Five Things You Should Do Right Now to Preserve Your Network and Systems

5 Things SMBs Can Do Right Now to Preserve Their Network and Systems

1. Backup Files Every Day - As catastrophic as data loss is, the number of businesses that still are not backing up their network is unbelievable. According to the Symantec Small to Medium Size Businesses (SMB) data, only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data on a daily basis and fewer than 50% are backing up data weekly. Any number of events can result in data loss, so the importance of frequently backing up your network cannot be overstated.

2. Ensure Backup Procedures Are Checked Regularly - Many times business owners think that they have a backup system in place only to find out after it’s too late that it hasn’t been working properly. It may seem like your files are being backed up daily, however, the backup could have become corrupt or it is not backing up huge chunks of critical data. Check your backup procedures regularly to ensure they are working properly in order to be sure that ALL of your data can be recovered. In the age of BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Devices) it is also important to frequently backup data on your employee’s personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys, so make sure you have a procedure in place to check those backups as well.

3. Make Sure Updated Virus Protection and Firewalls Are Always Enabled - Far too many companies either have no virus protection, expired virus software licenses, or disabled virus programs that aren’t running at all. This makes their business technology vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam, data downloads, and unreputable websites. Further, because of inadequate firewall protection about 40% of small to medium businesses will have their network accessed by a hacker. Chances are, when these businesses are attacked they will be entirely unaware it is happening. In order to protect your valuable data and assets, ensure your virus protection is adequate, up-to-date and functioning properly and that your firewall is intact. Finally, don’t forget to update security patches and change passwords when an employee leaves in order to deter hacking attempts.

4. Monitor Server Drives - Dangerously full server drives can bring their own set of problems – ranging from program and server crashes to sluggish email delivery. Proactive monitoring and maintenance of your server can spare your business a lot of problems down the road.

5. Regularly Check Critical Built-In Logs - Very few problems with technology emerge suddenly. These problems typically progress over time and evolve into more serious problems. Frequently review your critical built-in log files to help identify the problem before it has gotten out of control and wreaks havoc on your business infrastructure.

Posted in Articles / News

Data Loss Can Cause You to Shut Down

Data Loss Can Cause You To Shut Down — Research by National Archives & Records Administration

Small and medium sized businesses today are relying more than ever on IT systems to efficiently run their business, support customers and optimize productivity. These systems house sensitive digital data ranging from employee and customer information, to internal emails, documents and financial records, sales orders and transaction histories. This is in addition to applications and programs critical to daily business functions and customer service.

While corporate-level data losses and insider theft are well publicized, many smaller businesses have also become casualties of data loss and theft. Following a significant data loss, it is estimated that a small-to-medium sized business can lose up to 25% in daily revenue by the end of the first week. Projected lost daily revenue increases to 40% one month into a major data loss.

According to The National Archives & Records Administration in Washington, 93% of companies that have experienced data loss, coupled with prolonged downtime for ten or more days, have filed for bankruptcy within twelve months of the incident while 50% wasted no time and filed for bankruptcy immediately. Finally, 43% of companies with no data recovery and business continuity plan actually go out of business following a major data loss.

Still, a survey conducted by Symantec SMB revealed that fewer than half of SMBs surveyed backup their data each week. Only 23% of those surveyed said they backup data every day and have a business continuity plan in place.

Businesses play on a much bigger playing field than they did two decades ago. Any disruptive technological event – even the smallest of incidents – can have an amplified impact on day-to-day business and profitability. Being proactive with data recovery solutions, and having emergency response procedures in place prior to a disruption or data disaster, is the only way to minimize downtime and soften the impact of such events.

Posted in Articles / News

The Catch-22 Of Technological Dependency

Time to move beyond status quo & cut the hidden costs!

Eradicating Failure: Addressing Executive Management’s Fear of Downed Networks

For the past two decades, advancing technology has unquestionably enhanced the way we conduct day-today business. A stable, reliable and secure IT system means efficient operations and optimized productivity, service, and communications. It fosters greater opportunity and increased revenue potential. Today, through technology, small-to-medium sized businesses anywhere can serve customers globally twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, which was unfathomable 5-10 years ago. In today’s business world, anyone can be as big as they want to be.

