Posts tagged data storage solutions

A computer display highlights the integral importance of having a backup plan.

The Importance of Having a Backup Plan

A computer display highlights the integral importance of having a backup plan.

In the digital age every business needs a comprehensive backup plan and steps in place to ensure the recovery of business-critical data.

It is estimated that as many as 50% of small businesses have no backup plan at all for security and recovery to protect against cyber-attack or to secure themselves against garden-variety downtime. In a recently conducted survey, 41% of small business owners consulted said that they had not even given much thought to implementing a backup plan or steps for data recovery.

Some owners also cited the high cost of implementing such a program and indicated that it was their decision to defer the process until business became more profitable, or until backup and recovery costs became more affordable.

The question is – can you really afford not to have a backup plan and recovery measures in place when the high cost of downtime might be the consequences of having no plan at all? Of course, many small business owners may simply be hoping that their companies are not the ones which will be impacted by downtime, or by attacks from cybercriminals, so they rely on good luck to see them through.

This strategy will work fine – right up until the time it doesn’t. If your small business is ever confronted with the real-life situation of an extended period of downtime, or having your business-critical data hijacked by a clever cyber-criminal, you’ll understand a little better about the true value of having a formal backup plan and recovery plan in place.

On the other hand, some small businesses with very meager resources may feel that they simply can’t afford to implement such formalized plans. If you’re on the fence about this and wondering whether the cost of backup and recovery plans is justified by a disaster that might happen, you can consider some of the questions below to help clarify your thinking on the matter.

Backup and Recovery Cost Justification Questions

What would be the impact on your company if customers could not access their data every day, and how would employee productivity be affected on a daily basis, if your network was completely shut down?

What kind of backup and recovery plans do you have in effect right now, and how long could your business survive if it were forced to endure an extended period of downtime?

What kind of support could you quickly access from I.T. personnel, and could that support be enlisted quickly enough so as to reduce downtime damage?

What is the confidence level that you can get back online quickly enough that there will be minimal disruption to the company, and to customers who rely on your company?

How often does your most important data get backed up? Do your employees have a lot of company data on their smartphones, iPads, or business laptops? Are your backups stored off-site, and are they protected against damage which might occur to your business location?

Does your company make use of any custom-developed software, and is the original developer of that software still in business, so that it could be recovered in the event of theft or corruption?

Do you have all your licensing agreements, account details, and information about security stored in a central location somewhere, and is there a copy of it off-site?

Do you feel you have adequate protection against viruses and cyber-attacks and do you apply all security patches as soon as they are made available by the appropriate vendors?

Do you have a company policy in place which calls for the changing of passwords any time a new employee comes in, or when a current employee exits?

How frequently do you check your backup and recovery processes, to make sure that they are performing as intended, and that there are no flaws in the process?

A digital illustration of a computer file represents the vulnerability of data which is not protected with a backup plan.

Your company data is every bit as important as the bricks that compose your company office. Safeguard it with an effective backup plan.

Can You Afford to not Have a Backup Plan?

As a small business owner, it would be well worth your while to arrange a meeting periodically, with managers and other important employees in your company, so as to review the issues raised in the questions above. If these questions are answered accurately and honestly, it should help to clarify in everyone’s minds exactly what the risks and rewards are, relative to establishing and maintaining a good data backup and recovery plan.

Some small business owners simply feel that their business is too small to justify the expense of implementing formal I.T. procedures like data backup and recovery and that this belongs more in the realm of Big Business. However, by considering some of the questions raised in this article, you should be able to figure out whether or not you could actually survive an extended period of downtime or data loss, regardless of the cause.

If it becomes clear that your business would not survive if you are forced off-line for several days or longer, then you should really consider implementing the programs necessary for data backup and recovery. These days, a great many I.T. services are available as an on-demand service, rather than having to pay the cost of I.T. personnel, hardware, and software all by yourself. Even small businesses should be able to find a vendor willing to supply I.T. as a service, to help you protect your important data, and avoid business disaster. With all of the relevant factors assessed and a suitable backup plan in place, you can remain confident in the security of your business-critical data.

A closeup of a hard disk drive, which may need someone to recover lost data from it.

How to Recover Lost Data From Your Hard Drive

A closeup of a hard disk drive, which may need someone to recover lost data from it.

If your hard drive fails, use these steps to recover lost data.

One way or another, accidents happen. It’s worse is when something happens to your precious hard drive. An important tool like this carries crucial data that you absolutely cannot lose. If a situation like this were to occur, do not panic. There is some hope. Follow these steps and you just might be able to recover lost data from your hard drive.

