Monthly Archives: December 2014

Think Your’e Computer Savy, Here’s 3 Things You Should Never Do On Your Computer: Learned the Hard Way

You know that sinking feeling when you've done irreversible damage to your computer, or your career, with one simple click?

You know that sinking feeling when you’ve done irreversible damage to your computer, or your career, with one simple click?

The day is sailing along just fine. You’ve been super productive and the office is in good cheer before the holiday weekend. It’s almost time to call it a day, you just have to close out the last few things you were researching on your computer. Quickly you start clicking through closing all the windows when a random pop up appears. You hit the no button, of course you don’t want to buy any weird super accelerated diet pills. That’s when it happens. Your screen flashes, everything goes black. It’s the beginning of the end. Here are 3 things not to do on your computer from people who learned the hard way.

1. Hitting a Button on a Pop-Up- Similar to the story above, one business executive was hurrying along, no doubt on his way to an important meeting when he was met with an ominous message on his screen. The warning claimed that illegal child pornography had been found on his computer. The message appeared to be from the FBI, but it conveniently allowed him the option of paying a fine to avoid federal prosecution. The man being in a prominent position, feared a child pornography investigation would ruin his reputation, paid the fine. Unfortunately, the message was not from the FBI, it was a form of spam known as ransom ware. It downloads onto your computer after clicking a link on a phishing email or pop-up window. Days later, the malware appears, freezing the computer screen, and displaying the pornography warning. Never click a link or any button on a pop-up window. To safely close a pop-up window, locate the button or tab in your task bar that corresponds to the pop-up. Right click on the button and select close. Furthermore, remember if the FBI is going to arrest you, they won’t use a pop-up on a computer to communicate.

2. Not Double Checking Who You Are Sending That Email To – Just ask the wonderful folks at the admissions office at UC San Diego what happens when you don’t check that email address one last time before sending. 46,000 applicants received a welcome email stating that the university was thrilled they’d been admitted and couldn’t wait to see them. A nice sentiment for the students. The problem is someone sent it to all applicants instead of all admitted students. That meant 28,000 rejected prospects got a little reminder that they were not accepted. The entire admissions staff was required to field the thousands of calls from naturally upset email recipients and inform them that no, the decision hadn’t changed. They were still not welcome.

3. Spill Coffee on Your Laptop – Every morning Sally is the first one at work. She grabs her cup of coffee and starts reading emails preparing for the day. One morning she had just sat down, coffee in hand, when a big booming voice scared her to death. As Bill laughed and announced proudly how he had made it into the office early. He had a big project to work on. Sally jumped straight into the air and watched helplessly as the coffee flew nearly to the ceiling and then directly down on your laptop keyboard. She wiped up what she could and everything seemed to be fine until about 15 minutes when the whole computer crashed and refused to power up at all. If you spill liquid on your laptop, immediately shut it down. Unplug it and seek help.

For more tips on keeping your computer in good working order, contact us. Our experienced and helpful staff can work with your to make sure your data is protected and is always available in emergency situations.

Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) Questions: Do You Know Your RPOs and RTOs?

Do you know your RPOs and RTOs? They're crucial components of your backup disaster recovery plan.

Do you know your RPOs and RTOs? They’re crucial components of your backup disaster recovery plan.

Disasters take on many forms. You could suffer a power outage or have your office location destroyed by a flood. Your computer hardware may malfunction or break down entirely. Cyber-criminals may gain access to your network, or an employee may make an error that wipes out a set of important files.One of the ways to prepare for these eventualities is to figure out your Recovery Point Objectives (RPOs) and Recovery Time Objectives (RTOs).

What’s RPO?

RPO tells you the maximum amount of time you have at your disposal to recover data in order for your business to continue to operate normally; if you can’t recover the data within this time frame, your business will start to suffer significantly. For example, if you lose certain important files related to your business’s finances, or your website, or a critical project you’re completing for a client, how much time would you have at your disposal to recover the data before you experience a serious loss of money? (One hour? One day?)

RPOs help you determine how frequently you need to back up your data. This can vary from one kind of file or application to another. Some files will have an RPO of one day; for others it might be three hours or one week.

How about RTO?

RTO is a measure of how much time you have after a disaster to resume various IT activities, including the use of computing devices and various software programs (e.g. email, file-sharing). How long do you have to get these activities fully functional again before your business starts to experience serious losses?

Some applications might be more vital for your business than others. For example, if your company is a graphic design firm, you might be in serious trouble if you have no access to your design software for more than an hour or two. But maybe you could go for a day or two without access to your accounting software.

Get assistance with your RPOs and RTOs

Figuring out your RPOs and RTOs is an important part of your Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) plan. With strong IT support, you can get help determining these important recovery measures and also get assistance with meeting them after a disaster. Don’t hesitate to contact us to further discuss how we can help you plan for a disaster, along with getting your data restored and your business up and running again afterwards.

Data Backup: Why It’s Important, and How to Do it Properly

Schofield's Law of Computing states that your data doesn't actually exist unless you have at least two copies of it -- so make sure you have a good backup system in place.