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Posted in d2 Business Solutions, Feature, Motivational, Small Business, Success, Tech

Can You Really Afford Not to Have a Backup Plan?

7 Must Haves for Your Small Business Website

According to Symantec SMB, 50% of SMBs admit to having no backup and disaster recovery plan in place. 41% of those surveyed confessed that they had never even given much thought to implementing a disaster recovery or business continuity plan. If you are one of them, then you really need to think about whether you can afford the status quo. Answering these questions will help you decide.

1. How often is employee productivity and customer accessibility or service stalled each day from a downed network or system?

2. How much downtime can your business truly afford and what kind of backup or recovery solutions are in effect when systems are unavailable?

3. What level of IT support can be accessed? Can it be accessed quickly enough to minimize damage? Are you confident that your business can either be back online or be able to access lost data with minimal disruption, no matter what?

4. Is your most critical data frequently backed up? Is the data on the personal laptops, iPads or Blackberrys of employees backed up? Are all backups stored in a location off-site and quickly accessible in the event of theft, fire or flooding? Are you using any custom installed software and is the supplier still in business should this software need to be re-installed or updated? Are account details, licensing agreements, and security settings somewhere on record, and is it duplicated off-site?

5. Are your systems truly protected from theft, hackers, and viruses? Are passwords to sensitive data changed whenever employees leave the company or business unit?

6. When was the last time you tested backup processes to ensure they are working properly? How quick were your back ups?

Answering these questions will help you understand if you are needlessly bleeding money every day by subjecting your business to the high hourly rates, service charges, trip fees and wait times of on-call IT support. If you are an SMB, you don’t have to fear technology failure. A trusted MSP can help you resolve these challenges in a more effective and efficient manner.

Posted in Articles / News

Be Proactive: How to Avoid Potential Network Failures

Be Proactive: How to Avoid Potential Network Failures

Be Proactive: How to Avoid Potential Network Failures

For small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), an IT network failure can be devastating because they don’t have the resources of large corporations to bounce back from such disasters. Preparation against such devastation may be the only course for them to avoid failure and survive with the least damage if failure occurs. SMBs must be proactive in recognizing the eventuality of a cyber attack or human error that can cause data loss and disrupt business continuity. This is what needs to be done to help prevent a potential failure.

Be prepared: Being proactive is an essential step for preparation against a disaster. There are two ways to determine how to best prepare to prevent potential failure of your infrastructure. First, you need to identify the weaknesses throughout your systems, and second, determine how you are going to eliminate those weaknesses and protect your network.

Identify the weaknesses: Determine how and why your system could fail. Examine all aspects of your hardware and software. Assess all the internal and external factors that could contribute to failure of your networks. Here are some questions you need to know the answers to.

  • Does customer access and/or employee productivity often stall because of downed systems? In these situations, how quickly is your IT support able to minimize the damage?
  • Can you say with certainty that your business will be back on line and be able to access lost data with minimal disruption in case of failure?
  • Your critical data should be backed up frequently. The data on personal laptops, iPads and other mobile devices should also be backed up. Are all these steps being taken, and how often?
  • Are all backups stored in a location off-site and are they quickly accessible in the event of corruption, fire or flood?
  • Are you using any custom made software? Can it be reinstalled and updated when needed?
  • Are your systems truly protected from hackers and viruses? Do you change passwords when employees leave the company?
  • How often do you test your backup processes?

The answers to all these questions should give you a clear picture of your network’s ability to survive in case of a catastrophe.

