Saturday, 9 June 2007

System Builder Tip: Have dirty power? Will blow up!

The summer is a bad time for us in St. Albert. It is guaranteed that someone somewhere will be putting a shovel or something through our power lines at least twice or more.

When we build systems, we are responsible for the immediate warranty fulfilment. We must keep enough system parts around to support our warranties. This is especially important as various components within the system may not be available at a later time if we are supporting a two (2) or even a three (3) year warranty.

Ever have a piece of equipment blow up from power spikes? We have.

Ever have a database get so badly corrupted because one workstation went boom during a high intensity lightning storm and it wasn't properly protected? We have. It was a door through which A/C current could hit the network.

Any power bar that is does not have a Joule suppression (eP Joule) rating on it is NOT a surge suppressor. It don't matter if it says so on the box! No eP Joule suppression rating? Then it ain't no surge suppressor.

The higher the eP Joule suppression rate, the better the surge protection. An eP Joule rating of 2500 or more is where to start when protecting workstations. Preferably one with RJ45 and/or RJ11 connectors too. This provides another level of protection for the network.

Every avenue that power gets into the network infrastructure, that includes RJ45 Ethernet, RJ11 Phone, AC receptacles, and any other external power source must be protected.

Think network switches plugged into the wall. Think ADSL or cable modems plugged into the wall. Think of the cable Internet COAX plugged into the cable modem that heads outside! Think phone lines providing ADSL. All are paths through which sensitive network infrastructure equipment can be killed by A/C.

Here is what a typical summer day looks like in St. Albert as far as power is concerned:

The 20 minute power outage was very recent. Somehow a transformer got popped and that wiped out the power for an entire city burrow. Our client's offices were in that burrow.

Fortunately, all of their systems were protected by both surge protection for the workstations as well as UPS with line conditioners for the servers, switches, and Internet connectivity equipment.

The overages show just how dirty the power is here in town. We are a small city of about 60K bordering on Edmonton with around 800K.

We always highly recommend that any workstation where an employee is working on databases, whether SQL, Access, QuickBooks, Simply Accounting, CCH programs, and more must have a UPS with power conditioning capabilities attached to their system. The UPS must provide enough battery based up time to safely shut down the database application attached to their system.

Just to repeat: Working with databases? A UPS with line conditioning is mandatory on the workstation as well as the server and network infrastructure.

And yes, we only use APC UPS and Surge Protection products. We have had great success with their products and have never been given a reason to switch. We have no qualms with recommending them.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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