Our new SOS for Home & Home Office PC application is here!

October 12, 2012

The new SOS for Home & Home Office application, version 5.4.1, is now here! If you’re an existing SOS customer, you can automatically upgrade to this new application by downloading it.

Download it from SOSOnlineBackup.com!

So what’s new in SOS for Home & Home Office for PC version 5.4.1? 

  • A brand new look and feel
  • Backup for network attached storage (NAS)
  • Upload speed for processing unchanged files has improved

If you haven’t tried SOS yet, give it a go! It is free after all. Just click here to start your free trial. 


The Seasons Bring More and More Cloud Worthy Data : Digital Data Backup Solution for Smart Phones,Tablets & Laptops

November 23, 2011

Seasons are changing and the holidays are rapidly approaching.  As I gear up my own family for the festivities, I’m also thinking about my clients.  With new Black Friday electronics coming into the home, I need to make sure they’re prepared for the reality of the care and feeding required.

Just like when purchasing a new pet for a child, I like to make sure my clients understand the responsibilities required when caring for these new toys.  While a dog or cat requires love and affection, feeding and regular visits to the back yard, new electronics have their own requirements.  As I talk to them about maintenance and warranty concerns, I also have to bring up the purpose of most of these consumer electronics.

Data

Just about all of these devices have one common goal or one side-effect as I sometimes call it.  They create data.  Let’s go over some of the most common new products you might be purchasing and what sort of data you will be creating that needs to be safeguarded through proper backups.

Cell Phones – The day of the old ‘brick phone’ is over.  Making calls is something the manufacturers don’t talk about as much anymore.   We all assume that call quality will be fine and that the other party will receive our messages.  The more advertising-friendly features of phones are their data-gathering capabilities.  We fill flash cards with photos of events, video clips and even have the ability to edit and create professional video on some of the newer devices.  Do these files languish on the phone?  The solution: Make sure your desktop or laptop has a reader that will directly support the flash card in your phone and save your files there.  Transfer them regularly to the trusty desktop, and make sure they are going to a folder that is being backed up by your backup software. Backup your Android and your iPhone with SOS.

Tablets – From the iPod to some of the newer Android entries, tablets have hit the market by storm.  Unfortunately, even in the process of using them as a laptop-replacement, many users are neglecting the fact that they are creating important home and work documents and treating the tablet as just another gadget.  The solution:  Make sure your files are being synced to another device, be it though a flash card or over your home network.  The tablet will cease being a fun toy as soon as an important file is lost forever.

Laptops – More and more school-age kids are carrying laptops.  From term papers to final projects, the files they create are just as important as business files.  There is nothing like the ability to reprint a project that was lost in the grading process.  The solution:  Backup.  For a very reasonable cost, these important files can be protected with online backup, without the intervention of the student.  As they use the machine, the files are transferred online and are protected from loss.

So here’s to a happy holiday season.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we’re creating more and more data every day.  Let’s keep it protected.

— The Backup Master


UK Survey Shows Poor Backups are Putting Businesses At Risk : Online Backup for Business

November 18, 2011

Today Vanson Bourne released a study which showed that on average most businesses in the UK backup data only once per month. One tenth of the 1,000 businesses surveyed backup only once per year.

Businesses are displaying a worryingly lax attitude to backup which could cause problems in the event of a disaster, as it will make data recovery much more difficult and time consuming.

A recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne on 1,000 UK companies revealed that the average firm only backs up data once a month, while one tenth only backup once a year, making them vulnerable to lost data.

The firm explained that by leaving it this late, businesses often have a huge amount of data to back up, leading to a bottleneck situation which can mean that backups take a considerable length of time or even, in worst case scenarios, fail altogether.

Furthermore, should firms be hit by a disaster or equipment failure prior to their backup, they may find data recovery is much more complicated, meaning the time it takes for them to get back up and running is increased, costing them money.

It’s very possible that your business is at risk for data loss even if you believe to be backed up. SOS Online Backup’s software platform includes SOS ForeverSave and unlimited versioning for all products. These two features provides full backup and recovery for files and folders. As soon as changes are detected in a file or folder, SOS jumps into action and saves a version of that file. With SOS Timeline Recovery, SOS users can go back to any point in time and restore a version of a file.

If you’d like to learn more about online backup and keeping your business data secure, contact an SOS backup specialist at 877.896.3611.


The Disaster Recovery Plan: Small Business is Real Business Too

November 15, 2011

I’m amazed at how many of my small business clients don’t treat their fledgling companies like a real business.  By that I don’t mean that they should have a matched 401k, pension plan and a company Christmas party.  I simply mean that they don’t realize that some of the needs of big business are exactly the same as their own needs.

