Do I Need A Battery Backup?

This is a question we get a lot and the answer every time is a resounding YES!

Everyone who owns a small business should be familiar with the term: Disaster Recovery. If you deal with ePHI or financial transactions, it’s part of maintaining your regulatory compliance. For everyone else, a disaster recovery plan can be the difference between resuming standard operations and going out of business. Every plan starts with a backup, whether it’s a battery backup that protects your systems from electrical damage or a data backup that safeguards your information.

The importance of backups cannot be overstated, and this is the perfect time of year to take a look at your current backup solution to determine if changes need to be made. Battery backups in particular should be revisited yearly to ensure their functionality meets your business needs.

Power Problems

The power grid in the United States is susceptible to interruption all year round. In the Spring and Fall there are severe storms, while Summer sees air conditioners working over time and in the Winter furnaces are kicking on everywhere. There is no time of year when power is not a concern, and computers are especially susceptible to electrical damage. Surges. Lightning. Static. Brownouts. Blackouts. Any of them can turn a computer or server into an oversized paperweight.

With the power grid that we all rely on actively working against us, plugging our most power sensitive devices into a wall outlet is just not a good option. We need to be ready for power fluctuations and outages.

First Line of Defense

A battery backup or UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) sits between a computer and the outlet. They are the first line of defense, protecting the computer from electrical damage. There are a few different types of UPS available that provide specific levels of protection and the length of backup, depending on individual need.

Click + for Information on the Stand-by UPS
Also known as a battery backup, these are the most inexpensive and basic of the UPS devices. They are designed to provide backup power during outages, giving users enough time for a safe shutdown of the equipment, but little more. They are designed to combat blackouts, power lags, and voltage surges–in essence, anytime the power drops below safe levels, the UPS switches to battery power to maintain a consistent voltage.

These UPS devices are best for home PCs, security systems, and other basic equipment.

Click + for Information on the Line Interactive UPS
A step up from the more basic models, these devices work on the same principles except that they incorporate technologies that correct minor fluctuations without switching to battery. The more often a battery is used, the shorter its life expectancy–having an autotransformer to regulate low voltages and spikes helps to maintain the longer term health of the UPS and the devices to which they are connected.

These UPS devices are best for network equipment, networked PCs, and the mid-level servers typically used in small businesses.

Click + for Information on the Double Conversion UPS
Providing a consistent, clean, near-perfect power regulation regardless of the incoming power, these are the most advanced UPS devices. By converting the incoming AC power to DC, and then switching it back to AC, they operate on an isolated power system at all times. This allows them to operate with zero power transfer time because they never need to switch between power types.

Designed for mission critical equipment, data centers, and high-end servers, these UPS devices offer the best protection, but require a significant investment.

While every business is unique, with their own individual needs, there are some general recommendations for small businesses in regards to power outages.

What to Do in a Power Outage

  • While all computers should have a battery backup, it is essential for servers and primary workstations to have back-up power
  • Know the difference between a blackout and a brownout–a brownout is a partial outage or temporary reduction in power
  • During a brownout computers not on battery backup should be powered off until power is restored
  • During a blackout, surges can cause damage–shutdown any backed up systems and unplug all systems to prevent damage
  • Contact your utility provider and IT support company to report the outage
  • Confirm with the utility provider that power has been restored before plugging everything back in and resuming operations
  • Inspect the equipment for damage, look closely at plugs or electrical inputs for blackened areas or exposed wiring
  • Most importantly, stay safe–if you’re not sure call a professional