Remote Monitoring & Management

Photo by Goran Ivos on Unsplash

Small businesses can have large business protection. Through a quality RMM (Remote Monitoring & Management) package, the end-user can have a plethora of tools that protect, secure, monitor, and maintain all their IT assets.

Imagine knowing everything that is connected to your network and knowing all the details about every single one of those things. The systems details (and a ton of other info) of all the computers, printers, smart phones, scanners, network devices, etc… And, imagine knowing the good, the bad, and the ugly about every one of them too.

RMMs monitor and maintain with patching and running constant checks on system statuses. They can have added protection and security with Web Protection and Managed Antivirus to keep all your systems protected and constantly scanned and all the definitions up to date for the latest protection.

“Managed services can allow companies to focus more of their IT resources on projects specific to meeting their business objectives instead of having to baby-sit there equipment.”

RMMs can have built in backup capability or easily plug in third party backups to keep all your critical file safe, in the cloud, and encrypted. Designs Connexion has had many opportunities to save a user Data when a hard-drive was going bad and was able to detect it before the system went totally down. Ideally, if the end-user would have had a backup and using the full capability of the RMM we wouldn’t have had to do what we ended up doing. (In this particular case, we had to “cross our fingers” and hope that we would be able to “mirror image” the hard-drive before it died.) We would have just used a good backup to restore to a new hard-drive had they been using the RMM to it’s fullest. But, even in this case the RMM came to the rescue because we could see the hard-drive was faulty from the monitoring and system reports that the RMM gives.

“MSP Backup & Recovery is optimized for fast, remote backup and recovery within the most challenging environments, and without the need of purchasing any hardware.”

There are plenty of RMMs out there. Some very user friendly, some hard to use. It really all comes down to the preference of the end-user, in this case your IT person.

Get with your IT Person/Company and check into getting your business setup with the proper tools to keep you protected.

Overkill or Cost-effective and still effective?

What are you trying to accomplish at your place of business? I have seen it too many times, an IT company comes in and gives the client, what they think they need but it ends up being, way more than they actually need.

What Do I Mean By Overkill?

Do you need a firewall? Probably. But do you need a hardware or software firewall or both. One or the other will probably suffice. Now which one, hardware or software based? Depends on how much control you actually need. For most people, a software firewall will do the trick but either would be great. I certainly don’t think you necessarily need both though.

Do you need a server? That all depends. Some businesses only need a dedicated workstation/pc that we’re calling a “server”. If you don’t need the capability of locking down all your users to a certain “area” of your business , then you may not need an actual server with Active Directory. Active Directory allows you to create domain user accounts, sub-accounts, domains (among other things), etc… but if you don’t need that level of security, internally, then you may not need an actual server.

I have several clients currently setup with a “beefy” workstation/pc working as their “server” that is housing the database of whatever software they’re using. If you’re business is in the Dental, Orthodontic, or Chiropractic for instance, most times you can get away with just a dedicated workstation. All it takes is a simple call to the company supplying the software for your business.

Cost Effective and Effective

When searching for the ideal workstation/pc, a lot depends on the amount of access and daily use. The idea is to get a pretty decent machine with plenty of RAM (for multi-tasking or multiple access) and plenty of Hard-Drive space (for storage). At least a gigabit Ethernet card for faster access. Multiple Ethernet cards can be installed also for separated access to keep from bottle-necking or slow down. Remote access to the machine can also be setup if needed for “outside” access. I say this hesitantly because the goal is to not have anyone, “sitting” in front of this machine as it’s only for dedicated access of the database(s).

So ultimately, the cost-effectiveness and effectiveness of such a machine will usually save the end user about $1000 per workstation, with a mid-grade or even top-grade workstation/pc, and by weighing all the needs in favor of reliable performance.

Backup Your Important Files

A computer hard drive can fail at any time. There are signs that it could be happening and your computer support person should be called immediately to mitigate the issue by taking quick action. So when a hard drive does fail, all your documents, pictures, music, and videos, can be lost and in many instances are unable to be recovered. If recoverable, many times it costs lots of money. Always make sure to have backups of all your important files just in case your hard drive dies.

Annoying Pop-ups!

Often I get asked, “How do I get rid of pop-ups?” or, “What would make my computer slow?”. It could be hardware related. It could be that the web page you visited has Advertisements that “pop-up” in your face to get you to buy. These are legitimate reasons but, odds are it because of something else.

So what is going on? You probably have some sort of Virus, Adware, Malware, or Spyware that’s causing these annoying pop-ups to take over your computer and slow things down to the point of frustration.

You may say, “but I have Anti-virus protection software”. That may be true but, no anti-virus software is 100% effective. Some are more so than others however. I’m not going to talk about which is best in this post. The point of this post is to help you understand that if you’re getting frequent pop-up ads and web browser redirects (meaning you try to go to one website but it takes you to another) then it’s time to take action. How do you get rid of them and how can I speed up my computer?

Here are some tools I use but let me forewarn you. There is software you need and a lot of patience. Plus some manual work is going to need to be done. If you’re tech savvy then you’ll be able to do this no problem and probably already know how to. If you’re a little computer challenged then you may want to call a computer support technician/computer ninja. 😀

So let’s get to that list of software. Malewarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware Portable (I don’t like installing the actual program because it’s too memory intensive but you could always just uninstall when your done), AdwCleaner, Your Anti-Virus software (meaning whatever you have now if anything). Me being a computer tech, I also use Techsuite from RepairTech as well. It has tons of scanning and cleanup tools in it. Anyway, now scan away with everything. With each of these tools, it’ll probably clean everything you’ll have to worry about but many times there will be residual things left behind which will have to be manually cleaned up. Files and registry settings. The average user will not want to mess with the registry because you can do a whole lot of damage and you should always backup before making any serious changes like that anyway.

