5 Things SMBs Can Do Right Now To Preserve Their Network and Systems

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1 Backup Files Every Day – The number of businesses that never backup their network is astonishing. According to the Symantec SMB data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data daily. Fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. A number of events can result in data loss. The importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated.

2 Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly – Many times business owners think they have a backup system in place only to find out when its too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like files are being backed up daily, however, the backup has become corrupt or huge chunks of critical data aren’t backed up. Check backup procedures regularly to make sure they are working properly. Be sure that ALL data can be recovered. In this age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees.

3 Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled – Far too many companies either have no virus protection software installed, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and other web sites. Files corrupted by a virus won’t only bring down your network but if the virus is somehow spread to customers and e-mail contacts it’s a surefire way damage your reputation as well. Roughly 40% of small-to-medium sized businesses will have their network compromised by a hacker. Chances are, they will have no clue whatsoever that they were attacked. Hackers look online for unprotected and open ports and then infiltrate whatever space they can with malicious code and files. If this malicious code cannot be removed, the hard drive will have to be reformatted and all files could potentially be lost. This is another reason why file backup is so critical in today’s business world. Updating critical security patches and changing passwords on the departure of employees are also necessary to deter hacking attempts.

4 Monitor Server Drives – Dangerously full server drives can bring on a slew of problems, ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Some proactive monitoring and maintenance of the server can spare businesses a lot of problems down the road. 5 Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs – Very few tech problems emerge suddenly overnight. They typically progress and worsen over time into a more serious problem. Frequently reviewing the critical built-in log files can often indicate something is amiss before it becomes a major problem that wrecks havoc on your business infrastructure.

The Benefit of Managed Cloud Migration for SMBs

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Many SMBs today are turning to cloud- based services and virtualized backup solutions as a means to mitigate downtime and recover from network failures and outages. Virtualization and cloud computing have enabled cost- efficient improved business continuity by allowing entire servers to be grouped into one software bundle or virtual server – this includes all data, operating systems, applications, and patches. This simplifies the backup process and allows for quick data restoration when needed. But migrating to the cloud or a virtualization infrastructure must also be handled with care as these new technologies still pose significant risk.

While virtual resources and hosted services reduce overall business technology expenses and improve availability, “managed cloud migration” allows for a gradual integration of a company or organization’s IT infrastructure and virtual data center to the cloud. This can alleviate many of the security and privacy fears that come with moving to a shared space while offering a more varied approach to recovery processes with more customization and control.

Can You Really Afford the Status Quo?

Status Quo jpeg A successful SMB must align its technology and business initiatives. Constant employee productivity must be maintained to meet the needs and expectations of customers. To successfully do this, an honest assessment of risk is necessary. Regrettably, many SMB owners or management teams remain in state of denial that mismanaged technology has any serious consequences on their business. Meanwhile, it is costing them every day!

According to Symantec SMB, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. Forty-one percent of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan.

Every day SMBs are gambling with the lifeline of their business. Some may know they’re playing with fire but budget limitations may prevent SMBs from hiring adequate internal IT support. Often, the IT support that is on payroll is overburdened and stuck in a constant reactive mode where they spend their days resolving issues that are already hindering productivity and service. They can never break this cycle to get to a point where they’re actually proactively approaching things.

This same “break/fix” mentality is also the reason why many SMBs aren’t hiring in-house IT support. They instead phone in expensive “as needed” emergency IT support when issues arise. There are so many smaller businesses and organizations needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting themselves to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support.

This is the status quo. Management cuts corners because they either feel they have no choice given today’s economy or they’re completely ignorant to the daily revenue being lost by mismanaged business technology. Some know this will prove to be a costly mistake but they have no real vision to what it is already costing them every day.

Many SMBs don’t have a healthy fear of technology failure. Nor do they spend much time thinking about the true return on their IT investment. SMBs must ask themselves a few questions to determine if their business can really afford the “status quo.”

  • How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system? ƒ How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?
  • What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption no matter what?
  • Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be reinstalled or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record?
  • Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or organization?
  • When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were you back up?

Be Aware and Prepared… Not Overwhelmed

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Be Aware and Prepared…

Not Overwhelmed While the threat of data center loss and downtime is acknowledged, ask a group of SMBs how much they lose annually from network and system failure and you’re likely to be met with many blank stares and wild guesses. Perhaps they can sound off the hourly rate they’ve been charged for IT services, or what they’ve recently paid to repair or upgrade software and hardware, but very few can even venture to guess how much is lost in productivity, revenue, services and customer goodwill. The Aberdeen Group (an IT research firm) recently projected the estimated annual cost of downtime to be $25,806 for every small business employing less than one hundred people. Medium-sized businesses, employing anywhere between one hundred to one thousand employees, were hit even harder by failed technology at an estimated $880,600 per year.

Is it any wonder why many smart business owners these days aren’t sleeping soundly at night? They’re stressing over something they feel powerless to address – the stability and efficiency of their IT system and network.

But you aren’t powerless as you may think. Most IT system failures can be totally avoided, or reduced in severity, quite easily and inexpensively. All it takes is some risk assessment, a plan, proactive maintenance and the right sizing of your legacy IT budget.

Are SMBs Keeping Sensitive Data Safe in Bring-Your-Own-Device to Work Era?

Keeping Sensitive Data Safe The global research firm Forrester recently projected that by 2016 there will be over 200 million employees using their own smartphone for work. That’s right, the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) movement is upon us. While BYOD has undoubtedly enabled businesses to better accommodate an increasingly mobile and dispersed work force, how secure is sensitive customer and corporate data in the modern era of work-life integration? Are SMBs doing enough to ensure that networks aren’t threatened by the risk of malware being spread from personal mobile phones? Find out how you can be prepared – Download the eGuide – “Now You See It, There It… Stays: Decreasing the Business Costs and Risks of Data Loss What You Will Learn From this E-Guide Two very common sources of data loss and leakage How new technology can expose your business to data loss and disruption Four critical steps to better secure and backup sensitive data According to the Gartner Group, only 6% of small businesses survive a major data loss. Any small or medium sized business without a data back-up and recovery plan must act now before it’s too late!

