Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused millions of dollars in damages. Some of that damage was unavoidable, but hundreds of businesses managed to stay open thanks to innovative virtualization solutions. If you’re not already taking advantage of this technology, it’s time to find out what you’re missing.

Virtual desktops
In most offices, employees are still dependent on desktop computers. Their workstations grant them access to everything from customer relationship software to company databases and when these computers go down, there’s no way to get work done. Virtualized desktops allow users to access their files and even computing power from across the internet.

Instead of logging on to an operating system stored on a hard drive just a few inches away from their keyboard, employees can take advantage of server hardware to store their files across a network. With barebones computers, employees can log in to these virtual desktops either in the office or from home. Floods, fires and other disasters won’t prevent your team from working because they can continue remotely.

Virtual applications
Devoting a portion of your server’s hardware and software resources to virtual desktops requires a fair amount of computing power. If the majority of your employees’ time is spent working with just one or two pieces of software, you can virtualize just those applications.

If a hurricane destroyed your office and the hardware inside it, virtualized applications can be restored in minutes. They don’t need to be installed on the machines that use them, and as long as you have backups these applications can be streamed to employee computers just like a cloud-based application.

Virtual servers
If you use virtual desktops or applications, it makes perfect sense to use virtual servers as well. With a little help from a managed services provider, your servers can be configured to automatically create virtual backups. Beyond preventing data loss, these backups also make it possible to restore server functionality with off site restorations.

Virtualized servers are incredibly useful when clients need access to a website or database that you maintain in the office. For example, if you provide background checks on tenants to rental property owners through your website, an unexpected power outage won’t cause an interruption of service. Your virtualization solution will boot up a backup server away from the power outage and your customers will be none the wiser.

The benefits of virtualization extend far beyond disaster recovery planning. Your business can also reduce IT costs and increase hardware capacity — all it takes is some help from trained experts. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

Not sure where to start? Give GCInfotech a call to discuss the available solutions that would work best for your company. Together, we can make your business work smarter, faster and more efficiently.
Published with consideration from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have already caused billions of dollars in damages, but hurricane season is far from over. Experts are predicting that there will be five more major tropical storms through October, and if they present risks to your business, it’s time to establish a watertight disaster recovery (DR) plan. Here are a few things you need to consider.

Pay attention to location
First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your offsite facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 mph (as fast as Category 5 storms), and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage.

Determine recovery hierarchy
Certain parts of your IT are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days to get your business back to running efficiently.

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and e-commerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Use image-based backups
Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in it. From here, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud
The cloud allows you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently
Back up your data often, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on the 15th of September and the next storm, Hurricane Jose, makes landfall on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Get in the habit of replicating your files at the end of each day, which should be easy if you’ve opted for image-based backups.

Test your DR plan
After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after disaster strikes. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during this time, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience little-to-no disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company must have.

Not sure where to start? Give GCInfotech a call to discuss the available solutions that would work best for your company. Together, we can make your business work smarter, faster and more efficiently.

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory SOURCE

Seventy-five percent of all obsolete computing equipment is currently in storage. In other words, it’s gathering dust in that unused office, shoved under a desk somewhere, or being used as a plant stand in the corner. But good options for disposal and recycling of old computers abound.

The following are EasyTech’s top tips for safely getting rid of unused computer equipment. You’ll free up storage space while helping our environment stay clean and green.

Computer Recycling

Many of the basic components in an old computer can be reused. This includes plastic from keyboards, metal from computer housing, and glass from older monitors. At the same time, toxic substances in computers like lead and cadmium need to be kept out of landfills and groundwater. Since January 2012, Staples has recycled more than five million pounds of electronics.

Fortunately, computer recycling is now an easy option in most communities. Many towns have public drop-off stations for your unused equipment, while computer retailers such as Staples offer free recycling as well. These recyclers will ensure electronic equipment and batteries are responsibly reused.

Computer Reuse

Recycling your old computers is a great choice when they are broken and beyond repair, but equipment that still works can be sold or donated to charity. Many schools, churches, and other community organizations will be happy to take your computers when your office decides to make an upgrade. In fact, computers that are broken yet repairable are often welcomed by these kinds of institutions. (Be sure to ask before donating equipment that is not in working order.)

