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6 Top Tips for Choosing the Best Software for Your Small Business

15th January 2022

From supporting business growth and boosting competitive edge to reducing risk by providing all the latest security features, there is a lot to be said for investing in new software. Whether you’re looking for the best invoice software for a small business, or seeking out an efficient new CRM or HR platform, you are bound to come up against an array of options. Here we offer advice on choosing the best software for your small business so that you are ready to make the right choices.

 

Keep an open mind

 

Just because you’ve always used the same software doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. If you keep an open mind when looking at your options, it could be that you find something that considerably improves efficiency and transforms productivity.

 

Think about the future

 

Things move fast in the world of technology, so be mindful when considering the best software for your small business and make sure that you are not buying into something that has already been superseded by new developments, or that is likely to become defunct in the near future.

 

Also think about how your needs might change as time goes on. Will the new software be able to scale up as your demands increase? What you don’t want to do is outgrow your software too soon and find yourself having to make even more investment.

 

Consult business-wide

 

It is important when looking at your options for the best software for your small business to involve everyone who will be impacted by it. The staff who will be using the likes of tracking software, invoice software, business server software and employee scheduling software will have valuable input, as they will know first-hand the challenges that are faced in the various areas of the business, that could be streamlined with the right software.

 

You’ll also need to involve your IT partners, because they will want to ensure the new software can be easily supported, that it will work in harmony with other technologies throughout the business, and that it will have strong cybersecurity features.

 

Finally, keep your customers’ needs in mind too when choosing new software for your business. How will it impact them, and will it deliver an improved experience?

 

Prioritise your needs

 

When choosing the best software for your small business, it is important to work out what is most important to you. You should make a list of what the new software will need to do, marking each feature up as a must-have and a nice-to-have.

 

Your aim is to choose software that fits with the way you run your business and that will improve operational efficiency and make things easier for staff and customers. What you don’t want to do is make your choice based on shiny features that may look good in theory, but may not actually provide you with any real benefits.

 

Do plenty of research

 

Start the process of exploring your options for new software well before any current licences expire, otherwise you could find yourself making snap decisions that you will later regret.

 

Read plenty of reviews and make sure you are clear on how the software works, and the benefits it will offer your business. Don’t limit yourself to one or two alternatives; look at a good range and compare the features of each.

 

Once you have your shortlist, sign up for free trials or demos. There is no substitute for trying new software for yourself. Again, involve staff in the process so that you can get feedback from the actual users.

 

Take professional advice

 

When looking at the best software for your small business, it is wise to seek the advice of an IT expert. You can of course speak to the software providers themselves, although you will need to consider that their opinions could be biased.

 

It’s generally best to take advice from a third party who will be impartial. If you don’t have an IT department or IT partner, you can engage an IT consultant to help you on an ad-hoc basis.

 

An IT consultant will have wide ranging experience and will know the pitfalls as well as the advantages of each software option, as well as being aware of future developments that you could take advantage of. They’ll also take time to get to know your business so that they understand precisely what you need and what your objectives are, so that they can make recommendations that are in your best interests.

 

When choosing the best software for your small business, you’ll want to make sure it has the ability to boost productivity, streamline customer relations and reduce staff frustration. It is not necessarily all about saving money, although in some cases, that may be an added benefit. It’s all about prioritising value rather than cutting costs.

 

Need help choosing the best software for your small business? Talk to PC Docs.

 

If you could use some help choosing the best software for your small business, our friendly experts here at PC Docs are on hand with all the advice and guidance you need. To discuss your needs with an experienced IT consultant, you are welcome to get in touch.

How to Speed up a Laptop or PC

16th August 2021

There’s little more frustrating than a slow computer, especially when there’s urgent work to be done. If you’re done with waiting for your laptop or PC to load up a web page or program, read on for the advice you need to make your device fast again so that you can get those jobs done without the wait.

 

Update your software

 

Out of date software is well known for slowing down a computer. From applications and drivers to web browsers, it’s important to keep everything up to date, including Windows itself. Not only is updating everything on a regular basis one of the best ways to speed up a laptop and keep your PC running smoothly, it will also ensure you have all the latest security patches and bug fixes.

