Under all circumstances, the most important element of physical security is the safeguarding of human life. This is the main goal for all security methods. Flooding, fires, release of toxic materials, and natural disasters jeopardize human life as well as the stability of a facility.

Preserving the environment of a facility is an integral function in upholding safety for personnel. Although natural disasters cannot be averted, the resulting impact can be mitigated in building facilities able to withstand those disasters, securing high fire ratings, and proper mechanisms like sprinkler systems, etc. Basic elements such as power, noise, and temperature fluctuations can be examined.

Electrical Power Supply Electronic equipment, including computer systems, is impacted by the quality of the power supply. The power supplied by electric companies fluctuates in consistency. Most electronic equipment requires clean power to function efficiently and equipment disturbances of damage due to power fluctuations in the quality of the power supply is common. Power supply issues such as spikes, surges, sags, brownouts, and blackouts impact the stability and operation of the electronic equipment. Organizations can implement devices designed to protect electronic equipment from power supply problems. These devices include surge suppressors and uninterruptible power supplies (UPS).

A surge suppressor can be used to diminish the effects of voltage spikes and surges that exist in commercial power sources and smooth out power variations. Given this protection method, there isn’t a known mechanism to fully protect electronic equipment from a close lightning strike. Surge suppressors are available at several outlets including local computer dealers and superstores. Most power strips with surge protection have indicator lights. If the light goes out, it’s an indicator the unit has lost surge protection capability and needs to be replaced. If the light begins flashing, it signals the power strip is failing and should be replaced immediately. Surge suppressors smooth out power fluctuations and protect computer equipment from power glitches up to a point. For complete protection from power surges and outages, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is recommended.

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is an inline battery backup installed between the electronic equipment and the wall outlet. In addition to surge protection, a UPS functions as a battery when the power dips or fails. It will also signal a warning when the power source is above or below acceptable levels. Several UPS models can work with computer systems and activate safe shutdown in the event of a complete loss of power. This is processed through software that runs in the background and sends a signal through one of the computer’s COM ports when power is down. The length of time the UPS can act as a backup power source for a system depends on battery capacity and power demands of the equipment. A monitor is one of the main power drains. A more robust UPS device requires its own line and circuit breaker. To keep a system online as long as possible during a power failure, turn off the monitor immediately.

When considering a UPS, it’s important to factor in the amount of protection that’s required. The watt rating must be sufficient to supply the electronic equipment and all its peripherals including time to safely shut down the system. This can be calculated by adding the power rating of all pieces of equipment to be sustained by the UPS. Make note of whether a laser printer can be supported by the UPS as they often require more power than a UPS is able to provide.

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