Another option, offered by Dell and Goodwill, is called the Dell Reconnect program. This service is a residential computer-recycling program that offers recyclers the opportunity to drop off old gear at Goodwill locations. This free service is tax deductible and not only are you recycling gear, you’re also giving the community an opportunity to use technology they might otherwise be unable to afford.

Selling your outdated computing equipment is another option. Many businesses may be surprised to know that their unwanted computers can be listed on popular classified ad sites and turned into a bit of extra cash. Just because you might not need those old computers doesn’t mean someone else might not, and if that’s the case there are effective recycling programs out there like Gazelle that actually pay you fairly well for your gear when it’s no longer wanted.

Computer Upgrades

We all like brand new things—new cars, new houses, new computers. But before you decide on junking your old computer equipment, find out whether component upgrades might be a better option. The addition of more memory or storage, or adding better graphics capability, can give an old computer new life. RAM upgrades might save you money and reduce your impact on the environment.

You might also be able to use some of the components in your old computers with your newer systems. Old hard drives can serve as data storage or backup receptacles. Your old monitor can be hooked up in tandem with a new monitor for extra viewing area (a dual monitor setup often provides small business users with a productivity boost. Want to know how? It’s a snap! Just follow these official dual-monitor setup instructions from Microsoft).

Before You Recycle

Proper computer disposal means being careful of our environment. It also means being careful with the data those old computers contain. You don’t want customer or financial information getting into the wrong hands when you dispose of your computers.

Erasing files from your computer won’t be enough to keep a determined data thief from getting at your information. Data-wiping software can make information retrieval more difficult, although even this might not stop a sophisticated crook.

If you are donating or selling old computers and they contain sensitive information, you might consider removing the hard drive first and disposing of it separately. Retailers that offer computer recycling usually ensure that data is effectively destroyed in their disposal process, so this is a good option when privacy is a concern.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from STAPLES.com SOURCE

How Highly Specialized CRM’s Are Transforming The Way that Small Businesses Work

The age of the one size fits all approach to CRM is slowly joining the ranks of the fax machine and the cash register, especially for small businesses. The rapid technological advancement of the everyday consumer has put pressure on small businesses to engage their customers in more and more sophisticated ways.

In this highly competitive environment, response times are critical, content delivery is paramount and being able to map the customer’s journey across all your touchpoints has become more important than ever. The broad based CRM’s of yesteryear weren’t conceived to address all of the specialized industry needs of every vertical. For example, while they all fall into the category of a businesses, a florist, a REALTOR, orthodontist and marijuana entrepreneur all have very different requirements for managing and scaling a successful business in their respective markets. Today’s successful small businesses are moving away from traditional CRMs in favor of highly specialized CRM’s, tailored to the needs of one industry at a time.

As Kate Leggett, Forrester principal analyst explains in her blog, “CRM purchasing is undergoing a sea change. I see that companies are no longer [purchasing] heavyweight, end-to-end CRM solutions that have had the reputation of being complex, expensive and hard to implement—even if they have great industry specific capabilities. They tend to impede user productivity with a bloated set of capabilities that many users can’t leverage.”

Companies like Microsoft and Facebook are also catching on to the fact that it’s not just enterprise organizations that benefit from CRM. It’s great to see efficiency tools being integrated into small business operations, but the recent options are just the first step in changing the way SMBs do business.

So, what would be the best next step? The way I see it, tools for small business don’t need to check all the boxes. Part of choosing the right CRM, is choosing a company that understands your niche and has built their solution with your exact challenges in mind. When you are small, there’s no room for error, and no need for extraneous features that won’t improve your everyday tasks.

Finding the Right CRM

The goal of a good CRM is to keep the customer experience front and center while providing you granular control over the life blood of your business. Start by asking yourself the following questions when selecting a CRM for your small business:

  • Are all your customer interactions and information (Web visits, content consumed, emails, and phone calls) stored in one convenient location and accessible to everyone in your company?
  • Can you verify that all leads in the sales pipeline are being followed up on in a timely manner?
  • Are you able to initiate marketing campaigns and follow up activities along with the sales team?
  • Can you create a forecast of your pipeline without your accountant?
  • Can you view all the sales activity and results by day, week, month and year?
  • Is your sales team able to access customer information and respond to customers when they are out of the office?
  • Do you know how many customer service issues each customer had and why?
  • Can you get help setting up your CRM?
  • Is there customer support via a knowledgeable representative?
  • Are there free resources and training provided to get your team up to speed?

