Tropical Storm Isaac is quickly approaching South Florida, and seems like it will be at hurricane strength when it arrives early next week. There’s no more important time to be aware of the best practices to avoid equipment damage, excessive down time, or data loss related to hurricanes.
The importance of having an up-to-date, full backup of data cannot be overstated. This is particularly important during a time when power can unexpectedly go out. Make sure all computers, servers, and drives are being backed up regularly. During hurricane season, it becomes even more important to also keep an offsite backup. Once a week or so, back up all data to a separate drive that gets taken home or to another location in case of property damage (or theft, or fire).
To avoid damage to sensitive electronics, it is important to plan for down time. For server racks, and systems with many components, a shut-down process should be in place; the order in which servers and switches and routers get powered down is very important. For home users and businesses with easier to manage setups, simply power down each Mac workstation, and if present, power down shared storage servers (NAS devices).
In addition to proper shutdown procedure, it’s important to make sure computers, modems/routers, and servers are plugged into Uninterruptible Power Supplies, which are surge protectors or power-strips integrated to a large batteries. When power to the building is interuppted, devices plugged into a UPS stay running. Most brands of UPS include a cable to connect to a Mac that help the Mac automatically quit programs and shut down properly if a power outage lasts longer than the battery of the UPS. This keeps a computer’s sensitive components like hard drives and video cards from being damaged by sudden power loss.
As Hurricane Isaac approaches, it’s a good time to evaluate how well your emergency plans include electronics. Make sure your hardware is protected by a UPS and properly configured software, and make sure your data is protected with regular backups, ideally in two or three separate physical locations.