Month: February 2020

by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Automated Backup Service

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


Considerations, Types of Backups, Implications, Assessments, Restoration

Note: A PDF version of this post can be found here: Automated Backup Service This document will likely be updated from time to time so information is up-to-date and current.

This post contains questions which are not necessarily answered here but provide an opportunity to create a proper plan to keep company data safe. Liaising with Anything I.T. to do this can save time, money and stress.

Considerations

Consider the following when planning a backup strategy.

  • Is an ‘on-premises’ backup sufficient?
  • Is a manual periodic/random backup taken off-site enough?
  • Does the nature of the business expect any off-site backups (such as remote backups) to be encrypted?
  • How much space in Gigabytes will be required (see Assessments below)? Think future-proofing an increase in disk space.
  • Choice of types of backups (see below Types of Backups).
  • How often should a backup be taken?
  • Who oversees/performs the backups? If it is an external company, do you get reports from them regarding current status?
  • Consider hard copy documents such as signed paperwork. Should these be scanned and saved into a folder that gets backed up?
  • Is there sensitive information within the files being backed up? Does your company GDPR policy take into account the remote storage of this information?
  • Are files containing sensitive information stored in a secure Cloud location such as Dropbox, OneDrive for Business or Google Drive?
  • If a file is corrupted somehow (perhaps by virus or computer malfunction), how do you plan to re-create that file? Or is that not possible?
  • Are email mailboxes backed up? Typically, Gmail, Office 365 is not backed up by the provider

Types of Backups

Essentially, there are three types of backups:

A Full Backup

This backup when it runs, backups up every file that is selected in the backup job. Backups can often take a long time since we are backing up every file regardless of whether that file has changed since the last backup.

Incremental Backup

This backup job backs up every file that has been changed or newly created since the last Incremental backup. This kind of backup is faster to implement but it can take longer to find specific files if lost since they could be anywhere amongst any number of Incremental backups.

Differential Backup

A differential backup backs up change or newly created files since the last full backup.

Implications

Valuable Resources

What is a valuable document, file, email, or resource in this description? Usually, one that would cause either a little distress at losing the resource (the effort to re-create it) or significant distress due to the nature of the resource (a signed PDF contract document, or an accounting database for instance) and/or a significant effort to recreate the resource. Often, the information contained in this files is a ‘one-off’ such as that might be contained in an email or a signed document.

Re-creating the resource

The implication of re-creating a resource can have a negative impact on a business. Firstly, by way of the time spent to re-create the resource, and secondly, by way of the negative impact on the individual’s well-being (“I already created this document, it took me two days”).

In the case of loss of an accounting database, then this loss would be significant and the knock-on effect on the business should not be underestimated.

Assessments

To come up with a purchase plan for Anything I.T. remote backup, we need to find out how much disk space the client is currently using for valuable documents

  • How much disk space usage per user will be required?
  • Which are the most valuable files/folders (and where they are located)?
  • Record which are sensitive files/folders (and where they are located)
  • Are email mailboxes being backed up?

Restoration

Who and How?

  • How are restores carried out?
  • Who provides this service?
  • Is there an additional cost in the case of disaster recovery?

Anything I.T. carries out the restoration of individual lost or corrupted files as part of the monthly cost of the service (see price list or quote provided).

Disaster Recovery

In the case of a disaster (complete catastrophic loss of data), there is a charge of £75 (as at Feb 2020) per hour to recover. For up-to-date pricing, please refer to our price list.

Any questions?

Contact us at Anything I.T. on the details below:

Email: support@anythingit.net

Phone: 01752 422954

Note: A PDF version of this post can be found here: Automated Backup Service This document will likely be updated from time to time so information is up-to-date and current.

by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Atomic Habits in Business Technology

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


Atomic Habits is a book I’m currently reading and it just makes perfect sense! James Clear talks about how these small decisions or habits can be amazing catalysts in the long run to boost your business.

So how can you make small atomic decisions? Read on!

Small habitual actions

Small habitual actions producing long-term, sustainable results. Success in I.T. is often about making small decisions and changes, rather than high-impact decisions.

As you read this article consider what actions you take automatically that perhaps haven’t been beneficial to you and your business.

Atomic habits in I.T – Just make stopping and thinking a habit before making a decision.

Future thinking

Keeping the future of your business in mind when making technology decisions will not only help reduce embarrassing future high expenses but provide a fantastic tech platform for growth.

I wrote on my personal blog about the concept of Future Thinking. It needs a little more work but I believe the ideas are extremely pertinent to business too.

