How to Build Trust Using Your Business’s Technology

Technology can be a daunting investment for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Between the initial cost and the time and effort it takes to maintain and keep up with technology, it’s little wonder why so many SMBs are hesitant to invest in it. However, when done correctly, technology can be a powerful trust-building tool for SMBs. By having reliable technologies, you can build trust among your people, processes and customers. This trust can result in better outcomes for your company, including job satisfaction, employee and customer retention, innovation and your bottom line. It’s important to remember that to use technology to build trust, you first need to concentrate your efforts on these key areas: Pay attention to these aspects To make the most of your technology to build trust with customers, employees and other stakeholders, your business should focus on the following: Reputation Are you using technology from well-known and trusted vendors? Using technology that is already known and trusted in the marketplace can help you build a trustworthy reputation. Borrow from their trustworthiness to boost your own. Security Organizational data breaches have become increasingly common in recent years, with world events making the situation worse. Protecting customer and employee data is critical to building trust. Make sure you have ironclad measures in place to keep sensitive information secure. User experience Technology and processes can be harnessed to create trust-building foundations among employees, customers and partners. For example, integrating technologies can save time and serve as a reliable foundation. Inefficient or incompatible technologies can create chaos and confusion, damaging productivity. If you take the time to select and integrate the right technologies, it can make all the difference. Similarly, thoughtful processes that consider the user experience can reduce confusion and opportunities for conflict and make it easier for employees to work with you. Conflicts arise when an individual’s expectations do not match the actual experience. Thoughtful processes can help ensure that everyone’s expectations are met, minimizing the chances of a conflict. Backups, disaster recovery and incident response “Trust, but verify” should always be your motto. Do you currently have a way to verify that your data backups are working properly? A managed service provider (MSP) can help you verify that your backups are reliable and will work in the event of an incident, delivering a more consistent experience to employees and customers alike. Compliance Is your business compliant with data privacy regulations? Before assuming you are, make sure with a solid foundation (like the National Institute of Standards and Technology Cybersecurity Framework or NIST CSF) and routine reporting that measures compliance. Protecting customer data is a great way to build trust. Flexibility Remote and hybrid work has become more and more popular over the last several years, and is a trend that isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Offering employees the flexibility to work from different locations is a great way to build trust and loyalty with your organization – which can, in turn, improve the customer experience. However, you’ll need to make sure you have the necessary technologies in place to ensure that employees can work safely and provide top-notch service remotely. Partner for success Since trust-building can be so difficult for SMBs to handle on their own, collaborating with an MSP like us is your best option for success. We can help with tasks like disaster recovery, compliance, security and much more. By working with an MSP like us, you can concentrate on your day-to-day operations and big-picture business goals, safe in the knowledge that your customers’ data is secure. Feel free to reach out and schedule a no-obligation consultation.

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3 Common Tech Acceleration Mistakes

As a business executive, you often face the task of keeping up with current technology trends to boost productivity, lower expenses, strengthen your brand value, enable new collaboration and maximize profitability. If you want to use new technology products and solutions to your advantage, follow the path of well-planned smart tech acceleration. While tech acceleration is about fast implementations that fix short-term issues and meet immediate needs, smart tech acceleration focuses on implementing technology capable of supporting an organization’s long-term goals and vision. It’s critical to keep in mind that if your tech acceleration initiatives aren’t well-planned, they may cause you to fall behind or even prevent you from achieving your ultimate goal. Watch out for these mistakes Before taking the first step toward tech acceleration, consider three major mistakes to avoid: 1. Concentrating on rapid advancements or short-term goals This is the most common mistake that companies make. Short-sighted business executives tend to put the company’s long-term vision on the back burner for quick results. They do this by making hasty decisions that act as a band-aid. Although these moves may result in early gains, they often have a negative impact on the company’s future. What’s more concerning is that many company leaders nowadays tend to prioritize short-term gains. In the long run, however, choosing the easy way out and spending without consideration for the future proves to be wasteful. That’s why it is always advisable to have the patience to create solid foundations and devote the time and work necessary to reap the benefits of compound growth. 2. Making decisions based on current costs rather than long-term value Another common mistake made by many executives is that they prefer purchasing less expensive products or solutions simply because it suits their budget better. But more often than not, it only meets an immediate need and doesn’t support the organization’s overall mission. We see this in a number of government undertakings. Road infrastructure projects are frequently awarded to the lowest qualified bidder. However, since you get the quality and commitment you pay for, projects can take years to complete and cost two to three times more than the initial estimate. 3. Deploying products that don’t integrate Solutions that integrate successfully can be a long-term asset for your organization because they consolidate data. However, some executives overlook this, resulting in a mix of disparate technologies that don’t work together. Lack of integration can be a liability for an organization in the long run. It has the potential to slow down or even halt projects until a sufficient integrated infrastructure is in place. Partner for success If you fail to overcome these mistakes while adopting tech acceleration, you risk losing ground to your competitors. It’s time to ditch quick fixes that aren’t helping you achieve your goals in favor of smart tech acceleration to help you achieve long-term productivity and operational success. A managed service provider (MSP) like us can help you manage your technological infrastructure in a more efficient manner. Contact us for a no-obligation consultation to give your IT environment the makeover it needs.