Schofield’s Law of Computing states that your data doesn’t actually exist unless you have at least two copies of it — so make sure you have a good backup system in place.

Data Backup is a fairly important thing.  Whether you’re backing up your company’s entire server, or just some of the machines scattered around, having a backup of them is always a good idea.

“Why should I,” I can hear you asking through the internet “I’m sure nothing will go wrong with my computer that will make me lose my data.”  Well, funny thing is, it might.  Computers are rather fickle things, and are subject to tons of problems at some point or another.  A lot of people, especially people who tinker with their computers, have had some form of terrible thing happen that resulted in their data going away forever.

Schofield’s Second Law of Computing states that your data doesn’t really exist unless you have at least two copies of it.

Truer words have never been spoken.  Data backup is a fairly important thing to do for many reasons.  I’ll list some of those below

The main reason you’ll want to do it is for disaster recovery.  If your company’s main server room goes up in flames, your data is gone.  If you didn’t have a backup of it somewhere, it’s really gone.  Off-site backup is always useful to have in situations like this, because the server room will probably go up in flames at the same time the rest of the building does.  You don’t want to be stuck having to gather all of your business’ data, as well as reconstructing your whole building.

Another reason is just in case something weird happens.  Computers can mess up data on occasion, or sometimes just delete it.  You would usually have some form of on-site backup if this happens, since you don’t want to have to get an employee to drive across town to pick up your tape backups from the storage facility just because your computer bugged out or because you had to re-install an operating system.

You’ll always want to have at least a few backups.  There was a time where tape backups were commonplace, and they still are to an extent, but off-site BDR is become more common by the day, and it’s every bit as cheap as tapes are.  It’s more convenient, as well, since you don’t have to send an employee across town to grab a tape because some jack-leg stepped on yours and your system decided some file was irrelevant.

And, for the final part of this explanation, there are 3 types of backups: full, incremental, and differential.  A full backup will backup the entire system.  An incremental backs up the system and marks every file that it’s backed up, ignoring those in future backups.  If a file has been changed, the mark gets removed, and the next incremental backs it up and marks it again.  A differential backs up all files that have changed since the last full backup.

Full backups are the easiest to use, since you only need one of them to restore.  The problem with this is that it uses more disk space than the other two backups.  You should do these once per week just in case something went wrong with the last one, since you’ll probably be combining these with a differential.

Incremental backups are probably the hardest to use, since you need every single incremental backup since the last full backup performed.  So, if you crash on Sunday and your full backups are Monday, you have to restore your full backup, and then 5 incremental in order from oldest to newest.  If you mix up two of the incremental (say Tuesday and Wednesday), then the one from Tuesday will overwrite the one from Wednesday, or just not work and you’ve just wasted your time.

With differential backups, you only need two backups to restore.  You need the last differential and the last full.  Most programs overwrite the oldest differential available since you don’t need it, so you’ll save space on your backup media.

We provide online backups here at SystemsNet, and you can contact us in order to set up your subscription with us.

Three Reasons Your IT Help Desk is Struggling

Maintaining documentation of problems is important, as it can help you deliver more efficient service and spot patterns. It can also give you a good idea of the effectiveness of your help desk.

Maintaining documentation of problems is important, as it can help you deliver more efficient service and spot patterns. It can also give you a good idea of the effectiveness of your help desk.

Computer problems crop up regularly in business. These range from forgotten log-in credentials to employees accidentally introducing malware onto a company network (and there are so many opportunities to do this, including infected email attachments and disreputable e-commerce links clicked on during Cyber Monday shopping). Furthermore, your own customers may encounter problems requiring IT assistance, such as a problem with your website.

A well-managed IT help desk is critical for saving your business significant amounts of time and money. But it’s possible that there are serious problems with your help desk. These can include the following:

  • Poor documentation. For example, you aren’t keeping track of when a problem started, who reported it, what devices or software it involved, it’s level of priority, and when (or if) it was resolved. Maintaining this kind of documentation is important, as it can help you deliver more efficient service and spot patterns of problems; it may be that a certain problem keeps repeating, or that a set of problems are all related. Documentation can also give you a good idea of the effectiveness of your help desk.
  • Poor flow of information. When people report their problems to you, it’s possible that it takes you too long to get the information you need from them. It’s also possible that you yourself are unclear. Maybe for the simpler problems, you don’t have a well-written, easy-to-navigate FAQ page. And maybe you don’t describe the required solutions in a clear way.
  • Inadequate staff. It could be that your help desk is understaffed. You don’t have enough people dealing with your IT problems, which consequently build up in a backlog and remain unresolved for too long. Your current staff may also not have anyone to consult with for trickier and more time-consuming issues.

Do any of these problems sound familiar to you? Are you getting bogged down in inefficiency, lack of clarity, poor communications, and vague documentation? Is your staff overworked? Don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re available to offer you help desk support so that you can better meet your company’s IT needs.