Horizontal solutions from today’s tech giants aren’t the only option, and often aren’t the best choice for an emerging business. CRM for small business is a tricky trade, which is why it’s taken so long for targeted solutions to come to market. It’s easy to assume that the one-size-fits-all approach is a reliable choice for your business, but if you’re looking to gain a competitive advantage, you’ll want to keep an eye out for the following:

  • Specific focus. The way different companies interact with their customers will vary dramatically, depending on their vertical. Just like your small business, your CRM doesn’t need to tackle every challenge facing consumers today. Your business challenges are unique, and the most efficient use of your time and money will be finding a CRM that meets those needs, and nothing else.
  • Small Data Driven. Having access to tons of data sounds great, but won’t always be as valuable as you may think. When you have a niche target audiences, understanding the needs of that unique set of people is what’s valuable, even if this data set is only a fraction of what larger CRMs will offer.
  • Ease of Use.Tools with the highest adoption rates are ones that just make sense. They show you what you want, when you want it, with an intuitive design that fits with your everyday business operations. When your CRM platform is as easy to use as Facebook, that’s when it will get the most use, and make the biggest impact on your business.
  • On the Go. In many different industries, doing your job well means you’re not sitting at your desk. In real estate for instance, agents who are closing the most deals are the one’s out in the field, meeting with clients in and out of homes on the market. That’s where mobile CRM comes in. Being able to engage with clients and have access to customer data on the go are capabilities that’ll elevate small business to a level of efficiency rarely found in traditional industries.

We shouldn’t expect a CRM to be a one-size-fits-all solution for the local grocery store owner, the construction company founder, and the retail store manager. The way companies across industries interact with their customers is inherently different, but they all have a few things in common: the desire to reach a unique target audience and build long lasting customer relationships—all at a low cost and without the added roadblock of mastering highly complicated new software.
That’s why small business CRM should fit in the palm of your hand. It should provide support both at the desk and away from it, improve your everyday tasks and be as intuitive as Facebook or Twitter. Broad and all-encompassing CRM systems won’t always be the best fit, so it’s time we start thinking a bit smaller when it comes to CRM and give SMBs a fair shot at the digital transformation happening in enterprises around the globe.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from SmallBizTechnology.com SOURCE

You don’t have to be a big corporation to catch a cybercriminal’s attention. In this article you’ll learn about the risks that business email compromise, ransomware, and a new breed of malicious Microsoft Office files pose to your small business.

Did Your Boss Really Email That?

The next time you receive an email from your manager or from the head of the company urgently requesting sensitive information or banking details, check again.

Scammers are going beyond spear phishing and using a scheme called business email compromise (BEC) to trick employees into sending them money. And it’s not just large companies that fall for the email wire fraud scam. In April, the FBI warned that small companies and non-profits—any business where wire transfers are a normal part of conducting business—are desirable targets.
“The schemers go to great lengths to spoof company email or to use social engineering to assume the identity of the CEO, a company attorney, or a trusted vendor,” stated the FBI in its security alert. “They research employees who manage money and use language specific to the company they are targeting, then they request a wire fraud transfer using dollar amounts that lend legitimacy.”
The losses are real and potentially devastating to small businesses. BEC scams have affected companies in every state of U.S. and 79 countries, according to the FBI. In Arizona alone, the average victim loses between $25,000 and $75,000.
Law enforcement received BEC reports from more than 17,000 victims from October 2013 through February of this year, the agency said. In total, they were scammed out of more than $2.3 billion, said the FBI. One unidentified American company was hit for nearly $100 million and another, Ubiquiti Networks lost $39.1 million last year.
If you get an urgent, email-only request for a wire transfer, it’s time to raise your guard. The FBI suggests something as simple as picking up the phone and verifying that everything is on the up-and-up.

