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Creating a Technology Plan for the New Year

Posting Date: 11/22/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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We all make personal New Year’s resolutions on January 1st. This year, why not commit to a few professional resolutions for your business, too? Geeks On Call strongly encourages you to put a new technology plan at the top of that list for 2014. We are offering some technology planning guidelines that can help you form a strategy as you think about your business resolutions and professional goals for 2014.

Technology Solutions That Can Benefit Your Business in the New Year

Backup Services: Cloud services include data storage and backup systems plus access to software programs. Information stored on the cloud can be shared with other users anywhere and at any time. Data shows that 61% of surveyed small businesses are currently using some form of cloud-based service with another 5% planning to add cloud services by 2014. If your business is not currently using the cloud for backup service, it’s time to make a plan for switching over. The cloud can provide data storage plus a variety of services and benefits. Put the cloud at the top of your list.

Security Measures: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) research shows that over two-thirds of surveyed companies already have employees using their own computers on the job. The advantage is that BYOD makes it easier for employees to stay in constant contact and also work from home more productively. The efficiency of BYOD comes with the responsibility on the part of the business for training employees on security policies and standards. Safeguarding your network and ensuring the confidentiality of your data is critical to the security of your business.

Disaster Recovery: Within the past year unexpected weather-related disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, have raised the business community’s concerns over data recovery solutions. As you consider your disaster recovery plan, try to consider the consequences of losing all of your business’ data. Think of the lost revenue if your business is off-line for several days. This will remind you of how important it is to have a solid disaster recovery plan in place. There are a variety of disaster recovery plans available. After the disaster occurs, it’s too late to wish you had kept that New Year’s resolution for a disaster recovery plan! Commit to a disaster recovery plan now.

Managed Services: Technology is a key component tied to the success of your business. It enables your business to stay efficient, productive and competitive in today’s marketplace. That is as long as your technology systems are up to date and functioning properly. Have you considered a managed service plan? A managed service provider develops a customized IT service plan that will suit the budget and the needs of the client’s business. A service plan can help your business reduce IT operational costs while actually providing a higher level of IT service. The need for a managed service provider has become increasingly important as business owners need to make informed and increasingly complex choices about technology solutions.

Please visit our blog  for additional information about technology planning in the New Year.

Prepare for 2014 – TODAY!

Geeks On Call can work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business. If your business needs to develop a backup system, move to cloud services or develop a Mobile App – we can help. Geeks On Call is here to help your business stay productive, efficient and competitive in 2014. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.

 

Do You Have a Reliable and Tested Backup System in Place?

Posting Date: 09/18/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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Imagine that you are working on some critical financial data at the office or perhaps sorting through family photographs on your computer at home. What would you do if the computer containing all of your business and/or personal information crashed and your entire “digital life” suddenly vanished? What would you do if your computer was lost in a fire, destroyed in a flood or stolen at the airport? Do these scenarios put you into an automatic panic thinking about your data? At least the information can be recovered because you have a reliable and tested backup solution in place. Right?

Backing up is something we all know we are supposed to do. Yet, sometimes we feel that we are simply too busy to spend the time researching various secure backup solutions or we feel that money should be budgeted in other areas. Many of us are still relying on old tapes, stacks of disks and USB flash drives as our backup plan. Even if you have an external hard drive backing up your computer, this system isn’t entirely foolproof. External hard drives can also crash or be stolen and all of your information will be gone. Once disaster strikes and all of your business or personal information have been wiped away, it’s too late to think about what you should have done. Trying to recover this information is impossible in most situations and extremely costly.

We strongly encourage you to be proactive and establish a backup plan immediately. Even if you already have a backup plan in place, you should reevaluate the solution as technology is evolving rapidly!

Backup Solutions Move Online
Did You Know Utilizing Outsourced IT Support Can Benefit Your Business?

