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Your Never Too Small for Managed IT Support

A small to medium size business may only have a handful computers and having an in-house person dedicated to IT support may be overkill. Everything is working fine at the moment but is it performing at its best, but at some point, things will crash and stop working. That’s why it can be beneficial to outsource IT.

Having someone who knows technology working for your team can pay huge dividends and add value by:

  • Providing knowledgeable support and IT help
  • Identifying where you can be more efficient with the tools you already have which can save money
  • Learning business needs and making recommendations about the best IT needs for your company
  • Helping you avoid bad tech purchases or buying software you don’t need
  • Protecting your business technology and ensuring your computers are up to date with the latest security

Small business Breaches

You don’t have to have a large business to attract the unwanted attention of cyber-criminals, in fact a small business can be a particularly appealing target.

According to Accenture 43% of cyber-attacks were aimed at small businesses and only 14% of small businesses were prepared for these attacks on their networks and sensitive data. In fact hackers will exploit a small business as part of their campaign to attack a larger business, as they know the smaller business is less likely to have the same level of security as the bigger businesses. According to insurance carrier Hiscox the average cyber-attack costs a business £200,000 which can be a killer blow for a small business. Some 60% of small businesses that are hacked go out of business within six months, even if they can survive the financial damage along with brand reputation and customer goodwill is devastating.

Outsourced ITAdvantages of Outsourced IT

You may not have a clear picture of your cyber-security status right now but by working with a SJH Computing & Technical Services you will get one. We will conduct an informal audit of your current technology and needs.

For instance, your business may not have a data protection procedure or you may think you don’t have a lot to back-up. Can you recover if your business losses an email chain it was keeping for legal or compliance reasons? What would happen if the computer holding all your accounting suddenly died? We can identify all these problem areas and recommend appropriate solutions.

We will make an inventory of all your tech assets and ensure you are compliant with protecting your customers data, employee records, confidentiality, availability, and ensure the security of the business’s intellectual property.

The cost of outsourcing can be a stumbling block to a small business but managed IT services can often lower costs by streamlining processes and ensuring that the business technology is best suited to current needs and if the worst does happen they are only a phone call away to help.

If you would like to know more about outsourcing your IT needs give us a call on 01543 889 444


Don’t be Afraid of the Cloud

Although the public cloud service is expanding some businesses are reluctant to migrate their IT to this service for a number of reasons. This article addresses the common myths to this highly scalable and cost effective solution.

Fear of Change

The old saying of “why try to fix it if it’s not broke” is often banded about especially when it comes to business computing, and moving all your data from one data center to another takes planning and effort.

The greater flexibility when it is done will make it all worthwhile. Cloud technology offers:

  • Increased effectiveness
  • Mobility
  • Faster implementation
  • Scalability
  • Disaster recovery

The Cloud allows you to store data, deliver content, run applications and other IT functions all online, plus you don’t have to invest in the necessary hardware or networking technology on site.

Fear of Losing Control

Most IT departments want full control of their domain and can be reluctant to hand this over to a third party as moving to the public Cloud means partnering with this other third party. Some of your existing technology can move however some may need to be replaced or redesigned.

One solution is to migrate to a private Cloud. This will allow you to control the data and software but will be more costly than a public Cloud. When going into partnership with a public Cloud service provider make sure who is responsible and accountable for what.

Fear of Cost Increases

Cost is always a concern to businesses especially IT costs and although it may seem costlier by moving to the Cloud, first take stock of your existing IT operating budget. The time and money saving could be surprising as the software provider will take charge of updates, patching and new capabilities which can increase IT productivity in other areas.

With Cloud technology you know your tools are always evolving plus you can quickly add or reduce licenses for data storage and you don’t need to wait for hardware to arrive and be installed by your IT team.

Fear of Data Security

This is probably the biggest fear when moving to a third party, just how secure is your data. Also of concern is any downtime for a data breach and the resulting cost in lost production, business revenue and brand. You don’t want to move to a solution that increases your vulnerability.

