“The cloud” is becoming an increasingly popular term, but what exactly does it mean? Utilizing cloud technology means accessing data and programs via the internet rather than a physical hard drive. Cloud storage allows users to save physical space that a traditional hard drive would take up in addition to freeing space on their computer.
Cloud technology differs from traditional hard drives because it offers “redundant storage,” meaning data is stored on multiple servers. This lowers the costs of having servers on-site and saves an organization time from having to troubleshoot since redundant storage ensures no downtime if one server goes down. If data needs to be restored, the recovery process is quick and seamless. Additionally, businesses usually do not have to manage their servers, as they are oftentimes held in data centers.
There are several different types of clouds, including public, private, and hybrid. There is a cloud type suitable for every business.
A single business or organization usually uses a private cloud. It can be managed by a company’s on-site IT team or a third-party data center.
Public clouds are owned by third parties, which are generally major companies. These are managed by the major company and accessed via the Internet.
A hybrid cloud is a combination of both public and private clouds. Companies tend to store more sensitive information on the private cloud and utilize the public cloud for less sensitive data.
Having good data storage and backups is crucial to the success of every business. Cloud storage provides peace of mind that your business’ data is protected.
The world of IT is evolving at an unprecedented pace and being driven by the rise of emerging technologies. Businesses that embrace these trends stand to gain a competitive edge, unlocking new possibilities and efficiencies. As we navigate the future of IT, staying informed and adapting to these transformative technologies will be crucial for organizations and individuals alike. Learn about which of our IT services may suit your business’s needs the best. If you have any questions about our IT services, contact us today! Follow us on Facebook to keep up with our latest blogs!
Passwords are used to protect your devices, finances, health records, and so much more. We rely on them to prevent unauthorized users from accessing devices and accounts, which is crucial for most companies. Passwords are meant to change frequently to properly fulfill their purpose, as no password is unbreakable. Alas, World Password Day was born to act as a reminder to everyone that maintenance is required to retain account security.
Why It’s Celebrated
It is imperative that everyone has a strong password to ensure privacy. Before the internet and all of its glory, passwords were used as a method of entry for secret societies and clubs. Today, passwords are used a little less loosely to avoid cyber hacking. As the world becomes more advanced, cyber threats evolve as well. This means it is crucial to maintain the security of your passwords by updating them regularly. Falling on the first Thursday of May every year, World Password Day serves to encourage users to protect their data by maintaining their authentication methods.
Many people see their passwords as a way to get into their accounts rather than a way to keep others out. With this, many people try to make their passwords short, easy to remember, and personally relatable. Hackers are well aware of this, and will likely guess a password based on this criteria. Users have a habit of using the name of a pet, child, hobby, or profession when creating a password. A way to make passwords more difficult to guess is to use one that is irrelevant to the user. People also commonly use the same passwords across different platforms. This makes it easier for a hacker to access all accounts with one successful attempt.
With data being as precious as it is, it is up to you as the user to pay mind to your level of security. Celebrate this World Password Day by updating all your passwords for any account that holds value.
In today’s world, everyone relies heavily on technology to do just about anything. We use it to communicate with one another, to work and pay our bills, and purchase goods at the click of a button. We expect our devices to work without error, and can often forget that electronics can fail us at any point without any warning. It is important to remember that computers, phones, and other devices are not to be depended on for everything, and lost information can sometimes be the fault of the user.
Imagine walking into work one morning to find a great mechanical failure has occurred overnight. This could have been caused by a number of events such as a virus, a natural disaster, a human error, or a system failure that has erased all of your company data. Nevertheless, the recovery system you had failed and your business could be facing serious risks. This disaster can happen at any moment, which is why it is crucial to install a more trustworthy IT recovery system to ensure proper data backup.
The best steps to take to make sure your plan is safe is to manually back up data and information regardless of the trust you have for your recovery system. It is also wise to perform a full system restore once a month to make sure that the recovery system you have actually works. The single most expensive mistake most small business owners make is related to protecting their company data, so it is better to be safe than sorry. All businesses should document their IT recovery plan as part of their business continuity plan, and should not neglect testing it periodically.
