How to Prepare for Internet Outages

Mohammed Emran /
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Each season comes with its own risks for Internet outages. Depending on where you live, you might face the threat of hurricanes during the summer or snow storms during the winter. Perhaps you live in a woody area in which you’re at risk of wildfires or severe wind. 

No matter what the situation is, everyone deals with Internet outages from time to time. 

Even if you’re not someone that normally has checklists in place in case something happens, with the Internet being such an essential tool in our lives these days, it’s worth the effort to have some type of plan for when there are Internet outages.

Think about it, without access to the Internet, communication with anyone outside of your home is pretty much gone. Especially since living in a pandemic, our reliance on Internet service is very high. 

Internet outages are almost always out of your control. Sometimes it can be something that the Internet provider can fix for you. However, when an outage happens due to nature, there’s not much your Internet provider can do right away. These are the situations in which it helps to have a plan in place.

Most Common Types of Internet Outages

There are multiple types of outages that can cause your Internet connection to halt for a few hours, a few days, or sometimes (in extreme cases) a few weeks or months. 

They range anywhere from natural disasters to failures with networks and devices. 

Here are the most common types of Internet outages you can prepare for.

  1. Natural Disasters
    This type of outage can happen at any moment and anywhere. Though you can’t always prepare for it right before it happens, the good thing is that an outage will only happen if it’s a true extreme situation. The good news is that modern WAN infrastructure has greatly improved in recent years and it takes a lot for an outage to happen despite nature’s forceful rains or snow storms. The bad news is that if you experience an Internet outage from a natural disaster, you’ll most likely not have access to the Internet for at least a few days. Because natural disasters are so unpredictable, the best way to prepare for these types of outages is to have backups of all the data in your devices. That includes: desktop computers, cellphones, laptops, and anything else that has anything of value to you.
  2. Internet Service Provider Outages
    Internet service providers are not perfect and every once in a while, whether it’s due to an internal issue or due to maintenance, outages can happen that are beyond the customer’s control.
    The good thing is that the average time for repair usually doesn’t last long, averaging out at a few hours to maybe an entire afternoon.
  3. Technological Failure
    Hardware is unpredictable and it doesn’t necessarily matter whether it was the most advanced or basic option you purchased. Every device has a few main points of failure that users need to be on the lookout for whenever something starts going wrong.
    Sometimes, something like a missing piece or a faulty device can throw off your entire system and create an internal outage within your household. Of course, these types of failures are much easier to prepare for than natural disasters. All it takes is doing consistent backups so that you’re not at a high risk of losing everything.
  4. Human Error
    Even if we don’t want to admit it, we (as users) are sometimes responsible for the outages we experience with our connection. It doesn’t have to be something too complicated. Something as simple as attempting to log into a network with the incorrect information can throw the whole system off and create an outage.
    While preventing human error is impossible, there are ways that you can reduce the risks of making unfortunate mistakes that will jeopardize your Internet connection. Having a plan and testing everything every once in a while is a good way to maintain mistakes at a minimum.
  5. Cyber Attacks
    This type of outage is much more focused on companies or organizations facing the backlash of someone hacking into their system. In these cases, the company or individual will shut down the entire system until the issue has been dealt with. Of course, this creates a type of outage because no one is able to get on the network until everything is resolved. This is one of those instances in which having security protocols in place can help alleviate the problems that a cyber attack can create after a network outage.

Best Ways to Prepare for Outages

Depending on the type of outage you experience, there are various ways you can protect and prepare for the worst case scenarios.

  • Invest in a Backup
    Even though this type of preparedness doesn’t bring an outage to an end, it will protect your data in case your devices are not able to restore themselves safely after the outage is done. Customers often lose their memories, documents, and anything else stored in their device due to a lack of a backup anywhere else. If you are the type of person to forget to do constant backups of your data, you can always set them up so that they happen automatically and you can be sure that anything stored in the computer is also safely tucked away in a separate backup in case of an emergency. Nowadays it’s especially easy to back up with options that offer cloud services through Wi-Fi connections and that don’t require a physical hard drive to ensure continuous access to information and applications.
  • Protect Personal Data
    This goes right along with having a backup. During an outage, your personal data can sometimes be floating in the air for anyone to view it, use it, and maybe even create more problems on top of the outage you’re already experiencing. It’s important to have a protection plan in place for data through wireless networks. However, be sure that you find a network that is truly secure and that you trust. Hackers can be very clever and, if the wireless storage you choose is not entirely secure, it’ll still be easy for them to expose your personal information on the web.
  • Use Smartphone to Manage Data
    Believe it or not, your smartphone can do a lot more than text and take great pictures. In the digital age we live in, cellphones can facilitate saving files to a cloud storage, email documents or pictures, and give us another way to get things accomplished when all else fails. Make sure that you always have a backup running for anything that’s on your phone so that whatever information you’re putting in there doesn’t get lost, too. 

Even though outages are inconvenient and, in general, very annoying to deal with, they do happen. Just like with anything else, a certain amount of preparation before a disaster hits will always be a helpful way to make it easier to recover everything you might have lost during it. 

Remember, stay calm, breathe, and always hope for the best. Chances are, not everything will be lost and you’ll still be able to recover your memories despite experiencing a network outage.