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The Buzz about Cloud Computing

“Cloud computing” is a major buzzword, and while you may know that it could be a great benefit to your business, you may not be entirely clear on what cloud computing is.  Like most jargon, the actual meaning of this term can be a little fuzzy.  What is this “cloud” and what can it do for you?

To put it simply, “the cloud” really just means “the Internet”.  The image has been a staple in networking diagrams for years, and it has a nice ring to it for marketing.  “Cloud computing” is a fancy way of saying that you’re accessing your data over the Internet instead of keeping all your programs and files on your computer’s local hard drive.  But why would you want to do that?

Businesses have been using “dumb terminals” for years.  These workstations are all connected to a central computer which stores all the data, files, and programs each workstation needs.  Cloud computing is basically the same thing on a larger scale.  This means that you can access your programs and data from anywhere with an Internet connection, which leads to increased productivity and fewer delays, especially for a smaller business.

Cloud computing isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, though.  There’s a whole world of Web-based applications that can make your life easier.  We’re all familiar with Web-based email such as Yahoo and Gmail – that’s just the start.  Dropbox stores your data online and synchronizes files on your local hard drive.  Google Drive, which is available on computers, tablets, and smartphones, has all the apps and storage online; Apple iCloud provides online storage of your mail, calendar, contacts, etc.

Cloud computing can simplify many aspects of your business and reduce your total costs.  For small to medium businesses, the ease of access alone can make a big difference in productivity.  If you want your business to run more smoothly and efficiently, look into some of the many Web-based services that could streamline your daily operations.

Colocation from Our IT Department in Leland & Jackson Mississippi

Cisco Continues To Build Intercloud Strategy

Cloud computing has changed business IT in many ways. Now, businesses of all sizes can achieve more and enjoy better efficiency, all while lowering expenses. Cisco, a leader in IT and networking for years, recently acquired Piston Cloud Computing of San Francisco to increase its Intercloud services. Find out more about the acquisition and Intercloud solutions at cisco.com.

Our IT Department offers a full range of network management and computer services from computer maintenance, and computer repair to cloud computing and networking solutions. Servicing all of Mississippi, including Greenville, Jackson, Cleveland, Oxford, Tupelo & Greenwood. We are committed to keeping your company up to date, secure, and running at peak performance. Contact us today so that we can work together to find the best solution for your business.

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Are employees putting your data at risk?

A data breach is a terrifying prospect, whether your business has six employees or six thousand. But in the quest for tighter, more foolproof security, it’s important to keep usability in mind. Security protocols that are cumbersome to use can hinder productivity and push employees to less secure measures in the name of doing their jobs. Remember that your employees may need to send, receive, or transfer large files or sensitive information. Without effective and efficient tools to do so quickly and easily, they may turn to more vulnerable means such as USB drives, cloud based file sharing, or personal email accounts.

This article at Tech Radar explains how your data can be put at risk without effective, usable security measures.

Our IT Department presents a new way of managing your computer systems. We offer a single point of contact for consulting, network management, systems integration, disaster recovery and repair of your infrastructure. By simplifying the process of your business network, you have your own personal technical consultant team to call if something goes wrong. Increasingly, organizations are recognizing the benefits of colocating their mission-critical equipment within a Datacenter. Our IT Department offers reliable and secure collocation hosting services that will grow with you to fit your ever changing needs. Contact Our IT Department today and learn how our colocation solutions can save you time, frustration and money, maximizing your business profits over time.

Servicing all of Mississippi, including Greenville, Jackson, Cleveland, Oxford, Tupelo & Greenwood. We are committed to keeping your company up to date, secure, and running at peak performance. Contact us today so that we can work together to find the best solution for your business.

The difference between download and upload speeds

Normally it takes more time to upload a file then to download one of the same size, and for the most part this is by design. Since most users spend much more time downloading, which includes viewing web pages, watching videos, online gaming, etc., than they do uploading, many internet service providers design their systems to give priority to downloading giving you overall better service.

Truth be told upload and download speeds will almost never match the maximum advertised speed your paying for, it’s fairly normal to only get 80-90% of the advertised maximum speed (you should always read the small print) of the service plan you are paying for. There are however reasons for this;

mainly your connection may be shared with other people in your building or neighborhood, so if the pipe is pretty full at any given moment then your going to experience slower speeds.

Also other applications that are accessing the Internet may be running on your computer, which could slow down the transfer rate for the same reasons stated above. However activities like surfing the web and answering your email simultaneously should only have a minor impact on transfer speeds

Nevertheless, if you feel you are getting slower transfer speeds than normal, you can contact your ISP or visit their website. You can also check out Speedtest.com to test your speeds, from a wired connection.

