Why Do I Need Offsite Backup?

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Apr 9, 2014 11:27:33 AM

offsite backup milwaukee

All businesses face the extreme threat of disaster,  which can range from a total catastrophe to hardware failures or even deleted files.  No matter what type of disaster it may be, it can happen at any time and it certainly pays to be prepared for.  It is recommended to use an offsite backup strategy to be properly prepared.  Offsite data backup can be accomplished in a couple different ways, it can either be physically transported or can be sent remotely.  Some companies will back up to tape or a removable hard drive and then transfer it daily.  Others send their data offsite automatically, which is a more modern approach to store your data offsite.  In this article we will focus on the benefits of the more modern approach, remote backup.

1)  It saves time and reduces manual workload.  Standard backup solutions will require someone at your office to manually backup your information and transport the data offsite daily.  Many remote backup solutions can be set up to automatically backup at certain times of the day, to save you the time of doing it yourself. 

2)  Easy to set up and maintain.   Setting up an automatic remote backup can be a one-time project.  Once you set it up you will still need to regularly check to ensure that backups are being done correctly, but if you set it up to an automatic schedule all you will have to do is regularly check to ensure your backups are working. 

3)  Very Secure.  Sending your data offsite will likely store your information at servers in a secure location.  Typically your data will be transferred using encryption tools to keep your data secure.

4)  Money Savings.  If you are backing up a large amount of data and you need to backup regularly, physical storage can be very costly.  Typically automatic offsite backup will come at a monthly flat fee for predictable spending and minimal time investment. 

5)  More Reliable.  Probably the most important benefit of using automatic remote backup is that it better ensures your data will be backed up.  Your data can be scheduled to automatically backup offsite, thus removing the worry of your data being forgotten to be backed up.  Having data backed up in numerous locations will ensure your data is available if your server onsite crashes.  Lastly, with data being backed up regularly it will be much easier to recover a file if you do accidently delete something.  

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Topics: Offsite Backup

7 Ways Malware Gets Onto Your System

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Apr 2, 2014 11:45:52 AM

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There are many ways that spam, viruses, and malware can get on your system.  When they do get on a machine, they will often cause the user a lot of headaches, and can cost a lot especially if the machine needs to be replaced.  More importantly, you do not want to be the one who let the virus in that caused errors to others on your network.  Although there are plenty of ways that a virus can get on your system, we have listed some of the most common ways below.

1)  Opening E-mail attachments. One of the most common ways that a machine becomes infected with viruses and other types of malware is by opening e-mail attachments.  Even if you think you have received an email from a co-worker, client or friend it may not be safe.  Email addresses can be faked, and a lot of times without the sender even knowing.

2)  Downloading infected software.  Downloading software from the internet can contain viruses or other malware.  If downloading any type of software, make sure you are downloading the software from a reliable source, and check all the prompts to understand what exactly you are installing on your machine. 

3)  Accepting pop ups without reading.  When on the internet, users need to be very careful when a screen pops up asking to be clicked.  Users should read these very carefully before jumping to any actions.

4)  Using older browsers.  If you are using an older browser, you may be exposing yourself to risks.  Consider switching to browsers such as Firefox, Chrome or Opera, as they are much more secure than older browsers and will help to protect you online.

5)  Pirating software and music. If you are going to websites and downloading copyrighted, music, movies or software for free you may be putting your machine at risk.  Many of these sites contain viruses or malicious software that can affect your machine.

6)  Not running the latest updates.  Most operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows and other operating systems, prompt users for updates, and these updates are always for a reason, normally having to do with security.  Ignoring these updates and continuing to run on an out of date operating system, can put your computer at a huge risk of becoming infected.  If you are still running Windows XP, these updates will stop on April 8th 2014!

7)  No antivirus spyware scanner.  If you are running a computer with Microsoft Windows it is highly recommended you have some form of antivirus and spyware protection to keep your system clean. 

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Signs your growing business needs to invest in technology

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Mar 26, 2014 10:49:39 AM

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Many small businesses have recognized the benefits to their organization as a result of investing in technology.  Experts who study the small business community have recognized the dependence on technology as a major theme. Small businesses that are not putting in enough resources into their technology may be putting their business at risk in the long run, by losing a competitive edge.  There are many signs that your organization may need to take a second look at how you are handling your IT, and we have listed some below.

