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To Renew or Not Renew, That Is the Question

You’re prepared, at least mentally, to begin your migration to Windows 10 because you’ve read What Does Windows End of Life Mean to My Business? and Getting Ahead of Windows End of LifeIs your hardware ready, thoughHow you handle your IT (on your own, as needed support, or with a fully managed agreement) will change how you will have to deal with your transition.  The following items should help you decide how to prepare your hardware for the Windows 10 migration.  

 

Do It Yourself 

If you own all of your own equipment and deal with IT issues in house, then you will want to get started on migrating your devices now. The good news is that Windows 10 is highly compatible with just about every PC out there. If you run into trouble, it’s likely a vendor incompatibility issue, not Microsoft, itself, so you’ll want to contact them directly. When you have that handled, upgrading from 7 to 10 is as simple as running the ISO file from Microsoft.com, from a USB, or DVD. The bad news is that it will take significant time migrating every PC in your business. You’ll also need to deal with a backlog of Microsoft customer service support if you happen to run into any issues.  Remember that almost 70% of the world’s computers are still running Windows 7. Its almost guaranteed that others will run into issues and need support, as well.  

 

MSP 

If you are with a managed service provider, you should be just fine. In fact, you likely already have a plan in place from your most recent business review. Over the course of the next few months, your IT company will ensure software compatibility with all of your line of business applications and contact any necessary vendors and schedule a time with you to come out and run the update once their sure everything will go smoothly. Now, would also be a good time to consider any hardware upgrades that you’ve been needing. All new PCs will automatically come with Windows 10, alleviating any upgrade issues now or in the next three years or so. The best part of it, you have to do nothing. No downtime for your business, no extra IT work for you, and no worries. 

 

If you’re on a full managed services agreement, the upgrade is more than likely covered and any hardware needs will be handled on a new monthly payment plan (HaaS agreement). If you’re on a partial agreement or break/fix model, you’ll likely be billed for the time required to complete the upgrade. Either way, your IT company will have you completely in hand. Just remember that your service provider will soon be booked solid assisting other clients with this transition. It’s important to schedule now so you’re not left waiting.  

 

Time to Get a Contract? 

If you’re reading this blog as someone that had planned to do this upgrade on your own but have now decided that you don’t have the time or desire to do so? It’s time to contact ARRC Technology. We’ll make sure that you’re taken care of through Windows 7 end of life and well beyond.  

With Windows 7 end of life quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done to prepare. Technically, regular Windows 7 support has been dead since 2015, however, the extended support period is over January 2020, which means no more updates or security patches. What should you be aware of for EOL? Get ready, you may have some work to do.  

 

Many are concerned that their PCs will stop working. That is not the case. Your Windows software will work, but its security will depreciate rather quickly, which could put your PC in danger of cyber-attacks and viruses. Back in 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. It affected 40% of computers worldwide. Now, years later, it is estimated that about 7% of computers are still using Windows XP. These computers are the ones hackers like to target because of the security holes caused by lack of regular patching.  

 

Currently, about 70% of businesses worldwide use Windows 7, so it’s highly likely that you need to take action before Windows 7 retires. The more systems you have on Windows 7, the sooner you need to prepare. Here‘s a quick action plan:  

 

 

 

Keep in mind that Windows 10 end of life takes place in January of 2025; so, while planning, ensure your devices can make the switch again in a few years, or that you’re budgeting for another upgrade. Also, document your processes during the shift. This could make life so much easier down the road. Most of all though, act. You don’t want to be stuck without security patches or an up-to-date operating system. It’s like hackers can smell your outdated system and will gladly break-in. Protect yourself and your business and begin planning sooner than later.  

You’ve all heard the panic. Windows is cutting off support for its widely popular version 7 software. January 14, 2020 will officially mark Windows 7 End of Life. Many companies have used Windows 7 since its onset in 2009 and are still actively using it today. That means you will need to migrate every single device. It’s possible you’ll need to upgrade your hardware as well. So, what’s the big deal? Can you just stick with Windows 7 or will your computer self-destruct? 

