Cloud Storage: Making Use of Virtual Storage Space

hard drive crashNot A Matter Of If But Of When

It is inevitable that one day your hard drive will crash completely. When this occurs, all of the data contained on it will be lost unless you pay expensive data retrieval fees from a technician. Instead of having everything of value to you erased for good, you should consider utilizing cloud storage space. Cloud storage usually is provided by a service that allows users to upload data files for later retrieval from their servers. Even though these services are not free if you desire to save large amounts of data, the price you will pay is much less in comparison to the event of losing everything.

Everyday Cloud Storage Uses

For minimal storage space users, there is a number of services that allow you to create free accounts and upload files for later retrieval in varying amounts. Many times, this free storage space will not exceed a few gigs at most. Another drawback is that the amount of time that the data will remain on the server will be limited as well. If small files and those intended for transfer sake is the main intent of the user, this may not be a problem. For larger applications, such as storage space needed by businesses, a paid account will most likely be in order.

Cloud Storage Cost and Norton Coupon Codes

Many cloud storage services charge monthly fees to users, but usually they do not cost much more than a few dollars per month, especially if you use Norton coupon. For unlimited storage space, the monthly service fees may cost a bit more, but could save a small business in the event of a crash on their end. Just imagine having all tax information stored only on a small business’s hard drive, only to find that the information has been lost indefinitely. This could mean countless hours of going back through paperwork to rebuild this type of information and entering it back into documents for record’s sake. Even a year’s worth of cloud storage space service fees are minimal in comparison to the manpower needed to accomplish this, or even for the one time fee that would be charged to retrieve the information from the crashed hard drive. Not only that, but human error could occur when trying to rush to recreate the record files to compensate for the loss.

Other Reasons to Store in the Clouds

online storageAnother great thing about cloud storage services is the fact that they utilize multiple servers. This means that your files are not located in a single place, but many at the same time all over the world. Even if a small network of hard drives has been configured at a small business, the event of having the actual hardware stolen or damaged is still a very real possibility to consider. Another thing to consider is the fact that one could store private informative files that could otherwise be viewed and stolen by others with access to your computer. Usually, cloud storage services are on top of the necessity for in depth encryption, hence their fees for monthly service. With all the unused storage space in cyberspace, one would be a fool not to take full advantage.

5 Ways Cloud Storage Can Boost Your Marketing Efforts

At first glance, it may seem like cloud computing is best left to the IT department, while marketing mavens concentrate on getting out the company message and building a brand. However, cloud resources can actually enhance marketing efforts through accessibility, security, document organization and recovery and ease of sharing, according to direct response strategist Conrad Flynn.

Cloud-based systems  like Symantec’s Norton Security with backup software, offer secure storage for data you can access anywhere, at any time. Access control settings keep material only accessible to those who need to see it, which can be very important when developing marketing around a new product. Additionally, the cloud’s scalability means you can harness these capabilities without overspending and purchase a larger package as enterprise needs grow, according to Paranet. Finally, software manufacturers give out special rewards, like the latest norton security discount  coupon code, to bring prices down.

1. File Backup

File BackupData loss can seriously compromise business. Keep important files secure by creating a cloud-based backup. In case of hardware failure, file corruption or natural disaster —- say, a fire ruins your offices — you’ll be able to regain those important files. With so many cloud-based backup providers, check out audits including Dropbox critiques and Backup Genie services and reviews to choose the right option for your business. Many providers also offer automatic backup options, so you don’t have make time to manually transfer files on a regular basis.

2. Access Files Anywhere, Any Time

Access Files AnywhereNeed to pitch your logo idea at a business meeting in another city? Don’t worry about saving files to a flash drive or bringing print materials. Simply sign in to your cloud storage service, and show the files to your client. This saves time and encourages increased sharing of ideas, Flynn reports. Plus, you can even access files from your mobile phone. Mobility is key in today’s economy.

3. Share More, Quickly and Easily

share filesNeed to get a client’s approval of a file that’s too large to upload via email? Online cloud storage offers an elegant and free solution. Upload the large file or files to your chosen cloud provider, grab the share link or set the item-level permissions levels, and email the client with the file. Again, as Flynn notes, you’ll save time and make idea sharing and feedback even easier for all parties involved. As an added bonus, you’ll never have to wonder if the file made it past a spam filter or firewall.

