Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) face numerous challenges when it comes to managing their IT. Limited resources (both human and money), lack of expertise, and the need to focus on core business operations often make it difficult for SMBs to understand and manage technology needs. This is where Managed Service Providers (MSPs) come in. In this blog article, we will explore the reasons why SMBs should consider partnering with MSPs to enhance their IT capabilities and drive business growth.
Cost-Effective IT Solutions:
One of the primary reasons why SMBs need MSPs is the cost-effectiveness they offer. By outsourcing their IT needs to MSPs, SMBs can avoid the high costs associated with hiring and training an in-house IT team. MSPs provide a range of services, including network monitoring, data backup and recovery, cybersecurity, and software updates, all at a predictable monthly cost. This allows SMBs to allocate their resources more efficiently and focus on their core business.
Access to Expertise and Advanced Technology:
MSPs are experts in providing IT services and have a team of highly skilled professionals with expertise in variety of technology. By partnering with MSPs, SMBs gain access to the depth of knowledge and experience from IT experts who can handle complex tasks and provide strategic guidance. Additionally, MSPs stay up-to-date with the latest technology trends and can recommend and implement solutions that can help SMBs stay competitive in the market and safe from hackers.
Proactive IT Support and Maintenance:
MSPs offer proactive IT support and maintenance, which is crucial for SMBs. They monitor networks, identify potential issues, and take preventive measures to avoid downtime and disruptions. MSPs also provide regular software updates, security patches, and system maintenance, ensuring that SMBs’ IT remains secure and up-to-date. This proactive approach helps SMBs minimize the risk of costly IT failures and ensures smooth business operations.
Enhanced Data Security:
Data breaches and cyberattacks pose a significant threat to SMBs. MSPs play a vital role in safeguarding SMBs’ sensitive data and protecting them from potential security breaches. They implement robust cybersecurity measures, such as firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption, to ensure data confidentiality and integrity. MSPs can also conduct regular security audits and vulnerability assessments to identify and address any potential weaknesses in the IT infrastructure.
Scalability and Flexibility:
As SMBs grow, their IT needs evolve. MSPs offer scalable solutions that can adapt to changing business requirements. Whether it’s adding new users, expanding storage capacity, or integrating new software, MSPs can quickly and efficiently accommodate these changes. This scalability and flexibility allow SMBs to focus on their growth without worrying about the limitations of their IT infrastructure.
If your company could use the cost-effective solutions, access to expertise, proactive support, enhanced data security, and scalability that come from using a MSP, then contact us for assistance.
Make sure Hyper-V Host has CPUs than the combined total of CPUs for all servers being restored as these static until after the VMs are completely restored. If there is not enough CPU resources then the VMs will not boot.
Make sure Hyper-V Host has more than the combined total of RAM for all servers being restored as these settings are static until after the VMs are completely restored. If there is not enough memory then the VMs will not boot.
Create a SET NIC Team on the server (if you have multiple NICs)
Open Powershell as administrator
User the New-VMSwitch command to setup an external virtual switch to connect to for live connections
The AllowManagementOS is needed if you are using the same NIC team to access the VM host
Setup secondary Internal vSwitch to allow for testing before deploying
Setup Synology LUN targets for each VM to be restored. Make sure that they are big enough to hold all the full uncompressed size of the entire thick provisioned hard drives for the entire server.
Connect each LUN to the iSCSI Initiator on the VM Host. Make sure to bring them online, initialize them, and give them a drive letter. Synology needs this because it uses the SMB protocol to transfer the files during restore.
Make sure to allow the File and Printer Sharing app through the Windows firewall and open port 5986 to allow HTTP traffic for WinRM to allow Synology to query the Hyper-V settings.
Add the Hyper-V Host to the Active Backup for Business app.
Synology Active Backup Restore to Hyper-V
Open the Active Backup for Business app
Click on the Physical Server tab on the left
Select the server and click the Restore button
Select the point in time to restore from
Choose Restore to Microsoft Hyper-V
Choose Full Virtual Machine Restore
Change the Restore Name
Select a folder on the Hyper-V Host to place the configuration files
Select a folder on the Hyper-V Host to place each of the restore VHD files
Select a Virtual Switch on the Hyper-V Host to connect the VM to
Confirm the settings by clicking on the Done button.
The VMs will boot with a single NIC and no network settings. Keep them offline and add additional NICs as needed to match the original setup. Then configure the NICs as before upon reboot. Make sure to connect to Internal Test Switch for initial steps.
Check hardware configuration of CPUs and RAM to determine if adjustments can be made. In particular, the RAM settings can be changed to startup, minimum, and maximum to allow for distribution of resources to VMs that have heavier workloads.
Boot VM to make sure it is functioning correctly. (first bootup can take upwards of 15 minutes)
Convert the VM from Gen1 to Gen2
Download Windows 10 ISO – https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10
This is the third in a series about the concept of Zero Trust, which means in the IT sense that you trust nothing and always verify everything surrounding and connected to your network. Today’s discussion will be on the backup of important data.
