Incremental backup software

Incremental Backup Software or Normal?

As a business, you understand how important it is to have some type of incremental backup software to save your data. There are several different types of backup software out there that takes snapshots of your data:

  • Copy backup software
  • Daily backup software
  • Differential backup software
  • Incremental backup software
  • Normal backup software

Today, we’re going to examine normal backup and incremental backup software to determine which is best for your business’s data protection.

Normal Backup Software

This is the most common type of backup software. With normal backup, all of your selected files are copied and marked as having been backed up. Since all files are backed up when you run a normal backup, you only need the most recent copy to restore in the event your data has been wiped out. These are normally performed the first time you create a backup set.

Incremental Backup Software

The incremental backup software works by backing up newly created or changed files instead of all files. It still marks the files as having been backed up, however, you’ll still need to have the normal backup data to restore everything. There are several types of incremental backup software available:

  • Synthetic full backup – Full backup that reads previous normal backup and incremental backups together
  • Block-level incremental backup – Most common form of incremental backup. Backs up any changed or new files
  • Byte-level incremental backup – Only backs up individual bytes that have been changed on an incremental basis
  • Incremental forever backup – Progressive incremental backups. This is designed to work on disk-based systems and makes an initial copy of the data. The incremental backup software then only backs up changed or new data, eliminating the need for periodic normal backups
  • Multi-level incremental backup – This allows you to set up different levels of backup to decrease the amount of time it takes to restore data in the event of data loss.

 

Which is Better for Your Business?

The best data backup software should be customized to your business and its needs. Even though normal backup requires a lot of time and storage space, you’ll have more copies available and fewer pieces of media are needed to restore your data. Running one normal backup a week with incremental backups done daily greatly increases recovery times, yet requires all media to work in order to be successful.

 

By allowing Matthijssen to run a security risk assessment, they can help you to determine whether you need to utilize normal backup software, incremental backup software, or a combination of both.

virtualization

Why Virtualization?

Virtualization has been exploding over the past few years. Virtualization is the process of creating virtual machines (VMs) on a single server, rather than one instance per server. Why is everyone jumping on the bandwagon? There are quite a few benefits!

Partitioning

Without virtualization, most servers don’t maximize their utilization, frequently using 5-15% of the server’s capabilities. Suppose you have a full-blown architecture with multiple instances. This would require a server for each instance. The cost for that would be quite large. Virtualization would allow you to buy one powerful server and then have multiple instances placed on it. This effectively reduces the amount of hardware you need, the total cost, and increases the utilization of your hardware.

Encapsulation

Because of the nature of virtual machines, you can save the entire state of a virtual machine to files. Create a clean slate VM for each of your new employees. Save a particular state so you can always revert in case you encounter an irreversible situation. Not only that, but the files can easily be moved and copied at any time.

Hardware Independence

Virtualization means that you are now independent of your choice of hardware. An Ethernet port break on your server? Copy and paste the virtual machine to another server, and then swap out the servers; simple and hassle-free. This can save you tons of time and money with this process.

There are plenty more reasons why virtualization is the future. Whether it be partitioning, encapsulation, hardware independence, or others, the future is here. If you need help virtualizing your environment, let us know. We’d love to help!

new-technology-2016

The New Technology of 2016

Every year, we hope for hoverboards and self-driving cars, and every year we’re let down. But this sadness quickly dissipates and is replaced with elation after we see what is on the horizon for the next year. 2016 is no different, and we’re sure each of the gadgets will bring you the kind of joy a child feels on Christmas morning.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality has been making strides over the past five years with Oculus Rift, Project Morpheus from Sony, and others. New games have been coming out, sparking the imagination of everyone. From relaxing paradise islands to fear-inducing scenarios to roller coaster simulators, these VR headsets have been on the rise and are well worth the cost.

