Posts Tagged ‘backups’

10 Steps to Creating a Disaster Recovery Plan for SMBs

Posted on: March 31st, 2016 by billp | No Comments

When we hear the word “disaster,” our minds immediately shift to major natural events such as earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, etc. We rarely think about the smaller disasters that could cripple a small business – extended power outages, a blizzard that affects employees’ ability to get to their office, fires, etc. Most importantly, we often think of disasters as something that happens to someone else… until it happens to us.

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), 43 per cent of businesses will not re-open following a major disaster. This alarming figure does not take into consideration the consequences of disasters that were not designated “major” disasters by the federal government, such as fires and power outages, which can be devastating to small and mid-sized businesses.

If you cannot get your business back online within 5 days of a disruption, the odds that your business will survive are about 10 percent. A survey of small businesses in the immediate vicinity of the World Trade Center at the time of the 1993 bombing found that of those businesses that could not resume their operations within five days, 90 per cent were out of business a year later.

Disaster recovery planning is a necessity for all small business owners. The hardest part about creating a disaster recovery plan is knowing what to do first. And, as business owners know, it is all in the execution.

To help bring some structure to the sometimes-overwhelming exercise of disaster recovery planning, we have put together a checklist to get you started, thereby enabling your good intentions to become operational. These steps will help you get started in a concrete way to help your business become safer… and more profitable!

Key #1: Understand the implications for your business.

Step 1. Start keeping a “disaster diary”.

Begin to keep a log of disruptions to your normal operations. Gathering this information is the first step to identifying recurring patterns. The idea is not to point fingers at employees who make mistakes; rather, it is to improve your processes.

Step 2. Identify potential threats to your business.

Consider the potential threats to include not only hazards arising from extreme weather but also the risks to your business’ reputation should you be unable to safeguard confidential information of your customers.

Key #2: Keep employees safe and informed.

Step 3.  Develop a plan to communicate with your employees in the event of disruption.

Organize a list of primary and secondary emergency contact information for each of your employees. As a disaster may prevent employees from returning to their homes, make sure you have alternate contact information for each employee.

Step 4. Preserve important employee records.

Your business is entrusted with certain confidential records of your employees, such as their personal identifying information and social security numbers. Work with your IT advisor to make sure the information is secure and accessible.

Key #3: Keep customers engaged and informed.

Step 5.  Develop a plan to communicate with your customers in the event of a disruption.

Consider preparing a statement that can be published on your website and social media platforms in the event of an emergency to give customers timely status updates as to what they can expect from your business and when.

Step 6. Protect sensitive customer data.

Make sure that any information of your customers (patient records if you are operating in a medical practice, financial records, trade secrets, etc.) is safe from cyber-criminals.

Key #4. Ensure continuity of operations.

Step 7.  Determine how you will operate your business remotely.

Consider which operations of your business you will be able to run should you not have access to your regular place of work. Define your business priorities by identifying your critical operations.

Step 8. Conduct periodic drills.

Test your continuity plan from time to time. It is important to keep your plan current and revise it for changes in your environment. It is equally important to verify that your employees are up-to-date on what to do in an emergency situation.

Key #5.  Address financial impact and readiness.

Step 9. Make sure your business has appropriate insurance coverage.

Verify that you have the necessary endorsements (or add-on’s) for your business, that you understand the deductibles for which you will be responsible and that you have appropriate coverage limits.

Step 10. Make sure you have access to the information you will need to file an insurance claim in a timely manner.

Have a digitized copy of your insurance policy stored in a way that you can access it in the event of an emergency. Don’t wait for an emergency to learn the procedures for filing a claim. You need to learn them now.

Key #6. Take advantage of the experts at Colden Company

Colden Company is certified by the Disaster Recovery Institute as Certified Business Continuity Professionals.  Our customers benefit from our years of experience assisting customers in preparing comprehensive business continuity, disaster recovery, and disaster avoidance plans. Our approach is a top-down approach where we examine the critical business functions first and work down to the supporting systems, hardware, and personnel.

