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Tornadoes, Backup and Disaster Recovery, Oh My!


Though many tornadoes have already occurred this year, March is the official start of tornado season. Which brings to mind two popular films—the iconic “Wizard of Oz” (1939) and the more recent “Twister” (1996). In the first, young Dorothy Gale experiences a tornado in which cows and farmhands fly by her window, and her home is transported, nearly intact, to a fantasy world. In the second, a rocky romance is set against a backdrop of real-life storm chasers and close calls. The reality is that each year, many people are killed and many more are injured by tornadoes.

The National Weather Service recorded 936 tornadoes in 2012, with 206 in April alone. There were more than 450 fatalities and nearly 2,600 injuries. Property and crop damage was estimated at $1.6 billion. In 2011, a major outbreak produced a tornado that devastated parts of Joplin, Missouri and resulted in 158 fatalities.

90% of tornadoes occur in “Tornado Alley,” areas of the central United States where cold, dry air from Canada and the Rocky Mountains meets warm, moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and hot, dry air from the Sonoran Desert. Most tornadoes last less than 10 minutes, but winds can exceed 200 mph, completely destroying structures, lifting and tossing vehicles and other heavy objects and turning any loose debris into deadly projectiles. In seconds, they can level a corn field, tear up a city street or destroy a business.

The nature of a tornado makes it difficult to prepare for, with maybe just minutes to spare. In our blog entry of February 12, Victor Mathieu, Director of Technical Support at Datto, said “The really scary disasters are the ones you can’t prepare for, like earthquakes and tornadoes.”

We asked Datto Partner Drayton Mayers of Team Logic IT in Memphis, Tennessee about special considerations for protecting data and ensuring business continuity in tornado-prone areas.

Q: How do you prepare your clients for tornado season?

A: I simply tell them to buy a Datto! We’re talking about a catastrophic event that, in seconds, takes out 2 miles of urban or rural property. I tell them the only way to keep their data safe from this level of destruction is by employing the kind of full business continuity that you can only get with on-site and off-site cloud backup.

Q: Do you think some of your clients adopt the “It won’t happen to me” attitude?

A: Absolutely, and it’s important for them to understand how BDR differs from simple backup. I explain that trying to restore data after using primitive methods of simply backing up files is like having to do brain surgery, and then replace “old thoughts” into a “new brain.“ The brain represents the OS, and the thoughts are like files. You have to backup the brain and the thoughts together.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge when selling business continuity to your clients?

A: First, it’s important that they fully understand what BDR means. And the cost is a real decision for most clients. Bandwidth is also a big issue. Full business continuity is difficult to achieve when the pipeline is too small to push the data through efficiently. Finally, I tell clients, you just can’t do this right with a solution like Dropbox or Carbonite.

If you’re looking to prepare your clients for tornado season, call Datto and learn  how you can provide Intelligent Business Continuity with Datto SIRIS.

Government agencies like the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration continue to implement new radars, satellites and computer models to better predict tornadoes, saving lives and preserving property.

Stay informed by having multiple sources for weather alerts: NOAA Weather Radio, NWS Weather Wire Service,, and Wireless Emergency Alerts. Subscribe here to receive Email and SMS alerts. Visit FEMA’s site for more on family preparedness for severe weather.

Here are some more weather-related resources that may help you during tornado season:

Weather Ready Nation

Severe Weather Alert map

Tornado/Storm Apps

Datto Inc. is an award-winning vendor of backup, data recovery (BDR) and intelligent business continuity (IBC) solutions, providing  technology and support to more than 5,000 channel Partners throughout North America and Europe. Datto’s hybrid-cloud BDR/IBC technology provides instant on- and off-site virtualization of servers and workstations, serving the needs of small to medium-sized businesses.

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