Analyze the Problem

The first thing you need to figure is how you lost your data in the first place. If you can figure that out, then you can know the best way to recover your information. During that time, try to use your computer as little as possible. That creates new data, which can overwrite files and lower your chances of retrieving your lost data.

The Best Ways to Recover Lost Data

  • Did You Throw in the Trash? – Did you happen to accidently hit delete on one of your files? If data goes missing, the recycle bin should be the first place you check. Nothing is ever completely deleted – at least not at first. Your computer will keep deleted files for a certain amount of time before purging them. By simply opening the recycle bin and restoring that data, you can have it back in your possession.
  • Backup Frequently – Backing up your hard drive should be a bi-monthly ritual. When you back up your hard drive, you save another version of its data at that point in time. So, if you lose your data, your backup may have the latest version of those files.
  • Prepping for an Extremely Dire Situation – Sometimes, recovering your data is not as simple as checking the recycle bin or using a backup. In that case, we suggest using recovery software. It may cost you some money, but it can scan the area where you lost your files and retrieve them from whatever invisible digital space they disappeared into.

If you are in need of data recovery, contact us at Geek Aid. One of our Geeks can walk you through the steps to recover you lost information.

How to Reduce Data on Your Phone

A photo of a smartphone with a bunch of graphics coming out of it. All of its features is why it's important to reduce data.

Do you need to reduce data used on your smartphone?

Every smartphone how important it is for them to reduce data. Not keeping tabs on how much data’s being used can lead to a big penalty. You’ll wind up having to spend a lot more on your phone bill than you previously expected.

Obviously, if you’re fortunate enough to have an unlimited data plan, this does not apply. Congratulations to you for being so lucky. But for everyone else, there’s a specific limit that mustn’t be exceeded. And it’s a struggle.

Making sure you don’t go further than your data limit is difficult. After all, you have a smartphone because you want to use all the features it has to offer. But you know how to use them wisely. Here are a few tips that could help you get through each month unscathed by overages.

Tips for How to Reduce Data

  • Connect to WiFi Networks– Staying connected to a WiFi network will limit how much data you’re using. These networks are beneficial, but you need to make sure they’re secure. And when you’re on public WiFi, only use it for casual browsing. Sometimes, a WiFi signal is weak, so some phones have a feature called WiFi Assist. While it helps strengthen the signal, Wifi Assist takes up data. Disable this if your phone has it.
  • Pay Attention to the Apps You Download – Go to the data usage page on your settings. Look at the apps most responsible for the megabytes used. If you don’t want to part ways with them, then make sure to limit how often you go on them. Only use then when connected to WiFi. Also, try using apps that can be used offline.
  • Manage Your Video Settings – Watching videos nonstop will take up all your data very quickly. This doesn’t mean you have to stop watching videos altogether. Just be smarter about how you watch them. Most of the popular social media apps have an auto-play feature for videos. You can easily disable this by going to your account settings.

Paying closer to your daily smartphone usage will reduce data. It can be inconvenient and trivial at times. But it prevents you from having to pay unnecessary fines.

Data Security: Knowing Your Own Weaknesses

When it comes to cyber threats, most security focuses on external threat assessment. We often ask what may happen next, and then respond reactively, rather than performing an internal data security audit and proactively taking steps to shore up defenses.

Examine Your Network to Improve Data Security

Here are a few things you should know about your own network that will help you keep it more secure.

  1. Know Your Data – Regardless of what of data or how much information your system stores, you need to take inventory in order to assess First all, what type of information do you need to protect (company files, employee info, customer info, financial data, R&D, etc.). Second, know the location of the data. Is it stored locally, in the cloud, or both? Do you have offsite backups? What data is the most critical?
  2. Know Your Software – Every system that is installed in your network should be there for a reason. Eliminate unused software. Keep all loaded software up to date and configured properly for maximum security.
  3. Profile Configurations – Know everyone who has a login to your systems. Require strong passwords, and educate employees on how to avoid phishing attacks that can steal employee credentials and give hackers an in to your system.

While these are not the only 3 elements of a security audit, the important takeaway is to regularly audit in-house security methods to be sure that everything possible is being done to avoid a cyberattack. When you know the threats that exist in-house and shore up those defenses, you are in a better position to evaluate external threats to your organization.

Sometimes it can be important to have an objective eye. This means calling for a data security audit from an external source, preferably a company experienced with the type of data you need secured, as well as the systems that your company uses. Such a security company can then offer viable solutions to eliminate cracks in your organization’s digital security measures.

In the present world of data breaches and the financial consequences that come with them, it is more important to your business than ever to be protected.

