Are you ready for the next tech disaster?
With hurricanes Gustav and Ike still fresh in our minds, and the second anniversary of the earthquake that caused the largest scale power outage in Hawaii history coming up Oct. 15, we shouldn't need reminding about disaster preparedness.
I'm not referring to simply stocking up on sardines, flashlight batteries and bottled water. What about your data? Is it backed up? Do you have a redundant power supply to keep your PCs and business running?
Surge protection should be your first line of defense. Any critical electronics should be protected from high voltage surges or spikes.
What does this have to do with a blackout? After an outage, when HECO resumes service, the electrical surge may fluctuate until it returns to a normal state. Those spikes could fry your hard drive and damage other electrical components. Make sure you purchase high quality surge protectors with telephone/dataline/ coaxial protection to close off any "backdoor" entrances to your equipment.
Also consider runtime. In addition to protection from surges, many businesses will need to keep the juice flowing to stay open.
Following the earthquake, our crews kept working to keep our networks operational. We wanted to get some food for them and I recall one small eatery that was doing gangbuster business. It had a small gas generator for electricity and gas stoves to cook on. We were able to purchase some hot food to feed our hungry work force.
The upshot: You'll want to purchase a UPS or uninterruptible power supply (aka battery backup). This will keep your PC going during a power outage. These range in price from a few hundred dollars, which will keep your PC running for 10 to 20 minutes, to thousands of dollars, which could keep you running for an entire day.
You might also consider a buying a diesel generator that you could run for a few days.
What about going solar?
Solar power is all the rage nowadays and for good reason. If you can keep your business going independent of the grid, you're way ahead of the game.
I noticed during the 2006 earthquake that it wasn't a matter of the Internet going "dead." Our company was still providing data for our customers. The problem was that our customers were down because the grid was down.
Let's say you work out of your home and want to keep your home office going when the power goes down. Figure on spending $30,000 to 60,000 for a residential photovoltaic system (with a 4-8 KW capacity) for the home. You'll also need to spend at least another $10,000 to $15,000 (roughly 30 percent of the entire system) for a battery backup. The solar unit will recharge the battery so long as the sun is out. Very cool but very expensive.
I'm not clairvoyant, but I can guarantee that at some point our islands will suffer another disaster. The time to prepare is now.