Even if you have a reliable power supply into your business premises, we still suggest using a surge protector or Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS). Computers are sensitive machines where even a minor fluctuation in voltage can be enough to damage or completely fry components. Our IT support team regularly visit customers to replace fried hardware when it is easily avoidable.
The New Jersey electrical grid is old but still works fine. With that age comes instability in the from of minor spikes in voltage through the wall socket. There are also smaller spikes in voltage often referred to as noise that can also damage computer components. Household appliances have been specifically protected from these spikes and your computer power supply will be too, but it sometimes isn’t enough. That’s why our IT support team recommends a surge protector or uninterruptible power supply between every computer and the wall outlet.
I personally have lost components at home because I forgot to connect a computer to a surge protector or UPS, so take it from me, this happens!
A surge protector’s job is to protect all devices connected to it. They often look like power strips but offer much more protection than a strip. As well as offering multiple plugs, it will contain a special piece of hardware called a regulator that will stop power surges from damaging anything connected to it.
The surge protector will also ‘clean’ noise from the wall socket, meaning it reduces those voltage fluctuations so you are less at risk from the grid. This helps your computer refine the voltage further to the levels it needs to work properly while protecting the delicate electronics.
At the very least, you should use a surge protector on every single computer and electronic device in your office.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
If you can afford to buy an uninterruptible power supply, you should. A single supply can power a number of computers or you can buy smaller UPS for individual machines. A UPS has several advantages over surge protectors. They help keep you productive during a brownout or power failure as well as cleaning the voltage from the wall.
You do pay for the privilege but it is a very worthwhile investment.
There are a couple of scenarios where an uninterruptible power supply could return its cost many times over. The first is during a blackout or brownout. We don’t have them that often now but it does happen. A blackout is a complete loss of power and a brownout is a much shorter situation and can be local to your neighborhood, street, building or even to your office.
Say you’re concentrating on an important piece of work and your power goes out. You lose whatever you were working on since you last saved. Unless your program saves automatically, that could be hours and hours of work down the drain. Even if your hardware isn’t impacted, you could lose a lot of productivity.
In that same scenario, if you were using an uninterruptible power supply, your computer would keep working. You would have enough time to save all your work and shut your computers down in the usual way. Less chance of data loss, less chance of damaging hardware and much less chance of corrupting your operating system due to it crashing out.
An operating system can often recover from such an outage and may boot normally but the chances of data or file corruption greatly increase if you don’t shut your computer down properly.
That second scenario is if you use servers in your office. Whether it’s an email server, backup server or whatever. A sudden loss of power has the same effect as a desktop, only it will affect everyone in your company. If you lose your backup server during a backup, you stand to lose all the data it was backing up as well as risking data corruption due to the aborted backup. Having enough energy stored in a UPS to be able to complete the backup or shut the server down gracefully could literally be the difference between life and death for that server.
What you need to know about Uninterruptible Power Supplies
An uninterruptible power supply is a get out of jail free card but it is not magic. Depending on what model you buy, it could supply enough power for an hour of use or less than 30 minutes. Much depends on the capacity and how many devices it has to feed.
You do not use a UPS to continue working until the power returns. You use the UPS to save your work and shut down your computers and servers gracefully.
A standby UPS monitors voltage, cleans it up and will switch to battery backup if it detects a serious fluctuation or power loss. These are good for single or double desktops.
A line interactive UPS is a more serious piece of kit. It is designed with a much stronger regulator to protect against noise and voltage fluctuations. It still has battery backup for power failures but won’t switch to it just to protect against fluctuations, only if it detects power failure. It can protect servers and more desktops depending on what model you buy.
You can spend a couple of hundred dollars on a UPS or a couple thousand. What is more important is that you get the right power supply for your situation and implement it correctly so it provides maximum protection.
If you need help specifying uninterruptible power supplies for your office, New Jersey Computer Help are ready and willing to assist. Our IT support team can visit your premises, assess your needs and build a solution to suit. All at the lowest possible cost. Contact us to learn more!