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e-ratingsDo you know what others are saying about you online? Keeping track of your online reputation is very important for businesses of any size; and you'd be surprised what people are saying about you.  Using the free service Google Alerts, you can get notifications whenever Google finds something new about you on the internet.

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e-tapedriveThere are plenty of terrible ways businesses can suffer from data loss; the inevitable failed hard drive, electrical disturbances, human error, viruses, fires, floods, earthquakes - you name it. That's what backup is for, right? If you are running (and managing) a tape backup system, and keeping the backups off site, what could possibly go wrong? Today we investigate one of the leading causes of data loss. It will shock you.

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7 Steps for Mastering your Inbox with Outlook

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Email has integrated itself into the way we do business.  If you use Outlook as your primary email client, there are plenty of tricks you can do to increase your productivity and practice better email etiquettes.

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The words Productivity and Internet have been fit together in many different sentences, and usually in the sense that the Internet is a Productivity-killer. Take Facebook, for example; there are many arguments stating that Facebook is costing companies billions of dollars because employees are spending too much time on the social network while at work. Of course, Facebook (and the other social networks) are practically mandatory for businesses who want to market themselves. Other companies are clamoring that personal social media use greatly improves productivity and employee moral.

So which is it? Some Southern California companies spend a lot of money to block all the popular 'time-waster' sites on the internet under the pretense that if they didn't, employees would cost the company a lot of money.

The answer relies in part on your employees, but studies have shown that a little cognitive-free internet usage goes a long way at keeping employees sharp and productive. Of course, if you have employees that spend the majority of their day watching YouTube and playing Farmville, that shouldn't be tolerated; but if your employees are otherwise productive, studies say a little distraction goes a long way. Listening to streaming music online or taking a break to check Twitter can clear the mind and help an employee focus.

With that said, companies should invest in a good security solution (one that runs on the network, not your end-users' PCs) to limit the type of content that goes through. Blocking adult content (as well as malware and other internet threats) will prevent expensive consequences that jeopardize more than just productivity. Every so often, we have a business owner come to us seeking a solution to completely monitor their employees every move online. While that technology is readily available, that is more of a draconian measure that can cause productive, valuable employees to feel uncomfortable. This topic is certainly full of fine-lines.

A small or midsized business should definitely have a social media policy in place to outline guidelines of communicating online to protect your company brand, integrity, and your clients. That said, a small business should never dismiss social media for the marketing and communication benefits.



What about your company? Do you have strict policies in place to keep employees from using the internet personally, or do you promote personal social media usage? Leave us a comment!

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Company Safety: Testing your Backups

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Do you have confidence in your company backup solution? If your servers went down now, would you be able to rely on the data you have backed up? No matter how advanced or in-depth your backup system is, you won't know if it works unless you test it. If you don't test your backup system, how can you have confidence in it? There are plenty of issues that can occur with backups that aren't your fault at all.

Backup Software Failure

To begin with, the backup software can fail itself. When this happens, the backup fails and when you try to restore the data too many files are missing or corrupted. You can't just rely on the backup software telling you that it has securely written a backup.

Hardware Failure

Another reason behind backup failure is simply hardware failure. Hardware failure should be at the top of your list of scenarios with backup error, because, given enough time, any tape, hard drive, flash drive or any other physical memory storage device will break down eventually.

Physical Security

The physical security of your backup device is important. Numerous companies keep their primary back-up on-site. This is not good for multiple reasons. Not only does this leave the company open to theft, it also leaves them at risk if their primary location is destroyed in a disaster.

User Error

Human error can also come into play when dealing with backup failure. Take tape-replacement for example. Studies show that in many small businesses, the newest employee is tasked to remember to insert and eject the tape each day. Since the responsibility for one of the most imperative security-related tasks is sometimes assigned to the newest employee, there is a lot of room for human error.

Not all reasons to test your company's backup are negative. By testing your backup often, you'll find new ways to save on storage costs while you refine the speed and consistency of your backup process. This immediate benefit will help put money back in your company's profit. Finally, every recovery is a learning experience since not every recovery is the same. When you test your backup, you'll learn different nuances about your IT infrastructure that you didn't know before. Testing your backup will also help to reduce backup and storage costs, improve overall security, and improve backup and recovery speeds. Testing will also give your company's employees an opportunity to share emergency recovery knowledge with others in the company, which will make sure that your company's data survival doesn't rest in the hands of any single person or group.

These are only some of the reasons why you should test your backup. While most of them are reasons to make sure that the backup saved properly, by testing your backup you can possibly save money by testing consistently. If you feel that testing your backups is unnecessary, ask yourself if you're ready to face a backup scenario and challenge: Would you feel comfortable erasing your hard-drives right now, and restoring them from backups?.

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