It’s always important to be prepared for emergencies, and for a small business these days even a minor disaster can have long term ramifications with serious consequences. Whether the disaster is short lived, like a power outage or hardware failure in your server, or a more serious event like a flood or fire, you want to be able to get back in business as quickly as possible Here are some steps Toronto businesses should take to prepare and add to their disaster plans.
Centralize your Data
This is a very common one that most businesses should already have down, but it is worth mentioning. Company data can’t be stored on workstations – keep it on a server. Keep that server in check with regular maintenance and security updates. When your data is spread out throughout all of the computers in the office, it makes it nearly impossible to track down important files in a pinch, as well as recovering data in the event of a disaster. Centralizing your data to a server will prevent messy situations like that while providing countless benefits to the company.
Company data needs to be backed up regularly. At the very least, everything needs to be backed up daily, but remember, restoring from a backup means you could lose an entire days work. A good backup solution will run backups a few times an hour. Small businesses shouldn’t wait to get a reliable backup solution, a major loss of company data is enough to drive many small businesses bankrupt.
Test your Backup
If you’ve already got a backup system in place, be sure to test it regularly and make sure all of the proper data is being backed up. Data can get corrupted, and backup systems aren’t immune to this. If your backup isn’t complete and free of errors, what good will it do you?
Store Backed Up Data Offsite
Your backup solution won’t do you any good if all of your data is sitting in your server room during a flood. Take your complete backup snapshot offsite. The best (and most fool-proof) way to do this is to encrypt the data and send them to a secure data center. Don’t hassle with removable storage like thumb drives, external hard drives, and tape that can easily get lost, stolen, or damaged. Data storage is pretty affordable these days and if your entire IT infrastructure gets destroyed you can retrieve all of your data and get back up and running with at least rudimentary resources.
Consider Phone Flexibility
Some phone service providers will offer the ability to switch and forward the company numbers over to another location pretty quickly so contact between you and your customers goes uninterrupted. Other options, such as VoIP solutions, can allow staff to work from anywhere and use the company phone system through any standard internet connection or internet connected PC or laptop. Of course, this requires that your phone system is up and running, but the added benefits of mobility and flexibility can do a lot for a small business during normal operations as well.
Test UPS Batteries
You’ll want to ensure that your mission critical devices can shut down properly in the event of power outages. Don’t overload a UPS with more than it should be able to handle either. Servers, backup devices, and other mission critical equipment should have its own UPS. Workstations and lesser devices can be ignored unless you have it in your budget.
Document Software Keys
In the event a system needs to be rebuilt or restored, you’ll need your product and license keys for all of the software used. This includes operating systems, applications, and any other registration key of any type. This data should be well documented, extremely clear, and a part of your company data that gets backed up and archived offsite.
Same as above, track hardware and software warranties for all devices. Printers, workstations, servers, monitors, UPS systems, phones, and any other electronic device typically has some sort of warranty. Keep these up to date, especially for the more valuable, expensive devices. Sometimes, standard warranties will cover certain types of damage.
Educate and Alert
Your staff needs to know what to do in the event of a disaster, especially a major one. Review the plan with employees, and also consider how you will reach out to the public and/or your clients in the event of a major emergency. Create a list of tasks such as updating the website, kicking out messages on Facebook and Twitter, mass emailing, and other methods to let clients know that there may be a delay in service. One thing is for certain though – taking all of the above precautions will get your business back on its feet quickly at least with rudimentary capabilities. If your employees can continue to perform in the wake of a major disaster clients will notice and be impressed.
Looking to ensure that these tasks can get checked off for your company? Contact PACE Technical Services at 905.763.7896 to talk about data backup services, phone systems, offsite backup, IT security, and other safeguards to ensure your business stays up and running with minimal downtime.