- 500VA 300W
- 4 Outlets
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Great UPS with lots of management features 04/02/2014
This review is from: APC Back-UPS Pro 500 BG500 500VA 300W 4 Outlets UPS
Great power management features, reliable, wall mountable, quick setup, Lithium ion battery.
When I received this UPS, my expectations were immediately exceeded. Because of a few new technologies included in this device, this UPS is very small yet includes a number of great features. I was very surprised on unboxing it how lightweight it felt for a 500VA UPS. It came well protected in the box and arrived with no damage. As the instructions indicated, the battery arrived partially charged and the UPS could be used immediately without having to charge it overnight.
Basic setup couldn't have been easier. I plugged the UPS into the wall, plugged my computer power cord into the UPS, and connected UPS to the computer using the included USB cable. The computer detected the UPS as a standard battery, showing both charge level and when on battery power, how long the battery would last. Because the UPS was pretty small, I attached the little stand to let me put the UPS up on my desk next to the computer. It is reasonably attractive with shiny black surface and blue indicator LEDs. Super simple, exactly how you would expect to set up a basic UPS.
Testing the UPS was successful even without fully charging the battery first. With 66% charge being indicated by the windows battery utility, I unplugged the UPS from the wall to see what happened. The UPS began to beep, the computer continued running, and the battery icon indicated that my computer had about 15 minutes of run time remaining. Keep in mind that I was using a compact and fairly energy efficient computer for this test and review, so people with larger or more powerful desktop machines should have realistic expectations or get a more capable UPS. But for a small desktop or network hardware like switches, routers, or network storage devices, this UPS is plenty powerful.
Now on to the good stuff that makes this an exceptional device.
For more advanced features, all you have to do is plug the UPS into your network, run the installation CD, and you've just enabled this UPS to remotely manage 2 power outlets with advanced features from anywhere in the world. Setup wasn't quite as simple this time, but the results were equally successful. Mostly default or automatic settings were used, and after setup I could use all the advanced features. My favorite was the estimated power usage feature, although I don't expect a general purpose device like this to be very accurate. Still, it let me get a feel for how much power was being used by devices plugged into the managed power outlets. My next favorite feature is one that will cycle an outlet off and then back on again whenever network connection is lost. This is PERFECT for those not-quite-100% reliable routers or cable modems you might have, that seem to need to be unplugged and plugged back in sometimes. Another feature I love is the automatic email notifications of events like power outages.
If it isn't obvious, I like this thing.
As nice as this UPS is, I have to point out a few things I think could be done better. The flimsy feeling shiny black exterior says "consumer network appliance" instead of "reliable power backup and management". It is attractive enough to put up on a desk, but it doesn't really say competent "pro" level reliability to me. The vertical stand attachment clips on instead of bolting on, and feels a bit flimsy. UPS and management features are not available via USB connection and can be accessed only via a utility that connects through your network.
Which brings me to my single serious concern about this UPS. Any time you hang a device on your network and make it accessible from outside your LAN, you are introducing a potential security vulnerability. If you don't set up the device properly including a very secure/complex password, someone scanning the internet for these devices could potentially access your UPS. And that is in addition to the usual concerns about "data breaches" if the manufacturer's database is hacked or if this turns out to be another network device with a security flaw like we hear about in the news sometimes. Why is this more of a problem than with other devices? Because some of the awesome features of this UPS could also be used to damage equipment or even potentially cause a fire. If someone was able to get access to the remote management features, they could (for example) cycle power to anything connected to the advanced managed outlets, on and off and on and off... until they failed or worst case, caught overheated and caught fire. Or if you are using the network switch automatic reset feature, an intruder could disable your network by simply turning off your router.
So, I recommend using caution with this device just like with any other network enabled device, realizing that the potential exists for more serious damage than simple data loss in the event of an intrusion or compromise.
This UPS combines the features of 2 separate devices into one, and it does it superbly. It has all the features and reliability you would expect from an APC UPS, plus several advanced power outlet management features that are all accessible over the network. The features worked as advertised and were easy to use. The networking configuration also has a manual option, so you can manually change or manage network settings if the automatic configuration (DHCP) is not appropriate for your network. The little details like the ability to mount it on a wall are very appreciated.
Regarding the important question about capacity - Is this UPS "big enough"? As always, it depends on your usage. The box advertises 6.5 minutes on a power demand of approximately 180w. This is appropriate for a low to mid-range desktop that isn't doing very much. It is also quite suitable for a variety of network devices such as switches, routers, VoIP devices, and network storage devices. The computer I have attached to this UPS is small, and even with me doing some light computer use while on battery backup, my estimated run time on battery alone (just the computer, not the monitor) was expected to be over 20 minutes. This is plenty of time to allow you to save your work and properly shut down your computer in the event of a power outage even with a typical 20" or so LCD monitor attached. Or it could permit your network storage device to continue running during brief power outages or safely shut down to prevent data loss.
The advanced features are truly the icing on the cake, justifying the price of this device. This UPS has certainly earned a permanent spot in my home/small business network. Just make sure you set a complex password to keep people from accessing and messing with your managed outlets.
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