There are two ways you can be attacked; digital or physical. A Cloud provider is always focused on security, they do not want an attack as much as you do as their reputation would be in tatters. They know the mitigations and counter measures for cloud computing capabilities. They know the frameworks, architecture and approaches to best protect against digital attack. Azure, which is Microsoft’s cloud offering, has a budget of $1 billion to prevent such cyber attacks. Very few IT budgets can compete with that.

As for physical security your own business premises is probably less secure than a data center. They have patrolled, fenced perimeters, guards, keycard only access, power backups and server redundancy.

Conclusion

With cloud migration you also avoid training employees to support the technology, freeing up office space and paying less for power and cooling to house your equipment. The cloud provides end users with immediate access from almost any device.

The one challenge is migrating to the cloud securely so contact us today on 01543 889 444 to get you migrated swiftly and ensure you’re using cloud computing safely.


Remote IT and Cloud technology

Ten years ago, the “Cloud” was virtually unknown however this technology has grown to new heights and it is now a phrase used almost daily in offices around the world. More and more businesses are using it for the huge benefits it has to offer.

This sudden uptake has raised questions too. Businesses want to know what the Cloud can do for them but want to understand it before committing their data to it and most of all – is it safe?

What is The Cloud?

The principle behind the Cloud is that it allows you to store, retrieve and work on your data without you having to worry about the fine detail of where or how it is kept. It may be stored on a single computer or distributed across multiple servers all around the world. Most often it is stored across one or more data centres as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the user it does not matter where the data is stored, just that the Cloud server will retrieve your data as quickly and efficiently as possible. You do not have to worry about the specifics and lets you get on with the running of your business.

Is the Cloud safe?

Your data will be sitting on one of many multiple computers stacked together in an air-conditioned temperature controlled clean room. Data centres make storing and securing data their entire business employing high level cyber-security and physical security with walled compounds, guards at security gates and state of the art CCTV. They also employ redundant power supplies to protect against unplanned power outages.

Cloud convenience

Storing data in the Cloud means having easy access to your data and regular backups. Staff across the business can work, share, and transfer documents at the same time without the worry of redundant copies or working on the wrong version and saving over previous versions.

Many companies didn’t know they needed the Cloud until they started using it.

Security

Attacking a fortified, secure data centre is almost impossible, and the most significant threat comes from the users of the Cloud. A weak password or reusing an old one can open your data to hackers. A phishing scam or installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

These issues can be guarded against with staff training, awareness, and simple security tools along with a password manager can guard against the biggest threats to your company.

The Cloud is the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your company’s valuable data.

If you would like to know more or would like any help with the Cloud give us a ring on 01543 889444


World Backup Day

Today, 31st March, is World Backup Day.

What is a Backup?

A backup is a second copy of all your important files — for example documents, emails and photos. Instead of storing it all in one place (like your computer), you keep another copy of everything somewhere safe.

Data Backup

What’s the best way of backing up your data?

Whether it’s due to hardware or software failure, or simply because someone deleted the wrong file, data loss is a real threat that must be taken seriously.

  • USB Memory Sticks – Also known as flash drives, pen drives or memory sticks, they are extremely portable due to their size. However, the storage capacity of them is limited when compared to a hard drive. Also, their small size makes it easy for you to lose them.
  • Portable Hard Drives – Portable Hard Drives are great, they can hold a lot more data than a memory stick, and designed to be compact and portable. Although they are less likely to be damaged than a memory stick, they are still prone to failure, especially if it receives a knock when plugged in.
  • Cloud Backup – Backing up your data to the cloud means your data is backed up to massive servers in data centres. You don’t have to worry about hardware failure as cloud providers have built-in redundancy (multiple copies of your data) to ensure your data is safe. Cloud backup providers will also encrypt your data as soon as it’s uploaded from your computer, meaning no one has access to it apart from yourself. One advantage of cloud backup is that it is offsite, so if the worst should happen, such as a flood or fire, your data remains safe.

