Tired of Power Flashes Ruining Your Classic Game Progress? Get a UPS.

February 19th, 2006 by Benj Edwards

Here’s a quick gaming tip that especially applies to those of you with shoddy power companies. For years, it seemed my house would have power flashes at least a couple times a month. There was something about the power on my block that was especially unreliable (nearby transformers seemed to blow all the time), and it got really annoying. Naturally, I got UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) units for all my computers early on so the flashes wouldn’t affect them. For those of you who don’t know, a UPS is essentially a box with a rechargeable battery in it that stays plugged into a wall outlet, and the devices to be “protected” are, in turn, plugged into the UPS. When the power is on, the battery in the UPS is kept constantly charged. But when the power goes out, the battery switches over, seamlessly providing continuing power to the protected outlets on the unit for as long as the battery holds out, or until the power comes back on — whichever comes first.

UPSes for computers are quite common these days (I consider UPS units for computers an absolute must), but there were a few occasions where I would be playing a long video game (that I couldn’t save) and the power would flash, making me lose all my progress. The last straw happened a little over a year ago when I was completely playing through Super Mario Bros. 3, trying to go through every level and explore every secret, just for old time’s sake. I played one day for probably about six hours until I got to world 8, then I took a break. The break lasted longer than one day, however — I left the NES on, intending to finish it later. But by the time I got back to the game, I discovered that the power had flashed, resetting the system and losing my progress. After that, I immediately ordered a UPS to cover all my game systems and prevent the same thing from happening in the future. Now all my game systems are on UPSes, whether classics like the NES or modern systems like the Xbox.

If you’d like to get a UPS unit for your game system(s), I have a few tips. The first is to get the cheapest unit possible. It doesn’t have to be an industrial-strength, heavy-duty UPS that will keep your game running for an hour or more while the power is out. Usually you’re only combating intermittent power flashes, so you only need one with a modest battery capacity. Tiger Direct used to sell a cheap, no-frills UPS unit for about $20, but it seems that they don’t carry those anymore (I bought about four of them a few years ago for various computers, and they still work well). Instead, go for something that is under $40 US, as a general guideline. A refurbished unit probably wouldn’t be bad either, as long as it’s from a trusted source. Again, remember that we’re not trying to protect mission-critical servers here, but to simply prevent power flashes from messing up your game. Sure, a UPS is extra cost, but investing in one now could possibly save you lots of headaches, frustration, and smashed controllers in the future.

2 Responses to “Tired of Power Flashes Ruining Your Classic Game Progress? Get a UPS.”

  1. Butterfinger Says:

    I work on land drilling rigs in the oilfield. I have used the UPS shown in my wet laboratory for years and I can tell you that cheaper is certainly not better-and that like all batteries, even UPS’s have limited life-span expectancies. First of all-whether they say a battery has “no memory”, it is still good to let these UPS’s discharge periodically to extend the usable life-time limit. Secondly, if you are subject to “flashes” (I’m assuming you mean spikes), then you may be susceptible to brown outs, too. This is where the power will fade to lower than 110 volts. These “cheap” UPS’s don’t flip over to battery fast enough during fast down spikes. The remedy is a Line Conditioner. Plug your computer and monitor into the line conditioner, then plug the conditioner into the UPS. This will guarantee a smooth 110 volt stream to your ‘tender bits’ and alleviate a lot of headaches. A good conditioner can be had for about 190 USD under the brand name of Trip Lite, Model LC 1200 available from Grainger Supply (order number C5JK08). This model is rated for 1200 watts and has four 3-prong receptacles for all your peripherals.

  2. RedWolf Says:

    Butterfinger, thanks for your tips. I am definitely no expert in UPSes, batteries, or even electronics. All I know is from my personal experience (and I actually don’t have the kind of UPS in the picture, by the way). My $20 UPSes have held up very well over the years, and they can definitely switch fast enough to provide continuous power. However, they don’t seem to make the kind I have anymore. Oh well. With UPSes, like everything else, you almost always get what you pay for, and more expensive UPSes are almost certainly “better.” However, since my article was related to preventing resets in video games and not mission-critical servers with sensitive electronics, I still recommend a cheap UPS over a $190 line conditioner. However, if somebody has the money to burn — by all means, go for the more expensive products. Thanks again.

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