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June 13th, 2011

Data loss disasters come in many forms, ranging from simple human errors to “acts of God” that cannot be controlled. However, you can control how you prepare for such occurrences and the steps may be easier than you think.

What would happen to your business if you had a major data loss? The possibility is definitely there; this can’t be denied. Data loss disasters come in many forms, ranging from simple human errors to “acts of God” that cannot be controlled. However, you can control how you prepare for them.

Here are eight questions you can ask yourself to test your disaster preparedness.

  1. First: Do we back up our data?
  2. It’s amazing how many small businesses do not have a backup system in place. It’s so easy to assume disaster won’t strike you. But data loss doesn’t always come from huge, cinema-worthy disasters. They can result from simple everyday errors – yet have huge disastrous results. Don’t let this be you.

  3. Do we back up all of our account information?
  4. Many small businesses tend to keep their accounts data on one employee’s PC, instead of the network which is on their backup schedule. But what if you lose your customer database? Be sure it’s included in the files to be backed up.

  5. Do we back up our email files?
  6. Ever wish you had that one email from a few months back, in which a customer gave you the “go ahead” but now they’re refusing to pay for your work? These days, email is increasingly used as legal evidence of agreements or notices to proceed. If they’re included in your backup, you can easily pull up even deleted emails received or sent.

  7. Is our Calendar and Contact information backed up?
  8. What if you came to work one morning and your online calendar and address book was gone? What appointments and communications would you miss, and at what cost? Most of the time, by default your Outlook Contact and Calendar files are stored on the individual PCs. Make sure these files are included in your backup set.

  9. Do we back up folders and files from each computer?
  10. In addition to important information that is stored in shared networks, think about the files that each of your employees create and use on their own hard drives. Spreadsheets, letters, memos, databases wouldn’t it be a shame to lose all that work?

  11. Are we always saving our files to an area that will be backed up?
  12. Consider where each and every file your work on is being saved. Will it be included in your backups? Develop policies and educate your employees on where to save their work so it’s included in your backup schedule.

  13. Do we back up data frequently enough?
  14. This answer to this question is how much work are you willing to risk? Say you complete an important contract on Tuesday morning, and an employee accidentally deletes it that afternoon. But you only run backups on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Bye-bye contract! A more frequent backup schedule would have saved the day.

  15. Do we know where our backups are and how to use them?
  16. If you use USB drives, external hard drives, or backup tapes for your backups, are you storing them offsite in a safe place? Even if your files are backed up to the cloud, do you know how to recover them in case of an emergency? Knowing your backup system and keeping it safe will ensure you can get back to business quickly and efficiently.

Even if you already have a backup system in place, take a few moments to think about your specific business. If the unthinkable happened, exactly what data would you need to get back up and running? What could you not operate without? Once you identify these things, simply make sure they are included in your backup.

Need help? We’re experts in guiding small businesses in setting up a backup system that meets their unique needs. Give us a call today to discuss the options available to keep your business data safe and sound.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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August 19th, 2010

Before you entrust your sensitive data to a “cloud” service provider, make sure you weigh the risks with the benefits.

Cloud computing,” largely synonymous with Internet-based computing, has become a hot topic of discussion among many in the business community, with its promise of radically simplifying the access to, and use of, computing resources on demand. It’s no wonder then that it’s been small businesses, often without full-time IT resources of their own, that have been the first to adopt the concept. As a business owner, however, before you start moving critical data to the “cloud,” you’ll do well to bear in mind the risks that come with the computing model.

First is security and privacy—ask how the service provider ensures the confidentiality and integrity of your data while in their care. Do they provide backups? Can you back up your data yourself? Are their security processes and procedures reviewed and vetted by a third party?

Next is availability. Do they guarantee the uptime of their services—7 days a week, 24 hours a day? Do they provide a service level guarantee? Do they have processes in place to handle exceptional circumstances that can disrupt services, such as a natural disaster? Is support readily available to help in case you encounter any issues?

Finally, there’s cost. While pay-as-you go can be attractive, the total cost over time can add up. It’s worth thinking two to three years out and considering the total cost versus alternatives.

Asking these basic questions can go a long way in giving you peace of mind before you entrust your valuable data and core business systems to the care of others. If you’d like some help sorting all this out and making the best decision for your unique needs, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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May 21st, 2010

disasterAs networks and devices become increasingly complex, more and more things can go wrong. As a result, disaster recovery plans have also become more complex.

Is yours good enough?

According to Jon William Toigo, the author of Disaster Recovery Planning, 15 or 20 years ago a disaster recovery plan might consist of powering down a mainframe and other computers, disassembling components, and drying circuit boards in the parking lot with a hair dryer. That’s because a disaster, in those days, was usually a fire that set off a company’s sprinklers.