Data Held Hostage

By now, the threat of ransomware has been well publicized. This particularly wicked form of malware encrypts victims’ files, rendering them useless until they pay—you guessed it—a ransom. Even forking over the funds doesn’t guarantee that cybercriminals will uphold their end of the bargain.
According to a recent report (PDF) from Symantec, the average ransom demand—$294 at the end of 2015—has climbed to $679 today. Sure, it may a small price to pay to regain access to critical data, but the total cost can quickly climb in small office environments.
“While the home user may be faced with a $500 ransom demand for one infected computer, the ransom demand for multiple infections at an organization could quickly rack up to tens of thousands of dollars,” cautioned the report.
And the threat’s growing larger. Trend Micro observed that the number of new ransomware families out in the wild climbed to more than 20 during the first half of 2016, a 172 percent increase over all of 2015. Worse, they are getting more insidious.
“JIGSAW [a ransomeware variant] deletes encrypted files whenever victims fail to pay the ransom on the given deadline. Similarly, SURPRISE increases the ransom every time victims miss a deadline,” stated Trend Micro in a recent report. “Our findings also revealed how some ransomware families were designed to target specific business-related files. SURPRISE and POWERWARE, for example, encrypt tax return files.”

A New Twist to Malicious Microsoft Office Documents

Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files are among the most widely emailed among employees, and cybercriminals bank on that fact to spread malware and collect user credentials.
It’s not exactly news, but Sophos has noted that malware coders are switching up their tactics. If you’re expecting attackers to flood your inbox with Word documents that harbor the malicious macros of old, keep reading.
Word Intruder, a popular exploit kit, now targets an expanded set of Microsoft Office vulnerabilities and stages complex attacks that may slip through your defenses if your systems aren’t properly patched.
Sophos, a security software company, recently revealed in a blog post that the latest version of “Microsoft Word Intruder now includes the ability to deploy a decoy document, as well as new payload files that are relocated to the end of the exploit block.” The tactic, according to Sophos security researchers, enables attackers to cover their tracks while the exploit does its damage.
The best defense against this type of threat is to train employees to stop opening attachments from unsolicited emails and to keep your anti-virus software up to date.

To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment.

Published with consideration from Small Business Computing SOURCE

With a Category 3 storm aiming squarely at the East Coast of the United States, how well have you prepared yourself and your data? David Gewirtz shares some tips and cautions you may not have considered.
I live on the Space Coast of Florida, and as I write this, Hurricane Matthew is aiming right at us. You never really know where hurricanes will hit. This Category 3 nightmare (which models show may strengthen back to Category 4) could land down near Miami or move north towards Jacksonville or the Carolinas. Right now, models are showing it might even loop around and hit us again next week.

It’s not pretty. Even if the main storm stays offshore, hurricane-force winds and flooding could have a pretty devastating result. I won’t lie to you. We’re worried. We’ve locked in our hurricane shutters and done basic hurricane prep, but if the power goes out or worse, we’ll be off the grid for an indeterminate amount of time.

That brings me to the issue of protecting your data and some things that those of you in the track of forces of nature may not have considered.

Let’s start with the cloud. Storing data in the cloud may have some disadvantages, but when it comes to a storm like Matthew, it’s nice knowing that Google, Evernote, Dropbox, and CrashPlan are safely preserving our data out of harm’s way.

But think about this: what happens if you’ve knocked offline and can’t get to your data?

Do you have local copies (printouts, even) of critically important information like family and emergency contact numbers, insurance policies, repair manuals, and health records?

If you’re without power for a few days to a week (the prospect of this freaks me the heck out, honestly), you’ll need to have important documentation available to you and you won’t be able to rely on the cloud to get it. Make sure you have some paper records of the most important documents and protect them well away from the elements.

Next, let’s turn it around. What about the data you do have stored locally? I have a number of redundant NAS devices that protect my data in case a drive fails. I even have a backup NAS array to back up the original NAS. Both of those, however, are here in my home office.

Today’s security threats have expanded in scope and seriousness. There can now be millions — or even billions — of dollars at risk when information security isn’t handled properly.

From a disaster management perspective, that’s okay — but only because it’s part of a larger backup strategy. I also have two arrays off-site, with relatively up-to-date backups, that are powered down. Unfortunately, that off-site location is also in the track of the storm, so it’s not necessarily secure. To back that up, I have the cloud backup services and it’s that triumvirate of protective measures that will, I hope, secure my data.

If you have local data, make sure to keep multiple copies. You might not have time to squirt everything up to the cloud, but at least be sure to move the most critical documents and files.

As the storms approach, be sure to power down your gear and unplug the boxes from the wall. If you’re in a data center, you’ll have to look at your appropriate surge and lightning mitigation precautions, but in a big storm like Matthew, it might be necessary to implement power isolation procedures, if you’ve set them up ahead of time.

Another thing you might want to consider doing is making a dump of your most important data to a spare drive, like the portable external drives I reviewed recently. That way, if you have to evacuate with nothing but the cloths on your back and your laptop, you can grab the small drive and bring it along, and you’ll have most of your most important data.