When pressed, most tell me that their business doesn’t have the resources to fulfill all of these needs.  That’s when I tell them that they might need to pick and choose, but some needs are universal and have to be addressed for the long-term survivability of the business.

One of the most critical of these is some sort of disaster recovery plan.

“But that’s for big businesses.  I’m just one guy with one laptop and a dinky office.”

I hear that quite a bit, believe me.  See how this scenario plays out for your small business:

I was sitting down talking to Jared about his small business IT needs and he had given me some of the arguments above.  I do business with Jared myself, as I’ve grown to trust him as well as he trusts me.

“Jared, I don’t think I got your invoice from last month and I want to get you a check.  Can you tell me how much I owe you?”  I asked.

“Sure, just let me…”

I interrupted him by pushing the lid of his laptop closed.

“Sorry, your hard drive just crashed.”

Jared looked at me, smiling at my joke.

“No, really, what are you going to do now?”  I asked.

Jared paused for a second, so I pushed him further.

“What else can’t you do, and how long until you would be able to do those things again?”

So I’m asking that question of all small business owners.  “What can’t you do, and how long until you would be able to do it again?”

Maybe “Disaster Recovery Plan” sounds too much like a big business thing.  Let’s just take that first step to getting there, data backup.  A solid backup plan should be just as important as liability insurance, good accounting and customer service to a business.

If you’re like most of the small businesses I work with, something you definitely will be looking for is a plan that doesn’t require you to put on another hat.  You wear enough already.  This is why I push most of my clients toward an online backup solution.  Install, choose what to backup, look at the reports.  It couldn’t be much easier than that.

— The Backup Master


Data Disaster – Julie’s Story : Data Backup Solution

November 14, 2011

Today I have another anecdote about the value of having a backup of important files on home systems.  Julie is the administrative assistant for one of my clients.  She contacted me the other day regarding her home machine, and I agreed to have a look.  After a recent thunderstorm, the machine was not booting at all.  I picked up the machine and upon looking at it was immediately distressed by the sound.  Once power was applied, the hard drive started making the ominous pinball machine sound that tells me the drive had been damaged.

I made some quick efforts to see if there was a chance I could recover files, but quickly determined that it was beyond my abilities.  Not wanting to risk letting the drive damage itself further, I called Julie to let her know the score.  Unfortunately, there was no backup of the drive and it contained a wealth of family pictures that she did not want to lose.  We sent the drive off to a data recovery outfit on the East coast, offering free evaluations of what data they could recover.  I prepared Julie for the possible costs of the recovery process, but she was figuratively over the barrel.  Though we always consider these things having ‘sentimental’ value only, that value is actually higher than we usually think.

We opted for the low-priority option at the data recovery center, which meant that we had to wait several days for word regarding the progress.  When we were finally contacted, the company informed us that they were able to recover a large portion of files from the directories that we specified (mostly pictures and personal files). The cost for recovery was over $500 and Julie didn’t really have any other options.

Needless to say, Julie is in the market for a new computer, as her old one was getting along in years.  We discussed options for preventing this from happening again, and she’s opting for an online backup solution.  We have created a sort of hybrid solution to keep her storage requirements under control as her volume of photos is fairly large.

Julie’s Plan

  1. Archived photos from years past are burned to DVDs and multiple copies are made.   These copies are distributed to family members across the country (something she always wanted to do anyway!)
  2. Current pictures are saved to the photo directory in her computer, which is backed up through the online backup service.
  3. As the photo directory reaches 4GB (around the size of a DVD), they are then burned to DVD and distributed.

Julie is feeling more confident now in the security of her system and is enjoying the comments from happy family members receiving the DVDs.  If disaster strikes again, she can always get copies of her photos from her online backup or from family members across the country.

— The Backup Master


Tales of Home Online Backup: 20,000 Family Memories…Poof! – Personal Data Backup

November 8, 2011

One of my customers brought me his personal laptop the other day.  This is the laptop that sits on the kitchen counter and is used by the whole family.  It’s the oldest computer in the house, and it just sort of chugs along like the good old war-horse that it is.  The case around the display was cracked years ago, so the laptop won’t even close.  Jerry brought it in to me, propped open in its normal position.

“It wouldn’t boot up this morning.  It just gives me a flashing white line on a black screen.”  Jerry said, looking more concerned than I would have though over apparent death of a Jurassic laptop.

It didn’t take me very long to diagnose the problem.  Something happened to the hard drive.

“I think it’s time for a new laptop, Jerry.”  I said.  “Was the important stuff backed up?”