It can be easy to forget that electronic devices are not without their flaws, and can fail you and your business any day of the week. In order to retain all those irreplaceable files, make sure your recovery plan has your back. If you have any questions about our IT services, contact us today!
What’s better, Gmail or Outlook? These are the two leading platforms when it comes to business email. Both are great options and come with good features and security. They also cost about the same. The one you choose will be based on your business’s specific needs.
While Outlook has about 7 years on Gmail, the email platform offers some great features for business. The apps that are included with a Google Workspaces subscription allow your team to work on projects at the same time. You don’t have to download and send the document. You can share the Google Docs, Sheets, or Slides within the apps. You also don’t have to worry about making sure you’re working on the latest version.
Outlook’s interface is a little bit more confusing than Gmail’s but the program offers advanced management features and allows you to manage other users’ inboxes and calendars. There is also the ability to set more advanced rules. It may be a better choice if your company is sending a large number of emails.
When comparing costs, both programs are very similar. Both have a free version that comes with 15GB of storage. Note that the free versions would not have your domain connected and would not be the best option for businesses.
Starter Plans – Gmail and Outlook both have a starter plan that cost $6 per month per user. Google’s plan comes with 30GB of storage and the ability to work offline. Outlook’s plan comes with 1TB of storage but includes only web and mobile apps.
Standard Plans – The standard Gmail plan is $12 a month per user. It includes 2TB of storage. The Outlook standard plan is $12.50 a month per user and comes with 1TB of storage. It also includes the downloadable desktop apps that are not included with the starter plan.
While both email platforms offer top security which is included in all plans. Outlook has more security features in its highest tier and allows users to encrypt emails. This would be a good option for hospitals or businesses that needed to send medical information or other confidential messages. Gmail’s security is also good and offers excellent malware and malicious software detection.
Both Gmail and Outlook are good options for business and offer great features. If you have any questions about setting up your business email or switching platforms, contact us today!
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If you are starting a business or need to update your server, you might be wondering if you should go with local or cloud-based servers. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.
A cloud server is a virtual hosted storage place for your business’ data. It is stored with other companies’ data. There is security in place that ensures that other people with the same cloud server do not have access to your data. Cloud servers are easy and quick to implement. If your company is growing and you need more space in the future, it is easy to scale. With a cloud server, you only pay for what you use. You also save money on maintenance and labor costs because it is the vendor’s responsibility to manage the server and is often included in your plan. The cloud service provider will handle updates and security. Backing up your data on a cloud server can also be done with ease. This is a valuable feature of cloud servers because your data can be recovered with a proper backup plan in place. Cloud servers are a good option for most businesses.
An On-Site Server is physical hardware either on your property or housed at an outsourced IT provider’s facility. On-site servers often require a larger upfront investment because you have to purchase the hardware for the system. Security and maintenance also require more time and cost because the server will be managed by you. These can be outsourced but this does allow you more control over the server. While cloud-based servers are always innovating and updating their systems, upgrades to a local server fall to you. Setting up the server will also take more effort on your part than a cloud server. With an on-site server, you do have more control over features and customization. Cloud servers limit you to what the vendor provides but local servers are fully customizable only limited by your cost and time investments.
Cost – If your company has a large amount of data, the upfront cost of an on-site server may be worth the investment. With a cloud server and the pay-for-what-you-use model, this can be a cost-effective option for most businesses.
Security – With a physical server, the responsibility of security falls to you or the third-party company you chose to house your server. Cloud-based server providers are often constantly updating their security measures as a perk to gain more customers and are often very secure. That said, both systems can be very secure and keep your data safe with proper management and maintenance.
Overall: What’s better for your business?
The answer to this question is, it depends on your needs. Every company is different and has different needs when it comes to a server. Large businesses with medical information might benefit from investing in an on-site server and may be required to do so for security purposes. Other companies that plan on growing would benefit from the ability to scale with a cloud-based server.