As ominous as the disaster scenarios above may sound, the good news is that backup options have become significantly more reliable and widely used. Technology and increased internet speeds have switched backup processes to on-line data storage. Here are a few informative pointers on how on-line backup systems work:

  • The on-line backup provider will download their software to your computer.
  • The application simply runs in the background backing up your data to the provider’s secure storage servers. It’s a simple automated system that backs up everything on your computer. Not just select files – everything.
  • Most on-line backup providers encrypt stored data in a class known as “Bank Grade Security.” With this high-level of data encryption, there is no need to worry that your business or personal information can be seen by others.
  • A user friendly interface enables you to set-up a backup schedule and to download and restore files once the files are backed up.
  • Think of on-line backup as insurance for your data. If you lose any files, you retrieve the information via the on-line backup system. You pay a monthly fee to keep your data insured.
  • On-line backup keeps your file structure intact. You can search for backup information just as you would find the information filed on your computer. It’s efficient and user friendly.
  • On-line backups provide easy recovery if disaster happens to strike.

 

Why On-Line Backup is Your Best Solution
Stay Ahead of the Competition with Outsourced IT Services

On-line backup is the best solution for ensuring the security of your business data and also personal information. On-line backup provides protection for your data in the event of a computer crash, theft or natural disaster while also delivering an elevated level of security. Within the realm of on-line backup solutions, there are a number of vendors and solutions to consider. Contact your local Geeks On Call to help you determine the best backup scenario for your business or home use. Be sure that your data is safe, secure and backed up.

Best Practices for Disposing of Old Computers

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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Newer and faster laptops, phones and tablets are being released every day it seems, but what are we supposed to do with the outdated devices we no longer want to use? The security of proprietary and personal information and environmental issues are the primary concerns when disposing of unwanted computers. Here are some guidelines we recommend when phasing out computers from your business or home.

Deleting a File Does Not Actually Erase Information

When you delete a file from the hard drive, the operating system only deletes the information deletethat describes where the file is located. Simply deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough to cover your digital tracks. In addition to documents, photos, videos, and private information that is accessible on your computer; there is also your Internet browser’s cache, cookies and history; email contacts and messages; and the recycle or trash folder.

Don’t take a chance with the security of your business and personal information. A Geeks On Call technician can complete any of the following strategies when trying to secure your personal information on an old device.

  • The most cost-effective and commonly used strategy is the use of a software utility that overwrites the hard drive with random characters and binary data anywhere from three to more than 30 times. These utilities are typically referred to as data destruction software, hard drive eraser software or disk wipe software.
  • Another effective but more costly solution is degaussing. This is the erasure of information through the use of a powerful magnet. Degaussing disrupts the magnetic domains on the drive, which erases your data while also rendering the drive permanently unusable.
  • The physical destruction of a hard drive is the only way to absolutely and forever ensure that the data is no longer available. There are contractors who will perform this task on site, using the appropriate tools and safety precautions. We do not recommend this type of hard drive destruction by consumers.

Donate or Recycle Your Old Computer

Extending the computer’s lifespan through re-use provides the highest environmental benefit. There are many donation programs that bridge the digital divide by providing schools, non-profit organizations, military personnel, low-income families and students with needed recycletechnology.

When you donate or recycle an unwanted computer, there are a lot of details you will need to be concerned with such as; maintaining the security of information that was stored on the computer, locating local technology recyclers and refurbishers, and tax guidelines for charitable donations. Don’t feel overwhelmed by all of these details. Let your local Geeks On Call take on the burden. One of our professional technicians will be happy to explore the various options available to you when deciding how best to dispose of an unwanted computer. Here are some considerations when donating or recycling a computer:

  • If your computer is less than five years old chances are it can be put to good use. Most organizations have specific technology needs, so inquire in advance regarding donation guidelines.
  • Most charitable contributions are tax deductible and computers are no exception. Business donors can generally deduct the un-depreciated value of the computer and individuals can deduct the current market value of a computer. Remember to retain your receipt for tax records.
  • Consider donating your unwanted computer to a refurbisher who is equipped to repair and upgrade older computers. Certified refurbishers ensure that equipment works well and will pass on ready-to-use equipment at little or no cost to individuals and organizations. It is recommended that you remove your hard drive from any system that you donate to a refurbisher to ensure the security of your data.
  • Even if a computer cannot be reused or refurbished there are reputable technology recyclers that can ensure valuable raw materials are recovered from old computers and that any waste is disposed of in an environmentally-safe and responsible manner.