 

Free up some disk space

 

When a disk starts to get full, it slows down. Even the largest drives can fill up if they’re not cleaned up regularly. Deleting files that you no longer use and uninstalling programs that aren’t needed any more, or that came as free trials when you purchased your PC and you never used them, are good ways to free up space. Be sure to permanently delete unwanted files including removing from the recycling bin, and fully uninstall programs rather than just delete their shortcuts.

 

Run a virus and malware check

 

Your antivirus software should be running regular scans to ensure there is nothing sinister on your PC. Viruses can slow a computer down and cause all sorts of cybersecurity risks. It’s therefore vital to ensure your antivirus program is up to date and that it’s set to run regular scans. You can also run an ad-hoc scan any time you think your PC may be under threat, or if has all of a sudden started running slowly for no apparent reason.

 

Clear your cache and cookies

 

Each time you visit a web page, your browser stores it as a small file on your PC. It also stashes small files known as cookies which contain details of your browsing history as well as any personal data you’ve entered into a web page. As time goes on, these files start taking up more and more space on your PC. How to speed up a laptop? Clearing your browser’s cache on a regular basis is good practice, as it will help to speed up loading time for the web pages you visit. The browser settings menu is usually the place to find the clear cache and cookies function.

 

Delete temporary files

 

Temporary files are created by a computer’s operating system when running or completing a task. These files take up space and, eventually, can show down your PC. If you’ve been wondering, why is my laptop so slow, it could well in part be down to a build-up of temporary files. You can use the Windows Disk Clean-up utility to remove temporary and unnecessary system files. Simply choose the type of files you wish to clean up and the drive you wish to remove them from, and let the program do the work.

 

Want a faster PC or laptop? Talk to PC Docs.

 

If you’ve tried all the above fixes but you are still looking for answers on how to speed up a laptop, talk to PC Docs. There are other, more advanced solutions we can explore to help resolve slow PC issues, such as switching to Solid State Drives or moving to a cloud-based system on a high speed network.

 

To learn more about how PC Docs can speed up your computers and help improve productivity and efficiency, you are welcome to contact our helpful team.

What is the Cost of IT Support for a Small Business?

09th June 2021

A question we are often asked is, what is the cost of IT support for a small business? UK wide, IT support companies are posed the same question. Although there is no straight answer, simply because every business has unique needs and it is vital that as an IT support company, we tailor our offering to suit those needs, we can to some extent provide an overview of IT support services prices to help give you an idea of the sort of costs you are looking at to safeguard your business and boost your competitive edge.

 

What influences IT support services prices?

 

You will find that the cost of IT support for a small business in the UK varies quite a bit. Main influencers will be the likes of location, precise business requirements, any specific cyber risks and the level of technical experience needed.

 

So how much should you expect to pay for IT support London or UK wide? Let’s take a look at the various ways of buying IT support, and the sort of prices you might expect to pay for it.

 

Ad-hoc IT support

 

Here at PC Docs, we offer ad-hoc or reactive IT support services to companies London and Hertfordshire wide who have not signed into a regular contract. These services are designed to provide trouble shooting assistance on the spot.

 

Prices start from £100 per hour plus VAT, and we ask for pre-payment in blocks of five hours.

 

Ad-hoc IT support can either be onsite or remotely managed, depending on the nature of the issue. We can generally resolve most issues remotely thanks to our extensive experience, which is good news as this reduces the amount of time required, and gets you back up and running a lot faster. Remote IT support allows us to access your systems from our offices, so our team can quickly identify and resolve whatever issues you are facing.

 

The advantages of ad-hoc IT support are that there are no ongoing contract costs. However, this way of approaching IT support means that you will have no preventative maintenance, no ongoing monitoring of your systems to detect impending issues, and generally, higher IT support costs.

 

Fixed rate IT support

 

Generally, fixed rate IT support is charged on a per-user basis. Our plans start from as little as £15 per user plus VAT per calendar month, providing access to our expert IT support helpdesk for priority support and advice.

 

With fixed rate IT support, you won’t have to pay out should any unexpected issues arise, as these will all be included in the plan.

