Protect your Data and your Business during Hurricane Irma

As many of you are aware, we have Hurricane Irma approaching South Florida, with an estimated arrival of early Friday evening:

NOAA – Hurricane Irma

With the possibility of getting hit by a severe storm, there are some critical tasks which can be done to protect your business data and equipment. Please read the following instructions and take action before the storm arrives. Our team will be standing by to provide specific advice and guidance, but physically protecting your equipment is the responsibility of your office staff.

Proactive steps for protecting your business data:

  • If you have an automatic offsite backup with Complete Care:
    • We’ve got you covered! CCIT is double-checking all local and offsite backups prior to the storm.
  • If you have an onsite-only backup, such as an external hard drive:
    • Please verify that the backup has completed for the day before ejecting and unplugging the drive and taking it to a safe location.
  • If you’re not sure about your backup arrangements, please contact us and we’ll help you assess your situation.

Proactive steps for protecting computer equipment before the storm:

  • Shut down and unplug all computers, monitors, servers, printers, phones, network equipment,  and any other IT equipment from power.
    • Please make a list of everything you unplug, we will be busy after the storm and can’t be everywhere right away to troubleshoot.
  • All equipment should be raised at least 2-3 feet above floor level in case of flooding.
  • All equipment should be moved well away from external windows, doors, etc. where water can be blown inside by wind.
  • All exposed equipment should be covered by plastic garbage bags or waterproof tarps in case of roof leaks or broken windows on upper floors.

Please also take a moment to review the FPL Hurricane Preparedness Guide with your staff:
https://www.fpl.com/storm/home/prepare.html
https://www.fpl.com/storm/business/tips.html

After the storm:

  • Once you return to the office, assess the electrical situation.
    • If power is intermittent, flickering, or not reliable after the storm, do not plug equipment back in. The surges and spikes in the electrical system can damage equipment and destroy your data even after the storm has passed. Wait until conditions stabilize.
    • Contact FPL, they can usually give you an estimate of how long until normal power is restored in your zip code.
  • If any equipment came in contact with water, do not turn it on.
    • Contact CCIT to assess how to proceed.
  • If your internet or phone service is out, contact us.
    • We will be working with the various service providers to monitor outages until they are resolved.
  • If you need help, call us.
    • CCIT’s standard Help Desk will be operating during normal business hours, as long as our main or backup sites have power and internet.
    • If you are subscribed to our 24 / 7 / 365 Help Desk, we will be operating 100% as normal.
    • Our onsite technicians will not be available under Tropical Storm Watch/Warning or Hurricane Watch/Warning conditions. We will assess conditions once all warnings clear and resume onsite visits when safe travel is possible.
    • After the storm, we will be responding onsite based on the severity of your outage. Please be patient while we respond to emergencies caused by the storm.

Please be safe and careful during and after the hurricane. If you have any questions, please contact us at 954-908-3999 or info@completecareit.com and we’ll address them all.

BCP tactics to keep your business running

It’s a fact of life. Events out of your control can disrupt your business operations. While you can’t necessarily control the unexpected, you can take some precautions to prevent most business disruptions. Here are some key business continuity strategies that organizations across the globe rely on to keep their doors open.

Backup your data, applications and servers

Today, companies are more dependent than ever on IT and their business data. If these critical components suddenly become inaccessible, can your business stay open? For most business owners, the simple answer is no. This is why backing up these elements is vital to your business’s success. Backing them up ensures they can be restored quickly in the event of a disaster, security breach, or damage to IT equipment.

Obviously, to ensure the accessibility of your IT, you need to backup all your data, applications and servers regularly. The keyword here being “regularly”. While in the past most businesses would do this on-site and with tape backups, today more and more businesses are using the cloud. Some of the prime reasons for backing up to the cloud are as follows:

  • Affordability
  • Backups can be automated, therefore saving you time
  • Cloud providers usually backup your data to multiple locations (so if one of their facilities goes down, your backup is still safe at another site)
  • Backups can be accessed from anywhere, whether it’s at an employee’s home or at an alternate office
  • If you need to use it, backups can be restored quickly

Virtualize servers and desktops

When you virtualize your servers or desktops, they can be used at any location – be it at your workplace, home, or a coffee shop in the Bahamas. In terms of business continuity, this is useful in case your main office suddenly becomes unusable due to a disaster such as a flood, a break-in, or if you’re simply unable to get there because of hostile weather conditions.

Have a backup power supply

Power outages essentially zap all your employees productivity. No electricity means no work. And that means you’re paying them to do nothing. Having a backup power supply like a generator will ensure that when the electricity goes down, your employees can continue working. A good solution is an uninterrupted power supply (UPS). When you have this, a power outage will not affect your employees ability to work. They can work seamlessly through it, as if nothing ever happened. Also, if you have a server room, the UPS will ensure your vital servers stay cool.

Utilize social media

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Google +, most people are on at least one social network these days. And if there is any kind of weather-related disaster, social media is usually one of the first places customers, colleagues, staff and vendors will check to see the status of your business. This is because even if the phone lines or local power goes out, social media is usually accessible. So when it comes to business continuity, have at least one active social media account you use to keep your customers and followers informed.

