JUNE 2013

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Tana's Tech Tip

Let Us Count the Days...

If you're like most records centers, you often have customers who would like to organize all deliveries and pick-ups for specific days of the week.

It's no problem with VCK-SQL's "Days and Hours" button.

In the VCK-SQL Customer Setup,

  1. Select the “Days and Hours” button on the left-hand side.
  2. Place a check in the box next to the days that the client does NOT want deliveries and pick-ups. 

When making work orders for this client, the due date will default to the next open day after today.  (This can still be manually changed in the work order if there is a special delivery that needs to be made.)  This feature also works for orders coming from InfoKeeper and VCKweb.NET.


Upcoming Events

PRISM Data Protection Conference
Sept. 26-27, 2013
Dallas, Texas

Data Protection Association Conference
Oct. 11-13, 2013
Oakland, California

The Paper Recycling Conference & Trade Show
Oct. 16-18, 2013
Chicago, Illinois

ARMA Annual Conference
Oct. 28-30, 2013
Las Vegas, Nevada


Useful Links

ASI Learning Center

Loads of educational and support information available online and onsite
.

24/7 Software Support

Have an issue you need assistance with? Get help today by visiting our online Support Center with FAQ's and more.

Don't see an answer to your problem? Create a support trouble ticket.

One of our support staff will respond within 24 hours, plus you can view the status of your support question at any time simply by logging in!


Are you using
ASI Mobile Yet?

Email to find out how you can benefit from arming your drivers with technology.

Sales@AndrewsSoftware.com


THE 411 ON ASI

Please send any payments, hardware and other correspondence to:

Andrews Software, Inc.
6900 W. Snowville Road
Cleveland, OH 44141

Toll-Free: 800-807-2093
(North America)

Phone: 440-546-9771

(Worldwide)

Fax:
440-627-2089

www.AndrewsSoftware.com
www.InfoKeeper.com

   

Your Network: Fit for the Life of Your Business?
Scott Bidwell, President/COO

In a recent meeting, ASI Support Manager Dave Campion suggested that it’d be a good idea to remind customers to perform their annual “network physicals.” Given that a company’s network is the heart and soul of its business, referring to an examination of your network as a “checkup” of sorts makes a lot of sense.  When “network” is mentioned, business owners often think only in terms of their backups. A backup plan is critically important but it is one piece of the puzzle.

As software functionality becomes more sophisticated, so does the company’s infrastructure.  In the past, all you really had to worry about was making sure the databases on your one server were being regularly backed up, so in the event of a hardware issue, the server could be quickly restored to another machine with minimal interruption.  It can be a lot more complicated today, especially given how quickly technology is moving and the interdependency of many software applications. Depending on the size of your operation, you could have: one computer with everything running on it; a server running your operation with multiple workstations attached to it; multiple servers networked together with a private side and a public side (DMZ) for your hosted web applications and email; and anything and everything in between.  As an owner, or COO of a company, the responsibility stops with you in the event there is issue that brings your operation to a halt. So where do you start? 

In my experience, it’s best to start by taking a physical inventory of every piece of equipment in your operation – very similar to helping a customer create an inventory for cartons, files or computer tapes being delivered to your off-site operation.  By documenting how and to what each piece of equipment is connected, along with the applications running on each, you can save valuable time and avoid issues down the road.

A good example of this occurred recently when the ASI Support Team received a call from a customer who was unable to transfer data from ASI Mobile (drivers’ mobile handheld computer) via WiFi to their Veri-Shred system.  After a little digging, we discovered the customer had decommissioned an older server that was handling web services, which included managing the communications from the handheld to the Veri-Shred system wirelessly over the Internet.  The short- term solution was to re-commission the server and schedule time for ASI Support to help setup the web services on a new machine.  Had the customer known ahead of time what functions that server was performing; the downtime could have been averted.

