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Cogitate Inc Blog

Our company blog, full of information about Cogitate.


Thanksgiving Deal for 9G Backup

Thanksgiving Deal for 9G Backup

We are pleased to announce that to help you celebrate Thanksgiving, we are offering a 20% discount on an annual subscription to 9G Backup, our awesome cloud backup software!

To receive this great offer, please complete the following steps:

  1. Please sign up for a FREE 9G Backup Trial at
    www.9gbackup.com/trial
  2. You should receive an email with the password for your FREE 9G Backup online account
    If you don't receive the email with your account password, please check your junk mail folder and add alerts@9gbackup.com to your whitelist
  3. Once you sign in for the first time, you will be presented with a series of basic questions which you will need to answer
  4. After you answer those questions, you will be taken to the Dashboard part of your online account
  5. From the Dashboard, you will need to click on the Payments tab
  6. Once you are on the Payments tab, click on Make a Payment
  7. Now please choose which 9G Backup subscription you would like and then choose the length of the subscription
  8. Here comes the most important part, please type the word thanks into the Promo Code box and you will see 20% taken off of the total purchase price after you click on Calculate Total
  9. Then click on Proceed to Checkout. On the next page, please choose which payment method you want to use and then fill out the appropriate payment form to make your payment

This offer for 20% off of 9G Backup is good until 11-30-2014, so you will need to act soon to get your discount!

Hipaa Cloud Backup Solution

9G Backup is fully HIPAA compliant, so it can backup medical information.

To learn more about 9G Backup please visit 9G Backup for Medical Professionals to learn more about how 9G Backup can keep your medical information safe and secure.

Our HIPAA business associate agreement can be found online at 9G Backup HIPAA Business Associate Agreement.

If you would like to learn how Cogitate Inc became HIPAA compliant, you can view our story at 9G Backup Road to HIPAA.

The Three W's of Backing Up

The Three W's of Backing Up

We are all guilty of not backing up some piece of important data at one time or another. When disaster strikes we look pretty foolish for not backing up the data. We then make a quick and usually bad choice and select the wrong backup solution. If you are not an IT guru but the normal small business manager, you have to make very important backup decisions without the background or experience required. That leads me to the three W’s: Why, When, and Where of backing up to help inform you.

Why: Simply because data loss can happen to anyone. There are many reasons why consumers and businesses experience data loss:

Hard drive failure. According to a recent study by Google, an average of 1.7% of drives fail within a year and more than 8.6% of drives fail after three years.

Hardware failure. Failure of other hardware, such as hard drive controllers or memory, can cause data corruption. Improper system shut-downs. Data can become corrupted when systems are improperly shut down, due to a power failure, or because a user simply presses the power-off switch before properly shutting down the operating system.

Computer viruses and malware. Some studies report that up to 7% of data loss is attributable to computer viruses and malware. Disasters and on-site losses. Site-related data loss can occur due to power surges, fire, flooding, earthquake and theft.

Disgruntled employees. Sadly, much loss comes at the hands of companies’ own employees. Disgruntled employees may intentionally delete files, format their hard disks or attack server-based data that they routinely access to do their jobs.

Human error. Even happy employees can be responsible for data loss if they accidentally delete files or spill a cup of coffee that results in a computer failure.

Theft and loss. A recent Ponemon Institute study, sponsored by Dell, revealed that up to 12,000 notebooks are lost in airports. Fifty-three percent of the business travelers polled in the survey said their notebooks carry sensitive corporate data, but a surprising 42% of the respondents admitted that they do not backup their data. Amazingly, the survey found that 65% to 70% of the lost notebooks are never reclaimed.

When: It all depends on your business needs. Frequency of data change and the risk of data loss are the primary factors that should impact the decision of when to backup. The type of computer being backed up can also be a factor in the when question. A desktop, for example, is not usually left on after hours so these need to be backed up during business hours.

Where: Data can be backed up to tape drives, CDs or DVDs, USB flash drives, direct-attached USB flash drives, or the Internet. As with backup strategies, each media selection offers advantages and disadvantages.

Tape Drives. Because of the relatively attractive ratio of cost per Gigabyte, tape drives have been a traditional choice of many IT departments for backing up huge amounts of data. Tape is a sequential media and, although write speeds to tape can exceed those of writes to disks in some cases, locating and restoring files from tapes can be more time-consuming than restoring files from disk-based backups. Automated robotic tape-changing mechanisms can reduce the work of tape rotation and managing large numbers of tapes.

CD or DVDs. These optical media types offer relatively limited capacities (700MB and 4.3GB respectively) but have the advantage of being inexpensive. New Blue Ray high-density DVDs offer double the capacity of traditional DVDs. The most common CD-R and DVR-R formats can be written to only once and their volumes closed to prevent future changes. Write-once media is required by federal regulations for archival storage for some industries. There has been some discussion about whether or not CD-R and DVD-R media types are appropriate for long term archival purposes because of their relatively short life span. Inexpensive aluminum-based CDs can have a life span that is relatively short.