Backup is a way of creating multiple copies of your important data and the systems that house them. This has become a necessity thanks to acts of God (unforeseen physical disasters), acts of employees (accidental or purposeful destruction of data), and acts of malicious hackers (ransomware or malware). Here are some questions that you should be asking yourself:
What data or systems are being backed up?
How often are these backups being performed?
Are your backups protected from natural disasters (offsite and redundant)?
How long are backups being stored?
Once expired are they securely removed?
What is the process for recovering files, emails, workstations, servers, applications, databases?
Have you tested your recovery process lately?
Do you know how long it will take to recover?
How will business continue until systems are restored?
How will you merge new information into recovered data once restored?
How often do you test your recovery process?
Is the recovery test process automated?
Take time to think about these questions and decide where changes can be made to better protect your IT investments, or contact us to do the thinking for you.
Here are some lessons learned from a recent recovery of a server with the following error:
Lesson #1 – Blinking Hard Drives
So when I got to the customer site the Dell server had blinking hard drive lights on two of the drives. Based on the support article about it the lights meant -“Identifying drive or preparing for removal.” and digging into the RAID controller I found the worst possible scenario for a RAID-5 array – two dead hard drives. I removed the two dead drives, cleared the configuration on the RAID controller, built a new RAID-5 array out of the remaining drives (4 out of 6), and did a fast initialize.
Lesson #2 – Drive letters on Windows Server Backup
Not sure if anyone else has noticed, but when Windows Server Backup is setup to use an external drive it likes to hide the drive by not assigning it a drive letter. This caused a few issues with the restore done from Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media as it couldn’t find the drive. I had to connect the external drive to my laptop then give it a drive letter. Plugged it back into the server and rebooted.
Lesson #3 – Patience is a virtue in Scanning for System Image Disks
Following the basic instructions for doing a Windows Server Backup 2012 Restore via Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media it came to the point where it does the scanning for System Image Disks. Turns out this can take hours depending on the speed of the drive plus the size and quantity of restores you have on the external drive. Just wait for the process to complete.
Lesson #4 – UEFI or Legacy BIOS matters
So you waited all that time for the Scanning for System Image Disks to complete and now that precious moment arrives when you realize that the Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media that you created was UEFI instead of legacy BIOS and the restore fails telling you so. Make sure that when you create the Windows Server 2012 R2 USB boot media that you change the settings to match the system that you are trying to restore.
Hope that these lessons help a few other Windows Server admins, who are trying to do a Windows Server Backup 2012 Restore, save some time and frustration. If you are looking for a better way to do backup and restore then contact us for details.
Have to admit that I get a ton of email. In fact I have received 30+GB over the almost five years Farmhouse Networking has been in business. I decided that it was time to archive some of the older messages and checked into what Office 365 has for options. Here is what I found:
“Unlimited” Archiving Office 365 now has what is called “auto-expanding archiving” that is now available for all users. The old archive feature only allowed 100GB of additional space for free, but the new system is different. Users who get close to the old limit then their account changes to the auto-expanding type and additional storage is added as needed. The new maximum is at 1TB of storage, which even at average maximum size per email (10MB) that is 100,000 emails. To put that in perspective that is one maximum size email per hour, eight hours per day, five days per week, for almost 42 years before email archives would be full.
If your company is gets a bunch of email and likes to save it all, then contact us for assistance.
Got a call a couple weeks ago from a local church:
“we came in and open the computer and we have ransomware on there. We can’t even get to any of our stuff. It’s telling us to email somebody and so that they can free up the computer.”
How does this happen?
Generally these things happen because people click on things they shouldn’t. Whether in an attachment in email from someone they don’t recognize, a link in social media that sounds too good to pass up, or an advertisement for something they can’t live without. Once the user gives permission for something to open or run on their computer the game is over and the hacker wins.
What to do when it happen?
Stop using the computer.
Leave the computer alone! Do not carry out any further commands, including commands to Save data.
Do not close any of the computer’s windows or programs. Leave the computer alone.
Leave everything plugged in and do not turn off the computer or peripheral devices.
If possible, physically disconnect the computer from networks to which it is attached.
Call us immediately. Write down any unusual behavior of the computer (screen messages, unexpected disk access, unusual responses to commands) and the time when they were first noticed.
Write down any changes in hardware, software, or usage that preceded the malfunction.
Do not attempt to remove a suspected virus! Let the professionals do the dirty work.
How to prevent this from happening?
Layers of protection is the simple answer. A good antivirus installed to stop the bad programs from running, DNS filtering to keep users off of bad sites / advertisements, a good backup of all data to recover when this does happen, and most important of all EDUCATION – teaching users what safe internet usage looks like and having policies in effect to train them can mitigate 60-70% of infections.
If your company is would like to discuss the layers of security you have in place, then contact us for assistance.
In a new Windows 10 Support article, dated June 28th, Microsoft comes clean that they will no longer be backing up the registry file with its built in backup feature. “This change is by design, and is intended to help reduce the overall disk footprint size of Windows.” They instead recommend that System Restore be enabled and used to recover in case of registry corruption (which by the way uses disk space too).