Let your local Geeks On Call do all the work for you. Our technicians are trained experts in making sure your personal information is secure and responsibly disposing of unwanted devices.

What Are Managed Services?

Posting Date: 05/29/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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The term “managed services” is generally defined as the practice of outsourcing day-to-day management responsibilities with the strategic goal of reducing costs while improving operational efficiency. A managed services provider typically refers to an outsourced information technology company that assumes responsibility for one or more aspects of a client’s IT functions. These responsibilities can range from a single specific task, such as managing network security or offering help desk support, to the complex management of running a client’s entire IT infrastructure. Most managed service providers bill a flat or nearly-fixed monthly fee benefiting clients with predictable IT support costs.

How Managed Services Can Immediately Benefit Your Business

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Computer systems now form an integral part of most businesses’ ability to function. Can you remember the last time a computer crisis kept you from your “real job” – managing your business? It might be time to consider the immediate benefits of outsourced managed services for your business’ IT needs. Here’s a list of the top five benefits you can take advantage of by working with a managed service provider:

  • Control IT Costs by working with a managed service provider to create a customized IT service plan that suits your budget and the needs of your business. A service plan can help business owners reduce IT operational costs while actually providing a higher level of IT service for their business. Plans can be customized by the number of support hours required or the level of monitoring and maintenance that is needed each month. Capital expenditures for equipment will be reduced in addition to staffing costs.
  • Manage Labor Costs if you do not employ IT professionals in your business, you likely have a designated “go-to” person in the office that handles the technology issues for everyone. You can eliminate the time this person is spending on IT issues so they can get more of their actual work done.
  • Quickly Implement New Technologies with the help of a managed service provider. Skilled IT professionals can save you both time and money with the efficiency of on-demand services. Also, a managed services provider will have a strong understanding of your business and your technology, allowing them to understand your technology needs as well as your budget. This will save you time in trying to understand new technology, and money you may waste on buying products you do not need or that will not work for your specific network.
  • Increase Efficiency and Stay Competitive through economies of scale. Most managed service providers can provide small to medium sized businesses with access to technology and expertise usually only available to large companies. Your managed services professional can assist you with identifying the products and services that would benefit your business and are available in an option that will fit your needs.
  • Security can require constant vigilance. Is your firewall up to date; are you protected against malware; do you audit your servers; are you using the latest customer transaction systems for credit, debit, e-checks and wire transfers? Outsourced security monitoring leads to less down-time, enhanced efficiency and greater profits for your business.

Be Proactive and Consider Managed Services Today

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Are you ready to forget about those IT headaches? Whether you only have a few PCs, a network or more than one server, you are probably ready for a managed service provider. Geeks On Call’s managed service experts can work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business. As a business owner, don’t you want to stay productive by focusing on the actual management of your business – not spending time fixing problems or worrying about what you will do if your systems stop working? Geeks On Call is here to help. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.

How Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Businesses

Posting Date: 02/21/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Internet, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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How Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Businesses

More than ever, business owners need to squeeze even more productivity out of limited time, staffing and resources. Many small businesses see cloud computing as a way to access

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advanced technologies that were previously affordable only for larger companies. A recent survey conducted by CompTIA, a nonprofit IT industry trade association, stated that more than half of micro businesses (one to nine employees) and small businesses (ten to ninety-nine employees) use cloud-based business productivity applications. Analysts and industry leaders agree that global demand for hosted IT services will continue to expand rapidly as cloud-based solutions offer significant resolutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Can cloud computing services help your business succeed in the marketplace?

What can be Done to Avoid a Catastrophic Data Loss?

