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Protecting your external hard drive

Many people still use external hard drives for backup or portable storage, despite the advantages of cloud computing. If you are still using an external hard drive, it’s important to look after it properly as failure can happen at any time.

 

Avoid knocking the drive

Depending on the type of external hard drive, such as mechanical or SSD, an impact could damage it, especially if it’s plugged in and powered up. If you are using a mechanical external hard drive, a knock could cause the heads to crash against the platter (the bit where your data is stored), which could lead to data loss.

However, if your external hard drive contains an SSD (Solid State Drive), there are no moving parts, so you don’t have to worry about knocking it as much.

 

Don’t just unplug the drive

Never unplug the drive while reading or writing data to the external hard drive. If you do, you risk corrupting the data. Instead eject the drive. You can do this by right clicking on the drive and select Eject. Once you’ve ejected the drive, you can safely disconnect it from your computer.

It’s also important not to pull too hard on the USB cable, as you could damage the connectors.

 

Keep it flat on a table or desk

We see this a lot, external hard drives balanced on something or not set on a level surface. If your desk is knocked, you run the risk of the drive falling (see avoid knocking the drive above).

 

They won’t last forever

Just like the hard drive in your computer, external hard drives won’t last forever. They can also be easily lost or stolen, so it’s a good idea to have a backup of your external hard drive just in case.

If you need help deciding on the best hard drive for your computer, give us a call 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.

 


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.


Storage Struggles? How to Keep Up with the Data Explosion

Many businesses have already embraced the benefits of going fully digital. It has allowed us to do more than ever before; saving us both time and money iterating over work drafts and emails. It has saved us a ton of space too, eliminating the need for stacks of file cabinets in every office.

The digital boom presents us with brand new problems too. By moving all our files into a digital space, the amount of storage we need to maintain has grown larger and larger just to keep up.

As digital technology has improved, the resolution, clarity, and size of the digital files we create has exploded. Items such as Xrays, which used to be printed on film are now digital files transferred by computer. As a result of the increase in both the number of digital files we use and their ever-growing size, the size of the data we need to store has exploded exponentially.

There are a number of ways in which we can tackle our ever-growing storage problem.

Storage solutions Cannock Staffordshire

Local server or Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A local server is a machine physically located within your own office or building. These are typically designed to serve many files to multiple clients at one time from locally held storage.

The primary advantage that a local network server has is that all your vital data is available to all users in one central location. This means that employees across the network can access all the resources made available.

These machines can serve files at the speed of the local network, transferring large projects, files, and documents from a central position within the network with ease.

A NAS has many of the same network properties, typically packaged as a smaller profile, low powered computer. A NAS is specifically designed to enable network file sharing in a more compact package. These can be available in units small enough to fit in a cupboard nook and yet still provide staggering storage capacity on only a small amount of power.

Both a local server and NAS device allow for large amounts of storage space to be added to the local network. These units are often expanded with more and more storage over time. As an organization grows over time, so do its data storage requirements.

Cloud Storage

Sometimes the best option for storage is to move your ever-expanding data outside of the business completely. Often, offloading the costs of hardware and IT management can work out to be an intelligent business decision. One that provides freedom and flexibility in your data storage needs.

The major advantage of cloud storage comes from the ability to expand and contract your services as needed without the unnecessary overhead of adding and maintaining new hardware.

By moving storage to the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The flexibility provided by cloud storage allows limitless expansion to any number of devices, locations, and offices. Being able to access data from many locations at a single time can often provide a valuables boost to productivity that can help to speed projects along.

Some of the drawbacks of cloud storage come from factors that may be outside of the control of the business. Not all internet connections are found to be up to the task of handling large amounts of data to and from the cloud. In some cases, the infrastructure is quite simply not in place yet to support it.

IT security regulations can prove to be a barrier to enabling storage in the cloud too. Some regulations either prohibit the feature entirely or enable only certain specific types for use.

The Right Choice for your data

Both cloud and local storage can provide further benefits to enhance your business. Audit logs, central backups, and version control can all be used to secure the way your firm handles data.

Whatever your situation, whether a small NAS can boost your office productivity, a local server can provide the connectivity missing from your firm, or cloud storage can switch on new resources, we can advise on the best choices for your business.

Give us a call at 01543 889 444 to allow us to use our expertise to make the right chose for your data.