The Norman Transcript

June 1, 2014

What’s your computer disaster plan?


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — If your computer broke down today, what would you do? Do you have a contingency plan you can implement in that event? Would you be out of business?

What if your cell phone stopped working? Do you have another way to communicate with the world outside of your cell phone? Do you even know anyone’s phone number, without consulting your phone’s contacts list, to where you could call a friend or loved one using someone else’s phone?

What if the electricity to your home or business failed, your computer broke and your cell phone stopped working, all at the same time? What if these things happened when it was dark outside? Do you know what you would do?

Disaster scenarios and disaster planning should be nothing new to folks here in Oklahoma. Tornados regularly descend from nowhere and blow our crap to kingdom come. Still, I am shocked on a regular basis by people who come to me hoping that I can rescue their un-backed up files that have been lost to some sort of disaster. Sometimes, I can make these people happy. Sometimes, I am the hapless soul who has to inform them that their files are gone forever.

Thankfully, not all computer disasters come in the form of 300-mile wide hurricanes or rip-roaring tornados. More often than not, catastrophic computer losses come as a result of one two things: network outages or hard drive failure. The loss, though, is the same, no matter what the cause.

I place catastrophic computer losses in two categories: the loss or failure of computer equipment, resulting in (A) lost productivity or communication, or (B) permanent lost of valuable, irreplaceable data.

I have put together disaster recovery plans for both businesses and individuals. Of course, businesses and individuals/families will have different reactions and needs relating to computer catastrophes, but many basic principles relate to both camps.

How long can your business or family afford to be without the use of computers, or without the use of valuable, irreplaceable files? An hour? A day? A week? Would your business survive if you were unable to use your computers for an extended length of time? Does your family have important financial or medical computer records that need to be accessed on a regular basis and are critical to a family member’s well-being?

What if computer networks go down? Is email critical to your daily life? Are you required to remotely connect to your company’s network on a regular basis? Do you depend on computer networks for vital communication? For example, if your telephone service is provided by your cable Internet/TV company, then your telephone communications are routed over a computer network using a technology called VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol). The same holds true for AT&T, in many cases. Do you have alternate ways of communicating if such networks should fail?

Are your computers protected by battery-backup surge protectors? Do you have preconfigured replacement computers standing by in case your main computers are damaged? What about spare modems, monitors, printers and routers? Do you depend on certain computer files (accounting files like QuickBooks come to mind) for the continuity of your business? Are your files backed up both onsite and remotely, in case one backup method should fail?

What if there are power failures? Do you have backup power sources, such as generators? What if disaster strikes in the dead of winter or the crushing heat of summer? Would that make a difference to your company/family survival?

Are employees expected to report for work under disastrous circumstances? Sure, maybe your computers work, but what if your workplace has no food to eat, water to drink or soap to wash with? What if there is no fuel or roads are impassable? What if employees or family members are injured, trapped or otherwise unable to travel?

Do you know the usernames and passwords to all of your important computer-related Internet, email and financial accounts? If you had to type in a username and password to get your email, could you do it? I never cease to be amazed at how many people I meet on a regular basis who don’t know the usernames and passwords for their own cotton-pickin’ accounts.

Finally, who is responsible for disaster planning for your business or family? Whose job is it to make sure that all the bases have been covered? Have these duties been delegated to an employee or family member? Maybe you’ve hired a consultant like myself to help with disaster planning. What if that employee, family member or consultant is unavailable during a disaster? Have they trained you to implement your own disaster plan?

What if your “computer guy” can’t get to your place for a few days because he’s already gotten 200 phone calls from people in the same boat as you? What would you do?

Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached

at 919-9901 or davemoore

computers.com

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