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Monday, 25 September 2017 20:17

Steps to prepare and secure your data before a Hurricane

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By Jonathan Mendez | CTO
Being a Florida resident means knowing you will eventually have to deal with some level of a hurricane causing damage, frustration & despair for you and your business. As Floridians, we constantly deal with lighting and rain which usually is not a big deal, however, at tropical or hurricane level winds and flooding in our area this has the potential to cause devastating affects on our personal and business lives. Running an Information Technology company for over 10 years we have seen it all, from fried network devices to entire data loss causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage. Because of this experience here at M2O Technologies we decided to give you guys a few tips before the upcoming storm(s).

1- First, contact your IT Company to discuss your Disaster Recovery plans. Disaster Recovery planning is how technology companies prepare for the worst. We look at the best and worst- case scenarios and create business continuity and backup plans as necessary. In the Disaster Recovery planning we cover data backup locally & in the cloud, power outages, internet outages & general business continuity. Business continuity means in each scenario how will your business continue to operate. Not having a good Disaster Recovery plan could cause you to lose significant time & money!

2- Backup your data locally, in the cloud & if possible in a 2 nd off site local location such as at your IT providers office or at your own home. If you run your office from your home then please find another 2 nd off site local backup location. You can do this via a USB hard drive or over an internet connection.

3- Having a hot or cold cloud backup of your server is a great idea. This can significantly improve your business continuity. Your IT company should be able to offer this service via AWS (Amazon Web Services) or Microsoft Azure. If your office server(s) go down you can quickly power on your cloud virtual server and get employees back to work in a fairly short amount of time.

4- During a hurricane level storm(s), we advise to shut down any equipment such as computers & servers which could suffer an over voltage or complete power loss. Having UPS battery backups help, however, battery backups have a limited amount of time before they drain which could cause your server(s) or computers to shutdown abruptly. This could cause potential corruption to the operating system(s). Some battery backups have software to determine power loss and help shutdown your server or computer. If you have a virtual environment most battery backups will not interact with the virtual operating system which removes the automate shutdown feature. Talk to your IT company to find out their protocols on shutdown and how to get back up and running after the storm. If you do not have battery backups or surge protectors it is advised to disconnect and power cords from the wall to avoid and over voltage that could damage your device(s).

5- Having a generator is highly advised. One of the biggest issues post storms is the loss of power for days at a time. Once a storm is here or has passed getting your hands on a generator is not feasible. We recommend having any size generator to at least power the essential items to run your business. If you can’t get your hands on a generator a 2 nd option would be to get an inverter. An inverter is a device which can be connected to a car battery and generate AC power to run devices you would usually plug into your normal power outlets. Having at least a 2000- watt inverter can help power many items around the office and is highly portable.

6- Booking a hotel suite or conference room for the days post storm is always a good idea if business continuity is highly important to you & your business. If you for any reason your office is not usable, you can quickly move operations over to the hotel suite or conference room and continue to operate. Usually hotels have a backup generator, backup internet & plenty of provisions. Having your staff work in a clean, comfortable environment can make a huge difference on their performance, especially while dealing with the post storm drama.

7- During storms phone operations can be one of the most frustrating things. Law firms completely depend on their phone systems being up even more so then computer systems. It is important to have your phone provider or ISP forward your main number(s) to a mobile phone during the storm. This way if your main phone system (or PBX) has any issues you can still receive calls over the mobile phone. After the storm, you can simply call the provider and move it back over if everything is ok. If you have a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) phone system this can be automated, so if your office loses internet connection after a specified number of rings the call can be automatically forwarded to a mobile phone determined by you. Most phone providers have a quick turnover for the forwarding feature, however, if it does take 24-48 hours you may want to think about having a virtual phone service such as Grasshopper or Magic Jack own your main business line. This way you can quickly jump on the internet and forward the number to any number you wish in a matter of minutes. This is highly recommended for businesses that have in house analog or hybrid phone systems. If your main phone tree is controlled in-house you can use Grasshopper to forward the main number to a number or numbers provided by your phone provider and if not picked up then forwarded to your mobile phone. This is like a backup system for your phone system.

Hopefully, you will not have to depend on any of these measures any time soon. However, keep in mind “before anything else, preparation is the key to success” Alexander Graham Bell. We wish you luck, and we hope that some of this will help you and your business in some way.

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