Are Your Computers And IT System Safe If Lightning Strikes?

Pop up thunderstorms occur all the time in South Carolina. One happened early on a Sunday morning that took out a business’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Because they were one of our clients, an alert was generated at 4 AM. We immediately went to their office, and we discovered that the CRM server was destroyed.

We initially thought this had occurred because of a power interruption. Unfortunately, the UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) didn’t protect it.  So, now we believe that a lightning strike hit the cable (coax) causing the CRM system to go down.

The Datto solution we implemented saved the day. The client was only down for one hour. The Datto device reconnected to the network and got everyone working until we brought in a new server and put it into operation.

A nearby church was also hit by lightning during the same storm. We suspect they experienced the same type of cable strike. Their Network Interface Cards (NICs) were destroyed, as were 15 PCs and their sound system. I’m sure this was a great loss to the church because churches often don’t have a budget for freak acts of nature like this. Sometimes the damages are covered by insurance, but often they aren’t.

How Can You Protect Your IT System From Lightning Strikes?

Your PCs, routers, servers, switches, and other technology equipment are all subject to damage from lightning strikes. If your site isn’t wired properly, you can experience a wide range of electrical issues that can threaten your IT system and peripherals.

The following are things to check to ensure you’ve taken all necessary precautions to protect your IT equipment and data.

What’s Your Electrical Baseline?

Computers typically use 120 volts of AC power supplied at 60 Hertz. However, power outages and surges can cause this to vary significantly.

When installing new systems, and building or moving to a new facility, ensure the local power company continues providing proper electricity baselines. When sags and surges occur, this can negatively affect PC and server electrical components and can lead to subsequent failures and data loss.

You can use a multimeter to detect the voltage coming from AC power outlets. If the baselines vary by two percent or less, invest in an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). If baselines vary by three percent or more, you should contact your local utility company or contact an electrician to explore and correct the problems.

Have You Calculated The Capacity Of Your UPS & Surge Protectors?

Just as the electrical circuits in your building can be overwhelmed, so can your UPS device’s power capacity. Calculate the power demands for whatever you’re attaching to the UPS.  Most UPS companies provide calculators for estimating the volt-amperes and watts required to power your devices.

Also, make sure the surge protectors you use have lightning protection. Without this, they will be useless when electricity spikes. Your PCs, servers, and other equipment can be severely damaged resulting in lost and/or corrupt data. Additionally, make sure your circuits are grounded properly. Without this, your surge protectors won’t work because the surge won’t have an effective suppression path.

Always replace any faulty or damaged UPS devices and surge protectors. You may be tempted to keep using a UPS if it has only one dead outlet or port. But other components may have been damaged so it’s just not worth taking the risk that your connected devices could be damaged as well.

What About Your Power Supplies?

Okay, you’ve checked out the electric supply, grounding, outlets, surge protectors, and UPS devices. But what about your computer power supplies?

The electronic components in your computer, such as hard disk motors, motherboards, and memory are very sensitive to the smallest of power fluctuations. If your power supply is attached to only a power strip, it can overheat and inflict electrical damage on your PC or other devices it’s connected to.

Faulty power supplies frequently cause system reboots and failures. If you experience intermittent reboots and other unexplained computer behavior, check the electrical output from your power supply to ensure it’s working properly. You can do this with the multimeter we talked about earlier.

Do You Have An Enterprise-Based Backup and Disaster Recovery Solution?

business continuity plan is a necessary step towards keeping your business safe from lightning storms and strikes. Data backup is mandatory if you don’t want to lose your data. Disaster recovery is also crucial for getting back up and running following any disaster (like a power outage from a lightning storm).

A cloud-based backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solution that backs up multiple times a day, with fast restoration times and offsite data storage is a must for any organization that relies on information technology systems.

An enterprise-based cloud backup solution safeguards your data so you can restore it and continue working under any circumstance. The best enterprise cloud backup services can deliver complete backup and disaster recovery capabilities for a multi-platform server environment with data sizes up to 100TB and beyond. It can archive your local system as well as mobile devices, allowing them to be recovered fully and automatically.

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