Managed IT Services protects your business

Is Your Inexpensive, Shortsighted IT Provider Leaving You Exposed?

If you’ve experienced a technical malfunction or cyber security breach, you know the havoc they can wreak. As email scams, mobile malware, and ransomware attacks rise daily, your business is subject to more threats than ever. That’s why it’s important to have a trustworthy IT team to keep your systems up-to-date—and some IT service methods just don’t pass muster.

Community Property Management, a leading management company in St. Louis, is an Anderson Technologies’ managed IT services client.  When Jane Oliver, president of CPM, first met Mark Anderson, her company participated in a free cyber security seminar. At the time, CPM received break/fix IT support from another local firm.

“As we talked with [Mark] afterwards, he asked questions about what we were currently doing and looked at some of our hardware,” Oliver recalls. “The more we talked, the more they looked at what we had, it became clear that we needed to move away from the break/fix model.”

If you’re contemplating switching from a break/fix IT company to managed IT services—or if you don’t have IT support at all—take the many benefits of managed services into consideration.

Cyber Security

Symantec reported an astounding 1,271 successful ransomware events per day in 2016. Ransomware often targets businesses specifically, and the number of attacks is growing. Having a managed services team of cyber security experts can go a long way in protecting you and your assets from crippling cyber attacks.

Before CPM committed to switching to a managed IT services provider, Anderson conducted a thorough infrastructure analysis that explored multiple layers of cyber security. “He looked at some of our hardware and pointed out that we hadn’t had any updates recently,” Oliver recounts, “which I understand is pretty critical to keeping your hardware secure.”

Anderson Technologies took the wheel. “Several areas needed immediate attention,” Anderson says. “The hardware firewall wasn’t being updated, three servers were missing enterprise-level anti-malware software, offsite backups didn’t exist, and patches weren’t being run regularly.” These security holes hadn’t been addressed by CPM’s previous break/fix IT company, leaving Oliver’s company exposed to a wide variety of digital threats.

Lower Long-Term Costs

Compared to a break/fix IT company, managed services is a wiser investment over time. Calling a break/fix company when the worst happens often incurs larger one-time fees without actually solving the root cause. This is something CPM had to consider when deciding to transition from the break/fix model. “Managed IT services mean that we’re getting proactive service so that we fix things before they become problems,” Oliver says. “I think you get what you pay for.” Putting band-aids on your most important investment—your business—is only going to cost you more money later if issues aren’t resolved as soon as they’re identified.

Proactive Approach

A break/fix IT company may work for quick fixes, like when you’re blindsided by ransomware or lose a file. But one of the most significant benefits of managed IT services is that you don’t have to be blindsided at all. Managed services covers the bases to predict and prevent technical difficulties your business may face. Most importantly, when something unexpected does happen, you have a team who knows your network inside and out for a speedy resolution.  The last thing you need when your workflow is paralyzed is guesswork as someone tries to learn about your environment.

While issues like firewalls and anti-virus software are preventative measures, managed IT services assess many more facets of your business’s technological systems. For example, CPM didn’t realize that an outdated email infrastructure and a poorly-managed Active Directory server could leave them vulnerable to unrestricted users. With Anderson Technologies combing through CPM’s network and practices, the business was able to safeguard their daily work and reduce downtime, in what Anderson called a “dramatic improvement.”

Partnership That Considers Your Company’s Values

Managed IT services means you’ll always have a caring, proactive professional looking out for you. Most managed IT service providers offer both onsite and remote support. Calling your IT support team when you get locked out of your machine, submitting a service ticket online to resolve a minor issue, or having a technician upgrade hardware at your office are just a few examples of what a managed services agreement can do for your business.

Customer service and consideration are qualities that elevate Anderson Technologies and other managed IT service providers. Beyond simply finding the best solution to a problem, managed services aim to connect with your business’s goals and values. This is something that CPM and many other businesses praise. “We know their environment backwards and forwards,” explains Joe Baker, Anderson Technologies’ Systems Administrator.

When CPM needed help moving servers and other equipment in their office, the Anderson Technologies experts were immediately onsite to assist. “It was a pretty standard procedure, but some of their environment didn’t come online correctly,” Baker says. “We were right there to recognize and diagnose the problem and get them back up and running in no time because collectively we’ve seen it many times. If we hadn’t been there or they were a small business operating without an IT company or with a break/fix style company, it would’ve been a lot longer downtime.”

Take Pressure Off Your In-House IT Team

If your company relies on in-house IT support, don’t dismiss the prospect of managed IT services altogether. While having an external IT team working in parallel may seem superfluous, it actually benefits everyone.

“Distracted business owners constantly putting out technology fires are unable to focus their energy on their business’s growth and thrilling their customers,” says Anderson. Managed services gives your in-house IT team the freedom to work on bigger picture software issues and creative custom projects. Instead of running from workstation to workstation solving small internal problems, they’re free to dedicate their energy to technology solutions that will impact your bottom line.

CPM is only one of the businesses Anderson Technologies has introduced to managed IT services. Not only are more companies ditching the traditional break/fix model, but managed services are adding industry-specific compliance and technological advances to their skill set, thereby reducing downtime due to potential IT problems.

“I’d suggest that any company feeling held back by their existing computer and network infrastructure would greatly benefit from investigating what a formal managed IT services relationship could do for them,” says Anderson.

If you’re tired of experiencing glitches in your business’s day-to-day operations, or if you just want to explore your IT options, contact Anderson Technologies today at info@andersontech.com or 314.394.3001 for a free consultation.