No matter what the cause of your data loss, it always has a deep impact, particularly when it comes to precious data like photos and documents. Most importantly, it’s a loss that is very avoidable.

If you want help in protecting your data or need help with anything else, give us a call on 01543 889 444.


Tech Tips for Businesses

As your business continues to grow, it’s important that your IT and technology solutions grow with it. Consumer grade equipment and solutions simply don’t cut the fast-paced world of business, and so it maybe time to consider these tips to help your business grow even more.

 

Upgrade to a Business Grade Cloud solution

Maybe you are relying on free software and solutions, such as Gmail or Dropbox, and why not, it’s free right? But what does this tell your customers when you are using a free email address such as Gmail or Outlook.com? For a small monthly fee, you gain business grade features and not only that, it will make your business look more professional.

Office 365 offers business emails, video and voice calls, secure team messaging, 50GB cloud storage and the desktop versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint you use every day. Plus, you gain greater security and administration of your data.

 

Backup solutions

Consumer grade backup may be ok if you only use one computer, but what if you’ve got multiple computers, are you backing them all up, and where to?

With a 3-2-1 backup solution, your business has a minimum of three backups. Two onsite and another offsite, such as in the cloud. Having a local backup allows you to recover files quickly with very little downtime. However, should the worst happen, such as a fire or flood, your offsite backup will save the day.

It’s important to know that you need to backup your email, calendar and cloud-based files. Providers such as Microsoft, Google or Dropbox are not responsible for your data. If you are hit by ransomware, these files may be gone forever.

 

Managed Antivirus

While most businesses have these protections, not all have embraced the idea of monitored antivirus and firewalls. Instead, the default setup has more in common with a home setup than a robust professional system. Given that SMBs are a primary target for malware and cyber-attack, you should seriously consider moving to the monitored versions.

All updates are taken care of, plus company-wide protections applied so users can’t accidentally infect the network. When something doesn’t look quite right, our monitors take immediate action to protect your business.

Want to learn more about these benefits and how we can help your business thrive? Call us on 01543 889 444


What is the best way to backup your data?

“It’ll never happen to me”, or “We know we should but don’t”.

We hear this a lot when we ask about backup. Whether it’s due to hardware or software failure, or simply because someone deleted the wrong file, data loss is a real threat that must be taken seriously. But what’s the best way of backing up your data?

 

Data backup solutions

 

USB Memory Sticks

Also known as flash drives, pen drives or memory sticks, they are extremely portable due to their size. However, the storage capacity of them is limited when compared to a hard drive. Also, their small size makes it easy for you to lose them.

Not only that, but they are not as robust as other portable storage mediums. We see a lot of snapped or broken USB memory sticks, which could lead to total data loss.

 

Portable Hard Drives

Portable Hard Drives are great, they can hold a lot more data than a memory stick, and designed to be compact and portable. Although they are less likely to be damaged than a memory stick, they are still prone to failure, especially if it receives a knock when plugged in.

 

Cloud Backup

Backing up your data to the cloud means your data is backed up to massive servers in data centres. You don’t have to worry about hardware failure as cloud providers have built-in redundancy (multiple copies of your data) to ensure your data is safe. Cloud backup providers will also encrypt your data as soon as it’s uploaded from your computer, meaning no one has access to it apart from yourself.

One advantage of cloud backup is that it is offsite, so if the worst should happen, such as a flood or fire, your data remains safe.

 

The best approach

The best way of ensuring your data is safe is by having three copies of it; one on your computer, one copy on a portable drive, and another offsite, such as in the cloud.

Need help ensuring your data is safe? Give us a call on 01543 889 444.

 


Keeping Control of Your Business with Office 365

Office 365 represents a complete shift in the way we interact with modern business computing. If you haven’t been introduced to it yet, now could be the time. Similar to the Microsoft Office desktop package that businesses have relied on for decades; Office 365 does even more to provide the critical tools you need to modernize your business environment and take control of your business.