4. Collaborate with Team Members

teamMany cloud storage programs have collaborative tools, including chat capability and groups. Use these functions to share materials across a group, and ensure everyone is seeing the same set of documents and working together. This offers easy versioning control, since all materials are kept in one location accessible to all involved. As CNET notes, the cloud is increasingly becoming the expected model of sharing among companies. Most cloud-based applications will also track changes, so it’s easy to see what was changed, when it was changed, and — if notes were used — why it was changed.

5. Quickly Organize to See What’s Working — And What’s Not

Businessman touching virtual cloud

With the organizing functions offered by cloud storage systems, you can sort and store project files together. No longer will you have to hunt for that one image file that has gone missing. Plus, draft materials and abandoned ideas can be easily identified and marked as such to avoid future confusion. Archived files can quickly be found and consulted on an as-needed basis.

If you’re not using the cloud to organize and share your materials, consider this the right time to adopt a cloud-based solution. After all, both colleagues and customers are beginning to expect it, as CNET notes. There’s no universal cloud storage solution, but if you carefully catalog your needs and how you plan to use the cloud, you can easily research and adopt the right solution for your company.

Have you used cloud storage in your marketing efforts? Have you ever used a coupon for norton security software? Share your experience in the comments.

Choosing The Right Partner For Your Computer Recovery Plan

serversWhat would happen if all of your business data suddenly vanished? Or your building burned down? A flu epidemic kept three quarters of your key staff at home? A hurricane flooded the entire city, and beyond? Would you be able to keep your business operating?
In the movies, when the death rays begin firing and buildings begin to explode, the usual reaction from the (surviving) civilians is to scream and run around in circles. The reality is a little more pedestrian, if not much less grim. As someone responsible for the continuity of a company’s operations during and after a disaster — natural or intergalactic — your job is to actually do something effective.

Well, maybe not. According to a survey by DataQuest, Inc., only 53% of companies have a Disaster Recovery Plan (DRP) or business continuity plan in place and, of those, only 57% of them actually test them. Worse, a study by business information experts Symantec Inc., the survival rate for companies without a DRP in place is less than 10%.

What Constitutes a Disaster?

A disaster can be defined as any event or circumstance that interrupts normal business operations. Marauding aliens aside, this could be anything from damage to or loss of data or access to servers, physical damage to your place of operations (which may extend beyond your own building, into the surrounding city or area) or loss/absence of key personnel, such as in an influenza pandemic. It doesn’t even have to happen to your home location: If your key suppliers have their operations disrupted, for example, it affects your company just as much as if it directly happened to you.

Planning For a Really Bad Day

Business Continuity Planning is simply good sense: It is a reasoned business practice of putting into place a series of steps to be taken to keep a company running in the event of some interruption in normal operations. A DRP is actually a series of plans, outlining actions to be taken in the event of an interruption caused by specific events. To even begin to develop a DRP, company leaders need to identify the key areas that are vital to keeping the company running: personnel, equipment, data, communications, suppliers, raw materials and inventory.

The level of detail is overwhelming. Fortunately, there are templates which exist that can provide a starting point to begin to construct a DRP (for examples, see www.disasterrecover.org). A template will only go so far, however: Only you and the senior leaders of the company know the operations of your particular company well enough to know where the fragile spots are in your company are located; where, if broken, the entire operation would come to a halt. Each DRP is tailored to the operations, needs and desired outcomes of a specific company.

Developing a DRP is something of a dark art. It involves looking, in detail, into the worst business nightmares, understanding your company’s weak spots and considering a very large number of nasty scenarios. This is, in fact, why a number of corporations hire “black hats” who try to plan on how to attack the very company they work for — without actually following through, of course. For companies with shallower pockets, however, there is the alternative: Linking up with a disaster recovery partner.

Finding a Partner

For obvious reasons, it’s virtually impossible to implement a DRP yourself when you’re in the middle of a disaster. After all, you’re too busy dodging death ray beams (well, slogging knee-deep through floodwater, anyway) to do more than pick up the phone and put the plan into action. It takes someone who is off-site and unaffected by your particular drama to begin to take the necessary steps. Norton with its internet security and online backup services has solved the problem of a physical disaster in servers and complicated computers systems. Updated Norton discount codes have also played a significant role on that, too.