Our IT Department offers a full range of network management and computer services from disaster recovery to computer repair. Servicing all of Mississippi, including Greenville, Jackson, Cleveland, Oxford, Tupelo & Greenwood. We are committed to keeping your company up to date, secure, and running at peak performance. Contact us today for a network design, evaluation, or update.

Our IT Department

Before you call tech support

Our IT Department can build or re-design your network from the ground up and handle all maintenance issues. More importantly, we’re always there for you, with 24/7 support for any problems. If you are in the Jackson or Leland MS area call us today to learn more about how we can keep your business running efficiently!

All of a sudden, you notice your internet connection doesn’t seem to be working right. Maybe Netflix isn’t loading, or YouTube is taking a long time to buffer. Maybe a page you opened just won’t load. Time to call tech support, right?
Not necessarily. There are a few things you can try first. Let’s be honest, no matter how friendly or effective your tech support may be, you don’t really want to call them. Why not ask yourself these questions first?

Question 1: Could this just be the page?

Sometimes an individual page gets overloaded, and it has nothing to do with your connection. To see if this is the issue, open a new tab and try another page. This can happen with your homepage too, so if you opened your browser and nothing loaded, try typing another page into the address bar (I usually use Google.com, since it’s just a plain page and should load very quickly). When some pages load, but not others, the problem is usually with the pages, not your connection.
Netflix and YouTube servers can get overloaded too, causing videos to freeze up or not load at all. Refreshing the page (Refresh or Reload at the top of your browser window, or F5 on your keyboard) will usually fix this.

Question 2: Is it just that device?

If you can’t get anything to load, you’re probably already reaching for the phone. But hang on a minute. Before you call, are there any other connected devices you could try? Most people have more than one internet-capable device in the house these days – smartphones, iPods, tablets, laptops, desktops. When one doesn’t work, try the others (if using a phone or tablet, be sure it’s connected through your wifi, not a cell network). If any device can get online through your router, your problem isn’t your connection. It’s that device you’re using.

Question 3: What happens if you just disconnect?

This is such an easy thing to try, really! If it’s a phone, tablet, or laptop that won’t connect, disable the wireless function and then re-enable it. Nine times out of ten, that will get you back online. For a desktop running Windows, there’s usually a “diagnose” button or link for you to click, which generally fixes it all on its own. Also, never underestimate the power of rebooting. If you’re nervous about disabling anything, just shut the whole thing down and restart.

Question 4: Maybe it’s the router?

None of your devices are working; surely it’s time to call tech support now? Well, not just yet. One more thing to try: power cycling your router. It sounds all technical, but all it really means is unplugging your router for 10-30 seconds and plugging it back in. Give it a few more seconds to get booted up, and, frequently, your connection will be back like magic. Why does this work? Well, there’s no good reason for it, but routers (like all electronics) sometimes just freeze up. This is very common, so you should ALWAYS try power cycling before calling tech support.

Question 5: Still nothing – now what?

So you’ve tried other pages, you’ve checked out your device, you’ve disconnected or rebooted, and you’ve power cycled your router, but you’re still getting no internet. Now is the time to call in the cavalry, and get tech support on the phone. If you’ve already gone through the steps above, your technician will be able to find the problem more quickly, helping you get back online faster!

Benefits of Dedicated Bandwidth

Dedicated bandwidth is reserved for one subscriber; your connection is yours and yours alone. This ensures that you always get the same high rate of throughput, no matter what other any other subscribers may be doing, without any drop in speed at peak times. You can use 100% of your bandwidth at all times, you always get the speed you’re paying for, and you aren’t affected by network congestion. Dedicated bandwidth is often symmetrical, meaning that the connection can send and receive data at the same speed.
Businesses can benefit from dedicated bandwidth in lots of ways. A dedicated connection can save you money, increase efficiency, reduce headaches, and generally make your business run more smoothly. Here are a few of the main benefits of dedicated bandwidth.

Faster connections mean more productivity – With dedicated bandwidth, web pages will load faster, and hosted applications will respond quickly. The more easily your employees can get to what they need, the more efficiently they can do their jobs.
Streamline and consolidate IT resources – With fast dedicated connections between locations, you can share IT resources over the network instead of using local servers in each office. With less actual hardware, your network will be more manageable, needing less time and resources to maintain.
Faster backup and recovery – Dedicated bandwidth can offer faster backups with less down time. When backups aren’t such a hassle, they can be done more often, so you have a better disaster recovery plan. And if you do need to recover information, it can be done quickly and easily.

There are many more benefits of using a dedicated connection, especially when combined with VoIP service. Why not look into dedicated bandwidth and see how it can help your business?

Cloud Computing

“Cloud computing” is a major buzzword, and while you may know that it could be a great benefit to your business, you may not be entirely clear on what cloud computing is.  Like most jargon, the actual meaning of this term can be a little fuzzy.  What is this “cloud” and what can it do for you?

