How Seriously Do You Take Technical Support?

Technical support is one of those things many see as a luxury rather than a necessity.

They don’t see the point in it until something goes wrong.

You know how annoying it is when your phone, laptop or PC lets you down; it feels as though your world is ending. So imagine what it’s like if you experience an IT failure in your business and you don’t have technical support.

When you bought your computer systems, you probably though the tech support elements were just a  nice little earner for the vendor. After all, you’re a dab hand at most technical things; surely you could sort out any issues that crop up?

So what about cyber threats, ransomware, software or hardware failures? How good are your skills then?

Most small business owners do no more than the bare minimum when it comes to disaster recovery and business continuity. The FSB (Federation of Small Businesses) reported in its 2016 FSB Business Crime survey that:

  • 29% of its members have been hit by a malware attack
  • Only 61% of small businesses regularly backup customer data and IT systems
  • Only 27% store customer data off-site or on a separate device

Are you one of those statistics?

If so you must think about getting technical support in place.

When you look at the cost of professional support against the amount you could lose in downtime or a reputational hit should, it’s a wise investment.

If you are and you would like us to be your IT department and help minimise the risks to your business, contact us at enquiries@mpmit.co.uk or Office 01449 770704, Mobile 07733 262116.

 

Do You Have a Contingency Plan For When Your Tech Fails?

disaster recovery

 

Life is full of small irritations. Sometimes those little niggles can manifest into cavernous issues that make your world fall apart. That’s why you need a contingency plan.

I am of course talking about tech failure.

PC, laptops, smartphones and tablets have become so commonplace we can no longer function without them – especially in the business world.

Can your business run if your tech fails?

Your business relies on tech, so when it hits the fan, your operations will be hit. The severity of that hit will come down to the type of failure.

If you’re the victim of a cyber threat, such as ransomware, or if your IT or telecommunications are damaged or destroyed by extreme weather or fire, you could be looking at a wholesale business shutdown – not good.

The problem is many small business owners never believe it could happen to them and often only have the bare minimum precautions in place. Sadly, that usually means no disaster recovery and business continuity planning.

According to the 2016 FSB Business Crime Survey only 61 % of small business regularly back up customer data and IT systems, and only 27 % store customer data off-site or on a separate device.

Change your thinking about business continuity

Running a small business is challenging. You have a hundred and one things to think about, which is why disaster recovery is usually pushed to the bottom of the pile.

Yes, you want to make money, but you should also be doing your utmost to make sure you don’t lose any either.

Getting a disaster recovery plan in place will give you peace of mind because things like that don’t just happen to other people; they are just as likely to happen to you too.

All it takes is a call to your local IT support specialist to get a disaster plan in place.

Do it now before it’s too late.

Please contact MPMIT to help you survive an IT disaster.

 

Disaster Recovery in Suffolk – Are You Covered?

Is disaster recovery something you’ve considered?

What would happen to your business if something went wrong?

If you think “oh, that’s OK. We don’t need a disaster recovery plan,” think again. The following statistics will make you change your mind.

  • The average failure rate of disk and tape drives is 100% – they WILL eventually fail
  • Only 34% of companies test their tape backups and, of those who do, 77% found failures
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will go out of business within 6 months of the disaster
  • 20% of small to medium businesses will suffer a major disaster causing loss of critical data every 5 years (Source: Richmond House Group)
  • This year, 40% of small to medium businesses that manage their own network, and use the internet for more than email, will have their network accessed by a hacker. More than 50% won’t even how they were attacked (Source: Gartner Group)
  • About 70% of business people have experienced (or will experience) data loss due to accidental deletion, disk or system failure, viruses, fire or some other disaster

Got you worried?

What are the main causes of data loss?

There are 6 main causes of data loss:

  1. 78% hardware or system malfunction
  2. 11% human error
  3. 7% software corruption or program malfunction
  4. 2% computer viruses
  5. 1% natural disasters
  6. 1% other

The good news is, if you’re based in Suffolk (or close by) a new Disaster Recovery suite is due to open on 15th July in Claydon.

For more information about this or disaster recovery in general, get in touch.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Cloud Computing: The Fall of Legacy Tapes

If ever there was a strong case for turning to the Cloud, it’s the future (or rather lack of) of legacy cloud servicestapes.

