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Tag Archives: Backup

IT Essentials - A Backup Plan

Posted on July 19th, 2013 by Emily

 

Most of us know what it’s like to lose or break something important, whether it’s real or digital. It always seems to happen when you need it the most.

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Fortunately for the digital world, there’s the option to back up your important stuff so that it’s accessible in the event of a hardware failure or some other unforeseen circumstances.

There’s a fair amount of choices when it comes to backing up your data. You can back up using cloud services, an additional drive, and external drive, removable media and more.

If you’re running a business, it’s vitally important that you back up any kind of critical or sensitive information securely.

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Don’t wait until it’s too late!

If you don’t have a backup plan in place, we advise getting one as soon as possible.

If you’d like some advice on getting a backup system implemented and supported, want to discuss suitable options or if you’d like a quote, get in contact with us!

Call us on 0845 234 0580 or email us at info@geek-guru.co.uk and we’ll do our best to help!

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Cloud

Exploring Cloud Storage - Part 2 - Dropbox and SkyDrive Pro

Posted on June 26th, 2013 by Emily

 

Continuing in our series of articles about cloud storage, here we’ll discuss two of the four main options you have in choosing a provider, Dropbox and SkyDrive. Because each business’ requirements are different, each service can have its share of advantages and disadvantages. If you’re in need of advice, feel free to contact us and we’ll see what our consultancy can do for you and your business.

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Dropbox for Business

Cost:

$795 (£520) per Year for 5 Users. Scales with additional users.

Storage Space:

Unlimited. No limit on file size.

Platforms:

iOS, Mac, Android, Windows, Linux. Also browser accessible.

Features:

Enhanced security.
Team management tools.
Active Directory integration.
File version history.
File recovery.
Live Support.

Dropbox is one of the main four competitors for cloud storage solutions at the moment. The main benefits of choosing Dropbox are their unlimited storage space, user friendliness, support for many available operating systems, and strong team management tools. However, premium service comes at a premium price, and although the Dropbox product is reliable, secure and well developed, it is quite expensive, and as such may not be suitable for businesses with a limited budget.

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Microsoft SkyDrive Pro (SharePoint Online)

Cost:

£8.40 / £9.80 per user per month for small / medium businesses.
(Both options include access to full Office 365 Software Suite)

Storage Space:

10 GB base for business plus additional 500 MB per user.

Platforms:

iOS, Windows.

Features:

Integration with Windows.
Enhanced integration with Office 365 Suite.
Team management options.
Integration with SharePoint 2013.
Subscription provides access to all other Office software alongside SkyDrive.

 

So let’s clear up some confusion over what you may have heard. There are actually two SkyDrive products; SkyDrive, which is the consumer cloud storage service that everyone with a Microsoft Account has, for personal document storage, and SkyDrive Pro, which is the professional service. SkyDrive Pro works with SharePoint Online (the actual business cloud storage service provided as part of your Office 365 subscription) and can also work with any SharePoint servers your organization already has in place, too. The SkyDrive Pro app is there to provide a user-friendly bridge that everyday users can access to sync all the files they need, whether they’re stored on your business’ own SharePoint 2013 servers, or in Microsoft’s SharePoint Online cloud storage. Since access to SkyDrive Pro and SharePoint Online comes along with the rest of the Office 365 Suite for businesses, most will find this is a little more economical as an option than choosing a separate cloud storage service.

It is, however, a little more complicated to set up, but fear not! We’re here to help you out. As part of our Birmingham – based business IT support services, we provide full setup of and assistance with these systems. We’ll try to help you choose the one that’s best for you and your business, and present the facts you need in a clear way.

Give us a call on 0845 234 0580 to find out more about how we could help you, or drop us an email at info@geek-guru.co.uk

 

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Protecting Data - Part 4 - Tapes

Posted on May 15th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at backups and data protection. How do you backup your data, how is it best to store data to ensure you always have a copy at hand and how do you protect it when it’s off site.

