If you live in an area that has a lot of blackouts, brownouts, and spikes in your electricity, it’s important to have a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply)  to protect your investment. Here’s how your APC UPS can shut down your PC gracefully.

A UPS isn’t just for IT infrastructures and should be part of your desktop PC and home network protection strategy—especially if you have a home media server. In a power outage, it provides emergency power via battery, allows you to safely save your data, and power down your machine properly.

Photo by Aaron Landry

What You’ll Need

For the purposes of today’s article, we’re covering how to use an APC brand UPS, though most other brands of UPS will provide a similar software package that works the same way. Here’s what you’ll need:

For this article we’re using an APC ES 550 Model. Features may vary based on your model and operating system.

Installing and Setting Up PowerChute

Your APC UPS should come with a version of PowerChute included, although by the time you purchase it, you might want to check to see if there is an update. Ours came with version 2.1.1 and after we registered our UPS, we found Version 3 on their site.

If you have an older version already installed on your machine, you’ll need to manually uninstall it, if you want to make sure it’s a clean uninstall you might want to use Revo Uninstaller Pro or the free version.

Make sure your data cable is plugged in before installing the software, otherwise you’ll get the following message.

Installation is quick and easy following the wizard and accepting the defaults.

A couple of the options you might want to select is software update notifications, and sending power quality info for your location. You can change these settings later after it’s installed too.

When the installer finishes for 2.1 or 3.0 you’ll have the opportunity to register your UPS right away. It opens your default browser to the APC site.

Using PowerChute

PowerChute lives in the Taskbar and monitors your UPS in the background and monitors your UPS and power outages.

Launch PowerChute and you can begin configuring your power backup options.

Configure your UPS how you want it to run when the power goes out. You can set it to preserve battery power or keep it running longer. Keep in mind if you set it to run longer, it will take up more of the battery power.

PowerChute allows you to check past performance of the UPS. Like in this example, we show it kicked on on Halloween at 9:30 PM due to a blackout.

Earlier we mentioned that you can turn off Data Collection is you want to. Go into Configuration Options and uncheck the Data collection options and save the selection.

Under Notification you can configure the way you get notifications during power events.

When the Power Goes Out

When the power goes out you’ll get a notification on your screen, and should have plenty of time to wrap up some quick work, save it, and shut down your machine properly.

If you’re away from your computer, the cool thing is it will put your machine in Hibernate mode after the time you specify.

When the power is restored, under Current Status you’ll see the batter power has been reduced, it’s charging, and what caused the issue…where in this instance it was a blackout.

Another cool feature is the Energy Management Settings. If you enable this feature, other components you have plugged into your UPS can be put in a low power state or turned off when not in use. These would be the devices that aren’t connected to the battery backup side of your UPS like printers, speakers, or extra monitors.

If you’re serious about protecting your computer equipment against power outages and surges, using an APC UPS along with PowerChute Personal Edition is an important part of your protection strategy. Of course if you’re using a Laptop or Netbook it’s not quite as important to use a UPS, as the battery is your backup power.

But, if you have a small network with Desktop computers – especially a server, having a UPS and software such as PowerChute installed, it can protect your investment, save a lot of hassles, and give you piece of mind.

Download & Learn More About PowerChute

PowerChute Version 3.0 is compatible with XP SP3, Vista (SP2), Windows 7, and Windows Home Server Power Pack 1 and higher.

What about you? Do you use an APC UPS along with PowerChute? Leave us a comment below and tell us your story!