Need ideas about internet service.

Discussion in 'Windows 7 Help and Support' started by MikeHawthorne, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    I have a friend of ours and her mother visiting in the morning.
    The mother needs help in buying a computer, and I've got a few options for a laptop, mouse and printer picked out.

    I'll have the stuff delivered to me set it all up and then get her started, she's in her 80s, but she has worked on a computer in the past in Windows XP, so I'll install Classic Shell and try and make is as simple as possible.

    Now the question.

    She only lives a few miles from here but she often has her power go out sometimes for a day or more.
    So a laptop is great, it will work with the power off.

    The problem is she would like to have an internet connection when the power is down.

    While that works with our iPad, I don't know of a home setup that doesn't have a plugin router that will work on a PC.

    Even Verizon and AT&T internet has a plugin unit for the signal.

    Does anyone know of any way to have an internet connection with no local power?

    Any suggestions welcome.

    She has Comcast for her TV so that's probably the way to go, but I want to at least try and see if there is another option that would work when the power is down.

    Is there a battery backup power unit at a reasonable cost that would run a router for 3 or 4 hours?
    Like the one you would plug a PC into?

    I just thought of that.

    Mike

    I went and looked at battery backups for PCs, but I have no idea how long you could run a router off of one, two hours or two minutes?
     
    #1 MikeHawthorne, Sep 2, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  2. Pauli

    Pauli Extraordinary Member
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    The first that comes to mind about Internet connection is a wireless USB modem. As far as the computer has power, you'll have Internet - unless of course the whole system in a wider area brakes down, meaning antennas go down, in which case I suggest you rely the competence of the Military, there is capability to have connections "wherever". Not trying to be funny, ok?

    Spare / extra power could be the traditional word, for the computer. I'm not a specialist here, but there should be batteries that both protect the instrument against a power down, and provide power after that. Generally, a car or tractor battery should be good enough, you just have to get the voltage right. And, of course, it can be installed to provide the router power too, but I would make the question, even if the router gets power, does it get a signal from outside? As the one who sends the signal needs power too, and it might well be gone?

    Not knowing if there is availability for wireless Internet, I think it would be the best alternative, if there is availability.

    My best wishes and hopes to your friends Mother. :wave: And You too.
     
    #3 Pauli, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  3. strollin

    strollin Senior Member

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    If she has cellular coverage where she lives, she could use something like a Verizon Jetpack hotspot to provide internet access. It claims 15 hours of use on it's internal battery which should outlast the battery in her laptop. I personally use the hotpsot feature of my smartphone to provide internet during power shortages at my house.

    A properly sized inverter connected to a car battery, could provide quite a few hours of power to run a laptop and a Jetpack device but the battery would need to be kept charged. I have such a setup in my RV with golf cart batteries, a charger and an inverter to provide AC power when I am camped in the boonies without the ability to hook to AC.

    An alternative would be a generator that would provide enough power for her needs but that opens another whole level of expense and possible complexity.
     
    #4 strollin, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  4. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    Thanks for the input.

    I'll check on the battery with a AC converter idea.

    I was looking at commercial backup surge protector units but they seem to only support running a computer system for 30 minutes or so.

    I have no idea how long one would run just a router alone with the computer powering itself.

    I assume that if the router is powered that the cable input signal is still coming in, and would still work, but I don't know for sure that, that is true either.

    All of the Wireless hot spots that I've seen have a unit that plugs into the wall.
    I'll look into one with a battery in it.

    I'll check on USB modems but that would be using the juice from the computer and would probably shorten the usage overall.

    Out cell phone and iPad do get a signal directly so they work if the power is down, but our regular wireless phone system has a router powered by a wall outlet so our regular phones don't work when we don't have power.

    For us that's only very rarely, for her is happens 5 or 6 times a year and can last a day or more.

    Her best option is probably just to live with it, since Comcast is already wired into her house for TV and is reasonably priced.