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Common Scalability Mistakes SMBs Make

Most small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are stretched for time and resources, due to which they may end up rushing through process implementations, technology upgrades and new hire training. Inevitably, this results in botched executions and a foundation that doesn’t support sustainable scalability. Sustainable scaling allows you to scale up or down as needed and considers your people, processes and technologies. This is important for the future of your business because it prepares you to deal with unexpected changes. However, before embarking on the path to sustainable scalability, you should be aware of the most common mistakes to avoid. Look out for these mistakes The first step towards sustainable scaling is knowing what mistakes to avoid. So, keep an eye out for the following: Lack of proper documentation (for processes, knowledge, technology, etc.) We’ve all seen it happen. Your best employee moves on to the next chapter in their career with a new company, taking years of undocumented expertise with them, causing tremendous stress on remaining team members and occasionally leading to other resignations. This is why documentation is crucial for every business. Other serious effects of poor documentation include the following: Incorrect business decisions that could cause revenue loss Unnecessary time spent hunting for information Uncertain communication within the organization, resulting in issues such as organizational stress Inaccurate information on employee performance, client preferences and so on Inadequate customer service and human resource management Inappropriate billing, which could result in fraud charges Disconnected systems For several reasons, disconnected systems make your organization unproductive and likely cost you money. It can primarily result in unnecessary data duplication, leaving you with dirty data piling up on your network. Because there is no free flow of data from one system to another, it could slow down processes. Finally, disconnected systems limit real-time data, which impairs your capacity to understand what’s going on in your company and restricts the validity of analytics and trend reporting you can use to make pivotal decisions. In short, the separation between systems causes unnecessary expenses due to redundant, sometimes erroneous and delayed data. As a result, the goal should be to build a single integrated system in which data is created and efficiently flows through all systems. Outdated onboarding and ongoing training Many companies don’t have adequate customer or employee onboarding and training procedures. This leads to higher employee and customer churn, which negatively impacts your bottom line. Other repercussions of inadequate onboarding and training include decreased employee/customer morale, diminished employee/customer engagement and confidence, a lack of trust within the organization and a failure to meet financial targets. Unknown vulnerabilities An unexpected cyberattack is one of the worst things that can happen to an organization. It could be the result of an undiscovered software vulnerability, a security bug that hackers exploited before the patch was released or a security flaw where the company released a patch that you missed. Unknown vulnerabilities can harm your information and sensitive data significantly. When these circumstances arise, being proactive rather than reactive will assist you in avoiding or minimizing the extent of the damage. Unsupported technologies If not addressed promptly, out-of-date legacy systems might become your growth story’s biggest faux pas — the consequences of which can have a significant financial impact on your organization. Remember, outdated systems expose your network to hackers, lower overall productivity and could even push your most valuable employees out the door because they are tired of dealing with shoddy systems that make their jobs hard. Ultimately, day-to-day operations and finances may suffer since the costs of maintaining obsolete components and the likelihood of failure rise. Partner for success To avoid repeating these mistakes and to achieve long-term scalability, you’ll need a thorough understanding of the tools and best practices required to address the situation, as well as a lot more time and effort than you may have available in your hectic schedule. That’s why working with a managed service provider (MSP) that can relieve you of this significant burden while simultaneously giving you the necessary guidance and expertise to help you navigate the wave is ideal. Why look further? Our years of experience and subject knowledge might be just what you need. Reach out to us for a no-obligation consultation.

