What Florida Businesses Should Know About UPS (Battery Backup) Testing


The health of your backup battery matters.


With Hurricane Dorian bearing down on the Florida coast this week, we thought it would be a good time to remind East Coast businesses (especially Miami and other Florida companies) to test their UPS backups.

Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. A UPS allows for the safe, orderly shutdown of a computer and connected equipment. The size and design of a UPS determine how long it will supply power. However, a UPS is only as good as the age and condition of the battery!  If your current power usage and protection has not been evaluated and periodically tested by a qualified IT Support firm, there may be a considerable danger.

APC is the top company in the market that produces uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).  It often comes with a software program called PowerChute which monitors for a power outage or surge in power. Then it allows servers, workstations, switches, firewalls, etc. to be shutdown.  Properly shutting down is very important when there is the possibility of an extended power outage.  While the UPS itself is a battery backup, it will eventually run out of power. How long that takes is based on several factors, such as: battery type, number and type of devices that rely upon it, and other criteria. In addition, just like a cell phone or laptop battery, if it is old, it may not hold a charge.  This further reduces the time your devices will stay available, also called “runtime”.

You can read more about it here at APC’s website:  APC Power Considerations


It’s not too late to protect your valuable data!

A battery backup is certainly important, but it is by no means your only failsafe. First and foremost, we always recommend that our clients take proactive measures and put a solid Disaster Recovery Plan in place. A DR plan, created with an experienced Miami IT Consulting firm, is your best bet to ensure that system backups are run on a regular basis. It also restores access to critical data in case of power failure, server crash, or physical damage to your location. DR planning varies greatly based on where you choose to host the data, how you access it, and how quickly you need to restore it. In the event of a hurricane or flood, you may need the ability to work remotely for days or weeks.

However, many companies do not take the steps to put Business Continuity or Disaster Recovery plans in place. In general, BC/DR plans are more costly and complex to setup than APC battery backup power protection alone. Of course, it’s probably too late to create a full-scale Disaster Recovery Plan before this particular storm. However, even if you don’t have a DR plan, you can still take steps to protect your data.

Risk Assessment

At this point, I would recommend assessing the condition of your UPS and weighing out the risks.  First, call a qualified IT Services firm to test your current power usage and protection level.  Aside from the potential costly downtime, you could lose actual data if the UPS isn’t working properly. If the battery backup isn’t working (check for a red light!) or wasn’t configured correctly, any connected hardware may just crash. It that case, when the power comes back on, the result may be crashed servers and potentially lost data.

Next, review and confirm your other data backup solutions. If you haven’t checked your battery backup in a while, it might not be in tip-top shape. In that case, you will have limited options, especially if you don’t have a solid DR plan.  You can minimize risk by powering down your servers, firewall, switches, and even unplugging the UPS from the wall when everything is shut down.  By doing this, you’ll ensure that a power surge won’t damage the hardware when it comes back on.

As with all business decisions, sometimes minimizing risk at the expense of productivity is a wiser decision than taking a larger and potentially more costly gamble. I sincerely hope you, your loved ones, (and your network) stay safe and sound in the coming days and weeks.