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I.T. Tips

How To Set Up and Maintain Backups

How To Set Up and Maintain Backups

By | I.T. Tips, IT Solutions

Whether you’re a startup or global corporation, backups are an essential part of any business’ IT strategy.

Creating and storing multiple copies of your data is key to preventing file loss due to device theft, malicious attacks, or even a fire or leak in your office.

We understand that backups and disaster recovery can be confusing and that duplicating and managing files is time-consuming for business owners.

This is why we’ve rounded up some basic tips on how to set up and maintain backups successfully.

 

It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3.

A key factor that discourages people from maintaining backups is the lack of knowledge of how to do so properly.

The standard recommendation is the 3-2-1 method; three copies of your data, stored on (at least) two different types of device, with one of these located offsite.

Many make the mistake of having only one backup of files. Of course, this is a lot better than having none at all, yet having two extra duplicates significantly reduces your chance of complete data loss.

You must ensure that these are stored on two different types of medium, such as a USB stick and an external hard drive. This protects you against device malfunction or physical damage to the storage units.

Lastly, you must always store one of your backups away from the other copies. By using different locations, you can cover yourself if there is a fire, burglary or another unfortunate event in your office space.  

 

But, there’s an alternative for SMBs.

You may be thinking “But, I don’t have access to an additional site to store a backup!”

Startups and small businesses can still use the 3-2-1 method, without having to hire out another office or storage space. Cloud services provide a more affordable – yet secure – service, which allows companies the opportunity to store their files on a remote server that is managed by a trusted company like Amazon and Microsoft.

These services are a great option for you if you are already using OneDrive, Google Drive or DropBox to store documents and data because they can be seamlessly integrated.

Just remember, file sharing sites like the aforementioned are not a backup solution and should always be used in tandem with other backup methods.

For instance, one we like to use is Spanning Backup. Hosted in AWS, you can backup all of the above vendors and set up an offsite copy. It’s also a great choice as it stores multiple copies of the files.

 

Check up on them.

It’s all well and good backing up your files, but you must make sure that you are checking them regularly.

If you do not actively monitor them, how can you be certain that they are working correctly?

Depending on what systems you have in place, We’d recommend taking a look at your backups from anywhere between each month to every six months. This makes sure everything is running smoothly and that your data can be restored in full if a disaster occurs.

 

Disaster recovery.

On a similar note, outlining a disaster recovery plan is essential to limit the amount of downtime your business will experience if data loss occurs. It’s no use having a backup of your data if you have no idea how to restore it.

 

Consider automation.

Manual backups are a great way to ensure your documents are safe whilst still keeping costs low – an excellent solution for individuals and small businesses.

However, automation is something to think about sooner rather than later. Automating your backups guarantees no file is left behind. Manually copying your files is not only time consuming but can be a hotbed for human error.

This list includes just a few tips for maintaining backups and is by no means a complete guide. If you would like to discuss your backup and disaster recovery strategy further, please get in touch today

Comparing managed solutions vs break-fix I.T

Comparing managed solutions vs break-fix I.T

By | I.T. Tips, IT Solutions

Everyone wants everything to “just work”, when it does break, they want it fixing ASAP and then to not break again.

Yet when it comes to I.T. within business, a lot of companies are still “reactive” or in other words break fix as opposed to “proactive” or what most people would call Managed solutions.

Particularly in the Startup-Small/Medium business space, this is generally because they do not have the resources or it is not viable to employ their own I.T. employee, yet these are also the ones most at risk.

Lets talk about what each of these mean, specifically to I.T.

Here is a little info-graphic that highlights most of the points

Comparing managed solutions vs break-fix I.T

A lot of people and companies believe Reactive to be less expensive, especially in the short-term, however issues will continue to arise if the setup is wrong and/or the underlying issue is not rectified.

The main disadvantage is that, those underlying issues are not going to get rectified unless you pay for their time spent in doing so. This is a double edged sword because they do not know anything of your business or I.T. environment. Resolving issues will likely take twice as long as they need to, versus if they already know everything about your environment.

Time=Money

Twice as long (or longer) to resolve an issue not only means you are paying the support company for THEIR time, for every minute that your business is not operating correctly you are most likely losing revenue and/or wasted employee hours.

It is almost like you are paying twice.

SO HOW DO MANAGED SOLUTIONS HELP?

PREVENTION

Having a dedicated qualified I.T. person setup your I.T. systems and infrastructure. It will be setup correctly using best practices and following standards for your network. Not simply setup according to whoever setup the machine at the time, nor by a non technical person.

DISASTER RECOVERY

If a Disaster were to strike, backups and disaster recovery plans are usually included within your solution. This means that, not only is your data backed up and secure, they know the procedures needed to recover, so that when it comes to recovering from a disaster, the business can get back up and running in the shortest amount of time possible.

MANAGEMENT/MONITORING

Been able to manage and monitor critical services, servers and PC’s, this means that if anything were to fail, the service can be restarted to automatically bring the service back up without any manual intervention from anyone. If that were to fail, it can flag an alert to the Support staff so that they can begin working on the resolution, all without you having to call anyone. This means less downtime and interaction from you.