I won’t lie to you. Big hurricanes are crazy scary. But with some smart preparation, at least you have a chance of making it through as best as possible.

Email archiving—5 reasons why this is the best email feature you never use

Published with consideration from . SOURCE

Where has all my storage space gone? Why isn’t the Windows Update working? How can I play a DVD on my PC? A lot of Windows 10 users are frustrated with these problems and still, they don’t know how to fix them. Let us be your guide. Here we’ve provided the answers to the 6 most popular Windows 10 issues.

1. Decreased storage space

You might not be aware that after the upgrade to Windows 10, the old version of Windows isn’t deleted but is kept in the C:/ drive by the name of windows.old, which eats up a huge chunk of your disk space. Microsoft makes it this way just in case you change your mind and want to go back to your previous version. However, if you’re sure you want to permanently delete it, just follow these steps:
Click the Windows Start button and search for the Disk Cleanup app by typingcleanup. The drive selection box will appear, choose the drive your OS is installed on (the default drive is C:/drive), then wait for Windows to scan your system. Afterward, a box will pop up.
At this point, the system might present you with a list of files to delete, but if that’s not visible, select the Clean up system files option on the bottom left of the window. Windows will then present you with another box with the option to delete Previous Windows Installation(s). Tick the option and click OK, then click Delete Files to confirm your decision.

2. Updates that don’t work

First off, check if you’ve upgraded to the Windows 10 Fall update. If the problems still occur, download and run the Windows Update Troubleshooter, then restart the system and try to update again.
If that still doesn’t work, check that System Restore is configured (see number 3 below) and create a restore point. Type Window+X and select Command Prompt (Admin), type net stop wuauserv and hit Enter, then type net stop bits and Enter. Then open Explorer, go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution and delete its contents including any sub-folders. Restart your PC, open Windows Update and click Check for updates.

3. System Restore isn’t enabled

In Windows 10, the System Restore isn’t enabled by default. To turn it on, go to the Start Menu and search for Create a restore point. The System Properties box will appear. From there, choose the system drive and click the Configure button, then select Turn on system protection. Use the slider to set an appropriate amount of maximum disk space (about 5GB should be enough). Note that the update to Windows 10 version 10586 turns this off again so make sure to turn it back on after you update.

4. Privacy violations

Windows 10 faces a lot of criticism over its data-sharing defaults. We recommend you review them from time to time. To change the privacy settings, go to the Start Menu and go to Settings, open the app and select Privacy. At this point, you’ll see on the left-hand side a list of data such as your computer’s camera, microphone, account information and so on. Turn off the ones that you don’t want Windows to have access to.
If you use Windows Defender, click the back arrow, select Update & Security, then select Windows Defender, see if you’re ok with the default setting that enables Cloud-based detection and Automatic sample submission.
Another privacy issue is Window Wi-Fi Sense, which is initially designed to get you connected to wireless networks more quickly. But if you’re not comfortable with the idea of sharing your network’s wireless credentials among devices you can’t control, you can go to Start > Settings > Network & Internet, then click Manage Wi-Fi settings in the right of the window, tick all of the boxes under For networks I select, share them with my to disable Wi-Fi sense.

5. Windows 10 uses up all the 4G data

Windows 10 uses your internet bandwidth in the background. Follow these steps to stop it from consuming all your cellular data without you knowing: go to Settings and then Network & Internet, select Wi-Fi and then Advanced Options, turn on Set as metered connection. Note that this tip won’t work if your PC connects to the internet via Ethernet.

6. There’s no DVD player app

Strangely, Windows 10 was launched without a DVD player app, which means you can’t watch films on your PC. However, if you upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 with Windows Media Center or Windows 8.1 with Windows Media Center, you’ll find a late released DVD app from Microsoft in Window Store for free download. But if you’re not one of the lucky users mentioned above, we recommend you to download VLC Media Player instead. It’s free!

