APC Back-UPS ES 725 Review

The chances of a blackout or other power event affecting your data or equipment are very high.
The chances of a blackout or other power event affecting your data or equipment are very high.
The chances of a blackout or other power event affecting your data or equipment are very high.

Highs

  • Protects computer
  • monitor and peripherals from power events; excellent warranty; provides peace of mind

Lows

  • A few quirks in the monitoring software
Home > Product Reviews > Computer Accessory Reviews > APC Back-UPS ES 725 Review

Summary

The chances of a blackout or other power event affecting your data or equipment are very high. If you haven’t experienced this yet, the question is not if it will happen, but when it will happen.

With UPS batteries lasting between three to five years, and the cost of the Back-UPS ES 725 around $100, this is a solid investment that really makes a lot of sense. The cost of lost data, production, and/or damaged equipment makes the purchase of a UPS a no-brainer.

The ES 725 does what it is supposed to do and does it well. With enough power to support almost all of today’s power-hungry monitors and workstations, the ES 725 is well-suited for most home and office users.

Introduction

If you haven’t learned your lesson yet, chances are you will. The lesson is: protect your data. Many people in the Northeast learned that lesson the hard way in August of 2003, when a blackout shut down systems, businesses and whole cities from Detroit to New York in the blink of an eye.

In that instant, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people lost valuable data when their computer shut down without saving work. However, it wasn’t just data, power events like this also cause physical damage to sensitive equipment such as computers and network gear. Much of this equipment and data loss could have been prevented with a simple investment of an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

A UPS is a device that sits between a power source and an electronic device such as a computer. The UPS protects the computer from “power events” such as outages, sags, surges, noise and spikes. UPS systems provide “clean” regulated power as well as backup power in the form of a battery.

American Power Conversion (APC) has been making UPS systems since 1984 and is the industry leader. In this review, we take a look at one of APC’s many consumer oriented UPS systems, the Back-UPS ES 725 Broadband.


The APC Back-UPS ES 725 features 8 power outlets (4 on battery backup).

Design and Features

The ES 725 is a 725VA/450W UPS designed to power a computer, monitor and necessary peripherals in the event of a power disturbance. The battery backup provides enough power to enable the user, or the system itself, to save work and shutdown properly.

The APC Back-UPS ES 725 is targeted at average home or office computers. With most systems, you won’t be able to continue to work for hours on end, but that is not the purpose of this UPS; the purpose is to allow you to safely save your work and shutdown your computer.

With four battery-powered/surge protected outlets and four other surge protected outlets, the ES 725 provides enough power and outlets to protect any workstation and its peripherals. On each side of the unit, one of the four outlets is spaced farther away than the others to provide room for a transformer block.

Since lightning or surges can travel through any copper wire, the ES 725 also provides surge protection to other gear with two other connections. It has input and output connections to protect coax cable as well as a fax, phone, DSL or ethernet cable with a protected RJ-45/RJ-11 port.

The ES 725 also features a long 6-foot cord, a resettable circuit breaker, LED status indicators and user-replaceable, hot-swappable batteries.

According to APC’s literature, the ES 725 also performs an automatic bi-weekly test of its internal components, including the battery. This happens behind-the-scenes. The battery is a maintenance-free, leakproof, lead-acid battery. This means that at the end of the battery’s lifetime, you can order a replacement through APC without having to buy a whole new unit.


The ES 725 features surge protection for coax and fax/phone/dsl and Ethernet cable.

Setup and Configuration

Setting up the ES 725 is fairly straightforward and not difficult at all. Since the unit is not shipped with the battery plugged in, the user needs to plug it in first. Plugging it in is as easy as unscrewing a cover and inserting the plug on a blade connection.

Included with the unit is a USB cable that plugs into your computer to provide monitoring of the system. With the included PowerChute personal edition software, the UPS can be monitored and configured from your Mac OS X or Windows 98 and higher computer.

We had no problem setting up the hardware or the software. Once you plug the USB cable into your computer, the OS recognizes it as a UPS and installs it. Then you install the PowerChute software and configure the type of protection you want. You can choose to have the UPS keep your computer on battery power as long as possible in the event of a power outage, or you can choose to have it shutdown automatically.

PowerChute Personal Edition allows you to monitor your system to view recent power events, up to 24 weeks in the past, and to view the current status of the unit. The status shows you the remaining battery capacity, the status of the battery (charged or charging), how many minutes the battery can power your system, and what kind of event caused the last transfer to battery power.


APC’s PowerChute software shows the device status and event history.

Testing and Use

We tested the Back-UPS ES 725 with an AMD Athlon XP 2800-based PC powered by an Antec TruePower 330W power supply and a Samsung 955DF 19-inch monitor.

