Helpful Tips For Keeping Your Cloud Storage Organized

Cloud file storage revolutionized the way we handle documents. No more having to email files back and forth. No more wondering which person in the office has the most recent copy of a document.

But just like the storage on your computer’s hard drive, cloud storage can also get messy. Files get saved in the wrong place and duplicate folders get created.

When employees are sharing the same cloud space it’s hard to keep things organized. Storage can be difficult to keep efficient.

Disorganized cloud storage systems lead to problems. This includes having a hard time finding files. As well as spending a lot of extra time finding needed documents.

Has your office been suffering from messy cloud storage? Does it seem to get harder and harder to find what you need?

Use a Universal Folder Naming Structure

When people use different naming structures for folders, it’s harder for everyone.

They often can’t find what they need. It also leads to the creation of duplicate folders for the same thing.

Map out the hierarchy of folders and how to name each thing. For example, you might have departments” as an outer folder and nest “projects” inside.

With everyone using the same naming system, it will be easier for everyone to find things. You also reduce the risk of having duplicate folders.

Keep File Structure to 2-3 Folders Deep

When you have too many folders nested, it can take forever to find a file. You feel like you must click down one rabbit hole after another. When people need to click into several folders, it discourages them from saving a file in the right place.

To avoid this issue, keep your file structure only two to three folders deep. This makes files easier to find and keeps your cloud storage more usable.

Use Folder Tags or Colors for Easier Recognition

Many cloud file systems allow you to use color tagging on folders. Using this can make a folder or group of folders instantly recognizable. This reduces the time it takes to find and store files.

Don’t Create Folders for Fewer Than 10 Files

The more folders people have to click into to find a document, the more time it takes. Folders can quickly add up as employees create them, not knowing where a file should go.

Use a rule for your cloud storage that restricts folder creation to 10 files or more.

This avoids having tons of folders with less than a handful of files in them. Have someone that can act as a storage administrator as well.

This can then be the person someone asks if they’re not sure where to store a file.

Promote the Slogan “Take Time to Save it Right”

We’re all guilty from time to time of saving to something general, like the desktop on a PC. We tell ourselves that we’ll go back at some point and move the file where it should be.

This issue multiplies when you have many people sharing the same cloud storage space. Files that aren’t where they belong add up fast.

This makes it harder for everyone to find things.

Promote the slogan “take time to save it right” among the staff. This means that they should take the extra few seconds to navigate where the file should be to save it.

This keeps things from getting unmanageable. If you use a file structure that’s only 2-3 folders deep, then this should be easier for everyone to abide by.

What Exactly Is “The Cloud?”

You may have come across people talking about ‘cloud’ storage and software that runs in ‘the cloud.’

But what exactly is ‘the cloud,’ and why should you care about it?

A place for networking
The cloud is a bunch of servers that are connected to each other over the internet.

Tech firms like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon run huge networks of servers that let their customers (us) log in using different devices.

Can you imagine a situation where all your photos from the last 10 years were only held on your phone and not stored safely elsewhere? How many memories would you lose if your phone went missing?

The high freedom, convenience, and security offered by the cloud has seen a huge shift to cloud computing over the last few years.

It’s powerful stuff
Cloud infrastructure allows you to run apps and access data across multiple devices without needing to have everything installed on your devices.

This opens opportunities for businesses to offload computing and storage resources to cloud service providers, gaining the flexibility to easily boost or reduce resources as their needs change.

A real perk of running software in the cloud is that it means highly sophisticated applications can run from your computer or phone, with the cloud doing all the heavy lifting.

This can significantly reduce the amount you need to spend on your devices and how often they need to be replaced.

The cloud is also a collaborative place to be. Tools like Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace make it super easy to share documents and work as a team. You can even work together in real-time and give each other instant feedback as you go.

Ignore its fluffy reputation: The cloud’s a tough cookie
When set up and managed correctly, the cloud is the safest place to keep your data.

Let’s be honest, which is more likely: Colin leaving his laptop in a bar again? Or the might of an Amazon or a Google getting hacked?