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How to Find the Right Managed IT Service Provider for Your Business

When looking for an IT service provider to outsource your tech support, it’s crucial to remember not all IT service providers are the same. You need to find one that understands your specific needs and can offer you the best possible service. There are a lot of IT service providers out there and it can be tempting to go with the cheapest one. However, you get what you pay for in most cases. Inexpensive providers frequently provide lower-quality services, which can lead to costly problems in the future. Keep in mind that when selecting an IT service provider for your business, it is critical to consider their experience with or specialization in serving companies like yours. Questions to ask before partnering with an IT service provider Here are a few questions to ask a potential IT service provider before partnering with them: Do they have experience servicing your industry specifically? Will they provide routine checkups and network assessments? Can they support the technology you currently have in place? Are their solutions scalable? What is their policy on on-demand support? Do they offer proprietary solutions that you can’t find with other providers? Can they package your service into one monthly bill? What will you get in return for your investment? After you’ve acquired answers to all these questions, compare them to your requirements. Make sure they meet your desired criteria. Signs to avoid partnering with an IT service provider If you notice any of these warning signs when talking to a potential IT service provider, it might be time to consider other options: Pushes for a service contract without first assessing your IT environment Many companies will push for a service contract without taking the time to understand your specific environment. This can lead to overspending and/or underutilization of services. It is vital to have an IT consultant help you evaluate your needs and make recommendations for service contracts. Offers a standard package right away It’s critical to take the time to find a provider who will also take the time to understand your business and what you need from them. Many service providers will offer a standard package right away without taking your needs into consideration. This can be a problem because you may not get all the services you need and may have to pay for services you don’t use. Reacts to issues as they arise (break-fix service model) Many IT service providers still use a break-fix service model, which means they only respond to problems as and when they arise. This can often make it seem like they don’t care about your business. At best, it can be frustrating; at worst, it can damage your bottom line. Waits for vulnerabilities to be exposed Many IT service providers wait for vulnerabilities to be exposed before offering a solution so that they can sell you a few more emergency services that you have no choice but to purchase. Always look for a proactive IT service provider who’s ready to help you 24/7/365. This means they are constantly monitoring your systems and looking for potential issues so they can fix them before there’s any problem. It can save you time and money in the long run. Speaks in technical terms you don’t understand It is always better to find a service provider who takes the time to explain things in simpler terms that you can understand. They should be able to answer your questions and help you make decisions about your IT. If they can’t do that, then they are not the right service provider for you. Provides rigid solutions that do not integrate It is critical to find an IT service provider that can provide a flexible solution that integrates well with your existing systems. Technology that doesn’t integrate with your existing systems can cause problems down the road. Ask your provider about their flexibility and how well their solutions will integrate with your current systems. If they can’t provide a satisfactory answer, it may be best to look elsewhere. When you work with an IT service provider like us, you can expect a wide range of services that will benefit your company. Our expert team can help you feel at ease since we provide everything from managed IT services to 24/7 help desk support. Reach out to us to learn more about how we can assist your company today.

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Why Your Business Needs to Prepare for Cyber Incidents

