KT Connections Blog

Are South Dakota Businesses Ready for Extreme Weather?

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As spring changes into summer, states in "Tornado Alley," including South Dakota, can face extreme weather. As severe weather presents risks to your business, you must ensure that your data is protected. Here are some methods to do just that.

For States in “Tornado Alley,” Summer Brings Increased Risk

For those of you outside of our area, “Tornado Alley” is a nickname given to the central states most affected by tornadoes during the late spring and early summer. As one of these states, South Dakota faces an increased risk of thunderstorms and tornadoes during this time which can wreak havoc on the technology your business depends upon. Weather has been increasingly severe lately, so even businesses that have lucked out over the last decade or so should definitely not rely on a dice roll.

As the season approaches, now is the time to prepare your business for the worst effects of extreme weather, and just as you weatherize your home, you must weatherize your data. Here are some best practices to do so.

Is Your Data Backed Up?

Would you leave your home uninsured if you lived in a location prone to extreme weather? Definitely not. Moreover, if you knew there was a strong possibility that your home could be affected by a thunderstorm or a tornado, wouldn’t you do everything you could to protect it before the storm struck? Your business is no different, and your data is just as valuable an investment as your home. Yet, due to a lack of a backup, too many South Dakota businesses leave their organizations at risk.

Best Practices to Protect Your Business Data

Give your equipment time to save your data and safely shut down.

A UPS device (Uninterruptible Power Supply), performs double-duty to protect your technology. First off, it provides your electronics with protection against the power surges which often accompany extreme weather events by acting as a buffer between a power spike and your electronics. One thing to consider is that a UPS is not the same thing as a power strip, the main difference being, most power strips add additional sockets to use but aren’t robust enough to protect against a power surge. For that, you’ll need a surge protector, ideally a dedicated UPS device.

The second function a UPS device offers is that it provides emergency power to your business should you have a power outage. While not as dangerous as a power surge, the sudden loss of power brings challenges to your organization as well. Physical devices (such as hard drives) can be damaged due to a sudden loss of power, which can cause data loss. Moreover, the ability to control a shutdown reduces the loss of data.

These devices are relatively inexpensive in the grand scheme of things, and each server or critical piece of network infrastructure should be attached to one. Good UPS systems have software monitors that will report when the rechargeable batteries need to be replaced, and they will guide the server through a safe shutdown in the event of a power failure.

Your Data Backup Needs to be Iron-clad

Cybersecurity has been one of our key focuses for some time now. Unfortunately, many businesses still haven’t taken to heart the importance of taking backup seriously, let alone cybersecurity. However, for businesses that have placed the importance of making backups top of mind, your backup does more than protect against a cyberattack. 

Particularly if you’re a South Dakota business owner, you have as much to fear from extreme weather as you do from a cybercriminal. Your backup is your “break glass in case of emergency” option if your data is unavailable regardless of the cause and needs to be maintained. In other words, your backup is insurance for your business' future.

Of course, if your business were to suffer from a flood, fire, or another type of infrastructural disaster, hosting your only backup within your office walls isn’t going to guarantee your organization’s survival. Modern backup solutions securely store a copy of your data in the cloud. That being said, if your backup is supposed to be doing that, it’s critical to test it and make sure it’s doing what you expect.

Develop a Business Continuity Plan

Your backup shouldn't be treated as the business continuity plan because your backup is only a small, albeit critical, piece of the puzzle. The purpose of your business continuity plan is to ensure that your business can remain up and running after a disaster. While many organizations may only think of a catastrophe as losing data due to ransomware or a fire or flood, business continuity is designed for much more than that. 

For example, the loss of an essential team member or even a vendor can and should be considered a disaster to your business' long-term survival. The goal of a business continuity plan is to allow your business to continue regardless of whatever internal or external factors may present themselves.

Elements of your business continuity plan should include:

  • Chain of command: In times of crisis, a hierarchy of authority will allow decisions to be made if the senior management isn't available.
  • Communication Plan: Effective communication can be the difference between your customers supporting your rebuilding efforts or taking their business elsewhere because they don't know your plans.
  • Backup/Restoration Priority: While it's great you have all your data backed up, the reality is that a lot of it isn't essential. By taking the time to prioritize your critical assets, you can get up and running faster than by trying to restore everything.

Don’t Get Lost in the Storm

Summer is here, and with it comes extreme weather. However, your business doesn’t have to get trapped in its path. If you invest the resources to protect your business, you will have the tools to weather the storm and still stand on the other side. If you’re not sure how to “weatherize” your data, we can help. Call 888-891-4201 today to learn how managed IT can give your business the security it needs to see a bright future.

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