Built with the cloud in mind, Office 365 allows you to access and modify your documents from any computer, tablet, or smartphone worldwide. These same cloud capabilities bring benefits to collaboration too. Groups and teams can work on a single document or group of files at the same time to maximize productivity and save time ahead of tight deadlines.

Safety, accessibility, and productivity are some of the amazing benefits Office 365 has introduced to modern business. Each one has clear, but obvious benefits that can be applied.

This article breaks down the less obvious, but equally important aspects of Office 365 that could apply within your business. These features, unique to cloud-ready office packages, allow you to regain and maintain control of your business in any working environment.

 

Microsoft Office 365

Bringing You Additional Resources

There are times on projects where you need to collaborate with external contractors. Whether utilizing a skilled sales copywriter, data entry processor, or extra software developer; your business should be able to make full use of a boost in manpower when it needs it. To do this, you need to provide access to internal resources and systems.

A difficult balancing act comes from providing useful access without exposing confidential or sensitive data held internally. More than just personal preference, restricting access to sensitive data can be a key requirement of modern regulations governing business and commerce.

Rather than providing open access to everything you hold, Office 365 makes it possible to share individual files or entire folders one at a time.  Privacy settings give you the power to tailor the amount of system access you provide right down to the individual file.

Files can be protected with edit only or view only access to protect data against unintentional, malicious, or unauthorized changes. When the project reaches its conclusion, access rights for external users can be revoked to revert documents and files to internal staff access only.

Keep Everything Together in The Right Place

Making use of Office 365 provides your business with a single, central platform for company communication and data storage.  A unified system means less business time spent on staff training and getting to know the system.

Using a single system means your data is always located in a location where you know how to access it. Data transfer and file sharing are made easy for everyone across the business. Simply modifying permissions or sharing links provides access to critical files to anyone with an authorized account.

Account Based Service

Office 365 accounts-based services make reflecting the structure of your physical business in its digital systems simple and straightforward. Using your unique domain to identify your business, each staff member can be reachable to both internal staff and external companies.

For Example, jane@yourbusinessname.com may be the address of your sales coordinator or financial director. Using a unique business-based address provides both a professional point of contact and useful account management system. It also provides a simple way to redirect enquiries within the company.

If jane@yourbusinessname.com was the primary point of contact for suppliers to your business, vital emails might otherwise be ignored or lost completely when Jane is unavailable.  Office 365 services make it easy to redirect all emails sent to Jane’s address to emma@yourbusinessname.com instead.

These simple but highly effective tools make sure you don’t miss vital communications from suppliers, contractors, or customers. This suite of tools gives you a competitive advantage to ensure queries never ‘fall through the cracks’ and your business retains a highly professional reputation.

Keeping in complete control of your business doesn’t have to mean sacrificing extra hours, laborious micromanagement, or building complex and costly systems.  Office 365 allows you to keep control of your business easily and without hassle.

You’ll be surprised at the difference Office 365 can make to the way you manage your business.  Call us at 01543 889 444 today to help set you up and running using Office 365 the right way.


Cloud Storage or Local Server – The Best of Both

Cloud computing is the biggest buzzword in business today, and for good reason too. The cloud provides many a new-found freedom to do and achieve more than ever before. Greater collaboration, unlocking work possibilities in new locations and often reducing costs provides a healthy boost for many companies.

Every business is unique however, and cloud solutions don’t fit for every scenario. Connection issues, internet plans, or technical requirements can rule it out as an option in some instances. In these situations, we might install a Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution instead. Which is a very small server with lots of hard drives.

A NAS is particularly popular in small, mid-sized businesses, and even home environments. Due to their low power consumption, small footprint, and low cost, they often represent an ideal upgrade. Power users and businesses can enhance their networks and get more out of their systems by employing a NAS device to do the heavy lifting.