What the Retail Industry Is Doing to Protect Your Data

Retail companies need extensive data systems to keep shelves stocked, set prices correctly, and operate online stores. No one wants to wait while an employee checks a stockroom to see if an item is in. At times we complain about all the data stores keep on us, but not when it means we find out about a special discount at the register or when we get an email telling us a product we’ve been looking at has just gone on sale. And we also recognize that the government regulates, to one degree or another, what information businesses collect and how they use it. The real threat is from data breaches, which are becoming ever more widespread.

Where Threats Come From

While many businesses have to deal with problems from within, a 2013 IBM report shows that more than 80% of retail store hacks come from outside sources. In less than 1 in 5 cases, a data breach is an inside job or the culprit at least had help from the inside.

In fact, about half of security breaches either come from malicious code that has been placed on the company system, or some kind of reconnaissance technology that allows the hacker to glean information as it passes through—like card numbers being lifted as they are swiped at the register.

Retail Security Auditing – A Must

One of the major factors then for retail businesses is security auditing. Even the technology giant Google subjects itself to the most stringent of tests. Why? Whether we like it or not, we trust Google with our most sensitive data. Their servers remember every search we’ve ever made, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. But Google protects that data like it’s the company’s multibillion-dollar livelihood—because it is. It’s the secret stash that makes paid search advertising work. Without that, Google is a non-profit (not exactly, but you get the idea).

So while we have to trust retail stores with our personal data, including financial information, for the sake of convenience, protecting that data is a major concern for retailers who don’t want to be part of a scandal. And security audits to ensure current measures are sufficient are a definite must for these brands. This holds true even if you run a local retail business.

Choosing a Cloud Storage Service for Your Business

Cloud storage got its start with Dropbox back in 2007, but today we see a great deal of competition in the online storage industry. It seems every major player in the online world, including Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, have their own service, both free and pay. How can you know which one will meet the needs of your organization?

Cloud Storage: Price Versus Function

While many simply select the cloud storage service that provides them with the amount of free storage they are looking for, it’s better to consider the function of each service to determine which one will meet your requirements the best.

Here is a quick rundown of five popular online storage services.

  1. Cloud Drive (Amazon) – More downtime than competitors, and no way to sync files, make this cloud storage service a definite “no” for most small business owners. The latest storage options all have free trials but will eventually cost you a monthly fee (which is less if you pay annually). It is compatible with Mac OS and Windows, is built in on Amazon mobile devices, and there is an app for iOS and Android phones and tablets.
  2. Dropbox – The original cloud storage service, Dropbox knows what they are doing and expect you to pay for it. You do get 2 GB for free, and even more if you use the mobile app. 1 TB of storage will cost you $10/month and unlimited is $15/month. It works across all platforms and is simple to use.
  3. Drive (Google) – This is really your only option if you use Chromebooks. It is paired with Google’s office suite (Google Docs) and is compatible with Microsoft Office. Monthly storage rates are cheap at $2 for 100 GB and $10 for 1 TB. If you need more storage, Google Drive for Work lets you pay for unlimited storage by the number of users you have ($10/user monthly).
  4. iCloud (Apple) – Built in for Apple products, and available for Windows, iCloud comes with 5 GB of storage for free, and tacks on storage in 20 GB increments for $1/month (or you can jump to 200 GBs at the discounted rate of $4/month). Between speed, sync issues, and no business plans, this is more for backing up your selfies than a company storage service.
  5. OneDrive (Microsoft) – 15 GBs of free storage is a great incentive for those who need just a little more free space and don’t want a monthly fee. This is the cheapest 1 TB service at only $7/month. By the way, the 1 TB service comes with Office 365 Personal, which gives you the full version of Microsoft Office on one computer and one tablet (even an iPad). It’s clearly the best option for some businesses.

Data Storage: HDD Still King

I think most people agree, our technology can never have too much data storage. This is especially true as video becomes the primary medium through which we communicate and entertain ourselves. Whether watching, sharing, or editing, storage is the key. Speed is important too, however, which leads many to wonder: Why don’t solid state drives dominate the market?

While solid state drives may have a big advantage in performance over platter-based HDD drives, the expense of SSD is the major factor keeping HDD alive. One hard drive producer, Seagate, has now produced an HDD to stretch the bounds of storage further than ever before, and both the size and cost-efficiency of the drive are equally impressive.

This new 2 terabyte drive is a mere 7 mm thick. They were able to do this by stacking two plates on top of each other. The drive, in total, is only 2.5 inches in size. That also allowed them to drop the weight down to just over 3 ounces. Enter, the Cadillac of HDDs.

So what is the future for Seagate? Are even smaller and lighter HDDs with more drive space in our future? Actually, reports from the company orient the future toward hybrid drives. It’s a smart move. Seagate has created drives with tons of HDD storage and a NAND module to increase the speed without the substantial price jump that separates HDD and SSD.

