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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 May 2007, 09:15 GMT 10:15 UK
Managing an IT disaster
Woman with computer rage
Computer failure can leave any company in trouble
With an increased reliance on electronic data and information, businesses are ever more vulnerable to accidental computer failure.

This could include fire, flood and power cuts, or deliberate sabotage (theft, vandalism and hacking) of networks and systems.

If your company is going to avoid the worst, you need to plan in advance.

Think about the possible situations - what could happen? What will be affected? Which systems do you rely on?

Don't worry about how obscure they seem - if the worst happens you'll be glad you thought it through.

Once you have an idea of the possible scenarios, you can start to develop a contingency plan for each case.

What happens in the immediate aftermath of a failure - should you contact the police or your IT supplier? Appoint someone to be in charge and make sure they understand their responsibilities.

If your business relies on computer information, you should have a back-up system in place.

Be prepared

Decide what data your company needs, copy it and store it separately.

If you are a one-person company, a small storage unit like a zip drive might be enough, but if you have several computers invest in a tape back-up system or second server.

Store copies of your data off-site and make sure you back up your systems every week or every day.

You may find that your current computer system already has back-up options built in, so get advice from your IT supplier or local small business centre before paying for more equipment.

But start planning for the worst now - you could find it saves you time and money later.

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