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“Winterizing” Your Technology & Data Backups

MTS is ready to assist with "winterizing" your technology.

Cold Weather Impacts more than pipes

Although every season presents potential challenges for information technology when unchecked, winter offers the most risk. Frozen pipes that burst can do more than structural damage to your facilities; they can also destroy your data. Maintaining your equipment and data backups are essential to being prepared for cold weather events.

Preparations for winter and cold weather should include considering the potential impacts and risks. For example, winter storms often bring down internet connectivity. How will that impact your business, especially if you’re “dark” for several days?

Or, what if your IT primarily resides in the basement? Your network stack (switches, routers, firewalls, servers, etc.) is close to the same pipes prone to bursting under cold conditions. We’ve seen this far too often. While it’s not easily remedied (other than by moving the equipment), ensure these assets are safe.

Asset Inventory

For many, this seems self-explanatory. But you’d be surprised – both big businesses and small often neglect their asset inventories. Not having a list can lead to trouble when determining the root cause of an outage.

Asset inventories aren’t always accessible. If you don’t know it is there, how are you going to inventory it? Part of your inventory plan should be to update the inventory routinely. This will help identify “rogue IT” – or simply put, things you don’t know are there. But it won’t be 100% effective in finding everything. You’ll need special tools to see it all.

This is where a company like us can assist. We have specialized tools that identify everything on your network—known and unknown. Once we know something is there, we use a process of elimination to determine what is “expected” and what is not. Then we will scour your facilities until we find everything.

You can do the same if you have an internal IT team or service provider with access and knowledge about these tools. The means to get the information doesn’t matter as much as the result of the analysis. Knowing what you have is the first step in understanding how to protect it.

Pro Tip: accurate asset inventories will also provide useful context for your data backups

Ideal Environmental Conditions

This goes without saying (or does it) that tech doesn’t like moisture. Or dust, hot, cold, irregular power, power surges, and so much more. In fact, most improperly managed IT exists in less-than-ideal conditions. The most common “do not’s” we find is hot, cold, and moisture. If your tech is located in non-ideal states, the hardware will degrade much faster, and when we recommend replacing it, it can often cause frustration.

The bottom line for environmental conditions is easy when you think about it this way: would you like to live in an attic during the summer when there is no insulation? What about a dark, damp, and cold basement during the winter? Or a garage where there is dust and other particles routinely? If you have anything installed in areas such as the above-mentioned, we recommend re-locating them to a spot where you would be ok day in and day out.

Backup Internet Connections

Even if you keep your tech clean and located in the correct environmental conditions, there is nothing that can be done about down power lines and internet outages. If your business or organization suffers from an internet or power outage for a few days, it is suggested that you implement a backup internet connection.

There are many kinds of internet backups. Some businesses purchase a secondary internet connection through a separate Internet Service Provider (ISP). For example, your primary internet connection is served by Comcast, and your backup internet (usually slower and cheaper for small businesses) is serviced by Verizon Fios or another provider.

Cellular backups are also an option. In rural areas where ISPs are limited, cellular is often the go-to backup for small businesses.

Regardless of the type or provider of a backup internet connection, you’ll also need the correct hardware. The secondary link automatically kicks in and vice versa when the primary connection is restored. This will ensure your network is continuously fed the fastest and move available connection first.

Data Backups

Not all disasters can be prevented. Pipes will always burst, power surges will happen frequently, and no manner of planning will always control the worst from happening. In fact, it’s not about stopping the worst from happening; it’s about reducing the impact of the worst when it does happen.

Insert data backups. If you take nothing else away from reading this, know that this is the most essential point. Back your data up. Keep multiple copies of it. And keep those copies in geographically different places.

Backing up your data will, at a minimum, allow you to recover from a disaster without a complete loss. I won’t go into deep detail on this as it requires an entirely different article.

Happy tech = happy business

Well-maintained technology often provides higher yields in terms of speed, reliability, and recoverability during and after a disaster. Remember: know what you have and where it is located. Maintain your tech in environments in which you would be comfortable and safe. And always backup your data.

If your organization needs assistance with an asset inventory, or, a second set of eyes to make sure your equipment and data is safe, contact us. We’re happy to assist.