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Thread: UPS Uninterruptable Power - anybody know how to spec one up (on the cheap!)?

  1. #1
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    UPS Uninterruptable Power - anybody know how to spec one up (on the cheap!)?

    My brother in law has a small business, manufacturing composite doors. His office setup is terrible.. so I'm trying to help him out and have bought 2 x workstation PC's and am setting up a basic network for them. They have no backup strategy in place at all right now!

    One big issue for them is that the power dips a few times a day. They are in a rural location and use generators to power some of the equipment. It causes their office PCs to lose power. They've also got a small phone switchboard powering the office phones.

    So... onto UPS power supplies.

    I need to keep up:

    2 x HP Z600 Workstations
    2 x 23" monitors
    1 x ADSL router
    1 x small hub
    1 x phone switchboard (no idea what that is yet)

    They don't need power for very long - just enough to trigger a graceful/soft shutdown via USB i assume (not having every used or configured one!!)

    I've been looking at the PC World business site https://www.pcworldbusiness.co.uk/ca...management/ups and correct me if I'm wrong here... do I need to add up the power drain in Watts of each device and then get a UPS with a higher Watt rating? (if that's the case... I'm in trouble... as each workstation has a 650w power supply although I suppose that at max drain?)

    I'm confused!... but this isn't going to be solved cheaply is it? if one big UPS is expensive - I guess I could buy multiple, cheaper models?
    Last edited by JohnnyE; 14th November 2017 at 14:03.

  2. #2
    Craftsman Arcam's Avatar
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    If you are going for a UPS then stick with APC, best device out there.

    An APC 1500 smart ups would do the job you need.

    Not priced one in a while but mine for my home servers/office was around £350 I think.

    You could drop to a 1000 smart ups if funds are tight, if the 350 price seems OK I will dig up the correct part numbers for you.

    The 1500 and 1000 are the VA rating BTW.

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    Its this VA rataing that has be confused...

    Looks like a nice bit of kit that: https://www.pcworldbusiness.co.uk/ca...ory&heat=title

    Im sure he can buy it and claim the VAT back, so £250 is about right for the job.

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    Craftsman Arcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post
    Its this VA rataing that has be confused...

    Looks like a nice bit of kit that: https://www.pcworldbusiness.co.uk/ca...ory&heat=title

    Im sure he can buy it and claim the VAT back, so £250 is about right for the job.
    I was thinking of the Smart version but that one you picked will do the job nicely.

    APC UPS devices are the nuts!

    I have used them professionly for over 20 year and installed more that I can remember and had 2 fail at +5 years dusty service.

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    Iíve been beaten to it APC are the go to guys, I use this on my nas

    https://www.scan.co.uk/products/400v...ge-protection)

    It also connects to the nas via usb and if the power is lost you can set a battery level at which the nas will power down so you get a graceful shut down if the power outage is more than a blip.

    Last time I checked scan were around the cheapest but this may have changed.

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    Master amnesia's Avatar
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    Personally I'd sort the back-up process first.
    It's not backed-up unless it exists in at least THREE places, and one of those should be off-site.

    Losing data of the thing you're currently doing is annoying... losing ALL of your data is game over.

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    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Another satisfied APC UPS customer/user here. There has been one sat quietly in the corner of my home office for ~15 years now. It doesn't get called upon that frequently, but often enough to more than justify the initial outlay.

    (Just seen the previous post by Cap'n Morgan and if I remember correctly I got mine from Scan.)

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    Craftsman Arcam's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amnesia View Post
    Personally I'd sort the back-up process first.
    It's not backed-up unless it exists in at least THREE places, and one of those should be off-site.

    Losing data of the thing you're currently doing is annoying... losing ALL of your data is game over.
    +1 on this advice.

    Cloud is OK for backup if you have a decent connection, I am old school and still prefer a drive with all the data on taken off site each night.

    At least 2 external drives (usb3 preferably) more if budget allows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by amnesia View Post
    Personally I'd sort the back-up process first.
    It's not backed-up unless it exists in at least THREE places, and one of those should be off-site.

    Losing data of the thing you're currently doing is annoying... losing ALL of your data is game over.
    Yeah - I'm doing that simultaneously. The reason for the UPS though, was more for the health of the PC's. I'd also think that the electric cutting in/out must cause spikes too, which the UPS can smooth off.

    I'm going to setup local backup (nas) and a cloud sync to somewhere for the offsite copy.

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    Donít forget to add the nas to the ups then, and when you have multiple devices on it youíll need to look at how they can all be safely shut down if the ups get low on power ideally this is automated so if the power event happens out of hours it still works.