This is why a good DRP involves an outside partner, usually a professional business continuity/disaster expert. A number of them exist and finding them isn’t difficult — if you belong to an industry or business organization, your colleagues can point you in the right direction. Whichever companies you decide to contact, there will be some basic tasks that they should be willing and able to implement:

  • DRP review
  • data backup and storage
  • locating off-site locations
  • locating and hiring temporary personnel
  • working with existing vendors or locating alternate vendors
  • notification/communication with clients/customers
  • establishing and operating temporary communications, including websites
  • relocation of key personnel

There may be other tasks specific to your company, but this gives you a starting point.
If you find one or more likely potential disaster recover partners, research and interview them thoroughly. Choosing the right partner, like Norton, is one of the most important business decisions you may make because, if it comes to the time when you need them, it is probable that the very survival of your company will be in their hands.

Putting It Into Action

Once you have a DRP and a disaster recovery partner, you have to resist the temptation to relax. You have to review the DRP on a regular basis, update it as you add new locations, equipment and processes, as well as new key personnel, key customers and key suppliers. You also need to test it, just as often as you practice a fire drill in your office.

As with any insurance policy, you hope you won’t need to implement your DRP or call on your disaster partner’s services, but if you do, you’ll be glad you have them.

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How To Find the Right IT Support Partners for your Business Online

As a business, it is imperative to be on top of your game in terms of technology and IT systems, or your company could risk becoming stale and old fashioned. Some companies have an in-house IT team that  provides the services they need, however it is often cheaper and more efficient to work alongside an outside company which offer online IT support.

What do you need IT Support Partners for?

it supportDepending on your business and the complexity of your network systems, you may need an IT support partner just for things such as backup and disaster recovery, or you may need to outsource a whole IT services package.

Here are just some of the ways an IT support partner can assist you and your business:

Security: A number one priority for anyone that uses computers and technology in their business is to be fully protected from the threat of viruses. Security can come in the form of anti-virus software to prevent spyware, malware and trojans, firewalls to prevent incoming threats and even content filtering to ensure your employees cannot access anything harmful to them or their computer.

Data Backup and Disaster Recovery: Keeping your data backed up is extremely important and vital for any business, as it is able to recover that data in case of an emergency. A good IT support company should be able to offer you a package to keep your data safe.

Cloud Servers: Hosted cloud servers are constantly growing in popularity, due to their ease of use and the costs they save many businesses. With a cloud server, you can expand your company’s capabilities without the worry of maintaining it yourself.

General IT Support:  Computer crashed again? E-mail server not working? With an IT support behind you it is easy to get all problems fixed quickly and efficiently, preventing you loss of business and time.

The Importance of IT support

Now you should have a good idea of what you may need an IT support partner for, it comes to looking for one that will suit your needs. There are several things that a good company should be able to offer and provide, including the several items that are listed above, such as unlimited remoted and on-site support, data backup and restoration. When looking through the different companies online, make a list of the things that are most important to you and your business, whether that be spam protection or full server support and then ensure that you can find all of that within one company.

It is no good having several IT support companies all doing different things, as this will work out both expensive and confusing. Look for a company that offers a complete service, with just one point of contact (it’s better to have only one guy accountable than a batch of people who throw the ball to one another), to save you from trouble quick and easy.

When you have made a shortlist of the companies that offer everything you need in one place, it is time to look at the extras that you may not have thought to take into account.

Extras could be 24/7 support, if your business operates on a weekend, or during the night, then you will need them to be available during these times.

Also look for customer testimonials, or proof of previous big name clients. If an IT support company is lacking this information on their website, then it is probably because they do not have any, so it would be better to look elsewhere.

Finally, if you can find a company that is part of the HTG Peer Group, then this is the cream of the crop. This group is of around 2,500 worldwide companies that are recognised for their best practice services which are then shared with other IT companies. They are basically the leaders in their field, who teach the others how to do it properly!

Conclusion

When short listing IT support partners online first look to ensure they provide every service you need from that one company.

Next, look for the extras that they offer, such as 24/7 support or on-site assistance.

