Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Windows 10: The Good and The Bad

It has been just over a year since Windows 10 was released, and some businesses are still unsure whether or not they should update to Windows 10 from their current operating system. You may be thinking it is time to update your organization's operating system to this new iteration of Windows. Not so fast. Here are some of the issues you may encounter with your upgrade:

Failed Upgrade

While Windows 10 is lighter, and definitely the way to go in the future, it may not be a wise move at this point in time. Some who have updated have experienced issues and have not been able to rollback to the previous version. If you are thinking of updating it is imperative that you take a full (image based) backup of your computer. Having this complete backup will protect you from a failed upgrade process that you cannot undo. Talk to your IT professional to ensure you are backing up correctly.

Compatibility Issues

In addition, some users have also experienced issues with existing hardware and software not getting along with Windows 10. Older printers and scanners are commonplace in many offices, and they won’t necessarily work with Windows 10. In order to know for sure, you have to upgrade, test, and see if it works. This process can be time consuming, not to mention risky. Your best bet is to buy a new computer with Windows 10 on it down the road, once there has been sufficient testing of the new operating system. Older computers will have little, if any, testing with Windows 10.

Who Should Update?

There are some businesses that make excellent candidates for upgrading to Windows 10. Upgrade if all of these are true:

  1. Your business is predominantly web based work
  2. You have relatively new hardware (printer, scanner, etc.)
  3. You have mixed operating systems (Windows 7, 8, 8.1) within your workplace.

If, on the other hand, your company falls into the following categories, we recommend holding off. Don’t upgrade if:

  1. Your company uses mostly old hardware (computers, printers, scanners, fax, etc.)
  2. You use any kind of specialized software to run your business
  3. You operate in a big corporate environment

Many people have upgraded to Windows 10 and experienced no issues at all, but it is important to outline the risks and take the necessary precautions before upgrading. With Windows 10, the longer you wait to upgrade, the better. The longer you wait the more tested it will be and the greater chance your staff will have a computer running 10 at home, making the learning curve easier. This will save many hours of training and onboarding and ultimately save your business unnecessary expenses.

While Windows 10 is similar to 7 in many ways, there are critical changes that will take getting used to. Talk to your company’s IT professional before making changes to your operating systems. This will ensure that your business is uninterrupted.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Disaster Recovery

What would you do if tomorrow you experienced a major, business interrupting event? Fire, flood, break in; what would you do to get your business up and running again? Would you have all the information you need? Where would you move to? How long would your business be interrupted?

If you have answers to these questions, great! You have likely spent some time thinking about a disaster recovery plan for your business. However, if these questions left you feeling semi-anxious and ill prepared, don’t worry. The 3 steps below will get you on your way to being disaster ready:

Write a One Page Plan

Develop a one page disaster recovery plan. In this plan outline what you will do in the days following a disaster. Go through what information you need to keep your business intact. Secure vendor lists, pertinent contact information, and any other relevant details you would need to reboot your business. Keep this plan in the cloud, so that you are able to spring into action should your business be halted by an unforeseen event.

Discuss Your IT Solutions

Do you work with an IT provider? Have you discussed disaster recovery plans with them? If not, we recommend having this conversation with them as soon as possible. Find out if they are prepared to assist you should something occur. Find out how long it would take them to restore your backup to new hardware, in the event of hardware theft or destruction. Having this discussion with your provider means you are both on the same page and have the same expectations regarding what they will do to help, and the timeline of events.

Secure a Temporary Workspace

If your physical workspace is destroyed, do you have options so that you are able to keep working? Discuss temporary office space with fellow business owners and come to an agreement that you can each provide temporary workspace in the event of a major disaster. This kind of arrangement is mutually beneficial and gives peace of mind. Another option is to restore your files to a new piece of hardware and work from home. How quickly could you make space in your home to work there? If home is not an option, then securing emergency work space in other office is a great alternative.

Hopefully after reading this article, you already have answers to some of the questions asked at the beginning. Writing your plan, discussing your IT needs, and securing a temporary workspace are 3 ways to ensure your business is able to become fully operational soon after a business interrupting disaster. By being disaster ready, and having relevant conversations with colleagues, there will be no question as to the plan of action in the event of an emergency. Your business will be up and running, barely skipping a beat.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Backups 101

Backups 101

We have all heard cautionary tales about data loss and failure to safely back up our data. Computers fail and 1000s of photos, music, and important files are lost. You may have an external hard drive and back up occasionally, but you may not know that external hard drives are not the most secure or reliable option.

One of the quickest ways to ensure your personal or business backups are done on time, and at the right frequency, is to automate them. Backing up manually places the onus on the user or employee to complete the backups themselves. Busy schedules often put doing our backup at the bottom of the to-do list. By automating this process, you ensure that your data is safe and secure.

While automating backups to a physical hard drive in your home or office is a good start, external hard drives themselves are not necessarily the most reliable choice. External hard drives have a life expectancy and can fail at any time. Relying solely on an external hard drive for your data storage could leave you vulnerable to mass data loss. In addition, ransomware attacks are now targeting local backups and are specifically looking for those to encrypt. By backing up to the cloud, rather than locally, your data is not accessible to ransomware attacks.

While you should maintain a local, hard drive backup, you should also have a cloud based backup of your data. In the event you need to restore your data, it is much quicker to do so from a hard drive, as opposed to the cloud. Cloud based backups and storage are the most secure, reliable, and effortless way to backup our data. Cloud based storage means you do not have to worry about hard drive failure, damage, or computer loss or theft, you can rest easy knowing your files are secure in the cloud.

Max Sadlowski of Sadlowski Consulting knows the importance of cloud backups from personal experience, “A client of mine once left their work laptop on an airplane in the seat pocket, upon realizing that the laptop was gone about 3 hours later, the laptop was nowhere to be found. The next steps for the client were to buy a new computer, download a single application, and within 2 hours, had her complete computer restored as if it had never been lost. If she had not had an up to date, cloud backup, the client would have been severely impacted”. Let me know if you like this anecdotal bit here from Max. We were chatting and he reminded me of this incident with a former client.

Frequent, automated, and monitored backups is your best defence. If you are backing up regularly, even if your computer is lost or stolen, you can get up and running again on new hardware with little stress or interruption to your business.