Preparing IT for Severe Weather

15 September 2014

With the severe weather season in the South-East of Australia approaching we look at some steps that you should consider to protect your IT equipment from failure and damage in storms.

General Protection

Protection you should consider as an insurance policy against all types of bad weather and disasters.

1. UPS – An uninterruptable power supply (UPS) provides protection to your server and other sensitive (or critical) equipment you choose from power surges, spikes, brownouts and blackouts.

Surges are extended over voltages and spikes are temporary over voltage. Over voltage can damage sensitive technology systems and hard drives causing loss of data.

Brownouts are where the voltage has dropped or dips causing your lights to flicker or glow less bright. Brownouts are similarly bad for technology equipment which is unprotected because it stresses the internals of the power supply.

Finally blackouts are a complete loss of power which causes systems to turn off without proper shutdown procedures which can damage databases.

UPS filter the power sent to servers and other equipment to prevent all the above types of damage. UPS can usually keep your systems powered on for between 10-60minutes (depending on the size) during any of the above interruptions to the utility power supply. This protects your data and expensive hardware investment.

UPS is the single greatest protection you can give your IT, so we recommended one on at least every server install (if you don't have one already).

Here in Tasmania, the UPS protecting our office equipment regularly intervenes (usually at least once every couple of weeks) protecting our equipment from slight power interruptions that can cause equipment damage and data loss over time.

2. Location – install servers in a secure location, up off the ground to prevent water inundation. Where possible secure servers to the desk or cabinet to prevent easy removal.

3. Off-site Backups – a very important safeguard. If your building is damaged or destroyed you need a copy of your important data securely stored off-site. We provide this as an add-on service for all customers for a small monthly fee.

When a Storm is Predicted

Steps you can take to safeguard your technology and data when a storm is predicted. When we say storm we mean like an east coast low (for the east cost of Australia) or a strong cold front (for Tasmania), not just the average thunderstorms.

1. Make sure your Backups are Working, Up to Date and Off-site. Make sure your backups have been tested by your IT support (that they can be restored successfully). Make sure that they have been run (before you leave) and are up to date. Make sure you take your backups off-site and store them securely.

2. Manually Self-Test your UPS. In the UPS control panel, run a manual self-test to ensure the UPS is in good working order and ready to protect your equipment from power interruptions that occur during severe weather.

3. Shutdown and Unplug Non-Essential Technology. Turn off any client computers and other technology and unplug them (check if they are critical systems first). Unplugging them prevents damage from utility power surges or brownouts.

4. Secure your building as best you can to prevent storm/water entering. Safeguard your building the best you can. Secure windows, ensure the roof is in good condition and lock all doors. This will help prevent your building flooding and causing damage to your infrastructure.

While some of these technologies cost a little bit to implement they can save you thousands of dollars in lost productivity, technology damage and lost data.

Customers of our Managed IT/IT Support services have access to our disaster recovery and disaster response services to help you prepare and recover from disasters.

If you would like a free no obligation analysis of your technology and your preparedness for disasters contact us on 1300 306 547.

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