Author - Roddy Bergeron

Basics of Backups in Business

One of the most critical components of every IT network is the ability to restore data. 

no backup

Have you ever lost data because of no backup?

Backups play a big part in business continuity.  Whether it be an accidentally deleted file, a corrupted database, or even a full server crash,backups help remediate the potential of lost data.  Our best practices for backups usually involve asking 3 different questions to see if backups are being performed correctly. 

1.)  What is being backed up?

Many times when performing network evaluation, we come across businesses who are not backing up critical data.  Sometimes it is a result of changes to servers and the backup was not updated to insure that those new folders and files are being backed up.  Other times, it is just poor planning or not following best practices for data retention.  In any event, backups should be checked on a regular recurring basis to make sure that critical data is being backed up.  When working on a new project or installing new mission critical software, we recommend that a backup check be done immediately after completion of the project to determine that the backups are still running properly.

2.) Where is the data being backup up to?

USB hard drive, tape or cartridge media, a network-attached storage (NAS) device or cloud backup service, there are many choices when determining where your data gets backed up to.  Each backup storage solution has its Pros and Cons when determining what fits into a business.  Sometimes a combination of the above devices can achieve a goal of having enough backup storage, have reliable restore capabilities, and retaining data for periods of time. 

Harddrive backups

A standard rule for backups is what we call the “3-2-1” rule.  This rule states that you must have:

3 copies of your data
2 of those copies must be backups (the other being the live data)
1 of those copies should be offsite

A good example of this rule is a company that has a shared folder with multiple files.  That folder is backed up to a USB drive or a network attached storage.  In addition to that backup, another backup is done to tape or to a cloud service for offsite storage. 

3.) Can the data be restored?

A backup is only half the equation to preventing data loss.  The other half is the ability to restore the data.  In essence, what good is a backup if you cannot restore the data?  Most modern backup software have a reporting function that will let you know if backups are being performed correctly.  Test restores of data should also be performed on a routine basis to make sure that the media is recoverable.  In some cases, disaster recovery of a server should be tested in the event of a worst case scenario.


As part of our managed service plan, EDC performs multiple steps to verify that data can be recovered.  We perform routine checks on backup jobs, monitor backup jobs, and perform test restores of data on a routine basis.  In addition to other best practices that we help implement, we help reduce the risk of data loss for your business and keep your business running as it should be. 

What is Patch Management?

If you are not familiar with the idea of updating or patching your computer, chances are you have heard it mentioned at some point.  Every second Tuesday of the month, Microsoft releases a slew of updates which we like to call “Patch Tuesday”, usually to fix security vulnerabilities and broken features.   Just like Windows needs regular updating and patching to stay secure, the applications on your computer require regular updating and patching as well.

3 of the most common applications found on computers are probably the most notorious for having major security vulnerabilities.  These applications are Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash Player, and Java.  Due to their prolific use in the business world, finding and exploiting security issues within these applications has become very popular over the last few years.  It seems every week we see new security notices that detail a major vulnerability found in one of these applications.  The big issue for your business comes when you don’t have a plan to patch or upgrade these insecure applications.  Last year, 75% of reported data breaches in companies could have been prevented by having an update plan.

So, how are these vulnerabilities exploited?  For Java and Adobe Flash, it’s as easy as opening your web browser.  You don’t even have to visit a shady website or download a malicious file for your computer to be exploited. So called “drive-by exploits” can happen on websites you visit on a daily basis.  In some cases, the website itself becomes compromised or an advertisement served from a third party has code which can look for and exploit known issues in Flash or Java. With Adobe PDF Reader, it can be as easy as opening an attachment that came from a trusted person who may have been compromised.

We like to live by the motto that “the best offense is a good defense”.  In the case of patching, that motto holds true.  A proper patch management policy can help your data stay safe and to help your company maintain best practices.  With EDC managed services, we provide a comprehensive patch management system that ensures that your computers not only receive Windows Updates but also third party application updates in a timely manner.  This, together with other “best-practices” that we can implement, will assist your company with keeping your data secure and your systems running as smoothly as possible.

How to clear up space on your iPhone

 

If you are like me, you use your cellphone for the things that make life more convenient: Apps, pictures, and, of course, talking. In this post, we are going to talk about the pictures. The iPhone has replaced a point and shoot camera with its availability, effects, and high quality.  Phones can film movies in slow motion and high definition. There is a sort of running joke about those people that do not film in proper hd (horizontal not vertical) being less tech savvy, however there is more to the problem than that. Since the basic phone only has 16 gb of data, it is common to frequently run out of space  on the device and lose the ability to utilize some of the best features.

On more than one occasion I found myself filming in the less than ideal portrait mode because I only had a small amount of space left on my phone. I would scroll endlessly through text messages deleting photos, remove all pictures from the roll, and never kept a song on the phone, all in an effort to remove the data from the dreaded “other” section in iTunes.

cellphoneand laptopDeleting existing pictures
At one point, I sat scrolling through pages and pages of texts to delete pictures that I had already backed up. If the lack of space/age of phone is keeping you from being able to update to a newer version of iOS, just:

  • Open a thread of someone you would expect to have a lot of videos or pictures to or from.
  • Press and hold an image or video and choose “more” when the menu pops up.
  • Now you can scroll and scroll until you can manually delete the image and video files without having to mass delete a text thread from a loved one.
  • Click the trash can and those pictures will be deleted.

If you are lucky enough to find some bigger videos, you might be able to free up enough space to take a picture or two, but it is pretty discouraging to try and go through text thread after text thread to do such a tedious process.

The comical side of this issue is that the newer version of iOS allows for a much faster and simpler bulk deletion of text messages and pictures in those messages. But, if you can’t update because there is not enough space, knowing that is just more frustrating. On the new iOS, just click “details” while in a text thread and you will be able to see all of the attachments. Tap and hold like above and you can start checking off what files you want to delete.IMG_6951

However, if you are using the old iOS that doesn’t have that feature, here are a couple of ways you can speed up the process:

I use Phoneview to backup pictures to a folder on my computer, and avoid any accidental “sync” errors with iTunes. The program allows you highlight all of your pictures in your picture roll, then drag and drop to a folder to save pictures and files from your phone without having to jailbreak. There are plenty of other features that make it worth the 29 bucks, but I will cover those in a different post.

You can highlight all text threads as well, and it will export them as either a pdf or multimedia folder with a text file and image files. Using this feature, you can determine which text threads have the largest data footprint, as a place to start.

Now that you know which threads are the largest in size, you can head on over to the iMessage app on your laptop, if you have it, and make sure you have recently sent a text to recipients with the bigger file content (so that it shows up on the iMessage app) .
Then you can click on “details” and the photo attachments will show up on the screen and can now be deleted by clicking on all the pictures to be removed.
If you are wondering, iOS 7 and above has the “Details”  feature that reveals the attached images as seen here.

 

For some, the upgrade of operating systems may be too much on an old phone. Hopefully, the iMessage app method on a laptop will help clear out enough space to start enjoying some of the more useful phone features again.