    But I'll explain the options to her and let her decide.

    Mike
     
  5. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    She needs to get a "good" UPS with AVR - automatic voltage regulation. With a decent size UPS (say 1000VA or larger) she can connect and protect her notebook and all her network gear. Of course, run time will be extended if her notebook battery is fully charged before the power loss, but she still should be able to run for a couple hours - longer with a larger UPS.

    Most importantly, she will have power to send for help - if the power outage takes out her phones too.

    APC is probably the best know UPS maker and for sure, makes quality UPS. You can't go wrong with a decent APC. Cyberpower also makes good UPS, and tend to be a bit less expensive than APC. You don't have to spend $400 on a good UPS (though you easily can), but you must avoid the cheap, entry level models. Like PC PSUs, there are cheap models/brands to avoid. They tend to have slow cut-over times, poor output waveforms, and lousy regulation. The better models output near sinewave power, provide excellent regulation (the "bread and butter" of a "good" UPS with AVR) and have a very fast cut-over times - and are more than capable in most home environments. The best, and most expensive UPS have "pure sine wave" outputs - and if budget allows, are recommended, though not absolutely necessary.

    All computers (and big screen TVs and home theater audio equipment) should be on a "good" UPS with AVR. Not for the battery backup, but for the regulation AVR provides as surge and spike protectors are little more than fancy and expensive extension cords that hack up, clamp and obliterate the wave form during high voltage anomalies (surges and spikes) and do absolutely nothing for low voltage anomalies (sags - opposite of surges, dips - opposite of spikes, and brownouts - long duration sags). The resulting wave forms (if they can be called that) from surge and spike protectors are messes ("dirty" power) left to the various power supplies and regulation circuits on the motherboard and in the connected devices to (or attempt to) clean up.

    Backup power during a power outage is only the "icing on the cake".

    FTR, I have an APC 1500VA UPS that supports my wireless router, cable modem, two network switches, phone, and my Intel i7, 16Gb PC with a decent (read: power hungry) graphics card and TWO 22" widescreen monitors - providing at least 35 minutes of run time should power go out - 45 minutes if I kill one monitor and over 1 hour if I kill both monitors. If I power off my PC too, leaving just my network running, I get over 3 hours of uptime which I can use with my notebook running off the notebook battery. Now if only my notebook battery would run that long. :(
     
  6. strollin

    strollin Senior Member

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    Just a slight correction regarding nomenclature: a converter converts AC power to DC while an inverter converts DC to AC so if you went to the store and bought a converter, it would not do what she needs. However, a converter could be used to charge the battery. My RV has both a converter and an inverter. The converter takes AC while I'm plugged in and produces 12VDC to power the 12VDC lights and whatever else uses 12VDC and additionally charges my batteries. When I'm not connected to AC, the inverter produces AC power from the batteries so I can use 120V items in the RV such as a TV.

    Most UPS backup type devices are only designed to provide enough power to be able to do a proper shutdown of your computer and peripherals so that you don't lose data from a sudden power loss. They aren't generally used to power a system for any length of time although some people such as Digerati do it. He says he gets 35 minutes with his setup which may be plenty for his use but your neighbor may have the power go out for hours. The regulation and protection provided by the UPS is a good idea but I personally wouldn't want to rely on a UPS during an extended power outage.

    I have a couple of portable Honda 2000W gas generators that can be "ganged" together to provide a total of 4000W that I use during extended power outages or when camped in my RV for extended periods of time.
     
    #7 strollin, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2013
  7. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    Thanks for the info, once she understood what was involved, I think she has decided that she can get along without it if she has to.
    But a battery with a inverter sounds like the best bet if she wants to do something.

    She does have a Cell Phone so she isn't on her own if the power is out, she can call her daughter for help.

    Just to be sure I'll look up inverters and have the information available if she does want to go that way.
    At least I can give her a cost, and some idea of what is involved, I would think a car battery attached to a computerised trickle charger (the kind that only charge if the battery level drops) would make sure there was alwaye power there.

