January 1st

Haruspex & FLBSS are becoming one! 

Our name is changing and we will now operate as Florida Business Software—But you can still rely on the same personal working relationships that you have had in the past.

Hurricane Preparations Tips 2015

Hurricane Preparedness

Summer has arrived with its heat and thunderstorms. And, as always, it’s a time to remember that Hurricane Season is already underway. The general predictions this year are for up to 11 named storms, 3 – 6 of them being moderate hurricanes and 2 of those being major hurricanes.

As with every hurricane season, regardless of the forecast, knowing the essentials of how to prepare can truly be a life saver. With that in mind, we’ve included some basic tips to remember.

Protecting Business Data
As with any other valuable asset, it is important to take steps to protect computers, devices and business data from a severe weather event like a hurricane.  While protecting the hardware devices is important due to their expensive nature, protecting your business data is generally more important because it harder to restore if lost.

The most important step for data is one you already know, but probably fail to practice:

Make frequent backup copies and test that the backup is good.  This is essential during any season.  It doesn't take a major hurricane to damage data.  Buildings can experience fires, plumbing failures and other kinds of "environmental" damage at any time.  Catastrophic technical failures, like a hard disk crash, can also happen at any time.  Be sure to test your backups frequently to make sure you have good usable copies of your data.  
 

Store your backups in a secure location -- secure against both weather threats and those from human intruders.  For your business data, network files -- personal Home Directories and department Shared File Directories -- are strongly recommended.  Storage can be in a secure data center or you can use one of the many options for removable storage, external hard drives or cloud-based options.  Files should be backed-up regularly and the backup copies should be routinely taken off site.
 

Protecting devices
 

Standard hurricane preparation steps for computer / hardware devices are the same as for any valuable physical asset.  They include:
 

Turn off all power to all equipment. It is critical to unplug all devices that carry electricity. Turn off battery backup units and disconnect power cords to the wall. Unplug all power cords from the wall to all devices (CPU's, monitors, terminals, modems, fax/modems, etc.).  Unplug the network cable from the back of the PC.
 

Move devices away from windows and other vulnerable areas.  Ideally, use a closet or windowless room away from external walls.  If that is not possible, use the corner of the room farthest from windows, out of the path of wind drafts 

Locate devices under a sturdy desk or piece of furniture that could withstand the effects of falling debris (such as from a collapsing ceiling).   Be sure to raise devices off of the floor due to risks from flooding, unless they are in secure waterproof containers.
 

Wrap devices in heavy-gauge plastic bags to reduce rain/water damage.   Waterproof plastic barriers are a good idea for any valuable asset, particularly ones that are likely to be intolerant of water exposure.
 

After the storm


Be cautious about using devices, even if power is available and your devices are entirely undamaged.  Emergency power derived from generators are subject to voltage fluctuations.  Power fluctuations are also more likely as the electrical grid is restored.   Only a sufficiently-rated surge protector with battery backup can safely ride through these.
 

Do not plug in devices that have been exposed to water or other contaminants.  Sometimes it is possible to clean and dry a device, but it is generally a job for an expert.  You are very likely to increase the damage if you attempt to use electronics before cleaning/drying them.
 

Remember that your safety comes first.  In your eagerness to get your devices and data back on line, don't risk your personal safety or that of others.  An obvious recommendation, but one that is sometimes forgotten.
Additional resources:
http://www.ready.gov/business
http://www.floridadisaster.org/EMTOOLS/Severe/hurricanes.htm