Here are five steps that you can take to protect your networks

  1. Backup files every day: There are a large number of businesses that never backup data. Only 23% of SMBs are backing up their data daily, and only 50% are doing it weekly. A number of issues can result in loss of data. You should backup data every day.
  2. Check backup procedures regularly: Don’t find out accidently that your backup system is not working properly. By then it could be too late. It may seem like your data is being backed up normally, but check frequently if it is backing up the way it should be. In this age of BYOD make sure all employees are also following procedures to backup data on their laptops, iPads, etc.
  3. Make sure virus protection and firewalls are always enabled: Many companies either don’t have virus protection installed or it is disabled. That renders their networks vulnerable to virus attacks from emails, spam and data downloads. Corrupted files will not only bring your systems down but they can spread to your customers and email contacts. That will spell disaster for your reputation. Hackers are always looking for unprotected and open ports online that they can attack with malicious code or files. That can cause permanent data loss.
  4. Monitor server drives: Dangerously full server drives can cause many problems, ranging from program crashes to sluggish email delivery. Servers should be monitored and maintained regularly to avoid these problems.
  5. Check built-in logs: Frequent reviews of built-in logs can reveal small issues. You will have a chance to prevent them from becoming bigger, harder-to- manage problems that can bring your systems down.

Summary: We now know IT system failures have very serious consequences for SMBs. We also know that they can avoid such failures by being proactive. Many SMBs are now turning to cloud-based services and virtualized backup solutions to mitigate downtimes and network failures. Virtualization and cloud computing have enabled cost-efficient business continuity by allowing entire servers to be grouped into one software bundle or virtual server – this includes all data, operating systems, applications, and patches. This simplifies the backup process and allows for quick data restoration when needed.

Posted in Articles / News

Switching to Cloud for Small Businesses

Cloud has the ability to become the foundation of a business, especially small businesses. In this digital age no matter the size of your business, one just can’t survive without an online presence. Cloud is cost effective for small businesses and requires little to no investment. The entire idea of having an off site infrastructure became a trend in 2008, while nowadays it has become the groundwork of many IT companies.

Flexible and Convenient
There was a time when placing an infrastructure for an entire organization required a lot of time with an extremely slow ROI. Comparing this to cloud computing, the very same infrastructure with the same resources and size can be up and functional in less than an hour!
The ideal cloud solution for small businesses can be Platform as a Service (PaaS).  Small businesses that sell web services can productively utilize PaaS. Install an access application seamlessly without making investments on in-house servers. Pre-configured apps are easily available a click away providing leverage to your business, saving considerable time as you prepare to go online.
The cloud service also offers great flexibility should the small business plan to increase the size of their infrastructure while avoiding any downtime. Such flexibility allows small businesses to mold the servers according to their needs. This includes the ability to create, re-create, upgrade, or even compromise servers with minimum costs.

Cost Effective
Cloud services can remove and/or reduce considerable costs of various elements relevant to a small busines business:
• License fees
• Training costs
• Infrastructure costs
• Hosting costs
• Redundancy costs

Cloud Utility
The main benefit of the cloud is the abundance of storage capacity. Store anything from documents, pictures, videos or any other form of data you can think of. This includes an added functionality which is the niche of cloud computing, the share feature. Share any file with anyone anywhere, while the data stays securely backed up on your servers.
In other words cloud technology not only lowers costs, but increases your productivity as well by streamlining business processes. Many young businesses are implementing cloud into their businesses giving them an upper hand over competitors. Since not everyone has caught up to this latest technology, doing the same will allow your own get ahead as well. The ability to auto update without licensing issues, negating the need of IT staff and equipment as well as reducing maintenance costs makes installing cloud services a no brainer.

Posted in Announcements, Articles / News, Cloud Computing, Feature, General, News, Virtualization

Windows Server Essentials 2012/2012 R2 Log Files

[This post comes to us courtesy of Swapnil Rane from Commercial Technical Support]

This post will reduce your efforts to identify which log to refer to and where to find it. This can be very useful when you are troubleshooting issues on an Essentials server. We have compiled a list of important logs and their associated wizards below. There can be issues where we may have to refer to multiple logs.

Server-side Logs:

In Windows Server Essentials 2012 and 2012 R2, the location of the log files is under %programdata%MicrosoftWindows ServerLogs.