If you need help with server management and maintenance or want to understand what server type would best suit your needs, contact us today. One of our team members can go over options and help you decide which would be the best fit for your business.
Cloud computing and storage has increased in popularity. It has many benefits including security and effectiveness, but with time, cloud computing has become vulnerable to many risks. Here are five risks of cloud computing:
With many people using cloud computing, there is often a chance for a misab in the settings. A misconfigured setting is when some of the data stored in the cloud is not protected and it becomes breached. This is all because the purpose of the cloud is to make things fast and convenient and sometimes this causes more information to be less restricted. To fix this setting, it is ideal to check the cloud regularly and check the access permissions.
2. Poor Data Quality
When all your data is in the cloud, it can make it easier to overlook some information. Not only that, but when you share information via the cloud, it can make the information vulnerable to hackers and getting lost. To ensure the quality of your data, it’s a good idea to separate your data within categories and put security measures in place.
3. Employee Training
One of the risks when it comes to cloud computing is not properly training employees on the risks. Most of the time, data is stolen due to phishing scams and security breaches. These can be prevented by teaching employees on how to identify scams.
4. Security Policies
Insufficient security policies can hurt all data in the cloud. When a security policy is not correct, it puts so many things at risk. To ensure you have adequate policies, it is important to know who can access the cloud, what data should be in the cloud and what to do when a breach occurs.
5. Choosing the Provider
There are many cloud providers out there, and some aren’t the safest when it comes to storing data. Before determining what provider you want to use, make sure to research all providers.
Are you having trouble with cloud computing? Westec Services can help! Feel free to contact us with any questions or concerns.
Cloud computing is one the most beneficial ways for businesses to operate, but still creates online threats. Many threats can appear, but Shadow IT can interfere with devices, technology systems, applications and software. Learn about the dangers of Shadow IT and why is it being used:
What is it?
Shadow IT can be described as projects or networks that are managed by outside providers, without prior approval from the IT department. With cloud database popularity, shadow IT is growing and creates vulnerabilities including data leaks and database violations.
Now that you know what shadow IT is, what are the risks? The main risk is data leaks. Oftentimes when shadow IT is being used, it prevents certain backups from being performed. This means important data could be lost forever. From sending a document to a personal email, to file sharing on the cloud, this makes it possible for shadow IT to intervene and allow the information to be compromised by outside networks that cannot be monitored by the IT department.
These risks can go beyond simply leaking information. Depending on the network, shadow IT can harm financials, internal communications and errors within the system. When systems have access to this vital information, they can duplicate it and cause harm to your business and result in losing money.
Not all networks who use shadow IT are purposely doing it to cause harm, and most of the time big companies use this to increase productivity. Companies who use this include Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft Office. It is important to know that even though shadow IT can be beneficial, it still makes companies vulnerable to internal harm and should be dealt with.
It can be determined that shadow IT will not be going away soon, which is why educating employees on this issue will be the best prevention plan. Along with knowing the risks, routinely checking your data will help manage and determine if shadow IT is affecting your business.
Want to know more about shadow IT? WesTec services can help! Feel free tocontactus and check out ourservicesto see how we can assist you. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook,LinkedInandTwitterfor updates.
IT equipment is essential for businesses in 2021. The main question is — leasing vs financing IT equipment? There are pros and cons for both options, but it depends on the kind of working environment, efficiency requirements, and budget.
One of the greatest advantages of leasing is not being financially responsible for the equipment. Rather than having your company held responsible, you would be passing the financials to the leasing company. Instead of paying up front for the equipment needed, leasing allows you to set a monthly payment. A lease is also an option that will guarantee the same equipment with fixed monthly payments.
Financials aside, leasing provides access to the newest, up-to-date equipment. Once your equipment has run its course, you can easily upgrade. Newer equipment requires less maintenance, which allows for greater productivity.
