Blog

Importance of Backups

By Gary Cox

backupThere are many different options and types of backups, but firstly a quick reminder of how important backups are.

“To Backup or not to Backup; that is the question” as Shakespeare could have said if he were alive today.

There are two types of people in the world today; those that have lost data in a computer crash or had it stolen and those that WILL lose data sometime in the future. This is said tongue in cheek but is also based upon the high volume of customers that seek data recovery services.

Making a backup of your data to an external source is a good idea for everyone. Now the word “data” means the following: any files that you have created, scanned, faxed, downloaded, copied from an external source (e.g. USB stick) or been emailed. This includes any documents you have, any music (e.g. iTunes), any pictures/photos, any videos/movies and any files you have downloaded (generally in the Downloads directory on a Windows computer).

This isn’t an exhaustive list as you may have generated other files with a program that you use on your computer. These include Word, Excel etc or used Picasa or Smilebox to generate collages and slideshows etc. It is up to you to back up what you have so you need to be aware of where your files reside on your computer. If this is too much “rocket science” then please ask for our assistance and we can assist you with this.

Types of Backups

Several types of backups are available to computer users:

  1. Backup to an external Hard Disk Drive (HDD) 2.5” or 3.5”.
  2. Backup to “The Cloud”.
  3. Backup to another computer or server on the network.
  4. Backup to a DVD or USB flash drive.

Also in terms of types of backups there are manual or automatic backups:

  1. Manual backups are done by you manually copying files or directories to the backup device.
  2. Automatic backups which are performed by a software program such as Microsoft “Backup and Restore”. These by default backs up your nominated files and directories at 7pm weekly on a Sunday night.
  3. Syncing of files from the computer to “The Cloud”.

Backing Up to the Cloud

backup cloudNow in terms of types of backups everyone talks about “The Cloud”. What this esoteric name suggests that there is something up above our heads where data or programs or something is kept.  Not so “The Cloud” refers to the Internet and the Internet is a mass of computers all linked together. Desktops, Servers, tablets, mainframes, mini computers and anything which is IP enabled (it has an IP address in other words). This could be the car, fridge, phone, toaster, TV, lights and someday the dog and cat will have a chip to see where they are by GPS. They already do this with marine animals, and land based animals to study their movements, but we digress.

Manual Backups

Manual backups are excellent as they copy each file and directory. Thus no matter what computer you want to copy them or access them from then they can be read, opened or changed. The different types of computers are generally different versions of Windows, Apple computers and Linux computers. Manual backups are easy enough to complete. The catch is you just have to remember to do them yourself. If you need to learn how to do this then we can assist with this task.

Automatic Backups

Automatic backups are accomplished using a software package. Most Windows (not Windows 8 or 8.1) and Apple computers have a built-in software program which achieves this. This blog will not go into Apple’s Time Machine. That is for another blog on backups.

How to Use Windows for Automatic Backups

On a Windows PC in Control Panel you will see “Backup and Restore”. Click on this and follow the prompts on-screen. You need to tell Windows backup what Drive letter your backup device is (external HDD, flash drive, network drive etc). Drive C: is the bootable HDD, D: maybe your DVD etc. Once you tell Windows backup the Drive letter it will then ask if you want Windows to decide which files and Directories to back up. You can then specify daily, weekly or monthly, different days and times depending on your choices. I generally allow Windows to decide what files and Directories but you may want something different. Again we can assist here.

There are other software packages too numerous to mention which achieve the same thing if you decide you don’t want to use Windows “Backup and Restore”.

Syncing Files to The Cloud

backup syncSyncing files to “The Cloud”, you will need a “cloud” account such as Apple’s iCloud, Dropbox, Microsoft Onedrive or Google Drive to name the top 4. There are many many others out there far too many to mention here. Once you have your “cloud” account setup and you have your username and password written down and accessible then you will at some stage need to login to that account.

With Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 you can setup a computer login account and this will take you to Microsoft OneDrive. Windows 8, 8.1 and 10 are OneDrive enabled. This means OneDrive is setup and any files you “drop” or copy to that directory should mean that they are copied to “the cloud”. This effectively means an off-site storage facility. This is good because if you lose your computer, house and contents then at least your files (data) are somewhere else waiting to be accessed by you or a “shared” friend to access again.

I have very briefly described Microsoft OneDrive here.  There are other similar types of backup services that work in a similar fashion. However I won’t go in to here due to space.

