Archive for Cloud

What is the Best Way to Backup?

What is the best way to Backup?

“That will never happen to me”. We get through our lives telling ourselves the worst won’t happen to us, but we have seen the impact when customers call us in after losing their important data – such as photos and documents. So, what’s the best way to backup?

Approaches to Backup

There are several off-the-shelf backup options you can use. Let’s consider the pros and cons of the most popular ones.

USB Thumb Drives

Also known as “flash drives,” “pen drives,” or “memory sticks,” these thumb-sized devices are compact and portable. But, they have size limitations compared to hard drives. Also, the mobility makes them easy to lose (which can actually set the disaster scenario in motion).

Additionally, a USB thumb drive is robust when not plugged in, but more vulnerable when attached. If someone inadvertently snaps the drive or employs too much force, they can put the data on that backup at risk. Also, as with all electronic devices, they can sometimes fail.

The cheap ones also tend to be slow, which can make backing up sluggish.

USB Hard Drives

Portable hard drives increase the data storage available, often at a decent price. They are designed to be compact and mobile. You can prioritize durability, processing speed, storage volumes and more.

Hard drives are less likely to get damaged than a thumb drive. If knocked or jostled, the cables are flexible. Still, a hard drive can also be prone to physical failure. Selecting an external solid state drive (SSD) can help since it has no moving parts. Information is stored instead in microchips.

Cloud Storage

Backing up to the cloud stores data on an external, secure server. If thieves take your computers and USB backup, you can still access your data on the cloud. Cloud storage providers build in redundancy (multiple copies) to ensure your backup remains safe.

Most cloud storage services back up to secure centres with thousands of servers storing data. They’ll have their own server backups too, just in case they’re the ones hit by a disaster. The providers also encrypt data during transit to further ensure compliance and security.

Migrating to a third-party cloud storage service also cuts the clutter at your home or office. You can count on expert help to ensure security and compliance, plus, you can cut operational costs by offloading in-house storage or external hard drive expenses.

What’s the Best Answer?

Don’t think disaster won’t strike. Research has found data loss and downtime are most often caused by:

• Hardware failures (45% of total unplanned downtime)
• Loss of power (35%)
• Software failure (34%)
• Data corruption (24%)
• External security breaches (23%)
• Accidental user error (20%).

We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means having 3 copies of your data. Two (2) of these would be located on different devices (e.g. on your computer and on a backup drive). The other remaining backup copy (1) would be secured offsite, in the cloud.

Want to secure your data for the worst? Give us a call on 01455 209505.

Is There A Safe Way to Use the Cloud?

Is There A Safe Way to Use the Cloud

Cloud technology has grown to new heights in recent years. Ten years ago ‘the cloud’ was jargon almost nobody was aware of, today it is a phrase used almost daily – after all its available even on your smartphone. More and more homes and businesses today are taking advantage of the huge benefits cloud services have to offer.

The sudden and widespread adoption of this new technology has raised questions too. Some want to fully understand what the cloud is before committing their vital data to it. Most want to find out what the cloud can do for them. Everyone wants to know, is it safe?

What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud is an abstract name for an engineering principle that allows you to store, retrieve, and work on your data without worrying about the specifics of having and maintaining it on your premises. Storing your data on the cloud essentially means saving it on a secure server without worrying about the fine details or costs.

Your data may be stored on a single computer, or distributed across multiple servers held at secure data centres all around the world. Most often it’s stored across one or more data centres as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the end user, the big idea behind the cloud is that where data is stored ultimately doesn’t matter to you. Your cloud server takes care of retrieving your data as quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst keeping it safe and secure.

With cloud technology, you are free to forget about the specifics and worry only about the bigger picture.

Security In The Cloud

Many people are concerned by the idea of their confidential data being distributed somewhere else. Often, people imagine small unguarded computers being responsible for vital company information. In a cloud setting, almost nothing could be further from the truth.

A modern data centre is many times more secure than an office server in your own building. The difference could be compared to storing your cash in a highly secured bank vault versus a locked box on your desk.

The reality is more like many hundreds, or thousands, of computers are stacked up multiple stories in height. Data centres make storing and securing data their entire business, meaning they employ high-level cybersecurity and back it up with top of the line physical security too, including Bio-Security measures.

Today, digital assets are treated with security previously used only for cash, or precious metals such as silver and gold. Walled compounds, security gates, guards, and CCTV protect physical servers from unwanted access. Redundant power supplies even protect services against unplanned power outages.

State of the art digital security encrypts data, secures transmission, and monitors services for intrusion too.

Cloud Convenience

Storing data in the cloud means having easy access and very regular backups. People can work on documents at the same time, save files, and transfer documents without worrying about redundant copies and saving over previous versions.

The cloud acts as the ultimate productivity and security tool. Many firms haven’t known they needed it until they started using it.