 

The good news is that your computers will work just fine after the End of Life date. However, just because your computer will function doesn’t mean it’s wise to hold onto outdated software. The largest concern for Windows 7 users is security. Since updates and support will no longer be available, your device will be extremely vulnerable to cyber threats. In fact, this is a bit of a hacker’s dream. They are standing by, knowing people will neglect to update their operating system.  

 

Windows 7 is actually already in its ‘extended support’ phase and has been since 2015! Microsoft ended mainstream support including new features and warranty claims. Yet, throughout this time Windows has kept virus patches and security bug fixes up to date. With End of Life, that will go away. IT and security experts alike strongly suggest migrating your operating system to something current before the Windows EOL date. Theoretically, you could pay for Windows 7 extended support on each individual device, but the costs will build up faster than simply migrating. Not only that, but specific security and bug fixes will also be more expensive and charged on an individual basis.  

 

Currently, there are a few options to choose from when it comes to Windows 7 EOL. Don’t be cheap and go to Windows 8. Though it is a newer version, it’ll only be a matter of time before you need to migrate all over again. You could transition to Windows 10 (recommended). If you are worried about cost efficiency, you could try a free operating system like Linux. It will take some research to find the specific Linux platform that’s best for you, but it may be worth it if you’re someone who likes to tinker. Then, of course, you could swap to a Mac altogether. Just keep in mind that Apple’s products are pretty expensive and you may need to re-purchase certain business applications.  

 

It’s important to begin working with your IT Company on this migration as soon as possible. They’ll take a look at the devices you are using, determine how many are utilizing Windows 7, and ensure your hardware isn’t out of date. Not all computers will be able to handle a new operating system, which could make a migration take much longer, more difficult, and costlier as you upgrade hardware. Your IT company will provide a recommended path for an upgrade with a clear budget and timeline for completion. 

 

Overall, take some time to plan your transition. Talk to us if you need additional help or options. Most of all though, get moving now. EOL will be here in no time. 

By now all businesses should have a BDR or disaster plan in place. This has become more of a standard practice rather than a last-minute product purchase – as it should be. Business owners of any kind vaguely understand this need, but what about a disaster in general. Do you know what you’re preparing for? Sure, a natural disaster could happen, but your receptionist could fat finger something causing a disaster too. Kudos on being ready, now understand what you’re ready for.

It may seem a bit redundant, but before you deploy a BDR, make sure you have gone through a thorough plan. This has to do with researching the extent of your own data as well as a potential BDR provider. You want to ensure your provider uses a program that allows for preventative maintenance, monitoring, and staff training. Having these things in place will help avoid downtime if the worst happens.

With that said, preventative maintenance is so important! Consistently ensuring everything is running as it should and testing these items will allow you some peace of mind as well as simple groundwork for successful backup. This goes beyond backup software or testing cloud storage. This is ensuring your provider’s backups work.  Important items like generators, UPSs, cooling systems, fire detection, and suppression systems. You can’t necessarily head to your provider’s office to see for yourself, but you can read the fine print on your contracts as well as have meaningful conversations with potential providers.

Along with that, make sure your provider does periodic testing of all systems. Not just one or two- then the rest should be fine. Test everything from generators to security to software. That way if the worst does happen, no one can say “Ha! I told you so!” Then, of course, ask about their security. Does your plan come with 24/7 monitoring? Is the data center fully staffed during these hours? Who would mitigate the disaster plan if you aren’t readily available? This comes down to physical and cybersecurity as well. Is your data truly protected on their servers? Could anything be stolen or compromised from their end? There are tons of questions to ask and don’t be afraid to do so. A good BDR business will put you at ease and keep your data safe.

An important item that often gets overlooked while researching a BDR provider is location. Think about it, if the backup server for your company is sitting in a location that sees seasonal hurricanes or located on top of an active earthquake fault, you may want to negotiate additional server space elsewhere or cloud storage that doesn’t back up to that on-premise server. It would really be unfortunate if your backup plan is foiled by a disaster that takes place halfway across the country. Local businesses aren’t affected, but lucky you! This is not to say avoid these locations altogether. Realistically a slew of disasters could happen all over the world, so it’s more about backing up your backup. Or at least ensure your provider also has a backup plan.

