Disaster and Data Recovery Steps

In our world of hackers, potential weather-related events, and massive computer failures, it is well within the realm of possibility that something disastrous could happen to the technology at your place of business. Having a Disaster Recovery Plan or Business Continuity Plan is paramount to keeping your company afloat no matter what the event may be. IT disaster recovery plans provide step-by-step procedures for recovering disrupted systems and networks, and help them resume normal operations.Here is what your Disaster Recovery Plan may look like.

 

According to the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) Special Publication 800-34, Contingency Planning for Information Technology Systems, the following summarizes the ideal structure for an IT disaster recovery plan:

 

  • Complete a Risk Assessment to know what programs, data, and technology is at risk in the case of a disaster. Identify what management perceives as the most serious threats to the IT infrastructure including: fire, human error, loss of power, system failure.
  • Gather all relevant network infrastructure documents, for example: network diagrams, equipment configurations, databases. Include in this list all of the technology that keeps your business running. Identify the most critical IT assets, including call centers, server farms, Internet access, etc…
  • Identify procedures that will be instituted in the case of a system failure or disaster.
  • Determine who and what will be a part of an emergency response team in the case of a disaster.
  • Prepare IT disaster recovery plan(s) to address critical IT systems and networks.
  • Conduct tests of plans and system recovery assets to validate their operations.

If you need help drafting your Disaster Recovery Plan call M&H Consulting at 1-(866)-964-8324 for a free initial consultation.

What If . . . things go wrong with your computer?

Accidents happen especially when we are stressed and overworked. Accidents on and around technology can be a whole lot more than a “whoops” moment. They can be downright damaging to the hardware and potentially files that are on the hard drive. We have compiled a few “What If. . . “ moments in case you are wondering what will happen to your technology if  (insert horrible event here) happens.  Here’s hoping you don’t have one of these events any time soon.

  • What if you spill a drink on your keyboard? The answer according to Guardian Online is fairly straightforward. “If you‘ve only spilled a small amount of clean water on it, you may well get away with it. You can remove and clean a sticky keyboard using a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and distilled water before drying it thoroughly, and in extreme cases, people try methylated spirits (ethanol) or solvents (isopropyl alcohol).”
  • What if your hard drive gets physically damaged? The answer really depends on the extent of the damage and if data can be recovered. If the damage is minimal try to get the data off the drive and take it in for a check up. If the drive is seriously damaged now is not the time to find out that your data recovery strategy is not up-to-date. Contact your IT department or the consultants working with your department who may be able to find backed up data or recover the data on that drive.
  • What if I accidentally open suspicious email? Obviously don’t click on emails that look suspicious in the first place but if your mouse gets moved or something unforeseen happens, disconnect your device, backup your files, and then call your IT department or IT consulting company to check your machine for malware or other suspicious content.
  • What if I get ransomware? According to PC World, “Don’t negotiate with e-terrorists. Instead, remove many ransomware viruses without losing your files. The process varies and depends on the type of invader. Some procedures involve a simple virus scan, while others require offline scans and advanced recovery of your files.” For specifics read here.

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.

New Year’s Resolutions for your Technology

 

Everyone seems to be making their New Year’s Resolutions this time of year about eating healthy, getting to the gym and doing positive things to help themselves kick off the new year right. While it may not be top on your list this season a technology resolution or two may save you many hassles in the new year and potentially increase your productivity as well. Here are a few that we suggest. May you have a happy and safe 2017.

  • Back Up – Until you have lost some valuable data that you can not retrieve, you have no idea how very important this resolution is. There are numerous methods of back up including: cloud storage, flash drives, Drop Boxes and the list goes on. It doesn’t matter what method your business has for backing up data – just that you do it and do it fairly often.
  • Update – Software is updated regularly to fix ongoing issues or improve functionality and ease of use. Many systems have the option of automatic updates that download whenever the computer is available. Updates can keep your system moving smoothly and potentially avoid any issues with older programs and applications.
  • Enable Security – If the high profile security hacking you read about in the news isn’t enough to get you to beef up your digital security, the thought of losing revenue due to a hacking incident, phishing scam, malware, spyware or viruses should be enough to increase your vigilance. Firewalls, double encryption, and strong passwords should be a resolution everyone in your company takes seriously.
  • Clean it Up – Your desktop, laptop and mobile devices can get clogged with outdated applications, extraneous information and data that can be stored long term. Consider cleaning out your computer system regularly starting with this new calendar year. (Read next blog on cleaning out your computer to start the new year.)
  • Avoid Over-Downloading – The more on your computer, the slower and harder it works. Some software and applications look fun and if they are free it seems too good to be true. Unfortunately, these applications and software programs may be slowing down your computer, zapping your battery and bringing in security issues. Be careful about what you download in the new year.

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.

 

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.

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.

Does your Company have a Disaster Recovery Plan ?

On a daily basis, your business uses electronic email, Voice Over Internet Protocol telephone systems, electronic data sharing, servers that store critical business data, and numerous devices used by employees that hold information essential for your company to run. What would your business do if something happens that causes your data and information to be lost, destroyed or corrupted?  Hardware failure, human error, catastrophic natural disaster or hacking are only a few of the things that could go wrong. Every company needs a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) to keep a business running and to recover/restore hardware, applications and data that is vital to the survival and continued operation of your business.

 

Creating a disaster recover plan takes much more than just the members of your IT department – it takes the whole company to identify threats as well as areas that will need to take priority when it comes to recovery and restoration. Here are some things to consider when drafting your DRP.

 

  • Perform a risk assessment (RA) and/or business impact analysis (BIA)
  • Identify critical systems and establish recovery time objectives (RTOs) and recovery point objectives (RPOs).
  • Plan ahead for what strategy you will need to use when responding to whatever the crisis might be as well as what the possible recovery strategies could be depending upon the situation.
  • Include in your strategy who would be responsible for what, and try to plan a budget in advance for whatever may happen.
  • Planning should also take into consideration what happens if your physical workspace is compromised. Are there alternate work areas within the same site, at a different company location, at a third-party-provided location, at employees’ homes, or at a transportable work facility.
  • Access to technology should also be a consideration. What if hardware is ruined? Is there an alternate technology that can be used? Are there companies in your field of expertise that would allow use of their equipment on a temporary basis?
  • Data backup is also a huge issue when it comes to a disaster. Do you have a backup plan, alternate tech support or a qualified third party provider?
  • Call M&H Consulting to help plan your DRP and make sure you are covered in the event of a “worst case scenario.