Saturday, May 7, 2011

When Disaster Strikes

I am writing this column a day after the horrific storms that devastated lives and homes and businesses all across north Alabama. Anyone who uses Comcast is without internet today due to severed internet “backbone” cables in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville that serve the Shoals area. My phones are also on Comcast so that’s out, too. Some businesses weren’t so lucky.

30 of 31 businesses in Hackleburg were blown away. Many hundreds of businesses all across North Alabama were affected similarly. Think about all the invoices and customer information stored on those business’s computers. Think of those quotes, purchase orders and financial information. It’s all gone. If this were to happen to your business, could your business survive? In my experience, most businesses are conscientious about making daily backups of their critical company data. But, if they are like most people, they throw the backup tape or DVD or flash drive into a desk drawer. Unfortunately, the contents of that desk drawer is now located in the mountains of Tennessee somewhere. If your business survived the storm, take this as a warning: Next time, Mother Nature may not be so kind. You must, starting today, take precautions to ensure that your business survives the storms. You must implement a disaster recovery plan.

Your first concern is off-site data backup of critical company data. There are a few ways to do this. will back up your data to their computers located “out there” on the internet. My company offers off-site backups for customers with larger needs. You can store data on a flash drive of burn it to a DVD but you must take those backups home with you from time to time. Not knowing how is no excuse because you have me. Call me and I’ll tell you what you need to do to protect yourself.

Now, what about your phone service? Our phones were out the day after the storm. Fortunately, we planned ahead and were able to forward all calls to my Google Voice number which, in turn, forwarded all incoming calls to my employee’s cell phones. Google Voice is a free service.
Even though I had no internet access, I have an app on my smart phone that allows me to tether it to a laptop or desktop computer for internet access. It’s not quite as fast as my regular internet but it certainly let me conduct business on the fateful day.

Lastly, if you or someone you know has a computer that was damaged in this disaster, give them my name if they need help or advice. We are offering all sorts of free help to those affected by this disaster. You will all be in my thoughts.

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