5 straightforward disaster recovery options for SMBs

In a digital environment that’s unforgiving when it comes to downtime and outages, planning for IT disaster recovery is a critical responsibility of the modern business owner. Despite this, an astounding 75 percent of small businesses have no disaster recovery plan in place.

If your SMB isn’t prepared for a disaster, it’s important to start by understanding the basic tools that will help you navigate and mitigate a crisis.

Here are five straightforward disaster recovery solutions your SMB should consider as part of an overall recovery plan.

Cloud backups

Cloud backups can be an excellent tool for protecting your data in the event of a disaster.

A data loss event can impede a small business’s operations and drastically increase its chances of closing within six months. By performing continuous backups to the cloud, your business can safeguard its data and reduce the potential impact of a disaster.

For this reason, cloud backups are becoming increasingly popular among SMBs. Approximately 78 percent of such businesses are expected to back their data up on the cloud by 2020.

Cloud backups also have the advantage of letting you keep data geographically remote to avoid complications from natural disasters. Experts recommend keeping your backups 200 miles or more from your actual location.

Virtualization

Like cloud backups, server virtualization is useful for keeping data safe, as well as for limiting the amount of downtime that your business will experience during a disaster.

Virtual servers allow businesses to create exact copies of their data centers. If a disaster strikes, this copied version can be used to maintain essential functions while the problem is solved. As a result, SMBs can maintain high levels of availability.

Virtualization is also extremely useful for disaster recovery testing, as tests can be run in the virtual environment instead of in your business’s main system.

Mobile communication and collaboration systems

When a disaster strikes, it’s critical that your team members remain in contact. By maintaining communication through mobile devices or social media platforms, your team can coordinate its disaster recovery efforts and minimize the amount of downtime that will occur without having to be in the same place at the same time.

With good remote communication and collaboration systems in place, your business can mobilize more quickly and launch a coordinated effort to mitigate the damage.

Uninterruptible power supplies

Disaster recovery solutions tend to focus strongly on software and data, but protecting business hardware is also an important consideration. For this reason, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) can be a very useful tool in an emergency.

A UPS is a battery device that will provide temporary power and allow you to properly power down your hardware assets.

Monitoring solutions

Disaster recovery is often a race to keep downtime to a minimum. If you are forced to deal with a disaster involving your network, monitoring software that logs changes and unusual activity can help your team identify and quickly resolve the problem. In some cases, you may even be able to head the threat off before it develops into a full-blown disaster.

With proactive security monitoring, you can keep your business safe and keep your IT systems running more smoothly.

Ready for anything

Using these five tips, your business can begin to craft a basic plan for disaster recovery.

The more you can prepare now, the less likely your company will be to experience catastrophic failures when a disaster does occur.

 

Microsoft doesn’t back up your Office 365 files

Microsoft Office 365 opens up a whole new world of collaboration and document sharing for small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs). However, it doesn’t, of itself, provide sufficient backup to protect your critical data. 58% of SMB’s across the US aren’t prepared for data loss—an alarming statistic, given that 60% of SMB’s who lose data shut down within 6 months.
Below, we break down why backing up data is so important and why Microsoft Office 365 isn’t sufficient for your data protection needs.

What is backup?

When you back up data, you make a copy of the data or the data files. This can be a physical copy, such as copying files to a USB drive, or a virtual copy, such as a cloud-based program.
Backing up your data means, if original data is damaged, lost, or breached in any way, you still have access to the original files.

Why you should back up your data

In business, you should always prepare for the unexpected. You need to minimize downtime and protect your business activity. That’s where backup comes in.
A data backup strategy is critical to any SMB’s disaster recovery plan. Without backing up data, you risk:

Loss of productivity and falling behind on timelines

Whenever you lose files or data, employees can’t get their work done. This may mean wasted time for you and your employees. It could also mean disappointing customers who are relying on you to complete a job.