Warning Re Syncing Files to the Cloud

No matter which “cloud” service you use be very aware that by syncing a file to “The Cloud” there is a copy “off-site”. But and this is a big but, if you delete that file on your computer it will definitely delete it on “The Cloud”. Not much of a backup system then is it? Well, what you need to do is to de-sync that directory. Then you need to delete the file from your computer.  By doing this when the sync next happens that file deletion is not then synced to “The Cloud”. Thus your file is then not deleted.

Be warned, this sort of thing can be very dangerous as it is quite obvious a mistake can happen. If I was you, I would backup to an external HDD first and foremost. Only then would I suggest you experiment with the cloud syncing.

Backup Type Recommendations

What types of backup do I use? I use an external HDD, network backup to different computers and some “cloud” backup.

In terms of types of backups, whilst the cloud is considered by many to be the one and only answer, this is not in our opinion correct. One major issue in Kenya with “cloud” backup is the very slow Internet up-link speeds that are available. Also the data caps that many ISP (Internet Service Providers) have on your account.

Be very careful that you don’t blow your data cap out of the water. If this happens, your Internet speed could very well plummet. Also the slow up-link speed could mean that all your pictures/photos you want on “The Cloud,” could literally take weeks to up-load. This is with the computer working 24/7.

If copying data is very important or you need to access data anywhere in the world on any computer or IP device the cloud is probably, in this writer’s opinion, the best use for this type of backup.

PS If the horse has already bolted and you have lost data and don’t have a backup we have a service that you may be interested in…

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help you with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

4 Cybersecurity Mistakes to Avoid

By Gary Cox

sec

Things were going great at Michael Daugherty’s up-and-coming $4 million medical-testing company.

He was a happy man. He ran a good business in a nice place. His Atlanta-based LabMD had about 30 employees that tested blood, urine and tissue samples for urologists. Life was good for this middle-aged businessman from Detroit.

Then, one Tuesday afternoon in May 2008, the phone call came that changed his life. His general manager came in to tell Daugherty about a call he’d just fielded from a man claiming to have nabbed a file full of LabMD patient documents. For a medical business that had to comply with strict federal rules on privacy, this was bad. Very bad.

It turned out that LabMD’s billing manager had been using LimeWire file-sharing software to download music. In the process, she’d unwittingly left her documents folder containing the medical records exposed to a public network. A hacker easily found and downloaded LabMD’s patient records. And now the fate of Michael’s life – and his business – were drastically altered.

What followed was a nightmarish downward spiral for LabMD. Not one to go down without a fight, Michael found himself mired in an escalating number of multiple lawsuits and legal battles with the Federal Trade Commission and other regulators investigating the leak.

Finally, in January 2014, exhausted and out of funds, his business cratering under constant pressure, he gave up the fight and shuttered his company.

One tiny leak that could have easily been prevented took his entire company down. Could this happen to you and your business?

4 Cybersecurity Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Have you developed a false sense of security? Please, please, please do NOT think you are immune to a cyber-attack simply because you are not a big company. The fact is, whether you have 12 clients, or 12,000 clients, your data has value to hackers. A simple client profile with name, address and phone number sells for as little as $1 on the black market. Yet add a few details, like credit card and Social Security numbers, and the price can skyrocket – $300 per record is not uncommon. Being small doesn’t mean you are immune.
  2. Are you skimping on security to save money? Sure, of course you have a tight budget… So you cut a deal with your marketing manager, who wants to work from home at times. He links into the company network with a VPN. If configured properly, your VPN creates a secure and encrypted tunnel into your network. So his device now links his home network into the company network. The problem is, his home cable modem may be vulnerable to attack, an all-too-common issue with consumer devices. Now you have an open tunnel for malware and viruses to attack your network.
  3. Could lack of an off-boarding process put your company at risk? It’s crucial to keep a record of user accounts for each employee with security privileges. When an employee leaves, you MUST remove those accounts without delay. An internal attack by a disgruntled worker could do serious harm to your business. Be sure to close this loop.
  4. Have you been lax about implementing security policies for desktop computers, mobile devices and the Internet? The greatest threat to your company’s data originates not in technology, but in human behaviour. It starts before you boot up a single device. In an era of BYOD (bring your own device), for instance, lax behaviour by anyone connecting to your network weakens its security. Your team love their smartphones, and with good reason. So it’s tough sticking with strict rules about BYOD. But without absolute adherence to a clear policy, you might as well sell your company’s secrets on eBay.

