Understanding the risk and potential for a disaster is one important part of proper backup and recovery planning. Businesses must have an actionable response protocol that minimizes the damages of a disaster event.
Backup and disaster recovery planning revolves around the notion that by protecting the business from the effects of a natural or human-induced disaster, organizations are better able to withstand downturns.
One Backup Means No Backup
Traditionally, backups were physical copies. While physical backups are still useful, there are newer, more effective ways to backup data. Virtualization provides more effective, strategic backup tools, like snapshots, replication, and live migrations. Virtualization also offers data redundancy by storing your data locally as well as in the cloud you are better prepared for potential disasters. You can read more about the benefits of cloud backups here.
COVID-19 Exposes Weaknesses In Traditional Backup Plans
The recent outbreak of the coronavirus has shown the value of cloud backup solutions.
As businesses migrate to a remote environment, this increases their risk of data loss when relying solely on physical backups. With so many businesses moving off site, now is the time to update your backup plan to accommodate a remote workforce.
Creating An Effective Disaster Recovery Plan
After 30 years in IT, the one issue we see time and time again with our new clients is a failure to regularly check and modify backup and disaster recovery plans.
An out-of-date or untested backup policy is about as good as no backup policy; it is rarely effective and often wastes valuable resources – like your employees’ time.
Here’s a quick run-down of the items you’ll want to check off:
Backup and Disaster Recovery Team
Completed Risk Assessment
Identified Mission-Critical Facilities, Resources, and Functions
Convenience of Cloud Based Systems Without a Subscription
UniFi Protect was designed from the ground up with a focus on user-experience. We wanted to build something that could operate at scale within a small hardware footprint, providing a low-cost initial investment.
No Subscription Fees
While a single monthly fee might be reasonable for the convenience of a single cloud camera, the proposition for a multi-camera network and multiple subscription fees quickly becomes unreasonable. With UniFi Protect, there are no subscription fees to worry about whatsoever.
Easy To Use Interface
With state-of-the-art video encoding and a simple, yet robust, user interface Unifi Protect allows you to easily scrub through video recordings to find the exact footage you’re looking for. And because the camera hardware doesn’t require a connection to the cloud, it can provide much faster in-network latency.
Scalable Solution To Meet Your Needs
The new cloud key can manage 20+ cameras while simultaneously providing UniFi network management. Installation is plug and play with Protect automatically detecting and adding new cameras as they come online. With access via mobile apps and a web UI that is suitable for monitoring hi-density camera installs.
Local Storage To Reduce Network Impact
Other cloud based solutions require each video feed to upload to the internet, eating up large chunks of your network bandwidth. With UniFi Protect, the camera stream terminates at the Cloud Key and thus saves full Internet upload bandwidth for the clients of the network.
Security Feed Stays On Your Secured Network
Cloud cameras forward video to 3rd party servers which means your video is really not private anymore and there is no guarantee that any recordings (including confidential events) will not be seen by others.
4 Ways a Phone System Improves Remote Workforce Productivity
As modern methods of communication and workflow management continue to make working remotely easier and more accessible, many businesses are adopting a more mobile approach to work.
Sangoma and PBXact is uniquely suited to meet the needs of any company. Between remote workers and BYOD policies, telecommunications can be catered to management and employee needs quickly and easily.
Employees can enjoy greater flexibility and mobility by having a business phone and number they can take anywhere, and the business gains complete management visibility and control over the phone services of remote workers.
Here are five reasons why a Sangoma PBXact phone system improves remote workforce productivity:
Take Your Desk Phone Home.
Moving your business to A Sangoma PBXact VOIP system allows you to easily give workers in remote or home offices full-featured business desk phones. Audio conferencing and video web meetings ensure that remote workers feel connected with co-workers and vice versa in better team meetings
Sangoma’s D-Series and S-Series phones auto configure with PBXact no matter where they are located. That means the same phone that sits at the office can be used by a worker from home.
Call Routing to Home or Mobile Phone
Workers in the office and remote workers alike share the same features and capabilities of a powerful business phone system. If you’re working from home and only have a home phone, you can easily configure PBX from your user portal to send all of your calls to your mobile or home phone. The PBXact app has the ability to mask your personal phone number and show your office number when you call customers, allowing you to maintain privacy while working out of the office.
Increase control and viability.
