The vast majority of people think that electricity supply is delivered at a consistent and constant voltage but, it isn’t. In most cases, this is of no consequence but for those businesses running a large amount of electrical and computing components, fluctuations in power supply can present the potential of real disaster.
But, there is a simple answer that can help avoid disaster and this is in the guise of uninterruptible power supplies; there are several major brands that have developed these systems, such as Hewlett Packard with their HP Ups, systems amongst others.
Like all components, it is important that you get the right one. In some areas of the globe, natural disasters re expected, therefore need to be managed from earthquake, hurricanes, tornadoes and here in the UK, flooding in recent years could represent a major disaster for many businesses – not only do the lights go out when the power does, but so will your computers!
Failing power is only one part of the problem; but just as power can ‘out’ it can sag, simply dipping and then increasing once again, power can also surge and spike. All of these discrepancies in the balance of power can all wreak havoc with computers and technology, therefore UPS is the answer but ensuring that these systems meet exact requirements is important.
But there are things you need to know…
UPS does not protect from lightning strikes – many people opt for a UPS system on the power inlet of a computing system, but don’t forget that data is constantly streaming via modems and other cabling. Lightning strikes can cause surges via these cables too, which a UPS may not guard against. Investing in UPS is a great move to protect your business, but don’t hang everything on one hook.
Recovery software – many customers assume that on purchasing a UPS, it is simply plugged in and then work can continue. But, with any UPS there needs to be software installed for the unit to step in at the optimum time. Therefore, always install the software that is supplied with the system!
… and the configure it! – in some cases, the software included with the UPS must also be configured for your needs; in other words, every company or business will have differing needs from a UPS system hence it is important that you set up the system so that it suits your business. In all cases, the software comes with default settings but it always pays to check these settings to ensure that that the timing aspect etc. are long enough to be able to shut down various aspect of your system.
Batteries don’t last forever – batteries are surely one of the most useful inventions ever! But, they run out and fail from time to time, hence any company relying on a UPS system really do need to have a system by which they check the power and functionality of batteries within a UPS system. In the majority of cases, batteries will give warnings if there is an issue with its power or capacity. The moral of this story regularly test your UPS batteries.
Load levels – technology changes all the time and so think about how much your system has changed over time. Specifically, think about how much you have added to your system over the years. This is known as a load level and in the majority of cases, load levels increase and yet, we tend not to increase the sophistication of essential accessories such as UPS. If your load level has significantly increased, then so has the power level of your system too; your UPS may not have the capacity to cope with your system.
Take care with UPS and laser printers – printing is essential in most business with laser printers offer economic printing capacity. However, the laser printer fuser consumes energy in quick bursts as it melts the toner as it is applied to paper and this means it can quickly over power a UPS system; take care when using UPS systems in such cases, especially those ‘powered’ by battery.
Think outside the box – many people apply UPS to certain parts of the network only but don’t forget that if other key components of the network are not protected by the UPS, as power fails, even though it may start it shut down the computer that acts as a server, if other parts of the network are not protected, such as the modems, they will simply shut down, hence data will be lost… you need to see your network in its entirety, not just focusing on the major, obvious components.
Stop the back-up – we all know how important it is to store and back up data but what can happen when the power fails and the UPS system kicks in is that this backing up of data can continue. You need to check and ensure that this task stops.
They don’t last forever – UPS systems, like many other components do not last forever. After a few years, the ability and capacity of a UPS to offer protection decreases. The life of such a system can be increased by doing small things, such as unplugging non-essential items during thunderstorms and the like.
UPS are perfect for getting over hitches – but are not meant to be a bridge in long term, difficult power issues. They are a short term measures, to help protect your valuable computer systems and components. They can make retrieving important data after a disaster easier.
Have you checked your UPS system recently? Is it old, and in need of updating?
Author: Andy Quayle
Andy was born in the Isle of Man and currently lives in Pittsburgh.
Known globally as a willing source for tech news and views, Andy takes great pride in consultation and education.
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