If Colin loses that laptop, he’ll get a slap on the wrist. If Google get hacked, it would cost them millions and millions of dollars and cause irreparable damage to their reputation.

Different types of cloud

There are three main types of cloud.

Private cloud
The private cloud is a network of servers that are dedicated to supporting a single business.

The hardware is solely dedicated to this business, and they allow organizations like the CIA and banks to have full control over every aspect of their cloud environment.

Public cloud
The public cloud refers to networks of servers that are wholly controlled by cloud service providers. Clients share resources with other people.

The public cloud costs less than setting up a private cloud, and there is far less maintenance and an extremely high level of reliability.

Hybrid cloud
Some firms like to mix and match private and public clouds for different needs. Hybrid cloud setups let businesses quickly move between the two as their needs change.

We’ll help you to make sense of it all.

When embracing the cloud, it’s best to have an experienced hand guide you to the right solutions.

Working with the right IT support partner early will help make sure that you head in the right direction. And make the most of the opportunities that cloud computing offers. Give us a call at (734) 457-5000 if you’d like more information.

The Biggest Cloud Advances In The Last Decade

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Yes, believe it or not, we have closed out yet another decade in technology. As we are entering the second generation of the “Roarin’ 20s,” it felt like the perfect time to look back on the ‘10s.

Even though cloud technology was widely available prior to 2010, the technology has made significant strides in gaining acceptance as the defacto business solution. From communications to storage to backup, the cloud is now where it is at.

In the beginning….
There were three cloud giants that emerged. Between Google, AWS and Microsoft, the cloud market was valued at an astonishing $24.65 Billion.
[Read more…]

Top Reasons To Jumpstart Your Paperless Initiative

Want to “go paperless” with your company? See the many benefits of paperless business and learn how to jumpstart this initiative for effective results.

Many businesses toy around with the idea of “going paperless,” but what’s actually in it for the companies who decide to go through with it? To be sure, not all businesses are cut out to go paperless.

Certain documents in certain industries simply must be in paper form. Therefore, depending on your industry and unique company needs, you may end up unnecessarily complicating affairs if you try to do everything digitally.

At the same time, a great many companies will benefit significantly from making this change. Below, we’ll go over the specific reasons why it might be a good idea for your company. First, though, let’s define what going paperless actually means.

What does it really mean to “go paperless?”
The term “going paperless” simply refers to the shift from printed documents to digital documents. For example, instead of printing invoices, order forms, and tax documents, a company would issue all of these documents digitally, sending them via email or storing them as files.

What are the top reasons to “go paperless?”
You’ll save money. Cloud data storage is a lot less expensive than on-premise data storage. Moreover, on-premise data storage forces you to pay for the maximum amount of storage you may need upfront. With cloud storage, you can easily scale your storage capacity up or down, depending on your needs.

You’ll have document access from everywhere
Most businesses who go paperless store their documents in the cloud. When you do this, access to these documents is available wherever you can find an Internet connection.

This makes it easier to hire remote workers, send employees on work trips, and access important information even when you’re away from the office.

You’ll save time
Consider the time it takes to print, scan, copy, collate, organize, and store all of your paper documents. Additionally, remember that when you have a huge number of documents to contend with, protocols and systems must be developed, instituted, and monitored. Lastly, think about how long it takes to find a specific document within your files. All of these tasks are time- consuming, and in any business, time is money.

When you switch to a digital system of document storage, you’ll be saving an immense amount of time. Documents can be digitally created, copied, sent, edited, and stored.

There’s no need to run to the printer or search through endless boxes for the paper file you need. When searching for files, you can simply pop a few keywords into the search bar of your data storage system, and voilà — it will appear!

You’ll save space
Consider how much space you currently use to store paper documents. From old tax returns and invoices to printed data and memos, an accumulation of individual sheets of paper can actually take up quite a lot of room. Digital documents, on the other hand, are virtually invisible. As long as you have enough data storage capacity available, you’ll gain tons of physical space when you make the switch to a paperless system.

The Cloud – Have You Harnessed Its Strategic Advantages?

