UPS, it’s just a big battery right?

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It’s just a big battery isn’t it?

So often, we hear that as people’s perception of what a UPS is. Well, an Uninterruptable Power Supply is indeed a battery – but ‘just’ a battery does it some disservice. (and by the way, were not talking about big brown parcel delivery vans here either)

Not only is it a battery, but it’s also an insurance policy, it is protection for your business, it is protection against a loss of time and money.

If you have a power cut and your critical business machines such as servers, network attached storage or even some crucial PC’s are compromised as a result of this – you will experience some down time trying to correct the damage done by an ungraceful shutdown. Databases such as SQL or even flat file do not like a forced shut down and you may need to restore those files from your last good backup. So you lose the work you have done since the last backup and the time it takes to restore it. Forced and unexpected downtime is bad for productivity in any line of work.

Installing a UPS means that in the event of a power cut, your connected machines continue to run for a short period and after a pre-defined period of time will initiate a graceful shut down. Disaster averted. Once the power comes back on again, you just boot up machines again and continue where you left off.

But the protection is not just limited to these moments either. Power surges can also be damaging to your hardware – your UPS will protect against this as when connected to this kind of unit, you are actually running off the battery, which is constantly being charged and providing clean filtered power to your equipment.

Less well known is the phenomena of a ‘brownout’. You know that kind of moment where the lights flicker briefly and then all is seemingly back to normal – leaving some machines power cycling and others seemingly un-touched and then we all swiftly move on. This could also lead to unexpected data loss, or even a surge when the power resumes – step in again the UPS.

So I think you are probably now getting the measure of what a UPS Backup can do for you, it provides an extra level of resilience which helps to make your company more robust. When making a business case for this; it’s a no brainer surely?

Paul Cox – IT Director

 

Why Encrypt my Hard Disk

Encrypt Hard Disk

If you use a laptop or other mobile device for work, there is a good chance you are travelling with this machine and at times, it may not be completely secure. You cant keep your eyes on it 100% of the time can you? So there is always the risk that it could be lost or stolen, and with that would also go your data.

Sure, you probably have this backed up but not only would this be expensive and inconvenient to you to lose, it could also lead to a major security breach. If you have customer data/details on that machine, merely having password protection enabled is not enough to protect that data. If the machine falls in to the wrong hands, all that is required is for the hard disk to be removed, connected to another PC as a secondary disk and then the unauthorized user can take ownership of the data – at which point it is all available to them to do with as they wish.

It may be that you work under the control of one of many various regulatory bodies that already insist that you protect your customers data via full hard disk encryption. If so, then hopefully you are heeding their advice and doing so. If you are not subject to such control measures, it’s worth giving some thought as to whether you would feel more comfortable employing full disk encryption for your data.

Full disk encryption means that the whole disk is encrypted, rather than just a few files and folders and this is an ongoing process as you add more data to the disk. If the device is stolen, as long as you have a strong password, that should hopefully stop any users logging in to Windows. Outside of that, access to the disk is prohibited without the disk encryption key, which you should be holding stored in a separate place.

You can achieve full hard disk encryption if you have a Professional version of Windows 7 8 or 10 via Bit-Locker Encryption which is a part of Windows – provided your machine has the necessary hardware to support this. This is known as a TPM (Trusted Platform Module). Otherwise there are numerous third party tools available to purchase to add this functionality to your machine.

Paul Cox – IT Director Sound Networks

 

The Best of Both Worlds?

bestofboth

With better hardware, better build quality and a better operating system, Windows tablets are making a comeback.

This Christmas Microsoft, Intel and their manufacturing partners are releasing new Windows 8.1 tablets and tablet / laptop hybrids. Companies such as Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo and Toshiba will be selling these new PCs with Windows 8.1 and Microsoft Office with full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote, from as little as £250.

The new tablets come in two main varieties. Small 8” tablets like the Dell Venue 8 Pro and 10” – 12” convertible tablet / laptop hybrids like the Asus Transformer Book T100.

Because they use PC hardware and run a full PC operating system some of these tablets have USB ports into which you can plug printers, thumb drives, mice or any PC peripheral.

Microsoft is making a big push for Apple’s tablet market share. With Windows 8.1 offering convenient mobile computing with tablet style apps. As well as traditional office productivity with full versions of its popular office applications Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote coming free with Windows 8.1 tablets.

If you’re thinking about buying one of the new Windows 8.1 tablets look for one using Intel’s new Quad Core Atom processors. The Intel Atom Z3440 and Intel Atom Z3470 processors are good performers and very low power, allowing tablets based them to last all day, the Asus T100 for example can go for up to 11 hours on a single charge.

Laurence Gush – Web developer