How BCDR Can Avoid Data Loss and Downtime from Power Outages

Oct 11, 2019

How BCDR Can Avoid Data Loss and Downtime from Power Outages

BY Chris Brunau


Businesses of all sizes can be impacted by a power outage, but for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular, a blackout can be devastating.

Power outages can cause significant downtime which means lost revenue for businesses. SMBs are less equipped to absorb the impact of financial losses like an established, stable enterprise does. So, taking steps to mitigate the impact of power outages should be considered an essential part of business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR) planning.

What Causes Power Outages?

Weather-related events are the most common cause of outages, as we are currently seeing in California. Currently, as many as 800,000 customers across California are without power due to service cuts related to the danger of fire from high wind forecasts.

Outages cost American businesses as much as $150 billion per year, according to the US Department of Energy (DOE), with weather-related disruptions costing the most per event. The majority of these large-scale outages resulted from damage to large transmission lines or substations, as opposed to the residential distribution network.

Of course, there are also non-weather events such as accidents and equipment failure that can significantly contribute to outages. While it is not yet a common cause of power outages, it is worth noting that cyberattacks have caused at least one large-scale power outage.

However, there are a number of preventative measures that businesses can take to minimize the impact of power outages. Of course, the level of protection you require will be dictated by the specific needs of your business. So, it’s important to evaluate your business’ tolerance for downtime associated with power outages and invest in preventative tools accordingly.

Short-term outages, obviously, will have minimal impact—especially if there is no damage to facilities or equipment. Long-term power outages, such as those resulting from severe weather, require planning to ensure that business operations can resume within a reasonable timeframe. Consider using cloud-based email and other applications, so users can easily work from home while your business is without power.

Obviously, without power, electronic equipment is inoperable. But, more importantly, power outages can cause devastating damage to a business’s IT systems, which can significantly increase downtime after power is restored. This is because electronic devices, including desktops computers, servers, printers, etc., require a steady electrical current. When that current becomes irregular, permanent damage to system components can occur.

How to Avoid Data Loss from a Power Outage

Avoiding data loss from a power outage is straightforward—you need a secure, second copy of your critical business data in a separate location that you can easily access in case your primary systems are damaged due to power loss or other data disasters.

Power outages hit businesses of all shapes and sizes, in any region or industry. Blackouts result in billions of dollars in losses per year. SMBs, in particular, are vulnerable to downtime and financial loss from a power outage and should take the appropriate steps to mitigate the impact of this type of event as highlighted above. The steps you take to prevent downtime from power outages will largely be dictated by the specifics of your business. At a minimum, you should protect your electronic equipment against power surges and ensure they can shut down properly in the event of an outage.

Backing up data should also be considered essential, in case the above measures fail. You may need to invest in a generator. If you do, be certain that you size it properly for your power requirements. With proper planning, you can greatly minimize the impact a power outage will have on your operations. Determine the amount of power outage downtime your business can tolerate, and build your strategy around that.

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