As the world becomes more digital, so do the risks of conducting business online. Cyber incidents can happen to any business, regardless of size or industry, and can have serious consequences. The following are some examples of common types of incidents to look out for: Phishing Phishing is an online scam in which criminals send emails or instant messages falsely claiming to be from a legitimate organization. These messages typically contain links to bogus websites designed to steal your personal information such as your login credentials or credit card number. Phishing attacks can be challenging to detect because scammers use familiar logos and language to dupe their victims. Denial-of-service A denial-of-service attack makes a computer or other service inaccessible to users. These attacks are carried out by flooding the victim’s computers or network with requests, rendering it unable to respond to legitimate traffic or causing it to crash. Such attacks can be excessively disruptive and can result in significant financial losses. Ransomware A ransomware attack is a cyberattack through which hackers encrypt a victim’s data and demand a ransom to decrypt it. Encryption is the process of transforming readable data into an unreadable format. This is done using a key, which is a piece of information that controls the transformation. Only the same key can convert the unreadable format to readable data or decrypt it. These attacks can be incredibly detrimental to individuals and organizations since they frequently lead to loss of data or money. SQL injections An SQL injection is a form of attack cybercriminals use to execute malicious SQL code in a database. Simply speaking, SQL code is a language to communicate to computers. You can use it to tell the computer what you want it to do, like find some information or create a table, for example. Cybercriminals use this code to change, steal or delete data. SQL injection attacks pose a serious risk to any website that relies on a database because they can cause irreversible damage. Malware Malware is software that is intended to harm computer systems. It can take the form of viruses, Trojans or spyware. Malware can be used to steal personal information, corrupt files and even disable systems. Nothing could be further from the truth if you believe cybercriminals only target large corporations. According to a recent report, 43% of all cyberattacks target small businesses. Real cyber incidents experienced by small businesses Although the media usually underreports attacks on small businesses and focuses on data breaches that affect large corporations, here are two instances of incidents that severely impacted small businesses:2 1. When the bookkeeper of a boutique hotel began receiving insufficient fund notifications for regularly recurring bills, the chief executive officer (CEO) realized their company had been the victim of wire fraud. A thorough examination of the accounting records revealed a severe issue. A few weeks prior, the CEO had clicked on a link in an email that they mistook for one from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It wasn’t the case. Cybercriminals obtained the CEO’s login information, giving them access to sensitive business and personal information. This attack had a significant impact. The company lost $1 million to a Chinese account and the money was never recovered. 2. The CEO of a government contracting firm realized that access to their business data, including their military client database, was being sold in a dark web auction. The CEO soon noticed that the data was outdated and had no connection to their government agency clients. How did this data leak happen? The company discovered that a senior employee had downloaded a malicious email attachment thinking it was from a trusted source. The breach had a significant operational and financial impact, costing more than $1 million. The company’s operations were disrupted for several days since new security software licenses and a new server had to be installed. Collaborate for success Your business is not immune to cyberthreats. To address incidents as they occur, adequate security measures and an incident response plan are required. Consider consulting with an IT service provider like us if you need help identifying the right technologies to prevent a cyber incident or help with developing an incident response plan. Feel free to reach out now.

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The Dangers of Running Outdated Software

Your software is only as good as its last patch. Reaching End of Life (EoL) or End of Service (EoS) means critical patches and updates are no longer available, leaving you vulnerable to various problems. Some make the mistake of not rushing to upgrade the software because it is still functional. However, outdated software can lead to security risks, data loss, compliance issues and more. In this blog, we will discuss the primary implications of running outdated software and explain why it’s crucial to take action when your software reaches EoL or EoS. Implications of using outdated software The implications of running outdated software can be divided into three categories: Security implications Using outdated software can have severe security implications, such as: You no longer receive security patches from the vendor, leaving your system vulnerable to known exploits. Threat actors may have already reverse-engineered the software and developed exploit code, making it easier for them to compromise your system. Running outdated software may cause compatibility issues with other software and hardware, leading to data loss or corruption. Using outdated software may violate your organization’s security policies, hindering a secure future and operational excellence. Privacy implications Privacy implications of using outdated software can be severe. If the software is no longer supported by its vendor and contains sensitive information, you could be at risk of receiving a data privacy fine. For example, in the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is taking action against Chegg Inc. for failing to patch vulnerabilities that exposed sensitive information about millions of its customers and employees, such as Social Security numbers, email addresses and passwords. Chegg allegedly couldn’t address problems despite four security breaches over a five-year period. According to the FTC’s proposed order, the company must immediately address vulnerabilities and take additional steps, such as limiting the amount of data it can collect and retain, providing users with multifactor authentication to secure their accounts, and allowing users to access and delete their data.* Productivity implications Outdated software can have severe productivity implications for a business. For example, if the software runs slowly, crashes frequently or is otherwise difficult to use, it can frustrate employees and disrupt workflows. This can, in turn, lead to a poor customer experience, damaging a company’s reputation and bottom line. Therefore, it is important to keep software up to date to avoid these problems. Collaborate for success You’ve already taken the first step toward securing your company by recognizing the dangers of using outdated software. However, mitigating the above implications may be a heavy lift for you since you’ll have to set aside extra time and effort while running an organization. Partnering with an IT service provider like us can ease your worry. To protect your business, we can help you identify outdated software and hardware. We can keep you up to date on the latest security threats and how to mitigate them. We can also update your systems to the latest versions to ensure the best possible protection. For a consultation, feel free to contact us.