    Possibly it could even go in the basement and have a cord run up through the floor, so she doesn't have to have a car battery sitting in her livingroom.

    Mike
     
  8. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    I agree - an UPS is NOT designed to support anything for extended periods - though I would not call 35 minutes, or even an hour, extended.

    Still most power outages last just seconds or less - often seen as flickers in lighting. And in reality, "flickers" often contain very high voltage spikes and often come in a series of flickers in quick succession which bang, bang, BANG on power supplies and regulator circuits. All the more reason to have an UPS instead of a surge and spike protector.

    Ideally, you want an UPS to provide power long enough to finish your sentence, save your open documents, exit your open programs, exit Windows, then shutdown the computer gracefully - instead of suddenly killing power to the drives and risking data corruption and loss, and an unbootable computer. In fact, most UPS come with software and a USB interface cable to support unattended graceful shutdowns.

    Actually, it is my UPS LCD control panel that says how much time (based on current load) I have left. I have not and will not test if I can actually get 35 minutes, or if it shutdowns unexpectedly at 30 - not with my computers.

    For sure, I have a 5KW generator too for extended outages (many hours or days) and while I have run my computers off them (through the UPS for the regulation), the generator is primarily to keep the food in my deepfreeze frozen and the beer in my fridge teeth-cracking cold. ;)

    And that's good as typically cell towers are equipped with uninterruptible power. But cell phone batteries can run down quickly too when the phone is use - or if not fully charged when the power goes out. And I don't know about her, but I too often forget to plug my cell phone in. :(
     
  9. strollin

    strollin Senior Member

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    This is a good idea and the inverter should be mounted as close to the battery as practical to keep the 12VDC cables as short as possible. Run an extension cord on the AC side from the inverter to where she wants/needs the power.
     
  10. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Plus, car batteries need to be in a ventilated area. And then there's battery acid concerns - uncommon, but not unheard of, and certainly extremely dangerous. Don't need that in a living room - especially if kids may be present.
     
  11. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    No kids around, her kids are almost my age. LOL
    I'm a little nervous about this, she hasn't used a computer since Windows XP and is in her 80s.

    But she seems to grasp the essentials when I demonstrated on my PC, and looked at my wife's laptop which is the same screen size as the one we picked out for her, 17".

    She still hasn't committed as to whether she want's to go ahead with it but we did pick out all of the hardware.
    Her daughter says she thinks she's going to do it.

    She live alone, in the country, in a 100 year old farmhouse.
    But she has 2 daughters in the area, unfortunately neither of them can help her with the computer stuff.

    It's when I do stuff like this that I think that computers are still too complicated.
    The stuff I just take for granted look complicated to someone who hasn't done it.

    But I'll set her up with Classic Shell, to look like Windows Xp, and put rocketdock on With a big button for MAIL, INTERNET, CCLEANER, WORD, and SKYPE.

    I will also make a short video tutorial narrated by Lucy that covers the basics.

    Mike
     
  12. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Sounds like a plan. Note W8 comes with the new Windows Defender - an enhanced version of MSE that works very well and most importantly, is very easy to use. Plus it stays updated via Windows Update so no additional learning curve there. And Windows Firewall is also more than adequate and already in there.
     
  13. MikeHawthorne

    MikeHawthorne Essential Member
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    Hi

    I plan on using the built in Security software I will add Malwarebytes and CCleaner and have her daughter run them when she is there.

    Mike
     
  14. Digerati

    Digerati Fantastic Member
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    Sounds good to me. I too use MBAM for supplemental scanning just to make sure MSE/WD, or me, did not let something slip by. So far, since going to MSE in Oct 2009 (when W7 came out) nothing has - but I will keep double-checking. And CCleaner is one of my favorite utilities too. And while not a security program, purging the system every now and then of unnecessary cookies and temp files is a good thing.
     

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