Tag Archives: backup

Data Backup – Seven Golden Rules

The importance of good backups

Backups are important | Help-IT

Done a lot of work today?

Pretty important stuff, right? Possibly even vital?

I hope you know for sure it is safely backed up and recoverable if needed.

If you do, congratulations, you are in a small minority.

Many businesses cannot say for sure that their data is safe.

They trust haphazard data backup routines that rely on the efforts of one or two people to succeed. They assume. They hope.

Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. They can be catastrophic – like the fire that destroyed our offices many moons ago. They can be miniscule – like the file accidentally deleted by a client this week.

It is being able to handle that emergency that is the key.

Because you are a smart business operator, we are sure you aren’t going to leave something so vital to chance.

So what do you need to do?

Rule 1: Know what needs backing up, and why

The bedrock of all backup plans – know what you have, where it is, and how important it is. With this knowledge you can protect everything important, using the right media and with the right frequency.

Rule 2: Hold your data in one place

Individual machines and devices become a nightmare for successful backups. Company policy should be to hold a master copy of data on a server. One master copy, one backup. Easy.

Rule 3: Automation is your friend

Backups are not fun. They come at the end of the day, or end of the week, at that time where home – or pub if you are lucky – is beckoning. They rely on the weakest link in any system – people. Trust it to automated systems instead. They are reliable, consistent, and don’t spend Friday afternoon dreaming about a quick pint.

Rule 4: Backup often

This one is simple. The more often you back up, the less data you can lose when the time comes to recover an item. Less duplication, lower cost of recovery.

Rule 5: Watch your backups

You have automated your backups, right? And thus everything is more reliable. But even the most reliable systems need a little bit of checking, so make sure your backup systems get the once over. Check for errors, unusual activity, and most importantly, that they have actually run on schedule.

Rule 6: Testing, testing

So you have your nice automated backup system running to schedule. All is well. Isn’t it? You don’t have a successful backup until you are certain you can recover it. So give it a try. Periodically task a staff member with recovering data from the backup (for that ‘real world’ touch make it someone not involved in the backup process). Ensure you have a procedure to follow, and that the procedure works.

Rule 7: Backup your backups

It’s backup time. But backups can go wrong, so you’ll give yourself a safety net by making a copy of your existing backup before writing over it. Woohoo, you have a one generation old copy and a current copy. And now for the really clever part – you are going to make a further copy and securely store it elsewhere. That can mean taking a physical copy elsewhere, or using a cloud service for remote storage.

Congratulations, you are winning

So there you go, seven simple steps to happiness, security and a great night’s sleep. If you follow these, you will be a step ahead of the majority of businesses and can justifiably feel a little smug about your excellent data management.

And if you would like any help or advice in setting up a system like this, please ask and we will be glad to assist you.

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Image: Filippo Giunchedi

Help-IT ConsultancyIT support for Essex businesses from our base in Southend

10 essential IT tools for every small business

IT-essentials

Running any business is a balancing act, but having the essential tools in place can certainly tip the scales in your favour. In a connected world it’s nigh-on impossible to manage without some computer hardware and a standard suite of office software, but once those are in place, what are the essentials for any business to get on and keep succeeding?

While a lot will depend on the specifics of the business, these are the 10 we think nobody can do without:

1. Website

I’m sure every business now has a website in place to allow them to promote themselves and communictae with customers and prospects. The key thing is to appreciate the objective for your website, and how it can help to generate new business or serve existing clients. In turn, it should be optimised to achieve those goals – make it easy for prospects to move closer to purchase, and make it simple for clients to receive support and information when needed.

2. Blog

A blog is a great asset for every business website when used the right way. It can tell your story, demonstrate what you do, and help inform prospective clients. A blog also has the benefit of being search-engine friendly, making it easier for people wanting your services to find your site. Demonstrate your expertise, provide value to others and see the benfits for your own business in turn.

Our choice: WordPress

3. Key mobile apps

One of the great truths of small business is that you often don’t tend to have much time to mind the shop. Often you will need to visit customers or be out of the office to actually do your job. That time on the road can’t afford to be wasted, so being able to take your work with you via phone, tablet or laptop is a tremendous boost to your productivity.

4. Cloud storage

In addition to those mobile apps, you can be certain that there will come a time when you need to work on a certain file when you are away from the office. Or alternatively you might have something really useful or important that you need to share in that moment. This is where cloud storage comes into its own – being able to access those vital documents (almost) anywhere and any time can be the difference between sealing the deal and finishing the job or not.