Don’t let a tiny leak sink your ship – here’s what to do next…

Let us run our complete Network Security Audit for you. We’ll have our top data security specialist give you a complete top-to-bottom security analysis with action plan.

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

 

If Integrated Properly, the Cloud Can Benefit Your Business

By Gary Cox

cloudThe cloud offers modern businesses ways to store and run applications that couldn’t even have been imagined several years ago. While some companies have decided to go with the flow and take advantage of cloud computing, others might find that their cloud services aren’t meeting the standards set upon them. What can they do about this?

When it’s executed properly, cloud computing can be a fantastic addition to your business model. The cloud gives your team members the ability to access mission-critical information and applications from any approved device, and can allow for a more productive and flexible work environment. However, some businesses expect these results without thinking carefully before integrating their solution into their business model.

Does Your Business Have the Right Cloud Solution?

Just like any other business out there, yours is much different from the others. You have your own unique niche in the industry, and you leverage that to your advantage. As such, there are plenty of different cloud solutions out there, all designed to cater to the many different needs of various businesses like yours. Therefore, the logical place to start troubleshooting your cloud choice is to wonder whether or not you have the right solution that fits your business’s needs. As technology professionals, GCComp knows how to diagnose and resolve problems with IT; including your cloud infrastructure. We can help you identify whether or not you need to change your cloud provider, and what steps you should take to fix any issues.

Does Your Cloud Comply with Security Protocol?

When it comes to the cloud, business owners seem to be divided when it comes to security. They either expect it to be failsafe, or they expect it to be insecure. Naturally, these are both dangerous assumptions. If you don’t use the cloud, you miss out on the rewards it brings; yet, if your security and protocol compliance is lackluster, you have so much more to lose.

With the professionals at GCComp on your side, you’ll gain access to skilled and knowledgeable cloud specialists that can secure your cloud data. Furthermore, we have extensive knowledge in compliance regulations, which can make all of the difference when it comes to securing your network.

What About Your Staff?

Your employees will be consistently using the cloud to access vital data, so it’s natural that they know how to use it and what kind of regulations they must follow. If it’s not made clear how to use this infrastructure, they’ll waste valuable time trying to figure it out for themselves.

Thankfully, whatever your cloud woes may be, we can find the solution. We can help train your current staff members on how to properly use the cloud, and we can troubleshoot issues with ease.

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

 

9-Step Data Security Checklist

By Gary Cox

9Summer is upon us… Time for a stroll in the park…fishing…a few rounds of golf…

Yet how could you possibly relax if some random bit of malware, software glitch or cyber-attack catches you off guard just as you’re walking out the door? A well-designed secure computer network gives you the confidence that “all systems are go,” whether you’re having fun in the sun, or just getting things done with your team.

Here’s a quick nine-step checklist we use to ensure that a company’s computer network, and the data for that business, is safe and secure from disruption, if not absolute devastation.

Data Security Checklist

A written recovery plan

Simply thinking through what needs to happen when things go south, and documenting it all in advance, can go a long way toward getting your network back up and running quickly if it gets hacked, impacted by natural disaster or compromised by human error.

Have a clear communication plan

What if your employees can’t access your office, e-mail or phone system? How will they communicate with you? Make sure your communications plan details every alternative, including multiple ways to stay in touch in the event of a disaster.

Automate your data backups

The #1 cause of data loss is human error. If your backup system depends on a human being always doing something right, it’s a recipe for disaster. Automate your backups wherever possible so they run like clockwork.

Have redundant off-site backups

On-site backups are a good first step, but if they get flooded, burned or hacked along with your server, you’re out of luck. Always maintain a recent copy of your data off-site.

Enable remote network access

Without remote access to your network, you and your staff won’t be able to keep working in the event that you can’t get into your office. To keep your business going, at the very minimum, you need a way for your IT specialist to quickly step in when needed.

System images are critical

Storing your data off-site is a good first step. But if your system is compromised, the software and architecture that handles all that data must be restored for it to be useful. Imaging your server creates a replica of the original, saving you an enormous amount of time and energy in getting your network back in gear, should the need arise. Without it, you risk losing all your preferences, configurations, favorites and more.

Maintain an up-to-date network “blueprint.”

