IT downtime in your business can be caused by so many things – hardware failure, power surges, security breaches, storms, coffee spills, just to name a few. But no one cares WHY they’re down when they count on being up and running!
So, what’s the quickest way to get your business running again? At IT Direct, we use the axiom “proper preparation prevents poor performance,” in other words, plan ahead!
Yup, not the answer you were hoping for, I’m sure, but it’s the best way to ensure that downtime doesn’t ruin your day, your week, or even, possibly, your business.
- Start at the beginning
A lot of downtime can be avoided by making sure your system is stable and secure to begin with. Ensure that all hardware (desktops, servers, routers, switches, wiring, etc.) and software is in good condition, current and is still supported by the manufacturer/developer. Then, be sure you are keeping up with system updates, upgrades, patching, and all security needs as they arise. If you don’t know, or aren’t sure, have an expert do a network assessment.
- Back up!
Once your systems are stable and secure, make sure you are backing up in a reliable and secure way. Compliance requirements for your industry may also affect how you may back-up your data, so make sure to keep that in mind. Utilizing cloud-based servers and applications is the easiest way to ensure your data is backed-up and secure, but make sure you choose a vendor that is both reliable and secure too. Again, if you aren’t sure about the capabilities of your back-up system, or aren’t sure whether you are in compliance with your industry’s regulations, contact an expert to assess the situation or help you find the right cloud vendor.
- Make a plan
Your system is secure, your network is stable, and you have a back-up system in place. Now, make a plan for the unforeseen downtime that lies in your future. What do you do? Who is in charge? Who do you contact internally and outside of your organization? What do you do in case of a major security breach? How do you restore your hardware, software, or data? Create documentation that walks through the entire process in case the person meant to be in charge just happens to be out that day! Every company’s needs and situation are different, so the answers to these questions rely entirely on your organization.
You’ve done almost all you can, now you need to train your employees. IT training can no longer be a one-off event done during onboarding. Your employees need to know the security risks facing your organization. They need to know how to keep safe from hackers! With social engineering and ransomware on the rise in every industry and every size, everyone needs to know how to recognize malicious emails. Employees need training on what they are allowed to access and when, what they are able to install, your password requirements and more. Train your employees on who to contact if they see something suspicious, have a network or computer issue, or when the whole system is down. Are there manual workarounds that can keep things running in the short term? Train them on those too!
- Think about the little things
There’s lots of little things that happen that you can’t do anything about, but there are also a few things that you can. Remind users that liquids and foods shouldn’t be too close to their laptop or desktop units. Keep all wires safely secured and/or covered (no tripping hazards). Prepare for storms by moving computers/servers, etc. off the floor (if the area is susceptible to flooding), using Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for important equipment, and surge protectors for everything else.
You’ve done what you can to avoid common issues, backed up your data, planned for the worst and trained your employees. You may not be able to avoid every pitfall, but you will be prepared if outages and downtime do occur!
If you need any help assessing your current situation – systems, backup, disaster recovery plans – or have other IT questions, feel free to reach out using the form below: