Computers, as powerful as they are, rely on a single, relatively fragile connection to electricity. Take this away and a desktop computer becomes little more than a very expensive paperweight. The majority of office infrastructure – printers, servers, lighting and others rely on the same source. Without electricity, only phone lines remain and, depending on the type of telephone system in operation, these too could become useless in a power cut.
Since computers and the Internet have become central pillars of everyday life, both in the office and at home. However, with placing so much reliance and importance on computers comes significant risk, unless you run UPS. Uninterruptible power supplies, as their name suggests, offer protection against power cuts and power surges.
Interested? Read on for just how an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) works and why the risks of not making use of them.
In order to know the benefits of UPS, we first need to examine how they work and how they offset potentially problematic power problems.
Everyone has had the experience of being in the office and the lights dim or flicker for a second. This is because, unknown to many people, electricity levels do not remain at a steady 230 volts but is actually always fluctuating. When lights dim, the fluctuation is greater than normal, causing noticeable effects.
The same is true for a power cut. Some might assume that a power cut might mean a lack of power and, sometimes, that is true. However, the opposite is also sometimes the cause – too much electricity than the grid can accommodate can cause large surges in power, which then shuts down the entire grid. A UPS can help protect against both of these problems.
A UPS plugs into a mains supply like any other appliance. The UPS has several sockets for whatever vital devices must remain powered – PCs, printers, VoIP telephones, which it will keep powered in the event of a brownout or blackout.
Inside of the UPS is a battery that charges from the mains and goes into use when required. If there is a drop in voltage, the UPS will automatically register it and use the battery to compensate, keeping power supply within the right range.
As seen above, electricity supply problems – whether it is too much or too little can have a big impact on any business, taking away the ability to perform vital tasks.
A UPS can help keep a business running even in a total blackout and, if power problems go on for a long time, can help ensure that important business infrastructure and date remain safe and undamaged.
Even forcefully shutting down a single computer forcefully can do great damage, leading to an appearance by the dreaded blue screen and a call to IT.
The impact of a sudden shutdown on an entire network – computers and servers, in a matter of seconds could prove utterly disastrous. Computers and servers have shutdown procedures for a reason and a blackout could mean a very long, hard road to get back to full capabilities.
In the event of a blackout, a UPS can make sure that sudden, brutal shutdowns do not occur. Even if the UPS does not have enough battery power to keep, say, a server running long-term, it can ensure that the server shuts down properly. Once power comes back, it is then a simple matter of turning it back on. In this simple act, the UPS has already saved countless hours of IT grind and helps the business get up and running quickly.
As well as electricity shortages, a surge of power on a grid can be just as, if not more, destructive.
A surge can come from different sources. A lightning strike is perhaps what most people think of as responsible, but this is actually the least common cause of a surge. It is more likely, for example, a sudden upswing in the number of high-power devices can cause significant surges – think of summer and air conditioning units. Other causes are downed power lines or a downed transformer.
A surge might sometimes be significant and cause immediate damage to things like computer components and plugs, but gradual surges over time can take a very real toll as well.
Like a surge but only lasting for milliseconds, a spike is a large increase in power for a very brief amount of time. If a computer is undertaking something like writing to a hard drive then a spike can severely affect the process and lead to deeper problems.
A UPS, by constantly regulating power and keeping it within the right ranges, burnouts, surges and spikes become virtual non-factors.