Keeping your computers cool in the heat of summer

Posted July 31, 2018 to Practice Management.

Tags: Web, data, back up, remote control, remote access, insurance

While some of our computers are getting a break and cooling off due to staff vacations other computers may be doing overtime. Years ago Carol wrote an article entitled "Ounce of Prevention: Keeping your computers cool" discussing heat-related computer problems. Since that article, the world of technology has changed as well as the world we live in. When Carol's article was written, "An Inconvenient Truth" was opening our eyes to global warming. Now living Post-9/11 and Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Irene, Harvey, there is a newfound sense of urgency to discuss preparing your office equipment and staff for worst case scenarios. Today we are going to give you some hot tips to keep you cool both in and out of the office.

Battery Back- Up: One of the most important suggestions we make to our clients is to have their onsite servers and/or induvial workstations connected to a UPS (uninterruptible power supply). This buys you precious time to save your work, close out of your databases (i.e. TM, TS) in a power interruption or power outage scenario. The price of a UPS ranges from $80 to $500, based on how much protection they offer and for how long.

Data Back-up strategy: While you are enjoying the summer sun, don’t get burned by gaps in your data backup. Have a strategy in place so you don’t get "sunburn" in case of an emergency. This can be done internally with products such as Office 365 or externally with a reliable back up product such as Carbonite (Note: We are an affiliated reseller). You can also do this through your IT company who takes a daily back up of your network and would have the ability to restore data to the same machine or replacement machine if need be. Make sure your IT professional is testing a back up on a regular basis.

Ensuring Insurance Coverage:  While insurance is meant to bring you peace of mind many don’t know they are uninsured or underinsured until it's too late. Review your equipment leases and service contracts to know what will and will NOT be covered in cases of emergencies such as weather-related catastrophes. Many commercial insurance companies will offer protections manufacturers will not or can work with you on providing riders which cover extenuating circumstances. With Cyber Security being a new and ever-evolving threat some companies will offer coverage against data hacks and ransomware threats.

Evacuation Plans: Whether you are a solo, small firm, or a nationally located firm having an evacuation plan that covers details such as how to evacuate your office, what if anything do you take with you (i.e. emergency phone tree, client Rolodex), who will activate your business continuation plan, how will physical files and other data and materials be replaced or replenished. We encourage our clients to have a main document that includes critical information such as serial numbers, vendor phone number, license codes, which will allow you to replace or reinstall equipment and software.

Multiple Office Scenarios: If you are in a multiple office scenario make sure it is clear to all offices, and their staff, which is the main office and what the procedure is should one or all of your office become affected by a catastrophe. The best way to prepare for a disaster is to ask yourself if you leave the office right now and can't return for an extended period of time what do I need to keep the door open and the lights on. If this hasn't made you think about it but just ask your colleagues in states like New York, Florida, Louisiana or Texas what their experience was.

Safety in Syncs: Is your sync safe? A lot of people rely on a sync scenario. However, when push comes to shove their "sync" didn't include everything they expected.  Be sure to discuss with us or your IT professional what is synced, where it is synced, where your data lives offsite to rest assured you are safe with a sync.

Picking up the pieces/ Implementing your Business Continuation Plan: If you have a business continuation plan, make sure you review it when onboarding new staff and have a bi-annual or annual refresher course with all staff so no one is left in the dark when an emergency arises. Emergency situations are scary and stressful enough, help ease your team to the higher ground and smoother sailing by arming them with information and your business continuation plan.

Remote control: Even though you might be stuck with an emergency give yourself and your clients the peace of mind to know you have remote control. Companies such as GoToMyPC allows you to log in from another PC, Laptop, or Smart Phone. The big caveat is this only works if your computer is plugged in and powered on (or alternatively can be powered on remotely by your IT company or through your remote control program). You should also know the difference between remote access and a VPN. A remote access program, such as GoToMyPC allows you remote access to a single computer. In contrast, a VPN, would allow you to remotely access and control the server and all computers that are part of your network.

Proper spacing: One of the main reasons a computer or peripherals (i.e. CRT Monitors) overheats or breaks down is because of poor spacing. A computer tower is kept at a reasonable temperature by a small fan. Think of it as a window fan keeping a small apartment cool. Be sure to check to make sure your equipment has some space around it to allow for airflow and proper cooling. Bonus tip: at least once a year use a keyboard duster to quickly blow away dust from your computer towers fan or from the back of your computer monitors to give your equipment some added longevity.