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News You Might've Missed

News You Might’ve Missed. 23-27 March

News You Might’ve Missed. 23-27 March

What's new this week in the news for MSPs? We may be in quarantine, but that doesn't stop security breaches and malware attacks.
AWS offers hybrid service Outposts and accuses Pentagon of giving a do-over to Microsoft, Finastra gets hit by a security breach, and more. It's been a busy week! Let's see what's going on.

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How to Move Workstations So Employees Can Work from Home Fast

How to Move Workstations So Employees Can Work from Home Fast

How to Move Workstations So Employees Can Work from Home Fast

One of the biggest challenges in transitioning employees to a work-from-home environment is giving them access to the applications and data that they run on their workstations in the office. It's usually not practical (or secure) for employees to take their physical workstations with them when they switch to working from home. Trying to have employees install work applications on their personal, at-home computers is equally problematic.

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Every week we deliver quality content about cloud storage, backups and security. Leave your email to get weekly and monthly digests

5 Steps to Reducing the Number of Support Calls

5 Steps to Reducing the Number of Support Calls

When your agents spend all day taking calls from clients, other areas of the help desk, such as ticket escalation management, creation of documents and knowledge articles, and training, may suffer. Clients also become irritated when they desperately need support but end up waiting interminably in long call queues. Continue reading

Creating SOPs for MSPs: Managing a Project

Creating SOPs for MSPs: Managing a Project

Managing projects efficiently and effectively is essential for any managed service provider. A properly managed project will set the great MSPs apart from the rest. This standard operating procedure for managing projects will walk you through each phase, from beginning to end. Equal emphasis should be given to internal and external processes, the whole way through. Continue reading

Guide to Backup Management for MSPs

Guide to Backup Management for MSPs

At first glance, managed backup services may seem simple. You just copy data to a backup location, then recover it from there if disaster strikes, right?

Well, no. A reliable, cost-efficient backup and recovery strategy requires much more than this. Below, we offer an overview of what it takes to build a truly successful backup and recovery operation, along with links to further reading for more in-depth information.

Define your recovery strategy

You may think of data recovery as the last thing to think about when designing a backup management strategy. After all, recovery happens after backup takes place, so it may seem natural to plan for it after you have already designed your backup strategy.

The reality, however, is that you can only recover data effectively if your backup routine supports your recovery needs and goals. Toward that end, defining your recovery strategy should be the first step in designing your overall backup management strategy. It’s only by identifying your recovery goals that you can later design a backup strategy that supports them.

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An effective recovery strategy should be:

  • Tailored to fit your recovery plans and needs, which may vary from client to client or industry to industry.
  • Designed to handle the specific types of disruption (natural disasters, ransomware and so on) that your clients are most likely to face.
  • Communicated clearly to your clients, so that they know what to expect when recovery happens following a disaster (even if they don’t have any role to play in the recovery process).
  • Tested, reviewed and updated on a regular and recurring basis.

For additional tips on designing an effective backup recovery strategy, check out our guide to  data recovery for MSPs:

Further reading Data Recovery Best Practices for MSPs

Define your backup strategy

Once you have established your recovery goals, you can define your backup strategy. This strategy should take into account:

  • The types of data you are backing up (such as system data, application data and operational data).
  • The types of backup (full backups, differential backups and so on) you plan to perform.
  • The backup methods you will use.

Your backup strategy should also reflect the type of backup storage you plan to use. In addition, if you are backing up special types of systems -- such as databases, virtual machines or file servers -- as opposed to general-purpose backup, your backup strategy should be tailored to fit those requirements.

For more guidance, check out our guide to backup for MSPs:

Further reading Backup Best Practices for MSPs

Define your backup storage strategy

There are a variety of ways to store backup data. Broadly speaking, they fall into two main categories: local backup storage and cloud-based backup.

However, planning backup storage is more complicated than simply choosing one or other of these backup locations. In many cases, you'll want to use both types of backup location simultaneously (to help meet the 3-2-1 backup requirements).

In addition, within each type of backup storage category, there are various specific approaches to take and considerations to weigh. When working with local backup storage, you could choose disk-based backup, a NAS device, a file server, tape drives or a combination of all of these. You also need to think about securing remote and physical access to local storage devices, as well as monitoring backup media and replacing it as needed.

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In the cloud, choosing the right cloud storage provider and the right storage tier (hot, cold or archive) is important. So is setting up a data lifecycle policy that moves data automatically between storage tiers to help save money. And data security is an important consideration in the cloud, too.

For more information on these and other topics related to backup storage strategies, refer to our backup storage management guide for MSPs:

Further reading Backup Storage Management for MSPs

Define managed backup features

The market is flooded with managed backup tools that help automate backup and recovery operations. These tools vary widely in their pricing and functionality.