We hope these 6 fixes will help soothe your experience with Windows 10. But while there are some issues you can cover by yourself, others are more complicated and would better be handled by IT experts. Why not call us today? Our staff is here to eliminate your Windows 10 headaches.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Dodge toolbars, browser add-ons and other undesirables when installing free software

We’re sure you’ve experienced it – You download a piece of free software, then open your browser to discover a strange toolbar has been added, your default search provider has been changed, or your homepage has been hijacked. You’ve picked up a PUP, or potentially unwanted program…

These programs are often packed up in software installers – usually for freeware, but sometimes also in paid software. They usually affect your web browser, attempting to direct traffic through routes that will profit their creators. They can also harvest data on your browsing and shopping habits, which is then sold to advertisers.

Avoid installing PUPs

Although undesirable, such programs aren’t viruses and may not be picked up by your regular security software. The best defense against them is care and attention.

Always read each step of the installer carefully and uncheck any necessary boxes (PUPs are almost always opt-out rather than opt-in). If you’re offered a choice between Recommended and Custom installations, always opt for Custom – it’s usually hiding some unwanted browser add-ons. There are a number of applications out there that can help here by unchecking all tickboxes in software installers, and warning you if you are about to install a PUP.

Sometimes, when you install free software, PUPs are part of the deal and you can’t opt out. When faced with the program’s terms of use it’s tempting to just click ‘Next’, but it’s worth taking the time to read them in case the program is going to bring some unwanted friends to the party. In that situation, the best course of action is to simply close the installer and look for another program that won’t impose such programs on you.

It might be worth seeking out a portable version of the software you want to use; by definition, portable programs don’t have to be installed (they are usually supplied in a ZIP archive), so won’t include an installer with bundled add-ons.

If you really want to err on the side of caution, you can install free software in a sandbox to prevent PUPs and malware meddling with your system files. You can do this using a virtual machine, which runs an operating system in a window on your desktop, effectively emulating a second PC.

Remove PUPs

You’ve done your best to avoid it, but your browser has been hijacked by a rogue toolbar and your homepage has been changed. If your antivirus software doesn’t pick up the culprit, and you can’t remove it through the browser’s plug-ins menu, try Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

It can run safely alongside your antivirus, and can be set to detect PUPs (and PUMs – potentially unwanted modifications), and treat them as malware by flagging them for deletion.

Are you concerned your business’s security isn’t up to par? Need the guidance of a seasoned IT provider who specializes in security? Talk to us today.

Published with consideration from TechRadar. SOURCE

Servers are the heart of most modern SMBs. They host intranetwork data, customer data, and facilitate product delivery. Like any piece of equipment in your workflow, servers need to be carefully cared for in order to keep you up and running. With the strain that most businesses put on their servers, one of the most important maintenance variables is temperature management. Understanding why keeping your servers cool is vitally important and could save you from an expensive crash, troubling data loss or reduced hardware reliability.

How does temperature affect my servers?

Extreme temperature in server hardware can result in different forms of damage. Most SMBs see total failure as the most concerning outcome. A server that completely crashes for any reason results in costly data loss and service interruptions, but the unbiased advisory organization Uptime Institute warns about overheating that doesn’t result in total failure. Every 18 degrees higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, hardware reliability decreases by 50%. This decrease in reliability can be just as, if not more, expensive for your hardware budget in the long run.

Cooling methods can’t just be implemented and forgotten, they must be closely monitored to ensure the health of your server hardware–short and long term. Options for temperature management range from simple low-budget solutions to expensive outsourced alternatives; determining your server management budget will greatly depend on what types of methods you intend to implement at your SMB.

Cooling methods

Which system you use to cool your server largely depends on how much power your hardware is using. The higher the watt, the harder it’s working. It will be easier to determine the scope of your temperature management needs when you have a thorough understanding of your power consumption.

PCWorld advises that simple conduction management is adequate for any equipment operating at less than 400 watts. This means simple solutions like positioning your server away from walls, low ceilings, cable clusters and anything else that can block hot air from dissipating naturally.

For watts between 400 and 2,000, strategic ventilation becomes a necessity. Adding passive ventilation is viable up to 700 watts, but fan assisted ventilation will be required above that up to 2,000 watts. With the increased power consumption, temperatures will rise and air movement needs to be more closely managed. At this stage simple vent and oscillating fans will suffice.

Anything higher than 2,000 watts needs to utilize dedicated cooling solutions. This means air-cooled units to actively reduce server room temperature. Depending on the size and arrangement of the space, a simple self-contained unit may be enough to reduce rising temperatures back into acceptable ranges. However, if you’re not sure, you should schedule a consultation with a vendor to consider more drastic cooling and monitoring methods.