Finally, check their previous clients, testimonials and if they are part of recognized groups to select the best from your shortlist.

Four Data Recovery Applications

We store more data on our phones that ever before, which also means that we’re losing more data than ever before. Mobile devices are prone to lose data since they become the target of thieves; apart from that, many smartphones and tablets get lost every day. People fail to realize that just like for laptops and desktops, there are plenty of data recovery options for all kinds of smart phone and many of them won’t cost you a dime. We’ve listed four of the best data recovery and data backup apps for smartphones that appeal to a wide range of smartphone users.

Dumpster – The Beginner

Dumpster app reviewHave you ever accidentally deleted the wrong picture or video on your phone and realized that there’s no way for you to ever retrieve it again? Did you also realize that if you did the exact same thing on your computer, you would just go to your computer’s recycle bin to retrieve that file with no problem. Dumpster is exactly that, and it gives you the option to recover your files in the event you delete something accidentally. It’s a great option for those who struggle a bit with technology or have a limited data plan and need a data recovery option that doesn’t require an internet connection. Additionally, it’s completely free so there’s really no reason at all not to have this one on your phone.

Carbonite – The Small Business Owner

Carbonite appCarbonite which has made waves as a data backup solution for businesses also has a mobile app for smartphone users. It will automatically backup all of your smartphone’s photos and videos, and protect valuable and secure data from others if it is lost or stolen. The strongest feature of Carbonite is its ability to backup all files and information across multiple devices to one consolidated and clean location. This makes it more of an ideal option for businesses or organizations that store large amounts of information that can easily get messy without some help.

Genie9 – The Tech Savvy User

Genie9If you happen to be a Windows user, and enjoy using software for backups then the Genie Backup Home 9.0 is a software package you should try out. Unlike other backup and data recovery options, Genie offers full, incremental and mirror backups, which give you a lot more flexibility if you plan on transferring files or information to a new location. They also provide backups for information not used by the common computer user, including ftp/ftps and networks. All of this comes with a beautiful and easy to use smartphone app where you can monitor backups and information on the go. This is an ideal app for the tech savvy or tech professional who may require a bit more out of their data backup plans than most users.

Lookout – For Everyone

Lookout appI’m personally a huge fan and happy user of this data backup app as you get quite a lot out of it for just the free version. Data recovery of your contacts isn’t a problem with Lookout, as they automatically store your contacts in their database where you have the ability to download them at any time. Lookout can also automatically locate your phone on a map with an approximate address if it is lost, and if you know it is nearby, you can set it to “scream” which will make your phone generate a loud siren noise even if it is set on silent. If you believe your phone has been stolen, you can also lock and/or wipe the phone of its data. Lookout will also scan all the apps you download and other downloads you make on your phone for viruses, and inform you if they believe something is malicious. Again, all of this comes with the free version of the phone. By upgrading to premium, you are able to save photos and videos to their database along with call logs, and you can connect a network of phones to the plan, which makes it ideal for businesses. With Lookout’s great free features, and the option to go above and beyond what they already include, it’s a great option for the everyday smartphone user or a small business.

7 Rules of Data Backups

data backupBacking up data is very important, especially for small businesses, or for pertinent information. Depending on the importance of the files, the size of the threat and of the need for security, different steps need to be taken, to ensure that the data is not compromised by hackers or competitors. Many companies in the past who had data compromised suffered financially and had a very long recovery; in addition, they had public relations nightmares. Now if you are a person backing up photos of your vacations or mp3s, the same care does not need to be taken as sensitive customer information like bank details, passwords etc.

Regularity

Back up your data often, weekly, or even daily if needed. This ensures you get the most fresh data back, if catastrophe were to strike. There are plenty of programs that will do this for you. It is a good idea to set the data backup at night, or when there is no other activity in the office. This can help avoid slowdowns on the network, or on the flow of data if it is a shared hard drive. Daily backups are essential for any serious company.

Automate

Automate the process, as said before, many programs will allow you to automate the backup process. Even allowing you to set the time of day, or time of week. This takes the guesswork out, and allows IT staff to concentrate on other things. It is important to make sure the backups are going through as they were set up to do.

