Back in the spring of 2007 I had a whole house natural gas backup generator installed. After the big black out of 2003 that took out the whole East Coast, I knew that I never wanted to be without power for an extended period of time again. Like many preventative measures, you sometimes never have the problem you're trying to prevent. I used to joke all the time that buying that generator was the best (and most expensive) insurance I've ever bought. Since I had the generator installed the power never went off for more than 5 minutes in 3 years. Well that was until last week. I had gone out to run a couple of errands and just as I was wrapping up my last stop the sky had turned very dark (should have taken a picture) and I could tell that it was about to pour down raining any minute. I made it to the car right before the big rain hit and drove home. I noticed that it seemed a little darker than usual, but just figured it was the very heavy rain. When I got home I noticed a huge tree had fallen on my lawn. Although I knew that I was going to have to pay someone to clear that thing, I was very thankful that it didn't hit anything like the house or a car.
I hit the button for the garage door and pulled into my garage. As soon as I stepped out of the car I could hear the generator running on the opposite side of the rear wall. I walked into the house and all was fine. The house was cool, the lights were on and it was like any other time. However, the entire street was without power. That's when I said, "I'm finally getting some use out of that generator!" The beauty of it is, if the power is out more than a few seconds, it fires up and switches over automatically. When the power returns, the generator switches back and turns off. I love this type of automation. Most of my important gear is on UPS backups (see below), so for the most part the batteries in those units handle the switch overs quite nicely.
The next day, the generator was still running. As a matter of fact the power wasn't restored until that next evening. Although I don't wish for power outages because as a gadget junkie, they suck big time, I gotta say this was the first one that I actually enjoyed
My generator was installed by these guys.
For minor power disruptions I still highly recommend APC Battery Backup Units. These are not designed to power your electronics for extended periods of time. However, for your computers they will generally give you time to properly save your work and shut down. For other gadgets in your world (DVRs, Cable Modems, Routers, etc.), they'll preserve your settings and continue recording if the power is restored before the APC's battery dies.