Among the many additional services associated with disaster recovery are off-site backup or cloud backup, which we offer starting for as little as $19.00/month. We also offer complete local or cloud server recovery, also very affordable for small and mid-size business, which can have your entire business back online and working in hours instead of weeks (or longer). Do you have laptops in the field that need backup? Critical servers that need a quick recovery time? We’ll listen to your needs and provide the right solution to fit your business needs.

Colden Company is a proud Elite Partner (the highest level of partnership) of Datto, Inc. See how a Datto Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) device managed by Colden Company can enhance your data security and give your business true disaster recovery capabilities. At Colden Company, we have been in the BDR business for many years. See why our partnership with Datto is the BDR solution you can count on!

From process and procedures down to implementation, Colden Company is the only partner you need to keep your business in business in a time of need. Contact us today to make sure your business doesn’t become a statistic. Call us at 888-600-4560, email us, or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







Are You Preparing for a Disaster or Just Backing Up?

Posted on: May 31st, 2013 by billp | No Comments

Superheroes need it, police rely on it, and any business that uses computers (are there any that don’t these days?) should use some form of it. It’s called backup and it can mean the difference between a brief computer-related setback and restarting your business from scratch.

Backup, in simple terms, is creating an exact copy of your business data that can be recreated at a later date. So-called “traditional backup” to tape, hard disk, or even cloud services are great for quickly recovering a few files when an employee makes a mistake. If you haven’t felt relieved that you have solid, reliable backups or felt the pain of not having reliable backups, someday you will!

However, there is a huge difference between traditional backup and business continuity or disaster recovery. True, you need to restore a file from time to time and your traditional backups get the job done. But what if you experience a complete hard drive failure, server failure, extended power outage, fire, natural disaster, etc.? At this point we have to have a serious talk about Recovery Time Objective (RTO), or how long you can tolerate being without access to your business information. Your tape or disk-based backups are going to disappoint you in this scenario. To get back up to a fully-operational state using traditional backups can take days if not weeks after a major failure, be it technological or natural. Depending on how critical this data is to your business, this could potentially lead to losing clients, revenue, or in a worst case scenario, being forced to close your doors for good.

Consider this simplified equation: (company revenue + wage bill) x downtime hours.  That’s how much money a business loses during downtime, and that adds up faster than you’d think. Businesses need to stop thinking about backup and start thinking in terms of business continuity. When full business continuity is achieved, it fully prepares a business to not only recover from a disaster, but also protects the business from the adverse effects of that disaster – especially the financial losses.

Implementing business continuity practices ensures that the appropriate people have access to critical business functions – customers, suppliers, managers, and systems that a business needs in order to function and generate revenue.  This is why business continuity cannot be achieved simply through one solution or technology. There is still an intrinsic human element involved in business continuity. Necessary planning and processes need to be put in place in order for a business to fully recover. For more on business continuity planning as a business practice, see our Business Continuity Planning blog post from December 2012.

Businesses must plan their business continuity strategy on two fronts: planning for how to continue business processes in the event of disaster, and choosing the appropriate business continuity solution to support these processes.

A Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR) appliance and service is a business continuity solution that supports the continuation of business processes in the event of a disaster far better than traditional backup. Colden Company offers BDR solutions that are leaps and bounds beyond what traditional backup can offer your business. Consider some of the following differences between traditional backup and BDR.

Traditional Backup: Can take weeks to recover data after a disaster occurs.
BDR: Downtime after a disaster is reduced to hours, minutes, or even seconds – run your business off virtual machine(s) on the appliance quickly.

Traditional Backup: High risk for human error due to heavy manual administration.
BDR: Fully-automated and monitored backup process—very little manual management required.

Traditional Backup: Time-consuming and expensive to make copies of backups or to store backups in multiple locations.
BDR: Each backup is saved in multiple locations: local appliance and bi-coastal data centers.

Traditional Backup: No redundant backups in multiple locations, leaving high risk for original backup systems to be destroyed.
BDR: Eliminates downtime in the event of a disaster by allowing your business to run off a secure cloud over the Internet – completely restored, 100% secure.

Traditional Backup: Limited options for encrypting data, may not pass industry regulations (i.e., HIPAA, SOX).
BDR: AES 256 and SSL key-based encryption ensures data is safe and meets industry regulations (ie. HIPAA, SOX).

