On the East Coast of the US, we're in the middle of hurricane season. Severe storms like this can put both lives and property at risk, including office equipment. A hurricane can disrupt business operations and create an extended outage - and downtime - if your systems are not adequately protected. Keep reading to learn how to get your company up and running again, if disaster strikes.
Determine recovery hierarchy
First order of business, will be to ran your IT systems according to how important they are in your company's operations. Take the time to plan out which of your systems would need to back online in minutes, hours or several days, to assure business continuity or the next best option.
As an example, restoring access to customer data so your sales and support teams can continue to work may be more important than email access, print servers, or wireless printers. Key management and technology personnel will be the best sources for this information.
Pay attention to location
At the top of every business' priorities should be protecting your data backups in a location that is hurricane-free, ideally at least 100 miles away from your office. When this is not possible, choose a location that can tolerate up to 160mph winds (as in a Category 5 storm) and has UPSs (uninterruptible power supplies), redundant internet access service, and backup generators. For improved safety and security, locate your data backups on an upper floor of a building or elevated at least 18 inches to prevent flood damage.
Use image-based backups
Instead of tape or external drive backups that just cover your data, consider using image-based systems that capture full copies of devices with operating system, software and all data. If needed, such a backup can be "spun up" on new hardware very quickly.
Take advantage of the cloud
We live in a great time to be alive where business data can be hosted "in the cloud", in data centers that offer high availability connections and multiple geographic locations. This arrangement means that your business data could be accessed by authorized employees anywhere in the world. For the best level of protection for business data backups, partner with an experienced IT firm that can offer options to meet the needs of most requirements and budgets.
Back up your data frequently
It goes without saying that your business data should be backed up as often as possible - hourly, every 15 minutes or something in between - depending on its importance. This is critically important during seasons of hurricanes or other natural disasters, to ensure minimal data loss if server recovery is necessary.
Test your disaster recovery (DR) plan
Setting up secured, frequent data backups is the first part of the plan. Be sure to test your backup process periodically, to ensure that restored data is viable, and also that the procedure to do so is fully documented. Secondly, you need to be sure that data can actually be restored if disaster happens. Creating a Disaster Recovery (DR) Plan is important for any business, to ensure that key employees know what to do to work toward restoring critical systems as quickly as possible, in the event of storm damage. As part of this plan, external resources such as contractors, service providers and customers should be informed of extended outages and the action your company will take to resolve the situation, as well.
One unexpected result of a sever weather may be a outage of cell phone towers and internet connections. Create a communication plan for employees in case of disaster, in case the usual methods are not available. One option would be to use the American Red Cross Emergency! App to alert others to your safety. (www.redcross.org) Another option might be to have employees post on your company social media sites or identify locations in advance where a "land-based" phone line is present, to allow for leaving a voicemail with status.
While there is no way to prevent natural disasters, businesses can prepare for such an event to minimize downtime and data loos through a DR plan, and work with an experienced technology provider such as Beringer Technology Group. If you're concerned about the threat of storms or other natural disasters affecting your business operations, give us a call today. We can help you to protect your business data during hurricane season by creating a plan for business continuity and peace of mind.