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Weighing the Pros and Cons of Local and Cloud-Based Backups

Utilizing the power of technology is essential for any business trying to gain the lion’s share of their market. While using technology can be beneficial, there are a variety of dangers lurking around in cyber-space.

Nearly 50 percent of all cyber-attacks target small businesses. Rather than losing all of your data due to a network crash or ransomware attack, you need to think about how to back up your data.

Working with IT support professionals is one of the best ways to find out more about your backup options. For the most part, most businesses use a mix of local and cloud-based backups to keep their data safe and accessible.

The following are some of the things you need to know about cloud-based and local backups.

The Lowdown on a Local Storage Backup

While most business owners have heard the term local backup thrown around, many of them really don’t know what this type of backup entails. In essence, a local backup requires you to manually hook an external hard drive or other external devices to your computers to backup the data. Before cloud-based backups were invented, local backups were widely used by businesses all over the country.

Most businesses choose to lock up the external hard drives and USB flash drives used for this purpose in a safe. Not only does this keep them safe from prying eyes, but it can also reduce the chance of internal employee theft as well.

The Advantages of Local Storage

The biggest advantage of local storage is the control it provides a business owner. Instead of worrying about whether or not a third-party is adequately backing up and protecting your data, you can do this job on your own.

Some business owners prefer local storage due to the increased security it provides. Once a flash drive or external hard drive is removed from your network, cyber-criminals won’t be able to access it.

The Disadvantages of Local Storage

While there are a number of benefits that come with local backups, there are a number of problems as well. One of the biggest problems businesses face with this type of backup is finding the space needed to house all of the information they need to store.

Most business owners fail to realize just how expensive external storage can be. If your business has to house large volumes of data, you will have to spend a lot of money to facilitate this storage.

The Cloud Storage Revolution

One of the most recent developments in the data storage industry is cloud-based backups. The cloud allows you to store all of your data without having to break the bank. Being able to store all of your data off-site comes with a number of advantages. However, you will have to spend some time finding the right cloud storage provider to work with.

The Pros of Using a Cloud Backup

If you are like most business owners, you have a pretty full schedule. Trying to add the responsibility of manually backing up data to your plate can lead to mistakes being made. This is why using a cloud-based backup is so beneficial. With this type of backup in place, the data on your network will automatically be backed up.

Another benefit that comes with a cloud-based backup is the fact that it makes information accessible. Any device connected to your network can access the data on the cloud with the click of a button.

The Cons of Cloud Backups

The only real disadvantage that comes with using a cloud backup is data security. If the cloud backup supplier you have chosen does not have proper security measures in place, it can lead to big problems. This is why you have to take your time to research each of the providers on the market before making a decision.

Conclusion

In order to gain the benefits of local storage and cloud backups while minimizing the downside, more and more companies are using a combination of both. This gives you the security you need with the accessibility you want. If you need help determining what data backup solution is right for you, contact us now.

What is the hybrid cloud and how can you use it?

Hybrid cloud technology gives you the advantages of using a cloud server and an on-site server. Many companies that want to use the cloud start by paying a third-party provider to access space on a public server. As companies grow, however, they find that they can also benefit from on-site servers that give them more control and security.

If you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of hybrid cloud technology, you’ll want to learn about some of the ways that other companies already use it.

Hybrid cloud technology can save your business money

Surveys show that companies plan to spend a lot of money on cloud technology over the next few years. By 2021, the hybrid cloud market’s value should reach $91.74 billion.

Despite the industry’s growth, adopting hybrid cloud technology could help your business save money. If you solely rely on private servers that you keep in your office, then you will spend a lot of money on IT infrastructure. Remember that you will need an infrastructure and server that does more than handle a normal day’s request. You need to prepare for days when you need to meet the needs of more clients than usual.

With hybrid cloud solutions, you can always use a cloud server to scale on busy days. Instead of spending more money than necessary on your personal IT equipment, you can lower your overall costs by choosing essential equipment and accessing your public server when needed.

Your employees become more productive with hybrid cloud solutions

Most companies say that they want to invest in hybrid cloud solutions so they can use more cloud-based apps.

Today’s best cloud apps improve employee productivity by automating certain tasks, improving communication and making it easier to collaborate on projects. By adopting a hybrid cloud, you give employees the opportunity to use apps remotely as well as from their desks.

The hybrid cloud improves data recovery and business continuity

No matter how well you prepare, your business could lose important data after a malware attack. A fire, flood or other disasters could also harm your data recovery and business continuity.

The hybrid cloud improves your data recovery and business continuity processes by letting you keep data stored on a third-party server.

If a fire destroys the enterprise server that you keep on your premises, the data stored on the public server stays protected. Backing up your data to the public cloud means that you can get back to work quickly instead of losing money and clients while you try to rebuild.