ADDING VALUE

Managed I.T. solutions enables more and more businesses to not only stay online and running smoothly. Bundled services are usually part of the package, covering you for support, anti-virus, services and backups. Leaving you dealing and renewing with only 1 central supplier and not multiple. It is also easier to budget as it is generally a fixed cost unlike the erratic Reactive support.

We at Just Gilbey Ltd also like to add that extra value by trying to save you more in costs as much as possible, by being available to ask for I.T. advice, even if we are not managing that particular solution for you, we will gladly recommend if we think you are over paying for a service or one that is not needed.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Re-active Support is good for the immediate short term, it keeps things ticking over, however when you quickly consider all of the other factors, downtime, lost production/revenue etc. It very quickly adds up.

A proactive managed solution is the way to go long term, it will keep your I.T. systems running smoothly 24/7 and will save you more money than re-active support in the long run, including helping save money through other cost savings too such as productivity, efficiency, streamlining and management.

Typical SMB Backup mistakes

Typical SMB Backup mistakes

By | I.T. Tips

A lot of businesses understand the importance of backups and usually their top priority to protect against viruses, disasters and file deletions.

Yet a lot of businesses still do not realise what they are protected against..or more so NOT protected against.
Going into potential SMB clients, I had been advised that they already have a backup solution, however, after investigating a bit further, it turns out they are not as protected as they first thought. It isn’t usually very long before I get a call or E-mail asking me what they can do to fix it.

With me highlighting some of the misconceptions and misunderstandings below, you can think about your own backups and decide whether you are aware of the risks and whether your “backup” is suitable.

This post is aimed at file/folder backups and doesn’t cover E-mail, Servers/Services or Business continuity, which deserve to be looked at in detail on their own!

Here are some of the common backup misconceptions I have come across with SMB’s so far.

BACKUP MISTAKE #1 – DROPBOX/GOOGLE DRIVE/ONEDRIVE/SHAREPOINT

“We backup all of our files on DropBox, Google Drive and OneDrive”

Why is this a mistake?

More of a misconception or misunderstanding, instead of a backup, it is actually more like “redundant storage”

What I mean by this is, yes, your device can break and the files that are stored “in the cloud” are unaffected by this, the files remain available for use from any other PC and you only need to get a new PC to get the files again.

Why it is not a backup

The solutions work by syncing storage in the cloud with the files on your PC, across multiple PC’s/devices that are also synchronised. If you make a change or create a new file on 1 device, it will synchronise to the main server and then update the changes across all other devices. They do not typically store “previous versions” of the same file, it is 1 copy and that is it.

The downside

Ever edited a file and accidentally saved over the version you wanted to keep or even deleted it?

Or worked on a file and at some point it becomes corrupted and unusable?

The benefit is also the problem, any file changes will instantly be synchronised across all of your devices, replacing all of the good working copies of the files and leaving you unable to restore to a previous version.

What about Ransomware?

Exact same thing, ransomware works by copying your files and replacing them with encrypted copies that you cannot access and the original files are deleted. If 1 PC that is linked to your DropBox or Google Drive is infected, it will make changes to the files, those file changes will now appear across all of your devices.

BACKUP MISTAKE #2 – MANUALLY TAKING A COPY OF FILES

Taking a manual copy of all files/folders and storing this on another storage drive, such as a NAS or External Hard Drive.

Why is this a mistake?

Several reasons, you need to make sure you are backing up everything that your employees use and save and that you have sufficient access to access all the files.
The backups themselves are usually very limited in the dates/times that you can restore a file from, most often, the backups are taken once a day and only keep 1 version of the file.
If your data is stored in an application/database, chances are this is being missed from your backup.

The downside

If a virus were to infect a computer or the server, it usually infects anything that is attached to the computer, including hard drives. A lot of people keep the hard drive connected to the computer/server, that would be your “backup” gone.

When backing up manually, you are therefore relying on people remembering to back up the files. Depending when a restore is needed and the time backups are done, you are very limited to what files you restore.

If files were deleted prior to the backup and then a backup is run with the file already deleted, it could actually delete the file from its own backup as it no longer exists on the source.

BACKUP MISTAKE #3 – NO MONITORING

Having an actual backup solution and/or system in place but NOT monitoring/maintaining the backups

Why is this a mistake?

Quite obvious….If it hasn’t been running for a few days or even months, you will not know about it until it is too late.

The downside

It’s all very good having a backup system in place, but unless you have some sort of status and/or monitor/alerts for the jobs, then how do you know if you have last night’s backup or not?

Similarly, you also need someone to actively monitor the alerts. It’s not very good if you setup alerts to an individual, for that individual to then automatically delete, or move those alerts elsewhere and not check on them.

How to protect?

  • Understand what data you want backing up and how frequently.
  • Understand where that data is stored
  • What should the backups protect against? virus, accidental or malicious deletion, devices failing, disaster?
  • Look into the different technologies and solutions out there, understand how they work and what different situations they protect you from.

