Could you keep your tech going through a blackout?

By: John McGarvey

Date: 9 October 2012

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These won't run your server for long. (Image: mjtmail (tiggy) on Flickr.)

The UK could run out of energy generating capacity in winter 2015, reckons Ofgem, which says as spare generating capacity drops we could see energy prices rise too.

With the average business electricity bill at £2,600, that's not exactly something to look forward to. However, it could be a drop in the ocean compared to the loss in productivity a single blackout could cause.

No power, no business

Losses mount up very quickly when you can't use your computer, speak to customers over the phone or even see to pack orders and send them out. When there's no power, you can't do business.

Traditionally, businesses have planned for power interruptions by plugging their servers into uninterruptible power supplies (UPS). If you suffer a power cut, a UPS will continue supplying power. Chances are you won't be able to work, but you will be able to shut your server down properly, protecting it from damage and hugely reducing the risk of data loss.

If you have a server on your premises, you really should use a UPS. It's that simple. They start from around £100, but you'll need to spend a bit more to get a decent model like the APC Smart-UPS.

There are lots of UPS models available from companies like PC World BusinesseBuyer and Servers Direct.

Introducing the BlackCurrent

But if you want to actually carry on working, you need significantly more juice than a typical UPS will supply. Step forward industrial battery specialist UK Powertech, which has launched a 'compact energy storage device' for smaller businesses and homes.

Called the BlackCurrent, it charges off the mains when the supply is good, then supplies electricity back to your equipment when required. You should be able to continue running computers, servers and critical gear for an hour or two.

The BlackCurrent does come at a price. It starts at £850, and you'll certainly have to spend more if you want to keep your computers and servers going for long.

Is it worth it? That really depends on your company's approach to risk, and how much damage a power outage could cause your business. But if predictions of power cut doom and gloom are in any way accurate, maybe it's worth considering.

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