 

Fixed rate IT support gives you the reassurance of a regular payment plan, with no surprise or hidden costs, and the knowledge that should an issue arise, expert help will be on hand.

 

Fully managed IT support

 

Fully managed IT support places you in the lowest risk position by ensuring uptime and business continuity. It involves every aspect of your IT and telecoms systems being taken care of on a proactive basis.

 

From monitoring cloud backups to ensuring all the latest updates and software versions are regularly installed, to carrying out networking efficiency audits and troubleshooting, absolutely everything is covered, with the ultimate goal of ensuring your business runs at optimum efficiency.

 

With fully managed It support, you will also benefit from continued monitoring and preventative maintenance, placing you in the strongest position to stay up and running and competitive at all times.

 

IT support services to suit every need and every budget, from PC Docs

 

Here at PC Docs we offer a variety of IT support solutions to suit a variety of business needs and budgets.

 

All our IT support clients enjoy access to a FREE comprehensive IT audit. Our aim is reduce your risk level and boost your IT experience, so you can enjoy enhanced productivity and continued reassured. Our free IT audit, worth £1195, includes a security assessment, data recovery and security analysis, a network infrastructure check, an email application review and a close look at your operating systems, software and hardware to ensure they’re all delivering maximum security and optimal performance.

 

For our latest IT support service price list, and to discuss how we can tailor an IT support plan to suit your specific business needs, you are welcome to get in touch.

How to Ensure Your IT Systems are GDPR Compliant

07th May 2021

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaced the Data Protection Act in 2018. The core objectives were to provide individuals with enhanced privacy, all made possible courtesy of a set of new rights.

 

The connotations for businesses were fairly far reaching, with various changes needing to be implemented across data collection and storage processes, as well as marketing practices.

 

In short, businesses had to ensure that any information stored on individuals was readily accessible, that the reason for collecting and retaining it was viable, and that data would not be retained for any longer than was completely necessary.

 

What data does the GDPR cover?

 

The GDPR covers all the data any organisation stores. As well as physical records, this means data kept on servers, in the cloud, on individual PCs, on portable media and on mobile devices.

 

Keeping such data safe all of a sudden became a hundred times more important when the GDPR was introduced. As did being able to demonstrate evidence of data security measures and processes put in place to mitigate the risk of data breaches.

 

Any breach must be reported within 72 hours to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Fines of €20 million or 4 per cent of annual global turnover, whichever is higher, are what businesses face should they fall short of compliance.

 

What are businesses responsible for in terms of GDPR and IT?

 

It is the responsibility of individual companies to ensure sufficient cyber security measures are in place to reduce the risk of a data breach. Your aim is to reach a level of confidence that you have done all you can to install adequate security measures, to educate staff and to prevent and contain breaches.

 

The following is a quick-check summary of the typical measures you should be adopting in order to keep your information technology secure and GDPR compliant:

 

  1. Understand what cyber security is and how it works.
  2. Ensure you have appropriate, up to date antivirus and firewall software installed across all devices, including homeworker devices.
  3. Be sure to install all available software and security updates; enable automatic updates so there is no room for error.
  4. Install a strict password policy within your organisation, including outlawing password sharing, and make use of a secure password generator and vault.
  5. Use a tiered system to set restrictions as to who can access and share certain information on your systems, so that you have better control and a clearer audit trail.
  6. Immediately change passwords and reset system permissions when a member of staff leaves. Be sure to reset building access codes too, or change locks as appropriate.
  7. Encrypt any sensitive information, particularly on portable devices and that sent via emails.
  8. Run regular online backups so that you have access to a recent copy of your data should an incident occur.
  9. When deleting data once the retention period is over, make certain that it is completed erased from all hardware as well as cloud storage.
  10. If you are using a cloud based storage and backup system, ask the provider to furnish you with their own GDPR policy so that you can do you due diligence and ensure they are as compliant as you are.
  11. Train staff to ensure they are fully aware of data breach and cyber security risks. Be sure to include training on every new staff induction, and include regular refresher training to keep everyone up to date.
  12. Take care when sending emails that only the necessary information is being shared, and with the right recipient.
  13. Keep up to date with and share details of all the latest phishing scams so that everyone is aware of the current risks.
  14. Pay attention to physical security measures such as CCTV and access control, which are just as important for protecting data as cyber security measures.
  15. Make sure that your IT support company is GDPR compliant and that they sign an agreement with you concerning data access.

