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“Blowing Smoke” or Up In Smoke?

In the I.T. profession, we often find ourselves recommending products which some people dismiss as completely unnecessary.  Happens every day – warranties, data backups, you name it…

One prime example of this is the Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) or “Battery Backup”.  The first thing we hear when we bring these things up is “we don’t need to work when the power is out” or “we’ve been fine all these years without one”.

This is the part where I could go to APC.com or some other vendor who makes UPSs and gather lots of crazy statistics to make my point – but I don’t need to.  I can tell you that we replace computers ALL OF THE TIME the following day or week after severe lightning and thunderstorms.  FACT.

Why does this happen, you ask?  Did the business get struck by lightning?  Didn’t they have those fancy little “surge protectors”? (yes, sometimes even made by the SAME people who make UPSs).  Maybe they did – maybe they didn’t.  Wouldn’t have really mattered in most cases.

Electrical disturbances in your home or business – the kind where the power goes out without warning, then instantly flashes back on, maybe to do the same thing again and again for a few more seconds – are EXTREMELY DAMAGING to your electronic equipment.  It’s like a little “1-2 punch” to your computer, monitor or expensive projector or television every time it happens.

We all know our computers don’t like to instantly lose power – Windows gets angry and says mean things to us when it comes back up.  The odds of data corruption are pretty high – meaning your Word document (or maybe your copy of Windows) might not be there when the power returns.

But what they REALLY don’t like is the unscheduled, instantaneous return of electricity in an “uncontrolled” manner.  The voltage on the line is usually too high for just a second (but still way TOO LOW to trip the “SURGE PROTECTOR”) so during this brief period of NO POWER, SOME POWER, TOO MUCH POWER, really BAD things are happening inside the ever-more sensitive power supplies of our expensive electronics.

The problem becomes worse in a business network environment where the computers are all connected with network cables; the power disturbances are carried over the cables to all of the other computers, switches, routers, etc. – potentially damaging them as well.

What does this damage look like?

Sometimes, obvious:

-          Lost / corrupted documents or applications

-          Windows won’t start properly

-          Computer or monitor won’t come on

Other times, more subtle damage occurs over time:

-          Random blue-screen errors (BSOD’s)

-          Unexpected program crashes

-          Premature equipment failure / shortened lifespan

So what should you do to protect your equipment?

Every piece of electronic equipment needs SOME level of power protection.  In some cases, a simple “surge suppressor” is the correct choice.  For most applications involving actual computer equipment, an appropriately sized UPS is the right answer.

We at Missing Link strongly advise you to seek the advice of an I.T. professional (and in some cases, your electrician) when choosing your power protection.  Purchasing something too small will provide virtually no protection when the time is needed – too big is pretty much a waste of money.  On top of that, the devices do have to be setup and connected properly to function correctly.  Other features, such as Automatic Voltage Regulation (AVR) provide higher quality output needed by some equipment.

Call us today at (859) 294-LINK to see how we can help you preserve your I.T investment.

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