Data Backup Failures

Data is the lifeblood of most companies, whether it is files kept on clients, financial data for revenue analysis or documentation of current/past projects. As we have discussed before, data should be backed up on a regular basis using multiple methods. But what happens if those plans fail? What causes back ups to terminate or fail to execute at all?  Let’s take a closer look at the process of back ups and why they fail.

 

  • Human Error – Honestly we all mess up from time to time and backing up data is no exception. It is very possible that an employee forgot to begin the nightly backup or and IT leader changed the data and information was lost. It happens more often than you would think.
  • Data Corruption – For companies that use tapes for this process, you may want to periodically test them because after years of use they can become corrupt.
  • Incomplete Backup – Depending upon the amount of information being backed up, the process can take an extensive amount of time and use up critical features that you may need for daily operations. Unfortunately, many companies have incomplete data backup because they stopped the process too early.
  • Only One Copy – It may seem incredibly redundant, but some files are so critical that they need to be made twice. One copy may be lost, damaged or corrupt so be sure not to take for granted the one copy you do have.

 

If you are looking for solutions to your data management problems call M&H Consulting to find solutions to your backup issues.

 

How to Backup Windows 10

We all know about it and we all know the importance of it, but somehow, we forget to do it until it is too late. We’re talking about backing up your computer! For businesses this is an extremely important act in order to ensure that all your important files are saved and will continue to be saved somewhere in case of a computer crash.

For Windows computers, there are two different forms of backups, file backup and system backups. File backups are exactly that; it is when you backup different types of files onto an external hard drive or network. System backups copies the entire Windows operating system including your programs, files, and settings in order to help restore your computer after a computer crash.

How to:

File backups are much simpler than system backups. Simply connect either an external hard drive or network to your PC. Go to “Start” > “Setting” > “Update & Security” > “Backup” and then select the location for backup (external hard drive or network).  To help make the backup process go by faster, you can select which files you do or do not want to backup by going to “More Options.”

Many times, while backing up files, some of them may go missing. In order to restore these missing files, search “Restore files” on the task bar, then go to “Restore your files with File History.”  Once there you will be able to find the missing file and decide whether you want to restore it in its original version at its original location or at its backup location.

To restore in original location: Go to missing file and select “Restore”

To restore in a different location: Go to missing file, select “Restore” > “Restore to” and then select the location to restore it.

How to:

System backups can be much more complicated than file backups. If you need to backup your PC system and would like assistance in doing so, contact M&H for help!

How to Backup your Mac

Backing up your computer is essential for giving your hard drive space and ensuring that your important files are safely stored. There are multiple ways in which you can backup different files, large or small. Two ways in which you can back up data is through Time Machine and iCloud.

Time Machine Backup:

Through Time Machine you can back up data to either an external hard drive or network. In order to back up with a hard drive, you would need to connect the hard drive to the computer. You would also have to connect your computer to the network if backing it up this way. Once your preferred backup location is connected, go to “System Preference” > “Time Machine” > “Select Disk” and then select “Encrypt Backups” to protect your files from hackers.

By backing up through Time Machine, you are able to continue using your computer as normal. However, to prevent your computer from slowing down too much during this process, go to “System Preferences” in Time Machine and select “Options.” Through here you will be able to select which items you do and don’t want to backup.

If you wanted to backup music from your iTunes, it’s best to backup through Time Machine as well. To do this go to iTunes app > “File” > “Library” > “Organize Library” and then check on “Consolidate Files” > “Done.” Once the file has been consolidated, you must locate the specific iTunes file you will be backing up. To locate the file, go to “Finder” > home folder > “music folder” > “iTunes Folder”.

iCloud Backup:

iCloud is best for backing up photos and videos. To do this, simply go to “ System Preferences” > “iCloud.” Once there, select the files you do and do not want to download. This will allow your photos and videos to upload in full resolution.

For more extensive help on backing up important files, contact M&H Consults for help on this and any other technological questions.

Top Causes of Data Loss

In our technology driven business world, data is growing exponentially for companies. Security breaches of sensitive data has rocked our world for the past few years. It seems as if there are no institutions, whether large or small, public or private, that are immune to the problem of data loss and data breaches. The escalation of hackings and cyber crimes on means that technology officers and business leaders need to be aware of the reasons behind data loss. Here is a quick recap from studies over the last few years showing the major causes of data loss.