 

GDPR compliant IT support from PC Docs

 

At PC Docs, we offer a comprehensive package of GDPR compliant IT support services, together with a range of cyber security solutions, all of which can be tailored to suit your individual business needs.

 

To discover how we can help protect your business against costly data breaches, and for a copy of our GDPR compliance policy, you are welcome to get in touch.

What is Cyber Security and How Does it Work?

28th April 2021

Cyber security is the term given to the methods, processes and technologies used to help protect the integrity, confidentiality and availability of data, networks and computer systems against cyber-attacks or unauthorised access. The main object of cyber security is to protect an organisation’s assets against internal and external threats from criminal sources, as well as against disruptive natural disasters. So that’s what cyber security is, but how does cyber security work?

 

How does cyber security work?

 

Because there are so many systems and processes in operation in any business, cyber security needs to be a multifaceted effort. It is therefore compiled of a number of different processes, including:

 

  • Application security
  • Information security
  • Network security
  • Operational security
  • Disaster recovery/business continuity planning
  • End user education

 

Largely, cyber security involves the use of software to protect systems and networks against cyber criminals. Whilst no software can guarantee 100 per cent protection, the use of software makes more challenging for the likes of hackers to create access points. Consider it a secondary layer of protection.

 

Cyber security incorporates the following:

 

Antivirus software

 

Antivirus software works by identifying and eliminating malware, as well as stopping it from getting into the system in the first place.

 

Malware is any type of software that can be thought of as harmful. Examples include Trojan horses, spyware, ransomware and, viruses.

 

Antivirus software works by scanning devices and systematically removing any items of malware that have been installed. It will also seek out potentially harmful files attached to emails or direct messages, and notify the recipients or remove the files before they can wreak havoc. Due to ongoing developments in malware, it is crucial to update antivirus software on a regular basis so as to stay protected.

 

Firewalls

 

You can think of a firewall as a first line of defence, capable of blocking some types of network traffic, and providing protection against untrusted networks.

 

Firewalls work by monitoring a device’s network traffic in real time, denying connection requests from any source it regards as malicious. A firewall acts as a filter for a network and provides an additional layer of security that works alongside antivirus software.

 

As with antivirus software, firewalls also require regular updates. It is vital that users never ignore security updates for this reason.

 

Encryption

 

Encryption makes use of algorithms to convert data into complex codes. Users require a key (a decryption algorithm) so they can access any meaningful information.

 

Encrypting data reduces the risk of it being accessed and exploited by unauthorised users who would not have access to the necessary key. This type of protection is often used when sharing information over the internet, or storing it on portable devices.

 

Staff education

 

Whilst there are various physical steps you can take to protect against cyber-attacks, when it comes down to it, knowledge is power.

 

Cyber security and indeed cyber risk knowledge is vital when it comes to protecting systems and data. Lack of awareness by just one member of staff could lead to an entire network becoming compromised. For this reason, every employee should be thoroughly and regularly trained in cyber security processes.

 

Human error is one of the most common weaknesses that cyber attackers play on. Of course, this is a risk that can never be completely eliminated, but a good working knowledge of security practices can mitigate risks.

 

Cyber security threats are continuously evolving, making it crucial to stay up to date with all the current security measures and technologies, and provide regular cyber security training and refreshers.

 

Protect your business from the serious threat of cybercrime with help from PC Docs

 

At PC Docs, we offer a comprehensive package of cyber security solutions, all of which can be tailored to suit your specific business requirements and individual cyber risk assessment.

 

We offer a range of services, including anti-malware and adware systems, firewall and antivirus setup and management, internet and spam filters and email scanning software. We can also provide your organisation with general advice on cyber security best practice so that you can educate your staff.

 

To learn how we can help protect your business against cybercrime and better understand how cyber security works, please get in touch.

