IT Risk #7: Untested Backup Power Supplies (UPS)

IT Risk #7: Untested Backup Power Supplies (UPS) 150 150 Shandam Consulting

IT Risk #7: Untested Backup Power Supplies (UPS)

When winter rolls around, we here at Shandam know we can expect:

  1. Gifts of unwanted fruitcake
  2. An ugly, homemade sweater from a distant  relative
  3. Extended client IT outages caused by power failures.

This is where you smugly smile to yourself and say, “But we have battery backup, and I actually  like fruitcake!” Yes, but do you know that UPS batteries need to be replaced every ~3 years, and that their capacity degrades significantly each year?  The way most people find out their UPS needs new batteries is when the power goes out.  This  is not just a mere inconvenience; many IT devices can be damaged by power spikes or sags, and most server operating systems and databases will experience data corruption from a sudden power loss.  Shandam does not sell or service battery backup systems, so rest assured we are not sowing Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) for our own benefit here.  It’s just we have learned that enterprise-grade, routinely tested UPS units are a sure, albeit unexciting, way to maximize IT availability and reduce risk of data corruption.

How can you avoid the holiday power blues?

  • Make sure your UPS is an Enterprise-grade unit from a recognized leader in power protection. The UPS units you buy at most office supply stores are consumer grade and lack business class features such as the ability to automatically test battery status.
  • Configure the UPS to notify staff when the power is out and perform a graceful shutdown of servers in the event the power outage is going to last longer than the battery capacity.
  • Configure the UPS to automatically test  battery capacity on a regularly-scheduled interval, or at least once a month.

If you have not tested your UPS in recent memory, rest assured, the utility company will do this for you, typically during a winter storm.. 😉