Tapes – love them or hate them

Traditionally all backups would have been made to tapes and they still have their place when looking at backup strategies. Tapes have numerous benefits including:

  • Cheap Media – Tapes themselves are usually very well priced per MB.
  • High Capacity – Tapes offer huge capacities on high end drives.
  • Quick Speeds – The throughput of tapes can be very high indeed resulting in shorter backup windows.
  • Rugged – Tapes themselves tend to be pretty rugged in their design.

Until recently tapes represented the only really viable option for enterprise backup due to the large capacities and quick backup speeds. However, they are not without their problems:

  • Drives are expensive – Whilst the tapes are relatively cheap the drives themselves are often very expensive.
  • Prone to failure – Drives are mechanical so by their very nature are more prone to failure than solid state devices without moving parts.
  • Data scaling – Whilst tapes have grown in capacity, so has the data being backed up. High capacity tapes and drives are often out of reach of SMEs.
  • Require maintenance – Tape drives need regular cleaning to stay in good condition.

Because high capacity drives are expensive we often see clients with inadequately sized drives. This means that not all the data on a server can be backed up leading to cherry picking of data – a recipe for downtime or lost data should disaster actually strike.

Next Time – Tape alternatives

Because of the issues traditional tapes are quickly falling out of favour with SMEs. Next time we’ll be looking at some alternatives to tapes.

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Protecting Data - Part 3 - Software Alternatives

Posted on May 13th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at backups and data protection. How do you backup your data, how is it best to store data to ensure you always have a copy at hand and how do you protect it when it’s off site.

Backup Alternatives

Whilst Windows Server Backup (WSB) does fit some clients IT environments it can only be used in certain circumstances. If any of these are true then WSB may not be suitable for you:

  • You require your backups to be encrypted (WSB does not encrypt backups)
  • You have multiple servers hosted on multiple physicals and require a single backup to cover all of those servers.
  • You have applications that require granular backup – such as SQL, Exchange, AD or SharePoint.
  • You require complex archiving or backup manipulation. For instance you require a monthly archive to different media.
  • You require physical to virtual conversion for your DR strategy.

In these cases third party backup software must be used. Depending on the number of servers and the applications being backed up this can be costly. Generally software is licensed by how many servers are included in the backup and how many applications will be included in the granular backup.

Third party software also comes with other benefits including the ability to use a wider range of media, the option to use cloud based storage, complex media rotations and virtual conversion to enable physical servers to be restored easily to a virtual environment in a disaster situation.

Next Time – Backup Media

Next time we’ll be looking at the specifics of choosing backup media. Check out our next blog entry for some great tips.

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Protecting Data - Part 2 - Software (WSB)

Posted on May 10th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at backups and data protection. How do you backup your data, how is it best to store data to ensure you always have a copy at hand and how do you protect it when it’s off site.

Backup Software

Your requirements for backup software will most likely come out of the initial specification as it will be defined by what is required of the backup strategy as a whole. However, the first question is usually ‘Will the built in backup suffice?’.

Windows Server has always shipped with some form of free backup software. Generally this software is no frills but provides a quick and easy backup solution where there is no requirement or budget for anything more complex. In previous versions of Windows ‘NTBackup’ was the built in option but in recent releases this has given way to Windows Server Backup.

Windows Server Backup (WSB) provides a basic system to backup data to external drives or a network share (with some tinkering). It does not support tapes and does not support encryption, which rules it out for many clients. However, where it can be used it does provide a cheap way to set up a fairly reliable backup that can be rotated offsite or archived internally. Often we use WSB alongside another backup to provide a layered backup strategy even when another piece of software is used for the primary backup.

Next Time – Alternatives to WSB

Next time we’ll be looking at alternatives to WSB. Why you may need them and what you get for your money.

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Protecting Data - Part 1 - Planning

Posted on May 08th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at backups and data protection. How do you backup your data, how is it best to store data to ensure you always have a copy at hand and how do you protect it when it’s off site.