Is your business continuity plan in place?

thumb-5 According to Symantec SMB, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 41% of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you are one of them, then you really need to think about whether you can afford the status quo.

Answering these questions will help you develop a business continuity plan.

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system?

2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?

3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what?

4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site?

5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit?

6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups?

Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner.

Thoughts of families, friends, folks and oh yeah, business too…

Tornado data loss

With yesterday’s real world tornado examples in the DFW area, we give thought to our families, friends and folks in general.   We hope you are all well and were unaffected by the storm.   This is, of course is the most important of considerations.   At some point your thoughts as a business owner, partner or executive will turn to what effect something like this might have had on your livelihood.   Although secondary to wanting our families to be safe and secure we also want our business to be secure from catastrophe if it can be avoided.   With advances in Cloud Technology and Cloud Hosting Services you can be covered with redundant or failover data sites and Backup and Disaster Recovery solutions.

In light of the recent storm, we’ll provide free Business Continuity, Data Disaster and Backup and Disaster Recovery assessments for companies from 50 – 500 employees in the DFW area. This is a value we want to provide to the community at no cost. Something we can offer that could make a difference in the future of your business.

Contact us for your free assessment at 214 377-4884 or sign up on our website at https://www.cognoscape.com

Most people don’t realize how much they have invested in their data. The data you’ve accumulated over the years is one of your most valuable business assets. From customer contact information to accounting information to inventory, you need your data to operate your business.

Statistics show that on average, over 40% of businesses that do not have a Disaster Recovery Plan go out of business after a major loss like a fire, a break-in, a tornado, or sabotage.

 A successful data recovery in the least amount of time ensuring that your business continues is only achieved by a sophisticated “dual-method” backup and recovery system.

Windows 7 Backup and Restore

Here’s a good article by Microsoft on Windows Backup and Restore.   This is specific to Windows 7 and it’s features  with Windows Backup Restore capabilities.   Check it out.  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/products/features/backup-and-restore

Backup and Restore—improved for Windows 7—creates safety copies of your most important personal files, so you’re always prepared for the worst.

Let Windows choose what to back up, or pick individual folders, libraries, and drives yourself. Windows can back up files on whatever schedule you choose—just set it and forget it.

You can back up to another drive or a DVD. And if you’re using the Professional or Ultimate editions of Windows 7, you’ll also have the option of backing up your files to a network.

To back up your files

  1. Open Backup and Restore by clicking the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Backup and Restore.
  2. Do one of the following:
    • If you’ve never used Windows Backup before, click Set up backup, and then follow the steps in the wizard. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    • If you’ve created a backup before, you can wait for your regularly scheduled backup to occur, or you can manually create a new backup by clicking Back up now. If you’re prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

Notes

  • We recommend that you don’t back up your files to the same hard disk that Windows is installed on.
  • Always store media used for backups (external hard disks, DVDs, or CDs) in a secure place to prevent unauthorized people from having access to your files—we recommend a fireproof location separate from your computer. You might also consider encrypting the data on your backup.

Cognoscape voted “Favorite IT Company” in the DFW/Addison Area!

Just this month Cognoscape, local DFW IT Outsource and Service Provider, was awarded “Favorite IT Company” by ADDISON- The Magazine of the North Dallas Corridor’s 3rd Annual Readers’ Choice Award.   An awards ceremony was held Tuesday, July 12, at Buttons, Restaurant in Addison, Texas. Nominations for the awards were gathered this Spring and were published in the Summer 2011 issue of ADDISON- The Magazine of the North Dallas Corridor. Readers from all over the metroplex cast their votes for their favorite in each of the several categories, ranging from Business to Arts and Entertainment.

The entire voting and results process was reviewed and approved by a local accounting firm.  Readers from around the Addison and Dallas area chose Cognoscape, as their IT company of choice. During the awards ceremony, Cognoscape received this plaque (pictured left), naming Cognoscape as the “Favorite IT Company” in the North Dallas Corridor.

A little about Cognoscape.

A growing Managed Services and Technology Solutions company, now voted as “Favorite IT Company” by ADDISON- The Magazine of the North Dallas Corridor’s readers, provides professional service companies with a unique service that focuses on business continuity, data backup and recovery, hosted email and applications and leveraging technology to improve small and medium businesses. This proactive approach allows Cognoscape’s clients to focus on their business, not worrying about technology or network issues. Other services include vendor management, complete turnkey hardware, software and networked systems and a specialized technology planning approach matching the growth plans, budget and acceptance of newer computing devices and models.

If you are looking for fast and reliable IT service from an IT company that is highly favored by people across the Dallas/Addison, TX  area and focuses on improving your business through leveraging technology, call 214-377-4884  today or sign up for a free network health check.

Cognoscape’s Michael St. Martin on KRLD last week “The Educated Investor”

Michael St. Martin, Cognoscape’s COO visited with Todd Volkman on Todd’s KRLD 1080AM radio show “The Educated Investor” last week to discuss how small and medium business owners and executives can leverage technology to increase revenues, productivity and cost savings. Listen “I had a blast speaking with Todd and hopefully explaining how to wade through the quickly changing and sometimes complex landscape of today’s technology” says Michael.   Topics covered include technology planning, back up and disaster recovery, hosted email, cloud computing, free or low cost web apps, and other nuggets of info for you.   Happy listening!