Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Liz McMillan, Peter Silva, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: Cloud Security, Microservices Expo, IoT User Interface, Agile Computing, @CloudExpo

Cloud Security: Article

What You Should Know Before Your Computer Crashes

How important is your Outlook and QuickBooks data?

Imagine it as if it's actually happened - your network has crashed and all your organization's critical applications and associated data have vanished. This worst-case scenario is one every business owner fears. Whether it's due to a storm, a break-in or the crash of your hard drive, the loss of your company data can cripple your business, leaving you stranded and holding the proverbial bag.

Business owners often assume that they don't have time to think about data backup procedures, much less the recovery process involved in the event of a system failure. They are focused instead on the business at hand. Unfortunately, what many don't realize is that the stalwart back-up methods of the past such as tape, CD or memory stick have become painfully antiquated in today's data-centric world.

While many small-to-mid-sized businesses (SMBs) think all of their data is being captured and stored in a safe place, the reality is that most SMBs are operating under a false assumption. Your business depends on mission-critical applications and their associated data. The deep dark secret is that many of these programs are not being backed up because, when left open, they are outside the parameters of standard backup procedures.

The question all business owners should ask themselves is simple: "If my computer disappeared tomorrow, could my business survive without past emails, contacts, work schedules and accounting data?" If the answer is no, then it's time to take a closer look at your backup and data recovery procedures.

The Ongoing Dilemma

Many critical non-standard databases, such as Outlook and QuickBooks along with other accounting software and legacy applications, as well as databases such as MS Access and MySQL, are not VSS-aware, meaning they lack the standard that allows files or databases to be backed up when in use. This lack of functionality leaves many IT managers and SMBs empty-handed in the event of a disaster or system failure.

Outlook and QuickBooks user/company data is notorious for being left out of standard backup routine practices. The ongoing dilemma of backing up this critical data continues to be the fact that most of us forget to shut down these programs when we leave for the day. Unless you take special precautions, it is likely that when attempting to restore these critical data files you may find that they are outdated... or worse, corrupted. This is true of many mission-critical programs that keep your business running.

Take Outlook for example; a critical application for businesses of all sizes. If Outlook is not closed, many backup tools are unable to backup the ever-important .PST file, leaving your company open to potential disaster should the program crash. The .PST contains all of your Outlook data, including emails, calendar events, contacts, schedules and notes; and the backup of this file doesn't necessarily happen automatically. Backing up the .PST file is critical for restoring your most recent data.

Additionally, for those of us who are email hoarders, keeping all email correspondence in Outlook over the past year can cause the .PST to reach gigabyte proportions very quickly. These large and unruly files can produce unexpected problems when backing them up. Many backup systems can "time out" or even worse, demand an extra tape or CD to complete the backup routine when your office is closed and employees are gone for the day.

A good starting point is to look for a Microsoft Certified backup vendor that follows the best practices set by Microsoft. Selecting back up software that doesn't conflict with Windows or other low-level drivers, such as antivirus programs and software firewalls, should be a key element in identifying a backup vendor.

When it comes to ranking important data, most people place their financial records near the top of the list. This is especially true for business owners. QuickBooks, the popular accounting software, is another application many SMBs can't do without. The absence of an Application Programming Interface (API) presents additional challenges for protecting corporate financial data. An API allows third-party companies to integrate special functions, such as requests for a data dump for easy backup. Currently, there is no safe method to programmatically dump your QuickBooks data to a safe place for easy backup at the end of the day, and without an API, developers can't create one for QuickBooks.

Intuit recommends scheduling QuickBooks to back up automatically to a specific folder, which allows your data to be verified regularly, and from there, scheduling your third party backup software to back up to that folder. This ensures that QuickBooks is in a good state before your backup software runs. Not following these best practices could lead to a corrupted QuickBooks database file.

Listed below are the QuickBooks files that your company must make sure are backed up:

.QBW = quickbooks Primary Data File

.QBB = quickbooks Backup File

.QBA = quickbooks Accountant's Copy File

(May also be a .AIF [Accountant's Import File])

.QBA.TLG = Transaction log file (for the accountant's review copy)

.QBM = quickbooks Portable Company File (for version 2006 and above).

.QBI = quickbooks Crash Roll Back File

.QBX = quickbooks Accountant Transfer File

.QDT = quickbooks United Kingdom Accountant Data File

The backup challenges of these programs are unique, so take the time to consider alternatives that address this lack of functionality. Some data backup companies provide solutions that include the ability to continuously back up your programs and data, no matter where that device is located and even while the programs are open and in use.

How Confident Are You? - Not Sure? Test It!
Not sure if your data is secure? Just like a fire drill, the best way to make sure is to put your backup method to the test. If possible, locate a spare computer, wipe the drive and attempt to do a complete restore of your company applications and associated data. Then ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you able to restore your backup files in one simple step?
  • Do you need to re-install all of your applications individually?
  • Do you have easy access to those applications and have you kept track of the associated upgrades?
  • Does your Outlook, QuickBooks and other proprietary data install easily?
  • Do you end up with the most current data when you have completed the restoration?

Most important, keep track of the time it takes you to complete the restoration from beginning to end, then multiply that by the number of computers you have within your organization. Many SMBs are unaware that the "dirty little secret" of data recovery is the time it takes to restore data, which is governed by your company's bandwidth restrictions. When your computers are down, every minute counts.

Data backup should be as important to your business as an insurance policy. Computers can be replaced if lost in a disaster, or stolen during a break-in. But if you don't have a reliable, secure method of restoring your data, all the money in the world isn't going to bring back those missing files. It is crucial to find a method that protects every level of your data.

In a perfect world, there would be no need to back up your company's data; computers and hard drives would last forever, outside threats like malicious hackers and natural disasters would be non-existent and employees would never forget to save a file, or close a program. Unfortunately this perfect world does not exist. For this reason, businesses of all types and sizes know that keeping their data backed up and protected at all times must be of the utmost priority if they wish to remain in business after the fact.

More Stories By Jamie Brenzel

Jamie Brenzel brings over 15 years of experience in investment banking and entrepreneurial startups to his role as CEO of KineticD. His prior business accomplishments are long and varied. He was at Salomon Brothers in London, where he helped build the equity derivatives department into an important profit center. He then embarked on his future as an entrepreneur, acquiring Wood Printing & Graphics, and later co-founding integrated marketing communications company Sonar Group. Jamie then established a solid foundation for Truition, an eCommerce service company for clients such as Dell Financial Services, CompUSA and Sirius Satellite Radio. Jamie holds an Honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics and Philosophy from the University of Western Ontario.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, along with new ways to engage with users.
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
Nowadays, a large number of sensors and devices are connected to the network. Leading-edge IoT technologies integrate various types of sensor data to create a new value for several business decision scenarios. The transparent cloud is a model of a new IoT emergence service platform. Many service providers store and access various types of sensor data in order to create and find out new business values by integrating such data.