Finding the right business tools is an important task. Cloud computing can help your business edge out the competition with reduced costs and enhanced productivity in a number of ways:

• The latest innovations in cloud computing are making business applications even more mobile and collaborative in ways similar to Facebook and Twitter. Consumers expect information in real time and more business applications in the cloud are heading in that direction.

• Accessing specialized computer resources as they are needed enables businesses to quickly deliver quality results with greater affordability. Faster turn-around time can propel you ahead of your competition.

• You can bring your product to market faster and generate higher revenues as customers are able to access the service immediately.

• Cloud computing can enable innovative business initiatives that generate new value propositions and revenue streams. Some companies, such as Spotify, are building entirely new business models solely using cloud services.

• Cloud computing services can help you gain “business agility” with efficient projects that allow your employees to spend their time on work that has a greater potential value to your business.

• Cloud2Utilizing cloud computing services can enable your business to shift from a capital expense model to an operational expense model. By forgoing long term financial IT commitments, an organization can complete projects more quickly without losing any investment.

Cloud computing might sound over-hyped and tech-heavy, but in reality it’s a rising trend among small business owners. If you want to learn more about the advantages of cloud computing for your business, contact your local Geeks On Call office. One of our computer professionals will be happy to meet with you to explore the benefits of cloud computing for you and your business.

Can Your Business Survive a Data Loss?

Posting Date: 01/17/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up  |   No Comments
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Data Loss Prevention is Critical for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Many businesses report that they are inadequately prepared to combat the risk or have the ability to bounce-back from a catastrophic data loss. There are a variety of factors that affect the majority of businesses today and may increase their susceptibility of a data loss:

  • The number of online security threats has increased.
  • Businesses are often using out of date technology for their data backup and storage needs and assume that it is working.
  • Business owners incorrectly assume that quality backup services are too expensive or beyond what they need.
  • Many companies are trending towards BYOD- or “bring your own device”- and therefore there is an increasing amount of company and client data stored on employees’ personal laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, that is likely not protected or backed-up even if the company devices are.

What is the Real Cost of Data Loss to a Business Owner?

The Gartner Group states that 43 percent of companies were immediately put out of business by a major loss of computer records, and within two years another 51 percent permanently closed their doors. This leaves a mere six percent “survival” rate.

But what about a loss that is not catastrophic? This type of data loss is also an expensive problem. According to a recent survey conducted by Ponemon Institute, data loss can cost an organization an estimated average of $200 per affected record, though to some degree the true costs associated with data loss are difficult to measure.

What can be Done to Avoid a Catastrophic Data Loss?
The implementation of a data protection program is essential for every organization. While most business owners recognize that their data files are their livelihood, more than half admit to not having a quality data backup protocol in place. Here are some tips on what you can start doing today to protect your business:

  •  Accept the fact that your data is at risk. The reality is that computer hard drives, whether on a server, a desktop, or a laptop, will fail.
  • Check the viability of the backed up data regularly. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your backups are being done, whether your company uses a manual or automated backup process. Also, never assume the data is retrievable. Talk with your Geeks on Call technician about your current backup solution to verify that it is still the best option for your needs.
  • Invest now to save money, and your business, later. An automated and fully protected backup service starts at about $30 per month (depending on the amount of data being backed up) and provides you with the peace of mind that your data, and your business, are protected. The cost of attempting to recover deleted data, once lost, is significantly more expensive and is estimated that 20% of lost data is not recoverable!
  • Make data protection a company-wide initiative. Work with your computer services professional to develop policies and a plan of action for all employees to follow regarding the proper location and access to company data to ensure that data is being backed up as well.
  • If you don’t have a data backup and recovery plan, get one! Call your local Geeks on Call and request an evaluation of your data backup needs. They will then be able to provide you with options that will meet the specific needs of the business and your budget.

Taking a proactive approach to protecting your data and establishing a plan for recovery in the event of a loss is smart business. Ask your local Geeks on Call about the best protective mechanisms for your data or for assistance with any of the above recommended tips before it is too late!