The business continuity benefits of cloud technology

Where you store your company’s data backups is vital to the success of your business continuity strategy. There are various storage media to choose from, but if you value flexibility and convenience, then you should look no further than cloud storage. Here are the benefits that the cloud offers.

Improved uptime

Many business owners think it’s enough to store copies of their files either on an external hard drive or a separate computer housed within their office. Unfortunately, this tactic can go wrong in so many ways. First, it’s possible for bad actors to steal these devices and obtain the data they contain. Second, these devices are susceptible to damage caused by local disasters, cyberattacks, and errors committed by staff. If any of these were to happen, the business would lose access to its backups and might suffer downtime.

In contrast, cloud-hosted backups are always readily accessible with an internet-connected device. Cloud servers are located off-site, so they are not vulnerable to natural disasters in your immediate locale. What’s more, cloud service providers (CSPs) are obligated to keep their servers operational at all times. They make this possible by implementing top-grade cybersecurity measures and various redundancies, such as alternate servers and power supply systems.

Fast resource provisioning

During the backup creation process, spikes in user activity and resource usage can slow down websites and applications running in the background. A CSP can help you address this issue by monitoring user activities, enabling them to see spikes before or as they happen. The provider can then provision resources and virtual machines as needed to manage the influx of users.

Control over backup frequency

Since your employees could work on files and update information throughout the day, you must back up your files as frequently as necessary. Doing so ensures that you have the latest copies of your files even after a sudden outage.

With the cloud, you no longer have to worry about the frequency of your backups. CSPs offer round-the-clock and other fixed backup frequencies, as well as custom backup schedules tailored to your business’s unique requirements. Some services can even create backups as you perform changes on your files, ensuring up-to-date information at any time.

Support for flexible work setups

With flexible working arrangements becoming more and more popular, it’s now even more imperative for your business to invest in the cloud for backup storage. External hard disks, flash drives, and other offline storage media are accessible only to employees working in the office. During events that prevent workers from going to the office, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on offline backups could result in your business ceasing operations altogether.

Cloud storage is accessible anywhere and anytime. This means that no matter where they choose to work, your staff will be able to access the files they need and remain productive as long as they have an internet connection.

Businesses around the world are leveraging the power of the cloud not just to ensure their continued operations but also to support their growth. If you’re looking for a managed cloud backup service to protect your business data, give us a call today to see how we can help.

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What an MSP can do for healthcare providers

More and more healthcare organizations are turning to managed IT services providers (MSPs) for their IT needs. Outsourcing their IT functions enables hospitals and clinics to focus on being healthcare providers rather than IT professionals. Here are some of the best benefits of hiring one:

MSPs guarantee quick response times

Constant system uptime and availability can be a matter of life and death in the healthcare industry, which makes quick IT support response times crucial for any healthcare practice.

Most MSPs guarantee timely and quick response, as well as support lines that are open 24/7/365. This means that if your IT infrastructure encounters an issue in the middle of the night, MSPs can handle the problem without the need for you to come into the office.

MSPs provide proactive security

In the realm of healthcare data security, it’s essential to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mandates. Failing to meet regulations may result in huge fines, serious penalties, and even the withdrawal of your license to operate.

MSPs offer security services that include identity-based security and encryption, authorized privileges and access control, and data accountability and integrity.

MSPs assist with business continuity plans

A business continuity plan is an absolute necessity for your healthcare organization, as you can’t afford to lose all your valuable medical data in case of an emergency or a disaster.

MSPs can help identify risks and threats, then recommend proactive solutions to protect healthcare operations and data if an outage or a natural disaster occurs. Finally, they maintain HIPAA-compliant off-site backups and failover systems so you can prevent any sudden regulatory or patient data retention issues.

MSPs boost your practice’s efficiency

MSPs can recommend IT solutions and implement technologies into workflow processes to deliver efficient and timely healthcare services. For instance, MSPs can set up AI-powered recruitment tools to help with healthcare staffing, or they can automate database management to reduce human error and increase operational efficiency.

If you want to learn more about how great technology and support can benefit your healthcare practice, get in touch with us today.

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Stay connected with a UPS for networking equipment

An uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is an essential component of a business’s IT network. It ensures that networking equipment stays operational during power outages or failures. This allows you to stay online so you don’t suffer the productivity- and profit-draining impacts of a power outage, especially one that happens without warning. Learn more about UPS systems and why they’re invaluable to businesses of all sizes.

UPS for network equipment

Also known as a battery backup, a UPS provides backup power in case of outages. It also protects against power surges, which don’t just damage computers, but also make you lose unsaved work.

Deploying UPS units for Wi-Fi routers and modems allows you to stay connected to the internet when the power goes out unexpectedly. This strategy works particularly well if your employees use laptops, as that means you only need power for your Wi-Fi gear.