 

NAS installation

Reliable, Fast Access

When a property can’t achieve lightning fast internet speeds or services aren’t reliable enough to run a business on; a NAS solution is ideal for the job — serving files locally rather than from a remote server can save vast amounts on uploads and downloads.

Many of the benefits of the cloud can be created locally inside your home or office. Network storage allows you to save and retrieve files from multiple devices with fast local network speeds. Rather than being limited by the speeds offered by your ISP; you can complete file transfers, backups, and sharing at the speed of the hardware you purchase yourself.

A NAS gives you many advantages of the cloud with the level of control, speed, and accessibility of a local server. All this is achieved for a fraction of the cost and maintenance overhead typically associated with conventional servers.

One Device, Many Uses

NAS devices can act as a centralized backup location for active files and devices across the network. Using the device as a file store allows you to share projects easily, collaborate on files, and keep up-to-date copies while revisions change.

The device can be set up to allow redundancy across multiple hard drives. This means backed up data is never vulnerable to only a single hardware failure.

A fully redundant NAS is capable of handling a hard drive failure, or even removal, without interrupting your workflow. Simply replacing the affected hard drive with a new one will backup your files again and rebalance your device as if nothing had happened at all.

Lightweight File Access

Even retaining access to your files away from the office isn’t an ability exclusive to cloud services. NAS devices can be configured to provide secure access to files and folders on remote connections. Working remotely, using a NAS solution, can be done just as easily as if you were sat in the office.

Even when the rest of the office IT is shut-off and shut down, a NAS device can remain on and connected to the network, so access is never interrupted.

A NAS device can run 24/7 without issue. Their low power consumption makes it practical to leave the device powered on for regular backups and easy data access. Devices don’t require the heavy maintenance or large footprint of a bulky server. As a simple solution, a NAS device allows you to focus only on the data.

The Best of Both Worlds

A NAS provides high-speed file access and configuration of a local server and combines it with the low footprint and ease of use of a cloud service. Without relying on a bad ISP, weak connection, or power-hungry hardware, a NAS could be the solution that supercharges your business.

Find out if network storage is the right fit for your business. Call us today at 01543 889 444 to talk about the IT you need to meet your goals.

 


There are two kinds of people: those who backup, and those who have never lost all their data

Digital cameras are great, and thanks to smartphones, we have one with us almost all the time. We’re taking more photos than ever before, and building a lifetime of digital data. But despite the enormous value of these photos and videos, most people don’t have a backup. It’s time to shine a light on this essential task and make it a regular habit before those precious memories are gone forever.

If you asked someone what possession they’d save from a house fire, many would say photos, and they’d make a point of grabbing a frame or album on the way out. But with digital photos, you don’t need a fire to lose everything, they could simply disappear in the blink of an eye with hardware failure or theft. There’s no warning, no smoke alarm, and without a plan already in place, little no chance to recover the data depending on how is was damaged. It’s time to get set up with a true backup system.

 

Data backup

Is one copy enough?
You might think saving your information to an external hard drive or USB drive is enough. You’re right, it’s better than nothing, but since the data is stored in only one place, this isn’t a backup – it’s just storage. That drive could fail at any moment, perhaps from age, malfunction or plain old theft.
Often enough, that drive can become lost over the years or even put somewhere ‘safe’ and promptly forgotten! And with the way technology is moving, accessing that data in 5 years might even bring up compatibility issues – some newer computers don’t even have CD/DVD drives, yet hundreds of thousands of homes would still have photos stored on a plastic disc.

Two copies?
You might have your extra storage drive as backup and keep a copy on your computer. This is a better solution, and while you’re protected against device failure, that house fire is going to take both copies up in flames.
Thieves would probably grab the external drive while they’re bundling up your computer too, so again, you’d be left with zero copies. It’s close, but it’s not a true backup system
.
Using The Cloud
The term ‘Cloud’ may just seem a fancy name for storage on secure servers, but we have seen it save many people’s important data and for ease of backup, protection and security it’s hard to beat.
We recommend keeping one copy on the computer/device and another on Cloud storage. Of course, you can also still an external drive as a third copy if you wish (and many in the IT world consider ‘The Rule of Three’ as the way to go) but the best Cloud storage solutions have multiple backups, which is not the case when using an external drive.