In fact, using the hybrid cloud could mean that you suffer zero downtime. Your clients and customers may not even notice the disruption.

You get better security from hybrid cloud solutions

Hybrid cloud solutions give you two places to store your data and business processes. While some people believe that third-party servers put them at risk of malware attacks, your enterprise server is just as likely to get attacked.

By keeping your information in two places, you protect your data from malware and hackers. For example, if your private server gets overtaken by ransomware, you can delete your files to eliminate the threat. After deleting your files, you can access them from the public server you use.

You can stay at the forefront of technology

As your hardware ages, some of its features will become outdated. You may not want to spend money replacing the equipment, but avoiding the problem could cost you more money as productivity suffers.

You know that you need to replace your equipment when the hardware can’t run the software you want and needs frequent repairs. While you safely dispose of your old hardware and replace equipment with new models, you can use your public cloud server to avoid disruptions.

Whether you use a public or private server, you should think about the benefits of hybrid cloud solutions to determine whether the technology can help your business thrive.

How to pick the right business server for your SMB

No matter whether you’re running an e-commerce store or doing some powerful number-crunching, your small business will eventually grow to the size where you need a business server. With so many options on the market, it can be tough to know how to start your search—especially without the dedicated IT expertise of a larger company.

Whereas desktop computers are intended for only one or two people, businesses servers are designed to support the needs of many users simultaneously. Servers are used for purposes such as backing up data, hosting websites, sharing files and information, and more.

The good news is that buying the right business server for your SMB largely comes down to a few crucial factors. In this article, we’ll discuss the 5 criteria that you should evaluate when you’re in the market for a business server.

1. Speed

Most server vendors give buyers like you the flexibility to choose the number of processors and cores that your server will have. In particular, servers that will use multithreaded applications, such as web servers and database servers, will benefit from having multiple cores.

Both the number of cores and the clock speed of each core (measured in GHz) play a role in how fast your business server will be. If you’re uncertain about the right balance of cores and clock speed to select, speak with the vendor of the software that you plan to run on the server.

2. Storage space

Depending on what you’ll be using the server for, you may wish to upgrade the storage space. If you’ll be using it primarily as a repository for your business data, for example, you’ll need a good deal of storage. On the other hand, a machine that’s intended for use primarily as a file server will need less storage, because it emphasizes data transfer and not data processing.

In general, the amount of storage you’ll need depends on the number of users who will be accessing the server. The good news is that you can usually expand your storage space by adding another hard drive to the server. In this case, you should configure the drives using RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).

As your business grows, you might anticipate needing substantially more storage than the size of a single server. Consider using cloud hosting, which can scale indefinitely to fit your business needs.

3. Memory

The third and final technical requirement to consider for your server is memory, which is measured in gigabytes (GB). In general, the more memory your server has, the more quickly users will be able to send and receive information. Additional memory also makes it possible to run more applications on the server concurrently and get better performance from them.

Like storage space, you can generally supplement your original server hardware with more RAM, so you won’t be locked into a hard limit once you make the purchase.

4. Security

If you use any form of server technology, network security is a vitally important part of your business, and it could make all the difference for your company’s survival. According to a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance, 60 percent of small businesses shut their doors in the 6 months following a data breach.

Servers that will be interfacing with the outside world, such as those that host websites, must have robust security measures to protect their contents. Not only should the physical hardware be stored in a secure location, but you should also install tools such as firewalls, antivirus and anti-malware applications, and monitoring and alerting software in order to protect yourself.

5. Operating system

Although the operating system is largely independent of the server hardware itself, you should still consider which operating system would be best for your needs. These days, the two most popular choices of server OS are Windows Server and a Linux distribution such as Debian, OpenSUSE, Fedora Server, or Ubuntu Server.

Windows Server is popular among many large enterprises and has a more “corporate” feel to it. Meanwhile, Linux gives you more flexibility and freedom due to its open-source code base, but it can require a good deal of in-depth technical knowledge to use successfully—there’s no IT help desk you can call as with Microsoft.

In some cases such as web hosting, one of the two options is clearly the preferred choice. According to web technology survey company W3Techs, Unix-based operating systems such as Linux power 68 percent of websites, while Windows runs the remainder. Ultimately, the best choice of operating system for your server is likely the one that meshes the best with your existing IT infrastructure.

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Final thoughts on business servers

Although buying a business server for your SMB might seem like a daunting task, the question really simplifies down to a few important considerations.

If you increasingly find that your SMB has IT needs that outstrip your staff’s abilities, it might be time to work with a managed IT services partner.

Interested in learning more? Contact our qualified, knowledgeable IT professionals at MCA who can give you the expert guidance and service that you need to run your business.