Traditional Backup: When recovering data, tape failure rates exceed 50%.
BDR: Minimal risk of corrupted backups or data loss due to multiple integrity checks.

Traditional Backup: Potential for theft or loss of media.
BDR: Off-site backups stored in SSAE 16 data centers.

Business that rely on their electronic data must realize that traditional backup is not all the protection they need. To be fully-prepared for a disaster and achieve a state of readiness for real business continuity at very affordable pricing, talk to Colden Company about BDR. Contact us today at (888) 600-4560 or at info@coldencomany.com, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter and let us help you protect your business for years to come.







Is Your Safe Safe?

Posted on: July 31st, 2012 by jiml | 2 Comments

I can remember a recent visit to a customer location, where the business owner proudly showed me his brand new, (and expensive I might add) fireproof safe he bought to store his company’s critical data.  A quick look at it and I exclaimed “no good!”  Imagine his devastation that his new, beautiful safe was not adequately protecting the valuable data he was storing inside of it.  Safes have varying fire ratings which tell you whether or not the safe is rated for paper storage or backup media storage.  At temperatures where paper will remain intact, media will melt and become unusable.

Here are the ratings you should look for:

125         Rating for backup tape media, DVD and floppy disks

150         Rating for backup media and DVD

350         Rating for paper only

375         Older standard for paper only

The numbers indicate what the internal temperature of the safe will heat up to in a sustained fire.  The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) determines the temperature of a sustained fire for the purposes of testing and rating these safes.

In addition to the temperature rating, you will also see a time rating, such as ½ hr or 1 hr.  This is how long that safe will remain at or below the temperature rating during a sustained fire.  Obviously a 1 hr rating will give you better protection than a ½ hr rating.

Some safes will also have ratings for burglary protection if that is a concern. Ratings typically have a TL, TR, or TX rating plus a time component much like the fire standards.  The time component is often measured in minutes, like a 15 or 30 as opposed to the fire ratings which are based on the hour.

TL            Stands up against prying tools, drills, etc

TR           Stands up against torches

TX           Stand up against explosives

My advice to businesses is to concentrate on getting the fire rating that you need first and foremost.  The second piece of advice, while sounding like a sales pitch, is really the voice of experience talking.  Buy a safe a bit larger than you think you may need initially.  You will always find more items to place in the safe in the future.  The larger fireproof safes are often very heavy and difficult to move or steal, so we advise you to worry about the burglary protection last.

So, is your safe safe?  Are you adequately protecting your businesses critical data?  Contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter (@coldenco) if you want to be sure you have the fireproof safe that your business needs.







Stepping up Security

Posted on: April 30th, 2012 by jiml | No Comments

In today’s digital age, securing your critical information – whether it be personal information or business information – is increasingly difficult. Threats are increasing both in number and in complexity and sophistication. Threats can come from individuals, groups, companies, or even governments.  In January, a Venezuelan diplomat launched a cyber attack here in the United States, aimed at disrupting our nuclear industry.   

U.S. authorities probing alleged cyberattack plot by Venezuela, Iran

Many customers have asked us about the real risk to their network.  “Why would a hacker target my business?” they ask.  Our answer is that hackers probably are not specifically targeting your business, but hackers will scan IP address ranges for weaknesses; when they find one, they attempt to exploit it to see what information they can get.  Prior to the scan, they may have no idea it is your business they are targeting, but nonetheless, hackers are an opportunistic bunch. If your business happens to have open ports on its firewall , unpatched servers or workstations, or even workstations with weak passwords, it is a matter of time before those weaknesses are exploited. According to the Department of Homeland Security, an unprotected computer connected to the Internet will become infected in a matter of minutes – not hours or days or weeks. You don’t have to be surfing the Internet to become infected; you just have to have a weakness through which your computer can become infected.

