1.  Prepare for a Power Outage:

It is highly likely that you will lose power during a storm.  As a result, we strongly recommend that all non-essential equipment be powered down.  All personal computers, printers, copiers, phone systems, scanners, etc. should be powered off and unplugged from the wall outlets.  All your servers are protected by battery backup power (UPS), however, it is likely that you may endure a power outage that will outlast the ability of your battery backup to keep your systems up and running.  This will result in the UPS properly shutting down your servers when battery power runs low.  If you are in an area that is known for power outages or spiking during storms, we also recommend you consider shutting down your servers as well, to ensure maximum safety.  Obviously if you power down your servers, you may lose the ability to send and receive e-mail during this time, so you want to evaluate what the impact of not having e-mail may be.  For those of you who utilize our hosted Exchange services, you will have e-mail protection as all mail will be held for delivery to any server that may drop offline during a storm, either planned or unplanned.  You may rest assured you will not lose any e-mail.  If you utilize a BlackBerry Server you will not receive e-mails until these devices are turned back on.  If you plan to shut down your servers – please send us an e-mail and let us know your plan/approximate time frame for bringing them back up.

2.  Remove Backups Off-Site:

If you are not presently using our automated off-site backup, to ensure that your backups are safely outside of your office, you will want to be certain that you have a complete copy of your most recent backup taken off-site.

3.  Find Out What Your Building Management Office Plans Are:

The loss of power is expected when a storm hits.  Some building management groups turn off power on the complete building before severe weather hits.  If this is their plan, please shut down your equipment in order to avoid abrupt shutdowns.  This includes computers, servers, phone systems, fax machines, copiers, UPS’s, etc.

4.  Remove Equipment from Floor and Move All Equipment Away from Windows:

If your office has a risk of flooding, this can obviously create significant issues with the computer equipment.  Please make sure that all equipment is at least 36” off the ground.  Make sure to move all equipment at least 6 feet away from windows.

5.  Document ALL Emergency & Support Numbers:

It is important to document all emergency and technical support numbers and take them with you off-site.  As an example, your Internet Service Provider and telephone line provider.  If you do not have access to your office, you will need to contact these providers quickly to make other arrangements.  Please make sure you have this documentation on paper since computers may not be accessible.  Emergency contact details for PGP Computers, Inc. are included at the bottom of this document.

6.  Take Pictures of Your Offices and Equipment:

Digital pictures can be stored on multiple pieces of equipment and backed up on your server as well.  These pictures will be very handy if your office were to be affected by severe weather.

7.  Make Arrangements to Use Other Vehicles of Communication:

If your server and/or ISP are not up and running, you should be able to communicate through a different vehicle.  Please remember that cell phone services should remain up, but may be interrupted.  Texting or free e-mail services like Gmail may provide a short term way to communicate should your office lose power for an extended period of time.

8.  Business Continuity Plan (BCP):

You should periodically dust off your Business Continuity Plan (BCP) and see how well it still applies.  If possible, go through a test and make sure all of the required personnel and systems are still available and aware of their roles.  Your BCP should include how to contact fellow employees and clients in case the office is unavailable, where to meet and what you will need to function as a company.  Distribute cellular numbers as well as home numbers to key team members.  Assign an out of area contact to be available to receive information from your employees in case of emergency.

If you don’t have a BCP, you should.  Please feel free to contact us to discuss getting a BCP in place for your company so you will always have that plan that we all hope you will never need.

All of us at PGP Computers hope you will weather a storm without issue and that your family, friends and co-workers will all remain safe and sound.  If you have any questions or concerns about preparing, please feel free to call our office at 763-691-1957 and talk with a member of our team.