Keeping your servers running at ideal temperatures means smoother data operations, lower hardware budgets and one less thing to worry about at your SMB. As your business continues to grow and develop, keep close tabs on increasing server loads–it could save you from devastating data loss. If you’d like more detailed advice about server management, or have any other questions about your hardware setup, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

If you’re thinking about moving your business information and sticking it in a cloud, here are five overview differences between using a private or a public solution.

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It used to be that getting stuck in the clouds was a bad thing–it meant you were a day dreamer or lacked motivation and goal orientation.

Today, it means something very different. Being in the cloud is about how you store your business data and information–from client files, to sales data to marketing videos. And, at its simplest, there are two types of data storage clouds: public and private.

“Traditional endpoint management and security, which requires installing an agent in every server and virtual machine, is no longer practical in a cloud environment as virtual machines can be dynamically created without any administrative involvement or access,” explains Symon Perriman, Vice President, Business Development at 5nine Software, Inc. “Management needs to be automatic and immediate, and abstracted from the end-user so there is no dependency on the client to configure security, or concern that they will accidently or deliberately disable protection. By leveraging a cloud-based infrastructure with management and security at the virtualization host level, administrators can make the correct decision when evaluating space, flexibility, access, price and security.”

There are a few differences related to price, security and convenience. If you’re thinking about moving your business information and sticking it in a cloud, here are five overview differences between using a private or a public solution.

Space. Private clouds require hardware that your company owns and runs. That means a demand of physical space, as in storage. A private cloud system may also require that where it lives physically–the room–be secure and climate controlled. If your business is already stretched for space or you have concerns about security, for example, a public cloud may be a better option.

Flexibility. By owning your own, private cloud, you have much more control and flexibility over what systems connect to it, what data is on it and how your team interacts with it. While many public cloud services try to offer customizable service options, no menu of options will compare to your own custom designs and features.

Access. The factors in private vs public clouds related to accessing your data are similar to the flexibility points. There’s just no better option for 24/7 access than having your cloud in the building and literally down the hall.

Price. In almost every scenario, a public cloud will be less expensive than buying, storing and configuring your own hardware. Even if you’re thinking about moving a metaphoric ton of data to a shared cloud system, it’s likely still cheaper to use a public provider–even one that charges by data use and storage.

Like all business investment, though, buying your own system becomes cheaper over time. Think of it like the difference between renting and buying. If you don’t have the money up front, renting (public cloud) is the only and best option. But buying (private cloud) is a longer run, better investment.

“If you go down the public cloud path because of the lower entry costs,” Says Jeff Erramouspe, CEO of Spanning, “there likely will become a point where it is cheaper to switch to a private cloud and manage the infrastructure yourself. That point is different for different types of applications, but you should prepare for it upfront by modeling your costs and evaluating the cost structure of your public cloud provider vs. managing a private cloud. Many people run in a hybrid public/private cloud model while making the transition, and some will never give up the public cloud for some functions. But that’s the great thing about the cloud–it’s flexibility.”

Security. The pros and cons of data security in a public vs private cloud are mixed. On the side of a public cloud, big cloud solution providers spend a ton of time and money on security–they are up to date on the latest threats and fixes. And big providers usually have their data on backup to backup servers all over the world, making you less vulnerable to a local power outage or winter storm.

“We find that for common applications and services (such as email, web sites, backup, hosted desktop and hosted VoIP), a public cloud service can meet the needs of most organizations,” says Bill Dykema, ITsavvy’s Vice President. “When requirements start to drive an organization towards a customized offering, or when security or compliancy concerns start to enter the discussion, it often drives the need for a private cloud.”

On the other hand, public clouds are bigger targets for hackers who may not even be after your data. And it only takes one knucklehead from Omaha to violate security and your data could be at risk.

As for the security of private cloud, it’s literally in your hands. On the plus side, your security profile is lower–unless your work for the NSA, it’s unlikely too many people are after your data in particular. And you and your IT pros can set firewalls and protections to fit your needs.

The downside of private, owned cloud systems, as it relates to security is exactly the same. If you or your team messes up, there’s no going back. You won’t have professional IT and security experts on call like a private provide should.

There’s no “right” call on the decision to go to a public or private cloud solution. It will take some real research and time to make the right decision for you and your needs. So shop around, talk to experts and price your different options. While the decision isn’t irreversible, it is important.

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Published with permission from INC.com.SOURCE