As you can see, security is paramount.  Last month we spoke about the need to protect your smartphones. A layered approach to security is required to protect your business.  Firewalls are a must, preferably hardware firewalls that do not rely on users’ input (allow or disallow access) for configuration like many software firewalls.  Additional layers of protection are necessary since most firewalls will have open ports (which need to be properly secured) for typical business traffic.  Hackers understand this as well, so it is important to have additional layers of protection such as anti-spam and anti-virus protection and software firewalls.  Strong password policies are also critical for protection. Don’t allow your business users to have local administrator privileges; is it is not necessary. Have policies in place to prevent infections or breaches and also with how to deal with those breaches of security.

Colden Company Inc. offers our customers services where we can help detect hacking attempts, perform penetration testing to ensure your network is locked down from the Internet, be notified immediately of virus infections (even for laptops out in the field), and be notified of patching deficiencies for Microsoft and third-party software. We can backup your critical data to a secure off-site location to protect you from losses. We can provide you with best-of-breed anti-spam solutions and email continuity solutions. These services are becoming a necessity as the digital age will continue to become more dangerous.  Ask us how we can help your business protect itself from the ever-increasing threats. Please contact us at (888) 600-4560, email us at info@coldencompany.com or see us on Facebook or Twitter.







Disaster Preparedness

Posted on: August 29th, 2011 by jiml | No Comments

As recent events have reminded us, disasters can strike at any time. Earthquakes in Colorado and Virginia as well as the arrival of hurricane season and Hurricane Irene should provide plenty of motivation to review your organizations’ disaster preparedness plans.  Even if you already have a detailed plan, it should be reviewed regularly to account for changes in your organizations processes and/or systems.

If your organization does not have any documented plans, you don’t have an adequate plan. Remember that disaster preparedness is not just an IT function.  It is a business function.  The IT staff can help provide redundancy for technology systems but creating the alternate business processes requires the shared input of the management of your organization.

Colden Company Inc. is certified by the Disaster Recovery Institute (DRI) as a Certified Business Continuity Planner.  The DRI provides the following high-level outline for your organization:

  • Program Initiation
  • Rick Evaluation
  • Business Impact Analysis
  • Business Continuity Strategies
  • Emergency Response
  • Business Continuity Plans
  • Awareness and Training
  • Plan Testing and Maintenance
  • Crisis Communication
  • Coordination with External Agencies

Certainly, following the above outline will result in a comprehensive disaster preparedness plan. Smaller organizations may wish to use a more informal process of determining acceptable downtime (recovery time objective) and identifying critical systems that need to be recovered (recovery point objective).  Research what your actual recovery time would be versus what you have identified as your recovery time objective for your critical systems.  If you are within the time frame, document your plan and you have a plan that works for your organization.  If not, your organization is at risk and should investigate its options.

Improvements in technology can greatly benefit businesses in meeting these objectives.  Recovery solutions such as hot-spare and image-based solutions – that in the past had been reserved for the deep pockets of larger enterprises – are now affordable for the SMB market. Have you looked at these technologies lately?  Are you confident in your organization’s disaster preparedness plans?  If you answered no to either of these questions, please contact us toll-free at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter and let us help you identify technologies that may fit your needs.




Next-Generation BDR from HEROware

Posted on: April 29th, 2011 by billp | No Comments

Your business relies on many things to run efficiently on a daily basis. Information and the systems that store that information have become vital to the running of today’s modern business. Protecting that information from disasters is crucial. Consider a complete loss of all of your business’ key computer systems and data, then consider how long you could operate in the event of such a loss. How much data loss is acceptable? How long can your business afford to be down?

Gartner estimates that only 35% of SMBs have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place. According to a recent NFIB National Small Business Poll, man-made disasters affect 10% of small businesses, whereas natural disasters have impacted more than 30% of all small businesses in the USA. Hurricanes are by far the most destructive force causing power failure, flooding, customer loss, and the closure of many businesses. According to a recent Touche Ross study, the survival rate for companies without a disaster recovery plan is less than 10%!

Colden Company takes its customers data security very seriously. In order to provide its customers with the best products possible for backup and disaster recovery (BDR), Colden is very proud to announce that it has partnered with HEROware, Inc., a backup and disaster recovery innovator based in San Clemente, CA.