However, there are some disadvantages to leasing IT equipment. Depending on your leasing terms and IT needs, leasing can be more expensive than financing — especially if you sign a lease and don’t end up using the equipment, as you are still obligated to pay.
If leasing isn’t for you, you also have the option to finance. When financing, there are no contracts involved — you simply buy the equipment directly from the source. If maintenance is required, financing allows you to go about it at your own discretion. You won’t need to make an appointment with the leasing company or be stuck with damaged equipment. When you own the equipment, you can simply take care of everything on your own.
For businesses on a tight budget, financing is the more cost-effective option. With one simple payment, the equipment is yours!
However, there are a few downsides when it comes to financing. Depending on the business, making a big investment like this could max out your credit lines. Furthermore, you could be stuck with outdated equipment, whereas in leasing, updated equipment is always available.
The Final Decision
Between financing and leasing IT equipment, both have their pros and cons. However, it is up to you to decide which option is most cost-efficient, given your budget and IT needs. For the most advanced models that don’t require one big payment, leasing would be the best option. For a one-time payment and maintenance freedom, the best option would be financing.
In the era of technology, some have concerns about their privacy. In schools, the top priority is to protect students and their information. With students constantly engaging in technology, whether it be submitting homework, emails with teachers, or saving documents, state and federal internet security laws protect all this information.
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
FERPA: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act is one of the most widely known federal laws regarding student privacy. It applies to every educational institution or those of a similar rank. This law protects the education records of all students and sets boundaries between what information students’ parents have access to when the student becomes 18 years of age. If educational records are needed by another school, parent, or in medical cases, there must be a written permission letter from the student or guardian to release that information. Details such as name, birthdate, phone number and school attendance is not under this law and does not require a written permission.
COPPA: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
Different from FERPA, COPPA: Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act is specific to the online services used by children 13 years and younger. This act controls what personal information is collected from young children. Applications and websites all have to abide by this act and schools can intervene as parental consent if needed.
CIPA: Children’s Internet Protection Act
In addition to protecting the privacy of students, it prevents them from seeing unwanted information while on the internet. CIPA: Children’s Internet Protection Act uses a filtered web system that schools and libraries use. This system blocks and hides harmful information or acts such as chat rooms and cyberbullying. CIPA also sets a curriculum on how to protect minors on the internet. This curriculum is required to use this program. Schools and libraries must implement these guidelines addressing a new internet safety policy.
These three acts and laws are a preventative measure from harmful internet activities and exploitation. With the main goal of protecting students’ privacy and engaging them in new internet safety protocols these acts are required by law.
Technology can be confusing, and it’s important to know your rights! Have any further questions on internet privacy? Contact WesTec today! And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
In recent years, we have seen cloud computing become the industry standard for computing and storage resources. Cloud computing uses four different models, indicating how services are made available to users. Learn more about the 4 Cloud Hosting Models:
Public clouds are available for anyone who would like to make use of the resource, from low security application development to file and email sharing. One example of this would be Google applications such as Gmail and Google Drive. These are available through the use of a public cloud, accessible by any user with an account at any time.
Just like it sounds, a private cloud is a private network typically used by a single organization for security. The cloud can be easily managed onsite or offsite by outside groups or third party organizations. While much more costly than its public counterpart, private clouds are the better option for organizations that require the extra security and privacy.
In a hybrid cloud, organizations make use of a combination of private and public cloud infrastructure. The most common use is when an organization needs to quickly scale up their IT infrastructure to provide the necessary cloud capacity, like an online retainer during the busy holiday season.
A Multi-cloud is any combination of public, private, and hybrid clouds. Within an organization, there might be multiple private clouds in addition to private clouds. These clouds can be interconnected or separate. The multi-cloud category is a catch-all for any mixture of clouds, therefore allowing for the most flexibility and customization.
Having cloud hosting trouble? We can help! WesTec Services is a trusted and experienced IT services provider located in the Houston area. Give us a call today or visit our website to see what WesTec can do for you.
Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.
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