 

  • Human Error – Employees have direct access to your most sensitive data regularly. The top risk of losing data is deleting files or parts of texts without having any backups available – usually by employees. Did you also know how common it is for employees to spill coffee or drinks into a laptop? Liquids cause short circuit of important electronic components and they are really hard to recover afterwards. Since losing data is so common, some employees don’t even see it as a huge problem anymore. Having the right back up procedures can most definitely help so that if data is accidentally deleted it can be easily accessed.
  • Viruses and Malware – Staying on top of the latest malware and viruses that are out there in the cyber world can be daunting. Keep your software current to help stay up to date with the latest viruses out there. In addition, making regular backups of your data and having it available after severe virus damages may have really high value.
  • Old Hardware – Hard drives and hardware can age and be neglected. There are so many moving parts inside of hard drives that it is no wonder they break down so easily. Hard drives can die a natural death after 5-6 years of use. Regular backups really help in case of hardware troubles. Hard disk failures do not mean that data is lost forever if you have the opportunity to take the latest version of your data from safe storage and continue using it after any kind of hardware failures.
  • Power Failures or Natural Disasters – Mother Nature has a way of letting us know that we, as humans, are powerless. Having automatic backups of your work enables you to recover from any accidents caused by power failures or natural disasters like floods, hurricanes, fire or other unthinkable events.
  • Theft – Electronic devices whether they are smartphones, tablets or laptops can be easily stolen. It adds insult to injury if you lose your device as well as your data! The data may actually be more valuable to your business than the actual device. Recovering data may be a lot easier if you save to the cloud or have specific backup procedures so that all that data doesn’t walk away with the thief.

 

Has your company created a backup plan? Talk to M&H Consultants to find out the best way your business can protect itself from data loss.

 

Data Backup Plans

 

No matter what your business field is, data is probably at the heart of it. It is therefore, crucial for your company to protect this data for the day-to-day running of your business. Backing up files can protect against accidental loss of user data, database corruption, hardware failures, and even natural disasters. What types of backup plans do you have? What is your data recovery plan? If you can’t answer these questions then you are a few keystrokes, or virus away from a catastrophe. Here is a look at the different types and kinds of backups available for your business.

 

There are many techniques for backing up files. The techniques you use will depend on the type of data you’re backing up, how convenient you want the recovery process to be, and more.

 

  • Full Backups – A full backup is exactly what the name implies. It is a full copy of your entire data set. Although full backups arguably provide the best protection, most organizations only use them on a periodic basis because they are time consuming, and often require a large number of tapes or cloud storage. 
  • Incremental backup – Incremental backups only backup the data that has changed since the previous backup. These are less time consuming. 
  • Differential backups – This type is similar to an incremental backup, the difference being that while an incremental backup only includes the data that has changed since the previous backup, a differential backup contains all of the data that has changed since the last full backup. 
  • Daily backups – Designed to backup files using the modification date on the file itself. If a file has been modified on the same day as the backup, the file will be backed up. This technique doesn’t change the archive attributes of files.

What combination does your company need? In your backup plan you’ll probably want to perform full backups on a weekly basis and supplement this with daily, differential, or incremental backups.Talk to M&H about data backup plans that may be right for your company.

Worst Case Scenarios of Backup Disasters

Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

 

It is not what business leaders ever want to think about but it is a topic they must consider – worst case scenarios of backup disasters! What do we mean by worst case scenarios? Unfortunately, there is a long list of things that could go wrong and could jeopardize your technology and data in the blink of an eye. Environmental triggers such as record snowfall, hurricanes, and floods, top the list of  storm-related fears of executive and tech experts alike. Then there is the other “storm” as such that can cause just as much fear of a worst case technology failure – human error. Most disasters in IT aren’t due to bad weather, but instead attributed to human error. Common mistakes, disgruntled employees, and malicious attacks by hackers are some of the risks that plague data centers, in addition to the storms and bad weather over which we have no control. All of these events can cause what no business owner wants to consider a back up disaster!  

 

No matter the threat – humankind or Mother Nature – you need to understand your business’s risk landscape and understand how you can prevent a worst case scenario from happening at your company. The best disaster recovery plans take into account all the possibilities and look at the worst that has happened to other companies in order to learn from and prevent such occurrences in the future. What steps can you take to minimize your business’ risk and prevent the worst from happening right in your own office.

