Carrollton Dermatology Associates
Dr. Thomas H. Lamb, MD.
Brighter Image, Inc.
RA-Lin and Associates
North Georgia Turf, Inc.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes and for businesses they can range from massive catastrophes to less severe but still damaging ones, such as dropping an external hard drive that contains vital backups. Regardless of the what type of problem you are dealing with, it pays to be prepared beforehand. One way to do this is to have a backup solution in place. Many experts recommend you use an offsite backup strategy, but the question we often get is, "why"?
Here are five benefits and a definition of offsite backup.
Offsite backup defined The definition of offsite backup can be a bit difficult to nail down, as when many IT providers talk about this idea they are usually referring to one of a number of different kinds of backup. The key idea revolving around offsite backup is that your company's data and backups are sent out of your physical location(s). In other words, your backups are not stored in your office or building.
Offsite backup is usually done in one of two ways:
Benefits of remote backup
1. It's more reliable The major benefit of remote backup is that it can be automated. Your files are updated on a daily basis, or you can set the time for the update. Because these solutions work over the Internet, you will be able to recover files quickly. Beyond that, the servers that offer this solution are often located in numerous locations, which ensures that your backups are always available, even if one server crashes.
2. It reduces workload Traditional backup solutions require a person, whether you or an IT professional, to manually back up or copy files. This can take a long time, and will take you away from your normal job. Many remote backup solutions can be initiated at the click of a mouse after setup, or can be scheduled for when you aren't in the office.
3. It's easy to set up Backup solutions are managed by an IT partner who can work with you to set up which files and data to back up. Other solutions can be set up with a few clicks and even automated, so you can rest assured that your data is backed up and up-to-date.
4. It's secure Most backup providers store their servers in secure locations, meaning that your data is physically secure. To ensure that backup data is transmitted securely, most solutions use advanced encryption tools to keep data secure.
5. It will save money If you have numerous computers with large amounts of data that you back up regularly, you know that physical storage solutions can be costly. The majority of remote backup solutions are billed on a monthly-basis and support a near unlimited amount of backup space. If your company operates in an industry where backups are mandatory, or you have a large amount of files to back up, these options will save you money.
If you are interested in learning more about how offsite, remote backup can help ensure that your business is ready for disaster recovery, please contact us today.
Pause for a minute and ask yourself if your business is prepared for a disaster. Chances are you have some plan for a large scale disaster like hurricanes, earthquakes and fire, but what about other disasters like hackers or human error? The truth is, many businesses with a disaster recovery plan often forget to ensure they cover all potential disasters.
Here are five tips to help ensure that your business is fully ready for the next disaster.
1. Backup everything While it can be tempting to only backup the most important data and programs, it can be a chore to identify what is deemed to be important. Who knows, a file that is non-essential today may become essential in the future. If it is lost due to a disaster, this could prove to be a problem.
It would be a good idea to look for a backup solution that covers all data and programs. But, having a full backup solution isn't enough, you also need to ensure that recovery is easy and can be implemented quickly.
2. Look into tiered recovery Establishing a tiered recovery method means identifying the value and importance of existing systems and utilizing a recovery method that meets needs. It would be a good idea to identify mission critical systems and adopt a recovery method that can have these systems up and running as quickly as possible. From there you can tier different systems and match a recovery method. For example, archived files are likely not needed right away, so they can be recovered at a later date, using a slower recovery method.
3. Keep copies of all keys and licenses With the amount of software and programs businesses use on a daily basis growing, it would be a good idea to keep copies of the activation keys (the string of digits and letters you enter to activate the full version of software) and purchased licenses.
While many of these are now distributed electronically through email, there are still software developers that distribute keys by mail or with the physical install CDs. If you lose the codes in a fire, you will be out of luck and have to purchase the software again. This is an extra charge you likely don't want.
4. Pick the right recovery locations The best recovery plans offer numerous backup solutions which are hosted in different locations. A good provider knows this and will utilize data storage centers as far apart as possible. If you choose to backup your own data, it would not be a good idea to keep the backups in the office.
