Improving My Technology Skills

Improving My Technology Skills

4 Common Causes of Data Center Outages & How to Prevent Them

Marie Brunet

If your business has just invested in a data center, then you likely know that a data center outage would affect your business. However, you may not realize just how detrimental even a short outage can be. A recent study showed that just a one-minute data center outage can cost a business as much as $7,900. If this large loss of revenue scares you, then you will find it good news that most, if not all, outages can be prevented. Here are the most common causes of data center outages and how they can be prevented. 

1. Failure of UPS Batteries 

UPS batteries, or uninterruptable power supply batteries, offer back-up power to your data center during electricity interruption, such as when there is a local power outage or a power circuit overload that causes a breaker to flip. A recent study conducted among business owners who experienced recent data center outages concluded that over half of the outages were due to UPS battery failures. The most common causes of battery failure include:

  • Batteries drained while in storage. UPS batteries that are not in use slowly discharge their stored energy. That means that even if a battery was purchased brand new, it can already be completely dead if it was placed in storage for several months. It would be natural for someone who did not know how storage affects UPS batteries to pull a new-looking one out of storage during routine replacement times and not think twice about installing it. However, this can lead to disaster, so make sure anyone replacing your UPS batteries is well-trained in data room maintenance procedures. 
  • Batteries overheated. You likely know that it can often be tough to keep all of the sensitive electronic devices in your data room cool. However, it is crucial to have a proper data room cooling system in place and maintained properly. A very warm data room won't just cause batteries to overheat, but can also potentially destroy many more pieces of your expensive equipment. 

Other causes of UPS battery failure include battery swelling, overcharging, and undercharging. Also, not all UPS batteries are made to cover all types of power interruptions, so it is important to choose ones that you know will kick on during all types of power issues, including power surges and not just outages.  

2. Accidental EPO Deployment/ Human Error

The second most common cause of data center outages may not surprise you. Human errors are inevitable, right? Thankfully, they don't have to be when you make sure that only the right humans have access to your data center. This room should only be entered by employees who have proper training and IT and data room maintenance professionals you trust. One human error that can shut your entire data room down in a split second is accidental EPO deployment, which the study shows happens frequently. 

When the EPO button is hit, UPS batteries are not activated, because the EPO is connected to their circuits along with the main power supply. This button should only ever be pressed when the building is on fire or a person is at risk of electrocution for another reason. They are often large red buttons, and that makes them easy to purposely hit (such as after a disgruntled employee has been fired) or accidentally brush up against if someone in the data room is not paying close enough attention to their surroundings. 

Aside from keeping your entire data room secure and only allowing well-trained personnel to enter it, consider labeling the button well, placing a plastic hinged plastic cover over it, and installing a security camera directed at it.  

3. UPS Capacity Exceeded

Another cause of data center power outages is having too few, or the wrong types, of UPS batteries in place. This led to them not being able to support the full power needs of the data center during an electrical problem. Over 40 percent of the outages were due to exceeding UPS capacities. 

Every UPS battery has a capacity rating called a Volt Amps, which is the maximum number of Amps of power it can provide at one time. Some are also rated by power factor, or PF, which can aid in your calculation of how many Volt Amps you need a UPS battery to provide to keep your hardware running. The power factor is the watts of power provided divided by volt amps.

4. Neglecting Proper Data Room Maintenance

Many data center outages are due to too infrequent data center hardware maintenance sessions. After investing in new electronics for the center, a cooling system, and the electricity it takes to run it all, too many companies skimp on maintenance that is important to keeping the data center running smoothly. A data center hardware maintenance company will check your UPS batteries, cooling system, electrical components, and other important aspects of your center to prevent the most common causes of outages. 

If you have invested in a data room for your company, then the last thing you want is to experience a data center outage that disrupts your operations. Knowing the most common causes of outages and how to prevent them can help you keep your data room and business running smoothly. 


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About Me
Improving My Technology Skills

As soon as I started a new job, I realized that I should spend a little time honing my technology skills. I wasn't that familiar with the program that the rest of my team was using, but I knew that understanding the jargon would significantly help my career. To sharpen my technology skill set, I started staying after work to practice different aspects of the software. It took me a few months, but eventually I knew the program better than anyone else at work. My blog is all about learning more about technology, so that you can stand out from the crowd.