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4 Practical Steps for Vendor Cloud Backup

When you entrust your business data to a cloud-based platform, you expect it to be safe and sound. However, most cloud platforms like Microsoft 365, Google Workspace and Salesforce acknowledge their backup shortcomings and recommend having an additional backup and recovery solution for your cloud-based data. This is because cloud-based platforms often have limited data restoration capabilities, which can lead to data loss in the event of an outage or data corruption. Unfortunately, many organizations like yours realize a backup is necessary only after their valuable data is lost. Don’t hesitate to deploy a robust backup and recovery solution to safeguard your cloud-based data. Before you get started, knowing best practices can help you get the most bang for your buck. The four best practices Here are four practical steps that you can use to ensure your backup journey is smooth: Set your expectations When you subscribe to a cloud-based platform, you generally get some level of backup and recovery baked into it. However, will that be sufficient? The best way to find out is to read through the vendor’s terms and conditions (T&Cs) to see what type of backup they have in place. Even if a vendor says that backup is included, you need to know what they actually mean. For example, some cloud-based service providers may only back up data once per day, while others may back up data in real time. To reiterate, reading through your vendor’s T&Cs is the first step to ensuring your valuable data doesn’t vanish into thin air. Fine-tune your backup You should customize your backup to meet your needs; otherwise, you run the risk of using the solution either insufficiently or excessively. To successfully fine-tune your backup, you may need to consider several factors. For instance, you must know how quickly data changes to decide how frequently to back up data. Other factors must also be taken into consideration when deciding the frequency of data backups, such as the amount of data and the data type and importance. Test your backup regularly Anyone who has ever lost data understands the importance of backup. However, having a backup isn’t enough unless you test it on a regular basis to ensure it’s working properly and that you’ll be able to access your data when needed. By testing it regularly, you will be able to catch issues early and fix them before it escalates into something severe. So, how often should you test your backup? The answer may vary depending on your backup system and how crucial your data is, but as a general rule, it’s a good idea to test your backup at least once a week. Stay up to date on the security landscape As the digital world becomes increasingly complex, so does the security risks landscape. With the vast array of devices and applications we use, it’s crucial to be aware of the different ways your data could be compromised and have strategies in place to prevent them. This is critical for both survival and competition. If you’re ready to deal with any threat that may arise, your organization’s chances of survival increase significantly. This strategy will also give you an advantage over your competitors because you are now far more resilient than you were previously. An IT service provider can help If you’re working alone, following the above best practices may be difficult since you have a lot of organizational matters to handle. This is where an IT service provider can help. We can collaborate with you to create a backup plan that meets your needs and budget and provide support and maintenance to keep your data safe. Feel free to contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

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4 Practical Steps to Take When Hardware and Software Expire