Profit losses

if you’re spending more time rebuilding, repairing, or locating lost files, you’re not moving your business forward. Backing up data keeps your business moving in the right direction.

Damage to your brand and reputation

This is especially worrying if you lose files because of a data or security breach. When customers lose faith in you, it’s difficult to earn this trust back—especially as an SMB. Show you take both your customers and your business seriously by backing up your data.

Costly downtime and wasted resources

Smaller businesses struggle to recover from prolonged downtime, which all too often leads to wasted resources. Backup systems prevent or mitigate this lost time.
Don’t waste time redoing work and hunting down files for an audit. Get a proper backup strategy now.

Why Office 365 is insufficient for your backup needs

While many of us assume that Microsoft Office 365 protects and backs up our data, this is not strictly true.
There’s a big difference between the responsibility we have for properly backing up and securing our data and the responsibility held by Microsoft. Although the data protection policies for Microsoft Office 365 are more thorough than earlier policies, Microsoft doesn’t guarantee quick data retrieval—or complete data recovery.
By relying entirely on Office 365, there’s a real risk you won’t recover all of your data and that you’ll still experience lengthy downtime.
Cloud-based computing is safe, but that doesn’t mean it’s infallible.

Why you need a specific Office 365 backup solution

When you’re using Office 365, you’re likely sending, amending, and creating documents all the time. You need a comprehensive, reliable, and efficient way to back up all this changing data before it’s put at risk on the cloud.
What’s more, if one file in your Office 365 suite is compromised through, for example, a security breach or human error, it may affect multiple files across your business.
Having a separate backup system, completely removed from Office 365, is the best way to select the files you want to replace and ensure you never lose more files than necessary.

How to enhance business collaboration with the right technology

It goes without saying that the right business technology can improve productivity. For example, a software upgrade or switch may mean that employees can now telecommute more. They can create, write and edit documents with one another in real time even if they’re on opposite sides of the world.
However, not all small business owners think about collaboration and technology strategically. Some may look at a collaboration tool and decide to use it without 100 percent understanding why they’re choosing this specific tool over another. Is it really the right tool? What makes it the strongest tool for the needs of the business? Is it trying to fix something that is not broken? Strategic thinking helps SMB owners recognize the areas in which collaboration gives them the greatest value.

Anticipate the needs of the business

Your business won’t be the same in two years as it is today. Even a mere week or month from now, it’ll have changed. One thing that’ll remain constant, though, is the need for collaboration. The right collaboration technology will be able to grow or evolve with the needs of the business, at least for the next year or two. A basic example: If your business plans to expand its telework options next year and you’re choosing new software now, it makes sense to factor in how friendly a program is for teleworkers or any telework-specific options it has (ex: does it have time tracking? Video calls?).

Streamline processes instead of bloating them

Collaboration isn’t always effective. In fact, the wrong tools or approach can seriously hamper a business. Take an SMB owner who would like employees to work together more on creating project presentations. One question to ask before implementation would be whether there actually is a need for more collaboration in this area. Have project presentations been lacking? If so, why? If they have not been lacking or the underlying reasons aren’t addressed, then the SMB owner risks tying up his or her employees’ time with an unnecessary or wrong collaboration tool.
Similarly, if new collaboration software means that the employees in your department have to take an extra step to collaborate with workers in another department, it may not be the best choice.
Collaboration is supposed to make things easier, not harder. There’s such a thing as collaboration burnout. Managers today may spend 85 percent of their time in meetings, on email and on the phone. It could be that the right technology for your business decreases this percentage and frees up more time for managers to do other things.

Fit the technology or approach with the company culture

This point expands a bit on “collaboration burnout.” The culture of some SMBs is 24/7 work. In other words, employees are expected to be reachable at any time. That works just fine for some employees and companies. However, if you don’t own this type of business, it’s important to choose collaboration programs or goals that reflect your norms. Alternatively, you can take extra steps to uphold your values when collaboration is so easily available.
For instance, if an employee calls in sick and your company uses a BYOD policy, you may be tempted to ask her to work from home that day. Depending on how sick she is, this move could actually result in less productivity and collaboration.