USB Flash Drives. With capacities ranging up to 128GB, flash drives offer a convenient, if not inexpensive, way to backup data. Many consumer-oriented flash drives lack encryption. Since it is fairly easy to misplace or lose a flash drive, these are generally inappropriate for business use. However, some companies offer drives with automatic 256-bit encryption as well as models that are FIPS 140 level 2 compliant for federal government use.

Direct-attached USB Drives. Recent advances in technology have expanded the capacity of single disks to 2TB (terabytes) and have pushed the prices of USB/Firewire direct attached external devices down to about $200. Devices that are 1 TB are available for less than $100. These devices offer a large amount of storage at a reasonable cost. They are easy to connect and they provide rapid recovery times, but they may become damaged if they are moved to be stored off-site.

Internet Cloud-based Storage. The increasingly fast broadband speeds available to both consumers and enterprises have produced an entire industry of companies offering online backup services. Many of these online backup service providers offer geographically redundant storage in data centers that are staffed 24/7 by IT professionals. Corporate data is encrypted prior to transmission to the storage providers, so while these providers may store a company’s data, they do not have access to it. Online storage can be a viable backup option for small to medium businesses that do not have a dedicated IT staff to help manage the backup process. Importantly, online storage ensures that mission-critical data is stored off-site so that data is not lost in the event of a disaster, such as a fire or flood.

September is RESTORE Month

Backup, backup , BACKUP! You hear this every day. Many of you have listened and setup some kind of backup system for your data (good for you!). In the last few months we have had some calls that required a restore of the files. This turned out to be an educational moment for many people including some of the IT techs. Let me tell you the whole story.

We got a call to recover a deleted journal in the accounting system. We said sure and where is the backup of the SQL database files? There was a long pause on the phone then the person said that they had an IT technician set up a whole system backup that ran every night to tape. We asked if they had last night's tape and was told sure it was already in the drive. So we tried to use the backup package that was installed by the technician to recover the data, but there was a password that we needed to enter to access the recovery section.

No one knew this password except for the technician, who was unreachable by phone. After several hours of waiting the technician called in and we were able to access the recovery section of the software. We were unable to find any version of the database on the tape! The backup software was not able to access the database since it was locked by SQL at the time of the backup so it skipped the database files. So after several hours of waiting the person had to rekey the journal that was deleted.

This call raised several issues that are common with backup software in use today. First is the user did not know how to use the software or knew the password. Second is that no one checked to make sure that data files actually got backed up. Third is that only one person in the entire world (the technician) really knew how the software was configured and if it was working properly. So we want to encourage you all to make September restore month. Please make sure that whatever backup system you use that you do the following:

  • Check to make sure you are backing up the right files.
  • Know how to check if all files are being backed up.
  • Have at least two people know how to restore a file.
  • Restore at least one file a month. (Do not destroy or overwrite any critical data!)
  • Know how to restore files to a different disk location.

Computers and Power Brownouts

Power to the people! In the days when we made coffee in electric percolator coffee pots, and washers and dryers only had two settings, and refrigerators did not give you ice and cold water in the door, electrical power could vary in strength without causing damage to the things plugged in.

These days the entire workplace and home is riddled with “Smart” devices that if the electrical power fluctuates too much in either direction the smart devices will burn out. Most of us have heard of surge protectors by now and that is an important safety device to have protecting your devices. In most new homes there is even a whole house surge protector placed in the electrical box so all devices are protected from power surges.

The other side of the electrical power problem known by us old folks is a "brownout." That is when the electrical power is not lost but is coming in too weak to properly power the devices. For a computer a brownout can cause just as much damage as a surge. To protect against brownouts and the damage they can cause computers, you need to have an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) that can condition the power to the computer. Not all UPSs will protect you from a brownout, so make sure to ask or call the manufacturer of your UPS.

You may be thinking you are safe because you turn off your computers before leaving work and do not need the protection. Unless you remove the electrical power completely to the computer it is still at risk since electrical power is still getting to the computer.

One of our customers recently lost power and the building generator turned on. The computers that were turned off and not protected by a UPS all got fried. So please make sure you have a UPS that conditions the power for every computer.

You should also back up information on every computer. The 9G Backup system lets you add up to 250 computers to a single account so all your computers can be protected.

Disaster Recovery 101—Have a Plan!

Disaster Recovery 101—Have a Plan!

