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Reliable Offsite Data Backups are no longer just for the Big Boys!

Posted by: Ray Pizzo, Prime MSP
Last Update
Jun 29, 2011 6:24 PM
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Backing up your computers or servers safely and securely to prevent data loss from such unfortunate events as a fire or flood is one of the most important things you do in business today. Whether your business computing environment is a single stand alone PC running Microsoft Office and an accounting package to an enterprise class network with many PC Workstations and multiple servers. There are many low cost offsite backup solutions available to both small and large businesses alike.


 


Times Have Changed


Historically you would need to configure some sort of a local backup solution possibly comprised of a CD-RW, Tape Drive or External Hard Drives that the disks, tapes or drive units would be rotated with offsite versions top ensure you are protected. Over the last couple years the average Internet bandwidth speeds have increased and become more stable. The technology of how data backups are performed, archived and restorations are made has greatly improved.


 


The choices are numerous and deciding the proper solution without going overboard is key to maintaining a remote data backup as a start to a disaster recover or business continuity plan. 


 


What to consider in an offsite backup system


  • Ample Storage Space:
    • Be sure the amount of offsite backup space you purchase will fulfill your needs. For example, if you have 100GB of data on your hard drive including the System State (The operating System Configuration) you will need to purchase enough offsite storage space not only to hold the amount of data you are protecting as well as all the version changes. This additional amount of space for version changes will vary depending on the file types protected and the frequency of changes. The version changes of a picture file can be as much as the entire file with every backup while the changes of an Excel worksheet or word processing document will be very small in size.

    • Good News/Bad News. The bad news is that you will need to purchase more space that you are actually backing up. The good news is that most online backup systems have a very high compression frequently getting as much a 2:1 ratio. What this means is that for you initial backup of 100GB of data on your PC it will most likely only consume approximately 45 – 60 GB offsite for your average mixed bag of file types.
  • Make sure you have access to the providers technical support by phone if needed:
    • Many organizations offer products and in order to minimize their operational expenses will not offer telephone support or charge a heavy premium for such service. Be sure that you are comfortable with the providers support response time since many of these can dictate a 24 – 48 hour response to your questions and sometimes only by E-mail. This can be a factor if you have to restore a file for an important presentation in a short time and help is needed.

    • Getting your backups initially setup and configured can be outside of your realm of expertise. Some companies include up to an hour of setup and configuration with the purchase of their software. Others allow you to purchase setup and configuration incident at a fixed price.

  • Self Service Software.
    • While some backup software is controlled supported by the manufacturer and requires in depth product knowledge to operate and restore your information. There are others where there is an intuitive user interface so you are not fumbling through a handbook just to get up and running. Most of the self service software is flexible enough to restore files to their original location or an alternate location so comparisons can be made.
       
  • Security
    • Make sure the backup solution you are considering encrypts your data from your PC or Server to the remote server to ensure transmission sniffing is minimized. Some solutions offer more than one data center and offer simultaneous duplicate backups of your data. If the software allows you to choose a pass phrase or password to encrypt your backups, this is a good thing. But, if you lose your passkey, you cannot access your data backup account. Some companies will offer to store this password. If you are in the medical profession an encrypted data transfer is required by HIPPA regulations.

  • Try before you buy
    • Some online backup services that allow you to try their service for free on a limited or trial basis. 

What This Means to Your Business


You now have the ability to get the same or a more comprehensive backup system as very large companies for a modest monthly cost of tens of dollars upward.


Raymond A. Pizzo Sr.
Total Backup Care
Provided by Prime MSP, LLC
201-440-2900
www.PrimeMSP.com

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Twitter Dee, Twitter Dumb

Posted by: Ray Pizzo, Prime MSP
Last Update
Jun 13, 2011 6:19 PM
No Comments

As with many social and business networking website trends some business owners are in need of guidance as to whether they should be concerned when these websites show up on their employee’s monitors. I will attempt to bring some of the key points in clear view for you to review and possibly help you understand some of the general risks and benefits of these trends.


 


Understand the differences between networking sites and messaging systems. Many corporations allow the use of one or more instant messaging applications at your work PC for alternate communication with children, parents, schools etc... where cell phones are not allowed to be turned on in the office. Others companies allow text messaging in the office with cell phones on vibrate or silent settings. Either of these is much different than maintaining a Blog or a Twitter page. A Blog or Twitter page can be sometimes viewed publicly by anyone where as an instant message or text message is more of a one-to-one communication with a known en[censored]y. A Blog is used in many cases to post an article for a specific topic or set of topics while Twitter is a running mini-blog or what I call a text message to the world that can used to describe day-to-day, minute-to-minute personal activities & thoughts. I remember seeing on the news of a Senator or Congressman twittering during a Presidential address that he would rather be watching a basketball game and how disrespectful that was to the President.


 


Twitter as well as many other online posting sites whether personal or business focused are not necessarily detrimental to your business productivity, but they can be.


 


Some suggestions on how to protect your business from potential problems:


  • Get acquainted with these new sites and trends yourself. Most accounts are free, easy to use and there is no greater way to understand and measure the impact on your business. You may be pleasantly surprised.
  • Be sure your employment agreement and Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) documentation is up to date and includes language to protect you proprietary and trade secret information regardless of the media. Remember, due to the nature of the portable communication devices such as Blackberry and iPhone type of PDA devices this applies to “all” staff whether driving a desk with a PC or a delivery truck.
  • Talk to your staff about these new websites and openly discuss their possible uses as well as limitations before you blindly post restrictions. This may create a better buy-in to new policies from your staff. Employees should be specifically reminded to not share any proprietary or confidential information.


Some suggestions on how Twitter and Twitter-like sites can help support your business:


  • Use Twitter as a communication tool with your clients as well as an extension of your website. Provide news and information on new products, services and helpful hints to your clients. Having this extension may help potential clients favorably perceive your company because it interacts in a contemporary and intelligent fashion.
  • Twitter may provide more direct access to high-visibility individuals then other profile linking sites.
  • Twitter’s follow the leader topology allows you to create a true fan-base for you, your business or your interest or cause. It can help you create a more personal style of communication with your clients.
  • Use the Twitter Search to perform market analysis on your product or services. There is no better way to find out what clients or compe[censored]ors think than reading it yourself.
  • Use your imagination on how this can be a big part of your Public Relations effort. Small and large companies are reporting that Twitter is becoming the heart of their PR efforts.
  • It is virtually impossible to keep up with all these different sites keep abreast of the tools available to consolidate your posts over several sites or iden[censored]ies make or break the success of one or all of these site, and ultimately help you succeed in business.

 


When introducing yourself to various new technologies or methodologies be wary of the nay sayers that may tell you things like: “Why are you going to waste your time”, “that’s for kids”, “Why not just focus on your business”, “Big Brother is going to be watching you every minute”, “its just a fad”.


 


Keep in mind…


Television struggled to become a national mass media in the 1950’s and eventually became a cultural force influencing the way people live and the government they elect.  Try not to dismiss any new technology without giving it a fair shake.


 


In today’s world it may be a seemingly daunting task to keep informed about new avenues of communication. A little time goes a long way. By taking a bit of dedicated time to research these methods you will find yourself more confident in adjusting as they are introduced.

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