Learn more about the business

Here’s how you can maximize your collaboration tools:

  •    Focus on the problem/goal and not so much on the technology itself.
  •    Give serious consideration to tools that employees already love and that have been proven.
  •    Take a look at the big picture and the total cost of using this collaboration technology.
  •    Make sure that your IT services provider understands your needs.

To address these issues, you have to learn more about your business, and that’s a good thing!

The top 5 instant messaging apps for growing businesses

It’s hardly a secret that technological innovation, mobility, and cloud applications have dramatically impacted communication habits.
North American adults now spend over 3 hours and 35 minutes each day engaged with mobile apps at work and home, per eMarketer. The continued explosion of mobile has contributed to speculation that cloud-based instant messaging apps could one day replace email in the workplace. There are now 4.1 billion worldwide messaging app users, according to a recent Business Insider report.
A recent Forbes analysis declared crowded email inboxes (which monopolize 6.3 hours of worker attention each day) are “one-dimensional and simply outdated.”
Today’s talent force prefers real-time, mobile-optimized tools to communicate, and cloud vendors have responded with an extensive selection of workplace instant messaging solutions. The leading chat apps for business can allow your organization to drive growth with productive, engaging workplace communication.
Here are the top 5 business instant messaging apps available today.

  1. Skype

Business Skype is currently the most widely-used instant messaging app with a 43 percent market share, according to NewsDay. This multimedia platform offers collaboration features, integration with Office 365, and video conferencing capabilities for up to 250 people.
Despite its popularity, Skype for Business isn’t a permanent solution. Microsoft has announced the intention to shift Skype capabilities into the Teams app.

  1. Teams

Teams is the enterprise instant messaging app Microsoft designed as an embedded part of the improved Office 365 suite.
A robust freeware version can support chat and conferencing features for up to 300 users and seamless integration with many external apps, like Facebook and Twitter. Despite these remarkable pros, Teams isn’t the best choice for every company. You can only use it in conjunction with the Office 365 suite.

  1. Slack

Launched in 2013, Slack was among the first purpose-built cloud apps for workplace instant messaging. With 15 percent market share and eight million daily users, it remains a popular option for startups and SMB.
Affordable, flexible pricing is a beloved feature. Workers can perform content searches, create custom “channels” or chat one-on-one from desktop or mobile. User reviews sway largely positive, though some adopters believe the app is difficult to navigate.

  1. Google Hangouts

Hangouts first soared to popularity for one-on-one chat communications and video calling among consumer Gmail users. As part of Google’s expanded offerings for businesses, the Hangouts app can offer an intuitive extension to Google business apps on desktop and mobile devices.
The app offers a free trial and flexible, low-cost pricing which may appeal to first-time chat adopters at small organizations. Compared to other options, Hangouts has limited enterprise conferencing capabilities. For example, HD video calls are limited to 15 or fewer users.

  1. Facebook Workplace

With 1.2 billion active users reported by Business Insider, the consumer version of Facebook Messenger is now the most popular chat app in the North American market. Chances are, your employees are well-familiar with using Messenger and will require little training to adopt it for text, audio, and video calling.
While it is reasonably priced on a monthly basis, Workplace offers limited integration with other cloud apps for business. There are also few purpose-built productivity features for business beyond consumer Messenger capabilities.

The Best Instant Messenger for Business

While it remains to be seen whether instant messaging apps will replace email as the dominant form of workplace communication, conversational apps have undeniable momentum among personal and business users.
Incorporating instant messaging solutions can fuel business growth with flexible, cloud-based tools for real-time communication.

7 typical disaster recovery plan mistakes (and how to fix them)

A disaster recovery plan is just one step in an approach to keeping your business running well. Cyberthreats aren’t going away and new threats emerge all the time. Complete data protection requires a robust plan that includes everything from backup and disaster recovery to business continuity.