7 Common IT Risks to Business and How to Combat Them

21st April 2021

An increasing reliance on technology, and the fact we are all living and working in a progressively digital world, inevitably means that whilst we can enjoy many benefits in terms of operational productivity and business growth, there are more and more threats to deal with. Being on your guard and prepared to deal with the biggest risks is vital. But what are those risks, and how to deal with them?

 

Every day, new IT related risks and cyber security threats are evolving and putting businesses at risk. A survey conducted by the World Economic Forum revealed that cyber-attacks are top of the worry list for executives in Europe and other developed nations.

 

The trouble is that cyber criminals don’t just hack emails. They are now capable of bringing entire systems down and holding organisations to ransom. This is precisely why it is so important to be aware of how these criminals can take hold and pose a threat. To know what the IT risks to business are, and to respond with a robust IT risk management strategy.

 

Let’s take a look at the top IT risks for business.

 

1.   Social Engineering

 

Social engineering is a tactic that involves gaining the trust of an individual, ahead of launching some form of cyber-attack.

 

This could be anything from mass spam phishing, to voice phishing or spear phishing, or whaling, which targets high value targets. Angler phishing is social media based, with attackers imitating a trusted organisation’s customer service department. Conversations are sparked, when are then hijacked and diverted to private messages, where the attacks are advanced.

 

Search engine phishing places links to fake websites top of the search results, whilst URL phishing uses tactics to mask web links so they look genuine. There’s also in-session phishing that interrupts regular web browsing with the likes of fake login pop-ups.

 

Baiting attacks take advantage of natural curiosity to coax individuals into giving away sensitive information. Strategies include USB flash drives left in public places, or email attachments offering something for free.

 

Social engineering is on the rise and, unfortunately, even the most robust cyber security measures are no match. But with a good dose of employee education, and some clearly laid out processes, you can boost the battle.

 

2.   Third-Party Exposure

 

Whilst you may have your cyber-security, data protection and IT risk management policies off-pat, there still remains the risk of third party exposure.

 

If you use third parties for the likes of payment processing or bookings management, and those parties are subject to a data breach or cyber-attack, then you will be responsible for that breach or attack should your customers be affected. This means that you will be legally and financially liable, and legally required to notify your regulators, as well as facing the potential of fines and penalties.

 

It is therefore vital to take steps to monitor the policies and procedures of third party suppliers, and to do your due diligence on their commitment to cyber and data security.

 

3.   Failure to Manage Updates

 

A large proportion of cyber-attacks occur due to outdated software and operating systems.

 

If you fail to install updates and the latest software patches, then your organisation will become seriously vulnerable to all sorts of security breaches.

 

Cyber criminals actively seek holes in software security, so be sure to keep on top of all your updates.

 

4.   Bring Your Own Device Working

 

The trend for allowing staff to work from their own familiar devices may have increased productivity, flexibility and employee satisfaction. But it has brought with it heightened exposure to cyber security breaches.

 

With personal devices often falling off the radar of organisation cyber security protocols, and often easier to hack, this can leave them exposed to security breaches, and acting as a route in to company networks.

 

It is therefore crucial to put a BYOD policy in place, and ensure that all staff are adequately informed and trained to minimise the risks involved.

 

5.   Remote Working

 

With so many employees working from home, the risk for cyber-attacks has increased. As staff log in to networks remotely, so there are more opportunities for attackers to find in-roads.

 

Setting up a virtual private network (VPN) is essential to secure the connections made into your organisation’s systems.

 

6.   Internet of Things (IoT)

 

The Internet of Things is a network of connected devices that can send, receive and store data. From voice assistants to smart security, from wireless inventory trackers to connected appliances, the fact that all these devices are capable of producing data, and that they are all connected to the internet, poses a risk in itself.

 

With hackers increasingly finding ways to compromise IoT connected devices to steal data, it is crucial that steps are taken to protect these devices, such as setting secure passwords.

 

7.   Outdated Hardware

 

Software and operating systems are not always responsible for cyber-attacks. As ageing hardware becomes obsolete, it becomes unable to support newer, more secure security measures. This can put company systems and its data at risk.

 

Monitoring devices and replacing or upgrading hardware on a regular basis is therefore vital.

