In just a few days we are back to our least favorite season of all – Hurricane Season! Preparing for these natural disasters is important. Unfortunately, for most people, preparation ends up being put on the back-burner. Just like you prepare your home and personal belongings for the worst case scenario, your business assets need to be secured and protected as well.

What Does This Mean?

The Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on June 1st and ends November 30th each year and the last 3 years have been above average with 15+ named storms each year. NOAA’s Climate Predication Center is predicting a near-normal Atlantic hurricane season for 2019 with 9 – 15 named storms, so preparing now instead of later is crucial for your business. Being unprepared greatly impacts your ability to bounce back to normal operations after the storm has passed. All it takes is one storm!

What Should You Do Now?

Now is the time to start preparing.  Here are a few things that should be checked upon as soon as possible:

Backup Data Preparation

  • Critical data should be backed up ahead of the storm. That includes accounting/Quickbooks data; critical employee/company data and/or emergency contact lists
  • Please remember that depending on the size of your data, some backups may take several days to complete – please do not wait until the last minute to make a backup
  • Whether you have full off-site backups or utilize in-house backup appliances, please verify that all data is current
  • If you have in-house backups, all backups appliances need to be removed from the office ahead of the storm
  • If you have no backups, please contact us as soon as possible so we can assist getting your critical data backed up to USB or other portable device(s)
  • Email communication is the backbone for most business. Let us know if you would like us to enable email continuity for your domain ahead of time to create a rolling 30 day block of emails that can be accessed from anywhere in the world. As long as you have power & internet you can start working from anywhere, even if your business is not operational yet

If your area is in the ‘cone of uncertainty’ or under a hurricane watch or warning, you should make arrangements to your  business & equipment immediately.

Building & Equipment Preparation

  • Secure your building, windows & doors and put special focus on any area that contains IT equipment that can’t be relocated (servers, networking equipment, large printers, etc)
  • Before the storm hits make sure all equipment (workstations, networking equipment, battery backups, etc.) is powered off and moved off the floor in case of flooding. The safest place is a desk or counter away from windows
  • All servers, backup appliances and networking equipment should be correctly powered down to avoid data corruption/loss
  • All equipment should be covered with heavy duty trash bags and/or plastic sheeting in case of water entering through the roof
  • Battery backups will not last forever, so the safest bet is to shut them off once all equipment connected to them is powered off
  • All equipment should be unplugged from wall outlets/power sources in case of surges. Those can still damage your equipment even when those are turned off.
  • In case you decide to leave certain equipment running, please make sure that air can still get to it to avoid overheating.
  • Gather insurance information and take pictures of all IT equipment before and after the storm.

Tip: Running IT equipment on a generator after the storm can be harmful. After Irma, we had a client get through the storm just fine, only to run their server and a large copier/printer off an undersized generator. The result? There was a spike/surge on the generator which caused the server to not get adequate power which in turn corrupted all of the data. The data was safely backed up so it wasn’t a major loss, but it added downtime and stress at a time that neither were needed.

The Reality of Weather And Your Business

Damage isn’t only done by hurricanes. There are plenty of natural disasters, that can impact your business operations. A normal Florida summer storm can take down businesses due to lightning strikes, power surges, roof leaks and minor flooding. There are also other parts of the country that deal with tornadoes, earthquakes and wildfires. Preparing ahead of time might seem overwhelming or difficult, but could be a life saver for your business, employees and customers. Having a plan in place will ensure the cleanup process will be as smooth as possible, no matter what Mother Nature sends your way.

If you have any questions on how you can prepare your business ahead of time or if you would like any additional information on our full off-site backup and/or email continuity tool, please reach out to us anytime.