A UPS — short for an uninterruptable power supply — is a battery backup that can help your computer stay alive through both routine, intermittent power glitches and straight-up power failures. By connecting your desktop PC to a UPS, you buy yourself the time you need to save your work and shut your PC off normally rather than losing valuable data when a nearby lightning strike takes out your neighborhood’s transformer. In fact, a UPS is so critical that it’s surprising everyone doesn’t have one.
Price and complexity aren’t excuses not to own a UPS. You can get an inexpensive one for well under $100, and as a general rule, a UPS is a simple plug-and-play device. Plug it into a wall outlet and then connect your critical devices — the ones that absolutely need to stay working through a power glitch — and you’re done. Many UPS systems also come with software you can install to monitor the UPS battery status, run occasional self-tests, and see how many minutes it can run your gear given the current power load.
That doesn’t mean UPS’s are all the same, though. They vary by the power load they can support and how many outlets they include, not to mention a slew of other features. I’ve rounded up the best UPS choices across a range of price points and feature sets. Read on to see which one is best for you. Not sure you know all the UPS lingo? Read the end of the article for buying advice and an explainer on UPS devices.