friday, September 24, 1999

George Mindling Column 9-24-1999

 Protect That Modem!

With the advent of personal computers and several great, easy-to-use software packages, many accounting and business programs now run right in the small office with a minimum of training or education.  But important data held on those programs are in danger without certain protection.

Most owners have some type of surge protection on their electric power to protect their computers. Indeed, surges can be devastating to any sensitive electronic machine.  However, few protect their modems.  Modems are the devices that allow machines to communicate over regular telephone lines.  While the local telephone companies install lightning protection at the demarc (the point in the telephone line where their responsibility stops and the business owners starts), a lightning strike will almost always damage a modem.

While few modems are protected, they can use the same protection offered by a good, solid UPS that incorporates telephone protection in the same case as power protection.  No, not that UPS, the other one, the Uninterruptible Power Supply.  

A UPS offers not only surge protection, but protection against power loss as well.  Severe damage to the hard drive can occur when power is lost or dropped while writing to the hard drive.  After two drive crashes, I haven't had a hard drive failure since installing UPS units on our office PCs.  A good UPS is relatively inexpensive compared to the cost of what it protects.  Prices range from under $100 to several hundred dollars for office type UPS. 

The size of the UPS unit needed depends on the type of equipment plugged into it, the length of time the battery back must function, and the ability to report automatically to another location.  Large computer installations all have UPS backup power as a power standard.  These larger units are tied into a power grid and must be installed by qualified electricians.  The new office units are small plug in boxes. Most fit under a desk, alongside the PC they serve.  The batteries in the small units are easy to replace if needed.  The battery backup in any UPS is intended for orderly shutdown after a certain time frame.
If power isn't restored in say, five minutes, close down and power off.  All data should be intact on the hard drive ready to fill out the forms when the power comes back on.

Your customers will love you.  Your accountant will love you.  The IRS will love you. So will the Florida Bureau of Unemployment Compensation.  And the sales tax people.  And everyone else who needs you data.

George Mindling  © 1999

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