What you can do today with 2 TB of storage:

  • Store 500,000 songs
  • 320,000 images
  • 240 hours of HD video
  • 26 hour of UHD video

The size of the drive makes it perfect for the next generation of laptops with larger data storage, but the amount of storage will rival desktop computers as well. The future may be SSDs and hybrid drives, but today belongs to this 2 TB beauty.

 

Is Data Lost to a Bad Drive Sector Gone Forever?

This is a common question when it comes to technical assistance. One of the most common problems that consumers have with a hard drive is the failure of a sector. Let’s discuss what sectors are, why they go bad, and how data can be recovered.

Defined

A sector is just a small section of the data that is stored on your drive. If your computer is a few years old, each sector may only hold as little as .5Kb of data. More recent machines hold about 4Kb per sector. It is a tiny amount of data, but it can throw off a lot if there is a failure. While the sector only holds a fragment of a file, without that fragment the file may not open properly or may take a long time to load.

Why Do Sectors Fail?

Depending on the model hard drive that you are using, the drive may spin from 5-15,000 RPMs. Not only is that speed a strain on drive sectors, but it also creates a lot of heat – technology’s worst enemy. Over time, this causes stress to the hardware at the molecular level.

The part of a hard drive that contains stored data is basically a film of magnetic material. It does not take much to cause damage. As damage occurs, it may simply take longer to open files. As the number of bad sectors increase, it is a strong indicator that hard drive failure is imminent. Your best bet is to back up your data and abandon the drive.

Can I Prolong the Inevitable?

Again, your best bet is to have a backup. Other than that, try to reduce heat on your device as much as possible. For example, you may want an external fan for your laptop.

Can I Rescue the Data?

If you lose data without a backup, do not give in to despair. Nine times out of 10, a well-trained, professional service with experience in data recovery can retrieve your data.

The i-FlashDrive: Perfect for Apple Data Transfers

When you think about portable devices, what are two of the most important attributes that you associate with such gadgets? For most of us, the answer will be quick and small. Of course, the device also needs to be functional. The i-FlashDrive from PhotoFast meets all of these expectations in a way that many Apple device users have been searching for as a supplement to their devices.

This flash drive is designed specifically for use with recent generation iPhones and iPads that use the lightning connector for charging and data transfer. On the other side of the device is a USB 3.0 connector for use with your Windows, iOS, or Linux computer system. Extremely efficient, the drive is small enough to tuck into your jean’s 5th pocket and keep on you at all times.

The fact is that many Apple fans struggle with storage space. There is no slot for external memory and few options for fast transferring data on and off the device. While more internal storage is available for purchase time, this comes at great cost on devices that are already not cheap to start with. The i-FlashDrive gives you the opportunity to bridge that gap at an affordable price.

How does it work? First of all, you can use it as an ordinary flash drive, but if that is what you wanted, you would have bought a regular flash drive. However, a free app, available in the Apple App Store, allows you to manage your device’s files, create a backup, transfer data, encrypt files, playback media without using iTunes, and more.

If you want to save a few dollars and are not as concerned with transfer speeds, there is a USB 2.0 flash drive version available for about $20 less. The USB 3.0 version starts at $79.99 for the 16 GB model. Drive sizes go up to 128 GB.

Remotely Erase Data

Remotely Erase Data: Deletion with SecureDrives

Remotely erase data: This hard drive will self-destruct in the amount of time it takes to send a text message.

In a world where privacy and security are at the forefront of people’s minds, that’s pretty much what everyone wants to hear. It’s no longer just a thing of spy movies. Thanks to SecureDrives, a tech company based in London, any business or individual can have an external hard drive with a kill switch. They look like a normal portable drive, but all it takes is one text to make the device unusable and unrecoverable.

At a mere two and a half inches, the drive is tiny and easy to transport. You get 128 GB of solid state drive that you can connect via USB. If you prefer an internal hard drive with a self-destruct, it has a SATA II connection as well. It’s the perfect hard drive when you have to store sensitive data.

While a text is by far the coolest way to crash the drive, it’s not the only option you get. You can program the device to self-destruct in a number of ways: if the battery level gets too low (not sure how I feel about that one); if pin code entries are mistyped repeatedly; when the drive is removed from the PC (just don’t forget you have that setting on if you have to move the drive); or if it loses the GSM signal for longer than the amount of time that you set.

So, what does it do? Erase the data, but leave it available for recovery programs? Of course not! It actually destroys the NAND chip as well as the security controller. According to the company, there’s no way to recover the deleted data after this happens.

Super spy tech isn’t cheap, and the ability to remotely erase data goes for over a thousand pounds (which works out to about $1,650 USD). You get the first year of GSM for free. It’s $47/year after that.

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