Bad Weather? How to protect your IT equipment

Given the recent spate of storm events in Northland and NZ wide, and weather experts saying we’re going to get more in the future, now is the time to check your IT gear is protected.

New research from NIWA (National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research) has shown that extreme events have occurred four to five times more frequently in the last decade.

Many IT technicians had call-outs from clients after the recent storms. Thunderstorms can literally fry electronics, and this causes not just replacement cost, but also work disruption and even possibly data loss. 

Many technicians carry surge protectors in their cars, so that whenever they are working, they can ensure that sensitive IT equipment is at least surge protected. But for clients we see less often, or who are not on a managed service agreement, it’s easy for IT devices to not be surge protected. Your staff, cleaners or others will sometimes move plugs about. Be aware that this does matter.

Now is a good time to have a look at your computer equipment, or ask our team to do it for you next time they are onsite.

Here are our top tips to protect your IT – how do you stack up?

Surge protectors

A surge protector guards against the damage that sudden power surges can cause.

  • It’s recommended for almost any piece of IT hardware plugged into a power outlet.
  • It will help protect against power spikes which can sometimes happen, especially if the power suddenly goes off. This happens more often than you might think; for example, your local lines company may be doing maintenance or upgrades to their system and will turn the power off for a period overnight.
  • The surge protectors can protect against more distant lightning strikes but will not provide protection from a close or direct strike.
  • Surge protectors can be built into power boards, so several devices can be plugged into them.
  • Do NOT plug anything other than IT equipment into surge protectors / surge protected power boards. We have seen heaters plugged in to surge protectors! These types of devices can fry your electronics. Make sure non-IT gear uses a separate power point.

Things that people often forget to surge protect

  • The Optical Network Terminal (ONT) that brings your fibre internet into your premises. The ONT is the little box that your provider installs. If the ONT blows will have no fibre Internet until they replace it.
  • Network gear in the cupboard, or wherever it is located at your place – routers, powered network switches, etc. If the network gear blows up, you will lose the network around your premises.
  • Phones – while they are not as mission-critical as your ONT and network gear, it’s still annoying when they get fried.

UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is an electrical apparatus that provides emergency power when the mains power fails.

  • Critical pieces of IT hardware, such as servers, key computers and network storage devices, should normally have a UPS between them and the wall power supply
  • The UPS does more than a simple surge protector, but they do also provide some surge protection.
  • This article does not cover UPS devices, but do make sure that they are regularly checked and batteries replaced.

Unplug IT from the wall

  • This can be difficult to achieve as computer equipment is often in use. If you are concerned enough about an approaching storm, then consider properly turning it off and then physically removing the plug from the wall.
  • If in any doubt – ALWAYS check with @Computer first, as some IT equipment should not be unplugged.

Last thoughts

  • If the surge protector has experienced a significant power surge, or a lightning strike, it may have done its job and no longer work. Replace it. Often they will have a little light which indicates they are working, so if the light goes out – probably time to replace.
  • Don’t use the very cheapest devices and expect them to protect you.

In summary

Thunderstorms and lightning are real threats to IT and can cause not just cost, but also disruptions to your business. Surge protectors can last for years and all your IT equipment should use them. 

While surge protectors can last for years, it pays to keep a close eye on them and replace them if needed. 

If you need help making sure your IT is protected against weather events contact @Computer here .

How a Managed Service provider can help your business

In IT we love to use fancy jargon, and Managed Service provider or MSP is no exception.

In this article we will break down what an MSP is, how it can help your business, and use some real-life examples of businesses, like you, who have made the switch to an MSP.

Firstly, what is a Managed Service Provider???

In a nutshell an MSP is your ‘outsourced IT Dept’ that provides proactive IT support. An MSP provides preventative measures, detecting most issues long before they become a problem.

The mission of an MSP is to protect your business from costly downtime and ensure that business continues seamlessly.

What is the break-fix model of IT support?

In contrast the ‘break-fix’ model of IT support is when you call an IT company when something breaks, and they come and fix it, on an adhoc pay by hour model. There is no ongoing support or preventative security measures taken. This is a bit like the ambulance at the bottom of the hill.  

Top advantages of an MSP for your business:

We become an IT partner to your business: As an MSP we are interested in understanding your entire business. We see ourselves as a business partner who wants to help your business to succeed and grow. This is quite different from the ‘break-fix’ model. We anticipate a long-term working relationship with your business. 

Proactive IT Support: As an MSP, our mission is to keep your business technology safe and available, and to anticipate your needs and requirements. This means minimum costly down time, and maximum business continuity.

Knowledge of your needs: As we have a long-term relationship with your business, we become closely acquainted with your IT systems, and your personnel. Because of this we understand how the parts make up the whole, rather than just offering a quick short-term solution, which may be costly in the future.

Cost savings: By outsourcing your IT management to us, you get a well-informed IT department on your team, without the cost and responsibility of training, recruiting, and retaining staff.

Case-Study

“An IT Alliance member had a company who was reaching out to them on a ‘break-fix’ basis. During Covid the IT Alliance member reached out to them to discuss becoming their MSP. They sat down and discussed what this actually meant, the services that the MSP offers, and the priority that is given to MSP clients. The client has been using them as an MSP for over two years now, and happily sings their praises, saying that having an MSP has revolutionized their business. No more waiting for IT support, no more downtime and so much more alignment”

So, what does an MSP actually do?

Remote Monitoring: An MSP proactively monitors, patches, and updates your software on an ongoing basis with 24/7 monitoring. This is all done in the background on an ongoing basis and requires no input from you.

Security: As an MSP we constantly review your systems to identify and address vulnerabilities. We can keep up with system updates, software patching, antivirus and more. It would be difficult for any business to keep up to date with all the daily security alerts. With an MSP this is all taken care of and is one less thing to worry about, so you can focus on your business.

Optimising hardware: An MSP provides information on optimal hardware that synchronises across your business. This includes laptops, desktops, and mobile devices, plus your network and servers.  We can work with you to understand your growth requirements and work on the best timeline for your budget.

Strategic advice: As IT is our passion, we hear about a myriad of tools that may be of benefit for business goals. We share this advice with you, rather than you having to research or find out how you can optimise technology for your needs.

Regular reviews: As an MSP client, you are a priority which means that we schedule in regular proactive reviews. No more waiting on the phone to talk to someone to get IT support.

Business Continuity and disaster-recovery strategy: Nowadays it is crucial that you have a solid data-backup plan. We can help you with this process and ensure that everything can be efficiently restored should the need arise.

So what do I do now?

So now you have an overview of what an MSP is, and how they can help your business. The next step is talking to our team at @Computers about your specific needs. Many of our members tailor packages to suit your business requirements. Please feel free to reach out here for further advice.