Magazine article The CPA Journal

Protect against Computer Power Failure

Magazine article The CPA Journal

Protect against Computer Power Failure

Article excerpt

By Langdon J. Greenley From PH&Z CPA Advisor, Paneth, Haber & Zimmerman, Winter 1990

Computer systems perform many critical day-to-day operations for today's businesses. Companies often spend substantial amounts of money on excess computing capacity and quick and guaranteed responses to breakdowns, in order to protect themselves against processing interruptions that could negatively impact business. However, most of these efforts do not protect the computer user from one of the leading causes of computer failure: an interruption of the electrical power supply.

A severe storm, fallen power lines, nearby repair or construction work, or even other office machines, can all cause power disruption at company location. A disruption at the wrong time can result in considerable loss, depending on the circumstances. Most computer users know enough to back up critical data files and programs on a daily basis, but are not as aware of what protective measures can be implemented to significantly minimize the computer failure risk due to electrical problems. Most power disruptions are the consequence of an event in the power system and the adjustment of the system to that event. Intermittent memory glitches, data errors and shutdowns are good indications of a "noisy" environment, which is a common problem even in quiet offices.

Surge Protector

The cheapest and most common way to solve most of these problems is to install a surge protector or a line conditioner for $200 or less. These devices automatically correct varying input voltage to provide your equipment with a steady flow of regulated AC power, as well as surge, sag, noise and spike protection. This solution, however, does not allow the computer system to function during a power supply cutoff such as a brownout or blackout. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is the ultimate backup of PCs and Local Area Networks (LANs). It buffers the computer equipment from power disruptions and cutoffs, and provides an efficient backup power supply if your main source fails.

What is a UPS and How Does It Work?

A UPS backs up the utility power from an electrical outlet with a battery-based power supply. There are three components to UPS:

* Rectifier. Stores line power in the battery after converting the AC power into DC power. Power disruptions only affect the battery charging process because the battery is being charged by the rectifier.

* Battery. Stores the power for use when the power source is interrupted, and determines the length of time the UPS will support your equipment.

* Invertor. Converts the battery DC power into AC power for the equipment The invertor supplies continuous power to the computer just as the battery provides uninterrupted power to the invertor.

Do You Need a UPS?

A UPS can cost from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, depending on the computer hardware conguration and the desired level of protection. Buying a UPS can be either an unnecessary expense or a critical step in protecting a computer system. Before purchasing, many factors should be considered:

* Computer hardware and software value. Besides the hard cost of the computer hardware, consider what the temporary or permanent loss of valuable data would cost. …

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