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3 Ways to Protect Your Tech from Natural Disasters

October 19 2022

tornadoThe U.S. went through 20 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters in the past year alone. It was the second worst year for the most natural disasters, behind the record of 22 different billion-dollar events in 2020.

With winter blizzards in the north, wildfires in the west, droughts, and heatwaves throughout the country, along with tropical storms and massive flooding, disasters have an enormous impact on real estate, communities, and people throughout the nation. Most recently, Hurricane Ian became one of the most devastating U.S. weather events. And because Tech Helpline's headquarters is in Orlando, FL, we are acutely aware of the damage that so many in our state face.

What can you do? Follow the sage advice of the Scout model: be prepared.

Best practices to keep your hardware safe

During a natural disaster, your hardware is at a greater risk of being damaged or ruined by exposure to the elements. Even a power surge – or outage – resulting from dangerous weather can harm your computer's hardware.

You can safeguard your hardware's physical assets through various preventive procedures. Some of these include flood-proofing your workspace to deter water damage or securing vital technology in water and fireproof safes. At the very least, keep your tech equipment away from windows and unplug your devices to protect them in case of a power surge or flood – and to prevent an electrical fire.

Also, have a plan for a power outage: do you have a power storage unit or generator you can use once it's safe? If you want to go the extra mile, have an electrician do a professional assessment to show you other ways to protect your equipment from natural disaster damage.

Keeping your data safe – back it up – remotely

Sometimes, there's nothing that anyone can do to prevent the destruction of property from the elements. However, there are ways to safeguard your data. Natural disasters can pose severe risks to your personal technology and your company's I.T. infrastructure. What if you couldn't access the data you needed for a few days – or weeks? Protecting your data from natural disasters is just as crucial as preserving your hardware. So, it's important to take the necessary steps to keep your essential data safe and accessible.

First, you must ensure all your data is backed up routinely and remotely. How often? It depends. Many systems today allow you to synch all your data throughout each day. If you are backing up your data manually and are actively working, your backups should be daily. Just ask yourself, if you lost power right now, what information would you not be able to access? That should help you self-assess how essential frequent data backups are.

Second, make sure you keep a complete inventory of your data. If you are storing documents on different systems or in other places, you need to know where everything is. In addition, keeping track of all the data you need for your personal and professional life can make access faster and easier during an emergency.

Make sure you have a plan

While you can't always plan for a disaster, you can create a disaster plan. Disasters cause chaos. Your priority is keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. But you also don't want to find yourself scrambling to figure out at the last minute what tech needs the most protection and how to keep them out of harm's way.

Create a disaster plan for you and yours as well as your tech – and your data. Your emergency plan should cover everything you need, including where you can secure a backup laptop or portable power source should you need to evacuate.

Think about the answers to these questions: Do you have an extra computer available? Are your laptop and smartphones fully charged? Are your backup battery sources fully charged as well?

Your I.T. department may also have a disaster plan to reduce server downtime. Interruptions in service could include specific steps your I.T. folks could take that may impact you. For example, if your office phone lines are down, they might need to reroute calls to a voice mail system or directly to agents. Understanding their plans and how they might impact you is crucial too.

After any natural disaster, when things settle down, a best practice is to perform a risk assessment to identify what worked well and what didn't and make the necessary adjustments to your disaster preparedness plan. This approach can help you stay ahead of any future calamities.

Most importantly, throughout it all, Tech Helpline is ready and available to assist and remain just a click, call, or online chat away for 600,000-plus Realtors nationwide and throughout Canada who have access.

Tricia Stamper is Director of Technology at Florida Realtors®, which owns and operates Tech Helpline and Form Simplicity.