Outages happen and can sometimes be unavoidable. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean your business should halt. By preparing yourself for the worst, you can avoid lengthy and unnecessary outages. Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure you’re ready to take on the unknown.

Simulate failure and prepare for it. Just like they taught you in school, drills are important for preparedness. It’s not enough to make a plan and promise to stick to it, you should schedule regular simulations to see how well your plans hold water in different situations. This means you’ll need to train your staff as well as create contingency plans in case your original blueprints fail.

Back up your data regularly. If you aren’t doing this by now, you’ve already got a problem. Make sure to keep your backups independent of the main source. Separate locations will safeguard against a single point of failure.

Have another service provider in the wings. In the event of a service blackout, the worst possible thing for your company is to remain down for an extended and unknown period of time. You want to be accommodating to customers and not hold their data hostage. With a backup service, make sure you are able to implement it at short notice. It doesn’t need to be as functional as your main service, but it does need to have enough features to provide a minimum amount of service.

Work on graceful degradation. This means that when something in your system starts to fail, only parts of the system are rendered defective instead of the whole thing. For this to be effective, you must be able to identify failures quickly.

Communication is key. Customers are your lifeblood. If your service is interrupted, they will no doubt be affective. Keeping your customers in mind and establishing effective communication will cut back on bad press and negative feedback. Some things you can do: write a clear FAQ, backup customer data, and prepare customer service to handle questions should the situation arise.