Preparing IT Resources for Severe Weather
October 30, 2008
This short article will try to provide the reader an introduction for protecting his/her computer information in case of severe weather; specifically Hurricanes and Lighting as well as some pointers to prepare an emergency plan.
When evaluating the relevance of any suggestion below, the reader should keep in mind the following question: “how valuable is the information inside the computer system.” Most likely the answer is that your information is very valuable and also very expensive or difficult to replace.
Since data is difficult and expensive to replace, the efforts should focus on preserve it and restore functionality in a timely manner. For starters, two “golden” rules:
- Have a sensible “Backup and Emergency Restore” policy in place.
- Assign responsibility
Equipment fails, can get damaged, be stolen, erased, and more; but after damage nothing else beats a data restore. The designated operator will ensure the backups are done per policy requirements. Use Software and hardware that fits the policy, or alternatively, consider remote backup via Internet (as long as there is connection).
We all know “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. To prevent data loss here are some suggestions:
- Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) – protects your computer from Power Outages and “Brownouts”
- Surge Arrestors – protects against power surges such as lightning
- Removable Storage – Safekeeping the “Backups” away from the equipment
- Keep your Software Distribution Media (CDs that came with the PC) in a known and safe place.
That said, check UPS batteries at regular intervals; and consider the “50 miles” rule of keeping a backup copy 50 miles away for cases severe like a hurricane.
Every business is different in their requirements, the scope of the solution is specific to each business needs. Regardless, on every case, a “Plan” is important no matter how small or simple this plan might be. To assist the reader in defining their plan, we are presenting a three stages process in bulleted form. Those stages are: Evaluation, Preparation and Aftermath.
Evaluate your Situation
Know your strengths and weakness
- What data and hardware are “Mission Critical”
- Review your IT Service agreement
- How long would it take to recover essential functions
- Understand your external dependencies (Power Line, Phone)
- How many hours/days of disruption can you afford
- What protection does your site offers against extreme weather
Prepare your Plan
Be ahead of the game
- Evaluate Risk vs. Cost/Benefit for your solutions
- Involve Management with IT Support group (Teamwork and Communication)
- Plan for: Before – During – After the strike
- Instruct your personnel on what is expected from them
- Plan escalation according to threat level or how close is arriving
- Rehearse the plan and adjust as needed
- Consider a Plan “B” or different scenarios
Your Plan is your guide to recover fast and effectively
- Inventory any damage at premises before “turning on” any equipment
- Check any water damage no matter how small
- Be suspicious of any breaker that “popped up”
- Power lines will be dirty with “Blackouts/Brownouts”, use protection
- Be Adaptable, the situation is stressful for everybody
Hopefully these guidelines will assist in the preparation of a sensible plan, which minimizes the negative impact in case severe weather would strike your business.
Jose Noriega obtained his Bachelor's Science Degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from the University of Massachusetts. While employed in the Engineering Division of Polaroid Corp., he developed and implemented the world's first Electronic Driver's License and ID system. He has been a Consultant in diverse technology areas. He is the Founder and President of Webster Technology Services Inc. <http://webstertechnology.com/>, dedicated to provide technological solutions for small and medium size business.