If you’re serious about crafting a disaster recovery plan that will protect your business, there are some common mistakes you’ll want to avoid. Here are 7 pitfalls we see businesses get sidelined by on a regular basis—and how you can overcome them.

1. Not having a plan at all

The only thing worse than a disaster is a disaster you’re totally unprepared for. If disaster recovery is totally new for you, don’t sweat it. Start by reading our guide to completing a disaster recovery plan.

2. Not clearly noting who is responsible for what

It’s natural to focus your data recovery plan on the data, itself, including the hardware and cloud storage you depend on. But what will keep your business going is your people.

If you have a managed IT services provider, they can certainly help, but it’s not all on them. That’s because this is about your business.

For each step of data recovery, you need to know who will be affected and who will be responsible. Consider management, employees, departments and sometimes even customers.

3. Not having a plan for communication (internally & externally)

An easy mistake to make is assigning roles for each task but not considering how people will be notified of the step in the process.

Your communication plan can take many forms, from modern solutions like mass notification through SMS messages to an old-fashioned phone tree. The specific tools you use doesn’t matter nearly as much as having a clearly-outlined plan well in advance.

Make sure everyone in your organization, as well as your managed IT services provider, is included and informed.

4. Not identifying critical processes

It’s easy to get stuck in the weeds. You know the systems you use, as well as the pitfalls and obstacles associated with each. But don’t forget the goal: business continuity.

Everything you do isn’t critical. Evaluate each process your company relies on and ask yourself what will happen if each of these processes goes offline. Having taken into account the risk associated with each process, decide which processes absolutely have to stay up and running.

Those are your critical processes. Your business continuity plan should focus on maintaining them.

5. Not having key buy-in

Disaster recovery plans affect the whole business. Because that’s true, it’s important to keep leadership in the loop about the plans and the risks.

If you’re not sure where to start, consider checking out this resource: 4 cybersecurity facts your company’s leadership team should know.

But don’t stop with the leadership. From there, make sure that everyone in the organization knows what your business continuity plan is and why it matters.

6. Not monitoring, testing & updating

A good disaster recovery plan is active.

You should be monitoring and testing. Monitoring your network will make you aware of potential issues before they have a chance to take your network offline. Proactive in testing also helps to identify potential, as well as giving you a better picture of overall risk. And system updates mitigate vulnerabilities and ensure functionality.

As your system updates, don’t forget to update your recovery plan to match your newly patched system.

7. Not mitigating risk

Disaster recovery isn’t just about preparing an inevitable emergency. It’s also about mitigating negative impact whenever possible.

A recent example of the power of mitigation is the MyHeritage breach over the summer. It affected a massive 92 million customers. But through smart, thoughtful systems design and preparation, the damage was minimal. MyHeritage didn’t store passwords directly, but rather in a one-way hash unique to each user. As a result, the breach did not actually compromise the passwords. Further, they didn’t store personal information (like credit card numbers or family tree information) that they didn’t need to maintain.

This kind of thorough, thoughtful systems approach lowered their overall risk well ahead of time. The breach they experienced could have been devastating. But their strategy turned it into a relatively minor inconvenience rather than a true emergency.

The post 7 typical disaster recovery plan mistakes (and how to fix them) appeared first on ISG Technologies.

Source: my isg

3 of the best online meeting platforms

Online meetings are only as good as the platform you use for them. An easy-to-navigate, well-designed platform can make online meetings a breeze. A platform that doesn’t fit for you will make them torture.

And there are so many to choose from. It can be difficult to know which one will work best for you.

If you’re searching for the right online meeting solution, we can help. Here are three of the best options out there right now.

The online meeting revolution

First things first. Before diving into our recommendations, it’s important to have a solid understanding of why online meetings are helpful.

An online meeting makes use of your internet connection to seamlessly connect participants from any location. This makes conducting business with people in different states or countries much easier and more efficient.