Initially, PowerChute told us that we had about 55 minutes of battery backup time but we knew that was not accurate. With our 330W power supply and monitor that draws about 100W, we knew we were close to pushing the limits of the ES 725 already and that 55 minutes was not reasonable. However, just because you have a 330W power supply does not mean you are using that much power; power usage is based on what the components in your system draw.

In order to get a more accurate estimate of battery backup time, you need to simulate a power outage once and let the UPS and PowerChute manage it. APC doesn’t suggest this, or even mention it as far as we can tell, and the only need to do this is if you want a good initial estimate. The unit will not try to keep the system on longer than it can – it will dynamically update the estimate as it starts discharging.

We started the testing by simply unplugging the UPS from the wall. Immediately upon a power failure (or simulation of one in this case) the UPS takes over and you receive a popup box that says “your battery backup is now supplying battery power to your equipment.” The audible alarm we mentioned earlier is sounded and produces four beeps every 30 seconds. This alarm can be turned on or off in the PowerChute management console.

After unplugging the UPS from the wall the estimated battery time remaining and the battery capacity as shown in PowerChute started going down. After 7:48, the computer was forced to go to hibernate mode. The battery showed 39% capacity remaining. For safety reasons, the system will shut down once there is five minutes of battery time remaining.


PowerChute shows the current status of your UPS, including the reason it last went to battery power.

These results are on-par with what APC suggests on their Website. They provide a runtime chart to help you decide what size UPS is best for your applications, and they showed a system with a 300W draw getting about seven minutes of runtime.

Since this is a high-capacity battery, you won’t be able to recharge it quickly like batteries for your camera. Recharging took us several hours which was expected. This shouldn’t be a concern unless you experience frequent blackouts – if you do, you probably have bigger problems than the time it takes to recharge your UPS.

After several hours, our UPS was back to full capacity, showing 100% in PowerChute. The estimated battery time had changed from the default 55 minutes to the more reasonable 17 minutes. We pulled the plug again and let the UPS take over. PowerChute shut the system down at 80% charge, because that is when it had only five minutes of backup left. At 80%, it took over an hour to recharge to the full 100%. Remember also that the battery will take longer to charge when you are also using the computer that is connected to it than if that computer was turned off.

As far as surge suppression goes, in our weeks of testing we never experienced any power fluctuations or other events and could not test validate surge protection claims. However, since APC has built their business around surge and power protection for almost two decades and is known as an industry leader, we feel confident in their products’ ability to handle such situations.

PowerChute Monitoring Software

PowerChute was not without its quirks however. APC provides a downloadable demo of PowerChute that simulates its use. It doesn’t connect to a UPS and is only for demonstration purposes, however, it is supposed to be a good representation of the program. (Follow this link to download the PowerChute demo)

We noted that in the demo version of PowerChute there was a “Load on Battery Backup” section in the “Monitor System” tab. We thought this was a great feature and wanted to see how much our system was really drawing. Unfortunately, when we loaded our version of PowerChute personal edition (both version 1.2 which was included and version 1.4 which we downloaded) that option was not available. We wanted to determine if this was really supposed to be available so we contacted APC’s technical support.

First we contacted support with their online chat feature. After talking with two support reps, both of whom said that function should be available to our system, they suggested we call someone in support to talk about it. We then called support and the representative we talked to also said it should be available. He was unsure as to why it wasn’t available and that was all he could offer. We really would have liked a definitive answer and also think that this is an option that consumers would appreciate.


PowerChute shows current status, but not the “Load on Battery Backup” as the demo does

One other minor quirk of PowerChute is how it defaults to the Help->About screen when you open it up. It would make more sense to us to default to the current status screen instead.

PowerChute lets you change a few parameters such as the high and low limits for your AC voltage. If the voltage drops below the low limit or spikes above the high limit, the battery backup will intervene. It also lets you select if you want your UPS to preserve as much battery power as possible or keep your computer on as long as possible in the event of a power outage.

You can also select to enable or disable the audio alerts as well as disable them during certain hours of the day, for instance at night while you are sleeping.

Warranty and Support

While APC support was unable to determine why we weren’t able to see the current “Load on Battery Backup” they were quick to respond and helpful when we called and talked to them via instant messenger.

APC backs the Back-UPS ES 725 with a 2-year repair or replace warranty and a $50,000 lifetime protection policy. That policy will replace or repair your APC equipment as well as any other equipment that was connected to the UPS and damaged in a power event.

Conclusion

The chances of a blackout or other power event affecting your data or equipment are very high. If you haven’t experienced this yet, the question is not if it will happen, but when it will happen.

With UPS batteries lasting between three to five years, and the cost of the Back-UPS ES 725 around $100, this is a solid investment that really makes a lot of sense. The cost of lost data, production, and/or damaged equipment makes the purchase of a UPS a no-brainer.

The ES 725 does what it is supposed to do and does it well. With enough power to support almost all of today’s power-hungry monitors and workstations, the ES 725 is well-suited for most home and office users.