Today, there are many more threats, including sabotage. Moreover, most companies’ IT systems are too large to be recovered using such a simple hands-on approach. Even if you could recover from a disaster in the manner Toigo recalls, you probably wouldn’t want to due to the downtime it would require—downtime that could have a significant financial impact.

Consider the case of Hurricane Katrina. When it slammed the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005, it wiped out the communications infrastructure of a whole region, uprooting 1,000 wireless towers and knocking down 11,000 utility poles. Many businesses were forced to shut down entirely—even critical ones, including 25 hospitals and 100 broadcast stations. But clients of such company did stay in business—by relocating to off-site facilities equipped with the computing power and backed-up data to keep systems and services online. Some even utilized 18-wheelers with servers and other office equipment inside.

Disaster recovery in the modern age is a detailed, step-by-step course of action for quickly getting back on your feet after a natural or manmade disaster. The details may vary depending on your business needs, and can be developed in-house or purchased as a service.

How prepared are you for disaster? Call us today for a review of your plan.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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April 23rd, 2010

BCPIt’s simple: Businesses that suffer data losses usually fail as a result.

That’s according to a study by the Department for Trade and Industry, which found that 70 percent of small businesses suffering a major data loss are out of business within 18 months.

What this means is most small businesses have failed to protect themselves from a plethora of problems. According to Ontrack, data loss is the result of human error 44% of the time, hardware or system malfunction 32% of the time, software malfunction 14% of the time, computer virus 7% of the time, and site disaster 3% of the time.

And data loss is bad, because your data is your business. To illustrate, consider the impact if you lost access to your IT systems, including:

  • Customer databases
  • Supplier details
  • Financial documents, from invoices to tax records
  • Product catalogues
  • Marketing materials
  • Letters and emails
  • Document templates
  • Staff records

You already have insurance to protect your business assets, and the same principle applies to your data. Regardless of where your data is, it needs to be protected—and protected continuously—from every possible threat.

The good news: a solid disaster recovery plan, including a good backup solution, will allow you to get back to business within minutes or hours in most cases.

So protect your data, and secure your business. Ask us how.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
March 23rd, 2010

backupYou can’t have a disaster recovery plan until you first have a good backup solution. Is your backup solution good—or just good enough?

The traditional backup process is done to tape – which has a number of limitations including high cost (particularly as capacity increases), difficult upgrades, degradation over time, and slow backup and restoration.
Over the past three to five years, there has been a transition to hard-disk-based backup solutions that generally offer the ability to easily increase capacity as well as backup and restore much faster.

Whichever solution you use, there are many risks to your data.

Traditional backup processes capture only one snapshot of your information per day. So if your backup is scheduled to take place at 12 a.m., you risk losing the entire following day’s work in the case of a disaster.

The backup process traditionally involves significant manual labor. Someone has to ensure that the correct media is in the drive. Someone has to look at the results of the backup to ensure that it is complete (and ideally perform periodic data restorations). Then, when the backup is complete, someone has to take it offsite for safekeeping.

While some businesses have the capabilities to perform all of these backup-related tasks, many others don’t—and therefore have no idea if their backups will be there when needed.

How can you make your backup system better?

  • First, you should be absolutely sure that every bit of your data is backed up multiple times per day.
  • Second, the human element should be completely eliminated from the equation.
  • Third, restoration should be quick and flexible, so you can bring back any part of your data or all of it, depending on your needs.
  • Finally, the impact on your business should be minimal. In fact, you should be unaware that a backup is even in progress.

We can help you set up and maintain a backup solution perfect for your needs. Contact us for more information.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
March 22nd, 2010

bcpBusinesses are constantly changing. Is your disaster recovery plan changing, too? It should be.

Every company can experience a business-altering event at any time:  floods, explosions, accidents, computer malfunctions—the list is endless.

If you have a disaster recovery plan, you’re prepared to prevent such events from disrupting your normal operations—or at least you were at the time you created the plan. But how long ago was that?

As your business has grown, it’s likely that your products and services, or at least the way you deliver them, has changed as well. For example, the increase in technology-based processes over the past few years has likely increased your reliance on the availability of systems and information for your business to function effectively.

These changes might necessitate a change in your disaster recovery plan. As a result, we recommend a regular review of your plan. If you make changes, these change should be tested and new processes documented so all employees can be trained accordingly.

Finally, keep in mind that reviewing your disaster recovery plan isn’t a one-time event. Because changes to your products and services, or the way you deliver them, are likely to continue, reviewing your disaster recovery plan should be a regular process.

If you’d like a professional review of your disaster recovery plan (or if you don’t have one in place at all), contact us today. We can help save your systems and data from the unthinkable.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
February 15th, 2010

business continuityWith the start of a new year, businesses commonly implement changes and launch new initiatives that have ramifications for your IT environment. Ignore them at your own peril.