ASK US

If you need any help or advice, then contact us and we will be happy to explain some of the pitfalls and different solutions available in more detail.

We offer several solutions to protect our clients against their specific business needs as well as backing up and monitoring the backups for them.

I.T Tips

I.T Tips

By | I.T. Tips

Just a bit of food for thought in terms of I.T

Since moving to the C4DI building with my own startup, Just Gilbey Consulting, I have had the pleasure of working with other startups and building solid relationships with different clients, these have ranged from startups, to already established firms with 100’s of employees. During this time I’ve come across a few reoccurring issues, here are just a few tips that may or may not be useful for you to think about.

Domains

I.T Tips

When registering a domain, for either personal or business use, be sure to have it registered under your name with your own details, not the person who may be managing your domains/websites (unless agreed otherwise). If something were to happen with that person or relationship, there may be dispute about the domain’s ownership, and could cost a lot of time and money trying to ensure your domain actually belongs to you.

Backups

I.T Tips

How much is your data worth to you or your Business?

Backups are a necessity, everyone agrees on this, however merely setting the backups up and forgetting about them isn’t enough, monitoring and ensuring the backups are completing correctly are just as important, spend some time testing them to make sure the data isn’t corrupt and unrecoverable.

I’ve heard of too many situations where the backups are corrupt or not running at all and the client doesn’t realise until it comes to needing to recover, which can often be catastrophic for the business.

*Having backups does NOT mean you have a Disaster Recovery or Business Continuity plan

E-mails

I.T Tips

Business Emails

Creating a business email address when you have purchased a domain (ie name@mybusiness.com) is a fantastic idea to add credibility and authenticity to your business, rather than having a standard gmail or hotmail account. However it’s usually not worth buying cheap email that comes bundled with your hosting, as they can be notably unreliable, sometimes leaving you without email access for hours on end. Google and Microsoft have much better Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that guarantee their email servers will be live 99.9% of the time, or else you will be refunded. Spending that little bit extra for a trusted email host might just be worth it in the long run!

Improving Office Productivity

Improving Office Productivity

By | I.T. Tips

A quick rundown of some projects that we have completed for clients and the benefits

EMBRACING OFFICE 365

Improving Office Productivity

Several companies have now embraced Office 365. These companies have varied in size, from new start-ups, to established firms moving from their own, On-Premise Microsoft Exchange servers.

By moving to Office 365, they now have more consistent and guaranteed access to their mailboxes. They have also reduced costs, through consolidating the purchase of Microsoft Office Applications with the use of reliable E-mail hosting.

SHAREPOINT ONLINE

Improving Office Productivity

Some clients already have a vision and direction for their business and departmental processes. Collaborating, anywhere access, security and version control were some of the words described for their requirement.

After consulting, configuring and training staff on the use of SharePoint Online, the new area is now live.

Staff now always have the latest edited version of documents in and out of the office. The document owners, no-longer have to be contacted as frequently, nor keep re-sending documents. They are now going to expand on other areas in SharePoint at a later date.

BACKUPS

Improving Office Productivity

The benefit of backups seems quite obvious so I don’t think we need to mention those, however, what ISN’T backed up? Do you know? Who checks it? What if it failed?

Several companies were under the impression that their data was safe and backed up regularly. Unfortunately this was not true, a few examples were:

  • No Backups at all
  • Backups not monitored
  • Wrong data been backed up
  • Backed up to inappropriate areas/devices

These are just a few things you should be thinking about, when you think of your own backups. We looked at what applications and data were used, then recommended and implemented a solution, affordable, yet ensured their data was safe.

I.T. SECURITY POLICIES AND AUDITS

Are your I.T. systems setup correctly? Is security and access restricted? How do you know? Do you have I.T. policies? Do you still need to be paying for that?

Some of the questions that you should think about. Regularly reviewing can bring about several significant savings, as technology changes so fast, so do the prices, it also makes sure that you are only paying for what you are needing.

“David helped define, develop and document our company I.T. policies, these helped form part of our larger I.T. strategy. I was very happy with the level of professionalism whilst at the same time keeping it simple and easy to understand. I look forward to working alongside Just Gilbey Ltd in the future and can recommend to anyone else for I.T. assistance and support.”

Security itself is a big one, especially with the UK Government making changes to fines for data breaches. A data breach is not restricted to outside hackers, it includes accidental loss and unauthorised access to data from within the company itself.

COLLABORATING OPPORTUNITIES

Improving Office Productivity

Custom business e-mail addresses are very important for your business, they give the impression that you mean business and gives your business a sense of authenticity and credibility. The same with a website and it giving you an online presence.

Collaborating opens up many opportunities.

After reaching out to a business owner who was still using @Gmail.com for his business e-mail address. He mentioned he would like a website and business cards but didn’t know how to go about this.

Happy to help from the I.T. side, with us now working in C4DI, we contacted a design freelancer that we have worked with. We could then complete the full work and act as a single point of contact for the client in question.

Now they have Office 365 on their mobile and laptop, website, domain, branding and business Cards.

If you would like to get in touch with anything I.T. related or have a question relating to anything covered in this article, please do get in touch.