Hoverboards

You thought it was a joke? It may be because we just passed the date foretold in Back to the Future that we have a sudden, extreme interest in hoverboards, but the technology for this once figment of imagination is quickly becoming a reality. The Lexus Slide is a hoverboard built using superconductors, liquid nitrogen cooling, and magnetic fields. Who knows when a consumer can get hold of this, but it’s sure to be world-changing when it does come out.

Project Jacquard

We are currently in the generation of the smart phone. More and more computation and functionality is removed from everything and placed into our phones. However, there will come a time (and the signs are showing) where people will want more intuitive ways of interacting with technology. Sometimes, taking out a phone and changing between apps is cumbersome and difficult. Project Jacquard hopes to alleviate some of this through touch and gesture interactivity built within clothing. Swipe of the sleeve wipes away your notifications or tap of the cuff calls your significant other, the possibilities are sure to leave the Internet of Things breathing heavily in excitement.

3D Printers

As 3D printers continue to drop in price and their usefulness become more apparent, 3D printers are on the rise! Between Makerbot and others, you can find new versions of 3D printers at various electronics stores across the nation. If you’re looking for a way create, 3D printers are the way to go for 2016 technology.

cloud

Moving to the Cloud

So you’re ready to move to the cloud, but you aren’t quite sure where to start. We’ve been helping companies move to the cloud for years. Here are some considerations while you determine how you’ll be making the move.

The Cost of Applications

The first step will be understanding the cost of your current IT infrastructure and application suite. This is critical to understand what makes sense to place in the cloud. Costs don’t just entail the cost of the equipment and applications. This also includes electricity, management, benefits, and the cost of the space to hold it. The more it costs to keep a piece of hardware or an application running, the better the candidate is.

Compatibility

Running on the cloud equates to running on virtualization, and by the nature of virtualization, some applications are not capable of running on certain platforms. There are many choices out there, e.g. Microsoft, VMware, or Oracle to name a few. This may require testing in the beginning, but will save you time in the long haul.

Latency

By taking your equipment off premises, you are effectively increasing the risk of latency issues through multiple facets. Understanding what could be causing the latency (cloud-related or not) and how to resolve it before it becomes an issue could save you large amounts of time and money. Here are a few:

  • Network Performance – If you have an unstable network connection or limited bandwidth, moving to the cloud could cause a collection of issues stemming from how large your packet size is to what type of physical connection you have.
  • Application Performance – Inefficient applications end up causing inefficient response times. Determine which of your applications could cause timeouts.
  • Request Volume – The most noticeable way that moving off premises can exponentially increase a problem is in high-request applications. Without the speed of a local area network, the thousands of calls could add up to a crucial problem.

Moving to the cloud is a big deal and takes planning and research. Matthijssen has the expertise to get you there with ease. Contact us to help you get started.

Calculator with 2016 displayed

Preparing for Next Year’s IT Budget

The beginning of the year is quickly approaching, and with that, budgets are due for 2016. So what will you be spending on your IT infrastructure? Below are a few pointers on things to think about when contemplating your upcoming 2016 IT budget.

2016 IT Budget

Inventory

Before you can think about your future budget, it’s important to take stock of what you currently are invested in, including hardware and enterprise-wide software. As far as hardware is concerned, this should include desktops, laptops, organization-issued mobile devices, servers, routers, and other networking equipment. With software, this can include Outlook, ERP software, accounting applications, finance applications, and HR applications.

Current Needs and Future Growth

What are business critical components of your IT infrastructure? These pieces of hardware and software are what enable your business to operate. As such, this is where your gaze should first focus. What kind of infrastructure do you need to ensure your business doesn’t crumble from a server crash? Determine your goal infrastructure for the security of your business and identify the most pressing problems currently.

Once you’ve identified your current pain points, it’s important that a company also focus on future growth and expansion. What can you improve with technology to increase the capabilities and opportunities of your business? Maybe an extra server will allow you to start that side project you’ve been putting off? Gmail started as a side project as well. The balance between the current stability of the company and future expansion is an ongoing war.