UPS-supported modems or routers help you stay online for as long as 90 minutes, which should be enough time to get your bearings before power finally runs out. With a UPS, you will still have a fast, reliable Wi-Fi connection so you can perform your tasks, save important files, and keep serving customers.

Without a UPS, your staff may have to rely on cellular data to do their work, which is not only less reliable than Wi-Fi, but also more expensive. You may even incur additional telecom costs resulting from overreliance on cellular data.

UPS systems vs. generators

Although generators are indispensable for certain businesses, they also require greater upkeep. If you invest in generators, you’ll need to employ an entire team to manage these pieces of high-maintenance equipment. This may not be something that a small- or medium-sized business can afford.

That said, generators can prove useful during extended blackouts, but UPS systems should be enough to keep your business running in the event of an emergency.

What’s more, misusing or mishandling generators can result in fatalities. On the other hand, if you misuse a UPS unit or if it breaks down, the worst that could happen is you lose a day’s work; it’s unlikely that you’ll experience anything life-threatening.

Plug in your network gear now

If your business doesn’t have locations in disaster-prone areas, you probably haven’t given much thought to installing UPS systems for your desktop computers, let alone your modems and routers. But accidents and emergencies are inevitable — and when they happen, you’ll find that having internet access is one of the most important things you need to ensure business continuity.

Think of a UPS as an investment that not just protects your systems from data loss, but also keeps your network equipment functioning in emergency situations.

To learn more about UPS systems and network equipment as well as backup and disaster recovery planning, give our team of IT experts a call today.

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3 Disaster recovery myths, debunked

With advancements in cloud computing, disaster recovery (DR) has become more efficient and affordable than ever. However, many business owners still cling to some DR myths that can safely be disregarded, such as these three.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail over time. At first, only a few files may be affected, but you will gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises to secure them in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters, so your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in many ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on more valuable tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan is its recovery time objective (RTO), which is the ideal period when everything must be up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much faster and affordable than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Due to the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. Thanks to the cloud, however, these have become more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Thanks to improvements in data storage technologies, it is now more affordable and efficient to implement a DRP, in turn making it easier to ensure BC. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

This post was originally published on this site

Ignore these outdated disaster recovery myths

Disaster recovery (DR) used to be an expensive solution that relied predominantly on tape backups. Today, cloud computing has dramatically changed the DR landscape, affording even small- and medium-sized businesses cheaper and more reliable DR solutions. Unfortunately, there are still plenty of misconceptions about DR. Here are three myths that no longer apply.

Myth 1: Tape backups are the best DR solution

Tape backups are physical objects that deteriorate over time. Try listening to a cassette tape from the ’90s. Its sound may be distorted already, or it probably doesn’t work at all. Similarly, your tape backups will start to fail over time. At first, only a few files may be affected, but you will gradually lose all your data.

It is also a common practice to store another set of tape backups outside your premises to secure them in case a natural disaster befalls your office. However, if your storage spaces themselves are unsafe from natural disasters, this could pose a problem.

Unlike tape backups, cloud-based backups are safe from deterioration. They are also stored in multiple secured locations that are protected from natural disasters, so your data backups are as safe as they can be.

What’s more, cloud-based backups save you time in many ways. Data is automatically backed up online, so you don’t need to manually copy information onto your tapes. You also won’t need to manage boxes of tapes, freeing you to focus on more valuable tasks.

Myth 2: The RTOs you want are too expensive

Essential to any DR plan is its recovery time objective (RTO), which is the ideal period when everything must be up and running again to avoid serious losses. Before the cloud, a “swift” recovery time would take days and cost up to six figures.

Cloud and virtualization solutions have made this much faster and affordable than ever before. Most DR providers can back up your critical data in an hour or two. And if you ever need to recover data, most services can do so in less than a day.

Myth 3: Disaster recovery is for big businesses, not SMBs

Due to the astronomical costs previously associated with DR, only big businesses could afford backup and recovery solutions. Thanks to the cloud, however, these have become more affordable for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). From dental offices to small retail operations, SMBs can now take advantage of the best DR solutions in the market. Advances in IT and the cloud have also eliminated the obstacles of complexity, costs, and insufficient IT resources.

We hope that by dispelling these myths, you’d be convinced to implement a disaster recovery plan (DRP) for your business. Thanks to improvements in data storage technologies, it is now more affordable and efficient to implement a DRP, in turn making it easier to ensure BC. If you’d like to learn how our DR solutions can safeguard your business, send us a message and we’ll fill you in.

This post was originally published on this site

Your business needs a business continuity plan — here’s why

Do you know why some small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) fail during the first five years of operation? Poor leadership is one reason, inadequate capital is another. Another possible cause is the lack of preparation for major disruptions like natural disasters and cyberattacks. If you want to prevent this from happening to your business, you need a business continuity plan (BCP).