Whether it’s a storm knocking out your power lines, a computer virus disabling your software, or a fire, your operation can be disrupted by any number of threats. When that happens, a strong disaster recovery plan can make the difference between a brief hiccup in your operations and a costly blow to your organization. Because your operation involves several connected parts, a number of elements will go into a good disaster recovery strategy. How do you define a “disaster”? If you hear the word and immediately imagine an 8.5 magnitude earthquake or a category 5 hurricane, you’re correct – natural disasters are probably the most threatening types of disasters in terms of damage, potential loss of human life and disruption to operation operations. But the reality is that there are many other types of disasters that can cause significant operation disruptions. Savvy operation directors and managers should be prepared for disasters or disruptions, which come in many forms. Some disasters are man-made, such as industrial accidents, nuclear accidents or terrorist attacks. Natural disasters range vastly from blizzards and hurricanes to lightening, fire, or flooding. Even technical failures like a malicious computer virus should be considered disasters because of how detrimental the downtime can be to your operation. All of these scenarios, and many others, could create an immediate need for decision makers within your organization to flip the switch into recovery mode. Your disaster recovery plan should answer the questions “What do we do now?” and “What is the chain of command?” The process of creating a disaster recovery plan should involve operation management who are fully committed in investing the necessary time and resources. A plan can be relatively simple, or you might hire an external consultant to guide the process. Regardless of its complexity, here are a few key components of the disaster recovery planning process:

  • Prioritizing internal functions – In the event of a disaster or operation disruption, which operation functions will need to be up and running first? For example, depending upon your industry or size, you may need to develop a plan for getting your accounting department’s technology up and running first, followed by other departments. Your plan should outline the IT resources that will be required to address the most time- sensitive operation functions.
  • Restoring data – Is your data stored at an alternate site? Are you backing up to a cloud or web-based backup system regularly? Your disaster recovery plan should clearly spell out how your data will be retrieved.
  • Minimizing downtime – What is your strategy for minimizing the amount of time your IT systems may be down? How long can you afford to be down? For some operations, the answer is “zero downtime.” If this is the case for your operation, your disaster recovery plan must include a strategy for backing up and restoring your IT systems, or running two synchronized systems, which is costly but sometimes necessary.
Now go and develop a plan that is right for your organization.  The internet has many free tools that will help you along the way. Search for Disaster Recovery Plan and you should find lots of information to help you.

Top 10 Reasons to Use 9G Backup For Your Online Backup Needs

There are so many different online backup providers out there, that it is difficult to know which one should I choose for my small business or for my personal use? I hope that with this top ten reasons you should be using 9G Backup for your online backup needs, that you will see the benefit of 9G Backup over some of the competitors. So here we go:

  1. Speed: The underlying issue that a lot of online backup providers have is the speed at which the data is transferred to their data center. 9G Backup uses highly advanced compression algorithims to speed up the data transfer, which in some cases can increase the data transfer speeds by 50% over the competitors.
  2. Multiple Versions of Files: A lot of online backup solutions will only backup an individual file or folder once. This can be dangerous as if the file at the data center gets corrupted, then you have lost your backup. With 9G Backup, that isn't an issue since 9G Backup allows you to save multiple versions of the same file or folder. You can have as many copies of the data as you want.
  3. Dual Data Centers: When you backup with 9G Backup, your data is being stored twice in two geographically different locations.
  4. 9G Backup Alerts: In my experience, most of the competitors never really told me when my backup was completed or even if it was completed successfully. They just assumed that since they were always running, they would complete the backup eventually. With 9G Backup, you get a full range of customizable alerts which can notify you to such things as: the backup was completed, the backup was completed but had some issues with certain files, or if your 9G Backup account is low on disk space. Alerts can also get sent to your phone via SMS text message, or get posted to your Twitter account.
  5. Fully HIPAA - HITECH Certified: Now this is probably not necessary for the average small business owner, but if you are a doctor or if you deal with medical records; then HIPAA is a huge deal! 9G Backup is one of only a handful of online backup providers that can safely and legally handle medical information. We are fully HIPAA - HITECH certified, so we can definitely handle backing up all kinds of medical records.
  6. Low Impact on Your Computer: When 9G Backup is running, it takes very little resources away from other tasks that your computer may be performing. When a backup is running, it usually doesn't bog down your computer so much that you cannot even use it until the backup is done. 9G Backup is very light on its feet as I like to say.
  7. Awesome Technical Support: When you sign up for 9G Backup, you are signing up for a service that is backed by a company who has been in business creating software since 1966. We don't use outside services for our technical support, you are speaking to live people who are based in the United States.
  8. A Superb Online Control Panel: One of things that I really like about 9G Backup, besides the speed at which my backups go, is that the service has a superb control panel website which gives you access to all parts of your account. From here you can setup different computers to backup to your account, you can see a dashboard view of how much disk space you have left in your account, and you can see a detailed history of your payments. These are just a few of the features that the online control panel offers you.
  9. Multiple Computer Backups: Sort of hand in hand with multiple versions of files, you can also specify different computers in your organization to backup to your account. This is useful if you have a small office of 20 computers, you can buy 100GB of storage on 9G Backup and then setup all 20 computers to have 5GB of storage each. Again the average home user may not find this all that useful, but an IT administrator definitely will.
  10. Runs on Windows XP: With the advent of Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft has been slowly killing off Windows XP, however, 9G Backup is not a casualty of this. 9G Backup can run on Windows XP just fine.
Hopefully, this top ten list provides some insight into the benefits that 9G Backup can provide your small business. If you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment in the comments section below.