And that’s the benefit. All the collaboration of a face-to-face meeting within the time, expense and hassle of travel. For teams located in different cities and states, it’s an invaluable option.

Now, on to the recommendations.

  1. Adobe Connect Pro

You know Adobe’s name. The company is famous for Photoshop, their industry-standard image editing application. But you may not have heard about Connect Pro, their online meeting platform. It’s a great option for online meetings.

On the plus side, the interface is beautiful and it’s certainly feature-rich. But this option has a higher learning curve than your other options. It may not be well suited for novices.

One appealing aspect of this software, however, is the fact that it is completely secure. Not only that, but it can host meetings of up to 200 people. Also, people can easily connect via their smartphones or tablets.

  1. Cisco WebEx

Cisco’s WebEx software is the oldest and most commonly used online meeting services in the market. The options are solid, with all the features you’re likely to want or need. The interface is also very user-friendly, making this an online meeting service just about anyone can jump straight into.

You can install the WebEx plugin on any desktop computer. It allows you to quickly join or host meetings and makes screen-sharing convenient and easy. You can even pass the “presenter” role to others who are connected to the meeting so that anyone can take the lead.

It’s a dynamic, well-rounded option, and one you should certainly consider.

  1. GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting can support meetings of up to 15 people and allows you to record the meeting, chat between participants and screen share. If you choose the corporate version of this software (which costs a bit more), the potential meeting size goes up to 25 participants.

One of the most appealing features offered by GoToMeeting is the fact that it is very easy to use and extremely intuitive. As a result, it’s not going to take much time to get to know the features and capabilities of the program.

One of the biggest downsides, however, is that before meetings can start, everyone participating has to download the client. This may take some time, which can delay meetings if folks aren’t prepared ahead of time.

Which meeting platform is right for you?

When it’s time for you to choose a meeting program, you need to consider your options carefully. Make sure you factor in things like security and find a way to back up any information shared.

All this will ensure that your meeting is both safe and successful.

If you need more information about what online meeting service to use, then it may be a good idea to reach out to a managed IT service provider.

Why does your business need a proper backup policy?

Backing up your business information is as crucial as conducting daily business itself. Which is why you need a solid backup strategy.

With a proper backup policy, you can secure all your business data—files, documents, client and customer correspondence, and in-house or remote team communications.

No matter which industry or sector you serve, proper backup is pivotal. Data loss can seriously cripple a business of any size. A good backup strategy is the best way to avoid losing essential information due to systems failures, security breaches or plain old human error.

What can a network backup do for my company?

There are several benefits of having a backup policy for your business.

  • Any kind of data loss incident hurts. But when all your business data is backed up, you can bounce back quickly.
  • Data backups tend to lessen the impact and length of downtime. The less downtime you experience, the more you can get done . . . and the more profitable you are.
  • Backups often save you and your staff from duplicate work. Even if it’s easy to rebuild that report, do you really want to waste the time?
  • You’ll be prepared if you ever have to work through an audit or even annually when you complete your business tax preparations.

Ultimately, a well-developed backup strategy serves to protect your business by protecting your company data. That impacts your organizational efficiency, your cybersecurity and even your reputation.

Granted, the best case scenario is to never actually need your data backup. But the moment you need it, you’ll be so glad it’s there.

Related: How big data is changing the game for backup and recovery

How important are backups for my new business?

Occasionally, new SMB owners feel the need for backup isn’t as pressing. After all, there’s not as much data. A backup strategy can feel like something you can take care of later.

We strongly advise against waiting.

Network backups are of paramount importance. It’s far better to backup all your company data from the very beginning.

And if your SMB has been around awhile, it’s just as important to stay on top of backups. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you haven’t needed a backup yet, you won’t need one in the future.

All about human error

Network backup plays an instrumental role in reducing human error. Think about it. How many times have you, yourself, accidentally deleted the wrong thing? Now imagine the potential for impact if the same thing happened at the network level.

