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Technology

Data Backup Verification Audit

You’ve likely heard more than enough times that you need to backup your data. This is what every software vendor and IT partner will preach to you from day one. They’re right, of course, but there could still be potential problems. How do you really know that you have backups? You may have a backup appliance, and you may be under the impression that you have all of your data in the cloud, but do you really? How can you know for sure?

data backup verification

Making the assumption that your data is backed up just because you have an attached storage, or because you are paying for a hosted backup solution, has gotten many businesses into trouble. The truth is that backups fail, and they fail frequently. Backups are a service that requires attention and maintenance, and if you neglect it, it will fail you. This is a risk that you cannot afford to take.

As an IT company, we work with many new customers who come to us because they have lost data, even though they were under the impression that their data was backed up. As a result of this, we offer free data verification audits that will show you exactly where your data is and what to do if it is not backed up. If you can say that you don’t know where your data is, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule a free data backup verification audit.

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Technology

How to prepare for ransomware

Lately, there has been a lot of talk about ransomware: a type of computer virus that encrypts your files and holds them for ransom. Worse yet, there is no guarantee that your data will be released if you pay the ransom fee. In light of the most recent ransomware attack called “WannaCry” that infected a substantial number of businesses in Europe, it is important that you are taking measures to ensure that your business is safe.

Antivirus and firewall concept with businessman protected with umbrella

If you are not familiar with the statistics, ransomware was a billion dollar industry in 2016, and every cyber criminal knows it. There is exceptional financial motivation for these scams to be produced indefinitely, and they become increasingly sophisticated every day. As a business owner, ransomware is a constant threat that cannot be ignored.

Playing defense in the ransomware game is a layered approach, with several security methods to prevent ransomware from getting to your network. The first line of defense includes anti-virus, a good firewall, and effective spam filtering. The next important step in any security plan is user training. Ransomware is generally not a problem until someone within your network clicks on the wrong email or web link. The final layer of defense are things like an insurance policy or data backups.

Preferably, investing in each one of these layers is best practice. However, if you have to choose one component over another, backups are the most important investment that you can make. With a good backup system, you may lose some time and a nominal amount of data after an attack, but you will be able to restore your data without the ransomware affecting your business.

In addition to having the data backups in place, it is also essential to ensure that your backups are up-to-date and running properly. Backups have a tendency to face errors that can disrupt a backup schedule. With proper backup monitoring, you may find that your backups were not operating as expected, thus leaving your data vulnerable.

Talk to your IT professional to ensure that you have both preventative security measures and contingencies in place to protect your data in the event of a ransomware attack.

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Technology

Popcorn Time Ransomware

While everyone is in the spirit of giving this holiday season, there is something to say about giving for the wrong reason. A new strand of ransomware is a good example of this. It’s called Popcorn Time. This new strand of ransomware will allow you two options if your computer is infected. You can choose to pay the ransom or you can choose to forward the ransomeware email on to other people in your contacts. If your efforts successfully infect two other computers, you will receive a decryption code for your computer.


Image result for popcorn time ransomware


Up to this point, this method had been unheard of and it pushes the boundary of social engineering scams to a new level. This method is likely to make the infection rate significantly higher as the ransomeware is coming from a trusted and legitimate source. Another nasty feature of Popcorn Time is that if you enter a false decryption code four times, it will start deleting files.
It can’t be stressed enough that unless you are expecting an email, you should not open any attachments unless you have confirmed the legitimacy of the email through another source of communication. Like with any other ransomeware, if your computer is infected, your best hope is to rely on your data backup system.
As an IT New Years resolutions it may be a worthy pursuit to be sure that your backups are running smoothly and if you haven’t made the investment into a backup solution yet, there has never been a better time. These social engineering scams are real and are becoming more and more clever by the day. Protect your investments and your company by putting up measures to insure against attacks like these. For more information, contact eTop for a free consultation.