 

  • Disaster Recovery Plan – Every company should have a plan of what to do in the case of an event that can impact your tech or physical office. This Disaster Recovery Plan should be a documented process or set of procedures to recover and protect a business IT infrastructure in the event of a disaster. Such a plan, ordinarily documented in written form, specifies procedures an organization is to follow in the event of a disaster.
  • A Backup Team – Certain employees may be designated to monitor worst case scenarios in order to properly jump into action in the case of an event that stops employees from getting to work or if technology has been compromised. Some companies even have a secondary office location where work can be done, or done remotely. This group should know what the most recent backups included in order to ensure that all data and files are secure and able to be accessed.
  • Insurance Safeguards – Invest in insurance to cover your hardware and devices. Computers, printers, phones, projectors and other forms of technology can cost a ton of money to replace. If you ever face an office fire or natural disaster, you don’t want to worry about spending thousands to replace your vital business equipment.
  • Prepare Clients – Customers and Clients should be aware that there is a disaster recovery procedure well before an actual disaster occurs. Well crafted emails and preplanned documents can put clients at ease about what to expect from your business if a worst case scenario occurs.

Transition Planning – Planning for a worst case scenario also takes into account transitioning back to normalcy after the event. Your Disaster Recovery Team should be able to reasonably give information and timelines to employees about how quickly things will get back to normal.

How Often Should Technology Be Upgraded?

When your company is busy it means that business is good and while there may be funds to do necessary upgrades, there probably isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done. Then, when business is slow, it might mean that the extra funds for upgrades has dried up or been allocated for other projects. It is a double edged sword that businesses face all over this country. It is tempting to wait until a computer breaks or a piece of software becomes obsolete and to think about how you’ll replace it, right?

 

How exactly does your company decide when the appropriate time is to change out hardware or update the existing software that you need for the day-to-day running of your company? Do you wait until it is do-or-die time? Wait for signs of cracks? Wait till employees complain? M&H can help you create schedules and timelines for how long your technology should last and when the appropriate times are to upgrade. Here are some strategies for helping your company make these decisions.  

 

  • Create a Technology Plan – Upgrading and refreshing both your software and hardware should not be a haphazard procedure that is only discussed when there is a problem.  Using feedback from managers, leadership, employees and, most of all, any of your tech experts, creates a technology plan that takes into account budgeting for needed upgrades and updates to the technology that your business may depend on. This plan should look into the lifespan of certain devices as well as take into account the regular pace at which upgrades to software turn out.
  • Look at warranty and Insurance Plans – When deciding upon replacing existing tech look at any warranty and insurance programs that may remain on the devices. This may save your business a lot of money in the long run.
  • Examine how an upgrade will help your clients/customers and patrons. You do not need the latest and greatest of every new technology. With the fast pace at which things change in this industry, your company would go broke just trying to keep up. So, examine what impacts the change may have of your customers first. Will the upgrade help with your customers having a better experience with your business? Will it increase a positive impact on customer service? This may help in your decision.
  • Budget – Yes, it may come down to budget. Does your company have the funds to upgrade, or would it be best to wait on items for the next fiscal year?  
  • Prioritize – Obviously software upgrades that are imperative for the operation of your business should take priority over splurges for new devices for employees. Make a list and regularly examine what takes priority in your company. For companies just starting out this list may need to be fluid as unexpected costs come up, but have the list to keep you on track.

Talk to Experts – Talk to tech experts like M&H whose business is to know what upgrades and new tech are coming down the pike. We can help you prioritize and create a tech plan that is right for your unique business.

Computer Needs – Be Proactive Rather than Reactive

We have all worked for, or dealt with companies that seem to be in a constant state of “putting out fires.” The adrenaline rush can be fun for a while but in the end it means that the focus of a business is not on the future but rather preventing a calamity from happening right at the moment.

 

What does it mean to be “proactive?”  The image we associate with “proactivity” is one of grace under stress and the ability to foresee issues and problems far into the future. Reactive, on the other hand, implies that you don’t have the initiative. You let the events set the agenda for you or your company. In short, reactive means you are at the will of the tides tossing and turning you in whatever direction it chooses. Being reactive makes it hard to stay afloat. Proactive means you anticipate the waves even when the wind is howling and the seas are rough.