To put it simply, “the cloud” really just means “the Internet”.  The image has been a staple in networking diagrams for years, and it has a nice ring to it for marketing.  “Cloud computing” is a fancy way of saying that you’re accessing your data over the Internet instead of keeping all your programs and files on your computer’s local hard drive.  But why would you want to do that?

Businesses have been using “dumb terminals” for years.  These workstations are all connected to a central computer which stores all the data, files, and programs each workstation needs.  Cloud computing is basically the same thing on a larger scale.  This means that you can access your programs and data from anywhere with an Internet connection, which leads to increased productivity and fewer delays, especially for a smaller business.

Cloud computing isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition, though.  There’s a whole world of Web-based applications that can make your life easier.  We’re all familiar with Web-based email such as Yahoo and Gmail – that’s just the start.  Dropbox stores your data online and synchronizes files on your local hard drive.  Google Drive, which is available on computers, tablets, and smartphones, has all the apps and storage online; Apple iCloud provides online storage of your mail, calendar, contacts, etc.

Cloud computing can simplify many aspects of your business and reduce your total costs.  For small to medium businesses, the ease of access alone can make a big difference in productivity.  If you want your business to run more smoothly and efficiently, look into some of the many Web-based services that could streamline your daily operations.

For questions or more information on Cloud Computing and what it can do for your business contact Our IT Department today!

Our IT Deparment Jackson and Leland MS Colocation

Colocation from Our IT Department

Colocation from Our IT Department in Leland and Jackson Mississippi

Our IT Department in Leland and Jackson Mississippi offers colocation services, data center services, disaster recovery and a fully experienced, knowledgeable team of IT people here for all of your business needs.

Using colocation services for server hosting is getting more and more popular every day! Thousands of businesses already operate their mission critical servers in data centers across the world and capitalize on the unequaled reliability and cost savings when compared with hosting the systems themselves.
When it comes to moving your systems out of your office and onto the cloud there are three common options; Leasing dedicated servers, leasing server resources, and colocation. Colocation is the focus of this article and we’ll lay out the advantages and how it can benefit your company. Colocation is basically the same thing as leasing a dedicated server or server space on the cloud, except that you provide your own equipment and pay only for the space, energy and bandwidth that you utilize.

1. Reliability. Properly equipped data centers have multiple power sources, battery backup systems and cooling systems. They are also equipped with multiple physical connections to the internet to provide redundancy in the event of a failure. The server rooms are also clean, dust free and have filtration systems to remove particulates from the air which lengthens the life and greatly improves the reliability of your servers.

2. Security. Running your equipment inside a secured data center ensures that your systems are protected from burglars, fires, and other things that can compromise the security of your information. Many data centers are equipped with video surveillance and have only one entrance, with special doors that do not allow you to enter without a special pass and a security guard near you. Your servers and data are protected allowing you to rest at night knowing that your equipment is being protected.

3. Reduced Maintenance. You will only need to worry about your equipment and software. The A/C, battery backups, routers, and firewalls are all handled by the datacenter. In many cases, small and medium businesses only think about the server support equipment after there is a failure. Data centers monitor and maintain these support systems and have dedicated systems and staff to see that these systems are running at top efficiency. You won’t have to worry about the expense of replacing batteries or coming in on Monday morning to discover that you’re A/C was off all weekend and that your equipment is ruined.

4. Speed. This is probably the most appealing reason to co-locate your server in a data center. Established data centers have extremely fast connections directly to the major internet service providers. Many of them have multiple backbones with separate vendors, which provide redundancy in the event one connection is interrupted or overloaded. Data centers spend a lot of time engineering their networks and work with vendors to get the most direct connection to the internet with the least amount of latency and fewest points of failure. Most of us just worry about speed tests, not latency, hops, and maximum sustained throughput. Colocation centers have a staff of highly trained technicians that handle all of this for you. Establishing such a system in your own building is possible but why suffer through the frustration, headache, and expense when you can have all of these benefits at the fraction of the cost.

5. Control and privacy. Owning your own equipment and renting the space and bandwidth, you have more control over your hardware than renting space on a cluster. Your systems and servers are secured by you and only you have access. The data center does not need access to your systems nor do they typically want it.

6. Experience. When you collocate your there is a process of getting your servers ready and installing them in the racks at the data center. While you’re there you have direct access to some of the brightest minds in the technology field. Make friends and learn their names. We’re not suggesting that you try to glean free technical support but if you’re in a pinch or want to make upgrades these guys can be an invaluable wealth of information.

7. Cost Savings. The previous six points are all very good reasons to host your servers in a data center. However, all of these benefits can be had in your building. The defining difference is cost. In the early days of technology the benefits were known and companies invested heavily to have the latest and greatest tech to get the biggest competitive advantage. In recent years technology has become a known commodity and there have been great strides to reduce costs and get the maximum value. Data centers and server colocation are excellent ways for businesses to lower the costs and improve the availability and reliability of their server infrastructure.

