Not A Storm In A Teacup – How Mini Disasters Can Affect Your Business

When we think about the natural disasters that can affect our businesses we immediately think of bushfires, floods, earthquakes, blackouts, storms and lightning strikes, or strong winds. These can affect your business operations, computers and your information and data.

But it is not the large-scale disaster, that is most likely to affect your business, instead it will be the local catastrophe, a plumbing disaster, an equipment failure or a power outage.

Problems with humidity

Excess humidity in the air will cause oxidation of electronic circuits, conductors and connectors, and circuits will perform unpredictably. Lack of humidity increases the potential for sparking from static-electricity.

Water and electricity don’t mix

Water damage is a major cause of local computer catastrophes. Water and electricity don’t mix well and short-circuiting and damage occurs. Water ingress is commonly caused by ruptured water pipes. Other causes include:

»  excess vapour condensation within air-conditioners, and

»  sprinkler systems using water rather than Halon (often activated by over-heating, see below)

Overheating is a common failure

Overheating of the computer facility is the most commonly reported cause of computer failure. It can be caused by several events that often do not get noticed by personnel until there is a computer failure.

»  failure of room air-conditioning

»   failure of cooling fans in the computer chassis

»  blockage of air ducts

Excessive heat may damage recording media; it may cause immediate failure of computer electronics; and make some components fail.

Smoke and fire damage memory

Fire in an installation can destroy computer equipment and make the data unrecoverable. Smoke particles are particularly damaging to disk and tape surfaces where data is stored.

Interruption of a disk or tape-write cycle can destroy the contents of open files. Computer operators need to evacuate immediately and often computers are left active during emergencies.

Power spikes and interruptions

Electricity from the public distribution system fluctuates in voltage as well as suffering from unpredictable spikes and contamination from high-frequency noise. Power interruptions are not as dangerous as irregular power spikes that cause heat fluctuations rise and circuit degradation.

Uninterruptable power supplies not full answer

Most computer facilities have installed UPS, Uninterruptable Power Supplies. But it should be noted that valuable data records may be damaged in the switch-over from AC power to DC battery back-up if the files are not closed down properly.

Heat may become a problem if the computers are still operating but the air-conditioning is not.

So don’t overlook the risk of small disasters

You mustn’t overlook the local risks to your information and data. Don’t treat everyday problems as if they are a storm in your teacup. They will have the biggest impact on your business. Make sure you have backup for your information and data and disaster recovery plans in place. Even if you think you will not be affected by big disasters the small disasters will still affect your business.