As Summit’s thoughts go out to the people of Houston dealing with destruction caused by tropical storm Harvey, we thought now would be a good time to remind our readers about some best practices for preparing your IT infrastructure for a natural disaster. Regardless of whether you are protecting your infrastructure from floods, storm damage, fires or earthquakes, these tips will help you mitigate risks.

Have a plan and communicate it to staff: A clearly communicated written plan and policies for staff will help to minimize the chaos if disaster strikes. Use your planning time to identify the possible disasters that could affect your area as well as the most critical business services and operations that need to be protected. Conduct periodic drills to test your plan and verify that employees understand and can carry out their responsibilities.

Keep backups off site: If your backup data isn’t off site, it’s not really backed up. Ensure that your critical data is stored somewhere away from the originals – either in a separate data center or cloud storage – in case your on-site copies are destroyed.

Install a backup generator for the server room: Invest in a commercial generator that will automatically kick on if your server room loses power.

Keep spare critical equipment on hand: Disasters can damage crucial equipment and disrupt transportation lines, making it difficult to get spare parts quickly. It may not be financially feasible to have a spare everything. Again, identify which operations are critical so you can make a choice as to which equipment you should back up. Like your backup data, keep your spare equipment in a safe, separate space from your main infrastructure.

Implement a redundant internet connection: If your internet provider went down, how much of your business could effectively continue? A redundant connection with a second internet service provider has become good practice, particularly as more businesses rely on cloud-based software as a service. It’s possible to set up your systems to automatically failover to the second connection if the first goes down. Plus, when both connections are functioning, you can use the second for extra bandwidth as needed.

Natural disasters may be beyond your control, but planning for them is not. By communicating and practicing your plan, maintaining proper backups and spare equipment, and investing in a generator and second internet connection, you’ll mitigate the risk of severe damage to your business operations.

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