- The big risk
- So, what is a UPS and why do I need one?
- PC peril
- Types of UPS
- The smarter UPS
- Data line protection
- What about large installations?
- Selecting a UPS
- What's the cost
The Smarter UPS
Computer technology is advancing at a great rate, but our supply of power is essentially unchanged. Power problems are a major cause of PC and server downtime. Good UPS-linked power management software is vital to prevent data corruption. When used with computer systems, a UPS will usually connect to your PC (via serial or USB cable) and, in the event of a power problem, tell your computer to start its shutdown procedure. It then continues to provide clean, constant battery power to the PC and other connected equipment so this procedure can be completed. The power management software is usually provided with the UPS, and often comes in more than one version, to provide compatibility with multiple operating systems (OS) such as various flavours of Windows and Linux or Macintosh machines. Be sure that whatever UPS you choose has an appropriate communication port (eg, serial or UPS) and comes with management software that is compatible with your type and version of OS.
Data line protection
Even those who appreciate the risk of power surges often overlook electrical surges (also known as transients) on data lines, which can destroy computing and electronic equipment at work and at home. A good basic UPS will usually have several battery-backup protected power outlets and a couple of surge suppression-only power outlets, plus at least one data-line surge suppression outlet.
What about large installations?
A UPS is designed to provide battery backup for relatively short periods to allow proper shutdown of protected equipment. But as installations grow larger, the capabilities of batteries are more limited. In any case, they are only a short-term strategy. To support large numbers of equipment for longer periods, a power generator is required. Thus, most large IT installations will also have generators to ride through longer power outages. In a mission critical environment, where no downtime is acceptable, heavy duty UPS systems are backed by power generators, set up in redundant failsafe configurations to never allow the power to be interrupted. Your home or small business setup may not warrant the expense of going all-out with this type of system, but the dangers are the same and the solution is essentially the same -- it is just a matter of scale.