1)  Your business is growing very quickly. If your organization is growing very quickly, this is obviously great news, but are you prepared for the technology changes that come with it?  Many businesses when growing quickly, add new employees and expand operations, this can cause a lot of headaches and problems if not properly prepared for on the technology side.

2)  Email is a primary form of communication between your employees and your customers. You need to set back up plans for this critical piece of communication.  If your email server is down, or you accidentally delete all of your emails how will you communicate both internally and externally.

3)  You are constantly waiting for your technology to catch up to you.  The saying goes, time is money, and it is very true.  The more you are waiting on your technology to catch up to you, whether it is your workstation taking a while to start up or your applications continuously need to be closed and restarted, the less time you have to do your actual job.

4)  Your business lacks a sound disaster recovery plan.  After all the hard work you and your employees have spent to get the business growing, be sure that it is not all ruined with one disaster. Have a disaster recovery plan in place that will include keeping all of your critical information offsite, so that your business will be able to recover if a disaster were occur.  Be sure to avoid the common mistakes in a disaster recovery plan as well, found here. 

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Topics: Technology problems, Technology Milwaukee

Keyboard Shortcuts You Need To Know

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Mar 19, 2014 9:29:53 AM

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The Atlantic published a statistic a while back that 90% of computer users did not know what Ctrl+F meant.  River Run Computers has put together a list of 5 shortcuts that can help any computer user be more efficient every day.  To better understand some of the shortcuts, we will run through the basics fist.  CTRL stands for Control and is the main key on a Windows PC, it is typically found in the lower left corner of the keyboard. The CTRL key like the ALT and Shift key when pressed alone, nothing happens. However, when you press them along with another letter or number, you will likely be doing a short cut.  Below are 5 shortcuts to help you move faster on a computer every day.

Control + F Command

Since we started with the statistic about Control +F, we figured it would be the best command to go over first.   When on a webpage and searching for a particular section this command is perfect. By pressing Control + F, a search box will appear, simply typing in the box will locate the text on the page. This command works for other applications as well, like Microsoft Word.

Control + S

Control + S is the command for saving a document on your computer. If this is the first time you are saving the document, the window will pop up to ask you where you would like to save it and what you would like to name it.  If you have already saved it before, this will simply save your changes, you will likely not notice anything happened.

Control +  N

In a word document, pressing Control + N will create a new document.  In a web browser, this shortcut will make open a new window.

Windows Key + D

The windows key (located at the lower left of a standard key board) plus the letter D, will send you directly to your desktop.  This is useful when you need to access something on your desktop, and have many windows open and would like to minimize them.

Alt + F4

This is the shortcut for quitting the current application. In windows this will close whatever is currently on the screen.    

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Topics: Keyboard tricks

Network Security: What are hackers searching for?

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Mar 12, 2014 11:29:00 AM

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Threats to the network, are concerns that are increasingly growing for small to medium sized businesses.  We have talked before about different steps to take to help secure the network, but another is question is why? Why are hackers so  interested in breaking into my network and what are they looking for in doing so? Answering these questions will help decide what we are protecting, and how important it is to protect it.  Below we have listed out 6 major areas that hackers are searching for when breaking into a network. 

1)  Company Information. When breaking into a network a hacker may just be looking for general company information.  An example would be a proprietary process that is used as a competitive advantage for your company, which the hacker then turns and sells to a competitor.

2)  Client Lists/ Client Info.  Perhaps you are storing client information on your network such as credit card numbers or even social security numbers, it is obvious what a hacker can do with that information.  If you are storing more basic information on your network such as phone numbers or addresses, they can use this information to contact your clients and act as you to gather more information.

3)  Destroy Data.  Some hackers just get excited from the thrill of being able to bring down others.  They may break in and bring down the network and destroy all of the data, simply because they thought it would be fun.

4)  Spam Relay Services. Hackers may break into your network to send out spam.  This way they will be able to send out their spam, but it will be coming through your name and not theirs.

5)  Holding Information For Money.  Breaking into your network to steal all of your information and hold it ransom, is an obvious reason why a hacker may break into a network.  Hackers know how valuable this data can be to an organization, and thus

6)  Vulnerability Easy Access.   Let’s compare this to your home, if you leave your front door wide open do you think you are likely to have your home broken into?  It is the same thing for network, if you leave your network vulnerable hackers are more likely to break in because it is easy.

 

These are just some of the main things hackers may be looking for, and why they would break into your network.  Click the following link if you are interested another article: Basic Steps Behind Network Security.