Security is a huge concern within the field of telecommunications and will only continue to be crucial to a company’s ability to function. A VOIP solution gives IT greater control over security and, where required, meets auditing and compliance requirements such as mandatory call-logging
Enable flexible staffing.
Most businesses now find themselves responsible for supporting a percentage of employees who spend all or part of their time in a virtual office, or “telecommuting”. With a Sangoma PBXact system, you can easily set up remote locations or add telecommuters to support rapid or incremental growth or adapt to seasonal spikes in business. You can also use remote workers to support customers, partners, or co-workers. Support staff can take advantage of features such as call forwarding, which routes calls to their mobile devices when they leave their main locations—so they never miss a call, even while on the go.
These features empower businesses to make their remote workers just as connected as in-office staff, while giving the business complete control over remote employees’ telephone services. Customers are now able to connect with any remote worker as if the employee were sitting in the office.
As the workforce continues to evolve, businesses struggle to support the rapidly growing number of virtual workers. A Sangoma PBXact phone system is built from the ground up to provide direct connectivity for employees outside of their main locations.
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Right now, your data backup plan might be something that’s furthest from your mind.
Your probably focusing on getting remote working set up for your workforce. For some businesses, remote working is quite routine, but for many others, it’s daunting and potentially disruptive in the short term.
But things will settle down, and once you’ve identified any issues, you’ll be back up to maximum productivity. You may even find that remote working increases productivity due to less distractions and better wellbeing.
However, your data backup plan must now become a priority. Businesses live or die by their business continuity plans, and if you’re not prepared for downtime or loss of data, you could find yourself in a difficult spot.
Well, with your working arrangements changing so drastically, guaranteeing persistent access to your data is essential.
With your team working in a variety of places, and in different conditions, your regular backup plan might not be able to support the requirements of your team (Or maybe it can – but your won’t know unless you review it!)
The cost of downtime is enormous, and working remotely offers different sorts of challenges to those in the office.
For example, if someone falls sick and is unable to work, are you able to retrieve their work and pick up where they left off? Do you have the collaborative tools to deal with disruption like this?
What if a key member of staff suffers an electricity or broadband outage and they cannot work? Perhaps someone suffers a phishing or ransomware attack whilst working at home, potentially losing your data forever.
Perhaps you have a really strong data backup plan in your workplace but have never had reason to test it with large-scale remote working. The key message is this: caution and diligence are best practices in a time like this.
What is your current data backup plan?
The first place to start is looking at what you currently do.
Does someone do a manual backup of business data to tapes or an external drive? If so, are they still able to do this whilst you’re not on-site?
Regardless, manual backups like this are not recommended whether you’re working on-site as normal or working remotely.
People can be careless; perhaps your designated person fails to back your data up one day, and that day happens to be the day that you suffer a cyber attack or an outage. Maybe they get into a habit of not backing up for extended periods of time.
In short, manual backups are unreliable. Hardware can fail, people forget, and actually, backing up only once per day (at best) is not prudent. It’s an admission that you can afford to lose a whole day’s worth of work, which not many businesses can.
And if you don’t have a data backup plan at all? Well, it’s time to start looking at implementing one as soon as possible!
So, what should your data backup plan look like?
You need to look at what our business relies on, identifying the data that must be safeguarded is a routine step.
For example, consider the following:
Files and documents
Documents are among the first things considered when it comes to backing up data. And it’s easy to understand why. People rely on spreadsheets, PDF, and the confidential data contained within these in order to continue running as normal.
Working in SharePoint, Teams, and Office 365, we maintain much of our content in the cloud as well as on encrypted hard drives. But in addition to this, we run dedicated ‘Software-as-a-Service’ backup solutions to keep our data secure. After all, whilst it’s Microsoft’s responsibility to keep the service running, we’re responsible for the security of the data that we place in the cloud.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM system is typically the lifeblood of a businesses’s operations, from admin, to sales & marketing, to service delivery staff – everyone is reliant on its availability. In addition to our CRM system being cloud-enabled, we use an additional backup solution to keep our customer data secure and always available.
VoIP Telephone System
Our internet-enabled telephone system is paramount to what we do – it not only keeps us connected to our customers, but also internally.
In addition to having backup technology to fall back on (diversifying your options are essential), we also utilize a similar data backup plan to our CRM system.
The majority of business communications are sent via email, so we need our email clients running as normal, virtually all of the time. Downtime can result in lost business and confusion.
