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Tech Savvy: Be Prepared

 

In the last few months, several of my business customers have endured heart-stopping moments when they arrived at their office. Imagine walking in to your business and discovering that your server or your main computer is dead or stolen or malfunctioning so severely that it is not useable.

 

How will you serve your customers? Will your employees still be able to function

properly in their roles?

 

Like it or not, this scenario will happen to EVERYONE. All computers and eventually die, or malfunction. The question is “Are you prepared for this event?” “Will your business be able to survive for a week without your primary server or data?”

 

If your answer is “It won’t be fun, be we can survive” then perhaps you are OK with your current computer system setup. If your answer is “My business will be severely impacted/stopped if our internet/server/data drive goes down” then you need to assess your current computing environment for ways to make your systems more resilient.

 

Computers and computer networks are complex things. There are many “moving parts” and often if even one of those parts fails, the whole system can come crashing down. The good news is that will a little analysis and planning NOW (before things go bad) you can put some safeguards in place for when the bad stuff happens.

 

Take data backups for example. Is someone regularly TESTING your backups to make sure they are valid and accurate? You cannot rely on your backup software’s report that everything is OK. You should verify that your data has actually been backed up properly. The best way to do this is to restore a random sampling of files from your backups every quarter. This will accomplish two things. It will ensure that your IT staff is getting hands on practice restoring data and it will verify that your data is safely backed up. It is 1-2 hours of effort every 3 months. A small price to pay for data assurance.

 

Backups are only 1 small piece of the puzzle. What if your server totally fails? Even with expedited shipping it will take 3-4 days to get a new server on site. Then all of your data has to be restored on to the new server. This process can take a day for large system. After the data has been restored, it is likely that configuration changes will need to be made to get the new server fully handling the old server’s tasks. Guess what? We just spent 5-6 business days getting that new server on line and running. How well was your business functioning during this time? If your business would have been crippled, perhaps you should invest now in a second, smaller fail over server. This is a computer that can serve other useful purposes while the primary server is healthy, but in the event your primary server dies, this backup server can be rapidly re-configured to handle essential business functions for a week or two while the primary server is restored or replaced.

 

What about internet connectivity? Is an internet connection vital to your company? If so you should have multiple connections to the internet using different connection methods. For my local Valdosta customers this typically means 1 DSL connection from AT&T and 1 internet connection from MediaCom Business. One of these connections can be your primary line to the internet. The other should be a low cost backup connection in case your primary fails. You can even get an internet firewall that will automatically sense when one connection is down and begin rerouting your connections over the other line.

 

Every business is different. There is no “One size fits all” answer to properly mitigating IT risks for your company. But you need to seriously consider my advice in this article. Seek the help of your IT professional to investigate your current computing environment and ask him or her to help your make sure your backside is properly covered.

 

Of course, you can always call us at NijemTech (229) 269-4151. We would be glad to provide a free assessment of your current set up and make sure you are properly configured to handle the inevitable failure that awaits your computers and networks.