Chief among your IT considerations should be a Business Continuity Plan, or BCP, which will allow your business to resume normal operations in the event of a significant data loss or network downtime. Unfortunately, recent studies have found that about half of small and midsize businesses have no BCP. That’s a huge risk; more than half of companies that experience catastrophic data losses go out of business within a couple of years.

And while it’s important to have a plan in the first place, it’s equally important that your BCP is flexible and scalable to adapt as your business undergoes changes.

Software installations, modifications, and updates as well as the addition of new hardware are an important part of business continuity planning. You must ensure your backup, storage, and recovery procedures and systems are kept current with these changes. Improper maintenance and outdated procedures can lead to backup errors that result in costly data losses. Unfortunately, some companies discover these errors too late – when they try to recover the data.

In addition to the IT considerations of a BCP, don’t ignore the human element. Someone, typically your IT staff, has to be in charge of overseeing BCP execution. But it doesn’t end there. Other employees have their roles, too, but do they know what those roles are? Have they been brought up to speed on the importance of backup and recovery, and what they need to do should you experience a catastrophic data loss? Has your business produced and printed a manual for employees to use as a reference?

Let us help you assess your business continuity strategy to make sure it takes all relevant aspects into account and is kept current with your evolving needs. Your business may depend on it.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
November 26th, 2009

lapstopA new study by SquareTrade, an independent US-based warranty provider, analyzed failure rates for over 30,000 new laptop computers covered by SquareTrade Laptop Warranty plans, and found that one-third of all laptops fail within 3 years.  According to the study, 20.4 percent of all failures were due to hardware issues, and another 10.6 percent were from accidental damage. Among the brands surveyed, Taiwanese brand Asus and Japanese manufacturer Toshiba were shown to have the toughest laptops, with only 16 percent of units having hardware malfunctions within three years. HP, one of the top brands in the notebook business, performed the worst in SquareTrade’s study with a 25.6 percent failure rate. Lenovo, Acer, and Gateway also had failure rates above the 21 percentile. It also found that netbooks are 20% more unreliable than other laptops.

Do you have problems with your laptops and notebooks at work? Need to purchase or upgrade your equipment and looking for advice? Let us know so we can help.

Related articles:

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
Topic Articles
October 15th, 2009

Every time I move house I realise how much “stuff” I have. You know, it’s the stuff that lives in boxes in the closet, and under the bed, and in the garage. Stuff I just shift from one location to the next even though it has no immediate purpose. Yet I don’t want to throw it out.

But in this decade, more than ever before, the stuff we accumulate and carry around with us extends beyond physical possessions and in to the realms of the digital world. From music and video to bills and tax records, the amount of digital data we store is growing exponentially.

This applies just us much in our work lives and our businesses. Think about the last time you changed jobs, or even just bought a new computer. Even though you may have a company server and tend to store most formal work related data there, I’m willing to bet you still had a bunch of other “stuff” on your computer that was copied off separately. Stuff that you don’t use much, but can’t be without.

>>Read the rest of this post on Small Business Daily.

Looking for an Online Backup Solution? Evolve IT can provide it! Check out our Managed Online Backup Service brochure, or contact us today on 1300 85 88 99.

Topic Articles
July 21st, 2009

article_data_lossData breaches are costing companies more than ever, according to a recent study—and smaller companies may be most at risk.

Data losses, which can result from theft or carelessness, are a downside of the information age. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), more than 35 million data records were breached in 2008 in the United States—47 percent more than in 2007.

How much do data losses cost? The Ponemon Institute, which studies business privacy practices, surveyed 43 U.S. companies across 17 industry sectors that lost data in 2008. According to the study, data losses ranged from 4,200 records to 113,000 records, and each data record lost cost $202—making the total cost between $848,400 and $22,826,000.

That number was up from $197 per data record lost in 2007, $182 in 2006, and $138 in 2005, the first year the study was conducted.

Why are data losses so costly? When you lose data, a number of costs are incurred, including detecting data losses, notifying victims, paying for victim reparations (such as free credit checks), and hiring experts to remedy the problem. You also must account for business lost as a result of customer mistrust. In fact, in the Ponemon study, $139 of the lost $202 per data record represented the cost of lost business.

Small companies may suffer the most from data losses. Another study conducted earlier this year by StollzNow Research asked IT managers from 945 companies about their experiences related to data management. They found that an alarming 49 percent of small companies fail to back up their data on a daily basis.

This is despite the fact that nearly half of all participants experienced data loss in their workplace in the past two years, and 36 percent felt that data loss could have a significant impact on their business.

Don’t put yourself at risk. We can help you prevent costly data loss by implementing a policy for the preservation of data, and by installing and testing backup systems on a regular basis.

Related articles:

Tech Managers Often Underestimate Impact of Data Loss

Study: Data Losses Proving More Costly for Businesses

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.
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