Hurricane activity peaks every year in late summer, when tropical cyclones form across the northern Atlantic Ocean. Some storms hit north American coasts with a vengeance, causing million dollars’ worth of damages to goods, and sometimes even lost lives. Along with the tragedies come stories of lost data due to damage to tech appliances, and entire businesses turned to rubble. IT pros must always have a backup plan to protect their organization’s data from storms and other natural disasters. We’ve put together a huricane checklist that will help protect technology in your business.
The saddest news come from climate researchers, who say that over time, the storms will amplify, due to the effects of climate change.
While some industries have regulations in place to ensure business continuity (like HIPAA for the healthcare field), a lot of small to mid-size businesses have no plan whatsoever in case disaster strikes, shows research. But not planning ahead may be a catastrophic mistake for some businesses, who may never recover after a disaster.
The government website Ready.gov offers information on how to protect homes from hurricanes and all other natural disasters. IT pros have their own list of things to do before the storm, and on the list of priorities is data protection. Below we’ve put together a hurricane checklist to protect data and IT systems from hurricanes.
Evaluate and Inventory
Making an inventory of every valuable on the premises should be followed by an evaluation of hardware and software assets and data. The inventory should include make, model, operating systems, network devices, serial numbers and licenses owned. The information needs to be stored off-site or through a cloud-based system.
The U.S. Internal Revenue Services (IRS) offers an example of an inventory sheet for goods, along with advice on how to prepare for emergencies. They recommend videotaping all valuable goods on premises, so that you can claim insurance easily in case of material damage.
Backup On-site and Off-site
Off-site data backup is a good option if the storm threatens to hit hardware devices storing critical data. Some backup and recovery companies make sure that their data centers are stored in mainland areas, where hurricanes or tornadoes rarely occur, and that they are not set in known fault line areas, to safeguard from earthquakes.
Backing up data off-site is great business practice. It can protect against a whole range of disasters, like storms, fires, and even systems being taken over by ransomware attacks.
Replicate to the Cloud
Online backups of virtual machine images can be a blessing for a business. Cloud technology has made it possible to have remote access to your data and files. Sysadmins can get employees up and running swiftly, even if they have to work remotely in case there is damage to the office.
Test Backups & Recovery Regularly
New technology has made it incredibly easy to test the recovery of systems with virtual machines. You could say there’s… virtually no reason not to test your backups regularly. Tests makes sure that any data stored in backups are able to be restored quickly, so that businesses can get up and running fast after a hurricane.
How to Protect Electronics
Aside from securing windows and doors to buildings, there are additional steps IT admins can take to protect electronics from weather damage:
- Move electronics to a safe room;
- Move electronics off the ground, to protect from flooding;
- Shut down computers and unplug machines and power surges;
- Unplug Ethernet cables from computers or docking stations;
- Power off printers or any other accessories;
- Use dry bags or wrap electronics in plastic to ensure some short-term protection.
You can take some safety measures to move your electronics from the storm’s path. Some IT pros will even remove hard drives from machines and move them off-site to prevent data loss. But dry bags and plastic tape can only do so much to prevent hardware damge. As always, an off-site backup solution with reliable recovery abilities is the best defense.