What is a UPS and What Do They Protect Against? – Everything You Need to Know

What is a UPS? 

Firstly, what is a UPS? Well, the acronym stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply.   

The easiest way to describe a UPS would be to say that it’s “A battery that keeps your equipment on when there is a power cut” but that does oversimplify what the UPS is for and doesn’t acknowledge some of its most important features. 

In addition to providing some equipment powered on when a power outage is in place, A UPS also protects sensitive equipment from several potentially damaging power issues. 

What do they protect against? 

A UPS device protects against many different forms of electrical problem.  The most common is power outage (power cut, Blackout).  These power outages could be caused by something local to the building, or something wider, such as supplier outages or localised cabling issues. 

Other problems that they protect against include voltage spikes and surges (where the power sent to the building by the provider momentarily increases, spikes describe when the increase is for very short periods, thousandths of a second, whereas surges are longer). 

Then there are times where there is a reduction of voltage, where the power sent to the building by the provider momentarily decreases, again several terms can be used, usually reflecting the duration such as “sags” (short) and “brown outs” (longer) often leading to devices restarting & changes in mains frequency. 

In my IT network, what should I protect? 

UPS devices can be used to protect many different IT related devices.  The most important thing to protect is your server (or servers) if you have one.  The server(s) is usually where your data is kept and is therefore the most mission critical part of your network.  If the server was to ‘power off’ without being shutdown correctly, it could result in loss of data – either partial or complete loss.  Of course, you might have backups of that data from the previous day or week, but it’s unlikely that you would have an up to the minute copy of the data.  In addition, it could take a long time to get the system back up and running if you suffered from this kind of data corruption. 

You may also want to consider protecting other crucial network devices with a UPS.  Your firewall and network switches for example should be covered to give them the best chance of continuing to operate after a power problem of some kind. 

Why are you telling us about this now? 

With the current economic crisis comes the potential of problems with the energy supply market.  Many experts are predicting power outages over the winter of 2022/23 and you are therefore more at risk now, than you have been previously.  You can check out a couple of related articles at the BBC https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-63155827 and the Guardian https://www.theguardian.com/business/2022/oct/06/national-grid-warns-households-could-face-three-hour-power-cuts-this-winter to find out more. 

How much do they cost? 

It’s impossible to give an accurate cost without considering exactly what type of equipment, server (or servers) that you have in place.  It’s important that your equipment is correctly assessed to ensure that the UPS device is indeed capable of handling issues when they arise.   

ESP can offer to assess your needs free of charge if you are in the South Yorkshire area or further afield if you are already an IT Support Customer using our Sheffield based IT services. 

UPS Sheffield

How do I ensure my existing UPS is working? 

You could do something simple – just turn off the power in the server room and it will tell you whether the device is working – but that’s VERY risky!  Why not do something less risky?  Ask your IT provider (or ESP!) to complete a check on your UPS device to make sure it’s fully operational and protecting your devices in case something goes wrong! 

Feel free to reach out to us via sales@espprojects.co.uk or by calling 0330 2020 101 if you would like more information or a free consultation.