Apr 27 2009
Most houses are connected and powered through three connections: electrical, analog phone and cable. In many areas, power outages are the most common. What does this mean to you? Consider the following. If you are working on your computer during an outage you will lose unsaved data. If you connect to the internet via cable or DSL then you will lose your connection to the internet. This last part is critical if you use VoIP – without power you are without phone (even if your analog phone lines are working).
Okay, with the background laid, lets move on to the fun. We will set up our Mac mini’s to weather the storm and – as long as our cable internet or analog phone line is still live – preserve our connections even without power.
What you’ll need:
- Mac mini or Mac with USB
- A battery backup with USB control and Mac support (I used the Belkin 375VAUSB backup).
- Broadband modem (an optionally VoIP)
Battery back-ups are not new, but few of us have them in our homes. There is a good selection of sub-500VA backups. Without laying down a lot of cash, we can buy ourselves 15-20 minutes of run time for our Macs. If we want to gear up for a longer blackout, we can use our backup on only our broadband modem and VoIP adapter, keeping our phone line alive much longer.
Phone and cable lines tend to be more reliable in an emergency than power. If your local cable repeaters are supported by battery back-up (as they often are, especially in newer neighborhoods) then you can maintain you connection as long as your cable modem is powered. If you have VoIP and your connection is still working, you can bypass the busy circuit log-jam than tends to crash local phone switches.
By choosing a Mac supported battery backup, we have the option of controlling the unit from our Macs. Belkin units ship with Bulldog Plus software you can set up the device to automatically shut down your Mac, saving your data and preserving your backup power. You can also schedule battery testing and check the health of your battery.
Beyond the software setup and the plugging-in of your Mac and modem (and VoIp adapter if applicable) there’s really not anything else to do but wait for Mother Nature’s fury. While its not much for the instant gratification, you’ll thank yourself later.