Implement Unified Communications

Unified Communication (UC) can essentially create a virtualized communication infrastructure. That means instead of your communication tools – like phones, instant messaging, video calls – all being stored locally at your workplace, you can access them anywhere. So for whatever reason if your office is inaccessible, employees can still use your phones and other communication tools from their homes. What’s more, UC tools can route business calls to your employees smartphones. That means they’ll never miss an important call, even if they’re not in the office.

So there you have it, five tools to ensure your business operates continuously no matter what comes your way. If you’d like to implement business continuity technology in your business or develop a continuity plan, we’re happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Can Your Business Survive A Disaster?

Disasters. They do happen — it’s only a matter of ‘when’. While most businesses acknowledge it, surveys show that only one in four companies worldwide have adequate protection in the event of a major disruption. We’re not talking about insurance here, but a Disaster Recovery (DR) plan that could save you thousands of dollars in losses and worse, a business closure. If you haven’t heard much about what DR is, this post will help you gain some insight about what it is and how it can affect the future of your business.

As we all know, unpredictability is a fact of life. The aftermath of Tropical Storm Bill in Texas and recent floods in South Carolina are a grim and unfortunate lesson for many overconfident business owners who think their companies are spared from the likelihood of cataclysmic weather, technological malfunctions, or human actions. A 2014 survey by the IT Disaster Recovery Preparedness (DRP) Council reveals just how many companies worldwide are at risk: 73 percent of SMBs are failing in terms of disaster readiness. What does this mean? It means that 3 out of 4 companies aren’t prepared to handle emergencies and save their businesses from a worse-case scenario.

If it’s not clear and compelling enough for a business owner like yourself to consider putting a well-conceived Disaster Recovery (DR) plan into place, perhaps it’s time to give it some thought. Doing so can save you years of business loss. Here is some useful information about what DR is all about and how it can ensure your business’s survival in the wake of unforeseen circumstances.

What is Disaster Recovery (DR)?

Disaster recovery is a plan for restoring and accessing your data in the event of a disaster that destroys part or all of a business’s resources. It is a key component involving many aspects of business operations that requires this information to function. The job of a DR plan is to ensure that whatever happens, your vital data can be recovered and mission-critical applications will be brought back online in the shortest possible time.

What kind of disasters are likely to happen?

Business disasters can either be natural, technological, or man-made. Natural types of disasters include floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, landslides, tsunamis, and even a pest infestation. On the other hand, technological and man-made disasters involve hazardous material spills, infrastructural or power failure, nuclear power plant meltdown or blast, chemical threat and biological weapons, cyber attacks, explosions, or acts of terrorism and civil unrest.

Why does your business need DR?

Regardless of industry or size, when an unforeseen event takes place and causes day-to-day operations to come to a halt, a company will need to recover as quickly as possible to ensure you will continue providing services to clients and customers. Downtime is one of the biggest IT expenses that any business can face. Based on 2015 disaster recovery statistics, downtime that lasts for one hour can cost small companies as much as $8,000, mid-size organizations $74,000, and $700,000 for large enterprises.

For SMBs particularly, any extended loss of productivity can lead to reduced cash flow through late invoicing, lost orders, increased labor costs as staff work extra hours to recover from the downtime, missed delivery dates, and so on. If major business disruptions are not anticipated and addressed today, it’s very possible that these negative consequences resulting from an unexpected disaster can have long-term implications that affect a company for years. By having a Disaster Recovery plan in place, a company can save itself from multiple risks including out of budget expenses, reputation loss, data loss, and the negative impact on clients and customers.

How do I create a DR strategy for my business?

Creating, implementing and maintaining a total business recovery plan is time-consuming but extremely important to ensure your business’s survival. Many organizations don’t have the time or resources to dedicate to this process. If you would like to protect your company from unexpected disasters but need further guidance and information on how to get started, give us a call and our experts will be happy to discuss Disaster Recovery options and solutions with you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Keep the lights on and your business running

There is nothing worse than having a productive day at the office become undone due to a power outage. Losing power for even a single minute can have far reaching effects on your company’s operations as you need to make sure everything is running properly and all data is accounted for. While power outages can be a nuisance, with proper preparation you’ll have no trouble in persevering when the lights go off.

Power outages are one of the only disasters that can strike just about anywhere in the United States. If you are in Seattle chances are tropical storms are not going to be an issue and if you’re in Miami you aren’t going to fret over a blizzard, but losing power can occur anywhere, at any time and without warning.

A Department of Energy report noted that power outages cost American businesses nearly $150 billion in 2014 and added that increasing demand for energy coupled with an aging infrastructure could see the number of blackouts increase. While weather-related events are the most common cause of power outages in the U.S., it is far from the only thing that can disrupt energy service.

Since this is a problem that will continue to plague businesses, especially those ones that are unprepared, it’s important to be ready should a blackout strike. Here are a few things you should consider when it comes to power outages.