 

Cyber security threats are showing any signs of abating. If anything, they are on the rise, and becoming more and more intricate, leading to more devastating consequences. It is therefore imperative for businesses to take active steps to protect their data and networks courtesy of good IT risk management strategies.

 

Expert cyber security support from PC Docs

 

At PC Docs we offer a comprehensive package of cyber security solutions, all of which can be tailored to suit your specific levels of IT risk.

 

From anti-malware and adware protection, to firewall and antivirus systems and other software, our services cover the entire spectrum of IT risks. We also offer tailored guidance on good IT risk management.

 

To learn how we can help safeguard your organisation against all the latest IT risks, you are welcome to get in touch.

5 Smart Ways to Spring Clean your IT

18th March 2021

Spring is here and, as a time associated with renewal and rejuvenation, it’s often the season when many people spring clean their homes, offices and lives in general. What better time then to turn our attention to the technology that we rely on year-round, and give it a good review and clean-up? After all, the more efficient our IT systems and computer, the better they’ll be able to support us for the rest of the year.

 

Ready to spring clean your IT? Here are five of the most important things to cover if you want to enjoy faster, more organised and reliable technology for the months to come.

 

1.     Clear your desktop

 

There’s nothing more distracting than a cluttered desktop. Over time, desktops tend to become hoarding grounds for all sorts of files and shortcuts, many of which we quite simply no longer use.

 

Now spring is here, it’s a great time to declutter your desktop. Start by going through every item one by one. Delete any shortcuts you no longer use, move images into image folders and documents or files into their rightful folders.

 

Pay attention to your program shortcuts too. Rather than having them randomly dotted about, try sorting them into themed folders, or pin your most used programs to your taskbar or dock.

 

Remember that every time you boot up your PC, it has to load each of these files. So the less you have on your desktop, the faster your PC will load.

 

Once you’ve finished your clean-up, you can bring a sense of neatness to your desktop by right clicking and choosing ‘sort by’, then you can order your icons by size, type, name or date. This will help you find what you need faster.

 

2.     Organise your files and folders

 

Now you’ve organised your desktop, it’s time to focus your efforts on your files and folders. It’s easy during a busy working day to just save things wherever they land, but you’ll know the frustration of trying to locate what you need in a hurry, only to find yourself searching through reams of random files.

 

So take some time this spring to get organised. Set up a system of folders to make it easier to find the files, documents, images and videos you need with ease. Whilst you’re in the process of sorting, have a clear-out too. If there are files you haven’t used in a year or more, think about moving them to an external hard drive so that they are not cluttering your newly organised file system, and slowing down your PC.

 

3.     Optimise your systems

 

Over time, temporary files and the likes of web cookies can accumulate and slow down a PC. These can be manually deleted or cleared, or you can use software such as CCleaner and System Mechanic can help to remove unused temporary files, clear your web browser and clean your registry.

 

It’s a good idea to regularly empty your recycle bin too, as deleted files will stay there taking up space and slowing things down until they’re permanently removed.

 

Now is a good time to ensure your operating system is up to date so that you have all the latest security patches and updates. You can also optimise performance by disabling visual effects, removing programs from your start-up menu so your PC is quicker to load, and by defragmenting your hard drive so that it runs more efficiently.

 

4.     Run a system refresh

 

If you’ve been experiencing issues with Windows, you can run a system refresh. You’ll usually find that this returns your PC to running just the way it did when it was brand new.

 

A system refresh will reinstall Windows, but retain your personal files and settings, as well as the apps that came with the PC and that you installed yourself from the Microsoft Store.

 

It’s vital to run a backup of your important files before you begin and, if you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, ask for help from a qualified Microsoft technician.

 

5.     Physically clean your PCs

 

A spring clean wouldn’t be a spring clean without a good dust! Most people are quick to keep their workstations spick and span, but often overlook their actual PC and other equipment. But it’s important to remember that dust can accumulate in fans and air vents, having a negative impact on performance.

 

Dust can lead to overheating, which can result in unexpected shutdowns or throttled performance, where the central processing unit (CPU) throttles back its performance in order to avoid damage.

 

A build-up of dust can become a significant issue if it is left unattended. Fans and air vents are vital elements of a PC which help it to run efficiently and safely. This is why it is so important to spring clean your computer.