Similarly, if you are preparing for a big disaster, you likely have physical locations that you can move to if your main business location is damaged or destroyed. Optimal plans will have more than one location identified, and have them as far apart as possible. This will minimize the chances of losing full operations and increase your business's ability to bounce back quicker.
5. Match your recovery plan to your business There are so many different backup and recovery options that it can be tough to pick one. The best course of action is to look at your systems and how they work. If you operate strictly offline, a cloud based backup solution likely isn't your best bet. Or, if you operate fully in the cloud, a physical tape or hard disk backup may not be optimal.
If you are looking to beef up, or establish a disaster recovery plan, try working with an IT partner like us, who can help you find the optimal solution that can meet your needs and budget.
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, from losing a day's worth of data to floods or fires that can harm whole cities. Because they are so unpredictable in nature, it can often be hard to prepare your business for the inevitable. However, businesses aren't at a total loss if they have Business Continuity Plans that can help them through any disaster.
Some companies are hesitant to adopt a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) because of the perceived costs and complexity involved. We won't deny that plans are usually on the complex side, but there are good reasons as to why your company should adopt one. Here's five.
1. Your business will be seen as more valuable Banks, venture capitalists and other investors tend to air on the side of caution, and as such will usually look to businesses that appear to be stable as more viable investment vehicles. Companies with a BCP are often seen to be more valuable, as they can address diverse situations better than those without. As a result, they will make the investor more money over time.
2. Compliance Big companies in a number of industries have had continuity plans for years and many have started to look for suppliers/vendors with continuity plans. Beyond that, some industries and government bodies have made BCP a requirement. If you are a vendor, supplier or even in specific industries, it is a good idea to have one in order for business to run smoothly.
3. Potentially lower insurance premiums Operating a business is filled with risks, and business managers are often looking for ways to minimize it. One way includes the purchase of insurance - many industries and situations require you to carry it. Generally, insurance providers will give more favorable rates to companies that take steps to minimize risk. A solid BCP will go a long way in showcasing how risk-averse your company is, which could lead to lower rates or at the very least, stable rates.
4. More efficient communication Developing a BCP involves constant, company-wide communication in order for it to be successful. For many businesses, this involves collaboration between team members who don't normally work together on a regular basis.
A BCP also fosters communication plans during disasters, both within the organization - most employees have a role, and will need to work together to pull through - and outside - customers, suppliers and other stakeholders will be contacting you. If your employees know how to communicate what needs to be done, effects of the disaster will be minimized.
5. Survival Recent natural disasters around the globe have highlighted that businesses without a plan will most likely be forced out of business. Having a BCP will minimize the chances of this, while preparing your business for survival.
If you are looking to implement a business continuity plan, or improve on an already existing one, please contact us today. We may have a solution for you.
February was an interesting month in terms of disasters. First there was the incident at the Super Bowl where half the stadium's lights abruptly went out leaving the game suspended and millions of viewers wondering what was going on. Then there was another Super Storm that hit the Eastern US, not to mention all the dramas going on around the world. These events continuously highlight the need for all businesses to have a Business Continuity Plan.
While a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) can be complicated, and comprised of many different objectives, the main reason companies include this in their business strategy is to build up resilience. Disasters of many kinds can result in either lost data, sales or even business. While a BCP won't prevent large-scale disasters, it will help your business recover quicker.
When looking at how resilient your business is, there are three main aspects to consider.
RTO RTO stands for Recovery Time Objective and is the time period from the beginning of the disaster to recovery of operations. This number, or time period, will be different for every company. For example, companies that operate online stores will likely have a short RTO, as they rely on 24/7 uptime to conduct business and sales.
In general the RTO is an objective, one that employees and stakeholders should strive for. Having one can help planners identify potential problem areas along with critical functions that must be recovered and any preparations that will be necessary. If a business does not address, or identify a set time to recovery they could see an unnecessary increase in recovery times, or worse lost profits.
RPO RPO stands for Recovery Point Objective and represents the amount of data a business is willing, or can afford, to lose. The easiest way to figure this out is to look at your systems and think about how much data or information you personally can lose before being unable to do your job. From there, you can work out the frequency with which you should back up your systems.
