Although the reliability of computer hardware has improved quite significantly in recent years, even the most trustworthy of equipment remains susceptible to data corruption and component failures if proactive measures are not implemented.
While there are a variety of threats that can potentially harm the physical integrity of hardware and the data held inside, sudden power outages and fluctuating flows of electrical charges continue to yield the greatest risk. By installing an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), a user can offset the uncertainty of these threats and protect their investments; preemptively saving themselves a great deal of frustration and unnecessary costs.
UPS Use Cases
As the name subtly implies, a UPS system is a device capable of providing a short-term source of backup power to other electronic machines, should the main power of said device cease or experience an irregular flow of electricity. Most commonly, these disruptions in the steady stream of power are rooted in events uncontrollable by human kind: such as severe weather, grid overloads, or seismic disturbances. During these incidents, UPS systems ensure the internal components of a desktop, server or networking device remain undamaged, while also providing users with a window to save their work in the off-chance of a power outage. Now, before diving too deep into the use cases of this system, let’s first touch on these different types of electrical interruptions, and the implications each can have if left unmanaged.
Perhaps the most common form of electrical interference, a spike refers to a sudden increase in voltage. While this increase may only be for a few milliseconds, the dramatic leap in voltage can potentially result in corrupted data. Spikes most commonly result from unpredictable events, such as a lightning strike or a car or tree hitting a nearby power line.
Another well-known form of electrical disturbance, blackouts result from a total loss to the power main. Typically, blackouts affect a large number of individuals, with outages ranging from just a few moments, to hours, to days. Grid overloading, earthquakes and severe weather are but three events that can trigger a blackout.
Surges are similar to spikes, but tend to last a few minutes, rather than a few milliseconds. These incidents are primarily caused by individuals quickly turning on and off a large electrical device, such as an A/C unit or fridge.
When a power utility site is receiving a high electricity demand, the site may decide to reduce the flow of electricity to certain areas. While this prevents a large-scale blackout, it means that those devices that rely on a higher voltage of electricity are not receiving enough power to function properly.
What does this all mean for the end-user? Simply put, devices that are powered on during any of these voltage fluctuations face a heightened threat of failure. Both spikes and surges have the potential to fry hardware, while blackouts and brownouts can result in the hard shutdown of equipment. Essentially, a hard shutdown is the process in which electronic devices are shut down without the user initiating the process. As a result, this can lead to a few different problems, such as the loss of unsaved work on personal computers or corrupted data across an entire network of servers.
Now You Have the Power
With that information in hand, how does one take a proactive approach? Simple, purchase and implement a UPS, right? While, yes, this ultimately is the correct answer, let’s pause and put some real thought into this. UPS devices come in a range of models; with each varying in the number of devices it can power and the length it which it can stay turned on. That said, there are a few key features you should look for when purchasing or upgrading a device.
First, if you’re powering a larger device, make sure the UPS is able to transmit the presumably high amount of voltage safely. Next, Rocket IT typically encourages clients to look for UPS devices capable of being timed and programmed. While many UPS devices can keep a device powered on for up to 15 to 20 minutes, it still requires the user safely shut the device down. On the other hand, smart UPS systems can be programmed to automatically and safely shut down powered devices after a set period of time has passed. To accomplish this, the UPS device can tell when it’s running on its own power, versus that of the building, and then check the user’s settings to determine how long it should remain online.
While on this topic, it’s important to note that UPS devices, at the least, should be able to hold a charge capable of powering a device for at least 10 minutes, if not longer. This allows the user to safely wrap up what they’re working on, and power down the device. If the device is unable to stay powered on for this period of time, there are a couple of options. One, the user can attempt to replace the battery; or they can upgrade the entire unit. If he or she opts to replace the battery, it must be compatible with the model of UPS before performing the install.
Like most projects in life, it’s crucial to use the right tool for the job. Therefore, when selecting a UPS device, a user needs to be aware of the technology they’re trying to keep powered. For example, a large refrigerator or server requires a UPS device with a bigger battery. On the other hand, a personal desktop or router may only need a small UPS system. Taking all this information into consideration can be a difficult task. Therefore, Rocket IT regularly helps clients find and implement the right UPS systems across their network of devices. As a result, correctly selecting the appropriate UPS device for the job can ensure the backup battery remains healthy for three to five years, sparing the need to spend excess money on a replacement unit. If you feel inclined to take the next steps in protecting your hardware and data, we encourage you to give our team a call at 770-441-2520.
Why Risk the Downtime?
If after reading this you’re still wondering why you can’t just head down to your nearest brick-and-mortar store, pick up a surge protector and call it a day, let us explain. While, a surge protector is cheaper than a UPS device, like their names state, they only protect devices from surges or spikes. Therefore, while connected devices are protected from increases in voltage, surge protectors offer no battery backup. On the other hand, UPS systems protect from surges and spikes, while also keeping your equipment running for a short period during blackouts or brownouts.
Although the upfront cost of a UPS device is more than a surge protector, these systems offer an easier, more compact, and less expensive alternative to that of a generator. Additionally, the time it takes to purchase and install a UPS system is far less than the painstaking hours of labor it requires to rescue corrupted databases and find seemingly lost information. While Rocket IT does provide clients with a regular routine of server backups, restoring data properly takes time. And for some business, when the server is down the company is left with no other option but to close up shop for the day. Therefore, in industries where 24 hour operations are commonplace, such as manufacturing, logistics or the medical field, UPS systems can prove to be a huge benefit for a substantially minor cost.