What is a BCP?

A BCP is a predefined set of protocols on how your business should respond in case of an emergency or natural disaster. It contains contingency plans for every aspect of your organization, including human resources, assets, and business processes.

Key threats to business continuity

Various types of threats can affect SMBs such as:

  • Natural disasters: These are natural phenomena such as floods, storms, earthquakes, and wildfires.
  • Man-made disasters: These include cyberattacks, intentional sabotage, and human negligence.
  • Equipment and utility failures: These include unexpected power failures, internet downtime, and disruption of communication services.

How to build an effective BCP

If your company does not have a BCP in place, now is a good time to create one. These steps will help you formulate an effective BCP that will ensure your company keeps running even during a major crisis.

  1. Perform a risk assessment
    To create an effective BCP, it’s important to identify the risks to prioritize. Start by identifying potential threats that may impact your daily operations. List down as well industry risks, geographical area, rising trends, and issues that your stakeholders may encounter. Next, categorize the risks based on the level of impact, likelihood of occurrence, or other criteria.Once risks have been identified and a plan has been developed, carefully identify any possible gaps. Collaborate with your team to identify any weak points in the plan, and make changes as necessary.
  2. Perform a business impact analysis (BIA)
    A BIA will help you determine how a disruption can affect your company’s current functions, processes, personnel, equipment, technology, and physical infrastructure. IT will also help you calculate the potential financial and operational loss from each function and process affected.
  3. Identify your recovery options
    Identify key resources for restoring your business to minimum operational levels. Some recovery options you can take include using data backups, allowing employees to work from home or operating from a secondary location.
  4. Document the plan
    Make a record of the BCP and store the document in a secure location, preferably an off-site one to reduce the risks of loss or damage in case of a disaster.
  5. Test and train
    Once your BCP is in place, your continuity team needs to perform tests regularly to identify gaps and make necessary changes to ensure the plan’s effectiveness. They also need to conduct regular employee training so that everyone knows their respective roles should a disaster strike.

Having an effective BCP is a great way to ensure your business can quickly recover after a major disaster. If you’re thinking about creating a BCP for your company but don’t know where to start, give us a call today.

This post was originally published on this site

What companies tend to get wrong about business continuity

Every business owner knows that having a business continuity plan (BCP) is crucial to surviving any disaster. However, some still tend to overlook certain aspects of a BCP strategy, causing the plan to go up in flames. Ensure a solid BCP by knowing these five critical mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1: Not considering the small details

Once you’ve created a general business continuity plan, you need to think about the specifics to ensure that what you envision is executable. This includes fleshing out logistical considerations like medical aid and technology support.

For instance, you need to inform partner medical providers about your BCP so that they can make arrangements in advance. This may entail asking for key personnel whom your employees can directly contact if they ever need medical support during an incident. You may also need to figure out how your employees can securely access company data in case they can’t physically come to the office. Planning for the tiniest details may save your data and your employees’ lives, so run through your strategy regularly to ensure that they’re up to date and still effective.

Mistake 2: Failing to plan for employees

Companies that can bounce back after unexpected incidents are those that have thought about their employees’ needs when making a BCP, so plan every detail that may concern your staff during a disruption, from evacuation routes to emergency communication procedures. Doing so will ensure that your employees have everything they need to survive the worst.

Discuss your strategy with your employees and ask for their input in matters that concern their safety or ability to work. Also, let them know that you will be there to support them and their families in the event of a crisis. This way, your employees will have peace of mind knowing that the company is there for them, and this, in turn, ensures their loyalty.

Mistake 3: Not showing your employees how the BCP works

While many business owners worry about downtime, they may neglect to explain to employees how to effectively execute the BCP to minimize lost productivity.

Your staff are part of your overall plan, so they must know the BCP strategy to be able to carry out their roles satisfactorily. Demonstrate exactly how your employees are supposed to respond during a crisis, such as informing them who they’re supposed to contact during a natural disaster and what they’re supposed to say to clients if systems are down. Walk them through where and how they will work when the primary office is inaccessible. Then, have your staff do these tasks until they’re confident that they can perform them when a disaster strikes.

Mistake 4: Putting greater priority on operational continuity over employee safety

When an incident occurs, it’s understandable for business owners to assess the disaster’s impact on business. But being solely concerned with operational continuity and neglecting employees’ well-being and safety has consequences, too.

Check on your people first, as they are crucial in executing processes. If you have a data backup plan but no one to facilitate it, then your plan — no matter how meticulous — is rendered useless. Make sure that your workforce is reachable, safe, and able. Make it a priority for the crisis management team to contact your employees and see what help may be given to make their situation better. Supporting your team when the worst happens is a guarantee that they can get back on their feet and return to work more swiftly.