For example: If you figure that you can lose a day's worth of data, then your backup should be done on a daily basis. If you currently back up your data or systems once a week, and figure you can only miss a day, then RPO helps you realize this is not enough and that you need a system or plan that better meets your needs.
The difference between RTO and RPO is that RTO is a broad process that covers the whole Business Continuity timeline, while RPO is focused on data and backup.
ROI When looking at different Business Continuity systems, it is always a good idea to calculate the ROI, or Return on Investment. You can calculate the cost of the integrating any plan, time to implement and recovery, expected value it can bring your business and avoided losses. This will give you a pretty good picture on whether current systems are strong enough, and if new alternatives are better.
By figuring out the time you expect to recover, how often you should back up and the total ROI of proposed, or existing, systems you can gain a clearer picture of how resilient your company is.
If you're looking to make your company a little more resilient, why not get in touch with us? We are happy to sit down and discuss your options with you.
If the scale of natural disasters in 2012 is any indicator of what 2013 is to bring, we could see an increase in the severity of the weather. For businesses, this often means disruption of key services. We don't have to tell you that any disruption in service could have a drastic negative impact on profits. To mitigate potential losses, many companies are turning to Business Continuity (BC). Those just starting to develop their own plans are often at a loss due to the scale of the project. We're here to help make it a bit less daunting.
Here's four questions you should answer when looking into adopting a Business Continuity plan.
1. What systems need to be recovered first? A good idea is to request each department/role list their essential systems and rank them in the order they need them back online in order to do their jobs. From here, you can compare answers and rank them in priority. For example, If all roles say they need Internet connection back online first, you know that the Internet is the first system that needs to be recovered.
2. What do we need to assure customers of stability? For the majority of businesses, the customer is the lifeblood. However, most customers will only stick around for a limited amount of time before going to a competitor if your business can't meet their needs. To keep customers loyal during a time of disaster, you need to prove you are either stable, or working to get there. Some examples of this could be a backup site with basic functionality that can take the place of your main website if it goes down.
3. What do business partners require? Your business partners are just as important as your customers and are often the link between the two. With partners, you often have set requirements that you need to meet in order to continue order fulfillment and shipment. You need to be aware of what these are and the related systems. After all, how are you going to get your product to your customers?
4. Are there any contractual requirements with vendors? Businesses that work with suppliers or vendors often have contractual obligations such as payment due on a certain date, or a set product order volume to fulfill the contract. As with business partners, you need to be clear on what these obligations are, and how you meet them. For example, if you pay a supplier on the 10th of every month, most will expect payment on the 10th, regardless of if you are operational or not.
Once you have the answers you needed you can take a step back and try to come up with a timeline of how long continuity actions should take and what your priorities are. From here, you can draft an actual plan, or look for vendors that can work with your systems and provide a continuity plan or service that meets your needs.
If you are looking for a business continuity system for your business please give us a call, we may have a solution that fits with your business.
When it comes to disasters, people and businesses tend to think big, really big. Take for example Superstorm Sandy that hit the eastern US earlier in November. It can be pretty much guaranteed that a whole string of businesses will be preparing diligently for the next big storm. While this is important, smaller issues that happen at a higher frequency will be pushed to the side. One common issue revolves around passwords, and who manages them.
Search for Terry Childs online and you'll find a number of articles about a former Network Administrator for the city of San Francisco who is currently in jail for supposedly doing his job. His job, as a network administrator, was to manage the city's network. When he was asked by his boss for the passwords to critical parts of the network, he refused on the grounds that the request went against the established network policy.
Issues like this: One employee or vendor in control of vital passwords, can pose a big problem to companies, especially during times of disaster. Imagine if you work with an administrator who is based in New York, and they lost power during Sandy. What could you do if your network crashed, or you needed access to your system and someone else has all the passwords?
The most crucial factor is you shouldn't trust one person or organization with passwords to vital systems. We don't mean personal passwords to systems, we mean passwords to vital systems, like servers or Internet connections. If one person has the passwords, there's just too much risk. If they are disgruntled, they have the power to do some serious damage, and if they are injured or are no longer alive, you'll face untold amounts in lost profit, and fees in recovering passwords and information.