Email Continuity is a feature built into our email security solution. This means that on the rare occasion that our primary email client stops working, or becomes unavailable, we can replicate the entire email environment in the cloud, ensuring 100% uptime!
If you’re working in the cloud, your provider should offer some form of backup (in addition to your cloud copies). If they don’t, you can look at either moving providers or a 3rd party option. We can advise you on either option.
Critically, your data backup plan should be automatic and set to back up your data around-the-clock, rather than once daily. For example, one of our partner’s options allow you to back up your data as often as every 15 minutes, meaning you’re fully protected against downtime.
Computer Customized Services, Inc. has over 30 years of industry experience helping companies like yours improve their IT infrastructure. Your business is priority to us and we’ll always be here for you when you have questions or concerns. Contact us to learn more about our solutions and what we can do for your business.
The COVID-19 outbreak has caused dozens of tech conferences and conventions to be cancelled over the last few weeks. Now companies are closing down their offices and asking employees to work from home. If you have been affected, chances are most of your in-person meetings have been changed to conference calls.
Working from home might sound great at first, but having to do all your own IT work can be a hassle. After all, the last thing you want is to have a technical issue right when it’s time to dial in. There’s no one to help troubleshoot your connection and it can really get in the way of a productive afternoon.
Make sure everything is right before the call begins. Here’s how to prepare for video conference calls from home, or wherever you might be working from.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
If you need to appear on camera during your call, make sure you know what’s going on around you. Close that window if you’re on a noisy street and flip on a light. PCMag’s lead camera analyst Jim Fisher stresses that “Soft fill on your face is all that matters.” Using a desk lamp with a shade should work, as long as you can avoid harsh, direct light. “If you’ve got big windows, face the windows so they light you up; otherwise the camera is going to struggle with exposure.”
Get Creative With How You Connect
Most companies have a favorite service they use, like Teams, Google Hangouts, or Zoom. If you’re working on a personal computer, all you have to do is download the appropriate desktop app or click a link and log into your account.
However, if you have to think fast and find the right video call service that fits your needs, remember that most mobile messaging apps have video capabilities. Apps like Facebook Messenger, Signal, Android Messages, and Google Hangouts, among others, allow for limited video calling. Many of these services also have web and desktops apps. Face Time also allows group chats and supports receiving phone calls on your computer.
Clear Out the Bandwidth Hogs
One of the downsides of video chats are the pixelated screens and choppy audio that comes with lackluster bandwidth. If you’re expecting a video call or three, make sure that smart devices in your home aren’t hogging the connection.
For instance, streaming video games or Disney+, the robot vacuum mapping your home, or hefty software programs running on your PC, could disrupt your video call at an inopportune time.
To start, check your internet speed to know what you’re working with and whether you’re getting what you pay for.
Log In Early
Don’t wait for the meeting to start to find out your connection is bad or your software doesn’t work properly; test it before the conference starts. You can do this in Zoom by using the program’s test feature. WebEx also has a Personal Room that can be used for testing.
In Skype, click your profile picture and select Settings>Audio & Video Settings, and there should be a camera preview under the Video section. You can also look for Sound Test Service in your Skype contacts to test audio quality.
Go With a Wired Connection
If Wi-Fi is still giving you trouble, fish out that dusty Ethernet cable for a direct connection, which should hopefully cut down on any potential speed issues or sudden dropouts while video conferencing. If your laptop doesn’t have an Ethernet port, pick up a cheap USB to Ethernet or Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet adapter.
Don’t rely on your computer’s iffy built-in mircophone and speakers. Find yourself a nice Bluetooth headset or even gaming headphones to use when you’re on a call. They connect easily to your computer while also offering comfortable over-ear fits with a strong microphone.
Don’t Forget a Charger
Long conference calls can drain a laptop battery pretty quick. And you don’t want to have to step away from the meeting to find your charger as battery warnings blink on your screen. Make sure your laptop is plugged in and charging. There are also some portable chargers powerful enough to recharge your laptop in a pinch.
Have a Backup Plan
No matter what program you use, have a backup plan in case something goes awry, whether that’s switching to an audio-only call or throwing in the towel and realizing you’re in a meeting that could’ve been an email.
Customized Computer Services, Inc. is a Managed IT Service Provider, we have been serving the Dallas-Fort Worth Area for 30 years. Contact us to find out how we can help your business stay one step ahead with your IT.