Mistake 5: Not having the right tech solutions in place

You shouldn’t wait for a natural disaster to hit before setting up a toll-free hotline that employees can call in for regular updates. You also shouldn’t wait for a data breach before you start looking for ways to secure your data backups. Without the proper technology solutions to mitigate an incident, your business might face increased risks, prolonged downtime, and steep revenue loss.

Talk to your IT department or consult with a technology specialist to ensure that you have all the tech safeguards you need in case things go south. The right IT solutions will streamline company-wide communication, secure workloads, and most likely minimize downtime.

Want to learn more about business continuity and how it can help your business? Contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

What companies tend to get wrong about business continuity

Every business owner knows that having a business continuity plan (BCP) is crucial to surviving any disaster. However, some still tend to overlook certain aspects of a BCP strategy, causing the plan to go up in flames. Ensure a solid BCP by knowing these five critical mistakes to avoid.

Mistake 1: Not considering the small details

Once you’ve created a general business continuity plan, you need to think about the specifics to ensure that what you envision is executable. This includes fleshing out logistical considerations like medical aid and technology support.

For instance, you need to inform partner medical providers about your BCP so that they can make arrangements in advance. This may entail asking for key personnel whom your employees can directly contact if they ever need medical support during an incident. You may also need to figure out how your employees can securely access company data in case they can’t physically come to the office. Planning for the tiniest details may save your data and your employees’ lives, so run through your strategy regularly to ensure that they’re up to date and still effective.

Mistake 2: Failing to plan for employees

Companies that can bounce back after unexpected incidents are those that have thought about their employees’ needs when making a BCP, so plan every detail that may concern your staff during a disruption, from evacuation routes to emergency communication procedures. Doing so will ensure that your employees have everything they need to survive the worst.

Discuss your strategy with your employees and ask for their input in matters that concern their safety or ability to work. Also, let them know that you will be there to support them and their families in the event of a crisis. This way, your employees will have peace of mind knowing that the company is there for them, and this, in turn, ensures their loyalty.

Mistake 3: Not showing your employees how the BCP works

While many business owners worry about downtime, they may neglect to explain to employees how to effectively execute the BCP to minimize lost productivity.

Your staff are part of your overall plan, so they must know the BCP strategy to be able to carry out their roles satisfactorily. Demonstrate exactly how your employees are supposed to respond during a crisis, such as informing them who they’re supposed to contact during a natural disaster and what they’re supposed to say to clients if systems are down. Walk them through where and how they will work when the primary office is inaccessible. Then, have your staff do these tasks until they’re confident that they can perform them when a disaster strikes.

Mistake 4: Putting greater priority on operational continuity over employee safety

When an incident occurs, it’s understandable for business owners to assess the disaster’s impact on business. But being solely concerned with operational continuity and neglecting employees’ well-being and safety has consequences, too.

Check on your people first, as they are crucial in executing processes. If you have a data backup plan but no one to facilitate it, then your plan — no matter how meticulous — is rendered useless. Make sure that your workforce is reachable, safe, and able. Make it a priority for the crisis management team to contact your employees and see what help may be given to make their situation better. Supporting your team when the worst happens is a guarantee that they can get back on their feet and return to work more swiftly.

Mistake 5: Not having the right tech solutions in place

You shouldn’t wait for a natural disaster to hit before setting up a toll-free hotline that employees can call in for regular updates. You also shouldn’t wait for a data breach before you start looking for ways to secure your data backups. Without the proper technology solutions to mitigate an incident, your business might face increased risks, prolonged downtime, and steep revenue loss.

Talk to your IT department or consult with a technology specialist to ensure that you have all the tech safeguards you need in case things go south. The right IT solutions will streamline company-wide communication, secure workloads, and most likely minimize downtime.

Want to learn more about business continuity and how it can help your business? Contact us today.

This post was originally published on this site

Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce 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.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site 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 miles per hour (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 in case of floods.

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 them. From there, 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 enables 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 as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (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 a disaster. 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 a hurricane, 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 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 should have.

This post was originally published on this site

Protecting your data from hurricanes

Hurricanes damage property and put lives at risk. If you’re not prepared, hurricanes can also disrupt your operations and put your business through extended downtime. In this blog, we’ll help you quickly regain access to your data and get your business back to operational mode after a disaster.

Determine recovery hierarchy

Certain parts of your IT system are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems and/or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days so your business can resume operations quickly

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and eCommerce 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.

Pay attention to location

First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your off-site 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 miles per hour (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 in case of floods.

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 them. From there, 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 enables 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 as often as possible, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on September 15th and a storm makes landfall in your area on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Test your disaster recovery (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 a disaster. 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 a hurricane, 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 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 should have.

This post was originally published on this site