The Cloud backup can be fully automated so you don’t even need to worry about remembering to do it. If the day comes that you need your data back, it’s ready and waiting in perfect condition – even if you have been infected with Viruses and Ransomware (depending on your Cloud storage provider). Cloud technology also means your data is far away from any potential fire or flood, it’s secure and with the right company, guaranteed against loss.

No matter what the cause of your data loss, it always has a deep impact, particularly when it comes to precious data like photos. While re-creating some homework or the family budget might just be inconvenient, there’s no way to recreate photos once they’re gone.

Most importantly, it’s a loss that is very avoidable.

If you want help in protecting your data or need help with anything else, give us a call on 01543 889 444.


Is There A Safe Way to Use The Cloud?

Cloud technology has grown to new heights in recent years. Ten years ago ‘the cloud’ was jargon almost nobody was aware of, today it is a phrase used almost daily in offices worldwide. More and more businesses today are taking advantage of the huge benefits cloud services have to offer.

The sudden and widespread adoption of this new technology has raised questions too. Some want to fully understand what the cloud is before committing their vital company data to it. Most want to find out what the cloud can do for them. Everyone wants to know, is it safe?

 

What is the cloud

What Is The Cloud?

The Cloud is an abstract name for an engineering principle that allows you to store, retrieve, and work on your data without worrying about the specifics of precisely where or how it is kept. Storing your data on the cloud essentially means saving it on a server without worrying about the fine details.

Your data may be stored on a single computer, or distributed across multiple servers all around the world. Most often it’s stored across one or more data centers as close as possible to your physical location.

From the perspective of the end user, the big idea behind the cloud is that where data is stored ultimately doesn’t matter to you. Your cloud server takes care of retrieving your data as quickly and efficiently as possible.

With cloud technology, you are free to forget about the specifics and worry only about the bigger picture.

Safety In The Cloud

Many people are concerned by the idea of their confidential data being distributed worldwide. Often, people imagine small unguarded computers being responsible for vital company information. In a cloud setting, almost nothing could be further from the truth.

The reality is more like many hundreds, or thousands, of computers stacked up multiple stories in height. Data centers make storing and securing data their entire business, meaning they employ high-level cybersecurity and back it up with top of the line physical security too.

Today, digital assets are treated with security previously used only for cash, or precious metals such as silver and gold. Walled compounds, security gates, guards, and CCTV protect physical servers from unwanted access. Redundant power supplies even protect services against unplanned outages.

A modern data center is many times more secure than an office server in your own building. The difference could be compared to storing your cash in a highly secured bank vault versus a lock box on your desk.

State of the art digital security encrypts data, secures transmission, and monitors services for intrusion too.

Cloud Convenience

Storing data in the cloud means having easy access and very regular backups. Staff across the entire firm can work on documents at the same time, save files, and transfer documents without worrying about redundant copies and saving over previous versions.

The cloud acts, for your firm, as the ultimate productivity and security tool. Many firms haven’t known they needed it until they started using it.

User Security

The most significant threat to your cloud security comes from the users. Creating a weak password or reusing an old one to access your cloud services, opens up your data to easy access by hackers.

Falling for a phishing scam, or accidentally installing malicious software on your computer gives attackers the single opportunity they need to strike.

Attacking a fortified, secure data center is almost impossible. Attacking a user with common attacks and weak passwords is comparatively simple. These issues can be guarded against and prevented with staff training, awareness, and simple security tools. A simple password manager can guard against a large number of the biggest threats to your firm.

In today’s modern tech environment, the cloud is not only safe, it’s very likely the safest, most reliable, and most secure way to store your critical data.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a now at call at 01543 889 444.