The Queensland Government is running a great preparedness program (Get Ready Queensland) and many State Emergency Services (SES) colleagues are at a major hardware chain volunteering on community education displays. But are you following their advice ?
There is a broad range of power and surge protection equipment available, including equipment available for different types and sizes of computer and network scenarios. Here are 4 useful pointers regarding how to properly use power protection equipment as well as avoid possible damage of your equipment in the event of a storm or power fluctuation.
Step 1: Protect
Un-interruptible power supply
Backup your backups
We spend thousands on our computers looking after our business data and want them running all the time: but one voltage spike can change all that. For as little as $20, a surge protector is very cheap yet essential piece of equipment designed to protect electrical devices from voltage spikes. This will reduce the risk slightly of hardware damage, yet hardware damage and data corruption is still likely to occur..
For a more comptehensive suituation, you need a uninterruptable power supply (UPS). This is basically a box containing a rechargeable battery and a mains power inverter that cuts automatically in to provide power to your PC if the mains supply fails. They are not expensive: prices range between $75-$300, though cheaper models normally only have the capacity to power a desktop computer and monitor for a few minutes. This should be long enough for you to save any open files and safely shut down the computer. Most recent UPS do this automatically, so it doesn’t matter if you are away from your PC when the outage occurs. Higher capacity models can keep a computer going for an hour or more, so you can continue working. A UPS also provides extra protection against spikes and surges on the mains supply.
For users who store data files on a network server, your network administrator should perform the backup. This could be weekly, daily, hourly… It is crucial at this time that a copy of this backup be moved another location to reduce the possibility that a disaster could affect both locations.
It is a good idea to have an online backup. There is a number of free options including Dropbox, Copy, GoogleDrive & Skydrive: all services designed to share large files that are not suited for e-mail. These services are typically free (or very cheap), and you shouldn’t have the expectation of great security for this price.
When you have a file that doesn’t need to be secure and simply get from point A to B, DropBox is a viable solution. But, you cannot send or store any sensitive files, such as contracts or financial statements as these services are not safe for any files subject to government compliance
Although the days of dial-up Internet have long passed, telephone connections (RJ-11 standard) are still widely used on computers, printers and fax machines for many applications. Unlike a network cable (RJ-45), telephone lines are known as a prime culprit in causing electrical damage or allowing an entry point for electrical interference. As such, you need to be sure that your surge protection has the proper options and configuration for isolated protection of incoming telephone or fax connections. This may include having an alternative telephone service facility (where outside telephone network cables come into the building).
The loss of elements that support the transport of information (voice, data, image, and other signals) from one location to another can devastate operations at a facility. Therefore, to prevent a complete shutdown in case of a disaster, you should develop a disaster recovery plan in case such a catastrophe occurs. Even though this plan may be well thought out, bringing back a downed network will not be a simple task. You will need to think: what cables are still intact? Can rerouting accomplish anything? Can critical segments be remapped? These and many other questions must be put to a professional as quickly as possible after a disaster occurs.
Maintain proper insurance
Although having proper surge protection is essential, there is still the chance of electrical, water or even fire damage to your valuable equipment.
In the event of a natural disaster, an insurer will help pay for repairs and other expenses, making it easier for you to get back on your feet. Compensation will provide you with the equipment or IT assistance you will need to get back up and running ASAP.
Your insurance policy will state what disasters you are covered for. While insurers generally cover storm damage, the level of cover varies. Unfortunately, some people find that their claims will not be paid and end up paying hefty repair costs themselves. Flood cover is not offered in all home and contents insurance policies.
You will also need to check if you’re covered for storms, floods, bushfires and flash floods. Make sure you understand the definition of each term by asking questions. If your property is prone to particular events, then ask specifically if you are covered for that and for how much.
Step 2: Prevent
Don’t just take our word for it: look at these expert opinions.
Three ways to prevent a computer disaster
1. Invest in a un-interruptible power supply (UPS)
2. Backup, and then backup your backups…
3. Business continuity plans a must for cyclone and fire season
“This morning I wanted to give my uninterruptible power supply (or UPS) a big, sloppy kiss–and would have, if not for the risk of electrocution.
See, my neighborhood experienced a brief power outage–right when my PC was in the process of booting. I speak from experience when I say that if a system loses power while it’s starting up or shutting down, it could spell disaster. One possible outcome: damaged Windows and a PC that will no longer boot.
That’s why I was so grateful to have that battery-backed UPS, which kept my computer alive and booting even while the lights went out around me. Needless to say, a UPS is also indispensable if the power dies while you’re working, as it gives you time to save your documents and shut down safely.”
“We all know we’re supposed to back up our data. We could go so far as to say that a backup of digital data is essential to a person’s well-being and peace of mind. (One copy of a file on your computer does not a backup make. Redundancy, people, redundancy.)
Why, then, do so many people still not bother to back up? Even after losing an important document, irreplaceable photo, or entire sets of financial records, some still don’t take the time. Perhaps it’s because backing up data takes some effort. In the past, it’s been complicated. Now, thanks to new software, hardware, and services, it’s easier than ever.
It might seem like enough to point your backup software to your documents, pictures, videos, and music folders and let it do its thing. Maybe it is, if you’re diligent about putting your data in the right place on your drives. Even so, there are other types of data you should back up. This includes emails, browsers, drivers and social network informations or even a full disk image.
You might think backing up is as simple as copying a file from one spot to another, and it can be. But the arsenal of tools at your disposal is capable of doing so much more. What you need for redundancy, security, and access, however, decides what kind of backup you should use. ”
“With cyclone season now in the North and temperatures rising across the State, small business owners are being urged to prepare business continuity plans to ensure the least disruption in the event of a natural disaster or other major event.
Small Business Commissioner, David Eaton, says the quicker a business can recover from unforeseen emergencies, the less impact there will be on income and service delivery, however he is concerned that many businesses do not see this type of planning as important.
“In our 2012 State of Small Business Survey, only 23 per cent of respondents had undertaken business continuity planning for natural disasters,” Mr Eaton said. “In recent times, Australian businesses have been affected by fires, floods and cyclones so we are no strangers to these kinds of challenges.
“A business continuity plan can be as simple as a list of emergency numbers and important documents stored in a safe place, or can be more comprehensive ensuring full back-up of all documentation stored off-site, communications plans and alternative production and supply options.”
If you are in need of some better power and surge protection equipment at your office or home or are after some advice regarding risk management of your IT equipment, contact us for a free in-depth risk assessment to find out any potential risks or problems you may face. We will match you up with the right solution so you can sleep easy during the storm season…