 

A good clean inside a PC with a can of compressed air and a cotton bud can do the trick, but only proceed if you are confident finding your way into and around the unit. If the PC is sealed, you can still use compressed air to clean the vents.

 

It is vital though when cleaning a PC in any way to switch off the power, disconnect from the mains and, in the case of laptops, remove the battery. If in doubt, hand over the task to an IT professional.

 

Need help cleaning up your IT systems? Talk to PC Docs.

 

Here at PC Docs, we are proud to serve a number of Hertfordshire and North London based businesses with a variety of IT support services designed to keep systems running at their best 24/7.

 

We often help businesses facing issues with IT system performance, finding solutions to improve speed and efficiency for the long term so that productivity can be kept at its optimum. Need IT solutions and support for your business? Speak to PC Docs.

How to Choose the Best Online Backup Service for Your Small Business

30th January 2021

To say data loss can be hugely devastating to a business is something of an understatement. Financial losses and reputation damage are just the start of it. In a commercial world driven by technology, the risks of losing data due to a crashed hard drive, human error, natural disaster or a cyber-attack are very real.

 

Even if you carry out regular back-ups, there could always be gaps between your last backup, and the event that wipes your data. What’s more, if you don’t store your backup drive offsite, then you could quite easily be separated from it should you be unable to access your premises. This is precisely why offsite online backups are crucial for any business, especially the smaller organisation that can ill afford to suffer losses.

 

With this in mind, our experts are taking a look at the best online backup for small business owners. Read on to discover how online backups work, why you should be investing in an online backup service, and which are the market leading options.

 

How does an online backup work?

 

Online backups scan your hard drive for files that need protecting. They then encrypt them so they cannot be read should a cyber-attack take place, and then upload them to the online services. Once the files are uploaded, you can access them and restore your data from anywhere, anytime, via an internet connected device.

 

Are online backups the same as cloud storage and file syncing?

 

Contrary to popular belief, and whilst there is an element of overlap, online backup services are not the same as cloud storage and file syncing services such as Sync, Dropbox or Google Drive. Yes, these services do store files in the cloud, but they are not designed to automatically protect everything on your network, including system files.

 

This is precisely why, for the small business that wants to properly protect itself against risk, an online backup service really is a wise move. But how to choose the best online backup solution for small business use? Here’s what you need to consider.

 

How much does the online backup service cost?

 

Cost is one of the most important factors when looking at online backups.

 

Most are subscription-based, but they do vary in terms of features and costs, so it is important to compare plans carefully before going ahead. Most will hinge on the volume of cloud storage provided for your data, although some will be led by number of devices per account. Look out for storage limits on cheaper solutions, or restricted features, as well as file-size upload limits.

 

How secure are online backup solutions?

 

It is crucial to look at the security of your chosen online backup solution. Most will encrypt your files before uploading to the servers, and some offer a private encryption key option.

 

If you opt to manage your own encryption keys to decrypt your backups when required, then it will be down to you to remember it, bearing in mind that the service itself won’t be able to help you with a reset if you forget it. The good thing about this is that no one can unlock your backups other than you, which is beneficial from a privacy and security point of view. The best course of action is to use a password manager to keep track of your encryption key.

 

How easy is it to restore your data?

 

An online backup service needs to be as fast and straightforward as possible when it comes to restoring your data. Look for search tools for locating specific files, and for solutions that replicate full folder-tree structures so you can recover more easily from bigger data losses.

 

Some plans are per-device, so if you purchase a new PC then you may need to transfer the account.

 

There is also a feature known as ‘versioning’. This saves incremental changes made to files as recoverable snapshots. This is useful in situations where you need to retrieve information from an earlier version of a file, or if your latest saved version becomes corrupted. Online backup services vary in terms of how many versions they retain, and how long they are retained for. Some will keep an unlimited number of file versions forever.

 

What about local data laws?

 

When you are choosing a cloud backup service for your small business, and you are operating in a regulated sector such as finance, law or healthcare, then you may need a solution that offers local hosting to ensure local data laws are adhered to.

 

Always check where your data is held. If you have a large volume of data to back up, you will generally want a local data centre, because when it comes to restoring the data, it may take a very long time if it’s located somewhere on the other side of the world.