When a software or hardware product reaches its End of Life (EoL) or End of Service (EoS), it’s no longer supported by the manufacturer. This can be a cause of concern for organizations like yours because unsupported technologies have no routine internal security measures or support from the manufacturer. The good news is that there are steps you can take to mitigate the risks that come with EoL software/hardware and protect your business. Read on further to learn about them. Practical steps Although there may be a sufficiently large list of practical steps, the four most impactful ones are: Prioritize security Organizations need to prioritize security immediately after identifying EoL software/hardware. Work with a reputable vendor who can provide essential security protocols and tools to keep your data safe. Also, create a plan to keep any potential security risks at a minimum. This might include implementing additional security measures, such as two-factor authentication or increased monitoring of high-risk areas. By taking these precautions, you can ensure your organization’s data is protected against threats. Measure productivity As your software/hardware nears the end of its life, it’s crucial to measure its productivity so that your organization doesn’t suffer. Here are a few things you can do to minimize any negative impact on your organization: Keep track of the software/hardware performance. This will help you identify if any issues escalate. Ensure employees who use it are aware of its status. This will help them be more receptive if there are any problems. Have a contingency plan in case the software/hardware completely fails. This will help you avoid any major disruptions to your organization. Evaluate long-term needs When planning for the future, it’s critical to consider the long-term viability of your essential systems. What are your objectives, and which systems are crucial to achieving them? Evaluating the risks of using EoL systems is a vital step when deciding whether to upgrade. What are the consequences of continuing to use an outdated system? What are the chances the consequences will happen, and how severe would they be? Taking these factors into account can assist you in making the best decision for your organization, ensuring you have the right systems in place to support your goals. Test compatibility before migration The EoL date for a system can be months or years in the future; however, planning for the migration should begin well before that date. By doing so, you can avoid any disruptions that may occur during the migration process. Testing compatibility is one of the first steps in migrating to a new system. You must ensure all your data and applications can be transferred to the new system. Setting up a test environment and running some tests is the best way to accomplish this. Collaborate for success It must be clear by now that EoL/EoS software and hardware can pose several risks to your organization. Implementing all the practical steps listed above to avoid these risks can be overwhelming if you don’t have assistance. This is where an IT service provider like us can come in handy. We can help you protect your company from the dangers of EoL/EoS software and hardware. To learn more, feel free to contact us today.

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4 Core Benefits of Cloud Backup for SaaS Platforms

Businesses like yours are increasingly adopting cloud-based solutions to keep up with the rapidly changing technological landscape. According to a recent study by Gartner, cloud adoption will not slow down anytime soon.* Many of these organizations, however, are unaware of the critical importance of having a backup for their cloud-based data. If data is lost or deleted, it can be tough—or even impossible—to recover it without a backup. You don’t want to be in a situation where your data is accidentally deleted and you attempt to retrieve it from the cloud, but realize it hadn’t been backed up in a month. If you rely on cloud-based solutions, use a good backup—and use it frequently. In this post, we’ll look at some of the core cloud backup benefits so you can see why it’s such a vital tool for your business. 4 cloud backup benefits Although cloud backups can benefit you in a variety of ways, the four most important ones are: Security If you own an organization, you understand the importance of data security. You can’t afford to take any chances with your data when so much is at stake. This is where cloud backup comes into play. Cloud backup is a secure, off-site data storage solution. With cloud backup, your data is stored remotely—in the cloud—and can be accessed anytime, from anywhere. Even if your information is lost or stolen, you can be confident that it is fully recoverable. Cloud backup is key to the success of your data security strategy, so if you haven’t implemented it yet, now is the time. Scalability As your business grows, so does the data it produces. Without the right tools, this can quickly become unmanageable. If you’re dependent on on-premises backup systems, you’ll have to make a substantial initial investment in hardware that you might not utilize to its full potential. On the other hand, cloud backup is scalable. This means that cloud backup can easily adjust to your changing needs. You never have to worry about outgrowing your backup solution—it will always be able to grow with you. Manageability Cloud backup is highly manageable. The fact that you can easily manage backups remotely can save a lot of time, especially when you’re already stretched thin with other business matters. However, what exactly is manageability? How can it help your organization? Here’s a quick overview of manageability in the context of cloud backup. Manageability lets you centrally operate and monitor your backup system from a single location. This means you can quickly and easily see the status of your backup, identify any issues and make changes as needed. Manageability can also help you set up automatic backups and give you the flexibility to restore only the data you need. Recoverability One of the most important benefits of cloud backup is recoverability. In the event of data loss, cloud backup can help you recover your data quickly and easily. You can thus resume normal operations and avoid costly downtime and lost productivity. If you are seeking a dependable backup solution for your business, cloud backup should be at the top of your list. It can help you safeguard your data and keep your organization running smoothly. An IT service provider can help If you’ve read this far, you’re probably using cloud-based solutions and want to have a good backup in place. If you’re not sure where to start, we can help. We can assess your needs and suggest the best backup solution for your cloud-based applications. We can also help you in implementing and monitoring the backup solution to ensure it is functioning correctly. Contact us today to schedule a no-obligation consultation.

