June 2012

Data and Equipment Protection

Protecting Data & Equipment this Hurricane Season

By: Kim Cullen, PowerSource Online

Growing up in Florida, I have been through many hurricanes. As a child, hurricanes meant the day off of school; in college and the years beyond many hurricane parties were attended and more days off with no electricity and boredom. Hurricanes, however, are much more serious than a day off of work. Being prepared for a hurricane for your own safety and preparations in case of a disaster is the most important. Preparing your business and its assets are necessary as well. Hurricanes can have devastating effects on communities and businesses located within the hurricane’s path. Securing the safety of your business assets and data need to be a top priority this hurricane season for any business located within a hurricane path. As this Atlantic hurricane season begins on June1, 2012, prepare your business with a hurricane plan (as you do your family and home) in case a hurricane causes damage to your computers, IT and telecom systems. A plan can save your company both time and money if a storm does strike.

Before a Hurricane Strikes: Plan

Before a Hurricane or other natural disaster strikes, your business needs to have a plan! Don’t think that you can just plan to put plywood on the windows and take a break for a few days! Any business, whether an equipment heavy large facility or an office with only personal computers and printers for staff usage needs to have an overall emergency plan in case of a hurricane. Both your data stored within equipment and the equipment itself need to be protected in case of a storm.

The hurricane business plan:

  • Compile an Emergency Contact List with telephone contact numbers of essential employees. (Network Administrator, Technicians, etc.)
  • Identify a safe storage area within the facility where equipment, data tapes and records can be relocated in the event of a storm.
  • Determine responsibility for maintaining the facility/office. Do you need to stay operational soon after a hurricane? If the answer is yes, determine who and how your computers and other equipment will run in case of power outages (a generator, etc.)
  • Train employees on what do if/when a hurricane or other natural storm is heading towards your location
  • Have a plan to move all computer and IT equipment away from windows, doors and above ground level in case of flooding
  • Know which employees are in charge of unplugging all equipment
  • Review your business insurance policies to ensure that there is adequate coverage in case of a hurricane.

Hurricane Warning and/or Watch:

The Weather Channel team is outside your office window and you are still working? Great dedication to your business, but it is time to protect the equipment and get to a safe location! Your computer should be shut down properly and unplugged from the wall outlet.  Turn off and unplug all other equipment such as the monitor, printers, scanners, and speakers. (If you have a plan, this will be a known responsibility of key employees before the storm strikes)

Most importantly, when a hurricane is approaching make certain that all employees are safe. If your business will be a manned facility during the storm, safety and hurricane supplies such as water, flashlights and a weather radio need to be already on site.

After the Storm:

If you find your business has damage due to a hurricane or storm, do not turn on computer equipment without knowing all of the information.  If there are indications of power fluctuations or instability, water under raised floor, broken windows or noticeable equipment damage do not turn on or plug in equipment.

Hopefully, a hurricane will not interfere with your business operations this 2012 Hurricane Season. It is always better to be prepared in case of a natural disaster… just in case.

Tips for every day: 

Standard precautions should be followed year-round for any business to protect its files, sensitive data and equipment regardless of hurricanes or other natural disasters.

  • Backup Data Files – Your data files should be protected against loss by simply backing them up to a network server. Data files that have been stored on the server network drive should be backed up to tape regularly (usually nightly) by a Network Administrator.  Confirm with your network administrator that procedures are in place to protect your data files.  If a file server is not an option to back up data, there are alternatives such as Zip disks, CD Rewriteable disks, or tape to use as backups for files.  PowerSource Online suppliers have many options available within the Storage Components section.  Copies of all of your data backups should be stored in a secure location in the event your primary equipment location sustains storm (or hurricane) damage.
  • UPS – Protecting computer equipment with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) that provides both over and under voltage protection is recommended.  UPS devices contain a battery that will provide electrical current for a short time to a computer even when the power is out.  Find UPS devices on PowerSourceOnline.com.

Being prepared for storms, hurricanes and potential power outages can save your company money and time. Having a plan and ensuring that your team knows and follows the plan will limit the damage, if disaster strikes.