SmartSheet-ProcessDocumentation

Quotables: Process Documentation (SmartSheet)

Check out Amy Anderson’s recent guest contribution on SmartSheet providing readers with advice regarding our team’s process documentation!

Read the full article on the SmartSheet website:

https://www.smartsheet.com/process-documentation#who-and-what-is-involved-in-process-documentation

Are you in need of expert IT consulting?  Anderson Technologies is a St. Louis IT consulting firm that specializes in system administration for small businesses.  Let us help you today!  Give us a call at 314.394.3001 or email us at info@andersontech.com.

What are Quotables?  This is a category in our posts to highlight any professional publications that benefit from our expert IT consulting advice and quote us in articles for their readers. 

Can you recover deleted files?

Hands Off the Keyboard! How Managed IT Can Recover Your Deleted Files

One wrong click, a blink, then panic sets in.

That file you just deleted is vital to a current project or contains records necessary to your business.

Instead of letting your heart rate skyrocket, catastrophizing about what you’ve just lost, read this guide on basic data recovery.

When What’s Gone Isn’t Really Gone

Once you realize the deletion error, stop what you’re doing.  A few simple steps may prevent further loss and help you discover the scope of your situation.

  1. Check the Recycle Bin. It’s easy to forget in the post-deletion panic that if you haven’t emptied the desktop folder known as the Recycle Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac) your file may still be there, safe and sound, if it was saved locally. Think there’s no way that your file is still there? Check anyway. It only takes a moment, and many times, that check will solve everything.
  2. Search the File Directory. No luck in the Recycle Bin? All is not lost. Use your computer’s search function (usually in the task menu at the bottom or top of the screen) to search your computer’s file directory for the deleted file. Depending on how many files live on your computer, this may take a while. Here are detailed instructions for searching on Windows 10 and Mac OS X.
  3. Check backups. Okay, so the file doesn’t seem to be on your computer. Was it on the server? Do you have backups configured? These days there are many options, such as Windows Backup, Cloud 365, Dropbox, SugarSync, or OneDrive. Many of these services keep deleted files for 30 days or may have a slightly older version of the file you can restore to your computer. Important Note: If you are unfamiliar with these services, but have them in place, don’t hesitate to call a managed IT services provider for help. Choosing the wrong file or transferring it the wrong way can do more damage than good.

Still no luck? Time to call a managed IT services provider. Further poking around like attempting a Windows restore, volume shadow copy, downloading recovery software, or even just continuing to use the computer to stream or download can rewrite the hard drive—reducing or even eliminating the possibility that professionals can rescue the file.

Bringing in an IT team to recover your files does cost money, but the price of repairing well-intentioned “fixes” can grow exponentially. The deleted file is valuable. If you can’t afford to lose it, you can afford to call the professionals.

What to Expect from a Managed IT Services File Recovery

First, your managed IT services team will check the steps above to determine just how difficult recovery of your vital files will be. If the deletion was caught early enough, or if you have backup services in place, most files can be recovered remotely in under five minutes! Luke Bragg, Senior Systems Administrator at Anderson Technologies, recalled a time when he was able to calm the panic of a client and locate the deleted file in just 20 seconds! It was easy—for a professional.

According to a Clutch report on cloud computing, almost one-third of consumers who use cloud-based backups don’t know they are using the cloud. A managed IT services team can detect this and restore those backed-up files!

Widespread Loss: Data Recovery from Destruction

What if your office or workspace has been struck by natural disaster?

Flood, fire, and quake can obliterate technological systems, leaving your small business without records, client data, or even operating systems. This is far bigger than an accidentally deleted file and, unfortunately, recovery after a disaster isn’t as easy to tackle on your own.

  1. Shut off power and step away from the electronics. The safety of you and your team is paramount. You may be thinking of everything you have lost, but don’t let that desperation put anyone in danger.
  2. Consult the authorities. Exposed wires, spilled chemicals, or other dangers may affect your recovery. Local authorities have guidelines regarding tech in disaster—be sure to follow them!
  3. Assess the damage. Even though a piece of technology may appear to be undamaged, it is important to employ experts to help you assess damage, loss, and potential recovery.

In these cases, managed IT services experts will be a huge asset to your recovery.

IT experts will help you determine if technology is damaged and set up a provisionary network so that you can resume business as soon as possible.  A managed IT services team will hold your hand through the disaster and ensure the safety of you and your equipment.

Your managed services team will work with you to identify and restore vital files and records. In fact, even businesses without off-site or cloud backup services have a chance of data recovery. Disc forensics —the science of extracting information from hardware—is a last resort, but many managed IT services teams are prepared to tackle it in these extreme cases.

Chances for recovery of systems or files with a managed IT services partner increases exponentially, but the bottom line is, without backups already in place, data recovery is never guaranteed. Read the fine print when dealing with a recovery vendor to know what you’re paying for.

Prepare for the Worst

Anyone who has lost files from human error or natural disaster knows that the best practice is to avoid loss in the first place. If you are reading this before losing files, take this opportunity to engage a managed IT services provider to set up regular off-site or cloud backup services, and prepare a disaster plan designed to keep your equipment and data safe.

Call Anderson Technologies today for help! Whether you are in a panic, recovering from a disaster, or wanting to prepare for the future, our managed IT services team is prepared to get you—and keep you—in business. Check out our page on data recovery services, or call 314.394.3001 for more information.