Saved by The UPS

Fixing the power linesEvery time I buy a UPS I cringe at the expense, yet I do it and have my servers and main PCs hooked up to a UPS with the shutdown software installed. I just bought one for my new server build. I was going to use the one from my WHS box but decided both would be online long enough to give the new hardware it’s own UPS. In my mind I justify the expense since it provides protection to the computers. I didn’t want the nice new hardware to take a power hit and I didn’t want to remove a UPS from my still production (at the time) Windows Home Server. So I dug into the wallet and bought a UPS for it. Tonight that decision was validated.

I like the CyberPower UPS’s as they’ve worked well for me and have them my two server boxes and my main Windows’s PC.  Although my Mac Mini has a older APC UPS. I’m not a fan of the APC consumer UPS models even though they’re widely available. They seem overpriced compared to the competition. In this case the UPS doesn’t communicate to the Mac since it’s a older model with just a serial connection.

My three main boxes, My Windows 7 PC, my Windows Home Server and my new Ubuntu Home Server all have CyberPower UPS’s set up to communicate to software on the server through USB.

While nothing was damaged, tonight’s power problems had potential to cause havoc. Depending on which report I believe either a nearby power line or transformer blew. Power went out, then came back, then went out again for several hours. Then when it started coming back it came and went at least three times.

Lesson’s Learned

I was home so I was able to shut down the Mac Mini while it was still on UPS. If I wasn’t home it would have just died when the UPS ran out of juice. I should probably get a UPS capable of shutting it down. But since I don’t usually leave apps running on it when I’m out I’ll probably put it off.

As I was building my Ubuntu Home Server I made it a point to find the Linux software for the UPS and install it. It wasn’t something I thought of until I realized I was copying gigabytes of data to it.

I hadn’t tested it beyond making sure the software could see the UPS and put off a test while the RAID array was building and I was copying files. Then I never did test it. But it worked fine in tonight’s live event.

The server software initiated the shutdown after a minute of no power which I knew it would do and considered changing the the default. I should probably lengthen that since there was some file copies going on. Since I was home I could have ended the file copies in an orderly fashion but didn’t have time.

One of the reasons I didn’t have time was that the monitors weren’t in the battery powered UPS ports so I had to find the cables and plug them into the battery powered ports. The theory was that the UPS would last longer. Nice theory and technically true. But if I’m not home the monitors are asleep so have little power draw, and if I am home I want them. By the time I got the monitor power for the Mac Mini everything else had shut down.

Another problem was power to the switches and modems. I do have a UPS shared by my cable modem, switches and and older Mac Mini sitting nearby. Unfortunately that’s too many plugs for the battery backup outlets and I’ve made no attempt to keep hubs/switches powered. So I immediately lost connectivity between my computers. It’s not all that complicated and I‘ll need to spend some time making sure the switches have some battery backup. I’d like to keep the cable modem on battery for continuity in the event of short outages but I probably don’t have the outlets to do it.

The old iMac in my bedroom doesn’t have a UPS since it’s used as a entertainment computer and off much of the time. I should probably buy a new UPS for my Mac Mini like I mentioned, and then move the old APC unit to the iMac. At least that will provide some protection against sudden outages or surges. But it seems to have survived this round.

So I feel I got my money’s worth but I need to keep better tabs on my setup as the UPS’s need to do more than an orderly shutdown. But it was good to see the three UPS’s configured to shut down a box worked as intended. Actually, my Windows 7 PC was told to hibernate which saved work in progress. The Ubuntu Server and Windows Home Server V1 shut down.

The only thing I lost were the veggies for dinner as they were half cooked in the Microwave when power went out. No great loss, replaced by oatmeal cookies.

Do you use a UPS?

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