Thoughts for dealing with power outages (blackouts)?

I am finding it useful to access my Mac Studio while I am traveling (for access to an external disk, access to a faster computer, and to use a VPN through home). However our power company (the benighted PG&E) can’t seem to go more than a few days without a power outage (there have been three so far on a two-week trip).

As far as I can tell, there are no affordable UPSs that will hold the computer for a few hours (ie, for the short blackout, let alone the long ones).

I read up on getting a rechargeable battery (e.g., a EcoFlow Delta 2) but there are questions about whether the switching time is fast enough to keep the computer on, and whether there is a finite chance of burning down your house if you leave it plugged in 24/7/365.

So now I am thinking of partitioning my disk to two partitions: the system partition unencrypted with autologin turned on, and a password protected partition with most of my user files and my (huge) Dropbox. I would not save the password for the second volume.

But the problems I see with this are:

  • Now all my private files on the second volume are protected only by a password, rather than the more robust Find My Mac mechanism.
  • All my keychain passwords are available to anyone with access to the computer. However I can move all my important keychain passwords into my password manager software, and type them in when I need them.
  • If Dropbox actually converts to requiring Apple’s File Provider software, which requires that the Dropbox physically reside on the boot volume, I’ll have to reformat my disk again and go back to no autoboot after power outage.

Are there any other issues that anyone can see? Any other recommended solutions?

A bit extreme, but have you considered a whole-house backup generator?

If a few hours is a “short” blackout, what is a long one to you? Several weeks? That should happen unless there’s a natural disaster hitting your region.

Also, how do you define “affordable”? If your Studio is mostly sitting idle when you’re away from home, it probably won’t be drawing a lot of current (especially if the display is turned off). A UPS that can keep it running for 60-90 minutes should cost around $600-800. Not cheap, but not unreasonable if you require that kind of uptime.

If you’re considering an EcoFlow unit, well, that’s not cheap either. But you can set them up to self-recharge from solar panels (if you want to spend a very large amount of money).

Good advice if you need truly extended uptime. I know that big-box home stores sell natural gas units for a few thousand dollars. You can probably also get units that run on propane, if your area doesn’t have natural gas service (just make sure you don’t let the tank run out).

Another option might be a some kind of remote KVM system. (e.g. Tiny Pilot - no recommendation, but a web search found it. There are many other similar products).

With that, you connect the KVM to your Mac’s video output and a USB port. You can point a web browser at the KVM (via your VPN), to get access to the Mac’s console. From there, you can access its pre-boot screen, to enter the File Vault password.

Once the Mac is unlocked, you can access it the way you do today.

Of course, if you want to use its local console as well, then you may need something like an HDMI splitter, so the KVM and your display can both get an image. Or you can just connect the KVM when you’re traveling and disconnect it when you’re at home.

1 Like

I have a Tesla Powerwall2 home battery that is mainly used for storing excess PV solar energy. However on several occasions it has quickly kicked in during grid outages in our area and the Mac has not been affected.
Not a cheap solution to your problem but there are other advantages to this type of home battery system, even without PV solar. For example, during winter when some of my solar panels are shaded by trees the Powerwall automatically charges overnight at off-peak rates (time-of-use charging in Australia) to avoid expensive grid electricity at peak times.

Have you thought about a Laptop (M3 or M4) and an external HD (backup or mirror to the one you have at home) You should be able to access your VPN from the Laptop. The price should be a wash.

Thanks, all.

Yes, our blackouts usually last 1-5 hours, sometimes longer.

I think a KVM is my best option.

I have thought about a Powerwall or other whole-house battery, but it makes no economic sense. But many of our neighbors have them and love them.