The cloud may still feel like a new technology – but in reality, it’s been around for more than 10 years now. Does that make you feel old?

Let’s be clear about something – the cloud is here to stay. In recent years you may have still heard the occasional “industry insider” suggest that the world may be moving too quickly to an untested and unsure platform in cloud computing, but no more. The cloud is now an integral part of daily life for private consumer and business users alike.

What Is The Cloud?
The cloud is a network of technologies that allows access to computing resources, such as storage, processing power, and more. That’s where the data is – in these data centers all around the world. Which data center your data is in depends on what cloud service provider you’re working with.

The Cloud Isn’t As New As You Might Think
Would you say the cloud is “new”? To some, this may seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it’s not that simple. The way in which we think about technology can lead to something feeling new for a lot longer than would make sense otherwise.

After all, the cloud is more than a decade old, but a lot of people still think of it as a new technology.

You Need To Keep An Eye On Your Cloud
As beneficial as the cloud can be, it’s important to note that it can also pose risks if it isn’t managed properly. It all comes down to the classic binary relationship between convenience and security.

The cloud gives you unparalleled access to your data from anywhere with an Internet connection. That means that external parties (including cybercriminals) can have undue access to your data as well if you don’t take the necessary steps to secure your environment.

That’s why you need to monitor your cloud. No matter who you entrust your data to, you should ensure that you or someone in your organization is given appropriate visibility over your cloud environment. That way, you can guarantee that security and compliance standards are being maintained.

If you don’t have the resources to manage this type of ongoing monitoring, then it would be wise to work with the right third party IT services company.

Doing so will allow you to outsource the migration, management, and monitoring of your cloud.

You’ll get the best of both worlds – security and convenience.

53% Of Businesses Have Publicly Exposed Cloud Services

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

Malware comes in many different forms and is used by hackers in a number of different ways. It can be used to steal information, locate vulnerabilities in your IT systems for a secondary attack, or simply to cause damage.

There are countless hackers out there just waiting for your business to leave your data vulnerable. With the introduction of the cloud, you felt a bit more secure and slept slightly better at night – but now, it seems that was precisely what hackers wanted us to do.

A recent Cloud Security Trends study found that 53% of businesses using cloud storage accidentally expose their data to the public. This is like securing your whole house, locking all doors and windows, and then going to sleep with the garage wide open.

This doesn’t just point the finger at small businesses either. The study showed that even big-name companies such as Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) had inadvertently exposed one or more of these services to the public.

The scary thing is that the previous survey showed this was occurring only 40% of the time. Now, this number has grown to 53%.

This study was conducted in 2017 between the months of June to September. Within those two months, they found that businesses are not only exposing their own data but they are also neglecting vulnerabilities in their cloud. When you ignore these things, you put not only your customers at risk but also the livelihood of your company as well.

What Are You Exposing?
The report shows that businesses weren’t solely leaking data such as customer information, but incredibly dangerous information such as access keys and other private data as well.

These cyber-attacks commonly expose data such as personal health information, financial information, passwords and usernames, trade secrets, and intellectual property. With two million new malware attacks launching every day, it’s more important than ever to stay in a constant state of vigilance.

Ignoring Vulnerabilities
A common misconception is that it’s the service provider’s responsibility to keep cloud data safe – this is not true. Most of the damage caused by ignoring vulnerabilities can be prevented by training.

If your staff is trained to recognize weaknesses, then they can be more proactive in fighting against them. More than 80% of businesses are not managing host vulnerabilities in the cloud. Vulnerabilities include insufficient or suspicious credentials, application weaknesses, and inadequate employee security training.

Complex Attacks
Not all the attacks and vulnerabilities are the fault of the business. Some of these attacks are far more complex than most businesses are prepared for, including big-name companies. These sophisticated attacks not only know and bypass the company’s vulnerabilities but also various application weaknesses.

What Can You Do About It?
The first action you can take against attacks is recognizing suspicious IP addresses. Have a policy in place for identifying, flagging, and isolating suspicious IP addresses. Spending a few extra minutes of your time could save months of recovery and downtime.

