Your corporate network is the virtual lifeblood of not only large corporations, but also smaller businesses.

Through it, data and information flows nearly seamlessly from the far reaches of the Internet, down through your business systems, and into the appendages of your employees’ PCs.

So when your network goes down, it can feel like your small business has been paralyzed with a stroke.

Here’s a guide for what to do when your corporate network goes down, and steps you can take to prevent it from ever happening in the first place.

What to Do When Your Corporate Network Goes Down

First off, don’t panic.

Networks sometimes go down in phases, so your employees might still be able salvage whatever they’ve been working on if their computer is further down the line.

Also, if people can work off the server, they can keep working. Otherwise, everybody should shut down.

If your small business is such that employees can work locally, then you could institute what is fondly called a sneaker net.

A sneaker net is where people share files via a thumb drive, walked over to their colleague’s desk. Sneaker nets are surprisingly effective. Lots of businesses were built with sneaker nets long before intranets were ever conceived.

Loss Prevention in the Event of a Network Failure

There’s a saying that the quality of your backup system determines how long you’ll be down for.

If you have a cheap backup “system” in place or none at all, you could be down for weeks, and some data may just be lost forever.

If you are smart enough to invest in a solid backup system, you might only be down for an hour, with no data lost.

Solid backup systems include mirror drives and redundant servers, where you simply unplug the downed drive, and plug in the redundant server.

Some things to do once you have a solid backup system are:

  • Write down the procedure for getting the network back up and running – Make the instructions detailed, and keep several copies around the office. One copy should reside in the server room.
  • Have a mock run – Choose a weekend and hire a tech person to come in and orchestrate a mock network failure. Run through every step just like it was a fire drill.

Remember, your network won’t go down when you don’t need it. It will always go down when you most need it, because network problems are most often related to traffic issues.

Preventing Network Failure in the Future

Properly shut down all computers at the end of the day.

When you get too many connections, things can come in that overpower your server. Even screensavers take up network space and having computers constantly trying to get email can unnecessarily use up resources.

Keep up with the automated updates.

These updates are designed to bugs, install important security updates and install patches. You can’t let those get behind because then things start happening, like viruses and firewall breaches. When your computers are running different versions of updates, problems can arise.

Lastly, the best solution is to have a dedicated IT person on staff or on retainer who can help you to ensure that your network is in the best possible health.

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.