The MCA approach to disaster recovery

You’ve built your business. It started as an idea, then it grew. Somewhere along the way, you grew as well.  You bought that fancy ERP system, you built accounts, analyzed revenue, tracked expenses and optimized your processes.  You’ve even bought those really expensive servers to run it all.

But if you’re honest, did you really give the same amount of attention to your “what if” plans? I mean, it probably was a “what if” that inspired you to start your business. It was most likely a “what if” that grew your business and optimized it.

But “what if your business immediately stopped”, probably didn’t make the list when planning. Yes, we are talking about a business. But it’s kind of more than that, isn’t it?  We’re talking about people, payroll, families, commitments, products and reputation.  It’s kind of a big deal.

At MCA, we focus on the things that matter, so you can focus on the things that matter.  This means asking the “what ifs” to avoid the “what nows?”.

Our approach to disaster recovery and business continuity

There is a big difference between disaster recovery (DR)  and business continuity (BC)—the difference being big in mindset, process and money.  So understand that disaster recovery is the action plan to recover critical systems. Business continuity is the execution of the preventative plan to keep all aspects of your business running despite an interruption.

Understanding the cost of downtime

To effectively plan, we need to know what is at stake.

  1. Develop your RPO and RTO – Recovery Point Objective (RPO) is the point in time which you recover to. For example, if you’ve backed up a file 30 minutes ago, and made a bunch of changes, and lost the file in the middle of the changes, your RPO would be 30 minutes, because that is the most recent version of the file in existence. Recovery Time Objective (RTO) is the amount of time it takes to restore operations based on your RPO.  If using the previous example, the RTO of 30 minutes would mean that a restoration of a 30 minute RPO would make the file 60 minutes old.  This is because it took 30 minutes to restore a file that was 30 minutes old.
  2. Implement production solutions with the DR vs. BC, the cost of downtime, and your RPO & RTO in mind. Our goal is to implement all solutions with resiliency in mind.  If and where possible, implement technology solutions that can withstand RPO failures and can recover within the RTO.
  3. Implement a Backup and Recovery solution to recover from catastrophic disaster, user neglect and data corruption. Stuff is going to happen.  We still need to recover, and fast.   Corruption, deleted files and crashed systems must still be recoverable within the RTO and RPO window.
  4. Evaluate. Repeat. This process constantly evolves based on your business and technology needs.

You may not be able to stop unexpected emergencies on your own, but you can make sure your data is always protected. That’s the assurance data backup gives you.

Working with our disaster recovery & business continuity experts will be essential in the event of catastrophic data loss. When you know your data is safe and secure, you’re free to focus on the things that really matter to you—at work and at home. Now that’s peace of mind.

Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for data backup and recovery.

 

 

Which is better: a solid data recovery process, or a good data backup system?

For companies of all sizes and industries, data has become the new currency of the 21st century. Businesses strive fiercely to collect more information on their customers and unlock new analytical insights, giving them a competitive advantage.

Despite the tremendous value of this information, however, not every organization is taking adequate steps to protect it. According to a 2017 survey, 58% of small businesses say that they aren’t prepared for a data loss catastrophe. Perhaps that’s why data loss can be so devastating: the same survey found that 60% of SMBs who lose their data will go out of business within 6 months.

Organizations that want to safeguard their information in the event of data loss have two major options: data recovery and data backup. In this article, we’ll discuss the definitions of each of these options.

We’ll also cover why any robust data protection strategy must include both approaches.

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What is data recovery?

Data recovery is the act of trying to salvage lost, corrupted, deleted, or damaged data.

In the event of an unexpected outage, you may introduce errors and corruptions in data that was “in transit.” This means that the information was being written, read, transmitted, or processed at the time of the outage.

Other data loss incidents may occur when your employees accidentally delete important files and information, or when you physically lose a hard drive or laptop to a thief.

How does data recovery work?

For one, you’re not actually removing the files and data from your hard drive when you empty the trash.

Instead, the data remains on the drive until you overwrite it with additional data. The sooner you act after deleting a file, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to recover it.

If you encounter a corrupted file, you still may be able to recover it if you ask fast using specialized software. Even if you can only recover part of the data, this might save you hours of wasted effort as your business gets back on its feet.

Data recovery is a reactive strategy for data loss because you implement it after a catastrophe. Remember, you really need to perform data recovery as soon as possible after the catastrophe to ensure that you get back as much data as possible.

This is both to maximize your chances of a successful recovery and to return to normal operations quickly.

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What is data backup?

In contrast to data recovery, data backup is a proactive approach that creates redundant copies or archives of your files and information before disaster strikes.