It’s important to pay attention to mistakes that others have made so you don’t suffer the same consequences. Be sure to train and certify the IT staff you already have. Cyberattacks are guaranteed, but what isn’t guaranteed is how prepared your business is to thwart off those attacks.

Pros And Cons Of Cloud And Physical Backup Solutions

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

When it comes to backing up data, you have two choices – you either maintain physical copies of your data or you utilize cloud services to host your data. Before you make a decision, you should look into the pros and cons of each and determine which one is a good fit for you.

Pros of Cloud-Based Services
Utilizing the cloud requires no capital investment for additional hardware or personnel to monitor and maintain your data locally.
Cloud service providers offer scalability to your data needs. No more adding additional drives or servers to maintain your data.
Data stored in the cloud is safe from any disasters that your office may have.
Your data can be accessed from any Internet connection in the world.
No maintenance of data drives. The cloud service provider takes care of everything on their end.
Cloud-based storage for your data will remove any risk of data corruption or hardware fault. This will allow you to reduce overhead by reducing the amount of IT staff personal assigned to manage and maintain your company’s data.

Cons of Cloud-Based Services
Cloud storage requires an Internet connection for uploading and downloading of data. If your connection is slow, you should expect slower uploads of data and increased access time to your data.
While almost every cloud service provider offers plans that come with data encryption, not all do. Make sure your cloud provider is securing your data.

Pros of Physical Backup
No vendors to deal with. You are in complete control of your data. You control how it’s backed up, accessed and maintained.
Data backups tend to take less time. There is no dependency on an Internet connection for backing up or accessing your data.
You are in complete control of the security process that protects your data.

Cons of Physical Backup
Localized data storage does offer the sense of control and knowing where your data is. However, that piece of mind can incur some high costs and overhead.
As the size of your data grows, so does your investment in storage media such as flash drives, external hard drives, internal hard drives and additional servers.
Physical devices will fail. It’s not “if,” but “when.” All mechanical devices will fail at some point in their life cycle. Additional IT staff will need to be put in place to monitor and maintain the physical equipment to ensure data integrity. This increases overhead.
In the event of a disaster in your business, data accessibility and recovery will be dependent on if extra steps were taken to secure physical copies of your data off-site.
Doing this will require the purchase of additional hardware and additional manpower to ensure the data is corruption-free.

Again, before deciding which method to implement, figure out which solution will work best for your business. Not every company’s backup or data storage needs are the same.

For assistance in setting up either cloud-based or local backup solutions, call the experts at Tech Experts: (734) 457-5000.

The Importance Of Centralized Storage

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

Do you know where all of your data is? Is the file you’re looking for saved to workstation-01 or workstation-12? What happens when a user deletes a file you need from their workstation? What happens if your workstation dies?

If you’re a business owner or manager and have trouble answering those questions, centralized storage of your data may be your answer.

You can remove the stress of accidental deletions, have direct mapped access to your files, secure your data from intrusion and, most importantly, make it easy and simple to back up your data.

Centralized storage can include an external hard drive, USB flash drive, NAS (Network Attached Storage) device, cloud environment, or storage on a server. The best method is determined by your business structure.

Smaller businesses may opt for simple external devices attached to a workstation or a NAS device to save and back up their data. Simple external devices such as larger-sized USB flash drives and external hard drives are a low-cost solution.

NAS devices cost more, but they are useful additions to business networks. Most mid-ranged NAS devices offer raid levels 0, 1, and 5, so they can be customized for speed or data protection.

Some NAS devices are running a server-style operating system that will integrate into your existing AD. This will offer additional security features over a simple external hard drive or USB flash drive.

Businesses and home users that opt for the simple and least expensive method need to be very diligent about their data. Smaller devices are more susceptible to theft and damage.
They also tend to have shorter lives than other more costly methods. Should you go this route, make sure you maintain backups of your data and immediately replace your device at the first sign of possible hardware failure.

Data recovery from a simple solution device may not always be possible and it can become very costly to try.

