Stands for "Uninterruptible Power Supply." In the technology world, UPS is more than just a brown shipping company. It is also a type of power supply that uses battery backup to maintain power during unexpected power outages.
A typical consumer UPS is a surge protector that contains a high-capacity rechargeable battery. Smaller UPS devices look like bulky power strips, while larger ones may stand upright and look almost like small computers. Many businesses use uninterruptible power supplies to keep their equipment running in case of a power failure. While a UPS may only keep a computer running for 15 minutes after the power is lost, it is usually sufficient time to save all necessary documents and properly shut down the computer. That extra time can be invaluable to someone who is working on an important document or project that has not been recently saved.
Because UPS devices run the power through a battery, they have a limit on the wattage load they can support. The maximum power load limit is often included in the name of the UPS, followed by the letters "VA." For example, the APC (American Power Conversion) Battery Backup 750VA has a load limit of 750VA. However, the maximum wattage a UPS supports is typically 60% of the VA number. So the 750VA UPS supports a maximum of 450 watts for connected devices. It is important to check how many total watts your computer setup uses before buying a UPS to make sure you get one with enough wattage so you don't overload it.
Updated: December 27, 2006