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September 3rd, 2009

The recent wildfires in California are a cogent reminder of how easily the things we take for granted can be destroyed. If you work with computers, you hear all the time about the importance of backing up your work. Still, even among businesses, only a small percentage maintain complete backups off-site. A backup that is in the desk drawer at the office will help you if the computer crashes, but not if the computer and the desk are burned to ashes. If you still don’t think you need to consider a backup plan with an evacuation component, and you live in Southern California, just step outside and look toward northeast L.A. County. The smoke should convince you otherwise.

Evaucation PlanEven the smallest home business or small office operation can afford to devise and implement a workable evacuation plan. The downside, of course, is that you can’t afford not to have one, or wait until you need one to develop it. The most devastating loss to a business or organization is human life, of course. Next to that (and animals) is the data that your business needs to survive. Not having a complete backup can mean the death of your personal or corporate mission and the end of your enterprise.

Ongoing preparations

In the event of an evacuation notice from authorities, you will normally have no more than half an hour to vacate your premises. This means that you need a plan ahead of time, and a clear, step-by-step program for what to do in that limited window you have for evacuating. A free, online, U.S government “e-tool” helps you put one together in no time.

Before any type of emergency happens,  you need to ensure that you are backing up every day’s work and storing it offsite. In the old days, this meant taking burned CDs or a tape drive cartridge home or to a storage facility every day at the close of business. Today you can use many online backup services (Apple’s iDisk, Xdrive, Strongspace, Carbonite, etc.) to store records, sales orders, address books, ledgers, etc., offsite for safe keeping.

Equipment-saving plans

In addition, your plan for what to take in the event of an evacuation needs to be figured out beforehand. You need to know how to take apart the cables that connect your computers to the peripherals like printers, networks, etc., and should have them all marked with colored tape or labels so you know what goes with what. A good introductory article on “home network security” will cover many of these topics for home businesses all the way to small companies.

Once you start moving things to evacuate, set a pace and keep it up. Follow a pre-planned route that you will take to a car or van, and plan to take anything that can be carried by a single person. This means you should have time to take desktop and tower computers as well as your laptop (but if you lose it, CRE will rent you one). Skip the inkjet printers unless you have a pricey photo-grade model or a multifunction device. Inkjets are cheap, so don’t waste your time. Take external hard drives, for sure, especially if they contain additional backups. Routers, scanners and miscellaneous hardware should go, too, if you have time after moving the more important computers.

If you lose hardware

If you are not well prepared on-site, or the emergency is so sudden you have zero time to move anything, then you will be glad you had the foresight to have an offsite backup. If you do suffer the loss of hardware, CRE rents new desktop computers with all the software you need to get back to business. Once you are set up again, from home or a temporary office, just get online and download your remote backup, or pick up your discs or tape from their safe, offsite location and copy your working files. Even if you need various kinds of office equipment, like scanners or multifunction devices, CRE is your one-stop shop for everything you need to keep going forward.

If you were working on an animated movie or a film project, CRE has you covered with high-powered workstations like the PowerMacintosh G5 with Kona card. If you are doing editing or post-production with Final Cut Studio 2, CRE even has the AJA Io HD unit in a compact and portable form factor for easy use anywhere. CRE has you covered no matter what your needs, and no matter what fire, earthquake, flood or other act of God has thrown you a curveball. CRE is here to make sure your business keeps moving ahead, no matter what the challenge. Contact one of our Account Executives today and talk about an emergency preparedness plan for your company.

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