Service Integration Log Files:

O365/On-Premise Exchange/Intune

 

SharedServiceHost-EmailProviderServiceConfig.log

Windows Azure Backup

 

OnlineBackupGettingStartedWizard.log

Backup Log Files:

Server Backup Configuration wizard

SBCW.log

Server Backup restore wizard

ServerFFR.log

Client Backup Feature server side log

Backup-<date>.log

Client backup database cleanup

RunTask-BackupCleanup.log

Client backup database checker

RunTask-Consistency check

Storage and Devices Log Files:

User/Device management feature

SharedServiceHost-ManagementServiceConfig.log

Storage features

Storageservice.<date>.log

Storage related feature

Storageutil.<date>.log

Azure Backup Log Files:

Location: C:Program FilesWindows Azure Backup AgentTemp

Azure Backup Logs

CBEngineCurr.errlog

Failed Azure Backup Logs

LastBackupFailedFile#####.txt

Other Helpful Log Files:

DC Promo

DCPromo_date.log

Health evaluation schedule task

RunTask-AlertEvaluation.log

Macintosh Clients Status update

RunTask-MacintoshStatusReport.log

Server DNS status

ServerBeacon.log

Customer Experience Improvement

RunTask-SaveCustomerExperienceImprovementProgramData.log

Program and Service Quality Measurement Log Files:

CA Role installation

CA_ROLE_INSTALL.log

Media pack installation (2012 R2)

MediaPackInstalltionWizard.xxxx.log

Media Service (Specially with RWA)

MediaStreamingProvider.log

O365 (Assign/Un-assign Accounts)

TaskStatus-OIMAddin.log

 

Client-side Logs:

The client-side log files are located in the folder %programdata%MicrosoftWindows Serverlogs. They are as:

Client Deployment

ClientDeploy.log

Client package installation Failures

ComputerConnector.log

Client backup restore mount driver

BackupDriverInstaller.log

Client operation for File history Sync

ClientOperator.log

Main log for client launch pad

LaunchPad.log

Password synchronization feature in AAD   

PasswordSyncClientAlerts.log

Add-in feature on client

RunTask-Add-in Management.log

Health evaluation schedule task

RunTask-AlertEvaluation.log

Client Backup scheduled task

RunTask-ClientComputeBackkup.log

Connector uninstall cleanup task

RunTask-Connector cleanup.log

Update health definition file from server to client task

RunTask-HealthDefinitionUpdate.log

RDP feature for RWA

RunTask-RDP Group Configuration.log

Client VPN connectivity issues

RunTask-VPN Routes Repair.log

Client network status update

ServerLocator-<date>.log

Client deployment API call (Client deployment fails)

Setupapi.dev.log

Health alert feature

SharedServiceHost-HealthServiceConfig.log

The above logs should be able to guide you through the process of troubleshooting effectively on Essentials relevant issues.

Posted in Logging, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

Announcing the availability of enabling Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials’ integration of Microsoft online services in environments with multiple domain controllers

In Windows Server Essentials 2012 R2, all of our online services integration features, including Azure Active Directory and Office 365, are supported only in environments that have a single domain controller. In environments with more than one domain controller, integration of these services is blocked due limitations in the user account and password synchronization mechanism in Windows Server Essentials. 

I am happy to announce the re-release of the Windows August Update which was originally released on (8/12/2014, PST). This update adds support for both Azure Active Directory integration and Office 365 integration features in domain environments consisting of a single domain controller, multiple domain controllers, or Windows Server Essentials as a domain member server.

For more information, please go to http://support.microsoft.com/kb/2974308

Posted in Announcements, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

How to enable verbose logging for Windows Server 2012/2012 R2 Essentials

[This post comes to us courtesy of Swapnil Rane and Rituraj Choudhary from Global Business Support]

This post explains how to increase the logging level for the individual components of Server Essentials role for troubleshooting purposes. In order to accomplish this, we need to modify the Logging.config file. This file can be located at C:Program FilesWindows ServerBin on a Windows Server 2012 Essentials machine. On a Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials this file is present at C:WindowsSystem32Essentials.

