Generators could damage data, warns power expert

The diesel generators allowing some central Auckland businesses to function during the power crisis may well be corrupting data, warns International Power Technologies' vice-president, Murray Irwin. "I would be very, very surprised if there isn't a significant proportion of data corrupted by diesel-generated power,' says Irwin.

The diesel generators allowing some central Auckland businesses to function during the power crisis may well be corrupting data, warns International Power Technologies’ vice-president, Murray Irwin.

“I would be very, very surprised if there isn’t a significant proportion of data corrupted by diesel-generated power.” Irwin, whose company specialises in data protection and UPS systems, describes the possibility of data corruption as a “hidden cost no one will ever fully define, but it’s there”. According to Irwin, raw power is generally not compatible with a PC.

“Power from a diesel generator has much greater impurity, unless it’s specifically designed for PC applications.” Irwin says not many of the generators being brought into Auckland are designed for use with computers.

“You may end up saving corrupted data, and once it’s corrupted, data remains corrupted no matter how well you save it.” For Irwin, the Auckland crisis highlights the need for greater quality in our supply.

“The power problem may or may not have been predictable, but quite clearly the demands placed on the grid are in excess of what it can stand.” Irwin doesn’t believe the new Penrose tunnel project, which should provide an excess of power to the Auckland CBD, will solve the problem of quality.

“It is very likely to reduce the chances of blackout significantly, but is it going to solve the problems people are having in terms of quality?” Irwin describes those problems as “extremely significant” for IT.

Installing a UPS system is only the beginning, says Irwin, who believes customers must take control of their own power supply and, if necessary, seek alternatives away from the power companies.

As for Auckland’s energy problems, Irwin describes them as “a case of success has many fathers, failure but one”.

“The guy who’s responsible, who’s prepared to accepts the bonuses, has got to take the rap for it.”

Irwin would like to see those in charge fix the problem, make sure it doesn’t happen again and then resign.

“Anybody who does anything other than that should look in the mirror.”

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