Replacement Schedule

Now that you’ve determined your needs and wants for 2016, having a replacement schedule will keep you prepared for the future. A replacement schedule helps you understand when your technology needs to be renewed. This will include the year when you bought your hardware and the year when it should be replaced; desktops in five years, laptops in three, etc. Stay ahead of the game so you aren’t caught unaware.

Your IT budget is due soon, and there are many factors to consider. Between understanding what you currently have, balancing current needs and future growth, and preparing for future expenses, creating your budget is a daunting task. Give us a call if you need help!

Take Advantage of Section 179 on Your 2015 Taxes

You have had your eye on a flashy little number that will make your life much easier. It prints, it faxes, it emails, and it scans. You can’t stop thinking about how efficient the office would be if you could just get it off the shelf and take it to the office. Well, you can. You have fewer than two months before tax season rolls around, and the IRS wants you to have that new all-in-one. In fact, now is a good time to purchase any new equipment or software for your network before the end of the season rolls around. Talk to your accountant or tax professional about how you can take advantage of Section 179 on your taxes.

 

What is Section 179?

Section 179 is a tax deduction that helps you buy new equipment and software for your company. Section 179 is the tax code that permits small and medium-sized businesses to purchase qualifying equipment software to better the businesses within the 2015 tax year. Businesses can deduct the full amount of the equipment or software purchase or lease from the company’s gross income. Yes, the IRS allows you to deduct the entire purchase or lease price of qualifying equipment and certain software at tax time.

 

The code is designed specifically to help small and medium-sized businesses, as the deduction starts to fall off nearly dollar-for-dollar after the allotted maximum is reached. The Section 179 limit is $25,000. If you are not sure just how much the deduction has already saved you, allow us to show you. Let’s say your total equipment purchase is $2500 this year. After the Section 179 deduction, assuming no depreciation in the first year and a 35% tax bracket, the total cash savings on the equipment is $875. After the tax savings, the lower cost of the equipment would be $1625.00 That sounds much better than $2500.

 

What Qualifies?

Nearly all equipment a company buys qualifies as “business equipment,” and if it used more than 50% of the time for business activities, it may qualify for Section 179. The IRS lists the following as potentially eligible purchases.

  • Equipment, tools or property attached to the building. Note: this cannot be structure betterment costs, add-ons, or any other structural add-ons. The equipment must not be a structural component.
  • Tangible property
  • Office furniture and equipment
  • Certain business vehicles
  • Computers, computer equipment and off-the-shelf software
  • Equipment used for business more than 50% of the time. Note: if you use computer equipment less than 100% of the time, the deduction will be based on the percentage of time the equipment is used for business use.

 

Don’t wait any longer to improve your business’s productivity and efficiency. Act on the purchase now to save money on your 2015 taxes.

 

cloud computing for medical offices

Cloud Computing for Medical Offices

In the modern healthcare world, technology is playing an increasing role in record keeping. Whether your practice is small or large, stable or growing, a cloud-based electronic records system is something you should consider. There are many benefits to moving away from the traditional client-server system, as well as things to consider before you make the change.

Benefits to Cloud-Based Medical Computing

Using the cloud for your practice’s records, both clinical and administrative, is akin to renting a house: you pay for the benefits of living in it, but the maintenance issues are someone else’s problem. Once implementation is completed, you will receive full tech support including troubleshooting and the updating of software and security measures. This reduces the cost of IT staffers, as well as the headache of dealing with software issues that may be outside your area of interest. You will be using the same software to which you are accustomed, but the software itself, along with the data, will exist outside the walls of your practice.

Since the cloud stores data in external servers that you access over the Internet, your records are available to you anytime you have an Internet connection. This allows for the same access to pertinent information whether you’re in the office, on hospital rounds, or at home. Collaboration among colleagues is also much easier since everyone can access the same information simultaneously. And cloud information storage allows access from all sorts of devices, including tablets and smartphones.

Now that cloud service providers are also liable under HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), security of data is excellent. Data is stored in multiple places by the provider, backed up regularly and encrypted, ensuring that it can be recovered with ease if needed and that only those who should have access can get to the information. With billing information and medical history all in one place, security is more important than ever.