Replicate

It is of course a good idea to have dual hard drives when backing up. That way, if one of the hard drives fail, you have the backup to go to. Not only that, but, ideally you would backup off site as well. Either to another office location or server, or using an online service. Though be careful with an online service, go with an established one with adequate security. Offsite replication is key, in case of fire or other disasters.

Test

Occasionally, go into the backup hard drive, and recover the data. See how easy it is to recover it. If the IT professional were on vacation, could the office figure out what to do. This is often overlooked as most people never actually have to access their backed up data.

data EncryptionEncryption

It is wise to encrypt your data, whether it is stored on a local hard drive or on the internet. Basic encryption will thwart most hackers, and it will reduce liability and PR problems if the data is compromised.

Backup Online

As said before, multiple places to store the data are important. Backing up data online is key. Find a well established online service that has good security and does not have a history of security breaches. This will truly ensure data is never lost, in case of a catastrophic situation.

Training

Have multiple people know how to access the backup, and how to initiate. Often the IT department is busy with other projects, it is important to cross-train a few people on how to access the data should a problem occur. It should not be difficult even for someone who is not trained in IT.

Data backups are not only important, they are necessary for any size company. Whether it be customer information, financial documents, or even employee information. If common sense rules are used there should never be a problem. Remember to no go cheap or lazy on this though, as one data breach could bring down a company that is not prepared.

Get New Gadget for Your PC Installed by Certified Remote Computer Support Techies

live tech supportHave you ever gotten frustrated while reading through installation instructions for the new piece of hardware or software you just bought for your PC? Have you ever called customer service only to be put into an automated phone ring and bounced around for an hour before you finally found the answer to your problem? Have you ever bought a brand new piece of PC hardware only to find out that it was so intricate and tricky to install that you had to hire someone to come out and do it? Finally, have you ever paid a big box department store a small fortune to send one of their techies out to your house to install your latest PC gadget? If you answered yes to any of those questions, we have a solution for you that will eliminate your ever having to endure any of these hardships ever again.

Tech Support To Install Your New PC Hardware

Using a new service, you can now access tech support to install hardware or software for your computer through remote support. This tech support is an innovative system where you are connected to a live tech support agent through your internet connection, and they walk you through the entire installation process. In fact, the best part about this process is that this system has the capability to make a slave copy of your system. This means that once you have established an internet connection with your tech support agent, they will actually take control of your PC and complete the installation for you. All you will need to do is plug in the physical gadget or insert the software CD into the drive, and your certified remote computer support techie will take care of the rest.

This system has been in use for many years at the corporate level because of so many businesses which operate on multiple campuses. They could have one centralized IT department and still provide personalized service to locations all around the world through the internet. This same capability is now available to individuals using this service. You can take advantage of this service as a small business or as an individual and receive a very cost effective full service IT solution.

The pricing structures for this service also make it very affordable for both small businesses and individuals. As an individual you can pay per phone call to have your gadgets installed, or you can purchase a monthly plan as a small business. Both of these options give you pricing flexibility depending on your monthly volume of calls and your need for IT support. If you are a small business and you have the need for specialized support, you can actually sign a contract where you will have a dedicated tech support rep who will be your main contact for any of your IT needs. Rather than calling a generic line with your problems you can get your designated rep to solve your problems. This system will cut down on your hassle and will allow you to be much more productive at your business without having to waste precious time on IT projects.

This system is also useful as an individual because you can avoid the costly services offered by big box retailers. These services are very overpriced and do not provide the personalized level of care that you can receive from a certified remote computer support techie. This solution could free up your time to work on more valuable products and overall improve your quality of life. You will not be disappointed after trying this service and you will likely wonder what you ever did without it!

Secure Your Data Clouds Before Storing Any Data

secure online storageThere was a time when one could just upload a file to the cloud and never worry about their security at all. It is no longer that safe anymore and we have to take measures to improve this insecurity otherwise we are prone to losing confidential data that may cost us a lot.

The Measures Taken By Some Cloud Service Providers

The only proven security for your data is use of encryption. The encryption should always be used before the data is even uploaded to the cloud.

For the Dropbox and Skydrive as well as the likes, one can use an add-on so as to encrypt the data before it is uploaded. The use of Safe Monk or the Boxcryptor enables an encrypted folder to be added before you can upload your files. This is also done for other services that may be using the WebDAV standard.