Read about how backups saved Toy Story 2

Human error is a real factor. It will be for the foreseeable future. Data backups are perhaps the best way to insulate your company from the risks of human error.

Automated the process

Automation is big in the IT industry for good reason. Automation makes repetitive tasks easy, routine and consistent. It’s perfect for backup.

As you work with your managed IT services provider to set up your custom backup strategy, make sure the process is automatic. Manually saving all network files to an additional hard drive is not a thorough backup process.

Automatically backing up all files to a secure cloud server, on the other hand, is.

A word about the cloud

The cloud is a convenient location for network backups—if it’s a good fit for your business. Be sure to think through this from all possible angles. You’ll need to take the following into account:

  • The level of security provided by your cloud vendor. This is a good thing to think about for all cloud solutions—backup and otherwise.
  • Any regulatory requirements for your industry. If your cloud provider doesn’t meet your industry’s compliance guidelines for security, for example, then the cloud may not be an option.
  • How quickly do you need to be able to access backups? Cloud backups typically take a little longer to access than local backups.
  • Scalability options with your cloud vendor. If your company grows, can you easily add space?

If cloud backups aren’t an option for your business, you can back up everything locally. In some cases, this is actually preferable. We recommend a thorough, strategic conversation with an IT consultant if you’re not entirely sure which is the best fit for you.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call

 

If you work in an office setting, chances are you have been on a conference call at some point. Conference calling was once considered the epitome of productive technology. Allowing people from all across the country to participate in the conversation was revolutionary. And, of course, it is still widely utilized today.

However, in the modern office, there is a better option.

Since its arrival, the web-based video conference call has made a huge impression on businesses and users alike. Sometimes the littlest changes have the biggest impact. Simply by allowing participants to engage visually with one another, rather than relying solely on audio communication, video conference calls have changed the way that we do business.

What follows are the top four benefits of choosing video conference calls over traditional conference calls.

Engage remote employees

Between 20 and 25% of Americans worked from home in 2017, according to the Virtual Vocations Year-End Report. That’s an increase of 115% since 2005.

If you have any employees working remote, it may be difficult for them to feel engaged and connected other team members. Regular video conference calls allow you to establish and maintain a face-to-face connection with remote employees. According to a study done by Forbes, 92% of participants felt that being able to “see” remote employees increased the sense of connection and trust between employees.

To do so without video conferencing would require the employees to regularly commute to the office, adding time and expense on the part of both you and your employee.

Related: Utilizing video conferencing to improve enterprise efficiency

Improve communication

One of the biggest problems with regular conference calls is communication issues. By introducing video components, visual cues are restored to communication.

While this may seem like a minor thing, nonverbal communication makes up a significant portion of the communication between people. In a video conference call, it is incredibly helpful to know whether Harry or Ron is speaking at the moment. It’s also important to be able to see the expression on Ron’s face to help interpret whether his comment about employee overtime is a joke or whether he is being serious.

Improved communication means fewer errors in judgment when it comes to situations like these. Video conferencing reduces confusion because people are able to connect unspoken elements with spoken communication, thereby clarifying confusing situations.

Related: Recognizing the rise of unified communications

Require attention

One of the downsides of the traditional conference call is that you are just sitting there on a phone for an hour. Most of us are guilty of getting side-tracked as we click through emails or scroll through the news of the day.

One benefit of video conferencing is, much like an in-person meeting, people can see you. It is much harder to slack off or distract yourself when the VP can see what you are doing. While she might not be able to tell if you are reading an email, you would certainly never get up to go make a sandwich in the middle of the call.

Video conferencing requires a level of attention and engagement that traditional conference calls just don’t.

Related: Schools improve student engagement, understanding with video conferencing

Add visual aids

While the use of regular conference calls might save time and the expense of travel, it can be very difficult to follow along with an audio conference call.

Video conferencing has the added benefit of being able to utilize visual aids. Visual aids can be anything: from a slideshow or a video to a whiteboard, photographs, or even physical objects. Visual aids add interest to the meeting and also help to increase understanding.

