Your UPS is especially important for when the power goes out in your data center – for that brief period between a blackout and the spinning up of your backup generators. But like every other component in your facility, it can be prone to failure if you don’t properly manage it.
And the consequences of that failure can be dire, from power surges damaging essential components to data loss and corruption.
“A lot of people assume that when power is cut from their computer, it should be able to handle that gracefully, and no data should be lost,” reads a post by Netherlands-based security expert Wiebe Cazemier. “Unfortunately, it is not that simple.”
Long story short, you want to ensure that your UPS systems are kept properly up and running – and there are a few things you can do to that end.
Store Your Batteries Properly
If your data center is like most, you’ve probably a fairly large collection of batteries placed in storage, to be swapped out in the event that one of your active ones should fail. Aside from storing them in a cool, dry place (that’s kind of obvious), you should also be charging them regularly – at least every three or four months. Failure to do so could see your batteries suffering a permanent loss of capacity, eventually being rendered duds.
Keep The Temperature Down
In addition to properly regulating the temperature of your storage area, it’s also extremely important that you keep the temperature in your data center at proper levels. Most batteries are rated on an ambient temperature of around 77 degrees fahrenheit; any variation from that (or worse, regular fluctuations) could significantly reduce the battery (and UPS’s) life expectancy.
For the uninitiated, overcycling refers to cycling a battery through its charge/discharge cycle with too high a frequency. Every time your power goes out, your battery runs through this cycle. If this happens frequently enough, it can damage your battery (of course, if you’re seeing the discharge cycle happen with that much frequency, it’s probably time to rethink your choice of energy provider or location).
Only Power The Proper Equipment
Contrary to what you might think, UPS systems cannot power every single type of equipment. Their batteries are purpose-built for specific hardware. You should never use a server UPS battery to power your network switches, and you should never use any UPS battery to power consumer tech like laser printers.
“Printing may prove a critical task, such as within billing or credit departments, but don’t rely upon a UPS to power a laser printer,” writes Tech Republic’s Erik Eckel. “A laser printer’s fuser (which melts printer toner applied to paper) consumes a quick burst of energy. Most UPS models simply can’t supply the required power as quickly as the laser printer demands.”
In other words, think carefully about what you’re hooking up to your UPS – otherwise you could damage it beyond repair, and wind up completely hosed when you actually need it.
Keep Float Voltage In The Proper Range
Similar to overcycling, over/under-charging wreaks havoc on a battery’s internal hardware. Pay careful attention to the charging ranges set by the manufacturer, and stay within them at all costs. Undercharging can cause the battery to eventually fail as sulfate crystals form on the plates – but that’s a tame result compared to overcharging, which could very easily result in fire or explosion.