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I have just returned from Colorado.  On August 31, my younger daughter was married in a beautiful outdoor ceremony in Morrison, outside Denver.  She was a beautiful bride (of course) and my husband, Mike, and I thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. Katie and Michael did a fantastic job planning the entire weekend, which started just as the Democratic National Convention was winding down.
After the wedding, Mike and I took a well-deserved vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The week was very relaxing--just what we needed after all of the wedding activity.  We were almost completely cut-off from the outside world with minimal cell service, and no TV or computers.  Everything would have been perfect, had we not been aware that Hurricane Ike was rumbling around in the Caribbean.  Since we have a home in Coastal Alabama, we were very interested in the path of the storm and getting updated information was difficult.  As I write this, we know that Ike bypassed Alabama and make landfall near Galveston.  My thoughts and prayers are with everyone whose lives have been disrupted by this storm, and also with those of you who are involved in storm response and recovery.
Every business person needs to plan for a disaster like Hurricane Ike.  How would the disaster impact your business?  What should you do to ensure that you can bring your business back online as quickly as possible? This month's RoadMap suggests a basic disaster plan that will allow you to resume your business activities quickly after a disaster.  
Business Disaster Plan RoadMap

1. FIRST, Take care of your family.  You will not be able to focus on your business if your loved ones are not safe or you are worried about the location of important personal documents. Visit the Red Cross website for information about personal preparation for a disaster. 
2. Back-up your computer often. In addition to backing up your critical data on your external hard drive, it is prudent to use an online back up service, as well. Information stored online can be accessed from any computer, wherever you are, as long as you have an internet connection. 

3. Critical Contact Information. Create a file containing the following information, copy the file onto a USB flash drive, and also print the file, just in case:  
         Usernames and passwords for websites, bank accounts, etc.
         Physical and email addresses and all phone numbers of anyone you may need to contact during the evacuation period. You can use Plaxo to create an online back up of your email contacts, and can access them from any computer using your username and password.
         Local website information. It is extremely hard to get information about what is happening back in your hometown once you have evacuated, especially if you do not live in a large metropolitan area.  Websites of local newspapers and radio stations, United Way, 2-1-1 and Emergency Management Agencies provide a critical link to your hometown. 

4.  Computer Equipment. Make a list of the equipment you MUST have to run your business and keep this list up-to-date.  At a minimum, you will need your computer (desktop and/or laptop), monitor, mouse, keyboard, speakers, modem, router, external hard drive, office telephone, printer, scanner and all cords and connectors.  Also include any software you may need that is not installed on your desktop or laptop.  Don't forget chargers for any mobile equipment.
5.  Digital Camera.  Your insurance company will need proof of the damage done to your business and a digital camera is especially useful for this purpose.  Make sure that you have spare batteries.  Rechargeable batteries work well, especially if you have a battery charger with a car charger attachment.
6. Paper Files.  Flag paper files that you will need to have with you to do business.  Keep all of these files in one place so that it will be easy to grab them and go if you must evacuate quickly.

7.  Telephone.  Cell phone service is often restored more quickly than land lines.  Text messages will work more reliably than actual cell calls in the early hours and days after a disaster because they use less bandwidth.  Make sure that you have a cell phone to use, and a car charger to keep the cell phone operational until electricity is restored.  If you think that you may need to use VoIP phone service once you are in your temporary location, you should purchase the necessary hardware before a disaster strikes.  You can establish service with an internet phone company when you reach your temporary location if you find that this is your best telephone solution.  You may also want to purchase a prepaid telephone calling card just in case.
8.  Office Supplies.  Bring enough office supplies to last at least a month--paper, pens, post-it notes, calculator, stamps, envelopes, tape, paper clips, printer ink cartridges, etc.  Also remember to bring check books and invoice forms, and other supplies needed for your accounting functions.
9.  Documented Office Procedures. Make sure that your business processes are documented in one place so that someone else can take care of basic business needs should you be injured or otherwise occupied.  This documentation will also allow you to delegate tasks to others should you need to while you are in your temporary location.

10.  Internet Access. Most businesses use DSL or cable modems to access the internet.  Before a disaster strikes, contact your ISP to get their local dial-up numbers.  Also request the dial-up access numbers for your probable evacuation locations. You should also find out how to access your email online through your ISP in case you don't have access to your own computer. 
SmartSite Technology serves as a virtual IT Department for small and medium sized businesses and non-profit organizations.  We provide all of the information technology services that a business needs to compete in today's marketplace.
Our goal at SmartSite Technology is to help each of our clients to be a success!! We know that technology is not a core competency for many small business owners and non-profit professionals. We believe that every organization benefits when they automate their business processes. We work closely with all of our clients, even those who are uncomfortable with computers and technology, to help them introduce automated processes into their operations. 
Contact us today to discuss your technology needs.
Dixie Groutt
SmartSite Technology 
September 2008
In This Issue
Business Disaster Plan RoadMap
Your Tech Tutor Says...
Send BIG Files over the Internet
tutor pic number 1
On a lighter note, let's talk about websites that you can use to send really big files over the internet.
Family and friends have been sharing wedding pictures.  Some have put the files onto photo services like snapfish and Picasa, which is fine if you just want to view the pictures, however, if you want a high quality copy of one or more of the pictures (without having to buy the picture), these services are not a good solution.
There are a number of websites that make it easy to share large files over the internet.  My favorite service is  YouSendIt.
YouSendIt has a number of different account plans including free personal accounts and full corporate suites.  File transfer is secure and HIPAA compliant. Visit their website for additional information and to try it out at no charge.
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