If you want a server that does not use an add-on, Dropbox and the likes have to be dropped completely. The Spideroak whose Hive service is known as the Zero-knowledge data backup is a great security tool since it does not even store your password and deletes it once you log out.

The Bittorrent Sync is a p2p file sharing one and works the opposite of Spideroak. It has no 3rd party file management systems or the central server. Therefore data is transmitted between the devices.

Note: The use of the devices is prone to physical damage and risk of data loss.

Cloud service providers and their security degrees.

  • The Dropbox and Google are the giant physical cloud servers that are usually used by most people for personal and even public data. However they are not secure at all
  • The Microsoft Skydive and the Apples I cloud are other servers that provide cloud services to the public and are encrypted to improve its security. However, the hackers have beaten them in their own game.
  • The Network Attached Servers are personal cloud service providers, whereby unlike the Dropbox and others, they use the external hard drives that are connected to a person’s Wi-Fi network hence they can transmit the data stored whenever a person connects to it. Examples of such are the LaCie cloud box and the Seagate Central drives. Sometimes they are not referred to as the cloud services because of their nature.
  • The cloud locker is another one but more secure than the NAS since one has more control over the files stored.
  • The Tonido and the Pocket cloud do not use the hard drives are can be remotely access the home computer. These tend to be more secure since there is no sharing of a password and the data is accessed from a device to another rather than the insecure from a device to the cloud then to another device.
  • The pocket cloud wholly relies on the Google log in for security.
  • The General Security Measures For Cloud Use

The major one is to understand the type of cloud service you are using. Norton contact can be of great help.

  • Choose a good master password.
  • Choose a cloud password that is unique from all the others you use
  • Do not share your password with someone you don’t trust
  • Always have a backup for your data.

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5 Types Of Security Essentials Required For Cloud Hosting

There are 5 types of cloud security essentials, and these are necessary in building a good cloud hosting server. These are important so that there will be a more stable access on the cloud and cloud users will be able to enjoy the benefits to the fullest. But first of all let’s see quickly what cloud hosting is:

What is Cloud Hosting

Here’s a short video explaining in simple words what Cloud Hosting is:

1. Data Security

The first one, which is the most important, is data security. This includes cryptography and data management. Having a good set of data can help in making the cloud a more secure place for customers. Almost every organization will invest on cryptographic techniques just to protect data that may otherwise be confidential. At the same time, these data need not be redundant because enterprises do not want to lose data, and they want to maintain data integrity.

2. Virtualization

Security Essentials Required For Cloud Hosting

The second essential component is virtualization. Since the cloud is technically a non-physical server, the goal is to make a server that will cater to different clients all across the Internet around the world. With virtual technology, this is possible. However, there are some issues that may be addressed under visualization, which include virtual machine management, data leakage, and isolation. Resources are shared among virtual machines in the cloud, but there are still precautions that need to be taken into consideration if you want security in the cloud.

3. Network Security

The third essential element of cloud hosting is network security because all transactions in the cloud are done via network communications. By having a good network security, privacy is ensured among cloud hosts and clients. Network security allows firewalling, which then allows virtual machines to be isolated from one another (thus preventing data leakages), as well as address filtering and porting.

4. Compliance

The fourth security essential of cloud hosting is the compliance. There must be measures to be followed in order to ensure that cloud hosts are safe to use, as well as to avoid copyright infringement and protect intellectual property. Without this feature, cloud hosting will not be organized and services will be lost. By complying with the standards, cloud hosts are able to reach its maximum potential simply because they are safe to use for the users.

5. Administration Control

The last security essential is mainly concerned on administration control. An administrator is required to handle cloud services. They are also the ones who monitor the progress of the cloud, its growth, as well as market and technology trends. They are essential in controlling security features and manipulating data. A data loss would mean poor governance for the side of the cloud host. At the same time, well-established standards can help maintain good relationship of cloud servers with its clients (in this case, the customers).

In the end, security is an essential part of cloud computing. However, maintaining all these security will be a challenge to enterprises, especially if they want to commit long-term with something that will protect their data. These are just some of the security essentials, but there are still others, especially the ones dealing with legal matters. They are also vital so that cloud hosting complies with the law, much like how intellectual properties are protected.