 

How to choose the best online backup for your small business?

 

Tailored advice is crucial. This is precisely why we haven’t turned this article into a comparison resource. What you really need is an expert who takes time to get to know your business and unique network setup. To understand the specific risks your organisation faces, and the industry and regulatory factors that need to be considered.

 

For any business, choosing the right online backup service isn’t about comparing features. It’s about taking professional advice from qualified people who are in the know about the pros and cons of the various options. People who can guide you in line with your best interests and individual risk levels.

 

So, if you are considering moving to an online backup service, talk to PC Docs. We’ll take as much time as we need to thoroughly understand your business and industry, so that we can make informed recommendations for you on the best online backup service for your small business.

 

To learn more about how PC Docs can help you choose the right online backup solution, please get in touch with our helpful experts, all dedicated to making sure you receive clear advice on your level.

Why is Cyber Security Important?

07th January 2021

The aim of cyber security is to protect the devices we use to access the internet, and to prevent unauthorised access to the personal and business data that’s stored on them. Why cyber security is important, and how to recognise and prevent devastating cyber-attacks, are precisely what we’re looking at in this article.

 

The importance of cyber security

 

Why is cyber security so important in today’s society? Because cyber-attacks are a very real threat, and have the potential to wreak havoc within an organisation, costing significant amounts of money, and often ruining reputations.

 

Whilst it only tends to be the larger organisations that make the news following a cyber-attack or data breach, the fact is that up to 88 per cent of UK companies have suffered cyber breaches over the past year, according to Carbon Black. Worryingly, every day, in the region of 65,000 attempts are made to hack small to medium sized businesses, around 4,500 of which are successful.

 

Cisco also estimates that 53 per cent of small businesses worldwide suffered a security breach in 2018. Over 2019 to 2020, over a third of UK companies reported a data breach incident to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

 

Why is cyber security important to all of us?

 

Technology is the main driving force behind the majority of business processes these days. It is therefore unlikely that any organisation would be able to avoid the devastation associated with a cyber-attack.

 

The problem is that cyber security breaches tend to have a considerable knock-on effect. Viruses, malware or hacking can bring business systems to a standstill. Vital data can be held to ransom, lost, corrupted or damaged, and intellectual property can be compromised. Income and profits can take a massive hit as a result, and ongoing liabilities such as notification costs, fines for data loss, legal expenses, awards and damages could really start to clock up.

 

Reputation damage is another damaging effect of cyber breaches. Around a third of companies have said they have lost customers following a breach, according to Cisco, and 44 per cent of UK consumers claim they will stop spending with a business temporarily following a security breach. 41 per cent say they will never return at all. There is also the risk that shareholders may also lose confidence and sell shares, in doing so devaluing the company.

 

The cost of cyber-related security breaches

 

In November 2020, it was reported that Ticketmaster UK was fined £1.25 million by the ICO for failing to keep its customers’ personal data secure. The ICO discovered that the company had failed to put adequate security measures in place to avoid a cyber-attack on a chat-bot installed on its online payment page, and also failed to identify the source of the fraudulent activity in a timely manner. The failure constituted a breach of the GDPR.

 

The effects of cyber breaches are clearly devastating, demonstrating just why cyber security is important.

 

The problem of cyber-crime and data breaches has worsened since the pandemic hit. Criminals are increasingly finding cunning ways of breaching systems, from highly sophisticated phishing attacks to malware and ransomware.

 

With so many staff now working from home making it more challenging to keep a close check on security, and with risks considerably augmented, it has become even more vital to have robust cyber security systems in place.

 

Cyber security services from PC Docs

 

At PC Docs, we offer a fully comprehensive package of cyber security solutions which we can tailor to suit your individual business. From firewall and antivirus installation, to internet and spam filters, anti-malware and adware and access control, we have the technology and expertise to keep your organisation as safe as possible online, so that you do not have to face the costly and devastating consequences of a cyber-breach.

 

Cyber security. Why is it important? Because it could be the very thing that keeps your business afloat and competitive. To learn more about how we can help with cyber security solutions for your business, please get in touch.

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