An intelligent data protection system includes a memory refreshing apparatus and a memory access apparatus connected to the volatile memory array of a computer system for maintaining the integrity of the data contained therein and allowing the main computer system to access data. Control apparatus follows a user programmable power control sequence to selectively provide power to various components and to initiate the transfer of data into a non-volatile memory. Initially, the control apparatus provides power from a reserve power supply to the volatile memory, the memory maintenance apparatus, and the memory access apparatus immediately upon detecting a power failure. If the power is not restored within a predetermined time, the control apparatus removes power from all non-essential components, including the memory access apparatus, to minimize the power consumed by the data protection system while still maintaining the data in the volatile memory. The data protection system also includes data transfer apparatus to transfer data from the volatile memory into a non-volatile memory upon command from the control apparatus.