Power outages hurt in more ways than you think

The most notable issue a business faces when a power outage occurs is an inability to work. Employees often times sit around unable to do anything until the power is turned back on. Once the power does return, additional time is needed to safely turn everything back on and to check if all your files are still there.

There are also numerous indirect consequences that your business may face either during or after a power outage. These include a loss of revenue from potential sales, a decrease in customer satisfaction and a drop in your company’s reputation. The more your company is prepared for a power outage, the better continuity you will see and the less damage will be done. While it may be impossible to completely avoid issues caused by blackouts, you can minimize their impact.

Be ready in case of an outage

One of the biggest sources of frustration for employees during a blackout is losing files they had been working on. Autosave features do help prevent this but sometimes you’ll still lose that one important note or sentence you didn’t have the chance to save. Uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) are one way to buy your employees a little extra time should the power go out. You’re able to plug your computer into these devices and they will operate as a battery when the power goes out. The life of these power stations is anywhere from ten minutes to an hour for some models which should give you enough time to save your work and properly shutdown your computer.

If you want to stay in business during a power outage, a standby commercial generator can help. These normally run on propane or natural gas and immediately switch on as soon as your main power supply goes out. If you aren’t concerned about the lights but want to keep your employees productive, equipping them 4G enabled devices with Office 365 or Google Apps will let them continue to work on files that have been saved and stored on the cloud.

Always test your outage plans

Regardless of what your company’s plans are during a power outage, you will need to test them on a regular basis to ensure everything runs smoothly when the real thing does happen. If you utilize a UPS or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly. If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.

They key to business continuity is preparation. Let our team of experts help prepare your business for anything thrown its way in 2016 and beyond.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Interruption insurance for businesses

Natural disasters have increased exponentially in the last few years – something that has resulted in a number of small and medium-sized business owners turning to business interruption insurance for protection. Covering many scenarios that regular business insurance simply ignores, adequate protection can be the make-or-break factor when it comes to surviving a natural or manmade catastrophe.

So why do small and medium-sized organizations tend to forego business interruption insurance policies? Chances are it, like so many things, comes down to cost. But can you really afford to ignore the additional protection that interruption insurance offers, or is it safe to cut corners and hope that your regular business insurance will have you covered in the event of a disaster?

While an interruption insurance policy may cost you anywhere from $750 to $10,000 or more (the cost is normally dependent on the size of your business), the fact is that your standard insurance policy will not cover you completely when a catastrophe strikes.

Take for example the spate of superstorms that have ravaged the United States over the past decade. From Hurricane Katrina to the more recent Sandy, small businesses and enterprises throughout the US have been left devastated after feeling the wrath of Mother Nature. While a best-case scenario may entail losing a few days sales during a power outage, at the other end of the scale you could find yourself dealing with a destroyed warehouse, an office that no longer has a roof, or thousands of dollars worth of stock destroyed by flooding.

And the reality is that your regular insurance is probably not going to reimburse you for storage or relocation costs if you need to move operations elsewhere, temporarily or otherwise. The majority of policies will only cover the loss of, or damage to, physical items like stock, equipment and property. They will usually not cover you for any loss in profit if a disaster means that you need to temporarily cease trading. On the other hand, tightly drawn up business interruption insurance should cover you in the event you need to move. It should also cover a decrease in sales due to power failures that shut your communication lines down, as well as a drop in profits due to delays in the delivery of stock or equipment.

Think the chances of a natural disaster affecting you are still slim despite the scenes of chaos and devastation reported in the media? Consider that a recent survey conducted by insurance giant Allianz found that there are now typically 600 major incidents per year – compare that to the previous 400 per annum and it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out that disasters are on the rise.

So, as a small or medium-sized business owner, what do you need to know before you consider purchasing interruption insurance? If you’re thinking of adding interruption coverage to your existing policy, first record your current net income – but watch out because, if your net profit is high, you might be hit by a low per-incident limit. You could find your insurer has limited your coverage and left you inadequately protected.

Is business booming? If you are undergoing rapid growth, keep records spanning many months so you have proof of revenue increase. Without this, you will not be able to forecast month-on-month profit growth and your insurer might cap coverage at the rate of the previous year’s profit, not at your accelerated one. Be aware, too, that the type of interruptions you want protection for should reflect the areas covered in your general business policy. If your existing policy doesn’t include coverage for fire damage, neither will your interruption insurance.

There are many other aspects of an interruption policy to take into account – such as add-ons that protect you in the event of a power outage (something that standard policies normally don’t normally cover), and knock-on effects caused by a disaster at your supplier’s end.

Once you have taken out interruption insurance, should you have to use it then the most important aspect for you will be getting reimbursed. Crucially, you need to be able to provide your insurer with as many details concerning profit loss as possible. Consider storing files electronically, either offsite or in the cloud. That way, if your office or store is destroyed, you’ll still have access to your documents – and a far greater chance of recovering your losses.

If you’d like to learn more about protecting your data, files and documents, as well as about business continuity planning to help you get back up and running should disaster strike, please get in touch with our team today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.