To rebuild all or part of your network, you’ll need a blueprint of the software, data, systems and hardware that comprise your company’s network. An IT professional can create this for you. It could save you a huge amount of time and money in the event your network needs to be restored.

Don’t ignore routine maintenance

While fires, flooding and other natural disasters are always a risk, it’s ever more likely that you’ll have downtime due to a software or hardware glitch or cyber-attack. That’s why it’s critical to keep your network patched, secure and up-to-date. Deteriorating hardware and corrupted software can wipe you out. Replace and update them as needed to steer clear of this threat.

Test, Test, Test!

If you’re going to go to the trouble of setting up a plan, at least make sure it works! An IT professional can check monthly to make sure your systems work properly and your data is secure. After all, the worst time to test your parachute is after you jump out of the plane.

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

How to Find the Perfect Outsourced IT Company for Your Needs

By Gary Cox

itA growing company tends to experience a lot of IT pains. This is because growth usually goes hand-in-hand with an expanding IT infrastructure, and your in-house IT staff might not be able to keep up with the increased workload. This is especially painful if your budget isn’t as flexible as you’d like. You decide that it’s in your best interest to outsource your IT, but where should you start looking?

Outsourcing your IT comes with a lot of great benefits, and it should always be considered as a viable option. Compared to hiring a full-time team member, you save money in the long run by taking advantage of easily-budgetable payments. In addition to cost-efficiency, you also need to look for technology competency. Not all of the so-called professionals you meet will have the skills to back up their claims. The solution to finding the best of the best can be as easy as holding a “mock interview,” of sorts with the prospective outsourced IT vendor.

Are They Up-to-Date in the Industry?
It’s only natural that technology professionals keep up with the latest occurrences in the industry, and your prospective business partner should be no different. Are they keeping up with the latest security protocol and backup practices? Are they always trying to use the latest technologies to stay ahead of the competition? If they are, it shows a passion that can be leveraged for your benefit.

GCComp is one such business. We stay ahead by following reliable news feeds and staying aware of important findings and trends. We know what a reliable IT staff should concentrate on, and our strategies reflect these trends to help your company take full advantage of its technology.

How Do They Handle Difficult Tasks?
In IT, issues that aren’t a technician’s expertise frequently arise. This means that they might not be entirely comfortable dealing with a situation. How IT staff handle stressful situations like these can make or break their service. Do they research the problem? Do they strive to make clarity one of their biggest and best-selling points?

They absolutely should, and we know this better than anyone else. We always work to find the best solution to a problem, even if we’re unfamiliar with it. If it looks like a job that we can’t help you with, we’ll find someone from our list of trusted IT vendors who can assist you to the best of their ability. Their work is a reflection of our company, and since you trust us, you know you can trust them to perform their duties to both your expectations and our own.

How Do They Handle Hypothetical Situations?
Now that you’ve limited the number of applicants to those who know what they’re doing, you can impose hypothetical situations onto your candidates to see who has a thought process similar to your own. This process is perhaps the most important part of hiring an outsourced IT agency. You want to make sure that they have solid business practices by seeing them in action for yourself.

At GCComp, you can see our prowess with your own eyes with an IT consultation. This can address any problems or questions you might have concerning your technology. We do our best to explain the problems to you, and make sure that you know all of your options before you commit to a particular solution.

These tips can help you locate a quality IT specialist, but why do so when you have us readily available to help you out at this very moment? All you have to do is call us to get started. We’ll work with you to make sure your technology is working at maximum capacity.

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

 

4 Reasons to Use Managed IT Business Services

By Gary Cox

manageAs a business owner, we know that you have other things to do besides worry about information technology support and services. You may even wonder what’s the proper way to go about managed IT business services. But as our dependence on technology increases, so must the way we approach IT related issues.

If you’re looking to streamline your IT services, cut costs and preserve peace of mind, consider the following reasons to use managed IT business services.

Enhanced Security

Chances are your company uses many different devices, software, and networks. Managed IT business services can consolidate all your security efforts to make sure software is installed properly and updates and backups are performed automatically on each device.  Our constant monitoring service ensures the highest level cyber security.

Maximize Your Time

If you have an internal IT department, things like system outages, security breaches, and large-scale updates can have a negative effect on your business’ productivity. With managed IT business services, there is less downtime when disaster strikes.

