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Modem Tips and Universal Power Supply

Most DSL modems are sturdy and can last up to 10 years or better with a modicum of attention.  Over time download/upload speed slowdown will be experienced due to heat and resistance on the copper cable over which the digital signal is delivered.  This is the nature of digital signal transmission.  It's a bit like cars getting poorer performance over time if oil changes and tune-ups aren't conducted regularly.  Powercycling the modem regularly will help keep the modem at peak performance. It's best to keep a modem at least 18 inches from any monitor and power cycle it at least once a month.  Power cycling involves turning off the modem power for 30 to 60 seconds at least once a month for speeds up to 1.5M.  For 3M and higher downloads,power cycle once a week or at least every two weeks.

Besides moisture, the one weakness all modems have is the need for non-fluctuating electrical current.  Most electrical outlets do not regulate the flow of electricity and can shorten the life, if not destroy a modem. Many people plug their modem and expensive computer equipment into a power strip.  L A Bridge vigorously recommends against plugging the modem into a power strip -- even if there's a "power surge protector" label on it -- or directly into an electrical outlet.  Most power strips marked "surge protector" only protect against one or two surges.  After a few days or a week they won't protect against the power surges/spikes that occur hundreds of times a day in Southern California.  We strongly urge getting a UPS (Uninterruptible or Universal Power Supply) device into which the modem and computer equipment can be plugged and protected.  L A Bridge does not sell these devices but they can be purchased for approximately $50 - to $90 from retail outlets like Office Depot, Fry's, Staples or Radio Shack -- even Amazon.com.  Be sure to select a UPS that has enough power to support all the devices plugged into it.  APC is a good brand of UPC but it's not the only one.  These devices help protect your expensive equipment against power spikes/surges.  Some UPS devices provide a few minutes of backup power so electronic equipment can be safely shutdown should there be a power outage.  Be sure to purchase a surge protector with a warranty.

How to Choose the Right UPS

Price should not be the primary criteria in UPS selection.  The UPS device plugs into a standard, grounded 120V wall socket. The most important detail is to choose a UPS with the appropriate power to provide surge suppression and battery backup for sensitive electronic equipment like computers, home entertainment systems and televisions when power supply is flaky or during an outage.  The following steps and simple calculation will help identify the right device:

1. Group the equipment you want to plug into a single UPS.

2. Look at the power statistics label for each device (usually on the back or bottom of any piece of equipment) and locate the "amps" for each device.  Add the number of amps for all the items that will be plugged into the UPS (most UPS devices have anywhere from 4 to 8 outlets so it's a good idea not to plug more than 4 to 8 electronic items in one UPS).

3. Multiply the total amps by 120 (standard wall socket voltage). The result is the voltage requirement or, "VA", necessary to support the devices.  Look for the number closest and higher than the total.  For example, if the total device amps is 4amps, the appropriate UPS will be 550VA (4 amps x 120 = 480; if there's a choice between 350VA, 420VA or 550VA, the 550VA will be the best choice).

4. The UPS outlets will all support surge protection but not all will necessarily provide battery backup in an outage.  Be sure to look at which outlet are marked for batter back up and plug the modem, router and computer into those outlets.  Printers and faxes don't necessarily need to plug into a battery backup outlet. Laser printers use an excessive amount of power and should not be plugged into the same USP with other computer devices.

More information about Universal Power Supply can be found at:
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uninterruptible_power_supply>
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