Basic Emergency Computer Preparedness Tips for Traders

power outage

With hurricane season in the South, tornado season in the Midwest and winter storm season coming soon to the North it is important to have a data disaster plan in place in case of natural disasters or other emergencies. Ensuring personal safety is always a top priority but very few of us have a plan in place for our data and computer information systems. With the right preparation you can ensure that your trading operations can weather out the storm.

It does not take much to destroy the delicate electronics contained in a trading computer. A simple power surge can wreak havoc on unprotected trading computers – and a severe thunderstorm can even fry an entire home’s electrical systems. Surge protectors should be installed on every outlet that powers your electronic devices – and in addition, a whole house surge suppressor is recommended as point of entry protection at your electrical panel. One note of importance is that surge protection in a one-time use only device – meaning that if you had a surge on Monday – you are no longer protected from a surge on Tuesday. If your home experiences frequent power surges you are likely going to have to replace all of your surge protectors sooner or later.

trading computer tornadic supercell

Before a severe storm hits there are several precautions you should take even if you have an anti-surge device:

If you plan to shelter in place, have an alternative power source available. An UPS connected to your computer will only power your system for a few minutes, but a backup or standby generator can keep you going for several hours or until you need to refuel. Aside from being able to power your electronics, you could also keep your home cooled or heated in the event of en extended power loss.

Unplug computers and electronics from wall sockets to avoid damage from potential power surges. This will protect both the surge suppressor, which can only protect from one single surge, and anything attached to it. It is very common for electrical surges to come in waves, which could potentially blow out the surge device and then destroy your electronics when the next pulse hits. If your entire area is blacked-out the resulting power pulse when electricity is restored is very likely to fry many of your connected devices.

Keep equipment away from all windows and exterior doors. In a severe storm, there are multiple dangers from water intrusion. A broken window, a leaky roof, and even storm driven floodwaters can all destroy your trading computer instantly. If you are forced to evacuate you can help protect your electronics by raising them to a height of at least 36 inches above the floor and wrap them in plastic if necessary.

Use an online cloud based data back-up system to protect your data as well as portable storage drives. A portable hard drive or other backup device is handy if you are forced to evacuate but using an off-site data backup service – you are less prone to forget or lose your portable device in an emergency – and you can access your data remotely.

Keep a list of passwords handy in case the primary computer is damaged or loses power. If you are forced to rebuild your trading computer system after a storm you will already be one step ahead by having access to your online accounts – even if you have to remain off-site or at a shelter.

Be prepared to pack your computers and external drives in the event of evacuation. If you only have room in your car for your family and food – please leave the computer at home. Personal safety should always take precedence over material items that can be replaced later on.

For more tips, information and opinions on technology and trading computers, please feel free to get my buyers guide here.