HEROware produces a unique line of unified server protection solutions. The series features the HERO-Defender™ onsite server replication appliance and HERO-Cloud™, for the utmost in disaster recovery. These highly-scalable systems highlight not only data security, they bring to reality the ability to protect the total computing environment, including: servers running Microsoft operating systems, all applications, and both file server and desktop data stores. HERO-Defender™ coupled with HERO-Cloud™, provide disaster-proof high availability with automatic failover and quick & easy recovery. Best of all, HEROware provides these typically enterprise-class levels of availability and recoverability with support, maintenance, and pricing that are targeted specifically for small and mid-sized businesses (SMB) without any of the complexity that usually accompanies such solutions.

Key features of the HERO-Defender™ products include

  • Real-time backup continuity
  • Real-time replication – back up files the minute they change
  • Real-time instant fail-over
  • Real-time replication to the HERO-Cloud™, protecting your data from local disasters
  • Byte-level replication technology that is five times faster than other replication technologies
  • Powered by Double-Take technology, protecting over 250,000 servers worldwide for 20 years. Half of the Fortune 500 protect their data with Double-Take.
  • Security – SAS70-certified data centers (10 worldwide) with 256-bit AES encryption of your data

Protect your business’ data by using a best-of-breed solution from an innovative leader in the BDR product market. Let Colden Company and HEROware help you protect your business from disaster. Find out more by contacting us at 518-885-2857, toll-free at 888-600-4560, via email at info@coldencompany.com, or on Twitter.


June 2010: The Evolution of Backups

Posted on: June 7th, 2010 by billp | No Comments

From a technology perspective, your business’ servers, desktops, laptops, smartphones, etc. are not important. What is important is the business data that those tools are used to create and store. The tools are replaceable, but the data that they are used to create is often irreplaceable, or at least very difficult and time-consuming to replace.

A recent study discovered that, of companies experiencing a “major loss” of computer records, 43 percent never reopened, 51 percent closed within two years of the loss, and a mere 6 percent survived over the long-term (Cummings, Maeve; Haag, Stephen; and McCubbrey, Donald. 2003. Management Information Systems for the Information Age.). For small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in particular, these statistics suggest the necessity of crafting a Business Continuity Planning (BCP) strategy grounded in a robust data backup and recovery solution.

BCP is the blueprint for how businesses plan to survive everything from local equipment failure to global disaster. Data-oriented BCP, an indispensable component of business planning regardless of organization size, poses many challenges. Smaller businesses generally lack the in-house IT resources to achieve these demanding planning, technical, and process requirements. Therefore, many SMBs either neglect to implement any data-oriented business continuity plan or else approach data backup and recovery in a sporadic, rudimentary fashion that fails to conform to the best practices of BCP.

Unlike enterprises, many smaller companies cannot afford optimal in-house strategies and solutions in service of BCP. These companies are consequently at an elevated risk of being put out of business due to any major loss of data. Loss of data could mean emails lost, accounting data lost, patient or client files lost, company records lost, client legal records or orders lost and so on.

The need to protect your business data created an entire industry around data protection and backup technologies. I can personally remember days when backups were performed using 5.25″ floppy disks, swapped in and out one at a time until your entire PC was backed up. The amount of data we create and store required that backup technologies evolve to accommodate higher storage capacities and faster backup times. Business needs for constant access to data created shorter backup windows (i.e. the time available to back up data without business disruption).

For many years, tape has been the backup medium of choice due to its convenient size, relatively high (and always increasing) storage capacity, and ubiquitous support by backup solution developers. However, tape is slow, requiring ever-longer backup windows to protect your business data, resulting in decreased systems performance or even downtime during backups. Tape capacities are not keeping pace with the rate at which businesses are increasing their data storage requirements, requiring businesses to swap tapes during a backup cycle (taking us back to the days of floppies) or investing in expensive tape auto-loader systems. Our data protection needs are quickly out-pacing the old tools that we used to protect our data; it’s time for new solutions.

Analyst Dave Russell of Gartner believes that “recovery will move to online disk-based storage in the future. This will cause a major shift in the backup market during the next four to five years.” Smaller companies in particular will benefit from the shift, as recent advances in design and manufacturing lower the total cost of disk-based storage in terms of storage per bit. Falling prices, combined with the various performance advantages that storage industry analysts cite, render disk increasingly attractive. Gartner Group highlights the suitability of disk for these organizations by explaining that “the need for high-performance online recovery of data, combined with the availability of low-cost disk arrays, has influenced enterprises and small and midsize businesses to adopt a disk-based approach for backup and recovery.”