Then finally, compile a team as part of your plan. That team of people will be the ones that need to deal with anything disaster-related. Make sure they are trained well and update that training to reflect new threats, products, or anything else that could help them help you. You don’t necessarily want Mary your office manager heading up this team. She did great with the backups when they were on tape, but for this kind of “A-team”, you need your go-to pros. Get your best techs and the ones well versed in data center operations. This team is just another step toward peace of mind and simple preparedness. Don’t lose your business over something that could’ve been avoided. Take the time and steps now before something happens. Mother nature is unpredictable… but so is business.

Backup Disaster Recovery is one of those things that all businesses need to have. A BDR backs up any data during the course of a disaster. Whether it’s a natural disaster such as a tornado, a hardware failure, or even an attack from a hacker. Anyone of these could permanently disable your business if you aren’t prepared or have a proper backup plan. For those of you still backing up data manually on tapes or *cringe* not at all, here are some reasons you need a BDR solution and should stop tuning out potential disasters.

 

First of all, a data disaster is more common than you might think and currently, 58% of SMB’s are not prepared for data loss. Even worse, 60% of SMB’s that lose their data will shut down within six months. Something that could have been prevented could potentially wreck your business. Scary to think about when 29% of hard drive failures are caused by accident. It would be silly to have a human error or a simple mishap put your company out of business.

 

You may have security protocols in place and your employees are well versed on avoiding things like malware. Well done. However, you’re still not protected. Human error is a large culprit in data loss. It could be unintentionally deleting items or accidentally overwriting data, but these “oops” can hit hard. Human error can result in other kinds of hardware damage like spills or even accidental reformatting. All of these things are possible and have happened to many SMB’s before you. Sometimes recovery is possible from the software platform you were using, maybe your computer has your back and caught these things. It’s still a time consuming and money wasting error to fix, even if you are so lucky to recover some of what you lost.

 

Viruses and malware can be a significant cause to software or hardware damage depending on what kind of bug found its way in. Usually, this can be avoided with proper employee training as well as an awesome firewall that will help filter malicious attacks. Yet another prey in the night is social engineering. This is the art of sort of conning people. Hackers have been known to get into server rooms and other data-centric areas of the business. Employees may not even notice their mistake until it’s too late. I guess the “HVAC guy” turned out being a hacker in disguise.

 

Sometimes software corruption can come from unknown viruses lurking around your computer. However, most of the time it is due to improper usage. Things like not shutting down the computer properly or leaving unsaved documents open. Sometimes even a power outage can trigger corruption. Once the software processes are interrupted and damaged, it’s virtually impossible to recover data stored in the software.

 

Did you know that 140,000 hard drives crash every week? With that kind of number, it’s just a matter of time until it happens to you. That is not a comfortable position to be in if you know you don’t have backup. Unfortunately, hard drive corruption is usually due to mechanical issues. Things like age and dust build up can (and will) cause technology to fail. We’ve all used the old laptop we still have, that’s been on its deathbed for months, freezing frequently, taking for-ev-er to load a webpage, and of course, acts as a heater for your lap or desk. All of these things are signs leading to a crash. You may not care if it’s an old hand-me-down laptop from the ’90s. But you will care when it’s your pricey equipment with all of your product data and client information being stored on it.

 

Finally, good old-fashioned acts of God. You can’t necessarily prepare for a natural disaster. Even if you hear the tornado siren, backing up your servers to tape will take longer than it does for the tornado to hit your business. Then what? That tape is left amongst the rubble, destroyed. This may seem like an exaggeration, but it has really happened to businesses. And even if only hypothetical, it makes for a great metaphor for any other crash within your business. This is also proof that on-site BDR’s may not always be the final protective cover to your business. You may want to consider off-site or cloud data storage to ensure protection, so your data is safe even if your equipment is destroyed.

 

Protect your business and keep it running smoothly and successfully. Backup Disaster Recovery options are available for all kinds of SMB’s and their needs. Don’t wait to be taught a lesson by the “big one” (as most California residents say). Protect your important data and enjoy the peace of mind that comes along with it. You’ve worked too hard to get your business where it is, protect your hard work.