Microsoft Windows-based networks are incredibly productive, stable, and efficient...if you have the right strategy. This may come as a surprise to some. If you don't agree, you're probably doing it wrong. You're probably working with an IT provider that cuts corners or is incompetent.
Done wrong, your network will be a source of misery and inefficiency that will cost you dearly. Those who ignore our strategy will experience weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth, and blaming Microsoft. We can assure you: it doesn't have to be like that.
Done right, your network will be a blunt-force instrument for making your organization profitable and efficient. In this "Keystone Small Business Network Strategy" series, I'll explain the 'whys' behind how Keystone manages networks and why you should do it The Keystone Way.
First up: Data Backup
Most business owners I talk to think their hardware is vital to their business. And they're right, so long as it's working. If your server, firewall, and workstations are literally on fire, under three feet of water, or hanging precariously between the branches of a pine tree after being deposited by a tornado, your hardware isn't much of a concern. You've got far bigger problems, the biggest of which is where is your mission critical data?
You may be thinking "Yeah, but I've got to buy all new hardware!" That's a great problem. You can actually BUY new hardware. You can't buy your data. Either you keep it safe or you're up the creek with out a paddle. You're on fire, you're under water. Nobody is going to walk through that door and deliver your data to you. You're screwed. That's why Data Backup is #1. Your network begins and ends with the information it transmits; that data that YOU created and doesn't exist anywhere else in the world.
There are a few Data Backup principles in The Keystone Way:
A. On-Site Backup.
Everyone should backup their data and server configuration locally according to The Keystone Way. The need for data backup you probably understand after reading the introduction...but why the server configuration? Your server configuration tells your data and all the hardware on your network how to act. It stores your network user accounts (and passwords) and security settings. It tells accounting "yes, you can see Quickbooks" and tells everyone else "you're not welcome here." If you don't have that information, you're essentially starting over from scratch. All the work your IT consultant put into (and that you paid for) making your network run smoothly will be lost...and you'll get to pay for it all again, while enduring possibly days of downtime.
Should your server hardware have some serious issues, it's possible to even run your network from the hardware devices we now in stall to store local data copies. It isn't ideal, but it will work. These devices are an investment in keeping your data safe, accessible, and secure.
B. Off-Site Backup.
Should that On-Site Backup be floating down the Cumberland River, you'd better have a contingency plan: the Off-Site Backup. The Keystone Way is to have another copy of your data in a location that is not near you geographically. There are eleventy-seven different options available to backup your data. And no, I'm not talking about DropBox, OneDrive, or Google Drive. Those are NOT off-site backups. DropBox, OneDrive, and Google Drive are cloud-based storage. If your DropBox files get compromised in some way (CryptoLocker/Wall virus?), there is no hope. A legitimate Off-Site Backup solution will copy ALL your data across your entire network. These backups are used in case your local presence (and data) no longer exists. While this is hard to imagine...so was the thought of a jet airliner crashing into the World Trade Center. Face it, the unforeseen can happen.
Do we have your attention? All of this can be a little confusing but don't worry. If you need help, give us a call!
Stay tuned for our next two installments, Business-Class Hardware and Security!