Click here to close now.

Welcome!

Apache Authors: Liz McMillan, Dana Gardner, Pat Romanski, Carmen Gonzalez, Plutora Blog

Related Topics: Security, SOA & WOA, AJAX & REA, Web 2.0, Cloud Expo

Security: Article

What You Should Know Before Your Computer Crashes

How important is your Outlook and QuickBooks data?

Imagine it as if it's actually happened - your network has crashed and all your organization's critical applications and associated data have vanished. This worst-case scenario is one every business owner fears. Whether it's due to a storm, a break-in or the crash of your hard drive, the loss of your company data can cripple your business, leaving you stranded and holding the proverbial bag.

Business owners often assume that they don't have time to think about data backup procedures, much less the recovery process involved in the event of a system failure. They are focused instead on the business at hand. Unfortunately, what many don't realize is that the stalwart back-up methods of the past such as tape, CD or memory stick have become painfully antiquated in today's data-centric world.

While many small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) think all of their data is being captured and stored in a safe place, the reality is that most SMBs are operating under a false assumption. Your business depends on mission-critical applications and their associated data. The deep dark secret is that many of these programs are not being backed up because, when left open, they are outside the parameters of standard backup procedures.

The question all business owners should ask themselves is simple: "If my computer disappeared tomorrow, could my business survive without past emails, contacts, work schedules and accounting data?" If the answer is no, then it's time to take a closer look at your backup and data recovery procedures.

The Ongoing Dilemma

Many critical non-standard databases, such as Outlook and QuickBooks along with other accounting software and legacy applications, as well as databases such as MS Access and MySQL, are not VSS-aware, meaning they lack the standard that allows files or databases to be backed up when in use. This lack of functionality leaves many IT managers and SMBs empty-handed in the event of a disaster or system failure.

Outlook and QuickBooks user/company data is notorious for being left out of standard backup routine practices. The ongoing dilemma of backing up this critical data continues to be the fact that most of us forget to shut down these programs when we leave for the day. Unless you take special precautions, it is likely that when attempting to restore these critical data files you may find that they are outdated... or worse, corrupted. This is true of many mission-critical programs that keep your business running.

Take Outlook for example; a critical application for businesses of all sizes. If Outlook is not closed, many backup tools are unable to backup the ever-important .PST file, leaving your company open to potential disaster should the program crash. The .PST contains all of your Outlook data, including emails, calendar events, contacts, schedules and notes; and the backup of this file doesn't necessarily happen automatically. Backing up the .PST file is critical for restoring your most recent data.

Additionally, for those of us who are email hoarders, keeping all email correspondence in Outlook over the past year can cause the .PST to reach gigabyte proportions very quickly. These large and unruly files can produce unexpected problems when backing them up. Many backup systems can "time out" or even worse, demand an extra tape or CD to complete the backup routine when your office is closed and employees are gone for the day.

A good starting point is to look for a Microsoft Certified backup vendor that follows the best practices set by Microsoft. Selecting back up software that doesn't conflict with Windows or other low-level drivers, such as antivirus programs and software firewalls, should be a key element in identifying a backup vendor.

When it comes to ranking important data, most people place their financial records near the top of the list. This is especially true for business owners. QuickBooks, the popular accounting software, is another application many SMBs can't do without. The absence of an Application Programming Interface (API) presents additional challenges for protecting corporate financial data. An API allows third-party companies to integrate special functions, such as requests for a data dump for easy backup. Currently, there is no safe method to programmatically dump your QuickBooks data to a safe place for easy backup at the end of the day, and without an API, developers can't create one for QuickBooks.

Intuit recommends scheduling QuickBooks to back up automatically to a specific folder, which allows your data to be verified regularly, and from there, scheduling your third party backup software to back up to that folder. This ensures that QuickBooks is in a good state before your backup software runs. Not following these best practices could lead to a corrupted QuickBooks database file.

Listed below are the QuickBooks files that your company must make sure are backed up:

.QBW = quickbooks Primary Data File

.QBB = quickbooks Backup File

.QBA = quickbooks Accountant's Copy File

(May also be a .AIF [Accountant's Import File])

.QBA.TLG = Transaction log file (for the accountant's review copy)

.QBM = quickbooks Portable Company File (for version 2006 and above).

.QBI = quickbooks Crash Roll Back File

.QBX = quickbooks Accountant Transfer File

.QDT = quickbooks United Kingdom Accountant Data File

The backup challenges of these programs are unique, so take the time to consider alternatives that address this lack of functionality. Some data backup companies provide solutions that include the ability to continuously back up your programs and data, no matter where that device is located and even while the programs are open and in use.