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    Master amnesia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post
    Yeah - I'm doing that simultaneously. The reason for the UPS though, was more for the health of the PC's. I'd also think that the electric cutting in/out must cause spikes too, which the UPS can smooth off.

    I'm going to setup local backup (nas) and a cloud sync to somewhere for the offsite copy.

    A surge protector is a fraction of the cost of a UPS - http://www.viking-direct.co.uk/catal....do?id=2685803

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    Grand Master Carlton-Browne's Avatar
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    If the purpose of the UPS is to keep you tided over as the power blips then I don't see the importance of having the software to gracefully shut down the PCs. This may be more critical for the telephone system but we'd need to know more about it - some don't like outages at all whereas others are a black box device that can be power cycled all day (within reason).

    The critical issue with a UPS is that they need to treat it as a consumable rather than an asset. Too many people buy one, breathe a sigh of relief and then forget all about it; the same people tend to get very upset when the thing either fails or lasts 90 seconds because they haven't accounted for ongoing maintenance for batteries several years down the line. The battery on your iphone doesn't have the same capacity 5 years after you bought it and it's the same with a UPS - in fact it's normally worse.

    Benefit of hindsight etc but I would have bought laptops rather than PCs. I think I have only ever bought APC UPS unless it was a complete building system (that was in Nigeria and it's a bit poor that somebody in the UK in 2017 has to think about this at all for something so basic).
    Die Zeit verwandelt uns nicht, sie entfaltet uns nur.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post
    One big issue for them is that the power dips a few times a day. They are in a rural location and use generators to power some of the equipment. It causes their office PCs to lose power. They've also got a small phone switchboard powering the office phones.



    They don't need power for very long - just enough to trigger a graceful/soft shutdown via USB i assume (not having every used or configured one!!)
    Quote Originally Posted by Carlton-Browne View Post
    If the purpose of the UPS is to keep you tided over as the power blips then I don't see the importance of having the software to gracefully shut down the PCs. This may be more critical for the telephone system but we'd need to know more about it - some don't like outages at all whereas others are a black box device that can be power cycled all day (within reason).

    The critical issue with a UPS is that they need to treat it as a consumable rather than an asset. Too many people buy one, breathe a sigh of relief and then forget all about it; the same people tend to get very upset when the thing either fails or lasts 90 seconds because they haven't accounted for ongoing maintenance for batteries several years down the line. The battery on your iphone doesn't have the same capacity 5 years after you bought it and it's the same with a UPS - in fact it's normally worse.

    Benefit of hindsight etc but I would have bought laptops rather than PCs. I think I have only ever bought APC UPS unless it was a complete building system (that was in Nigeria and it's a bit poor that somebody in the UK in 2017 has to think about this at all for something so basic).
    Sounded like they might not know the expected duration of outage, hence safe shutdown, also an automated system allows you to focus elsewhere during this period.

    100% agree about batteryís being a consumable and testing but like backups these are often hard learned lessons.

  14. #14
    Couldn't you just replace the PC workstations with laptops? This will allow the staff to keep working for a while in the event of a power cut. Don't know how resilient laptops are to sags, brown-outs and spikes though. The other stuff will need UPS support, of course.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha4 View Post
    Couldn't you just replace the PC workstations with laptops? This will allow the staff to keep working for a while in the event of a power cut. Don't know how resilient laptops are to sags, brown-outs and spikes though. The other stuff will need UPS support, of course.
    Iím guessing the workstations are used for CAD/CAM so laptops wouldnít be any good.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alpha4 View Post
    Couldn't you just replace the PC workstations with laptops? This will allow the staff to keep working for a while in the event of a power cut. Don't know how resilient laptops are to sags, brown-outs and spikes though. The other stuff will need UPS support, of course.
    Also guessing that replacing existing systems with new hardware and some ups would cost more than a ups setup that is right sized.

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    Thanks for all the replies! I've ordered the APC 1500 linked below. We'll see how that fares. As has been suggested below, there'll be CAD software on these so I picked up a pair of ex-NHS HP Z600 Xeon workstations with 12GB RAM in each. Cheap as chips... but GREAT workhorses. They are really nicely put together and I've had a load of them (well, Z400's) for years in my day job running SQL Server and Visual Studio with ease.

    Power outages are, from what I'm told, just momentary - so the UPS should keep the office up for those few minutes.

    Now... next hurdles are....