Considering the legal requirement to keep patient data on-hand for years, an on-site storage facility or IT infrastructure can fill up very quickly. Cloud-based storage is virtually limitless, translating into more patients, doctors at your practice or additional locations without the increased cost of a larger facility or upgrading software to handle the load.

Things to Know Before Moving Into the Cloud

Using the cloud does not involve hardware or software costs, so it is less costly overall than maintaining an in-house IT staff and servers. Your practice will pay a monthly fee to the cloud provider, for the “software as a service” arrangement.

While many cloud providers have started to ensure HIPAA compliance, not all are fully compliant. Before deciding on a provider, make sure to ask about compliance. Matthijssen works with lawyers and has extensive experience ensuring medical practices become and maintain HIPAA-compliant.

remote worker network security

Network Security Concerns for Remote Workers

The idea of the office is one that has changed significantly over the years. Thanks to mobility and better connectivity, workers can send invoices on the train, meet with clients on a screen in a hotel room, and work on cases at home. The boom in the remote work space allows more work to be done, it is cutting costs, and yes, it is leading to significant security concerns. Matthijssen reviews common network security concerns with remote workers.

The virtual office is one that involves many players and devices. One of the most common policies in the modern work space is BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. This allows users to work from their own devices, it permits cohesive connectivity without meeting in the flesh, and it reduces infrastructure expenses. As companies reorganize infrastructure and remove company-owned devices, they need to have a plan in place that does not lose sight of the increased vulnerability and potential for loss.

Common Threats for Remote Workers

Remote workers are not tethered to a desk, which means their devices can be stolen, hacked and lost. Lack of encryption, failure to use device passwords, and unsecure network access puts not only the client and client data at risk, but the factors expose the company as well. No business or industry is immune. Threats can even be something as simple as kids at home and shared family domains. If your company permits or encourages remote commuting, your office must take steps to ensure the integrity of EVERY transaction and device, and the company’s image.

Ways to Improve Network Security

Three strategies aid in protecting your company’s remote security, and each won’t kill your company’s budget.

  1. Require passwords and multi-step verification

Passwords, passwords, passwords. The first line of defense against outside intrusions is a PIN or password. Company’s must set password requirements. There must also be a lockout feature or deactivation feature that kicks in when a password or PIN is typed in incorrectly a set number of times.

Many applications require a two-step verification process that requires two verifications into the app before access is granted. For example, after a user enters the password correctly, a separate code or alert is sent to a registered mobile number. The code must be entered or the user must allow entry from the smartphone.

  1. Move to the cloud

Web-based cloud solutions and applications can improve your company’ remote security, and the cloud is compliant with various industry regulations, such as HIPAA. It is important to recognize that we are talking about business-grade cloud programs and applications, not personal cloud services. The cloud requires passwords for access, data is not stored on a device, but encrypted and stored online, and managers and owners can control employee access.

  1. Establish guidelines for connectivity

You spend a great deal of time revamping and testing your office’s network security, but what are your strategies for ensuring safe network connectivity outside the office? A company must draft security policies and standards to which all users must adhere when out of the office. The policy must state that users cannot access free Wi-Fi, unsecured connections, or Bluetooth connections they do not recognize. Users must secure their own networks at home as well.

The professionals at Matthijssen can help you review your company’s existing policies for remote workers and make suggestions for a safe and secure environment.

 

 

network security for HIPAA

Network Security for HIPAA Compliance

Back in 1996, the United States Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act in an effort to help people hold on to their health insurance when they changed jobs. Attached to the HIPAA was Title II that helped prevent fraud and specifically the so-called “Security Rule.” This requires that businesses dealing with sensitive personal information secure it along three major axes: administrative, physical, and technical.

Do You Need to Be HIPAA Compliant?

