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Blackout – Will you have power?

Today, energy consumptions are increasing while investment in utilities is at an all-time low. “Victoria could face widespread power disruptions due to the closure of two of its four brown coal power stations in the next decade as Australia re- duces its greenhouse gas emissions, according to high-level advice before the State Government”.1

Computer users fall into two groups: those who have lost data due to power problems and those who will.

We spend thousands on IT equipment, but we put it all at risk every day. Sure, we go to great measures to protect our valuable electronic gear from theft, but we can lose it without leaving the office. All it takes is a “blip” in the power and it’s gone instantly. Destroyed data files, corrupted operating systems and dam-aged hardware are the obvious outcomes, however many don’t think about the busi- ness cost of critical systems (for eg. Email) being offline.

According to an IBM study, your system is subject to an average of 128 power disturbances per month, ranging from surges and spikes (which can damage hardware), to sags, brownouts and complete blackouts possibly leading to data loss. IBM reports overall that 45.3% of all data loss, including key-board lockups, complete data loss, hardware degradation, and damaged mother-boards, are due to power issues.

The good news?

It’s not too difficult (or expensive) to protect your equipment from most power problems — simply install an uninterruptible power supply (UPS—also known as battery backup.)

The solution is simple—and inexpensive

A UPS is similar to car insurance: you need to have it, but hope you never have to use it. Like an automobile, a computer and the data on it is an expensive in- vestment you want to protect. In the event of a power supply problem, a UPS instantly switches your computer to emergency battery backup power and lets you to continue working work through brief power outages & brown outs without losing data or suffering system or hardware damage. The better models can even be configured to automatically shut down your computer system when the battery supply gets low, and restart when power is restored in more extended blackouts.

A UPS helps protects your system from the following power problems:

  • Power transients — brief surges in voltage caused by lightning strikes or when electricity-hoarding appliances (like air conditioners and copiers) are turned off or on.
  • Spikes — instantaneous increases in voltage caused by lightning or over- loaded power grids, or as happened to me, an errant possum shorting out a power transformer 50 metres down the street.
  • Brownouts — a reduction of your incoming voltage.
  • Power failure — a complete interruption of electrical power
  • Line noise — interference from electrical appliances.

Internet connections dramatically increase your risk.

While data lines to and from your system are vital, plugging a phone line into your computer doubles its vulnerability to power problems. Add any peripheral (such as a printer), and the threat triples. And if your modem drops during a power sag, you’ll lose all data that was in transit.

What you need to know before you buy:

Before you can decide which UPS system to buy, you need to know how much capacity you need. Most UPS models have a capacity rating measured in volt amps, with small units designed for workstations often having a 350vA rating, sufficient for 5-10 minutes of battery backup. A server requires a more significant unit, with greater abilities (for example, restarting when power returns) requiring a UPS with at least 750vA and preferably 1000vA capacity.

In short, a good UPS is your best defence against power sags, spikes and surges — and your only protection against blackouts.

Prices for good quality units start at around $140 for a desktop PC, and around $600 for a small file server. Cheaper units can be obtained, however bear in mind they may not have features suitable to your requirements. Contact your TNS Solutions Consultant for your best option.

Call TNS on 1300 867 867 to discover how an APC UPS can keep your business running.

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