There are a number of things you can do to mitigate problems like these.
Disaster Recovery (DR), the act of ensuring that your systems and departments are ready for a disaster and that your IT systems can recover from it, is an important issue for all companies. While large companies with operations in more than one country can often bounce back quickly, small to medium businesses in the disaster area might have a tougher time, Ensuring a DR plan is reliable is necessary for small to medium sized businesses.
Here are four ways to ensure your DR plan is sufficient and company is disaster-ready.
Are your systems compliant? Many DR systems are licensed, and it’s important to ensure that these licences are both up-to-date and supported by all necessary backup systems. If you’ve added or changed components like a server or software, but not upgraded the relevant licenses, chances are your systems won’t be covered when disaster strikes. If this is the case, when you go to retrieve the backup, you’ll just get a license error; your data can’t be retrieved.
Another issue with DR software is that it’s often not used, lying dormant for years. You should regularly check and ensure the software meets modern compliance standards, is up-to-date and licenses have not expired. You should also be aware of how the software you use integrates and interacts with the DR software. For example, an upgrade to a new email server, may not communicate well with your DR software.
What’s the status of your backup server? As most DR plans usually involve a separate server from day-to-day servers, it’s important to ensure that they are functioning properly, usually by having the vendor test them. It’s also equally important to communicate with the vendors or manufacturers of the servers to ensure that the correct software/hardware licenses are in place and cover the function. If they aren’t, you could risk legal action or being fined.
Test regularly Regular tests are an integral part of a properly functioning DR plan. You need to conduct tests on at least a yearly basis to ensure all systems involved in the DR plan function well. From these tests, observe any function that performed poorly, or not at all, and take steps to fix or replace it.
Work with a knowledgeable partner DR plans and systems can be a complicated, almost messy aspect of business. While this may be, DR is crucial to the survival of a business after a disaster, and shouldn’t be treated lightly. To get it right liaise with DR experts to create and maintain a plan that meets your needs.
If you would like help with either implementing or improving your DR plan, please contact us, we may have a solution for you.
The Internet is the lifeblood of many, if not all companies. We rely on it to communicate, research and relax, and in the modern world, we hardly disconnect from it. As we increasingly rely on it, any disruption in service will normally cause employees to be less productive and your company to lose money. Any slowing down with your Internet can be just as bad, if not worse.
Have you noticed that from time to time the Internet is a lot slower than it should be? If so, this could be because something is over utilizing all the bandwidth, which is the rate at which data is transferred in and out of one connection. Here are six of the most common bandwidth hogs.
If you notice your Internet is slowing down at certain times, it’s a good idea to check and see if any of these six bandwidth hogs are in action. You can:
Before you tinker with any network connections though, it’s best to contact an expert . We may not just be able to help, but potentially provide an even better solution for you, speeding up your connection and your business success.
Business continuity - the act of ensuring that business activities are available at all times, including during disasters - is a practice all businesses, regardless of their size, should be implementing in their organization. While many businesses backup their data and think that they’re protected, they will find that during times of disaster they aren’t.
Here are five things you should be doing, aside from backing up your data, to ensure you're ready for anything.
Most elevators/lifts in North America, Australia and the UK have a sign saying something along the lines of, “If there is a fire, don’t use the elevator/lift.” In Hong Kong, all elevators have signs that say, “When there is a fire, don’t use the lift.” The changing of one word, “if” to “when” presents a large difference of outlooks. In Hong Kong, people and businesses expect a disaster to happen. This is a viewpoint small business owners should adopt as well.
When a disaster strikes, 25% or more of small businesses affected will fail. Why do they fail? It’s not because of defects in the physical location, it’s mainly because they didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure that their business’s technology and related data is protected.
Because the modern business relies so heavily on technology, it’s essential that businesses have a business continuity plan (BCP) to minimize the loss of vital data, or in many cases, not lose any data at all. This is an important asset that will, one day, minimize losses felt due to any type of disaster. Small business owners know this, but many don’t know where to start. If you’re one of these owners, here are six tips on how you can prepare.