Don’t Let A Power Outage Take Out Your Technology


Your technology is the lifeblood of your business as it is the lifeblood of my business.  Power problems put that technology at risk.

I had recently received an alert from my UPS that its batteries were operating in a reduced capacity due to them failing a self-test.  I immediately placed the order for replacement batteries. I used standard two day shipping due to the fact that the batteries in my UPS still had sufficient runtime to allow for a safe shutdown in the case of a power failure.  Little did I know that 24 hours later things would drastically change. The next day we had some storms come through that took down power at my location. However the power didn’t just go off and stay off.  The electric company uses something called a recloser that acts like a circuit breaker.  When a short is detected the recloser opens to kill the circuit.  However the “re” in recloser then kicks in and it tries to reconnect the circuit just in case the fault is a temporary one.  In this case the short was not temporary and it reappeared prompting another quick loss of power.  This cycle went on for 5 cycles..on-off, on-off, on-off until the recloser stayed in an open state causing power to remain off.  Surges are bad enough but this type of behavior is deadly to electronics.  Luckily my rack is protected by a fast acting UPS that kicked in and not only stabilized the power to my critical servers and networking gear it also held the rack on batteries while the recloser was doing it dance.  Once the power stayed off the UPS continued to provide power giving my critical systems a chance to safely and cleanly shutdown. 5 minutes later my critical technology had safely powered off and everything is fine…on the outside.

Once regular power had been restored,  I attempted to power on the UPS and all I heard was a faint buzzing and then the UPS would immediately power off.  It was toast. I then decided to return the replacement batteries for the new dead Tripp-lite UPS and I immediately placed an order for a Tripp-Lite SMART1500LCD UPS and a Cyberpower 15M2F10R PDU.

This was a major inconvenience for me but then I had to look at the numbers.  The cost to replace the UPS and purchase a PDU for better power management was totaled at $210 dollars.  The value of the rack of electronics it saved by giving up its ghost was more than $5000.  Had the servers themselves been damaged my company’s data could have(and most likely would have) been damaged or destroyed.  That would have made things more difficult as I would have to replace the damaged servers before I could restore from either my local backups or my offsite backups.  It would have meant days of downtime which for me, and most other business,  is extremely expensive.

The new UPS and PDU were ordered and will arrive in the next couple of days.  The PDU plugs into the UPS and gives me a digital display of the power I am using and also gives me a single place for all of the devices in the rack to plug into.  This way in the event of another UPS death I only have to unplug one device from the UPS and not everything in the rack.  The rack is currently being powered by an older UPS that I keep around for just this occasion.  It is nearing the end of its life and will be recycled once the new UPS is installed.

Modern electrical technology actually places many electronics at risk as well.  Without proper knowledge of how modern infrastructure changes, you could lose your technology and your data.  Make sure you are working with a consultant who knows not only the hardware to use but the best practices to make sure your technology keeps working for you with the least chance of failure.  Contact me to protect your technology from the inevitable power failure and the dangers of modern electrical reclosers.