Backing Up Different File Formats

As you may be aware, a lot of online backup providers have been cracking down on the different file formats that you can backup. For example you can backup document files but not movies or database files. With 9G Backup you don't have any restriction on the types of files that you backup to our cloud. You can backup movies, pictures, databases, virtual machines, and the list goes on and on and on and on. Yet another example of how 9GBackup rises above the competition to provide you with unbeatable service.

Backup Styles

We’re always after everyone to make backups of their system for all the obvious reasons. But there are several different approaches to backups to accomplish different ends. Here’s a short list:

Data Backup

This is backing up only the data that you’ve created or collected. This is the most important data to backup because you’ve invested your time in creating it. If it’s lost you have to recreate it. Everyone’s heard horror stories about someone’s computer that hasn’t been backed up in years finally crashing and everything was lost. This type of data can be backed up in several ways:
  • Copy the data to another hard disk. That’s the fastest.
  • Copy the data to a thumb drive. Also pretty fast, but limited capacity.
  • Copy the data to a DVD. Probably the slowest method and lots of handling of DVDs.
  • Have a RAID system on your computer. That’s Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives and it can do several things to speed up your computer and protect against a single drive failure. Easy but expensive.
  • Have an online backup like our 9GBackup to copy everything to a server on the internet.

Image Backup

Backing up your data is the highest priority, but making a system backup will help get you going again quickest after a hard disk failure. It’s called an image backup because it makes a 100 percent copy of your hard disk. This is actually pretty difficult to do because of the large volume of data and programs and settings that a system contains. A brand new system, out of the box, will probably have 50 to 100 gigabytes of programs and data on it. Then you get the computer and start downloading software and configuring your email, desktop and other settings and that can double the used space. You’ll find you’ve also invested a lot of time tuning and customizing your computer and you don’t want to lose it. Then you’ll need a program that will make an image backup and a device to hold the image. The easiest way is to have another hard disk equal in capacity to your system drive and get a program to copy your system hard disk to the backup. Windows 7 includes some tools to accomplish that. Also some of the DVD burning programs provide an image backup but they can take a lot of DVDs to hold the data.

Combined

Image Backups take a lot of time and effort to make so they can’t get done on a frequent basis. That means even with an image backup you still have to make frequent Data Backups to keep your current work safe. A RAID system does this automatically since everything really resides on more than one hard disk and if one (and only one) fails you are still up and running. If a RAID drive does fail, you can swap it out on the fly.

Offsite

All the above with the exception of the online backups do not protect against a fire, flood or other disaster that can destroy your building and all the computers and backups that exist there. To be really secure you need to get your backups into another building. That is easily done by just taking your backups with you to a different location. Online backups, of course, do this automatically by transmitting your data to a server somewhere on the internet. Some internet services provide an additional layer of offsite backup. After your data is copied to a server on the internet an additional copy is made to yet another server in another location.  So even if there’s an earthquake or other large scale disaster your data will still be safe.

Versions

Having a backup is a great comfort but there comes a time with data that is changing every day that you need more than one version of the data. This is usually required on large databases that get updated frequently. To solve a problem, you may find yourself in a position that you need, not the backup from yesterday, but the backup from the day before, or the day before that. Here a RAID solution doesn’t help. It only contains the current data. Backups to DVD or other media do have that covered by simply having several copies of the DVDs in a safe place. Some online backups do keep copies of older data that can provide this additional redundancy.

Security

Lots of data has no privacy issues but there is more and more that does require various levels of security. Copies of data taken home so that you have offsite backups, is vulnerable to theft. Many governmental agencies have strict rules for keeping data secure and that complicates the backup problem. Some data is fine for employees of an institution but needs be kept private to that intuition. Health Care professional have a whole body of rules of how to keep patient data secure. Data security adds another level to almost every backup challenge.

Your Own Style

It’s up to you to protect your investment in the data that resides in your computer systems. You must mix Data Backups and Image Backups using the tools described above that make the most sense to you and make sure they’re done in a timely and secure fashion. Once you do, you’ll have one less thing to worry about!