Are you a Covered Entity? If you are a business that has anything to do with the storing or transmission of healthcare policies or information, you are. The law stipulates that any company that is responsible for protected heath information (PHI) or electronic protected health information (EPHI) must be HIPAA compliant. This extends to anyone dealing not just with information and records, but also with the software used to do so. Everyone from the offices and practitioners themselves to their contracted vendors to the insurance companies they work with are all considered “Covered Entities.”

Administrative and Physical

The first two forms of HIPAA compliance are already familiar to most Covered Entities (CEs). For a long time now, precautions have had to be taken to physically prevent the use or transmission of medical information. What makes this a bit tougher today is the electronic component.

All CEs must have a clear and codified set of policies when it comes to accessing PHI. This means making sure your office has rules in place regarding who can access what information at which terminals. Keeping logs of who is accessing the PHI is essential and other physical limitations need to prevent public access to equipment. As for administrative protections, your business must offer adequate supervision of these physical safeguards. In addition, you must demonstrate other policies in action like training programs and update awareness. You must also be sure to have a set of policies for the event of a breach of security. How you will fix the breach and appropriate punishment must be clear and followed.

Technical

The technical safeguards, of course, can be rather tricky. As soon as you’re dealing with EPHI, the risk increases exponentially. Consequently, the technical safeguards focus on security and recovery. For example, it is imperative that an off-site backup exists for all PHI and EPHI that cannot be directly accessed if your primary information system is compromised.

As for ongoing security, HIPAA requires that extensive precautions be taken for any method of PHI transmission. This means that everything from internal databases to interoffice email must be secure.

Finally, the ability to detect unauthorized access or changes made to PHI is critical. To be HIPAA compliant means that you can demonstrate how you would know if your files were breached by a hacker and how you would discover an internal issue with a staff member.

The penalties for noncompliance became much steeper in 2009 when an addendum was attached to incentivize compliance and minimize violations.

Matthijssen can help you become and maintain HIPAA compliance.

benefits of virtualization for business

Benefits of Virtualization for Business

Virtualization, the process of dividing physical hardware into smaller virtual components, provides several benefits to your business including increased efficiency, capabilities and more. If you haven’t taken the leap into the world of virtualization, here are some reasons you should consider taking the plunge.

Savings

Moving to virtual servers from physical servers reduces the number of physical servers your business requires, as virtualization allows you to do more with less. Most dedicated physical servers use between 5-15% of their capacity, but several virtual servers can be housed on one physical server. This reduces the power needs and cooling costs associated with physical servers as well as saves on the amount of office space required to house these servers. Increased efficiency is also realized when outdated applications or data can be removed from the physical servers. Fewer physical servers also means less time and employee resources dedicated to maintenance of the machines.

Testing Environment

Virtualization provides a safe environment to test new software, server upgrades and patches. First installing the new code in a virtual environment provides you with an opportunity to debug the changes in a controlled environment and increases the chance of a successful deployment when the changes are implemented in the live environment.

Business Continuity

Server virtualization aids in business continuity by decreasing the likelihood of a hardware failure and decreasing the amount of downtime related to such a failure. In the event a physical server experiences a disruption, you can migrate the data and applications housed on that server onto a virtual server while you work to get the original machine back in service.

Disaster Recovery

A key component to disaster recovery is being able to get back up and running as soon as possible. A main benefit of virtualization is that it requires fewer physical servers to begin with. Back-ups of virtual servers can be reinstated more quickly than a physical environment can be repaired, which is imperative to getting your operations back in action. You can store a small number of physical servers off site, which can easily be relocated in the event of a disaster situation.

Increased Security

Web activities can be segregated onto a virtual server without access to sensitive files, which means any malware installed cannot proliferate through your entire network. As virtualization expands from servers to desktops, companies are seeing a reduction in the loss of data due to equipment failure since data is stored on the virtual machine rather than the local drive. This is especially significant as businesses are utilizing remote access solutions and “bring your own device” policies more than ever before. Employees can log into their virtual desktop from any location and have immediate access to the same programs and security provisions required by your business.

Determining which methods of virtualization are best for your business can be tricky. Our team is ready to help. Contact us today!