Weathering Winter Storms: 5 Tips for Small Businesses

winter storm

The winter started off a little mild in the Baltimore-Washington Region, but last year, we got clobbered with the biggest storm in decades.  Many employees didn’t get back to their offices for days. Many organizations can successfully operate and be productive in any situation.  Is your office prepared?  Follow these steps to weather the winter storms.

1. Keep an Off-Site List of Contacts
You probably have thousands of customers and vendors. Keeping an off-site contact list will allow you to stay in touch with them and keep your business running during periods of downtime. This list should contain vendors you need to contact every week, and any customers with current, unresolved issues. A printed paper version can be important and don't forget to keep a list of employee phone numbers too.

2. Back Up Critical Data Off-site or in the Cloud
You have only a day or two after forecasters tell you a storm has a high chance of hitting your area. Power failures, melting floods, and even looting are all risks to your infrastructure and data that come with a severe storm.

A thorough disaster recovery plan will already accommodate the offsite storage of critical data. If you don't have such a plan, you'll want to back up critical data to an off-site location as soon as possible. This will give the data time to fully transfer before the storm hits.

One of the best options is to store your backups in the cloud. Data saved in the cloud is also readily available and redundantly stored.

3. Keeping the Team Productive

Most of our accounts already hold Office 365 subscriptions, and this is one of the easiest ways to keep the team productive in an emergency.   Rarely used, but Office 365 provides a browser-based version of Office for subscribers.  A great tip for subscribers is to test and use this if they must suddenly have to work from home for several days.   This version provides email, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive and other horizontal applications most organizations use every day.  Most importantly, this device is independent and secure.  So, an employee could log in from home and get to these applications from any computer.

4. Have a Communication Plan
Work with your employees to create primary and secondary methods of communication during the storm.  You might want to forward your phone numbers or extensions to cell phones.  Many newer VoiP phones systems provide a lot of options, including just carrying your office phone home and plugging it into your home Internet connect.  

Email and even texting should be part of the triage plan.  You not only want to have plans that include employees, but also, what is your message to your customers?  Some companies have used social media such as Facebook and Twitter as methods to stay in touch as well.  Consider changing your voicemail greeting to set expectations with your accounts if an emergency hits.

5. Practice Your Plan
Test restoring your data to your servers. Ensure your local and remote backups can be used to restore operations if you suffer extended downtime. Stepping through your recovery plan makes everyone familiar with what needs to be done to get your company back up and running in the least time possible.  Review and share the communication plan with your employees.  

Need help with your own disaster recovery plan? Automated backups are your best defense against massive data loss. These systems mean one less headache when worrying about your business during a winter storm. Contact us today, and we'll help you set up a complete data backup procedure to ensure you don't lose data if a catastrophic event occurs. Contact Ease Technologies today at (301)854-0010 and learn how our Ease Cloud Workspace can help keep your business prepared for any disaster. 

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6 Holiday Travel Tech Tips

Holiday traveling can be a challenging experience with planes, trains and automobiles.  For many, work follows them no matter how far they try to get away.  Before setting out the airport or hitting the highways, here are a few ideas on keeping your technology in order while on the road this holiday season. 

1. Backup Before You Go
iphone beachMake sure you have a good backup of all your devices.  If something were to happen to your technology while you are traveling it would be much easier to recover that data when you return.  Cloud-based backup systems can also provide some access to files that you may have forgotten while traveling.

2. File Your Travel Documents
Keep your travel plans, hotel confirmation, the contact information of your credit card company, phone numbers and other important trip information stored in a secure cloud notes program.  I like to use Evernote because I can add PDFs, emails, cell phone pictures and text notes, but you may already be using Apple’s Notes or Microsoft’s OneNote Online.  If your gear gets lost or stolen you’ll have access to your information online in one of these cloud-based apps from any device.

3. Stay Protected
Some travelers are required to get vaccinations before they go overseas.  In the same way, tech-savvy travelers should get the latest virus updates installed for their systems too.  Be sure to turn on the password protection options for your electronic devices, as this will ensure the data on your devices is much safer if they were to get lost or stolen.