How Confident Are You? - Not Sure? Test It!
Not sure if your data is secure? Just like a fire drill, the best way to make sure is to put your backup method to the test. If possible, locate a spare computer, wipe the drive and attempt to do a complete restore of your company applications and associated data. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you able to restore your backup files in one simple step?
  • Do you need to re-install all of your applications individually?
  • Do you have easy access to those applications and have you kept track of the associated upgrades?
  • Does your Outlook, QuickBooks and other proprietary data install easily?
  • Do you end up with the most current data when you have completed the restoration?

Most important, keep track of the time it takes you to complete the restoration from beginning to end, then multiply that by the number of computers you have within your organization. Many SMBs are unaware that the "dirty little secret" of data recovery is the time it takes to restore data, which is governed by your company's bandwidth restrictions. When your computers are down, every minute counts.

Conclusion
Data backup should be as important to your business as an insurance policy. Computers can be replaced if lost in a disaster, or stolen during a break-in. But if you don't have a reliable, secure method of restoring your data, all the money in the world isn't going to bring back those missing files. It is crucial to find a method that protects every level of your data.

In a perfect world, there would be no need to back up your company's data; computers and hard drives would last forever, outside threats like malicious hackers and natural disasters would be non-existent and employees would never forget to save a file, or close a program. Unfortunately this perfect world does not exist. For this reason, businesses of all types and sizes know that keeping their data backed up and protected at all times must be of the utmost priority if they wish to remain in business after the fact.