There are other reasons for choosing co-location hosting for a business, but the above are the most important. If you value time and money, but still want the same control over your systems and data that you’d get from having your servers in your own office, then co-location is a solution you should seriously consider.

Our IT Department has a full time staff that provide every part of IT for your company for a fraction of the price of having your own IT team internally. We’re available 24/7 and provide everything from disaster recovery and back up to managed services and consultation.  Make Our IT Department, your IT Department today!

Computer Security, Part 4

Keeping Your Business Computer Safe and Secure

We’re bringing you more ways to stay safe and secure online. So far, we’ve covered antivirus protection, antispyware software, and firewalls and updates. This time, we’re bringing up a very sore point – password security!

Passwords

Pretty much everything you do online will require a password. Between email, Facebook, banking, bill paying, shopping, and everything else, it can be tempting to just use the same password for everything. But what if just one of those accounts is compromised? Say your Facebook account gets hacked; that account on its own is not that big a deal, but if you use the same password for your banking, bill paying, and insurance, you could be looking at losing money, if not full-blown identity theft.

Now that you’re scared, here’s the good news. You don’t have to have a separate password for every single thing you do online. You can stick to two or three strong passwords, and organize them by type of account. You might have one password for vital information (banking, bills, insurance, etc.), another for shopping accounts (Amazon, Etsy, etc.), and another for those accounts that don’t involve any financial or personal information (online communities, games, etc.). Another option is to start with one strong password, and add an abbreviation to the end for each site (for example, add “az” for Amazon, “fb” for Facebook, “em” for email, etc.).

The key point here is that your passwords must be strong. But what exactly does that mean? A strong password is one that is not easily cracked by a computer program that is designed to figure out passwords. At minimum, you’ll want at least eight characters, but longer is better. Include at least one capital letter, one numeral, and a special character like an exclamation point, @ symbol, colon, or pound sign. Special characters make passwords especially strong, but be aware that some sites will only allow certain special characters in passwords, so if you’re using a more obscure character, it might not be accepted.

Of course, the only way to make absolutely sure that your password or other information stays completely private is to keep it in your own head, but by putting some thought in your passwords and how you use them, you can safely enjoy all the convenience the web has to offer.

Our IT Department believes in giving our businesses the tools to keep their computers safe and the business operational. If you are need of Disaster Recovery and Back up Services contact Our IT Department in Leland and Jackson, Mississippi today! Stay tuned; our next post will help you with safe surfing habits!

 

Should you own your own data center?

Should you own your own data center?

 As a business owner or manager, one of the most critical decisions you will make is how to ensure the integrity, security, and access to your company’s data.  Having been in the ISP, data center, and IT services industry for over 10 years, I’m still amazed that these decisions are often taken lightly or delegated to technical personnel whose only criteria is that we keep everything “in house”.

I’ve seen “in house” mean everything from the broom closet to a corner of the garage at the owner’s home because the cable internet was much faster there than the DSL they had at the office.  I’m talking critical data that, if lost, would cripple or potentially close the business permanently.  This is not where you cut corners; this is the very lifeblood of your business.

Your critical servers should be housed in a data center with proper climate control, power systems with uninterruptable, clean power, backup  generator systems, fiber connections to the internet with multiple carriers and diverse paths, fire suppression, security systems, etc., and lots of redundancy.

Tour a local data center and it won’t take long to realize that building a proper data center is an expensive enterprise. Renting space in such a data center for your critical servers is not just smart, but cost effective.

ZDNet’s CIO Jury in Steve Ranger’s article on the subject comes down squarely on the side of outsourcing for most of us:

When asked the question “Is it always better to own your own data center?” ZDNet and TechRepublic’s CIO Jury panel of tech decision makers responded with a resounding no by a margin of 11 to one.

Matthew Oakley Group head of IT at Schroders said that while you don’t always have to own the data center, what does matter is knowing where your data is “and understanding the controls around securing it and the infrastructure it runs on.”

For smaller organisations it’s an easy decision to make, according to Alan Bawden, commercial director at The JM Group, said: “For an SME it is much better to outsource it and hand it over to the professionals — you will however have to pay a little more to ensure that the provider can meet your security and uptime requirements.” Michael Hanken, VP of IT at Multiquip added: “With the right outsourcing partner you can leverage scale and free up your team from routine operations. The key is, however, to find the right partner.”

For most SMB’s, the right fit is a local data center with a trusted partner, such as your ISP.  Many ISP’s operate data centers or partner with others who do.  Having your data housed in your area gives you further assurance that you’ll have 24/7 access to your hardware without relying on a vendor in another city.

Get to know your local data center operator; they can become your trusted partner and give you the peace of mind that only comes with knowing you’re doing it right.