Key factors to weigh when selecting a managed backup tool include:

  • Which operating systems does the tool support?
  • Does the tool work with all of the backup locations and storage vendors (local as well as cloud) you use now, or may use in the future?
  • Which automation features does the tool offer?
  • Does the tool allow you to test recovery operations?
  • Does the tool fit your budget?
  • Which remote management features does the tool provide? For guidance on these, see our article on remote management features for backup and recovery:

Further reading Remote Management Features You Need in a Backup Solution

Conclusion

Crafting a backup and recovery plan that allows MSPs to back up their clients' data reliably and recover it quickly is hard work. It's even harder when you factor in the need to control managed backup software and data storage costs in order to protect the MSP's profit margin.

But by giving careful consideration to your recovery needs, the backup methods and storage locations you use and the managed backup software you adopt, you can design a backup and recovery strategy that exceeds your customers' needs, while also generating healthy profits for your business.

3 Ways MSPs Make Mistakes with Creating Backups

3 Ways MSPs Make Mistakes with Creating Backups

While backups seem like a simple enough service offering to execute, there are a number of places MSPs make mistakes that will only cause problems in the future.

Whether you’re new to backups or have been offering them for some time, you’ve no doubt encountered customers that either already have backups running (likely from the last provider they used) or want you to do backups in a specific manner to accommodate their desires. Continue reading

Optimizing your MSP Business for Remote Operation

Optimizing your MSP Business for Remote Operation

Join David Gugick, VP Product Management at MSP360, and Scott Sanders, President & Founder IT Business Owners Group (ITBOG), for a discussion and adviсe on how MSPs can effectively manage their remote teams. Learn how you can keep your teams fully engaged and safe, manage your financials, and keep the lines of communication open with your customers. Continue reading

Ransomware: Prevent or Recover

Ransomware: Prevent or Recover

Have you ever been hit with ransomware? Last year we saw a lot of attacks targeting MSP businesses, especially at the end of the year. It's always the same — you are either "fully" prepared or yet you are not. Managed IT providers need to prepare themselves and their customers with the right approach and the right tools. Continue reading

MSP Voice Episode 72 – “Managed Defense, Detection and Response” with Yigal Behar

MSP Voice Episode 72 – “Managed Defense, Detection and Response” with Yigal Behar

This week’s guest is Yigal Behar with 2Secure out of the New York City area. Yigal came to the US from Israel where he had an IT consulting firm and also worked at a company providing security services. Taking his enterprise expertise to the US, he decided to open up a consultancy to help smaller businesses be more secure. Continue reading

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MSP360 Snapshot Driver for Linux 0.16 Beta

MSP360 Snapshot Driver for Linux 0.16 Beta

When backing up a file that is being written, it is impossible to guarantee the integrity of a backup copy of that file. This is typical for backing up documents that are actively being edited, etc. To handle these scenarios, Microsoft Windows uses the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) technology that lets users make backup copies of files or volumes, even when they are in use.

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MSP360 Backup FAQ

MSP360 Backup FAQ

Installation

Q: Does MSP360 Backup support the macOS platform?
A: Now MSP360 Backup is available on macOS. You can download and learn more using this link. We support macOS starting from 10.8.x and only 64 bit.
Q: Does MSP360 Backup support the Linux platform?
A: You can learn more about MSP360 Backup for Linux and even download its 15-day trial version. Currently, it is running on Ubuntu 12/14/16; Suse 11/12; Red Hat 6.x/7.x; Fedora 12/21; CentOS 6/7; Oracle Linux 6.x/7.x and Debian 7.11/8.10/9.3.

Licensing

Q: If I purchase one license can I activate MSP360 Backup on two computers?
A: MSP360 Backup is licensed per computer. If you want to run it on two computers you need to buy two licenses.
Q: How can I move a license to another computer?
A: To move the software to another server you will need to release the license in the Help menu on the old computer, then you can use it on the new computer.
Q: I am a non-profit. How can I get a free license?

A: We have been running a free license program for 3 years without much success. Now Individuals related to non-profit and education are eligible for a 30% discount which is still substantial. Fill in the form to request a discount.

In very special cases, like a student from a developing country asking for a license, we can still consider granting it for free.

Also, a non-profit organization has to contact us directly, we don't grant licenses to individuals and companies serving non-profits. Although we can discuss certain discounts.

Q: I am a blogger. How can I get a free license?
A: Download our software, evaluate it and make a blog post about it. Every product comes with a 15-day trial fully functional license. Once you made a blog post, fill in this form. We will grant you a license and post a link to your blog on the Media Coverage section of our website.
Q: How much does it cost to use MSP360 Backup?

A: MSP360 Backup is a one-time fee product. For example, Desktop Edition costs $49.99 (US) and Windows Server Edition license is $119.99. You can find all the licenses under this link.

You also have to pay cloud storage and transfer fees separately. Check out our Backup Cost Calculator to estimate your costs.

Q: Where can I find detailed information on Amazon S3 storage costs?
A: On Amazon S3 website
Q: Should I pay for upgrades?
A: MSP360 Lab is rapidly updating their products. To take advantage of updates you have to pay 20% of the initial price. Note, that you can use the previous version indefinitely if you don't like to upgrade.
Q: What does a network location mean?
A: A network location is a network share (defined by a UNC path) such as \\computer1\share\ or a mapped drive linked to a network share.
Q: What is the difference between Ultimate, Server and Desktop edition when it comes down to network locations?
A: You need MSP360 Backup Ultimate edition if you want to back up data from multiple computers using network shares (UNC paths) such as \\computer1\share\. In the Server edition, you are limited to 1 network shares, in the Desktop edition to 1 network share, while in the Ultimate version it is unlimited.
Q: What does 1TB or 5TB storage limit mean?

