Flashing “Red Lights” on your Server or UPS – don’t ignore!

By Guy Brook|14th December 2015

red flashing light server UPS

Just like our bodies that little pain or ache could be the indication of something worse, and a quick trip to the Doctors should often be the remedy. But how often do you hear Doctors saying that patients ignore the signs and leave it late for a visit, or your family and friends tell you that you should have taken time out to visit your Doctor? Needless to say, there are consequences. Well, it can be the same in the IT world.  With over 20 years as an IT Engineer, in various disciplines, when I get a call from a customer saying something like ‘it has failed’ then I often ask if there are ‘any lights on’.  Most of the time, the answer is ‘Yes – I have seen a red light on my UPS or server and it’s been like that for weeks’.

Typically we see red lights on Servers and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS).  Years ago, the only way something like a UPS or server could tell you that the batteries or hard disk drives needed replacing was a red light on the front of it or the occasional beep. Nowadays, most devices and servers can be set to email an Administrator or your IT support company who can then organise a replacement part.

What if you ignore the warning signs of your UPS power supply?

A UPS supplies power to your server in the event of a power cut. A red light or intermittent beeping means your batteries need changing. If ignored, then when a power cut happens it will switch off your server, often without shutting it down first.

This brings me neatly to your server, the central point for your company data and communication. Typically a server will have multiple disks in varying RAID configurations. RAID allows the server to keep running with one or more disks failed configuration dependent, allowing time to organise and fit a replacement. If ignored the server will not be performing at its full potential, eventually, another disk may fail and the server will crash.

Both of the situations above would result in potential disruption to users and most likely data loss, possibly leaving you reliant on restoring data from your backup.