IT Hurricane Preparedness Guide:

2020 brought us a pandemic, the most active hurricane season on record, and even a snow-pocalypse! It was a wild, dramatic year, but it taught us a great deal about Disaster Recovery and Preparedness. Ahead of 2021’s hurricane season we want to send this reminder to you about how you can best prepare for hurricane season.

Protecting Your IT Equipment

  • Determine what you and your employees are taking with you (computers, laptops, etc).
  • Whatever is not being taken, ensure that it is above flood height.
  • Take note of anything you unplug (servers, computers, laptops, UPS, Surge Protectors, etc.). This will help during recovery.
  • Take extra care to secure windows with plywood near IT systems that you can’t relocate, such as servers, networking devices and large printers.
    • Many network devices (servers, firewalls, switches, etc.) are designed to automatically power back on after an electrical outage.
    • If they power on while water is present, this can cause a damaging electrical short.
    • During preparation, manually power these systems down or disable their restart feature.
  • Ensure heavy, rack-mounted IT hardware is anchored in place in case high winds enter the building.
  • Bring insurance information with you and make sure you have a camera or a charged smartphone camera to document potential damages during cleanup.
    • For insurance purposes it is helpful to take photos of your IT assets during the preparation stage.
  • Make a list of your business-critical software and make sure you have contact information for your account representative at that software company.
    • Same goes for your business-critical service providers like internet, phone, etc.

Protect Your Electronic Files

  • Offsite backups are essential for disaster preparedness.
    • Backing up files to a storage device within your organization is a good precaution against computer failure, but it does nothing if the building is damaged by a hurricane.
    • Many offsite backup services are available that can securely store your business’s data, offering various levels of industry-specific regulatory compliance.
  • If a backup subscription plan is not within your business’s budget, you can utilize a “make-do”’ solution.
    • For example, you could collect backup drives from your business each week and swap them with a second set, which you keep in a bank safety deposit box.
  • Anything that keeps copies of your business’s data at a different location increases the chances of recovering your electronic files after a hurricane.
  • You also want to maintain hard copies of mission-critical business information such as personnel, financial and legal documents, so they’re available during cleanup while your IT infrastructure might still be offline.

Have a Reliable Communication Plan

  • Make a communication plan and include each employee’s evacuation location.  
  • Confirm that everyone knows their point of contact.
  • Don’t rely on a landline phone for communication following a hurricane, not even newer Voice over IP (VoIP) phones.
    • VoIP lines are more likely to be underground than older analog lines, but unlike analog sets, they require electrical power.
  • Use a cellphone, walkie-talkie or a battery-powered UHF radio, but remember to charge them before the hurricane even makes landfall.
    • Whenever possible, limit cellphone calls during a hurricane to emergencies only.
    • Cellular network traffic spikes during disaster situations, which can prevent calls from going through.
    • For non-emergency issues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recommends text messages, which are less taxing on cellular networks than voice.

Many special factors must be considered when preparing your business’s IT infrastructure for a hurricane, but the guiding principle remains the same: Hope for the best; plan for the worst. Follow that philosophy, and your business will recover as quickly as possible. If you have any questions about your business’ Hurricane Preparedness Plan, please give us a call. We would be happy to discuss it with you and /or to practice putting your plan into action. 504-372-1372