Small (yet important) choices

Small choices can make all the difference. Did you decide to put off upgrading your file storage systems, web and email hosting last year? Maybe, you now pay the price by:

  • Website reliability and speed issues
  • An inordinate amount of spam in your inbox(es)
  • Too much time taken up with getting colleagues information which they could have had access to with an upgraded system. This could also include failure to provide important contacts with the right information quickly enough, losing sales or important deals in the process
  • Loss of documents or other data due to failure to implement a good backup strategy (by the way, syncing services like Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive are not good enough, I’ll explain later)

Concerns of present costs should not outweigh future-benefits

Are you in this for the long-term or not? Do you intend to be in business for more than a year? I should hope so! Then you need to spend some serious mental energies on your IT/web/telecoms systems. Making the right decision doesn’t even need to be expensive!

Before the nitty-gritty details, here are a couple of questions that must be considered:

How do I know I’m making the right decisions?

How do I know that everything is connecting and ‘hanging together’ correctly?

Seek trusted advice and making atomic decisions. That’s the answer

Consider all your business tech requirements under the following headings:

  • I.T. Systems
  • Web Systems
  • Telecom Systems
  • Bespoke (to your business) Systems
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

I.T. systems

I.T. systems are the things that you use every day such as turning on the computer and loading a program to carry out our duties. It could be sending and receiving emails, writing letters and printing them, entering data into a finance package, and so on. I.T. systems would include the wireless and cabled Internet connections, printers, webcams and microphones for meetings, the list goes on.

Everything about your I.T. systems must work well. The beauty of a good I.T. system is that you hardly know it’s there because it rarely goes wrong. Poor quality systems often throw up little annoying errors which compound over time and disrupt the flow.

In business, flow is so important (I see another blog post in my future) and choosing the right system to enable better flow is one of those crucial atomic choices you can make.

Network cabling from your router to your PC’s and the correct choice of equipment is essential. From wireless access points to routers, PC’s to Macs, door entry systems to CCTV’s. It’s all got to hang together somehow.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Web systems

These might include the hosting service for your website, the email platform, and how they all interlink with each other.

There are several very good server platforms to host websites and email applications. Amazon Web Services (AWS) being one such. AWS takes the level of server capabilities to another level. AWS might not be the right one for you though. Word of warning, you will need to have a really good understanding of AWS and server technologies to make this work.

You might be better off choosing a hoster who can offer at the very least unlimited bandwidth, unlimited space, and great support when/if things do go wrong.

Many providers of website design and hosting services offer monthly payment options. Anything I.T. and our partner Hello Simon (award-winning freelancer) offer this as a way for our clients to spread the costs of what would normally be a large outlay.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Ask your current provider if your website is hosted on the latest (and speedy) hard disk technology, known as SSD. These hard drives on web servers are super fast, much faster than ‘older’ drives.

Should you choose a website made with WordPress or one that is custom-coded (hand-written programming)? Around a third of websites made today are made with WordPress.

WordPress is now extremely popular because it not only provides the business owner with a way of creating and editing pages on their site but it has a wide range of ‘plugins’ providing versatility.

Anything I.T. providing WordPress Services

Sometimes that is not enough and you need someone to program a website for you. That’s okay. Handwriting a website provides an opportunity to make it do exactly what you want, BUT can be a lot more expensive than a WordPress created site.

Websites by Anything I.T. and Hello Simon

Please also consider how you market your site. Likely, you will need an SEO service like that provider by Hello Simon (SEO). Again, this can be paid for on a monthly basis. In fact, this is highly recommended since SEO is best planned for the long-term.

Telecom Systems

Gone are the days when a fully-featured telephone system costs the earth. I remember not so long ago it would cost a minimum of £1,000 to get started. That was just for the hardware!

Perhaps thousands of pounds plus huge ongoing support costs just so you could put calls on hold, play them a message so they could choose the right department, or transfer calls to another team member. Then you had the BT line and call expenses on top! You’d need ISDN which was expensive as well.

Nowadays, you can pay as little as £20 per team member with unlimited calls with all the features, and more, of a state-of-the-art telephone system! All this in ‘the cloud’ so no expensive BT lines required.

The system we provide is by a very accomplished provider called Wildix.

Anything I.T. and Hello Comtec offer a service called Number Club. Get in touch if this interests you.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Bespoke Systems

From a distance, this looks daunting and you’d be forgiven if you don’t see how this fits in with the topic of atomic habits.

Sometimes businesses need to run software that is pertinent to their business. There are countless numbers of them!

From accounting systems to property management portals (by the way, Anything I.T. make one called Posidacious), care home software, car sales.

There are sales systems that help you gain leads and sales sometimes called funnels. Once again, monthly payments are the norm here so if you budget well based on your income then you should do well.

You name it, if you have a business, there’s probably some bespoke software that’s been made for you.

Just be aware of the costs such software as they can be crippling. Maybe you could commission a company to make your own! If you do, you might want to consider something that is cloud-based rather than a piece of software that is installed on your PC.

As for the support of such software, in most cases, you will need to pay for support from the provider, rather than outsource support to a company like Comtec ICT or Anything I.T.