User Security

The most significant threat to your cloud security comes from the users. Creating a weak password or reusing an old one to access your cloud services, opens up your data to easy access by hackers.

Falling for a phishing scam, or accidentally installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

And of course, keeping your password on a post-it note is unfortunately an all too common thing.

Attacking a fortified, secure data centre is almost impossible. Targetting a user with common attacks and weak passwords is comparatively simple. These issues can be guarded against and prevented with training, awareness, and simple security tools. A simple password manager can guard against a large number of the biggest threats to your data.

Protection from Ransomware

Some cloud providers give added protection by having multiple backups of your data. Not only does this make sure that your data is always available, it also allows some providers to simply delete any ransomware-infected data and replace it with clean data – so you don’t have to pay hundreds of pounds to get your data unencrypted.

In today’s modern tech environment, the cloud is not only safe, it’s very likely the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your critical data.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help you, whether at home or a business. Give us a call on 01455 209505.

Storage Struggles? How to keep up with the Data explosion

Storage Struggles? How to keep up with the data explosion

Even though many businesses and home users have already embraced the benefits of going fully digital, the digital boom also presents brand new problems too. By moving all our files into a digital space, the amount of storage we need to maintain has grown larger and larger just to keep up.

Moving to digital has allowed us to do more than ever before. It can save both time and money iterating over work drafts and emails as well as saving a ton of space too, eliminating the need for stacks of filing cabinets in every office. For home users, many people now have over 100GB of important data (such as irreplaceable photos), on their computers and other devices.

As digital technology has improved, the resolution, clarity, and size of the digital files we create has exploded. Items such as Xrays, which used to be printed on film are now digital files transferred by computer. As a result of the increase in both the number of digital files we use and their ever-growing size, the size of the data we need to store has exploded exponentially.

There are a number of ways in which we can tackle our ever-growing storage problem.

Local Server or Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A local server is a machine physically located within your own office or building. These are typically designed to serve many files to multiple clients at one time from locally held storage.

The primary advantage that a local network server has is that all your vital data is available to all users in one central location. This means that everyone across the network can access all the resources made available. These machines can serve files at the speed of the local network, transferring large projects, files, and documents from a central position within the network with ease.

The downside of having your own server is the costs of purchase and ongoing maintenance, as well as its vulnerability, for example if the server goes wrong, is stolen or offline for some other reason, everything stops.

A NAS has many of the same network properties, typically packaged as a smaller profile, low powered computer but at a reduced cost compared to a server. A NAS is specifically designed to enable network file sharing in a more compact package and can be available in units small enough to fit in a cupboard nook but still provide staggering storage capacity, on only a small amount of power.

Both a local server and NAS device allow for large amounts of storage space to be added to the local network. These units are often expanded with more and more storage over time. As an organization grows over time, so do its data storage requirements.

Cloud Storage

Sometimes the best option for storage is to move your ever-expanding data outside of the business or home completely. Often, offloading the costs of hardware and IT management can work out to be an intelligent business decision and one that provides freedom and flexibility in your data storage needs.

The major advantage of cloud storage comes from the ability to expand and contract your data as needed without the unnecessary overhead of adding and maintaining new hardware. Plus, they usually have multiple copies, so your data is protected to a far greater extent than if you had your own server or NAS.

By moving storage to the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world provided you have the login details. The flexibility provided by cloud storage allows limitless expansion to any number of devices, locations, and offices. Being able to access data from many locations at a single time can often provide a valuables boost to productivity that can help to speed projects along.

Not only that, cloud services such as Dropbox also provide ransomware protection as they can replace infected files with clean copies where necessary.

The main drawback of cloud storage comes from factors that may be outside of the control of the user – the main one being that not all internet connections are found to be up to the task of handling large amounts of data to and from the cloud. In some cases, the infrastructure is quite simply not in place yet to support it.

IT security regulations or other concerns can also prove to be a barrier to enabling storage in the cloud too. Some regulations either prohibit the feature entirely or you simply may not want certain types of data in an offsite location.

The Right Choice for your data

Whatever your situation, whether a small NAS, local Server or Cloud setup is best to protect your important data, we can advise on your best choices.

Give us a call on 01455 209505 to allow us to use our expertise to make the right choice for your data.

6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Business to Cloud

Switch your Business to the Cloud

Has your business embraced the cloud yet? Yes, it’s another piece of techie jargon that you hear every now and again but it really can help businesses – big and small. As we move closer to 2019, it’s estimated that approximately 83% of business traffic will involve cloud applications – a trend driven largely by smart decision making.

When cloud applications first came out, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available to you. Some of the most common cloud applications are accounting software such as Quickbooks, as well as the Microsoft Office 365 package.