Jerry looked a little sheepish.  I had installed a slick backup system at this office the year before, with an online backup service to supplement their existing external hard drive backups.  Apparently this was a little better than the backup system he had at home.

“What’s the most important stuff on there?”  I asked.

“Family pictures.”

“No promises.”  I said, not thinking my odds were very good.

Fortunately for Jerry, the hard drive was still spinning, so it had a little life left.  I spent about three hours before I was even able to get a Windows machine to recognize that there were still files on the disk.  It found what I would estimate was about half of the files on the machine.  Jerry was lucky.  One of the folders it found was his My Pictures folder.  I don’t know how many were supposed to be in there, but I was able to recover over 20,000 pictures.

When I delivered the files to Jerry the next morning, he was pretty happy about it.  I had to give him the grief, however.  That’s my job.

“Let’s talk about backup, Jerry.”  I said.

“I know, I know, but…”

I cut him off.  “20,000 family memories, poof.”

Jerry has aligned his home and business backup strategies now.  While he has two layers of backup at the office, he’s just using online backup for home.  It provides him with a safe copy of his data, stored in the cloud.  There’s a new laptop on the kitchen counter now, with all the bells and whistles.  Jerry can rest assured that while he dodged the bullet this time, he’ll be prepared when the new one reaches its golden years.

— The Backup Master


The Three Schools of Thought on Online Backup

October 27, 2011

In the spirit of giving our users the best possible information on online backup, this is the first of many blog posts from me, the Backup Master. As a hardware and software technology expert, it’s my job to help my clients with many tasks – including online backup. Below is my first entry, covering three standard schools of thought on online backup.

Enjoy!

Online Backup – The New School

There are usually three schools of thought regarding the concept of data backup when I poll my home or home-business clients.

  1. Should I be backing up?
  2. I know I should be backing up, but I’m really bad about it.
  3. I backup regularly.

More often than not, they fit into one of the first two schools.  Unfortunately, backup isn’t at the top of most home users’ minds and never has been.  The primary reason for this is that in the past, backup has been a complicated burden requiring additional hardware and the ability to stick to a schedule.  Times have changed.

Should I Be Backing Up?

The answer is easy: yes! I often ask my customers to start imagining pictures of children, tax documents and emailed account statements to illustrate just how important backing up your home computer’s data can be. Who wants to lose this stuff? It’s irreplaceable. .

I Know I Should Be Backing Up, But I’m Really Bad About It

I feel your pain.  The primary reason is that the whole process is cumbersome.  Backing up to floppies, CDs, DVDs or external hard drives requires a degree of manual intervention.

I Backup Regularly

Those who belong to this school of thought are those that I usually have to ask the two most important questions.  I’ll list them below with the most common answers I receive.

Q: How often do you backup?
A: I don’t know. Windows does it automatically.

Q: Where is the backup going?
A: To an external hard drive.

Windows offers a minimal backup solution that can regularly backup critical data to a removable hard drive.  In most cases, when the drive fills up, the oldest backups are deleted to make room for more recent files. What about those pictures of little Suzy’s first Halloween? They might get trumped by a bank statement.

Why Change Now?

My customers in the first two schools have the easiest transition to an online backup solution.    Online backup will eliminate the worry and the hassle and get them on a regular schedule of protecting their data.

The third school usually takes a little more convincing.  They have a system that works well.  Windows or third-party backup software keeps a regular schedule protecting the data.  Some users even go to the trouble of switching to a new drive every few days and taking the other drive to work or another safe place.  After a little prodding, I usually find that they are closer to the second school of thought.  They may be more regular, but not perfect.  Let’s face it; keeping up with it is not an easy task.

Though their system is safer than the majority of users, it still has its flaws.  If they don’t take a copy of their data to another location (the cloud, for instance), they are only protecting themselves from hard drive failure.  A power surge, theft or fire will usually leave the external hard drive in the same situation as the computer it is backing up.  Even the offsite backups are sometimes at risk.  Natural disasters such as earthquakes or flooding can cover a wide geographic area.  Is the offsite storage location outside of that range? Reputable online backup companies have several offsite data centers, to ensure that the data is safely out of a range of natural disasters. SOS has 11 data centers around the world.

The New School

A good online backup solution eliminates the hassle of traditional backups.  Data is transferred securely and regularly (even continuously as changes are made) to an offsite location.  From there, it is usually replicated again to another location in another geographic location.  Total cost is low, and the time spent backing up is minimal as the system only backs up changes to files.

After a client graduates to the new school they soon realize the peace of mind a good backup brings, finally free of the hassle of actually implementing it.

–The Backup Master


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