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Technology Training

Cloud Data Storage Gillware

Does your company have a data backup strategy? Cloud backups are a vary important part of any network. Without them, you are at risk of losing your data should a disaster strike. That being said, many questions remain. How should I set up my backup system? How many copies of my data do I need? Why is redundancy important? How do I know that my data is really being backed up? In order to make sure that all of these questions are answered, you need a strategy.
The first line of defense starts with a server. Backing up your workstations to a server will collect all of your data to one point. From there it is important to backup your data to a Network Attacked Storage device or NAS. This is a hard drive that is attached to your server that makes a copy of your data in case your server dies. A NAS device is also helpful for restoring files to the server quickly. With a NAS, you do not have to rely on your internet connection to restore files when data accidentally gets deleted.
When considering a cloud data backup solution, or any cloud solutions, it is important to think about the amount of internet bandwidth you have. Uploading and downloading data to and from the cloud can take a lot of time if your internet connection is slow. In the event of an emergency, it can cause challenges to get data downloaded from the cloud in a timely manner.
Once you have your data on a server that is connected to a NAS and you have a good internet connection, you will want to back your data up to the cloud. There are many cloud data backup solutions to choose from. For this instance we are using a service called Gillware to back up files to the cloud. Using this simple method and having three full copies of your data will insure that your data is safe not matter what emergency may arise.

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Technology Training

Server Backup vs. Computer Backup

If you spend your working days behind a computer, it is worth it to know what is going on behind the scenes when you save a file that you have been working on. There are usually a list of drives that you can use to save your files to. Knowing the difference between saving your files to your computer and saving it to your server can save you a great deal of trouble. This may seem silly if you already understand the difference, however, if you don’t know, it could lead to significant data loss.
If you are not saving your files to your server, then you are at risk of losing all of your documents should your computer die. Among many other things, the server acts as your first point of backup for your computer. This means that if your computer dies, you don’t have to worry. You can simply replace your computer and continue working since all of your documents are saved to the server.
The server in turn should follow the same principle. Once the data has been created on your computer and saved to the server, the server is then backed up to a local storage device. The local storage device should then be backed up to the cloud. Following these simple guide lines and making sure that you have at least three full copies of your data will insure that your company and your data are safe, no matter the disaster.

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Technology Training

Windows 10 System Image Backup

What is an operating system image backup? This is a backup of your complete hard drive including all of your files and the Windows 10 operating system. Rather then backing up a single folder, you can easily take an image of your hard drive and save all of your system settings and data. This is extremely useful if you are experiencing hardware failure or if you are simply trying to protect yourself from malware such as ransomware. As always, the best practice is to keep all of your data backed up regularly and this is an extremely easy way to make sure your data is safe.
To begin with, you need to choose a place to store your image. The image of your internal drive will be as large as the drive usage, meaning that if your internal drive is 200 GB then you will want to store that image on a drive that has at least 200 GB of space available. Attach your external drive to your computer via the USB cable. Once you have your external drive attached, navigate to the Control Panel. Now you will need to click on the “System and Security” tab and under this window you will want to select “File History”. You will find the tab for the system image backups in the bottom left corner of the open window.
Once you have navigated to the Systems Image Backup screen you will want to click on the “Create a system image” tab. From here, Windows will ask you where you want to save the image. Select the external drive that you attached to your computer earlier. Now all you need to do is press the ‘Start Backup” button. Once the backup has begun, it can take some time for it to copy all of your files. Make sure you do this when you do not need your computer for anything important.
Once the image is complete, Windows will ask you if you would like to create a system repair disk. This will allow you to copy the Windows 10 operating system to a new hard drive without licensing issues. You can also use a new license of Windows 10 if you need to. This option depends on if you have an additional license available to you. Depending on your situation, choose this option accordingly.
Now that you have created an image, you will be able to find it in your external hard drive. Just to be safe, we recommend that you run this process at least once per month so that you have a recent copy of your data.