While not the most frequent cause of data loss, natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, and floods can wreak havoc on your recovery plans. However, your organization is far more likely to encounter disasters such as power outages, cyberattacks, and even user error.

In other words – if the physical drives and machines that contain your backups are destroyed, then you might as well not have made the backup in the first place.

For this reason, you should store your backups off-site in a separate physical location. To be most effective, you should also conduct your backups at regular intervals. You’ll also need to test them to ensure that they’re fully functional and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

How do data backups work?

Growing organizations have a wide selection of data backup tools at their disposal.

Using cloud software suites such as Office 365 and Google Drive can be helpful because they automatically save your documents in the cloud whenever they are changed. However, remember that you can’t manage and back up all of your files and information automatically using cloud software.

You need a dedicated source of backup that can securely capture and contain your data.

Remember that your backup solution should reflect your business needs. If you prioritize recovery speed, there’s a specific solution out there for you. But if you’re more interested in more methodical, large-scale backups, you might need a different solution.

Regardless, your smartest move is to talk to a data backup expert that can help you determine (and implement) a tailor-made solution.

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Why SMBs need both data recovery and data backup

You need data recovery and data backup for different situations. However, you need both to be truly resilient in the event of a data loss catastrophe.

Businesses with particularly large or complex operations may need to back up their data at daily or even hourly intervals. Nevertheless, even the most powerful data backup solutions can’t preserve all of your information all the time. To fill in the gaps between your scheduled backups, you’ll need a data recovery solution that retrieves the unsaved changes that haven’t yet been backed up.

Getting your operations back on track after data loss is critical – but far too many businesses fail to do so. It doesn’t matter how large your business is or what services you provide. You need a comprehensive strategy to protect your enterprise data that includes both data recovery and data backup.

Working with the right managed IT service provider will be essential in the event of catastrophic data loss. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions for data backup and recovery.

Want to keep reading? Check out Hardware Disposal Pro Tips For Small Business Leaders.

4 reasons SMB owners should use managed IT services

As a small business owner, you wear many hats and have a wide range of skills. Unless you’re an IT guru, however, you probably have someone else take care of your IT needs. For many, that means keeping an IT person on staff or paying for hourly help, two less than perfect solutions.

If you’ve thought about managed IT services but haven’t pulled the trigger yet, here are four things that you should consider.

“. . . establishing a strong, strategic partnership with your MSP is essential.” – CIO

1. Cost

Small business owners worry about the cost of everything. You have to in order to keep your business running. Managed IT services may sound expensive but, in reality, they can offer you significant savings.

Businesses that switched from paying an hourly rate for IT to managed services saw their costs drop by up to 50% or more. 13% saw that level of savings, while 46% saw savings by 25% or more. A quick analysis of your expenditures and a consultation with a managed IT services provider (MSP) will reveal how much you can potentially save.

2. Security

Choosing managed IT services leads to better cybersecurity for your data. As you are painfully aware, hackers are growing more skilled at illegally accessing data. In the first three months of 2017, for instance, 950,000 records, including sensitive data, were accessed by outsiders, putting companies and their clients at risk.

By making the shift to a managed IT service provider, your company data will gain the protection of more sophisticated cybersecurity measures, making it less likely your data will be stolen.

“71% of SMBs are not prepared for cybersecurity risks.” – TechRepublic

3. Fast repairs

When your computers go down, your productivity can slow to a crawl or stop entirely. You can end up paying your employees for a day when they can’t get anything accomplished.

The cost of downtime can be monumental when you combine the lack of production and the harm to your reputation. In some instances, a company can lose approximately $84,000 for every hour their system is down. Even a one-person shop can sustain serious financial losses.

Managed IT services providers can immediately begin working on your IT problems. Because your MSP knows your system, they can quickly diagnose and address problems. An MSP can also identify other potential issues that might cause problems in the future.

4. Recovery

If your small business manages its own IT, you know that adequately backing up your system can be challenging. If your system crashes and burns, recovering your data can be costly. In fact, every year, 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States alone. Paying for a recovery attempt can cost approximately $7,500 for a service that may not be successful.

Any kind of data disasters can seriously harm your business. In fact, in the months immediately after a data disaster, 60% of companies go out of business.

Managed IT service providers make sure your data is backed up and easily recoverable. A disaster on-site at your business doesn’t have to cause long-term damage.

“With an MSP . . . you get to bring in the big guns and benefit from the resources and experience of a company focused solely on IT.” – Forbes

Are managed IT services right for you?

Managed IT services make sense for small business owners on a number of fronts. You can improve your bottom line by utilizing affordable, reliable outsourced IT help.

And really, that’s what it’s all about—equipping you to run your business as effectively as possible. If managed IT services help, then it’s worth your time to talk to a few managed IT services providers and see what options are available.