Unless your business has a safe room, as described by FEMA, you may want to take some extra precautions for your computer and valuables when preparing for a Hurricane. Most importantly, protection for humans and pets should always take priority over computer equipment and software when preparing for a storm. Once personal safety is ensured before the storm is arrives, efforts should be made to protect computer equipment and software information.
Here are some guidelines that we believe you will find useful:
1. Back up your data and keep the copy in a safe place. Follow the 321 Rule!
2. Shut down your computer and turn off your monitor. You should also turn off any peripherals, such as printers and external drives.
3. Unplug the power cords from all devices as you may experience power fluctuations during the storm. Unplugging everything from the wall will help insure the devices will be protected. As a major storm begins to pummel the area, power fluctuations can have extremely serious consequences for any equipment left plugged in or turned on. Even if there is grounding protection in place, it is still a good protective measure to take.
4. Unplug the network cable going to your router and computer, as well as your printer for networked printers. Lightning can send voltage through these lines, damaging the network cards. Even if there is grounding protection in place, it is still a good protective measure to take.
5. Cover your computer with a garbage bag in case water comes in*.
*NOTE: Be sure to unplug the power from the devices before doing so. This will insure that the computer does not overheat when power is restored.
The major cause of damage to computer hardware and software will be from water. Broken doors and windows would bring rain and debris. Select a protected location and try to determine what would occur if a window broke. By moving computer equipment (i.e. monitors, CPUs, printers, keyboards) to protected locations and wrapping them with plastic, the chances of damage will be greatly reduced. Double wrap equipment in plastic garbage bags to reduce rain/water damage. Keep in mind that a collapsing ceiling or roof can damage your equipment so place equipment under a sturdy desk or piece of furniture that could possibly withstand the effects of falling debris. If equipment is to be located directly on the floor, take into consideration the possible effects of flooding. Placing equipment on or in water resistant objects such as totes or garbage cans may be helpful.
7. Collect your manuals and original disks. After Hurricane Andrew, there were stories of software vendors who were reluctant or refused to replace software without the original disk, manuals, or some other form of ownership being presented.
After the Storm:
1. Use social media to alert family and friends that you are safe and secure.
2. Watch out for debris and downed power lines.
3. Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of fast-moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
4. Avoid flood water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines and may hide dangerous debris or places where the ground is washed away.
5. Remove any covering you placed over your devices.
6. Do not plug in any equipment that may be water damaged.
7. Caution should also be used when running a computer on power supplied by a generator as these power source can produce power spikes, voltage drops, and surges.
8. Plug in the network cables, power cords, and cables to all peripheral devices.
9. Turn on the equipment starting with the router, then peripheral devices, and followed by the computer and monitor.
Plan for the worst, and hope for the best! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of bitcoins. A little foresight can help to make the difference between having usable equipment or a pile of water-soaked junk.
We at Advanced Systems Solutions know the power of a good plan, so contact us if you need any assistance or have any questions. We love to help!
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Disclaimer: The above information is not intended as technical advice. Additional facts or future developments may affect subjects contained herein. Seek the advice of an IT Professional before acting or relying on any information in this communiqué.