Legacy tapes are backups that tend to sit in expensive offsite storage vaults. Many of them are of no use, but have to be kept due to legal, compliance and regulatory purposes.

The bigger issue however, is that many of the irreplaceable tape backups are inaccessible because modern machines can’t handle legacy formats.

So there’s a whole lot of backup data out there that can’t be used. The answer for many companies is to retain old hardware just so the tapes can be accessed should the need arise.

But this is just part of a wider IT problem facing many companies.

According to research conducted by EMC, estimated unscheduled downtime costs UK businesses £379,519 per year, which doesn’t include security breaches or data loss. The study showed that globally, IT and senior business executives found that reduced investments in critical areas of IT (e.g. continuous availability, integrated backup and advanced security) hampered IT resilience and recovery after downtime.

Even if downtime is short, there is an immediate impact on the business, which is where the Cloud comes into its own.

The main advantages are:

  • Greater flexibility by adapting bandwidth as the business grows
  • Cloud computing providers take on most issues related to disaster recovery, restoring services faster
  • Businesses benefit from automatic software updates (including security updates)
  • Reduces capital expenditure
  • Employees can work from anywhere
  • Greener way of working
  • Greater security

The pay as you go feature of many Cloud services make it affordable for all businesses. Considering its flexibility and security advantages, it’s definitely an option all companies should investigate, negating the need for expensive offsite storage and backups that could, potentially, become obsolete.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

 

 

Why Replication Can Be a Good Thing

As an IT support company, we generally work with clients within a 20 mile radius of why you should duplicate your hardwareStowmarket, Suffolk so we can maintain a fast and efficient service.

Mind you, some of our clients have satellite offices further afield, so it can take a bit longer to attend the site when things go wrong.

One particular case highlighted for us that, at times, replication is a good thing. We all know that duplicate content is a bad idea as it will attract a hefty Google penalty, but in the world of IT hardware, duplication can be beneficial. Let us explain.

One of our clients got in touch because their router had failed and they didn’t have a spare one on site. When we got to the office (yes, it was a satellite one) we discovered that the problem wasn’t with the router at all, it was the AC adapter that had failed. This was an easy fix, but took quite a bit of organisation because the router they were using was an old model and now discontinued. That meant getting hold of a discontinued router and AC adapter with the correct voltage was quite a task in itself.

In situations like this, we would recommend you buy two identical routers, especially if yours has additional configuration areas. Then you should replicate the router or (as with Drayteks) make a backup of the router and restore the backup to the spare router.

This will allow for contingency in the event of a malfunction, whether it’s the router or the AC adapter, saving you valuable down time.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

When Was Your Last Security Audit?

Picture this…scream

It’s the middle of the night, you’re drifting off into a wonderful dream. Suddenly, you are rudely awoken by your phone. You try to ignore it, but its incessant ringing drags you back to full consciousness. As you listen to the frantic voice at the other end, in seconds, you are wide awake…

“We’ve had a disaster, we’ve lost the lot!”

IT has made all our lives a lot easier, but when it goes wrong it can cause a major disaster.

Did you know that due to inadequate responses to a disaster:

  • 70% of companies who suffer an IT disaster go bust within 18 months
  • 90% of business interruptions were caused by IT hardware and software problems
  • £1.1 billion was lost to British industry in 1997 due to IT disasters

How prepared are you?

Do you know how vulnerable your company is?

What would you do if you lost your computer systems?

If you answered ‘don’t know’ to either of those questions, you need some help.

Your IT infrastructure is the life blood of your company, without it you’re going know where. Just think about how much that will cost you – if everything came to a grinding halt.

That’s why it’s essential you invest in regular security audits. By having a full review of your systems carried out, you will understand how you can best protect your business.

Make sure you’re fully protected for a safe and prosperous 2012.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides full IT security audits for sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Disaster Recovery Can Be Done On a Budget

Disaster recovery planFor many business owners, the term “Disaster Recovery Plan” sounds expensive. But it doesn’t have to be.

However, it is a necessity.

No one likes to look on the gloomy side of life, but disasters do happen. Every small business (regardless of size or industry sector) should have some form of disaster plan in place – just in case.

After all, it only takes a laptop being carelessly left lying around containing sensitive data, or a disgruntled employee, customer or bored teenager, to break into your systems to shut you down for weeks.