Once you know what is running on each machine and how all the pieces fit together, you are in a much better position to manage what needs to be backed up.  Start with mission-critical applications and work your way down the ladder to determine how much data you can’t live without.  Business critical in my world would be your accounting software, your business applications such as VCK, VCK-SQL, Veri-Shred, Vault Keeper, VCKweb.NET and VVKweb.NET,  and perhaps email and client documents such as contracts and historical communications.  Less critical, but important enough to be captured would be information relating to prospects, proposals (pipeline information) and related documentation for policy & procedures or business processes.  Not critical would be photos of little Johnny or Susie and the collection of songs from Joe’s iPod.  Remember each situation will be different and it is difficult to cover everything in one article, but I think you have an idea of where we are going. 

The next step is to decide the means by which you will actually back up the data and how often. This will be determined by the amount of “stuff” you deem critical enough for backup. Remember to factor in how many days or hours of work would be required to recreate the data in the event of an issue.  Backup solutions can be as simple as a USB thumb drive or external hard drive, to magnetic media, or online/cloud-based solutions.  In fact, there are so many backup options, it can be downright confusing. Don’t let this deter you. It is essential to have a solution in place. Regardless of the solution you select, remember to test your backups.  We have received too many calls over the years where a records center or shredding company thought they were doing backups, only to find out their backups had failed and they needed to re-enter a year’s worth of activity or rescan an entire warehouse.

An additional step that can be taken (especially if purchasing a new workstation or server), is to create redundancy to help reduce data loss. I recently helped a friend of ASI CEO Lee Miller configure a new computer that he uses to run his small plumbing business.  He had an old computer running Windows 98, which he used for QuickBooks, some design software and client contact information. When we configured the new machine, we added a second hard drive, mirrored it using Windows 7 (available in Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate editions), and created a RAID 1 (two or more disks are holding the exact same data).  The files are constantly kept in sync, so if one disk fails, you won’t lose any data and best of all, it only added about $150 to the total price of the machine.  As for ASI, we won’t buy a server without a RAID card and extra drives, as we require high availability, with zero downtime. We even add redundant power supplies, RAM and NICs. Click here to read an excellent article that helps explain RAID (redundant array of independent disks).

Besides the above minimum requirements, it's also a good idea to create a monthly “network checklist” to ensure you visit the other pieces of the puzzle that can ultimately impact the operation of your network. Even if you have your servers in an offsite location such as a “rack space” or some sort of data center, you should still utilize a checklist and review it monthly.

Click here to check out the “starter” network checklist we’ve provided.

If you have questions about how ASI software solutions fit into your network, or if you are planning to move servers, or workstations and are concerned about how that might impact your operation, please contact an ASI Support Specialist for more information.

Take the time to perform your network checkup today. Like the saying goes, “when you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything.”  In business, that’s especially true for your network health. 

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5 Steps to Cool...Server Rooms

A picture's worth a thousand words. It's just one reason we LOVE infographics like this one showing server room nightmares and five steps to create a cool, safe environment for your data. Check it out!

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Creating a Network Checklist

A Network Checklist is an important tool to keep your network healthy and happily humming along. Make it part of your monthly network maintenance plan.  Use the “starter” list below to help create a Network Checklist customized to your company’s requirements:

  • Software updates: Turn on automatic updates on all Microsoft servers and workstations.
  • Test your backups:  Try to restore data.
  • Virus software: Make sure you have an up-to-date license so you receive the most current virus definition files. We use Symantec Endpoint Protection Manager which has a centralized management console, so we can quickly check who may be out-of-date.
  • Red lights on server hard drives:  They blink red for a reason, that reason being that the drive failed).
  • Check the available free disk space on the server(s) and workstations.
  • Intrusion detection/vulnerability scan:  Outside network test  which will monitor for network holes.
  • Malware scans: Malware are programs that people install unknowingly  that generally just feed advertising and disrupt network activity.  Virus software applications have built-in malware scanning.
  • Password rotation for network, including WiFi access points on a regular basis to prevent unauthorized access.
  • UPS testing to make sure the battery is still functional and provides automated shut-down time.
  • Exercise your generator under load weekly, if you have one.
  • Domain name management. (See the ASI Newsletter, Oct 2012 for more about domain name management.)
  • SSL certificates management.
  • Regularly update your network inventory.

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