Some may wonder what UPS stands for in the first place. It is an abbreviation of Uninterruptible Power Supply.
In a nutshell, it is a big battery that gets placed between the normal power grid and any equipment that needs to be protected by the UPS.
An average UPS is responsible for doing a few things:
- Supply power to critical equipment in the event of a power failure
- Prevent possible damage from surges and spikes from reaching critical equipment providing a steady flow of electricity
- Allow computers that house data to close off their connections in a graceful and controlled manner
Supply power to critical equipment in the event of a power failure
It will not be able to do so for a very long time, but certainly long enough for the IT professionals to rush in and give everything a proper shut down. Just to give an example of why this is important, have a look at the following scenario…
Someone is working away on his PC and updating files that are stored on the file server. In the middle of one of those updates, when electronic data gets written to the physical disc of the file server, the power goes down. With no UPS present the server would instantly be without power and grind to a halt. The data that was being written to the disc or was being over-written would most likely become corrupted. This sort of thing could cause huge problems if we were talking about a relational database and could ultimately result in loss of valuable data and/or functionality.
If there was a UPS in place however, the server would have been allowed to finish its normal operations and could then be shut down in a safe manner without jeopardizing any data integrity.
The other function a UPS has is the surge and peak prevention
Power coming from the power grid is not very constant in nature. It actually fluctuates on a small scale constantly. Surges, peaks and sags can be caused by number of things. One very common example is when you turn on a vacuum cleaner you may sometimes notice that the lights in the room momentarily dim a bit. This is due to the enormous amount of power a vacuum cleaner draws when it is turned on. Without a UPS to protect critical equipment like servers, workstations and switches, the devices would be vulnerable to peaks and surges. This can actually physically damage the equipment, and in worst case scenarios, permanently damage it.
UPS maintenance is also a critical part of keeping you equipment safe. Just like any other battery powered device, the batteries eventually die. The only option is to either replace the unit or replace the batteries within it.
Generally speaking, UPS batteries have a 3 year lifetime. Any time after that, that they keep functioning, is on borrowed time. UPSs will often begin to beep to signal a battery replacement is due, but this is not always the case! In some cases the UPS sensors malfunction and don’t realize the battery is bad until it’s too late. On many occasions we have visited our clients’ sites and discovered the reason a server is failing frequently is because the UPS batteries have failed with no indication.
Blue/Edge recommends checking your rundown times and battery health at least once every quarter. A few minutes test can help determine your level of protection without spending any money and save you from downtime, data loss and equipment failures.
battery backup, equipment failures, ups