Our choice: Google Apps For Business

5. Antivirus and malware protection

Being connected to the internet and to the world via email is a blessing, but can also be a curse. Nastiness is lurking out there to catch the unwary , unprepared and unaware. Up-to-date virus protection is an absolute must for any internet user, and doubling up with strong spyware/malware protection will ensure you can safely navigate the web without opening yourself and your business to potential mailicious damage.

6. Backup

On the subject of safeguarding, a robust backup solution is essential for business. As noted above, there are no shortage of malicious items out in the computing world that will do great harm to your systems given the chance. The biggest danger to your data however is probably right there around you. Most of our recovery requests are the result of user error such as accidental deletion, while physical damage like a stray cup of coffee over a laptop can wipe you out in an instant. Having everything safe and secure, centrally stored and frequently backed up is the best chance to ensure you don’t lose something  vital.

Our choice: Shadowprotect

7. Analytics

If your website is doing its job, it is bringing you online visitors and leading them down the path towards conversion to customers and buyers. But how can you be sure of who is visiting and what they are doing on your site. What elements of your site or its content are working harder than others? This is where website analytics comes in. Track your visitors and their activity and you can learn a whole lot about your website’s effectiveness, and fine-tune your marketing accordingly.

8. CRM

When you do make contact with those prospective customers and hopefully turn them into customers, how wil you make sure that they don’t slip away? With the wealth of CRM (customer relationship manager) systems on offer today, it has never been simpler to keep track of how you are marketing and to who, where the opportunities lie and ensuring that your customers are served well.

Our choice: Suite CRM

9. Remote access

All the apps, and all the cloud storage in the world won’t insure you against the day that there is one particular item or program that you really need to work on that is only on your computer. Having remote access in place to be able to get in there and do the job will feel like the greatest invention of all time when you can stay on the sofa and still do what’s needed.

Our choice: Screenconnect

10. Social media

All the world’s a stage, and never has it been easier for your business to deliver a performance. Social media platforms enable even the smallest businesses to reach numbers that required million pound advertising budgets not so long ago. Every business has a story to tell, share yours with the world and get communicating with everyone. You can even use it as a customer service channel.

Follow us on twitter @HelpITEssex or find us on LinkedIn

Those are the IT tools and resources we think every small/medium business should definitely be using. Do you agree? Let us know in the comments below, and add your own IT must-haves.

 

Help-IT Consultancy offer a range of IT services for businesses throughout Essex and beyond. From our base in Southend we offer IT support, planning and procurement.

Please call us on 01702 704001 today to discuss your IT needs.

Image courtesy of Death To The Stock Photo

When data backup nearly became disaster movie

The good people of Pixar revealed the dramas behind the scenes during the making of their second outing for Woody, Buzz et al, and with it gave us a drama as tense as anything their scriptwriters could have hoped to produce.

Data backup disaster for Pixar

The story, in greatly reduced form, is as follows: senior Pixar people suddenly start seeing files disappear, and then more, and then more. Before their very eyes, the data for their entire movie is being deleted from the bottom up. The order goes out to pull the plug – take the entire system offline in order to try and stop the damage. But the damage is considerable, and huge chunks of data have already been deleted.

However, all is well, because Pixar of course have backups. Except, it emerges, the data backups haven’t been working for a while. The feel-good family movie has suddenly turned into a massive disaster story.

As we know, however, the movie was made. So what saved Toy Story 2? I’ll leave that to the storytellers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EL_g0tyaIeE

Would your ending be a tearjerker?

The Pixar tale is an eye-opener as it brings home just how close a disaster can be, even to a project this visible or a company this tech-savvy. After breathing the sigh of relief on their behalf it should nudge every business to take a long and hard look at their own data security and backup arrangements.

The disaster that can ruin you does not always have to be a huge dramatic event – although we at Help-IT did have the experience of suffering a fire that destroyed our premises, and survived by having a solid backup solution – it can be as simple as the wrong person playing with the wrong files, or the wrong piece of hardware failing at the wrong moment.

Likewise while you may feel you have adequate backups, unless you have proven you can restore your data from them you too could simply be relying on a miracle should disaster strike.

In short: Be sure that you understand where your risks lie, and how great they are. Don’t trust assumptions about the safety and security of your data, ensure the backup solutions are in place and robust, and always be sure to test your backups regularly.

Help-IT can help you gain the most from your IT infrastructure, and help to safeguard the data that is vital to your business. To learn more, simply click here!