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Monitor, Test, Restore – Making Sure Your Backups Are Ready

Backups play a critical role in any data protection strategy. However, if you are entirely dependent on your backups for disaster recovery and business continuity, unexpected backup failures can prove disastrous for your business. When backups are scheduled automatically, you risk falling victim to media failure, software issues, cyberattacks or even a simple human error. Fortunately, you can avoid backup failure to a great extent through consistent monitoring and frequent testing. This will ensure proper data restoration when disaster strikes. In this article, we’ll explore the step-by-step process involved in monitoring your backups, testing them and ensuring proper restoration during an unexpected disaster. Backup status monitoring Most businesses that rely on data for everyday operations have a consistent schedule to back up their generated data. Depending on the criticality of the data, the schedule may vary from hourly to weekly or longer. However, if your backup fails at some point, you might lose your data till the point of the last successful backup. By identifying these weaknesses early, you can mitigate your overall losses and fix the issues. This is why backup status monitoring is crucial. Failing to monitor your backups might result in a snowball effect that could continue unabated until it gets detected. The dilemma By now, it’s clear that you need to make backup monitoring part of your backup strategy. However, while monitoring is essential, most businesses cannot afford to perform it every day. The solution The frequency of monitoring can be based on your recoverability objectives. For instance, you could set up weekly monitoring if you deal with critical data essential to your business. This will help you identify any problems instantly and allow you to fix them without affecting your backup goals. Backup monitoring for the scattered workforce Implementing a backup system for all devices can be challenging when employees work from different locations. However, this doesn’t mean you can compromise on the safety of your data. This is where you need the cloud to be a part of your backup strategy. More specifically, a 3-2-1 strategy is ideal where you have at least three copies of your data — two on different platforms and one at an offsite location (cloud). With a centralized remote monitoring and management tool, you can get complete visibility into your backup tasks and remotely monitor and validate them. Spot-checking for accuracy and quality This is a relatively simple approach used in backup testing. Once you’ve backed up everything in your environment, you can go to the backup drive or cloud to ensure that the files or folders are available. If you are unable to access any of the files, you might have a problem with your backups. In this case, you need to check your backup configuration and drives to ensure everything is functional. You should perform these backups in multiple areas to ensure everything runs smoothly. Full restore testing This is more advanced than spot-checking and tests your ability to recover from complete data loss after a disaster. To perform this, you should prioritize critical files essential to your immediate recovery and test them successfully. Prioritizing files and folders for testingWhen prioritizing data for testing, you need to begin with data, applications or systems that have a low Recovery Time Objective (RTO), which refers to the maximum allowable time or duration within which a business process must be restored. Determine the testing approachThere are various aspects to consider when testing your backups. For instance, you can create individual scenarios of virtual machines and test their ability to recover a system. You could also consider a disaster recovery approach in testing that focuses on simulating the entire environment and performing various scenario-based recovery tests. Here, the ultimate goal of testing is to verify the integrity of the backups you have created. You need to choose a testing approach suitable for your business and your IT environment. Frequency of testingHow often should you test the integrity of your backups? To answer that question, you need to consider various factors like workload, applications, systems and more in your environment and come up with a testing schedule that works for you. In addition, you need to consider your Recovery Point Objective (RPO), which is the maximum duration your business can survive after a disaster. Always ensure that the testing frequency is well within your RPO if you wish to conform to the business continuity parameters. For instance, if your RPO is 24 hours, you need to test your backups at least once a day to ensure a good copy of data is available to recover from a loss. A backup solution that you can count on The last thing you want during a disaster recovery process is to find out that your backups have been failing for a long time. By monitoring and testing your backups regularly, you can overcome this issue and rely on your backups at the time of need. Most importantly, you need to invest in the right backup solution that ensures the complete recoverability of your valuable data. Need help? Reach out to us today and let us help you find an enterprise-class and robust backup solution that is tailor-made for your business.

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