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VOL. 132 | NO. 188 | Thursday, September 21, 2017

Not Just for Scouts: Be Prepared in IT

Patrick Tamburrino

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Everyone knows the scout’s motto by heart. “Always be prepared” may be more likely to invoke images of campfires and merit badges, but it applies to corporate life.

September is National Preparedness Month. With the recent devastation of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, preparedness may already be on your mind. You probably already have plans in place for your home if a natural disaster hits – or at the very least a homeowners or renters insurance policy. But, have you thought about how secure the information technology system is at your office?

Here are few best practices for being proactive with your technology, in the event that you’re kept from your office for a few days.

Back up that data. Ensure your company has a plan for backing up data, starting with employees saving items somewhere other than their desktop. This can entail employees backing up their files to a shared server, followed by the IT department storing files locally and to a cloud provider. Some hybrid cloud solutions take a data snapshot every hour and then update the cloud if needed.

Farm your servers. Many corporations use server farms so they don’t have to host all the company files and email in-house. This is typically more cost-effective and saves space but can also mean your company is vulnerable to disasters happening far away from home. When signing an agreement with your hosting company, ask about its disaster and backup procedures.

Water’s not your friend. It isn’t just about data and software – without the hardware, none of that exists. Check computer placement around your office – desktop towers should be elevated off the ground in case of flooding. This can be done via a stand or by setting them directly on a desk. Storms can also mean power surges, so ensure you have all equipment plugged into a surge protector. Some surge protectors even have battery backup options for saving or accessing files for a short time after a power outage.

Human capital. The employees who run your company on a daily basis are even more important than hardware and software. Using technology during a disaster can make it easier for you to check that your staff is safe without resorting to an old-fashioned phone tree. Slack, Google Groups and Facebook all allow you to create private channels to communicate directly with your employees and can be accessed online or through smartphone apps. Create a channel for your company now and educate employees on how to check and post updates during any future disaster – no matter how big or small.

The key to surviving any disaster is to create a plan, communicate it with your team and stick to it once disaster strikes. Work with your IT professional to build out a plan and feel confident about it. It’s better to be prepared for an event that doesn’t happen than to be caught without a plan.

Patrick Tamburrino, the president of IT strategy, support and management firm tamburrino, inc. can be reached at patrick@tamburrino.com.

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