A: 1TB or 5TB limit means that you can at any time have at most 1TB or 5TB of data on the cloud account managed by MSP360 Backup. E.g. you can upload 800 GB, then another 200GB, delete 300GB but you can't exceed the limit. Consider this way we are making our product affordable for users with lower storage requirements.

If you want to back up more data you will need MSP360 Backup Ultimate.

Q: I need another more advanced edition. Can I upgrade by paying the difference or I need to buy at the full price?

A: You can upgrade by paying the difference. We have an upgrade self-service that will allow you to get an upgrade link https://www.msp360.com/upgrade-license-release.aspx

Make sure to release the license in the Help menu before applying for the upgrade coupon.

Q: Do you limit the functionality in the trial version of the product?
A: No, the trial version comes with the same functionality as a paid version. If you have any issues with it turn to support.

Configuration

Q: What do I need to start using MSP360 Backup?
A: You need to have an account from one of the supported providers. For instance, it takes just a couple of minutes to get one on the Amazon S3 website.
Q: Can I integrate MSP360 Backup with my other routines?
A: Yes, we have a command-line interface and a C# API. Each provided with documentation and examples. There is even a test app to demonstrate C# API capabilities
Q: Can MSP360 Backup use the NAS device as a backup destination?
A: Yes, and you can learn more about this option and how to set custom credentials for network locations here
Q: Can MSP360 Backup copy the data immediately as it changes (e.g. new files are added or existing files are modified)?
A: Yes, this is what we call Real-time backup. You can select this option in the Backup Wizard Scheduling step. By using a low-level Windows API this feature comes with zero impact on your computer performance However check out the limitations. In most cases, scheduled backup is a preferred method.

Usage

Q: Will MSP360 Backup copy open files?
A: Yes, MSP360 Backup leverages Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Technology to backup opened files
Q: How does MSP360 Backup minimize my costs?
A: MSP360 Backup offers optional data compression that helps to lower transfer and storage costs significantly. Besides MSP360 Backup only copies files that have been changed since the last backup, thus transfer and storage costs should be minimum required
Q: How does MSP360 Backup secure my data?
A: MSP360 Backup offers several industry-standard strong encryption algorithms to protect your data. Also, you can optionally protect access to MSP360 Backup with a master password. Besides, we support Server-Side Encryption for storage classes that have implemented this feature.
Q: How does the master password work?
A: The master password helps you protect your backup files from unauthorized access. Only someone who knows the master password can start MSP360 Backup. The master password is optional and off by default
Q: Does MSP360 Backup copy all files every time it runs?
A: No, MSP360 Backup identifies files modified since the last backup and only copies such files. This makes subsequent backups run much faster
Q: How does MSP360 Backup recognize modified files?
A: We are using timestamps to identify modified files
Q: Can MSP360 Backup copy only modify portions of the file? I want to backup my Outlook PST file, but it is 2GB and I don't want to copy the whole file every time.
A: This is called block-level backup and it is fully supported with MSP360 Backup Desktop edition and any other version of MSP360 Backup
Q: Does MSP360 Backup keep older versions of the file?
A: Yes, and this feature gives you an ability to restore a file to a certain point in the past.
Q: Can I control how many versions of the file to keep?
A: Yes, you can control how many versions to keep using Purge Options. Check out here for more details.
Q: If I delete a file on my local computer with the “Delete files that have been deleted locally” option enabled is it deleted from the backup storage as well?
A: Yes, the file will be deleted from the online storage too. By default, though, the file will remain in the online storage for 30 days to prevent accidental deletions. We call it Smart Delete and you can learn more about it here

Troubleshooting

Q: I am restoring the files on another computer. I have connected to my S3 account and bucket, but I don't see the files.>
A: Register the same Amazon S3 account and choose the same bucket and the prefix in advanced settings. By default, the prefix is your old computer name. Specify the same encryption password as you used to back up the files. If you don't see the files which is unlikely, try to synchronize the database, go to Tools | Options | Advanced and click Synchronize Repository.
Q: The program does not appear to start when I start the computer.
A: MSP360 Backup operates as a Windows Service. There is no need for the console to run when the computer starts and it doesn't have to run at all. You only need it for configuration and restore. The service will do the entire job.
Q: The folders selected under the backup plan contain around 4000 files, but the "Files copied" field under the backup progress bar indicates that there are only 1000 files (says, e.g. 166 of 1000).
A: MSP360 Backup will copy the files in the chunks of 1000. Once the first 1000 is ready we will start the second one. Don't worry about that.
Q: I am trying to backup to a Network Share and I face the “Path not found” error. What should I do?
A: It seems like you should change the credentials for this Network Share: go Tools > Network Credentials within the backup client and make sure the credentials are valid.