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Old May 13th, 2004, 11:21 AM   #1
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Do you use UPS software?

I recently purchased a Belkin uninterriptible power supply (UPS) for my NLE computer. It includes a program called Belkin Bulldog to monitor UPS performance (through USB port) and peform unattended save and shutdown functions during a blackout to keep from losing work and damaging files. I run Windows XP on that computer. Even though Windows has shutdown options in the Control Panel, I don't know of any options for saving open files before your battery is exhausted.

Am I really getting any extra protection by using the Bulldog software? For example, if the UPS battery dies before a long render ends, I'll still have to render again even with the Bulldog software, right? My NLE auto-saves every few minutes, so I won't lose too many edits if the battery dies. I guess my concern is shutting down Windows with applications open; I don't want to damage any program files.

T.J.
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Old May 13th, 2004, 01:12 PM   #2
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Re: Do you use UPS software?

<<<-- Originally posted by Tim Birej :

I guess my concern is shutting down Windows with applications open; I don't want to damage any program files.

T.J. -->>>


But isn't that the point of the software and of shutting down Windows in general? When you shut down Windows, it is a "gentle" shutdown that, in theory, properly shuts down any open applications as well. This way you avoid damaging any files. It also parks the hard drive, etc, saving you from physical damage to the computer.

Your only other option would be a sudden powering off when the UPS' battery died, which would suddenly stop the hard drive and improperly stop Windows and all running applications. That is what you want to avoid. A nice, soft, gentle Windows shutdown is what you're looking for.

I've been telling myself for about 2 years to get a UPS, maybe one day I'll smarten up and get it...
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Old May 13th, 2004, 07:39 PM   #3
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Windows won't shut down if there are applications open with unsaved files. The process hangs up waiting for you to tell it what to do. Unless the Bulldog will substitute for you, it won't help. I think it is made for Server applications where Windows is just sort of running.

When you get a UPS, get one that will not only replace the wall-plug power when it disappears but one that also regulates the output voltage to save you from over or under voltage.

If you already have a UPS, a box to manage line voltage will cost you about $100 for a couple of computers and other gear. A $600 unit will support an entire studio.
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Old May 14th, 2004, 08:26 AM   #4
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Mike --

As Tim mentioned in his post, Bulldog will perform unattended saves. From the Bulldog manual:

"Auto Save: When certain power events occur, Bulldog Plus will save open files and close applications before shutting down the operating system. If these saved files are untitled, Bulldog Plus will assign file names for them and put the files in temporary directory. This dialog box will tell you which files were saved by Bulldog."

As long as there are no restrictions to the types of file it will save, it sounds pretty safe. Obviously, you should perhaps check for some reviews of the product to make sure that it actually works as promised for other people.

My only concern about an application like Bulldog is how much of my PC's resources it will be using while waiting for a power outtage. How hard is it chugging away in the background on a normal (non-blackout) day, when I'm trying to render something complex in After Effects, for example?
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Old May 14th, 2004, 11:10 AM   #5
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Why you need a UPS . . .

John & Mike,

Thank you for your replies.

The 1000VA Belkin universal UPS I'm using puts out 550 watts. And yes, it is a voltage-regulating UPS. It has 4 sockets with battery backup and surge protection and 2 with only surge protection. It connects to your computer either with a RS-232 serial cable or USB. Street price is $150, but I bought mine on sale at NewEgg.com for only $110 with free FedEx shipping. When I tested it's run time, it gave me about 25 minutes of battery backup running a P4 computer w/350W power supply and two power-hungry 17" CRTs. I currently do not have the Bulldog software installed, but I will try it out between editing jobs to see how it performs and if it slows down rendering.

