When people think of disaster recovery, they usually think of things like cleaning up rubble and rebuilding cities after massive natural disasters like fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes. But beyond the damage to physical infrastructure, businesses can sustain another kind of damage that can be just as financially crippling: data loss. A natural disaster can wipe out entire data centers or office buildings full of commercial-grade computers, and businesses that aren’t adequately prepared can permanently lose years of critical data in a matter of minutes.

Natural disasters aren’t the only things that can cause crippling data loss for businesses. Data loss can also be the result of “unnatural disasters.” An “unnatural disaster” can be something as simple as an accidentally flipped breaker causing your server to shut down unexpectedly, or something more malicious, like a ransomware attack. A quick peek at recent headlines can tell you just how costly and common ransomware attacks can be.

As natural disasters related to weather increase in frequency and severity due to climate change, and as ransomware attackers, some with state backing, become increasingly bold, now is a perfect time to reexamine your business’s disaster recovery plans. While software and cloud-based solutions are certainly an essential part of any disaster recovery, sometimes, the right Industrial PC or enterprise computer can make all the difference in the event of a catastrophe.

Types of Disasters and How Hardware Can Help

You don’t have to be an IT expert to know that there is no one size fits all solution for disaster recovery. Different kinds of disasters require different ways of handling them. However, in all cases, the right hardware can help you both be proactive in advance of potential disaster, mitigate the potential damage that happens once disaster hits, and help speed up recovery in the aftermath.

Below is a brief overview of some of the types of disasters that can result in catastrophic data loss and how the right hardware can help you keep your data safe.

Natural Disasters

Of all the disasters that can lead to catastrophic data loss, natural disasters are the most dramatic. From destroyed buildings, flooded cities, burnt forests, the devastation these disasters can leave in their wakes can seem almost immeasurable. And while physical damage to computers and servers is undoubtedly a prime cause of data loss during natural disasters, the power outages often associated with such events can also cause catastrophic data loss, even in areas that escape the worst carnage. 

Though no computer is completely indestructible, some are far more able to withstand extreme conditions than others. For instance, rugged industrial PCs are much more able to withstand physical damage, like the kind that can be caused by earthquakes or high wind speeds, than regular consumer-grade computers. They are also built to withstand greater temperature extremes, hot or cold, than their consumer-grade counterparts. As such, mini rugged PCs are far more likely to survive things like winter storms, heatwaves, and possibly even structure fires. Additionally, industrial mini rugged PCs often feature removable drive bays so that in the event of a disaster, you can quickly remove the computer’s entire hard drive and take it with you as you evacuate to safety.

Enterprise Computers and Industrial Panel PCs are also more well equipped to withstand natural disasters than their consumer-grade counterparts. For one, they are IP65 certified against dust and liquid ingress, meaning they are more likely to survive in the event your sprinklers go off, pipes burst, or there is severe structural damage to your building (structural damage creates lots of dust that can ruin computer comments).

Additionally, they are VESA mountable, meaning you can securely mount them to the wall or other workstation, significantly reducing the chance they will sustain damage due to a fall. Finally, they come equipped with Solid State Drives (SSDs) instead of traditional Hard Disk Drives (HDDs). SSDs lack moving parts, unlike HDDs, and are therefore more likely to survive physical shocks, like those that can arise from earthquakes or severe storms. 

Power Outages

While natural disasters can undoubtedly result in power outages, they are far from the only cause. Everything from an accidentally tripped breaker, to a power surge, to unexpected grid maintenance, to a car crashing into a power line down the street can cause your business to lose power. Power outages can be extremely costly for any business – after all, it’s not just data that you can lose during a power outage, but time. Every minute your computers are down is a minute your business isn’t producing and losing money.

While some facilities are lucky enough to have backup generators on hand, the vast majority of businesses are at the mercy of the grid. Thankfully, you can avoid such problems with an Industrial Panel PC or Enterprise PC equipped with an internal UPS. UPS, in this instance, does not refer to the shipping company but rather is an acronym for Uninterrupted Power Supply, which is a small backup battery installed inside a computer. Unlike the CMOS Battery, which only supplies power to the CMOS RAM so you don’t lose your BIOS Data, an internal UPS keeps the entire machine running for up to 5 hours if it loses power. 

While it’s common for businesses to utilize UPSs for their central servers, it’s relatively uncommon to see them used at individual workstations. By purchasing workstations with internal UPSs, you can buy your workers precious time to save and back up whatever they were working on in the event of a power outage. Depending on the length of the power outage, with internal UPSs, it could even be possible for your staff to work through the loss of power, making it so they don’t lose data or productivity.

Hardware Failure

Unfortunately, no matter how well made or cared for, all computer equipment will eventually either fail or outlive its usefulness. Hard drives get worn out, circuits fry, memory gets bogged down – any number of things can render a computer useless over time. Sometimes technology simply passes your old hardware by, and new operating systems, software, or peripherals are simply incompatible with the equipment you’ve been holding on to. As hardware ages, it becomes harder and harder to find compatible replacement parts. It becomes more likely that the company that made it will stop offering technical support for that particular model.

You can help mitigate this problem by looking for computing hardware that has a long product life cycle. Whereas consumer-grade computers usually reach their End of Life (EOL) in 3 to 5 years, Industrial and Enterprise-grade computers have much longer product life cycles. This means that it will be easier to service and back up your old units in the event of hardware failure, saving you the headache of trying to salvage data from a computer that no one makes or sells parts for anymore.

Hackers and Malware

Finally, we come to hackers and malware, the bane of any businesses that rely on computers and other digital technology. Hackers and malicious actors are constantly looking for any way to access and compromise sensitive data from companies of all sizes, from mom and pop retail shops to massive international corporations. You don’t need to read the news to know that data breaches in the form of hacks, ransomware, and other malware attacks cost businesses all over the world billions of dollars per year.

While many businesses rely on cloud backups to secure their data against malicious attacks, sometimes this isn’t enough. You can add an extra level of security to your by utilizing TPM chips in your Industrial or Medical Grade computers. To oversimplify, a TPM, or Trusted Platform Module, is a small chip on the motherboard, at times separate from the main CPU and memory. This chip contains a cryptographic key, user credentials, and other essential data in separate hardware that hackers cannot access. In addition, data on the primary boot drive is also encrypted, and without the TMP’s cryptographic key, the computer will not boot.

Utilizing a TPM on Rugged Industrial PCs that comes with locking removable drive bays provides you with unparalleled security. It allows you to take your data offline by physically removing it from the computer and physically storing it in a place it cannot be accessed, like a safe, preventing anyone from accessing the data remotely. Additionally, because of the TPM, should someone steal the hard drive itself, they would not use it on another machine because they would not have the right cryptographic keys and user credentials. In a world where cybercriminals are becoming increasingly bold in their attacks, the level of security these Rugged Industrial PCs can provide you is unparalleled.

Final Thoughts

If you’re interested in finding out how the right computer hardware can help your business guard against catastrophic data loss, contact the experts at Cybernet today