Uninterruptible Power Supplies

In this day and age, data is important, in some instances can seem even more important that some traditionalist values, of course the world moves on everyday, sometimes backward (as perceived in some cases) but mostly it is of a forward momentum.
So this data that is so important, how do we keep it safe, and accessible, as is required?

There are many connotations to this perceived and sometimes very real problem. These could include having adequate backups of said data – these fragmented chunks on data (including interactions) could reside from keeping the correct time on a bedside table clock, regulating the temperature on a cocktail fridge right down to precious memories with with mass storage of digital photos, documents or sound recordings on a computer, for instance.
Data can be kept then accessed on many different mediums, we won’t go into all of those but shall reference the most common (these days) being of server/computer hard drive – included hardware could be a solid state or mechanical access drive, digital camera ‘flash’ cards, ‘flash’ cards acting as boot devices for instance as in some Thin-clients, CCTV systems firmware and the drives within them.

Most data formats in use hold a silly amount of personal, work and financial and other oriented data, absolutely Terabytes of the stuff over multiple drives (and the devices per individual or overall household really add up) – If you have spare time, Have a quick tally of the TOTAL data used across your devices and comment below..

Any computed data is a series of I’s and O’s, this is of an input and output value, binary code. As the device stores this data for use later if required, it needs to be replicated correctly and can then subsequently be read back in its full and unadulterated final form. (There is a weigh-up on compression for image, audio and other formats for quality and resource constraints in some cases).

Herein lies the problem, if a bit of data is being written and the electric power supply is lost, that data is probably either corrupted or lost completely, it is the same if writing a document such as this, if it is not saved when completed and using a non-cloud computing option, it will be lost forever.. How about if you have a digital wireless landline, no power means no telephone reception.

Uninterruptible power supplies are just that (to a certain degree). They comprise of a sleek looking unit that houses a control board, charge controller, inverter and the most important component, batteries!
These units first plug into regular wall power supplies and silently trickle charge the batteries within, they normally have a USB cable to plug into a computer and built in power supply sockets to plug your hardware into. In the event of a power cut or total black out, these devices take over the electricity supply direct to the hardware device in use. Dependent upon its power requirements, the UPS can keep the hardware running for a set amount of time (until the batteries run out or mains power is restored, whichever is sooner.
My main computer tower, the first monitor that is plugged into it, internet router and a VOIP telephone lasts with no power for some 15 minutes. Due to the USB cable connected, the ‘Powerchute’ software knows when the power fails, it then sets to work keeping the relevant hardware running until the batteries drop to a certain level, I have set mine to 15 % – at this point a message is sent to initiate the hibernation procedure, and the computer will then (safely) go to sleep.

It can seem somewhat annoying that an always on machine will shut down, but this is in a controlled manner rather than just turning straight off, the machine and software has a chance to put data to bed in a graceful manner, if only temporarily.
Most data loss is due to power failure or end user mistakes, minimize the risk of data loss with a UPS, I like the hardware from manufacturer APC, such as the Back-UPS BX – BX1400UI available from Amazon.

One last thing with UPSs, they can be used in solar arrays as contain a charge controller (for the batteries) and inverter (for the output voltage) With the units being able to be daisy chained, some good capacities can be sought. I would not suggest using new hardware for this (but you can) it’s just some extra info if you find some old units for sale and are into solar PVs and so on 😛 *

*Disclaimer: Don’t play with electrics as in the above if you are not trained in its practice!