I strongly recommend using a UPS if you working commercially or edit complex productions. Having to start from scratch because of a power outage is too frustrating and not worth the risk of the physical damage hard shutdowns inflict on computers. The little APC unit attached to my Dell Pentium III system has saved my butt many times through severe thunderstorms, cars hitting power line poles, and brownouts. In warmers months, my neighborhood experiences power outages about three times a month. Even though outages of more than a minute are rare, it takes only a split second voltage dip to cause your computer to lose power and important work. For $100 -$200, the extra "insurance" of a UPS is worthwhile for me. I always take comfort in hearing that little beep because I know my hardware and data -- whether personal or for clients -- are safe. My Belkin UPS guarantees protection of connected hardware up to $300,000 . . . or is it $50,000? I think of it as extra insurance against damage from unexpected power events.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 12:33 AM   #6
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Rehmus : Windows won't shut down if there are applications open with unsaved files. The process hangs up waiting for you to tell it what to do. -->>>

I vaguely remember encountering such problems with pre-2000 versions of Windows, but the OS nowadays (Win2K and XP) will shutdown without a hitch if you have unsaved documents open. Just tried it, works fine.

I tried this with different applications, starting them up and creating new documents, modifying the contents, and then either doing the Start->Turn Off Computer route, or simply pressing the power button (both the same thing, but I figured I'd try each one), and in every case, Windows XP shutdown properly. No dialogs, nothing.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 01:19 AM   #7
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Robert

Unless there is some sort of Control Panel setting I am unaware of, I have a completely different experience. My Windows XP Pro PC will not shut down if an unsaved file is open. I tried it this morning with an open, unsaved Photoshop file and I can verify that on my machine Windows would not shut down until I intervened -- and I waited a good 10 minutes or so before i intervened, just to see if Windows would go ahead and just shut down anyway.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 06:02 AM   #8
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Do you get any kind of error message or confirmation dialog box? To just hang up and not do anything...that's not intentional behavior. Got all your latest Windows Updates installed? Sounds like the kinda thing that'd be fixed in a patch. Can't quite remember if there was one for that, though.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 10:26 AM   #9
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I'm sorry -- no it doesn't just hang, it asks for confirmation. First from the program itself, then after a brief pause, from Windows, saying "This program will not shut down, do you wish to quit this application," etc etc. Eventually I had to intervene by clicking "Yes, shut down the app"

All patches and updates are installed on that machine. (edit: I should say all "critical" updates are installed, I'll check out the available non-critical updates later on today)
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Old May 15th, 2004, 10:27 AM   #10
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Robert, it certainly is the behavior exhibited by the 4 computers I regularly use. Windows will stay on with the Save pop-up exhibited until the file is saved.
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Old May 15th, 2004, 12:56 PM   #11
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Very intriguing, I must say...I can only assume at this juncture that my machine has a service disabled that is responsible for handling such notification. The harder I think (ow!), the more I can remember my machine acting similarly; I've never had it hang without telling me, but now that you mention those dialog boxes, they do sound familiar. I'll see what I can find, might be worth figuring out.

Sorry if I've dragged us off topic too far!
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Old May 22nd, 2004, 08:19 PM   #12
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Couple of issues here. Windows XP has built in support for a UPS. Go to control panel and click on Power Options. (If you don't see it switch to classic view by clicking in the top of the left hand column). There is a tab for UPS. You can enable a UPS from here. This should be able to do the same job as the Bulldog software. (I fiddled with the UPS stuff a bit - not clear to me if it supports a USB UPS. If it does not then you would install the software.) If XP thinks you have a laptop then it will have a different scheme for shutting down when battery is low. Install the UPS and it will figure it out.

There are a couple of ways to shutdown. If you hit Start | Shutdown then windows will wait for you to close applications with open modified files. In the case of a power outage it is not that patient. It will just go ahead and close the apps. I just a gave it a try with my wifes computer. I opened MS Word and entered some text then pulled the plug on the UPS. It shutdown pretty quickly. When I restarted the computer then word I was given the option to recover the document. Pretty slick.

A UPS program does not hog the CPU or slow down a render. It just wait's patiently in the background for the OS to call it.

Definately get a UPS. Somewhere in this forum is someone who had the power go out during a defrag and wiped out his disk. Ouch. A UPS would have prevented that.
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