4. Mark Your Stuff
Your name was written all over your gear back when you went to summer camp.  Well, your mom had it right, so be sure to label your equipment with your cell phone number.  That number on your electronic devices will be the easiest way for that Good Samaritan to call you with your lost gear. 

5. Find Your Friends
Apple iPhones and iPads have a feature called Find your Friends or Share my Location in Messages.  Once enabled the software provides an easy way to keep track of family and friends, provided you are within cell coverage.  Knowing the location of members of your group can be useful at the airport, amusement park or at the beach.

6. Power-up
Remember to bring all the proper power cords and an extra extension cord for your smartphone, cameras and laptops.  Being properly equipped for power during your vacation can make a big difference in getting that access you expect versus blowing a few hours of your precious time looking for Dell power adapters at grandma's house.  If you do lose a power cord, just ask the hotel front desk or housekeeping for a replacement.  You won’t be the first to do so, and it’s likely that they will have a pile of cords in a box with housekeeping. 

Ease Technologies provides IT support services and cloud solutions for organizations in Baltimore, Washington or Fairfax. Watch our Ease Cloud Workspace video and learn how our secure cloud offering can be your virtual office wherever you go. 

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[Webinar] Are you ready for the Internet of Things (IoT)?

Join us for our October Lunch and Learn: Sign Up Page

ios 10It is estimated there are already 6.4 billion devices as a part of the Internet of Things (IoT) which will more then triple by 2020. Businesses, governments and home users are quickly adopting these devices being used across the Internet. 

The Internet of Things will be effecting  everything from how we monitor the health conditions of a family member, how crops are managed, the way we commute, supply chain management and countless other ways effecting all of us.

How does IoT work? What does the IoT mean to you? What are the business opportunities and challenges with embracing this new category of computing devices?

Topic areas in the webinar

• IoT overview
• Sensors, switches and screens
• Personal uses
• Privacy and Security issues
• Business opportunities

When: Wed, Oct 26, 2016 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EDT

Where: Online

Join us for our October Lunch and Learn: Sign Up Page

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Cyber Security: Risks and Planning for Executives Webinar

Cyber Security: Risks and Planning for Executives Webinar
May Lunch and Learn Webinar

If you think cyber thieves are only targeting the enterprise accounts in the Baltimore-Washington Region, think again.  The recent wave of ransomware and other compromises impact organizations of all sizes.  Last week the FBI reported that the little-known CEO Fraud scam has cost businesses more than $2.3 billion in losses over the past three years alone. 

cloud computing
Widely under-reported are the attacks on small and medium-sized firms to their financial departments, intellectual property and sensitive client data. Cyber thieves are using increasingly sophisticated malware and social engineering techniques to target your business.
What is the economic impact for a business?  What can be done to mitigate this risk?

Join Ease Technologies and the McFarlin Insurance Agency for a special one-hour webinar on Cyber Security: Risks and Planning for Executives.

  • Common cyber threats 
  • Managing an attack or breach 
  • Economic impacts of a cyber-attack 
  • Ways to mitigate your risk 
  • Insurance risk protection
Who should attend?
CEO, CFO, HR, and Risk Managers

May 4, 2016 - 12 pm - 1:00 pm

I'm ready!  Sign me up

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Windows 10 - Are You Ready to Upgrade?

Enjoy a repeat of our March Lunch and Learn Webinar: Windows 10 - Are You Ready to Upgrade?  In the program we discuss: Why Upgrade?, Free Upgrade Details, Top Features, Upgrade Readiness, Windows 10 Demo and a Q&A of attendees.  The program is hosted with members of our help desk and account support team.

A technical note: the last 10 minutes during the Q&A the video is lost, but our program continues. 

If you are looking for a better technical service provider give Ease Technologies a call today.  Ease provides quick and patient support to your technical issues.  Our customers appreciate our innovative ideas and educational programs like this webinar.  Call us today to learn more at (301) 854-0010
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