Hardware Review: APCs Back-UPS Pro 500

By Jayne A. Hitchcock
as it appeared in the January 2000 issue of Womens Biz Resources

My old Back-UPS 400 was pretty useless - the battery was dead, I couldn't get another battery for it and while good as a surge protector, I was worried about my computer if a storm caused an electrical outage (a common thing in my neck of the woods here in Northern New England). Because I already owned an APC product, I decided to see what they had for an updated unit.

I wasn't disappointed when my Back-UPS Pro 500 arrived. Not only did it look a lot sleeker than the old unit (taller and charcoal gray instead of that bland off-white computer color), it also weighed a heck of a lot less, even with its bigger size (18.3 lbs vs 20.1 lbs) and had more outlets on it (eight versus two on the old unit).

The Pro 500 offers 9.6 minutes of back-up support (at half load) if the power went out, plus surge protection for the plugged-in peripherals, phone and fax/modem lines connected to it. The included Power Management software also allows you to automatically save files and shut down the computer in the event of an extended power outage, plus performs automatic diagnostic testing and shows status information in the Windows 98s control panel. This is a huge improvement over my old 400 model!

The Pro 500 is also unique in that it is the first UPS with a USB port specifically designed for Microsoft Windows 98. So it's an easy plug-in and go instead of fussing with a parallel port connection (although you do have that option).

The one thing I did not like about the Pro 500 is that while four of the electrical outlets (for the computer, monitor, fax machine, speakers, etc) will automatically shut down your computer system when you press the OFF button, the other four outlets are always on. I find this to be a huge detriment - I ended up plugging my printers and scanner into a surge protection strip so that I could shut them off with one button. I hope APC considers changing this in the future - right now, those four electrical outlets are empty and useless to me, and probably others, too, unless you need to leave something running 24 hours a day.

Being that's the only downside, I highly recommend this unit - at $299, it's an inexpensive investment to making sure your computer doesn't fry if there's a lightning strike, power surge or losing valuable work if the power goes out.

J.A. Hitchcock is a regular contributor to Compute Me. Visit her web site at jahitchcock.com.

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