Ending Registry Backup
The Windows Registry is a hierarchical database that stores low-level settings for Windows 10 and installed applications that rely on it. The kernel, device drivers, services, Security Accounts Manager, and user interface configuration are all in the registry. If the registry is lost then system settings, drivers, user interface tweaks, and many programs will all need to be fixed or re-installed from scratch.
If your company is using the built in Windows Backup feature, then contact us for assistance moving to a system that provides complete backup of your systems.
Give your business freedom from hardware constraints with the agility and functionality of cloud computing.
Cloud requires no upfront costs, which makes it an operating expense rather than a capital expense. Your business will benefit from predictable monthly payments that cover software licenses, updates, support and daily backups. Cloud technologies provide greater flexibility as your business only pays for what it uses and can easily scale up and down to meet demand.
Moving to the cloud enables your business to no longer pay to power on-premises servers or to maintain the environment. This significantly reduces energy bills.
Finally, for those concerned with security, cloud data centers employ security measures far beyond what most SMBs can afford. Your company data is much safer in the cloud than on a server in their office.
Move your business to the cloud ahead of Office 2010 and Windows 7 End of Support!
If your company is looking to make the move to cloud, then contact us for assistance.
When it comes to security threats, it’s not “if” disaster will strike, it’s “when.” So, how will your organization respond? Do you have the proper infrastructure in place to thwart a potential data disaster and if disaster does strike, is your organization poised to recover quickly?
While 100% prevention of a data disaster is impossible, there are several ways you can position your organization to get your systems back up and running with as little disruptions to day-to-day operations as possible:
File Level Backup:
A good file sync and share tool is more than just a way for your team to collaborate on the go, it’s a vital component to your organization’s security strategy. With file level backup, you can ensure that even in the event of a site wide disaster, your team can maintain anytime access to their critical files.
Backup and Disaster Recovery:
Your last line of defense in a site wide disaster, backup and disaster recovery solutions allow you to recover at the systems level. An absolutely necessary piece of your organizational infrastructure, backup and disaster recovery delivers peace of mind that your systems will always be recoverable, even when disaster strikes.
Cloud-to-cloud backup fills in the gaps left by some of the most commonly used SaaS applications, such as Office 365. Many of these cloud applications fall short in the way of cloud-retention and a good cloud-to-cloud backup solution can help you protect critical business data while providing enhanced features to maximize your user experience and more importantly, security.
As companies increasingly move data into cloud-based applications, many administrators think traditional best practices such as data backup are outdated. After all, a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) application is always available, accessible from anywhere, and highly redundant, so why is backup necessary?
1 in 3 companies report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. That means the permanent deletion of potentially hundreds of work hours.
The truth is that even data in cloud-based applications are vulnerable to:
Malware damage or ransomware attacks
Accidental end-user deletion
Malicious end-user activity
Operational errors such as accidental data overwrites
Lost data due to canceled user account subscriptions
Misconfigured application workflows
Datto SaaS Protection won’t let your critical data slip through the cracks. Engineered to be the leading, one stop shop for cloud-to-cloud SaaS application backup, SaaS Protection gives you consistently reliable granular backups, quick and easy restores and exports, secured data for compliance and regulatory needs, and world-class 24/7/365 support.
SaaS Protection Supports the Following Applications:
G-Suite – Protect emails, documents, calendars, sites, and contacts in Google’s G Suite.
There’s no such thing as too safe. Datto SaaS Protection goes above and beyond industry standards to make sure G-Suite data is secure, easily recoverable, and protected:
Automatic 3X daily backups of Google Mail, Drive, Calendar, Contacts, and Sites data
SOC2 Type II audited
Supports HIPAA compliance needs
Data encryption both in transit and at rest in the Datto Cloud
Advanced internal controls
Data controls and monitoring, including audit logs, uptime and availability SLAs, and export capabilities
Regular vulnerability management and testing
SaaS Protection saves you and your team time and stress with search filters that quickly locate backed up files and folders.. even if users can’t remember what they called them.
Easily track deleted items
Locate and browse any previous versions of documents
Lighten the help desk load: SaaS Protection lets users access their own backups
Office 365 – Protect Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Contacts, and Calendars in Office 365.
There’s no such thing as too safe. Datto SaaS Protection goes above and beyond industry standards to make sure Office 365 data is secure, easily recoverable, and protected.
Microsoft Exchange, OneDrive, SharePoint, Calendar and Contacts are automatically backed up 3X a day
SOC 2 Type II audited
Supports HIPAA compliance needs
Data encryption both at rest and in transit
Data controls and monitoring tools, including audit logs, uptime and availability SLAs, and export capabilities
SaaS Protection saves your team time and stress with robust search filters that make it easy to quickly locate backed up files and folders.
Manage backups, view restores, and monitor activity across all of your customers from an easy-to-use dashboard
Zero in on emails, contacts, individual files and entire folders with our search function
Restore files directly to a user’s account or download them directly
If your company is G-Suite or Office 365 and want a complete disaster recovery solution, then contact us for assistance.
And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. - 2 Corinthians 9:8-10