Prepare Computer Network for Hurricane Irma

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So a new hurricane is headed your way, and you want to ensure you have a plan in place to minimize the hurricane’s impact on your business. Well, you’ve made the right decision right off the bat: You are building a plan. The next step is to identify the steps of that plan. We’ve done that for you! Use these 5 steps to quickly implement your plan.

But before you continue: We’ve included an Excel spreadsheet to help you. Read the article below and then download and fill out the spreadsheet to prepare your computer network.

Step 1: Define your critical assets

Before you can do anything, you need to know what’s important to you. For disaster recovery planning for your computer network, you probably don’t care about the DVD player in your office, but you do care about your data server and your book-keeper’s PC.

Key Points

Write out a short list of key items, including:

  • Computer servers that are mission-critical
  • Computer workstations that are mission-critical
  • Local computer account passwords
  • Internet account passwords
  • Where your company database is
  • Key vendor information, such as company name, contact name, and phone number

Refer to the Excel spreadsheet for a good way to do this.

Step 2: Determine recovery window

The recovery window is how long it takes you to recover from a catastrophic event, such as the building with all of your computers being destroyed by wind because the roof blew off. Here is the general rule-of-them, for every day LESS you want for recovery window, the cost of the recovery is more expensive upfront.

So if you want to be able to loss all of your servers and network equipment one day and be fully online the next at another site, you are going to spend a lot of money. But if you can live with 5-7 days of downtime, you will need to spend a lot less.

To reduce the amount of time for recovery, use an off-site data backup solution. We offer ITbackup Enterprise (full bare metal restore capability) and ITbackup Online (data only backup) for just this reason to our customers.

Key Points

  • Determine how long you can go without access to all of your data if you lose everything. The less time you can spend, the more important off-site replication becomes.
  • Refer to the Excel spreadsheet for a good way to do this.

Step 3: Define your recovery solutions

Okay, here is the fun part. For all of the items you documented in Step 1, you now need to map those to a solution. Some of this is technical while some is not. Let’s take two examples.

For your mail server, you may have very little tolerance for downtime. So, instead of just a data backup, you will want a full server-backup (e.g., ITbackup Enterprise) with replication offsite.

For your high-speed printers, you may have more tolerance for downtime, so you are willing to purchase a smaller laserjet that you can carry with you to a temporary office if needed. In other words, you are willing to completely ignore the loss of the large, high-speed printer for several days or weeks because the upfront cost is not worth the reduction in downtime.

Key Points

  • Properly match your critical assets with recovery time to determine the recovery solution for each.
  • Refer to the Excel spreadsheet for a good way to do this.

Step 4: Draft a plan

Well, here we are! You’ve already started the planning phase. At the bottom of this article I have included a simple Excel spreadsheet to help your planning.

Remember, don’t make the plan overly complicated. If you do, the plan will never work. That’s based on experience. Large corporate environments can enforce a complicated plan, but SMB environments can’t. Focus on what is truly important, skip the rest.

Refer to the Excel spreadsheet for a good way to do this.

Key Points

  • Plan now so you don’t have to worry.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Stay focused.

Step 5: Establish a communications plan

This is so often overlooked it’s surprising. Now that you have a plan in place, who knows about it? And who implements it if you aren’t available?

Always assume that you won’t be immediately available during a disaster. If nothing else, you are just as likely to lose cell service as any other employee. In other words, there is no particular reason why you WOULD be more likely to be available than anyone else.

In your plan, assign responsibilities to key people (e.g., “Call Debra the day after power goes out for everybody, call John if Debra is not available) and ensure that everybody has the contact information for key team members.

Key Points

  • Develop a communication plan. Develop roles for everybody.
  • Refer to the Excel spreadsheet for a good way to do this.


Every single employee should have a printed copy of this plan. If only the CEO has the plan and the CEO is unavailable, then nothing can happen. Ensure all employees are involved in the process!