Battery Backups & Testing

Posted February 2001

Battery backups can mean the difference between a normal, peaceful afternoon, and all heck breaking loose.  A battery backup is designed to keep your main INFONETICS server running when power fails. Power outages, even very very very short outages known as brownouts can crash your server and even damage data. During longer outages a battery backup will allow an operator at the main system console to kill all other users processes, and then correctly shutdown the operating system.

If you experience a power outage during normal usage, here’s what you should do:

  1. First, it’s a good idea to know how long your battery will keep your server running. If you’re not sure, don’t wait for power to be restored. Proceed right away. If you are sure your battery will keep things going for a while, you might want to chance it and wait.
  2. Logon as “root” at the system console terminal.
  3. Run “What’s Happening” to determine which users and/or processes are still logged on. Make a note of their “tty???” numbers.
  4. Run “Kill A Terminal’s Process” for each tty??? shown running recognizable processes. Note: you need only worry about program names that are recognizable entries from your menues. The tersely named UNIX processes which are also listed are of no concern.
  5. Run “Shutdown System” after all users processes have been killed. This safely closes out the database and halts the software.
  6. Wait for the “Safe To Power Off” message, then turn off the server and console terminal.

Yes, periodically testing your battery backup is a good idea. Here’s a simple modification of the above procedure to be used for testing;

  1. First, get everyone logged off the system.
  2. Then, run “Shutdown System” but don’t power off any equipment. This safely shuts down the INFONETICS/Unix server software preventing damage to the database.
  3. Pull the battery backups’ power plug from the wall socket. Its alarm should start sounding.
  4. Make sure the power light on the server stays on as well as the console terminal. If either of them looses power, then they probably aren’t plugged into the battery correctly. Note: some battery backups only provide backup to a portion of the outlets it offers. The other outlets on the unit have only electrical line conditioning. Make sure the server and console terminal are plugged into battery backed outlets.
  5. Time how long the equipment stays powered before the battery dies. Everything should run for at least 20 minutes. This is generally long enough to get through a brownout or even a rolling blackout.
  6. If the server and/or console terminal powers off within 5 minutes, then either the battery is going bad, or too many things are being run off it. Replace it with either a new or larger unit.

With the promise of more power related problems headed our way this summer it only makes sense to make sure your server is protected by a battery backup. Give us a call and we’ll ship one out to you right away.