More Stories By Jamie Brenzel

Jamie Brenzel brings over 15 years of experience in investment banking and entrepreneurial startups to his role as CEO of KineticD. His prior business accomplishments are long and varied. He was at Salomon Brothers in London, where he helped build the equity derivatives department into an important profit center. He then embarked on his future as an entrepreneur, acquiring Wood Printing & Graphics, and later co-founding integrated marketing communications company Sonar Group. Jamie then established a solid foundation for Truition, an eCommerce service company for clients such as Dell Financial Services, CompUSA and Sirius Satellite Radio. Jamie holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
As organizations shift toward IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection &E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships, will discuss how to cut costs, scale easily, and unleash insight with CommVault Simpana software, the only si...
The explosion of connected devices / sensors is creating an ever-expanding set of new and valuable data. In parallel the emerging capability of Big Data technologies to store, access, analyze, and react to this data is producing changes in business models under the umbrella of the Internet of Things (IoT). In particular within the Insurance industry, IoT appears positioned to enable deep changes by altering relationships between insurers, distributors, and the insured. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Sick, a Senior Manager and Big Data Architect within Ernst and Young's Financial Servi...
Even as cloud and managed services grow increasingly central to business strategy and performance, challenges remain. The biggest sticking point for companies seeking to capitalize on the cloud is data security. Keeping data safe is an issue in any computing environment, and it has been a focus since the earliest days of the cloud revolution. Understandably so: a lot can go wrong when you allow valuable information to live outside the firewall. Recent revelations about government snooping, along with a steady stream of well-publicized data breaches, only add to the uncertainty
PubNub on Monday has announced that it is partnering with IBM to bring its sophisticated real-time data streaming and messaging capabilities to Bluemix, IBM’s cloud development platform. “Today’s app and connected devices require an always-on connection, but building a secure, scalable solution from the ground up is time consuming, resource intensive, and error-prone,” said Todd Greene, CEO of PubNub. “PubNub enables web, mobile and IoT developers building apps on IBM Bluemix to quickly add scalable realtime functionality with minimal effort and cost.”
The Workspace-as-a-Service (WaaS) market will grow to $6.4B by 2018. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Seth Bostock, CEO of IndependenceIT, will begin by walking the audience through the evolution of Workspace as-a-Service, where it is now vs. where it going. To look beyond the desktop we must understand exactly what WaaS is, who the users are, and where it is going in the future. IT departments, ISVs and service providers must look to workflow and automation capabilities to adapt to growing demand and the rapidly changing workspace model.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
In the consumer IoT, everything is new, and the IT world of bits and bytes holds sway. But industrial and commercial realms encompass operational technology (OT) that has been around for 25 or 50 years. This grittier, pre-IP, more hands-on world has much to gain from Industrial IoT (IIoT) applications and principles. But adding sensors and wireless connectivity won’t work in environments that demand unwavering reliability and performance. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ron Sege, CEO of Echelon, will discuss how as enterprise IT embraces other IoT-related technology trends, enterprises with i...
When it comes to the Internet of Things, hooking up will get you only so far. If you want customers to commit, you need to go beyond simply connecting products. You need to use the devices themselves to transform how you engage with every customer and how you manage the entire product lifecycle. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, will show how “product relationship management” can help you leverage your connected devices and the data they generate about customer usage and product performance to deliver extremely compelling and reliabl...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is causing data centers to become radically decentralized and atomized within a new paradigm known as “fog computing.” To support IoT applications, such as connected cars and smart grids, data centers' core functions will be decentralized out to the network's edges and endpoints (aka “fogs”). As this trend takes hold, Big Data analytics platforms will focus on high-volume log analysis (aka “logs”) and rely heavily on cognitive-computing algorithms (aka “cogs”) to make sense of it all.
With several hundred implementations of IoT-enabled solutions in the past 12 months alone, this session will focus on experience over the art of the possible. Many can only imagine the most advanced telematics platform ever deployed, supporting millions of customers, producing tens of thousands events or GBs per trip, and hundreds of TBs per month. With the ability to support a billion sensor events per second, over 30PB of warm data for analytics, and hundreds of PBs for an data analytics archive, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Kaskade, Vice President and General Manager, Big Data & Ana...
Hadoop as a Service (as offered by handful of niche vendors now) is a cloud computing solution that makes medium and large-scale data processing accessible, easy, fast and inexpensive. In his session at Big Data Expo, Kumar Ramamurthy, Vice President and Chief Technologist, EIM & Big Data, at Virtusa, will discuss how this is achieved by eliminating the operational challenges of running Hadoop, so one can focus on business growth. The fragmented Hadoop distribution world and various PaaS solutions that provide a Hadoop flavor either make choices for customers very flexible in the name of opti...
HP and Aruba Networks on Monday announced a definitive agreement for HP to acquire Aruba, a provider of next-generation network access solutions for the mobile enterprise, for $24.67 per share in cash. The equity value of the transaction is approximately $3.0 billion, and net of cash and debt approximately $2.7 billion. Both companies' boards of directors have approved the deal. "Enterprises are facing a mobile-first world and are looking for solutions that help them transition legacy investments to the new style of IT," said Meg Whitman, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of HP...
One of the biggest impacts of the Internet of Things is and will continue to be on data; specifically data volume, management and usage. Companies are scrambling to adapt to this new and unpredictable data reality with legacy infrastructure that cannot handle the speed and volume of data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and president of Infobright, will discuss how companies need to rethink their data infrastructure to participate in the IoT, including: Data storage: Understanding the kinds of data: structured, unstructured, big/small? Analytics: What kinds and how responsiv...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
Sensor-enabled things are becoming more commonplace, precursors to a larger and more complex framework that most consider the ultimate promise of the IoT: things connecting, interacting, sharing, storing, and over time perhaps learning and predicting based on habits, behaviors, location, preferences, purchases and more. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tom Wesselman, Director of Communications Ecosystem Architecture at Plantronics, will examine the still nascent IoT as it is coalescing, including what it is today, what it might ultimately be, the role of wearable tech, and technology gaps stil...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
Wearable devices have come of age. The primary applications of wearables so far have been "the Quantified Self" or the tracking of one's fitness and health status. We propose the evolution of wearables into social and emotional communication devices. Our BE(tm) sensor uses light to visualize the skin conductance response. Our sensors are very inexpensive and can be massively distributed to audiences or groups of any size, in order to gauge reactions to performances, video, or any kind of presentation. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Jocelyn Scheirer, CEO & Founder of Bionolux, will discuss ho...
Cloud data governance was previously an avoided function when cloud deployments were relatively small. With the rapid adoption in public cloud – both rogue and sanctioned, it’s not uncommon to find regulated data dumped into public cloud and unprotected. This is why enterprises and cloud providers alike need to embrace a cloud data governance function and map policies, processes and technology controls accordingly. In her session at 15th Cloud Expo, Evelyn de Souza, Data Privacy and Compliance Strategy Leader at Cisco Systems, will focus on how to set up a cloud data governance program and s...
Containers and microservices have become topics of intense interest throughout the cloud developer and enterprise IT communities. Accordingly, attendees at the upcoming 16th Cloud Expo at the Javits Center in New York June 9-11 will find fresh new content in a new track called PaaS | Containers & Microservices Containers are not being considered for the first time by the cloud community, but a current era of re-consideration has pushed them to the top of the cloud agenda. With the launch of Docker's initial release in March of 2013, interest was revved up several notches. Then late last...
Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, had reached 30,000 page views on his home page - http://RobertoMedrano.SYS-CON.com/ - on the SYS-CON family of online magazines, which includes Cloud Computing Journal, Internet of Things Journal, Big Data Journal, and SOA World Magazine. He is a recognized executive in the information technology fields of SOA, internet security, governance, and compliance. He has extensive experience with both start-ups and large companies, having been involved at the beginning of four IT industries: EDA, Open Systems, Computer Security and now SOA.