Advantages of Remote Back-up

Losing critical company data to a computer failure can spell the end of your company if it has not been properly backed-up. If you can’t recover your company files, the chances are that your company won’t recover either, therefore regular and reliable backups are essential in the day to day running of a business.

Back-ups can take the form of being remote or on site, and can be performed manually or automatically. Wherever you chose to store your data, automatic back-ups can be the most reliable in that they take away all responsibility from employees. Any system that relies on people can be unreliable – sooner or later people are going to forget.

Remote back-up solutions have a number of advantages. Firstly, they eliminate the need for tape systems, which can be difficult and time consuming to recover data from and also rely on people remembering to change the tape and store it offsite. Remote back-up systems, such as those supplied by ITSP, do this for you automatically and can be used within your company’s Business Continuity Plan.

These systems can also be personalised so that they perform a back-up at regular intervals that are suitable for the individual company, whether this is daily or hourly. This automatic procedure means that you will have access to the latest version of files your business needs, which further reduces the recovery time from a disaster.

Offsite storage can be beneficial in that, should your place of work become inaccessible, your business can continue to function using data recovered offsite.  Most back-up solutions allow the user to access their stored files from anywhere providing they have an internet connection.

Summary of Remote Back-up Advantages

  • Files stored offsite
  • Automatic back-up at designated times, some systems work continuously as data is changed
  • No need to rely on people and tape storage
  • Unlimited file storage on the cloud
  • Data stored securely in encrypted formats

Planning for Data Loss

Businesses today rely heavily on IT systems to look after their data, but what happens when these IT systems fail? If your business doesn’t have a plan in place to deal with data loss it could become one of a high percentage that never recovers when this happens.

Fortunately there are ways to prevent your business collapsing should a disaster occur. Having an effective Business Continuity Plan in place can allow you to be up and running again with minimal downtime, therefore reducing the losses from your company being unable to operate. These plans don’t have to be complicated either, and a number of steps can ensure they will always be ready in case you need them.

  1. Prioritise data. Go through every task that your business does each day and prioritise it depending on how long you can realistically continue operating without it, and how often the data changes. Once you have mapped out the activities you perform and definined the acceptable and unacceptable data losses you should be able to identify where the critical data lies. You can then use this information to plan what needs to be backed up and how often it should be performed to make best use of back up facilities.
  2. Communicate with staff. Ensure all employees know what to do in the event of a disaster so further minimise company downtime due to people not knowing what to do.  It is a good idea to make sure the whole company is aware of the Business Continuity Plan and what to do should it need to be operated. As the business and roles change, and the company takes on new employees, remember to make sure that adequate training about the plan is given.
  3. Test your plan. It’s no good having a back-up plan if it doesn’t work, so make sure to test your plan regularly. Not all companies can afford a complete test by turning off the main systems, but it is important to walk through and discuss the specific aspects of the plan. It is also crucial that you ensure your back-up is working and that you can retrieve usable data when you need to, and that you can do this quickly.
  4. Review regularly. Businesses are always changing, and any new procedures or staff can change how effective the plan would be. A regular review of the plan keeps it updated and most effective. Reviews should take place regularly, at least once a year, and any changes should be kept in a well-known location with the old copies of the plans destroyed. Make sure you keep the staff up to date with the latest plan and retrain them as necessary.

Getting the most from Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing can be a real benefit to businesses, from file sharing to anywhere, anytime accessibility. However, there are a few key tips to bear in mind when chosing a Cloud service provider to ensure you get the best possible service for your money.

  • Do you trust the company you have chosen? Look into who else they provide the service to as this can give you an idea of how well they are valued. Do your research and find out if they have experienced data leaks in the past, and if so what have they done to improve security so it doesn’t happen again? However, bear in mind that a company that has previously had problems can recover and come back to perform better with updated services. Research is key and you have to be confident that you can trust your provider before you sign a contract with them, after all they are the ones looking after your business data.

 

  •  What do you need from the service? As well as looking at a service to meet your current business demands, you should look to see if it will be able to adapt to meet any changes to your demands in the future. Is it likely that your business will expand and you’ll need more space, and if so will the company be able to provide this? Don’t enter a contract with more storage than you need ‘just in case’, but instead make sure you will be able to expand your contract to accommodate your needs if this is required without incurring large charges for going over your limits.

 

  • What does the service offer? Look into what the service offers and if this is suitable for your company. It makes no sense to go for a service that only offers limited functions when there are other packages out there that can offer much more. If your business goes down you want to be able to access files and perform the tasks you need to keep the business going. There are a number of cloud computing systems out there for almost every business function, so take your time to research one that is right for you.

 

  • Make sure that you will be able to access your cloud files when you need to. If your business fails you want to be able to access your data when you want, so ensure you find a service who will only take down the system outside of your working hours to perform upgrades. Avoid going for the cheapest package if the uptime is low because you are paying for the service and may as well not have it there if you are unable to access it.

The Importance of a Safe Password

With the internet becoming more and more integral in the day to day running of small and medium sized businesses, it is important to ensure you keep your business safe from online threats and dangers.

Creating a safe password is one of the most important things you can do to protect your business, and the importance of doing so can’t be emphasized enough. Passwords are used to protect your private data, such as your emails, social network profiles, and bank accounts, and are therefore a highly important defence against hackers.

Once you have created a strong password, there is an incentive to use it for all of your accounts – after all you know it is strong and you can remember what it is – but this should be avoided. Imagine if someone was to find out this password; they would not only gain access to one of your accounts, but to all of them.

A strong, safe password should have a number of key elements:

  • A mixture of upper and lower case letters
  • Include numbers and symbols/punctuation as well as letters
  • Be around 8 digits long
  • Be easy to remember so you don’t have to write it down. If you have to, write a hint and keep it away from your computer, but make sure not to write the actual password down

Password security top tips:

  • Change your password regularly
  • Don’t share your password with anyone
  • Don’t save passwords or stay logged onto shared computers
  • Have a password you can write quickly so people can’t keep track of what you write
  • Have different passwords for each account

The Benefits of Outsourcing Your IT

Small and medium sized businesses have as much of a need for reliable IT systems as large businesses, however often have much less of a budget to work with. This means that IT technicians, up to date software and data protection can often be neglected in favour of internal projects. Outsourcing IT to an external provider, such as ITSP, is becoming a more widely used option and can greatly reduce these problems.

An external IT technician will be able to do all the tasks of an in house technician, but at a fraction of the cost. Whether you work on a pay monthly contract, or a Pay As You Go basis the chances are that it will work out far cheaper than employing a full time in house IT technician who will often not be needed all the time in a small business. Another benefit is that you will have the support of a specialist who actually knows what they’re talking about, which can mean a problem is solved within minutes as opposed to the hours you could spend trying to diagnose it.

Some companies are reluctant to invest in outsourced IT but if and when a major problem occurs, as it most likely will to all businesses at some point, it is far safer to have an expert to resolve the issue and keep the business running with minimal disruption than waste time and lose money by not having the adequate support available.