    1. Complete lack of stable broadband. BT comes and goes during the day and they are NOT expecting high speed/fibre any time soon. I've to investigate satellite broadband and a grant for them

    2. Their entire customer data is in.... a blue book! They need a CRM I think... something to manage client data, invoices, sales info etc. I am a newbie to this one too... so a sort time reading online tells me that a cloud based soluton may be worth trialling.

    oh... and I've 2 websites to build for them too! At least thats MY work area and I got started today on that.

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    Craftsman Arcam's Avatar
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    Satellite BB would be my last choice, high latency and slow DL speeds unless they have improved things dramatically in the last few years.

    Is there a decent 4G signal, if so you can do a 4G dongal on each machine or if you get the right router share the connection.

    My choice of router for the proposed setup would be Draytek (Vigor), check out www.seg.co.uk and look at the options and pick the one that suits best, you could also do away with your hub as it would be redundant unless you need more that 4/5 network ports.


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    Last edited by Arcam; 15th November 2017 at 04:59.

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    Here's the thing about that broadband.... Their router literally goes offline randomly, loses adsl. I'm a BT residential customer myself and mine rarely if ever goes offline.

    I wonder is good just a crap/old router rather than bad adsl? I must ask them if they have got BT out to investigate. I'd have thought that at worst they should have constant, slow connection speeds given that they are rural.... But a line that is up/down all the time?

    Doesn't add up does it. Is there any kind of monitoring I can do from this side I wonder?

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    Master petethegeek's Avatar
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    Building on Arcam's previous reply; if you do start considering cellular as an alternative then you might like to take a quick look at the latter part of this thread - http://forum.tz-uk.com/showthread.ph...-advice-please, post #17 in particular. (If you haven't already seen it that is.)

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    There are options other than Sat.

    I believe that if the line is a dedicated business line then you should have a level of service above domestic so yes its worth having the line checked.

    Whats the traffic profile like, email only, voip, large file transfers, etc...

    What is the line are you sure its adsl, could it be isdn or a leased line? If not is it posable to move to one of them or have a new line installed, it might be easier to have issues resolved on a new line but this could be a more costly approach.

    Who's the provider? it might be worth moving to a more customer focused provider - zen get consistently good reports but may not be available in your area. (disclosure we use zen in two locations for soho use)

    Obviously dependent on your traffic levels you might find 4G costly.

    If they are using adsl then yep it might be worth trying a new cheap router to test if that is the issue. If your unsure then I would not invest heavily on a new router until you understand the final solution, view it as a cheap consumable unit to keep as a temporary replacement if the final solution has a failure.

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    Thanks petethegeek / Captain Morgan - I've a list of questions now and will call out to the office to see what they've got and what's been done so far.

    Load/bandwidth wise, its just daily email with attachments really. Nothing intensive at all - so this SHOULD be easily resolved.

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    Broadband Quality Monitor

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post
    Here's the thing about that broadband.... Their router literally goes offline randomly, loses adsl. I'm a BT residential customer myself and mine rarely if ever goes offline.

    I wonder is good just a crap/old router rather than bad adsl? I must ask them if they have got BT out to investigate. I'd have thought that at worst they should have constant, slow connection speeds given that they are rural.... But a line that is up/down all the time?

    Doesn't add up does it. Is there any kind of monitoring I can do from this side I wonder?
    There's a tool on the ADSLGuide website you can set up to monitor latency & packet loss on your line:

    https://www.thinkbroadband.com/broad...toring/quality

    All it needs is your router to be configured to respond to ping requests.

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    Grand Master hogthrob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post
    Its this VA rataing that has be confused...
    If you spec the VA to be 1.7 times the Watt figure, you should be OK.

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    Master amnesia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnnyE View Post

    2. Their entire customer data is in.... a blue book! They need a CRM I think... something to manage client data, invoices, sales info etc. I am a newbie to this one too... so a sort time reading online tells me that a cloud based soluton may be worth trialling.

    Be aware that GDPR comes into force on 25th May 2018, and applies to ALL UK companies that hold/process customer data, regardless of company size.

    https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations...w-of-the-gdpr/

    Make sure you research cloud (or any) solutions carefully

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    Quote Originally Posted by amnesia View Post
    Be aware that GDPR comes into force on 25th May 2018, and applies to ALL UK companies that hold/process customer data, regardless of company size.

    https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations...w-of-the-gdpr/

    Make sure you research cloud (or any) solutions carefully
    Not wishing to go off topic but I understood that there were specifics dealing with SME <250 were different for smaller firms, not to say that data security should not be considered just that it might not be as big an issue??

    http://www.dataprotectionpeople.com/...ll-businesses/

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