Spring is just around the corner, and just this week we received our first helpdesk call related to a power surge and fried equipment. An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) plugs into your electrical outlet and then provides power to servers, network switches, and other costly IT equipment. A UPS unit can help you protect your IT investments and stop problems before they start, by protecting from surges and performing controlled shutdowns during outages, but only if properly maintained and life-cycled.
What type of UPS do I need?
When sizing a UPS, we look at the type of equipment that runs your network.
- Do you have an on-premise server, or is most of your work done in the cloud?
- Do you have network switches providing power to access points and surveillance cameras, and/or providing DHCP?
- How much runtime do you need? (this is the amount of time the battery will run the equipment during a power failure)
If you currently have a UPS, we also look at the amount of items drawing power from the UPS (you may have added devices since you purchased your UPS). The age of the battery and the age of the unit can also help us determine whether the battery or the entire unit should be replaced.
What is the Life Cycle of a UPS?
The life cycle of the UPS batteries fluctuate greatly, depending on these five factors:
- Placement of unit
- Ambient temperature
- Battery chemistry and storage
Two identical units purchased and installed at the same time in two different server rooms/network closets may have different life cycles, based on the load-set, air flow, ambient temperature and humidity.
Depending on UPS model, load and installation specifics, most batteries should be replaced in 3-7 years and units should be replaced after 5 years.
What Should I Look for in a UPS?
ITS recommends and sells APC by Schneider Electric. If you are investing in new on-premise servers or refreshing your network gear, ITS recommends checking the age and performance of your UPS to protect your new investments. APC does also sell smaller UPS units suitable for home audio/visual components and network gear.
In a business or K-12 school, where health and longevity is important for IT gear, consider a model that provides a graceful, unattended shutdown. This means that once power is disrupted and your UPS unit takes over, any devices powered by the UPS can be powered down safely, automatically. Many models will also run tests at regular intervals (every two-weeks is standard), and help you keep loads on your battery at an ideal level and know when to replace your battery.
Be Prepared for Spring Storms
Spring storms with lightning strikes are apt to produce power surges and outages, which can be life-ending for IT equipment and create hours/days of downtime to reconfigure servers and switches to pre-storm settings and data points. Make it a priority now to check your backup sets, so that you can restore your critical files from a recent, good configuration if your server goes down. Also check your UPS unit for load, battery performance and age to determine whether it has enough power to support your equipment through another storm season. Contact ITS for additional information on backup solutions or UPS products.