Power Supply Units : The Achilles' heel of servers

Redundancy is often associated with storage and is one of the pillars of any good corporate strategy. One can never be too cautious when it comes to safeguarding data.

Yet while you will find dozens of reviews on enterprise-class hard disk drives and storage, I have yet to find similar articles on the most important component of any server. The power supply unit.

Take the best server that money can buy and plug an average power supply unit into it and you will almost immediately notice a difference. Data errors, random lockups or rebooting, blue screen of death or hardware failures, these are all symptoms of a sub-par power supply units.

I learnt that the power supply unit is to be treated with respect, the hard way. Back in Mauritius, I setup a server with redundant storage (four IBM hard disk drives in a RAID 0+1 configuration) and got it ready for the launch of a Radio station. The following day, I got a call saying that the server was not working at all.

On close inspection, the power supply and the four hard disk drives were damaged together with the a RAID card, a motherboard and the processor. Of course, all the data on the drives was lost. Fortunately, there was an offsite copy of the data on a DDS Tape.

Good power supply units do not cost that much, certainly less than buying a new server. So next time, you have to build or purchase a server, make sure that it is a quality one that does not cut corners. A good starting point on how to choose a power supply can be found here.