This increases individual concentration and allows participants to absorb and remember more information.

The post The compelling benefits of getting on a video conference call appeared first on ISG Technologies.

Source: my isg

The 4 best cloud backup solutions for small businesses

There are several reasons to consider a cloud backup for data protection for an SMB. These include everything from ease-of-use to cost-effectiveness. But perhaps the most compelling reason simply this—it’s wise to be ready for whatever the future holds.

That’s what data backup is. Preparation for the unexpected.

You can’t guarantee the security of your company’s data if you aren’t ready for natural disasters, cyberattacks and even simple human error. Any number of things could compromise your company’s data, which is why it’s so critical the regularly back up everything.

Cloud computing offers an easy, efficient, secure option for backing up your data, thereby reducing or even eliminating downtime.

But what backup service is the right one for your business? We took a look at some of the most popular and weighed their potential benefits for your SMB.

Veeam

Veeam is a service that focuses heavily on data availability. While it can function as a no-frills backup from day one, it comes with so much more. Many companies, even SMBs, choose to take advantage of Veeam’s five-step process, moving their business toward Intelligent Data Management.

What is Intelligent Data Management? Not only is your data instantly available all the time, split up across multiple clouds so that it resides where it’s both accessible and safe. Veeam’s advanced backup option will also utilize automation to ensure your data is optimized for use and recovery at a moments’ notice.

That’s convenience that pays off.

From small businesses to universities to the Fortune 500, more and more businesses are trusting their data with Veeam. There are a few different tiers of data protection plans available. Find the license that works for you and scale upwards if/when you need to.

Additionally, Veeam is continually updating and adding functionality to its service. You’ll always have the cutting edge of data security.

Carbonite Online

Carbonite Online employs a wide-net approach to data security. Rather than defaulting to backing up a computer in its entirety, Carbonite backs up what it decides is most critical and relies on the user to further fine tune the process.

It’s a process that works well if you’re using a lot of standard folder designations such as My Documents. In fact, in that case it’s a real time-saver. But if you working out of a more customized setup, you may find it frustrating.

Carbonite uses Continuous Data Protection (CDP) to handle backing up rapidly changing data files more or less constantly. If a file changes within a designated folder, it’s backed up quickly. This is very convenient for users who can’t afford to rebuild a recently-lost file, but need their most recently worked on version recovered as quickly as possible.

Pricing isn’t exactly cheap, but arguably worth it if it’s a good fit.

SOS Online Backup

Is security one of your biggest concerns? SOS bills itself as a backup solution that’s all about security. (Though, in fairness to the other solutions listed here, security is big for everyone.) SOS’s security features range from password protection to privately managed keys and multi-layered 256-bit encryption.

SOS will simultaneously backup to a local hard drive or other computer over your local network for quick retrieval. Like Carbonite, SOS backs up what it considers to be the most important data. You’ll need to customize these settings if they don’t work for you.

The pricing is good—that is if you’re not transmitting massive amounts of data. Yearly subscriptions save you some money over monthly options.

iDrive

While certainly not the least expensive choice, iDrive is still reasonably affordable and comes with enough options to warrant a spot in our top-four roundup.

Among its most well-liked features is the availability of client software for nearly every type of PC and device. In addition, extra storage enables syncing all PCs as well as mobile devices. As with most of these services, iDrive utilizes CDP options to keep your backup files as current as possible.

iDrive includes several choices for single user plans which will cover an unlimited number of computers and devices. The business user plans also allow for an unlimited number of users, although storage is limited by pay-tier.

Know what you need

When considering your choices for a data backup service, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind. Examine your needs and compare them to what the various services offer, and at what costs. Among things to look at, include:

  • Operating system and device support
  • Privacy and Security
  • Storage capacity
  • Speed
  • Features
  • Reliability
  • User-friendliness

Once you’ve mapped out your needs and budget, compare them to this list and see which service lines up the best for you.