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Topics: Network Security

Mistakes to avoid in a disaster recovery plan

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Mar 5, 2014 11:23:35 AM

disaster recovery milwaukee

Many businesses are starting to realize the importance of a disaster recovery plan, in order to keep their business up and running and avoid costly downtime. As organizations grow, their cost for downtime grows, thus the need for an effective disaster recovery plan grows even more.  Using your IT provider to help build your disaster recovery plan will be the best way to build the best disaster recovery plan for your business.  However, we are here to help by compiling a list of the 6 biggest challenges in a disaster recovery plan, and recommendations to avoid these challenges.

1)  Planning out how you will test your disaster recovery plan.  When a disaster happens it will likely happen without much notice, so planning out exactly how you want your test disaster to happen is not realistic on what will actually happen.  We recommend minimizing the time spent putting together a plan on how to simulate the disaster, rather just test it to see if your disaster recovery plan works well.

2)  Forgetting to test the plan regularly.  Technology is regularly changing and being updated, so an outdated will not be as effective as possible.  Regularly test the plan, and be certain that the plan is updated to reflect new technology.

3)  Planning only for the worst case.  Disasters can take many forms, and will rarely be the ultimate disaster of your entire building burning down.  While disaster like that, pose the greatest damage to a business, equipment breakdowns and human errors are much more likely. You need to plan for a variety of severity levels in your disaster recovery plan, and test for those different levels as well.

4)  Cutting corners on the plan and overlooking certain aspects.  When you are so involved in putting together the plan it is easy to overlook certain things.  We would recommend sharing your plan with your IT provider and getting an outside opinion.

5)  Failure to include communication in your plan.  Communication will be critical following a disaster, and leaving this out of the plan will likely result in additional downtime, lost revenue, and higher recovery costs.  Include in your communication plan the circumstances under which it will be used, multiple levels of escalation and authorization, and how to let employees and customers know of the disaster.

6)  Not having a backup plan for your backup plan.  You need to plan for what can go wrong, will go wrong.  Assuming everything will go as planned is a huge mistake to make.  For every step of your process include what should be done if the resource/tool or person responsible is unavailable when that step comes.   

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4 Technology Mistakes Businesses Make

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Feb 26, 2014 11:30:00 AM

 

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Are you interested in avoiding the very expensive mistakes that some businesses face related  to computer network problems?  If so, keep reading!  We have compiled a list of 4 things to do, to avoid a huge, costly, and frustrating computer disaster.

1)  Put together a plan regarding your computer hardware.  You need to know what equipment is on your network, and when it needs to be refreshed.  Putting together a plan will help to get the most out of your hardware, as well as have much more predictable spending to avoid surprises.  Also keeping your hardware up to date and in warranty, will assist in avoiding a network crash as well slow network response time.

2)  Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, and perform regular scans.  Viruses can cause many problems to your network including slowing it down, pop-up ads, or even identity theft.

3)  Send your data off-site automatically.  Having an off-site backup is the insurance of your network.  Most people do not think about it much until they actually need it, and when the time comes they are very happy they did, because it may have just saved their business.

4)  Centralize your data on a server.  Today servers have become a necessity for any business that is looking to work more efficiently.  A server will increase the speed of your network, make backups easier, allow for secure remote access so that your employees can work outside of the office, and make it much easier to share information such as documents, databases, and printers. 

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Protecting Smartphones In The Cold

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Feb 19, 2014 1:58:39 PM

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Smartphones are not built for the extreme cold.

The weather in Milwaukee and all of Southeastern Wisconsin over the past few weeks has not been ideal for phones and tablets. Since not using your phone is no longer an option, we have put together some tips for using your phone in the cold weather.

Cold weather touchscreen tips

Keeping yourself very warm in weather like this is obviously the most important thing, and often a pair of mittens or gloves is a part of that. Those mittens and gloves won't work on capacitive touch screens, which is the technology currently used on most smartphones and tablets. Screens like this depend on your body's ability to conduct electricity to work, the thick layer of wool on gloves and mittens prevents the screen from registering your taps and pokes.

There are inexpensive gloves that include special, conductive fabric on the tip of the index fingers so you can touch your screen rather than having to expose your hands to the cold to use your phone.

Another option for smartphones and tablets is purchasing a stylus, which is better than a fuzzy finger if you need to do work in the cold for a long time.

What happens to phone in the cold

Some smartphones list the optimum range of temperatures in their technical specs. As an example, when it's turned off, the iPhone 5Scan withstand temperatures between -4° and 113° Fahrenheit. When it's turned on, the range is not nearly as big.

