Understanding UPS Backups
UPS backups protect computers and prevent loss of data during power outages or brownouts. The principle is simple: Uninterrupted power supplies (UPS) keep the power on for a period, allowing users to safely shut down computer systems. There are various types, each providing a different degree of protection. However, the most crucial decision is selecting a UPS that has enough power to keep your computer system running long enough for it to properly shut down.
Types of UPS Systems
The most common type of UPS is a standby or battery backup system. Under normal conditions, it supplies power from the mains, but automatically switches over to battery backups during power failures. A line interactive UPS is similar, but it also incorporates a special transformer that regulates the output voltage to minimize the effect of power surges and brownouts. While both systems provide a degree of protection against mains disturbances, critical systems often use an online UPS. As the name suggests, this type supplies UPS power all the time. The mains supply charges the UPS battery, which in turn supplies power to the UPS, ensuring there's no possibility of a mains disturbance affecting the power supplied to the load.
Calculating UPS Power Requirements
The first step is to work out how much power you need. Desktop power supplies usually draw the most power, typically between 400 and 650 watts. You may need a technician to open your computer to establish its power supply rating, or alternatively, make a conservative assumption. Other items to consider include monitors, routers, and peripherals. To estimate the required volt-amps, multiply the total wattage by 1.6. A good practice is to choose a UPS that comfortably exceeds this figure. The runtime figures at full and half load give an indication of how long UPS power lasts. Remember that battery capacity, not power rating, is the key factor that determines how long a UPS runs. It's possible to add batteries to some types of UPS units to extend runtime.
Installation of UPS Power Supplies
Smaller UPS systems are freestanding for placement in any convenient location, while larger units are usually rack mounted. Most have several power outlets, and if necessary, you can extend these using power strips. Installation is usually plug and play, and no special tools are necessary. You may need additional AC power and extension cords, especially with a rack-mounted UPS.
Most uninterrupted power-supply units have desktop software, allowing you to monitor their status. Additionally, many can automatically shut down your computer in the event of a power failure, which is an important feature for unattended computers. Some types use the computer's serial port, while others connect through a USB port. In some instances, you may need to install a UPS management card in your computer.
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