Instead of being seen as alternative options, cloud applications are now clearly viewed as the next logical step. Here’s why:-

Your data is safer

While it can give you a sense of comfort to hear your storage drives whirring away, the risks are less appealing. External hard drives, Network drives and Servers all have a vulnerability – they could crash, drives become corrupted, or a breach could see your data held hostage under a ransomware attack. Of course, there’s always the standard fire/theft/flood scenario to consider too.

With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in ‘Fort Knox’-style data centres, complete with robust backup replacement systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their service guarantees (usually 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians on-site whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application, it works.

We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You’re always updated

Gone are the days of trying to work out compatibility between program versions and accidentally corrupting files. Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices, and unlike when you run an update on a local computer, the process is almost instant. This is because the update is actually running on their end, at the data centre and not on your machine, slowing it down. With this advantage, you’re always up to date with the latest features and security patches, no matter how busy you are.

You’re free to move around

One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around when your employees can do their job. With your new cloud application, they won’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever, whenever.

This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. There are tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy

Since all the data is held in one place, your employees can collaborate with ease. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, ideas can flow faster, results become more valuable. It may sound like a simple benefit, but we know how frustrating it can be for staff to collaborate without the right tools to support them.

All you need is internet

Considering how fast modern internet speeds are, this is usually a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you’re concerned, we can run checks to make sure it will be a smooth transition for you. Because it’s internet based, the cloud application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid).

Some businesses also choose to have mobile 4G set up in case the internet goes down, that way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided.

Business size doesn’t matter

Cloud applications are a great option for both Small AND Big businesses. Smaller businesses only need to subscribe to single user licenses, while larger businesses enjoy the multi-user license savings. Skipping the cost of per-computer installations and choosing between per-user, per-site or per-use options.

We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and lock in the advantages! Call us on 01455 209505.

How to Survive a Hard Drive Crash

How to survive a hard drive crash

People of all ages are now storing their photos, documents and other important data digitally – it’s the march of progress and even non-technical people are learning the ropes – or at the very least know that they should back up. You can buy USB sticks and even external hard drives in supermarkets, so it is easier to back up now than ever before.

As with all things, there is a “but” and it’s something that affects a minority of customers, but if you are one of the unlucky ones, it affects you in a big way. Hard drives, USB sticks and other electronic storage can (and do) go wrong, either through age, accident, virus infection or something else.

Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive or USB backup failed.

If you’ve ever lost your data, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning the house or office upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB stick that maybe your data was copied to, once upon a time…before collapsing onto the couch as it sinks in: there’s nothing left. Or merrily saving your backups onto the external hard drive that you’ve had a long time and which has never gone wrong – until you check it and find that it has actually gone wrong for some time and that what you thought was saved, isn’t.

So having done the right thing by backing up in the first place, you will no doubt be wondering “so what can I do then”? The thing to do is to think ahead and not be a data loss victim.

Recommended backups

Backing up used to be something only tech geeks did, but like everything else, it has gone mainstream. In an ideal world backups would follow a 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data, with 2 local at your home or office and 1 offsite.

Typically, this means keeping your data on your computer, one copy of precious files on a backup USB drive, and one that automatically uploads to the secure cloud as you add new files. Why? Because that way, the USB drive protects your data if your computer dies, and the cloud copy protects you if something happens to the computer and your USB drive, like fire, flood or theft. This isn’t as far-fetched as you think, as a customer found when their back up was destroyed in the Lutterworth area recently.

3 backups are too fiddly – what backups are the minimum?

It’s a rare home where someone takes the time to sit down each week and carefully run a backup. Not that it’s tricky, but unless you’re one of those cool geeks it’s pretty boring and not a high priority after a long day! Small businesses are usually better, but not always. That’s why we recommend a cloud backup solution or letting us take care of it remotely.

At a minimum, you do need a ‘Cloud’ storage account – where a copy of your important files are kept on your computer but are automatically copied to a secure server as well. Cloud storage has multiple backups so that your data is always safe and depending on the Cloud storage that you use, you can even recover the data after a ransomware attack.

You’ll be able to retrieve files at will, without having to roll back your entire drive, and know your solution has caught even the smallest file change without you needing to flag or mark it in any way – all automatically. Even better, because it’s in the cloud, you can access your secure backup from anywhere. Left a work file at home? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup. On holiday and need to check a detail or show off a photo? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup.

Small Business Backups

As well as file backups there are cloud backup solutions that allow you to not only back up individual files, but your entire computer, so in the event of a major issue you can get your computer up and running again very quickly. In fact some cloud backup solutions even provide a virtual machine that a copy of your computer runs in, so that you can continue to work even whilst the real computer is being rebuilt.

We’re able to get you set up with the perfect backup solution that meets your needs, both now and in case of emergency. If you’re ready to protect your data before you lose it, give us a call on 01455 209505.