Scarily, when talking to businesses with my IT hat on I’m finding a large number of them STILL don’t have any kind of protection for their IT from the basic level of surge protection to offline backups and having replacement kit available.
With this in mind here’s a quick run down of the top 5 things you HAVE to put into place in your business…
1. Surge Protection
Ok, Surge protection power strips are available from about £10! There really is NO EXCUSE!!! Go here to get started: Google Shopping
2. UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply)
In the event of power failure you can be sat staring at an empty screen for hours, or maybe going home, getting the old laptop out etc. That’s going to cost you time. More importantly is the file you have been working on all day is likely to now be corrupt. This equals MORE MONEY. For the price of a small UPS at each desk just to give your team time to power down their machines it’s got to be worth it right? “Have a look here for some entry level units and a buying guide”:http://www.criticalpowersupplies.co.uk/choosing-a-ups
3. Centralised File storage
If your computer decides, at a highly inappropriate time as they always do, to suffer from hard disk failure then unless you have some kind of backup you are going to be in trouble. Day to day I’d recommend using a NAS (Network Storage Device) and the only one’s I’d recommend are the NETGEAR ReadyNas series. I’ve been accused of bias on these products as my company sell them but the reasons we sell them are the reasons I’d recommend them to you…
- 5 Year Warranty
- Major Manufacturer Support
- Regular firmware updates
- Regularly updated Hard Drive Compatibility lists
With most NAS Systems you’ll also get the ability to perform some kind of sync with an online backup service (See below).
Feel free to go and buy the latest and greatest box from China with a nice case but remember to ask yourself where your support will be in 2,3, 4 years time…
PS I’ve heard some good things about Drobo too from some people but not enough yet to sway my recommendations. (And I’ll definitely admit they look very cool!)
4. Online Backup
Freelancer? You SHOULD be using Dropbox by now. If not why not? Having a cached version of your hard drive with revisions is absolutely invaluable!
Company? Use a decent NAS (like the ReadyNas above) and you’ll have access to an online backup service. NETGEAR have ReadyNAS Vault and other NAS Providers have such services.
All the services work on the same initial basis of syncronising files to an internet host usually backed by Amazon S3 or a similar service.
5. “Cloud” based Email
Wether it’s hosted exchange, Mobile Me or Gmail you really have to get your email off your computers and into the cloud. The benefits are too numerous to list in their enitrety but here’s a few:
- Emails can be easily shared between devices eg Desktop Computer, Laptop, iPhone, Smartphone etc.
- Emails are backed up by the service provider so if you lose your laptop or suffer a disk failure you don’t lose the emails.
- Upgrades are done silently for you in the background so you don’t have to worry about them (Ever applied a service pack to a mail server, it’s nerve racking stuff!)
- Spam Filtering is usually dealt with too
More to think about?
These are macro level things really in the world of protecting your IT. I’ll cover disaster recovery options, monitoring and much more in the future…
So there’s the my 5 things every business needs to deal with what else would you recommend?
Test, test and test again. Don’t leave it until disaster happens to realise that your UPS covers the base units, but not the monitors etc. And that the UPS does cover the central file stores and essential routers / switches. And that the UPS is actually switched on And have a torch in the office.
And then test the data restore from backup drives / cloud services. Is the data REALLY there? Can you access it quickly enough?
And if you are still not in the cloud then make sure you take your essential backups OFF SITE so that when the building floods or mad cow disease strikes you can still work somewhere and keep your customers happy.
And if you do have backups and take them off site then have at least THREE in your backup cycle. So at least one copy is off site at all times.
It’s no good having 2, swapping them out each night and taking 1 home only to bring it back the next morning. You then still have ALL your backups in one place!
Of course, you can still do this with 3 backups as a colleague of mine does by bringing all the backups in each day despite me reminding him :/