I know, you were hoping to have a simple solution. Well, the simple solution was to just be well protected in the first place with the proper software and regular updates. Once you have the Annoying pop-ups, it gets a little more challenging. I can offer my help in this area. Unfortunately it’s very tough to give you the 100% walk-through and cleanup of your machine in a blog post. It’s better to just get a trusted and professional technician to do the job for you. It will actually save you time and money in the long run because time is money, right?

Well, I hope this post gave you a glimpse of help at least. We’re always willing to give a helping hand. If your in the area, look us up.

What software should I have for protection? Well, the list is long but I’ll tell you that I’ve had pretty good luck with AVG Internet Security and Emsisoft Internet Security. I won’t get into all the ins and outs of what to use in this post but, I will say that you need to have something. In this day and age, to not be protected is just asking for it. Don’t put yourself through the pain of what happens when you’re not.

Are there any software suggestions out there that any of you may have? What tools do you use to do virus/malware/spyware cleanup?

What Computer Should I Buy?

What kind of computer should I buy? I have been asked this question many times, and it’s a good question. The answer really depends on how important is a good quality computer to you. I find that people will generally go out and pick the cheapest thing out there no matter the brand name. But I say, “stop doing that”. It costs you in the long run. I generally try to stick with the middle ground computer and make sure it’s a brand name that I know very well. For me personally, I tend to stay with HP and Dell simply because they are well know brand names and I know I can reach a customer support person very easily navigate there website in the event that we have to find out  warranty information or get updated drivers for the machine.

So what is a middle ground computer consist of. Let me first say that there are several types of processors, size in hard drives, memory brands, etc… Again, stick with the name brands. You’ll be glad you did.

So, here goes. Machines with the processors I tend to stick with have intel processors. AMD is another and can certainly be a fine choice. It really all comes down to preference. In this article I am going to only reference the Intel processors. I3, I5, and I7 are the current ones that I”ll be talking about. I generally stay with the I5 (middle ground) processor. Unless you’re doing hi-end graphics and video, the I5 Intel Processor will suit every purpose you’ll have. You can go crazy with processor numbers and speeds. There is just way too many options. Again I tend to stay middle ground to upper on processors. If you really want to get into the numbers you can look at the Intel Processor Numbers Page.

Hard drive sizes and brands. Every product I talk about in this article has way too many choices to choose from. For the sake of not over-complicating things, I’m going to talk about only hard drive sizes and not get into things like latency and seek time. Rotation speeds I will though. Disk drives rotate between 3,600 rpm and 15,000 rpm. I stick to 7,200 rpm and higher. 7,200 is general choice while 15,000 is found mainly on servers but can certainly be installed on regular computers. It’s just the more expensive choice. Now these hard drives come from many different brand names too. Just like everything else. I generally see WD (Western Digital) and Seagate as the main choice for hard drives. Both are good choices. Other hard drive types are SSD (Solid-State Drives) and sata. Solid-State drive are great but still expensive for my taste and in comparison to how much space you get. You get way less space for the cost compared to sata drives. Here’s a good article if you want to read on which hard drive deserves your data?. As far as hard drive space, get 500gb (gigabyte) and higher. Generally on the low end is 1TB (terabyte) now. 1TB is good choice for most unless you have a ton of files that are huge. Huge files are usually files that are hi-end graphics/pictures and videos and powerpoints with a lot of pictures. If you have a lot of files we’ll also have to talk about having a good backup plan in another article.

Video card choices. Here’s my theme for this article. Middle ground. Types and models of video drives are plentiful too. Nvidia, Intel, and AMD are among the top choices. Not going to get into a lot of detail here except to say that unless your going for hi-end graphics, video, or feel the need to build your own, just stick with whatever video card of those top three choices comes in a already built machine. We could spend way too much time here too.

Memory or RAM amount. I’m not even going to talk much about memory either. PNY, Kingston, Corsair, are some brands and the list goes on… I’m only going to talk about memory amount. For the middle ground get at least 8gb (gigabyte) of memory.  If you want to do hi-end graphics and video then you can go for at least 16gb.

So let’s summarize. Here’s the computer to get for most people.

  1. HP or Dell computer
  2. Intel I5 processor
  3. Western Digital or Seagate Hard drive. 7,200 rpm, 1TB
  4. Nvidia, Intel, AMD video card
  5. 8gb RAM memory.

Ok. Now you can buy yourself a computer. I will always be available to help choose, go with, or order a new computer with you. So don’t ever feel overwhelmed. I’m here to help.


Traditional Backup Versus Business Continuity

Plan better for your business.

Data protection solutions are essential for businesses of all sizes to implement.

There is big importance of business continuity rather than simply backing up. Also downtime is real and it’s costly. How costly exactly? Depending on the size of the organization, the cost per hour of downtime can be astronomical.

So what is business continuity? Simply put, it’s the ability for a business to keep running (at a predefined, acceptable level) after some kind of disruptive incident or event has occurred. So planning has to take place before some sort of disaster occurs and this planning is increasingly important as more and more businesses rely on technology.

What causes downtime? Network outages and human error account for a majority of downtime.. Meanwhile, natural disasters account for only a small percent of downtime. As it turns out, businesses should be more worried about their own employees and less of natural disasters. If you’ve been putting off data protection because your organization is located far from any brutal and/or severe weather, be warned: the bigger threat could be inside not outside.