Proactive IT Services

Managed IT business service providers take a proactive approach to all things technology, as opposed the break-fix approach. Both the business and the service provider alike are incentivized to prevent technical issues that interrupt productivity because they cost both parties time and money.

Cut Costs

In the long run, managed IT business services have proven to be more cost-effective. An internal IT department’s budget includes things like staff training, resources, payroll and network infrastructure can add significant expenses to your business. With flat-fees and predictable bills, managed IT business services can trim your business’ budget.

Why should I use managed IT business services?

Data backup

backAs a business owner, data is an essential part of your day-to-day operations. Which means data storage and backup is even more crucial for you than it is for the average individual. These days, sensitive client information, historical data, financial records and more are all stored digitally, and data loss could be catastrophic to the future of your company. With 140,000 hard drive crashes each week, the risk of data loss looms large for businesses.

GCComp provides clients with a customized backup plan for their business and implements strategies to provide solutions that protect data daily, as well as a recovery plan for potentially lost data. Remember, it is far less costly and damaging to protect your data now through backup solutions than it is to try to recover it after.

Data & Network Security

Let’s face it; security threats are an increasingly common fact of life. Whether its security breaches, hacker’s attacks, malicious software, and viruses or stolen data, there seems to be a never-ending list of security threats emerging daily. These threats masked as updates, emails or suspicious websites, usually appear non-threatening to the untrained eye.

Enter GCComp. We help our clients assess the risks associated with these security breaches and find practical solutions to safeguard your business. Our security solutions include anti-virus protection, spyware and malware services, spam control, firewall solutions, network monitoring and more.

System Maintenance

maintYour network needs continual updates to keep everything running smoothly. Software updates for things like your business’ storage, server or network providers are important because they offer new features and include improvements that can enhance speed and security. Though these updates can be annoying, time-consuming and confusing, they are the first line of defence against security threats.

Streamline your updates by taking advantage of GCComp Computer Repair & Maintenance services for businesses. Our expert technicians can organize automatic updates, configure server networks, troubleshoot system errors and more to make sure your business is optimized for success.

In need of managed services? Let GCComp help! With Managed Services, you can have your backup, antivirus, system maintenance and even remote access managed by our professional technicians.

Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”. 

 

Managed IT Services Vs. Break-Fix: Which Is More Cost-Effective?

By Gary Cox

scalesYou’ve probably heard the famous quote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I couldn’t agree more and that’s why it’s my sincere belief that the managed IT services approach is, by far, the most cost-effective, smartest option for any small business.

The only time I would recommend a “time and materials” approach is when you already have a competent IT person or team proactively managing your computer network and simply have a specific IT project to complete that your current in-house IT team doesn’t have the time or expertise to implement (such as a network upgrade, installing a backup solution, etc.).

Outside of that specific scenario, I don’t think the break-fix approach is a good idea for General IT support for one very important, fundamental reason: You’ll ultimately end up paying for a pound of “cure” for problems that could have easily been avoided with an “ounce” of prevention.

Why Regular Monitoring and Maintenance Is Critical for Today’s Computer Networks

The fact of the matter is that computer networks absolutely, positively need ongoing maintenance and monitoring to stay secure. The ever-increasing dependency we have on IT systems and the data they hold, not to mention the type of data we’re now saving digitally has given rise to very smart and sophisticated cybercrime organizations who work around the clock to do one thing: compromise your networks for illegal activities.

In most cases, their intent is to access financial information and passwords to rob you (or your clients), create fake identities for credit card fraud, etc. In other cases, they may want to use your computer network to send illegal spam, host pirated software, spread viruses, etc. And some do it just for the “fun” of being able to make computer systems inoperable.

These criminals work around the clock in teams, constantly finding and inventing new ways to get around your antivirus software and firewalls; that’s why you have to remain ever vigilant against their attacks.

Of course, this doesn’t even take into consideration other common “disasters” such as rogue employees, lost devices, hardware failures (the #1 cause of data loss), fire and natural disasters and a host of other issues that can interrupt or outright destroy your IT infrastructure and the data it holds. Then there’s regulatory compliance for any business hosting or touching credit card or financial information, medical records and even client contact information such as email addresses. Preventing these problems and keeping your systems up and running (which is what managed IT services is all about) is a LOT less expensive and damaging to your organization than waiting until one of these things happens and then paying for emergency IT services to restore your systems to working order (break-fix).

Interested in learning how managed IT services can help your company? Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”.