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SME survival guide for load shedding  

By Daryl Blundell, General Manager at Sage Pastel Accounting

Load shedding is here to stay, so every small business needs to take steps to protect its systems and data when the lights go out as well as from power surges when electricity is restored after an outage.

PCs are sensitive to power cuts, power dips and power surges, so take the necessary steps to protect them. When Eskom cuts the power, you could not only lose the latest changes to the files you’re working on, your open files could become so corrupted  or damaged that you will not be able to restore them.

Here are some suggestions about how you can manage this reality of daily South African life.

Regular backups

You should keep your latest data backed up so that you won’t lose hours of work or any important information when the power goes out. Regular data backups are a must, not only because of load shedding, they can also be a lifesaver if your hard drive crashes or your computers are stolen.

If possible, invest in an offsite backup system. For example, the Pastel Iron Tree online backup system lets you make backups to the cloud. Data backups are kept safe on secure servers and can be accessed wherever you have an Internet connection

2. Invest in Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS) for your PC’s as well as any network hubs or switches

In the event of a power failure or load shedding, a UPS will give users time to exit the applications they are working on and save their work before they safely shut down their PCs. Even if you have generators, they’ll take a few seconds to kick in after a power failure – a UPS will prevent them from losing power before you’ve saved your work.

A backup power inverter system is another option. For less than R10, 000 you can find one that will keep your routers, a couple of computers and some lights going for a few hours.

3. Switch off all PC’s not performing critical functions when not in use

Any data that is open on a PC is at risk of being damaged or corrupted in the event of a power failure. For that reason, you need to get into the habit of closing applications and shutting down desktop computers when you are not using them for a while.

4. Switch off PCs and unplug them when the lights go out

To reduce the risk of damage to hardware, switch off your PCs and unplug them from the main power source. Otherwise, power surges when electricity is restored may damage your hardware.

5.  Consider investing in a power bank

A power bank can be invaluable for managing your business when there’s load shedding. These portable chargers let you top up the battery of your USB-powered mobile devices so you can keep going when there’s a long power outage.

This is especially helpful if your PBX and landlines go down when there’s no power – at least, your mobile phone will be powered up and you’ll be reachable. Power banks are also helpful if you’re out and about for most of the day, and constantly finding yourself out of battery power for your smartphone.

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