TMCnet Feature
July 17, 2018

5 Tips for Keeping Your Business Up and Running During a Power Outage

When Power Outages Occur, How Will Your Business Respond?

For most people, a simple power outage is nothing more than an inconvenience. But for businesses that rely on power to keep their systems up, even the briefest outage can quickly become problematic.

The Dangers of a Power Outage

No business is totally immune to a power outage. When mother nature decides to wreak havoc, or an unsuspecting utility worker accidentally cuts a line, things get sticky. And depending on what industry you’re in and how you conduct your business, a power outage could expose you to any or all of the following risks:

  • Data loss. One very real risk is the loss of data or important files. A sudden disconnect of power can cause a device to prematurely shut down, which prevents important information from being saved or stored in the correct capacity.
  • Hardware damage. It’s not just data that can be lost. Power loss - as well as power surges or spikes - can cause physical damage to your computers, servers, and other hardware. This can be expensive to repair - and may take weeks or months to remedy in serious situations.
  • Downtime. Have you ever done the math to figure out what a single hour of downtime costs your company? According to one study, 98 percent of organizations report hourly downtime costs of $100,000 or more. Roughly one in three enterprises say an hour of downtime costs them between $1 and $5 million. In other words, you can’t afford for a power outage to wipe your business out for any period of time.
  • Safety. In certain industries - such as healthcare, construction, and manufacturing - a sudden, unanticipated loss in power can be dangerous to the health and safety of employees, customers, and clients. This is most notable in hospitals where patients often depend on life-saving devices and systems.

When it’s all said and done, data loss, hardware damage, downtime, and safety issues all have a direct impact on the bottom line. Thus, if you want to protect your business and set it up for success down the road, you need to consider how you address potential outages proactively.

5 Tips to Keep Your Business Running

You never know when a power outage will hit. And even though you can’t predict or prevent one from occurring, you can take proactive measures to ensure an outage doesn’t devastate your business.

1. Identify Backup Sources of Power

The best thing you can do for your business is to identify a backup source of power. When properly implemented, this will allow you to avoid most (and possibly all) of the ill-effects of a power outage.

A generator is the most popular choice for backup power. And while generators work well, they can be expensive (and must be carefully maintained to ensure they’re able to be used in a time of need).

A less conventional, yet arguably more effective solution is solar. Solar systems, while not typically able to supply power in an outage, can be optimized to do so. With adequate battery storage attached to your solar system, you can use clean energy to power your business during a temporary outage. Just make sure you work with a solar company that’s familiar with this sort of setup and commercial applications.

2. Have a Plan for Protecting Data

A power outage is a temporary inconvenience, but it doesn’t have to cause long-term damage to your business. With a data protection plan, you can avoid unnecessary data loss and ensure your business can resume normal operations as soon as power is restored. Thankfully, this is fairly easy - assuming you’re operating in the cloud.

3. Install Surge Protection Devices

Regardless of your industry or what sort of IT systems you have in place, every modern business needs to be using surge protection devices (SPDs).

“SPDs can be installed on your building's incoming electrical service to reduce potential damage caused by most externally generated surges, such as lightning or utility operations,” business cloud provider Intermedia points out. “You might also want to consider ‘single-phasing’ protection.”

With single-phasing, you can stop a blown fuse or contact break in one area of your facility from causing issues in another. It’s about segmenting your systems so that you don’t lose everything in one swift blow.

4. Have and Practice a Response Plan

It’s imperative that your business has a documented response plan in place. This will ensure each individual and department within your organization understands how to respond in the middle of an outage.

In addition to having a response plan, you also need to practice and test it so that it runs smoothly when an actual outage occurs.

“If you utilize an [uninterruptible power supply] or standby generator, you will want to test these out every six months at the very least to make sure they function properly,” suggests. “If your business has special plans for what employees need to do during a power outage, you should run a practice drill on a yearly basis to ensure everyone is up to speed on their duties.”

A plan is only as good as its execution. Test often and you’ll master the plan with greater efficiency and efficacy.

5. Document and Optimize

When a power outage occurs, it’s important that you carefully monitor what happens and document all relevant information and steps you take in response to the incident. Not only does this create a log and record of the outage - which may come in handy when identifying potential data loss or damage - but it also gives you a chance to review what happened and optimize your approach for the future.

Develop a Proactive Approach

It’s all about being proactive. There’s not much you can do after the fact that will allow you to evade the ill-effects of an outage. But by developing a plan now and implementing strategic safeguards and protocols along the way, you can give your business the best chance of seamless continuity.

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