Make sure to save a backup copy of the file before modifying it. You need to change the ownership of Logging.configfile and give the user adequate permissions to save any modifications to it. You may use the following commands on an elevated Command Prompt to make modifications to the file:

For Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials:

takeown /f C:WindowsSystem32EssentialsLogging.config
icacls C:WindowsSystem32EssentialsLogging.config /grant administrators:F
icacls C:WindowsSystem32EssentialsLogging.config /setowner "NT ServiceTrustedInstaller"
notepad C:WindowsSystem32EssentialsLogging.config

For Windows Server 2012 Essentials:

takeown /f "C:Program FilesWindows ServerBinLogging.config"
icacls "C:Program FilesWindows ServerBinLogging.config" /grant administrators:F
icacls "C:Program FilesWindows ServerBinLogging.config" /setowner "NT ServiceTrustedInstaller"
notepad "C:Program FilesWindows ServerBinLogging.config"

The file Logging.config is now ready for editing. Search for the string level= and replace the string next to level= to All if it is set otherwise. For example:

<add level="Warning" name="ProviderFramework">
<listeners>
<add name="DefaultTraceListener" />
</listeners>
</add>

Change it as:

<add level="All" name="ProviderFramework">
<listeners>
<add name="DefaultTraceListener" />
</listeners>
</add>

Changing the level to Allenables verbose logging. There are other values that the level can be set to, but mostly verbose logging is preferred, and can be achieved as mentioned above.

When the issue is reproduced subsequently, the logs at C:ProgramDataMicrosoftWindows ServerLogsfolder should now contain verbose information.

Note: You may use the same procedure to enable verbose logging on the Essentials clients.

Posted in Logging, Windows Server 2012 Essentials, Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials

5 Myths about Cloud Computing

By now we have all heard of cloud computing, but there are so many half-truths, sales pitches and flat out lies regarding the cloud. With all the misinformation out there, how do we know what to believe? Here are the top 5 myths about cloud computing with honest explanations debunking the claims.
Seeing past these myths is critical to make the right decisions about if migrating to a cloud solution is right for your organization.

1. The Cloud is Not Secure – This is probably the most prevalent of all the myths about cloud computing. To put it simply, not all clouds are created the equal. A cloud is only as secure as the team of Engineers who designed and manage it. With that said, having a team experienced Systems Architects and Security Engineers design a highly redundant infrastructure is typically out of the budget for most small to medium size businesses (SMB). The cloud has allowed SMBs to have access to such systems. Pick your cloud vendor wisely, do your research and make sure their data center is SSAE 16 Compliant. This is a good start and you know that their infrastructure has been validated by an independent third party for security and redundancy.

2. The Cloud is the Perfect Solution – Well nothing is perfect. While the cloud can solve many problems and is quickly replacing premise-based computing, it is not without shortcomings. Namely, legacy software. Older versions of software typically do not operate well in the cloud and often require a great deal of manipulation to get working. The cloud is new, and employees are often resistant to change. Even if a new system is better, has more features and costs less, you will not go without your share of complaints.

3. Cloud Computing is a Fad – If you hear this from somebody, they probably have their pager and fax number on their business card.

4. The Cloud is Not Reliable – To go back to my first point, all cloud are not created equal. The design of any cloud is rooted in redundancy, so it is likely more reliable than the average in house server room. The level of reliability is all up to the team behind it, so make sure to do your research first and make sure the cloud service provider maintains a stellar uptime record.

5. The Biggest Benefit of the Cloud is Lower Costs – While there are potentially huge cost savings when moving to the cloud, that is not always the case. The biggest benefits typically are the ease of management, lowered administrative overhead, increased productivity and auto-scaling of systems. The flexibility gained by utilizing the cloud is often the biggest benefit and indirectly can result in a lowering your bottom line.

To sum it up, the cloud is here to stay and is a viable solution for all size businesses. Make sure you get the real story on the costs of the cloud for your organization, migration has costs and can impact productivity, you don’t want a whole new set of problems. Do your homework and understand all your options. A good cloud service provider will ask about your organization objectives and work with you to design a custom solution.

Remember the cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. If you are interested in learning more about cloud computing for your organization, call us at 949.631.7000. We help all size organizations move to the cloud. The consultation is free.

Posted in Cloud Computing, News