Staying Connected After a Disaster: Part 1

Posted by Darren Tedesco

November 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM

“Tomorrow’s battle is won during today’s practice.” — Japanese proverb

A survey conducted last year by Symantec showed that half of small- and medium-size businesses have no disaster recovery plan in place. Considering that, after their homes, small businesses are often people’s most valuable asset, I find this number shocking. Most advisors recommend that their clients carry some type of insurance, yet many aren’t taking steps to ensure that they remain viable when a disaster like Hurricane Sandy strikes.

As one of the most esteemed tech writers in our business, Davis Janowski, points out in his recent article in InvestmentNews, the most important aspect to think about in a disaster is connectivity—that is, how will you stay connected? Power is critical to keep your business up and running, followed by phone service, and, last but not least, an Internet connection.

Here are a few things you can do on the cheap to tackle these items:

  1. Don’t use voice-over-IP (VoIP) phones; use your business’s old-fashioned phone lines. I know the cost savings and allure of the VoIP setup is great, but the Internet is more likely to go down than a regular phone line in a major storm. (The next bullet point can possibly mitigate this somewhat.)
  2. In a multi-person office, consider having at least one person use a different cell carrier (assuming coverage is similar). If there’s a problem on the AT&T network but Verizon is working fine, that won’t really help you much if you all have AT&T service.
  3. Turn your phone into a hotspot, or simply buy a 4G hotspot directly from one of the major cell carriers. I’ve only lost power a few times in the 20 years I’ve been living in Boston. But when I did and my modem went down, firing up my cell phone as a hotspot with my laptop/iPad got me a full day’s worth of work. 
  4. Power is crucial. If you don’t have power, all the gadgets in the world aren’t worth anything.
    • If you have a laptop, you can typically get 3–4 hours out of the battery. I highly recommend that you buy an extra 9-cell laptop battery for backup (rather than the typical 6-cell version). Combined, this can give you more than a full working day of computer use.
    • Buy a cell phone backup battery. These are helpful when traveling and make great holiday presents. But more apropos to this blog, the better ones can recharge your phone several times over. If you’re using your cell for calls and as a hotspot, you’ll not only want a backup battery, you’ll need it.
    • And, of course, there’s the not-so-cheap panacea: a generator. If you’re really looking to harden your physical location, this is a must. But it will cost you a pretty penny and, depending on whether you own or lease your property, it may not even be an option.

Topics: Technology

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