Be prepared

Your disaster recovery plan will minimise opportunities for lost data and maximise the opportunities to recover the data.

The best way to do that is to store copies of your data at on off-site location by either:

  • Hiring a service provider to physically pick up copies of your data daily from your office
  • Electronically transmit the data to a remote location
  • Hire a service bureau

You must also become familiar with your data, equipment, key personnel, procedures and supplier relationships. This will help you create a plan that’s right for your business.

It may be the case that you have the expertise you need amongst your staff to devise and implement your plan. However, it may be wise to get help from an external IT support company.

Tools

Electronic systems for disaster recovery are fast and safe. Microsoft offers several key disaster recovery features in its products for small businesses, such as:

  • Windows Small Business Server 2003 R2 – protects work, prevents data loss, and restored deleted filed with automatic data backups
  • Windows Vista – offers Windows Complete PC Backup and Restore
  • Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services –  preserves email access during and after emergency situations

Know your data

Do you know how much data you have?

Don’t worry, many businesses find it difficult to understand how much they have, what they have and where they have it. But this information is critical to establishing your backup requirements.

Test your plan

You should aim to test your plan once a quarter so staff understand their responsibilities and roles within your disaster plan.

Don’t panic

If the worst happens, don’t panic.

It may not be as bad as you think. After all, how many times have you thought you’d lost data only to realise it had been saved in a different location to normal?

Should a real disaster strike, you need experts who can help recover your data and a plan for how your employees will be able to continue with their work.

A good recovery plan is like an insurance policy – you need to spend enough to make sure you survive, but no so much that your business can’t sustain the cost.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.

Disaster Recovery Planning

scream10 tips for disaster planning

Successful disaster recovery depends on having a realistic and well understood set of objectives based on your business needs. This involves planning and preparation:

  • From the business impact analysis
  • Understanding and quantifying risks
  • Classifying and prioritising applications and data recoverability

Your Disaster Recovery plan should also be documented. But this isn’t a one off exercise; the dynamic nature of IT means your plan should be continuously reviewed and updated. Plus continual investment in new technologies to provide higher performance at lower costs is essential as it the need for data backups.

So what are the top 10 tips?

1. Linking your business and IT

The creation of your Disaster Recovery plan should be seen as best practice and not pitted against cost. Cutting corners here could prove very costly indeed so make sure it is integrated with your businesses day to day priorities.

2. Plan across the board

Your Disaster Recovery plan won’t work unless you take all your functional IT areas into consideration. Constantly ask yourself ‘what if’ and think about downtime and your loss tolerances. Your plan also needs to take into account everything during and after a disaster.

3. Keep it current

Although you hope and pray you’ll never need it, your plan should always be at the forefront of peoples’ minds. Once in place make sure it is maintained and amended to reflect your changing IT landscape.

4. Test

Yes it’s a complete pain and quite a major undertaking but how will you know if your plan will work unless you test it? Best to find out its shortfalls before it’s really needed.

5. Be realistic

Being realistic is vital in both your recovery point objective and recovery time objective.

6. Who is responsible?

The last thing you want is everyone heading for the hills when things go wrong. Make sure everyone knows the part they have to play.

7. Risk

Think of your Disaster Recovery Plan as an insurance policy – how much and what kind of insurance does your business need? And what risks are you prepared to take? You could be looking at a disaster such as flood or fire or it could be a systems failure. Take a look at all aspects of your business to make sure everything is covered.

8. Backup

What kind of backup do you use? Make sure  the medium you use works should it be needed. After all there’s no point in having a plan if you can’t retrieve your data.

9. Accessibility

If you house your backup data in an off site premises will you still be able to reach it if you need to? It sounds odd but if your office is victim to a fire and you keep your backup data in a building nearby – are you going to be able to get to it? Is it likely to also be affected?

10. Cost

Disaster Recovery plans can be expensive and is often a cost that many businesses simply can’t absorb. But what’s the alternative? How much will it cost your business if it all goes wrong and you don’t have a plan in place? It should be seen as an investment – it’s your peace of mind that when the worse happens your business will survive.

No one ever wants to think about the bad stuff that can happen but, a fact of life is it will happen to someone sooner or later.

Don’t leave your business exposed. If you’re unsure how to proceed find an expert who can help you with your Disaster Recovery Plan. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Author: MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.