Closeup of open hard driveLarger businesses will want to opt for on-site storage with network drives and backup solutions in place. Or they may want to invest in the cloud for a storage. Most medium-to-large scale businesses already have some form of a network server and backup in place, so all that may be needed is additional hard drive space or the creation of folders to house data.

You may also want to install a dedicated server for just data storage and possibly to handle your printing management. Cloud-based storage can be costly depending on the amount of data that needs to be stored, the security level, and the number of simultaneous connections to your data.

Cloud-based methods tend to be best as a secure backup option, but can be used for raw storage. With web-based access, all your employees need is an Internet connection to access their data.

Both on-site server storage and cloud storage offer strong backup options, the ability to restore deleted files, ease of access from off-site locations, and the sharing of files and folders across a wide area.

Whether you choose to go with a low-cost simple solution or a more robust solution, centralized storage brings peace of mind that your data is accessible and secure.

Your business will become more efficient and streamlined just by maintaining your data in one easy-but-secure location for your employees to access.

For more information about implementing centralized storage in your business, call the experts at Tech Experts: (734) 457-5000.

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Is My Business Data Safe in the Cloud?

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

One of the newest business technologies is “the cloud” that more and more people are using. It’s an elusive term that is difficult to pin down, and it is precisely that vagueness that inspires fear in those who are considering transferring sensitive business data to it.

The cloud, however, isn’t as mystifying as you may think, and, if you use an online data drive or social media, you are already using it. Simply put, the cloud consists of networks of servers worldwide that are capable of storing information.

The primary benefit of using the cloud for business is that it eliminates the cost and hassle of purchasing and maintaining a physical server. Also, employees don’t have to waste time downloading and running applications and programs when they can pluck what they need from the cloud and virtually put it back when they are done. While this all sounds well and good, the question remains, “Is business data safe in the cloud?”

[Read more…]

Cloud Vs. On-Premise Systems – Pros, Cons And Costs

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

A common discussion among the business owners I work with is whether to store their data in the cloud or an on-premise IT system. The conversation usually starts with the cost implications; however, there are many things that need to be taken into consideration when comparing the two options, such as some of the following:

The recurring monthly service cost is often the main and sometimes the only cost factor that is considered when comparing cloud solutions with an on-premise option.

• Although much is said about cloud solutions outages, public and private clouds can provide much better reliability and uptime than an old, outdated and poorly maintained on-premise system.

• In the long term, the total cost of ownership (TCO) for cloud solutions is much lower than that for on-premise systems for most businesses.

• Offloading hefty workloads to the cloud demands sufficient bandwidth. Without it, any savings you might be making from not running an internal server could potentially be negated by slowness and productivity loss.

• Similarly, any increased needs in Internet connection costs should be accounted for in an objective comparison of moving to the cloud versus staying in-house. If you are contemplating moving to the cloud, talk to us about the amount of bandwidth you need for your business.

• When dealing with cloud servers, you will often find that while you can move as much data as you wish into the server, transferring data out usually has an associated cost.

• Moving large amounts of data to the cloud may take a significant amount of time depending on your office Internet connection; it may not be enough to transfer these workloads in a timely manner between endpoints.

ПечатьOn-premise IT systems
Many people mistakenly believe that the cost for on-premise systems start and stop with how much they need to pay for new hardware and software.

• They are more suitable than cloud solutions for large capacity file sharing of 50GB or more, or for operations that would be bandwidth-prohibitive in a cloud scenario, such as rural offices with weaker Internet connectivity.

• In contrast to standard computers or laptops, the average solid server has a mixture of multiple-socket processors, dual power supplies, multiple hard drives and numerous other components that all increase your electrical overhead cost. You should also factor in the cost of cooling your hardware, which is critical in maintaining these components.

• On average, organizations replace on-premise systems every five years, which means you will incur upgrade costs to retire old servers. Even if staying in-house may be cheaper than moving to the cloud when you consider the monthly costs, your five-year upgrade or replacement costs could be even more expensive, and opting for cloud solutions may still be better in the long term.

It is worth noting that while one solution may seem more favorable than the other, it may not apply to all businesses.

As such, it is important to objectively compare these factors based on your business needs and make the most suitable decision accordingly.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)