When operating an IPhone, Apple recommends not going lower than 32°. Other phones are rated for much lower temperatures, and some can go as low as -4° Fahrenheit while in operation.

When lithium-ion batteries are exposed to cold temperatures, their performance suffers. A phone battery will drain faster than normal when cold, or it might say it has ample power remaining and then suddenly go dead. These problems will only be temporary and the battery should behave normally when the device is brought back up to warmer temperatures. 

Smartphones are made up of other delicate electronic parts, like their LCD screens, that can malfunction in extreme temperatures.

Freezing temperatures can also make a phone's glass surfaces more sensitive to cracks and breaks, especially if there's already a flaw or nick in any of the glass. There have been reports of the glass on the back of the iPhone shattering in extreme cold temperatures.

Prevent phone freeze

To keep phones from getting too cold, don't leave them alone for a very long time in a frigid place, like a parked car. Storing your phone in your pocket, where it can absorb some of your body heat, is best. If you do need to leave it behind, turn the phone off instead of just putting it to sleep.

Cases also help to keep phones warm. There are even cases especially built to regulate a phone's temperature in extreme situations.

One last tip: If you're depending on a phone to make outgoing calls in case of an emergency -- say, while driving on icy roads -- keep a back-up power source with you.

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Why A Business Continuity Plan Is Important

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Feb 12, 2014 10:51:00 AM

Business continuity

A disaster can affect any organization or business, and it is almost always without much notice.  Large disasters such as earthquakes are not very common in Wisconsin, so do not need as much focus in the planning.  However, disaster such as snow storms, power outages, floods, fires, or hazardous material accidents can be very damaging to businesses. Implementing a business continuity plan will help your organization minimize the effects of a disaster.  Below are 5 very important ways that a business continuity plan can help your business.

1) Reduce your downtime.  Even for small businesses downtime can be very costly, every hour your business is down can cost thousands of dollars. Having a plan in place to get up and running, will help to minimize these costs.

2) Protect your important assets, such as your customer and accounting data.  You need to identify your organizations critical assets and ensure they are stored in a secure and protected location. Your critical data, should be replicated and stored off site as well, if you are able to do this automatically that would be ideal.

3) Plan for remote operations. A larger disaster may prevent your staff from getting to work, or possibly even accessing your building.  A part of your business continuity plan will include processes and procedures to work remotely.

4) Ensure critical business operations continue.  Your business continuity plan will include ways to identify how critical operations will continue to run, such as backup generators and batteries to continue operations.

5) Prevent  your business from going out of business.  Disasters can lead to your business being down, and losing a substantial amount of revenue and clients.  According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster and another 25% fail within one year.

A business continuity plan will ensure you minimize costs, and reduce costly downtime if a small disaster were to occur.  If a larger disaster were to occur, a business continuity plan could potentially save your business.

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Topics: business continuity

Should I invest in a business computer or a consumer computer?

Posted by Tim Wheeler

Jan 29, 2014 3:50:00 PM

Computers Milwaukee

Sometimes the question arises, why can I not  buy a consumer PC vs a business class PC. Since the beginning of the personal computer, there has always been both types of machines, both very effective for their intended purpose.  There are many factors you need to consider when deciding which route to go, business class  PC or consumer PC.

Durability and reliability

If you are planning to use your computer often for work, invest in a business class computer, over the long run this will offer more value than a consumer PC will.  Business computers have higher quality components that are tested more rigorously, and thus are built to last.  Typically parts used for consumer computers are more generic, where business computers use name-brand parts.  Overall a business computer should last you longer than a consumer computer would.

 Service and warranty

Business computer systems come with better support options and are likely to be better supported by your IT services provider. Warranties on business machines are normally longer than those on consumer machines as well.  

Operating systems and features

Business computers offer features that are a better fit for professional work such as encryption tools and control software.  Business PC’s also have operating systems that are more suited for work use than the home versions. 

What should I buy?

If you are going to rarely use your computer and do not have a need for many applications a consumer PC will be fine for your needs.  You will get a fair price, and since it will not be put through the same amount of strain, it should work well for your needs.  However, if your computer is going to be used 8 hours a day, you have the needs for applications, and it will be used to help your business, then you need a Business Class Workstation. The extra investment will, pay off over the long run, in providing your machine with additional capabilities and most importantly the extended life of your machine.  

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Topics: Computers

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