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Ask us how bespoke software impacts on your I.T. systems though.

Cloud-based business-class web and I.T. systems

Here are some examples of business-class software and systems that you really should consider, but with relative low-cost impact on your business.

  • Office 365 for Business – Email, cloud storage (OneDrive) and much more, monthly payments from less than £6 per month (Price List)
  • Shopify – An online store anyone can set up for a monthly fee (you can get us to set it up for you)
  • Xero – cloud accounting package, paid monthly, invoices, quotes, reminders, pay directly from the invoice and much more
  • Canva – Make marketing images for social media, business cards and more. There’s a free version and a paid-for version
  • Hootsuite – Manage multiple social media accounts from one program
  • WordPress – A content management system for your website – A WordPress support and management service can be purchased through Anything I.T. – See Price List
"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"

Summarisation

I know I’ve repeated myself about making small decisions throughout this post. It bears repeating though! You don’t need to make big, expensive decisions when considering technology. Just a small one here and there to nudge your business in the right direction.

The benefits will astound you. Once more:

"Just make small (atomic) decisions to head your business in the right direction"
by Jonathan Jonathan No Comments

Number Club

Anything I.T. and the Geek Collective provide an I.T. Support service and Website design to business clients in Plymouth, South West of the UK.


An introduction to Number Club, what it is and why it can be a ‘life-changer’, or should we say ‘business-changer‘ for small businesses.

High-end Unified Communications, priced for small businesses

What the heck does that mean?

In as concise a sentence as possible, Unified Communications are where you communicate (phone call, conference call, messaging and so on) via any device, whether that be a mobile phone, tablet, desktop PC or ‘proper’ desk phone.

The benefit to small businesses if they can enable this is that regardless of where they are sat (or standing!), they can make and receive calls ‘as their business’, transfer calls to another team member, message team members and so on.

With Number Club, there is a lot more to it than that which we will explain later in this post. For now, rest assured that Number Club is truly a high-end telephone and communications system that small businesses can afford.

Number Club – The gory details

Number Club is an offering by Anything I.T. and its partner Comtec ICT. It’s been designed to provide all the features of a modern PBX system (including Unified Communications) at an affordable price.

Features include

  1. Communicate via desk phone; web browser, tablet, mobile phone, all while appearing to come from your business landline
  2. Video calling
  3. Conference calls
  4. Transfer calls between the team
  5. Place calls on hold
  6. Set day/night times
  7. Customised call routing (press 1 for sales, 2 for support and so on)
  8. Voicemail (including transcripts by email)
  9. Shared contact lists (for your team)
  10. Mobile phone app
  11. Chat messaging within the team
  12. Leave Post-it notes for other team members
  13. Individual ‘Available‘, ‘Away‘, ‘Do not Disturb‘ statuses
  14. PLUS – a direct extension number to our team
  15. A range of desk phones and accessories

Cost

£20 per (premium licensed) user (some user types are less, please ask), per month on a minimum 12-month contract.

This provides you with a business landline number (actually several if required) in your area (i.e. Plymouth would be 01752 xxxxxx), and full access to the features listed above.

Not only do you get all that, but you also get unlimited UK landline and mobile calls! (it does not include premium-rate numbers) in the £20 per month/per user price.

Optional extras

Equipment

You do not need a physical desk phone for the system to work. That’s just one of the features that make this a great value system. However, if your business requires desk phones and other equipment, these are available at affordable prices. Please ask us for the latest pricing. Here are some images of products available:

Wallboards

Wallboards – A live way of looking at call stats for your team displayed on a TV (ask us about this option as it is an optional extra requiring some development time). Check out the blog over on the Comtec site for more information

Telecoms via a computer’s web browser

You can even carry out calls via your computer’s web browser. If you spend a lot of time at your desk, then this is a real lifesaver.

Making calls from your business number while sat at your PC is very useful, including messaging colleagues and website visitors (if you have something called WebRTC set up), conference calls and screen sharing.

Not only is useful, it is a professional way of communicating.

Mobile devices

Then there is the mobile phone app! From the app you can make and receive calls (again, from and to your landline number).

From the app you can also carry on a chat conversation, check your voicemails and set a status.

By status, I mean you can set yourself to busy of offline which means you will not be disturbed by calls when you don’t want to be. Perhaps you are in a meeting or don’t want to be awakened by unwanted calls at night?

A little but useful feature

if you take on Number Club as your phone service, you get an extension number for each user (let’s say you have extension 3076), you have the ability to dial an extension number for Anything I.T. or Hello Comtec. Right there from your phone! Nice and easy support at your fingertips.

Summary

In essence, Number Club is a high quality, full of features cloud based telecoms system which is affordable and scalable as your business grows.

Contact us for more information or to arrange a demo.

Anything I.T. Plymouth Limited

Send an email and we will be in touch as soon as possible

The landscape has changed.

The Geek Collective