 

What does this all mean for your small or medium sized business? Think of being proactive in terms of your IT department. Do you know all the security risks that could “turn the tide” so to speak in a moments notice? Do you have the most up-to-date software and password protections to guard against cyber storms? Have you completed regular backups of your data? Do you have the more advanced technology? Is your IT department ready to take on issues 24/7/365? M&H Consulting wants your company to be more proactive to safeguard you against these threats.Talk to our IT experts about what problems may lie ahead and plan accordingly. When it comes to your company’s computer needs it is always best to be proactive rather than reactive. Call M&H now.

Computer Back up Methods & Options

Anyone who has ever lost files after a computer crash knows it is important to back up your data. But how should you back it up? What are the differences in cost and features between different methods of backup? What should you use for your business or home computer? What data should you back up?

On-site/Local me backup

The traditional method for backing up data is to use a program or script on your computer/server to back up your data onto some local storage media. This method can be more expensive, depending on the software & hardware that are used, and it sometimes requires more maintenance than online backups. The benefits of a local backup are that it can allow fur greater depth and flexibility for retaining backups and archives, and it also allows you to keep all of your data in-house.

Examples of backup software used fur local backups are: Symantec Backup Exec, NTBackup (the built-in Windows backup program). and backup scripts. Simply copying and pasting files is another option, but most users find this too cumbersome to do repeatedly. Examples of local backup media include secondary internal hard drives in a PC. CD’s and DVD’s, external USB hard drives, flash drives, or backup tapes.

Off-site/Online File Backup

Online backup programs are becoming more and more popular. These are subscription-based services. and
they work by running a program on your computer that copies your data to a secure server hosted elsewhere
on the Internet Online backups are generally easy to use. and are most are highly reliable. The fact that the
data is stored off-site means that even if a disaster destroys your machine(s). you should still be able to
recover your data. There is a wide range of online backups available. with a wide range of fi:atures and
prices. Most online backup companies offer different plans based on the total storage yo u need.
Examples of online backup products are: Mozy. Crashplan. Carbonite. !Backup. and Venyu.
What to back up’?
The most common approach is to use a simple file backup. Many backup programs will actually select most
of your important files by default (Desktop. My Documents. etc.); however. it is important to actually check
and make sure everything is selected.
A more “complete” approach is to use an imaging solution. An imaging program will actually take a
” snapsho~· not only of your files but of the complete system state. The advantage of this would come in the
event of a hard drive failure. If a replacement hard drive were installed in the same machine, the image
backup could be used to restore the system back to its previous state (instead of having to fully reinstall
Windows. reinstall all programs. and reconfigure all settings). Imaging programs are generally more expensive

Importance of a Solid Backup

Importance of a Solid Backup

If you didn’t already know, having a backup plan is crucial for any business. There are many disasters that can happen and if you are not ready for them, they can cause a ton of damage to your business both physically and metaphorically. Making sure you have a solid backup plan can go a long way.

Hacking:

Hackers are constantly getting into diverse business’ data, and we are constantly hearing about them in the news. According to InformationIsBeautiful.net, there have been reports of retail businesses like EBay, Target and Home Depot being hacked with over 70 million customers and employees’ data being stolen.  This can cost a company millions of dollars to correct, and, although these are well known retail stores, that doesn’t mean a small business can’t be targeted. Hackers do not discriminate and can target companies from different industries and sizes.

Natural Disasters:

Natural disasters are situations we cannot humanly control. Floods, fires, and other natural issues, can occur whenever and wherever. A surprise attack like this can leave a business close to impossible to get back on their feet. This requires days and, sometimes, weeks of downtime. The majority of businesses that undergo as much as a week of downtime tend to go out of business within the year.

Server Breakdowns:

Server breakdowns like crashes, viruses, unexpected deleted data, and corrupted data are constantly happening at any time. The worst thing about this is when your data can’t be restored as simply as you thought. Losing client information, accounting documents or other important data is something that most businesses can afford to do. Testing out your backup plan occasionally is crucial to avoid immense amounts of data loss.

A solid backup plan includes regular testing including post-recovery testing, a full recovery system with appropriate backup hardware, and print copies of important documents.