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Summer Is Here, Are Texas Businesses Prepared?

Summer Is Here, Are Texas Businesses Prepared?

Most Texas businesses were caught off-guard by last winter’s storm and, as such, suffered data loss due to power outages, structural damage, and other environmental issues. As Texas businesses now face an extreme summer, they face the same challenges caused by winter. The question is, are they prepared this time?

Was Your Business Affected by the Winter Storm?

With estimates of nearly 4.5 million Texas businesses and homes without power, chances are your home or business was affected by the storm. As many locations felt the effect of power loss or infrastructure damage, it follows that many businesses reported a loss of productivity last February. 

Unfortunately,  businesses found themselves in the “perfect” storm of power outages, freezing temperatures, water damage, and in many cases the inability of team members to get into the office. Further, many businesses suffered exasperating setbacks getting up and running due to the lack of disaster planning paired with major infrastructure failure.

Without a business continuity plan, businesses affected by the storm not only found themselves unable to operate, but were stuck with no steps to communicate internally or externally, or transition back to business effectively once power was restored. While most businesses managed to struggle through the disruption, it is certain that some did not because they didn’t have the necessary precautions in place.

Summer Brings Its Own Challenges to Texas Businesses

Texas businesses are located in one of the hottest states in the Union and as such face unique challenges in the summer months. As energy providers plead for power conservation amongst the 100-degree temperatures, Texas businesses face the real possibility that they will be subject to rolling blackouts which may affect their productivity.

While such predictions would fill most businesses with uncertainty, Texas businesses have already experienced the effects of extreme weather and are prepared for the challenges; or should be. One of the lessons learned from this winter storm was the importance of business continuity.

What Preparations Should Texas Businesses Have in Place? 

According to ERCOT (Electric Reliability Council of Texas) and NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation), unfavorable weather this summer is a risk factor that cannot be ignored. Due to heat issues, many Texas businesses will face power loss, and the resulting issues due to predicted rolling blackouts. The goal of businesses should be to ensure they have enacted best practices to maintain their productivity should the worst occur. Some best practices include:

Have a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) on all Critical Infrastructure
A UPS device is designed to provide consistent short-term backup power during times when your power is unstable or unavailable, such as during last winter’s storm and potentially this summer’s heatwave. If your power source should fail, a UPS device provides battery-powered backup power to your electronics. 

A popular misconception about UPS devices is that they can replace your power. In reality, UPS batteries don’t last very long—usually just a few minutes. The goal of a UPS device isn’t to keep your business running indefinitely, for that you would need a generator. A UPS is designed to give you enough time for a controlled shutdown, and for your data to be saved. 

Unexpected power loss can damage electronics, including your workstations and storage devices such as hard drives. As such UPS can be the difference between being able to get up and running once the power returns or having to purchase new equipment and struggling to cope with losing data.

Keep in mind that older UPS devices need to be tested and maintained. After a few years, the batteries will start to degrade and may need to be replaced.

Have TRUE Surge Protection in Place
A power strip is not a surge protector. The device you have your workstation connected to adds additional outlets for you to plug your devices into may not be a surge protector. As such, they offer no more protection from a power surge than a regular unprotected outlet. If you wish to protect your electrical equipment from the types of power surges which can occur during the brownouts Texas could be facing, you need a dedicated surge protector. 

A surge protector is important because it acts as a buffer between your equipment and the voltage spikes which can occur when power is unstable. Voltage spikes, if unchecked, can damage electronics, including your workstations. When considering purchasing a surge protector, don’t just buy the 3-pack from your local big-box store, as all surge protectors aren’t created equal. Surge protection is measured in joules, with the higher the joule rating, the more energy the protector can absorb. It’s a fair assumption that the $10, 3-pack of surge protectors isn’t going to have much protection built-in.

A surge protector should be treated as an investment, designed to protect your business from electrical disasters. It’s a simple calculus, how much is your workstation worth? How will being offline affect your bottom line? If you wish to remain functional after a power surge, you should consider purchasing a surge protector rated at least 2000 joules, as they are designed to protect professional-level electronics.

Develop a Proactive Backup and Recovery Plan
Your backup (and recovery) is the ultimate “break glass in case of emergency” failsafe for your business. While we’re discussing backup in regards to power outages, your backup is designed to provide your business with a method to recover data regardless of the cause of the disaster, including ransomware attacks. Cybercriminals will often use an extreme weather event to target businesses struggling to keep operations running.

Your business’ greatest asset is your data and losing your data can not only result in loss of productivity, for some businesses it may even result in the loss of the business itself. For example, if your business is required to maintain records over the long term (accounting or medical organizations typically are beholden to this requirement) and you lose it, your organization can face considerable penalties. 

Have You Weather-Proofed Your Texas Business?

While it is certainly understandable that businesses in and around Cedar Park were caught unaware by the effects of the recent winter storm, that was then, and this is now. There is simply no excuse for a Texas business not to be prepared for the next event. If you don’t have the expertise to know what the next step is, we can help. 

As a local business, we partner with many types of organizations in the Cedar Park area, eliminating IT issues before they cause downtime, reduce productivity, and interfere with your ability to serve your customers. If your organization barely survived the last disaster and you have been unable to make the changes needed to survive the next, call us today at (512) 343-8891.

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