Planning Backups

The data stored on your backup is arguably the most important data you might never need. Most businesses will never actually use their disaster recovery backup (assuming their system is set up properly and monitored). However, is it worth the risk of not having adequate backups in place should the worst occur? It’s usually too late to address flaws in your strategy once a disaster has actually occurred and the backup is required. Every minute spent in planning is an extra guarantee that your business will survive a disaster.

Ask yourself these questions about your backup:

  • Is your backup sufficient to protect all your data in the form you would require it in?
  • How long would it take to restore a backup in the event of a disaster?
  • Do you have a plan for if your office or IT system is destroyed? What is your disaster recovery plan? Do staff know the plan?
  • Is your data stored in more than one place?
  • Is your backup data sensitive? If you lost a backup could the data be of value to criminals or your competitors?
  • Is the data on the backup subject to data protection regulations?
  • How many copies are you storing off-site. In a disaster can you guarantee the data would be accessible (you are storing them off-site right)?

Backups do not plan themselves. They take careful analysis looking at the specifics of each IT system and how that system is used in the organisation.

Next Time – Backup Software

Next time we’ll be looking at the specifics of backups. Check out our next blog entry for some great tips on choosing backup software.

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Hard Drives - Part 7 - Protecting Externals

Posted on May 06th, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

Why Protect External Drives

Just like their internal cousins, external drives are reasonably fragile. They contain numerous moving parts and are very susceptible to damage when they are spinning. This is compounded by their usage which often sees them hanging from a laptop when powered meaning they tend to fail far more often than both desktop or laptop hard drives.

Whilst the chassis of an external hard drive offers some protection they are  still far more fragile than a drive safely housed inside a PC or laptop. A standard external drive may have a few millilitres of plastic around the drive but that doesn’t offer a great deal in terms of shock protection and  provides almost nothing if the drive is spinning and then dropped.

How to Protect External Drives

  • Don’t move external drives when the are connected.
  • Sit them carefully on a solid surface when they are connected and treat them with care to avoid knocks and bumps.
  • If you are using an external drive as a backup on a server. Disconnect the drive and wait 5 seconds before moving it. Don’t pick it up whilst it is still connected.
  • If you are worried about a drive getting damaged in transit – Chose a model that offers some physical protection such as rubberised case or bumpers.
  • Would a USB pen disk suit you better – These are solid state (i.e. no moving parts) and are therefore less unacceptable to movement damage.

Next Time – Data Protection

With so much data stored on an external drives, data protection quickly becomes an issue. Check out our next blog entry for some great tips on protecting the data stored on a drive.

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Hard Drives - Part 6 - External Drives

Posted on May 03rd, 2013 by Tim

In this series of mini-blogs we’re looking at hard drives. What are hard drives, why do they fail and what can you do to extended their life and prevent data loss?

What are external drives

External drives are in many cases exactly the same technology as their internal counterparts – indeed often the exact same drive. Internally a hard drive is mounted in either a laptop or desktop PC drive cage and then connected to the motherboard via its on-board interface (usually a SATA cable). With external drives the same drive is mounted in a plastic case which is then connected to some form of intermediate interface – usually a USB or eSATA connection. The important thing to realise here is the drive within the plastic case is exactly the same as the drive in your computer and is subject to the same mechanical issues as those drives.

External drives comes in two flavours:

  1. Portable Drives – Contain a 2.5″ laptop drive; are smaller and lighter and do not require a separate power supply.
  2. Desktop Drives – Contain a 3.5″ desktop drive; are larger in physical size and data sizes and cheaper per MB but usually require a separate power supply.

External hard drives have numerous uses in the business including:

  • Bulk storage for data that is not used frequently (such as music or movies).
  • Backup of laptops, desktops and even servers.
  • Bulk movement of data around the office.
  • Bulk movement of data between offices / home / clients etc.

Next Time – Protecting External Drives

Because of their flexibility we find external drives in use throughout most of our clients. However, by their very nature external drives are subject to even more risk that their securely housed internal brethren. Next time we’ll be looking at the various options to protect your data.

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