Tape, in contrast to disk, is physically delicate and easily compromised by environmental factors such as heat, humidity, and magnetic interference. Moreover, tape cartridges must be replaced frequently (every 6-12 months). Tape’s innate sensitivity contributes to high failure rates, with analysts estimating that anywhere from 42 to 71 percent of tape restores fail. Even when magnetic tape backups are successful, tapes themselves are subject to loss or theft, and may be in the possession of an employee or vendor unable to reach a recovery site. Thus, even when physical backup and restoration processes succeed, tape may not prove to be as timely and appropriate a medium for data storage as disk. Time is a crucial consideration because each hour of server, application, and network downtime endured until data restoration comes at a high cost, especially to smaller businesses.

While disk offers advantages over tape, it is not a panacea. After installing disk technology, businesses will still be responsible for monitoring and managing backup processes, encrypting and safeguarding backed up on-site and off-site data, restoring data to new hardware, and other functions. Without implementing a layer of governance over disk-based data backup, these businesses court the danger of failed backups and delayed restoration of data, thereby jeopardizing their chances of successful recovery from major data loss.

Colden Company has Backup-as-a-Service (BaaS) solutions that can address these shortcomings and help businesses of all sizes and budgetary requirements develop enterprise-class BCP. Our solutions range from simple, hassle-free, and low-cost data protection solutions to rapid-recovery solutions for critical systems. Most importantly, our solutions are designed to remove cost and complexity burdens from your staff.

Colden Company’s entry-level BaaS solution provides hassle-free backup of your business data by securely backing it up over the Internet to a privately-managed, secure, encrypted “cloud” owned and operated exclusively by Colden Company. Colden Company delivers total privacy, total recovery, and total mobility to your data backups, whether your data is living and working on servers, desktops, remote offices, traveling laptops, or home computers. You can choose to back up a single server, multiple servers, or all of your servers and workstations to the Colden BaaS cloud. If you have a large number of mobile/remote users, their business data can be backed up over any Internet connection; they can be at home using their home network, or at a coffee shop using a public Wi-Fi hotspot. No matter where your business data resides, it can be securely and automatically backed up, monitored, and restored by Colden Company.

Colden Company’s high-end BaaS solution combines the performance and rapid-recovery of a local, on-site, disk-based backup appliance with the redundancy and security of off-site cloud storage of your business data. This solution is targeted at businesses with servers or workstations that must be protected against extended downtime. Rather than backing up only your business data, this solution creates an image-level backup of your entire business system(s) to a secondary backup server at your office. Incremental backups are performed as often as every 15 minutes, protecting your business against large data and productivity losses. Backups are fast and produce no noticeable impact on the systems being backed up. In the event of a total system failure, the image-level backup can be brought online as a virtual machine in minutes, returning your business to productivity and profitability. Compare this to the hours or days necessary for recovery using traditional backup technologies.

In addition to the local image-level backup, Colden Company’s high-end BaaS soluition offers secure off-site cloud backup of your most recent system images to two geographically separated data centers. These data centers are owned and operated by a carefully selected and trusted partner of Colden Company. Your business data is secured via high-grade encryption both in-transit over the Internet and on-storage in the data center. If you are concerned about your data’s security while in storage at the data center, rest assured that your data is useless to anyone without the privately managed encryption keys created by Colden Company during the installation of this solution. In the event of a total site disaster which results in the loss of your system and the backup appliance, your most recent off-site system images can be sent from the data center for rapid recovery within days.

Whether you need hassle-free backup of critical business data on a few PCs or highly-available BCP solutions, Colden Company will help you. Contact Colden Company today to assess your current backup solution and BCP. Let us help you develop a customized plan for your business using our BaaS solutions to ensure your rapid return to profitability after even the most catastrophic data disaster. You can contact us at 518-885-2857, info@coldencompany.com, or http://twitter.com/coldenco.