Tech Resolutions for 2013

Tech Resolutions for 2013

January 3

So we’re on the cusp of a new year. Can you believe it? As usual, the top New Year’s resolutions are:

1.  Take more incremental backups

2. Verify more of the backups

You caught me, I’m a terrible liar. The true top New Year’s resolutions are:

– Spend more time with family

– Lose weight/ Get in shape

– Quit smoking

These are all great resolutions, who doesn’t want to be happier and healthier? Let’s assume we all have one of the five resolutions above, and start on our own list. For the benefit of the tech savvy, I’ve created a list of tech resolutions and New Year’s best practices we can all likely benefit from:

Clean out Hard Drives Regularly

Computers end up with lots of garbage in a year. Temporary files, deleted files that are sitting in your recycle bin, bum fight videos, and so forth. It’s time to clean out the stuff you don’t need. Doing this before you take a new full backup will reduce the size of your initial image. It’s easy to complain about the size of your backup image, but before you make a new full image, ask yourself how much superfluous data you’re backing up. There’s no need to have the junk to begin with, so why are you making backup versions? Take a look at our guide to clearing out the “kipple” on your hard drive before taking a new full image, and schedule a time in the future to do another cleaning, you may also want to make sure you have a fresh backup before you clean in case you get rid of something you actually need.

Upgrade and Replace

The beginning of the year is a good time to decide what you will need or want to replace or upgrade: software and hardware. Microsoft released Windows 8; do you want to run it? How old are your servers and desktops and how long will they last? Should you replace them? ShadowProtect 5 and ImageManager 6 are out; do you want to upgrade (yes, you should upgrade)? Answer these questions and write it down as part of your 2013 IT plan and remember that hardware doesn’t last forever so you’ll want to allocate some funds to replace hardware that fails. Also, remember that you can move an image on to brand new and even dissimilar hardware in just a few minutes and even test upgrades on a virtualized ShadowProtect image to ensure it will be fully functional on production equipment.

Take a New Full Backup

With your freshly cleaned and upgraded computer system, you may want to consider taking a new full backup image or you can continue with your existing incremental chain, your call. If a hard drive upgrade was part of your plan, you’ll definitely want to back it up. After you’ve taken the new full backup, be sure to verify its integrity before deleting any old images. Now, once you’ve got a new fully verified full backup image, you can schedule your incrementals.

Schedule Incrementals

At this time, you can decide how often you actually need to take incremental backups. Keep in mind scheduling a new one every fifteen minutes can mean data adds up more quickly. Be realistic and look at how much space you have for backups when deciding how often you need them and think about how much work you might lose if you only backup once a day compared to backing up every fifteen minutes. Also be sure to set the proper retention policy so you can avoid taking up too much space with old images. Also note that the new rolling consolidation feature (only available in ShadowProtect 5) will help reduce the size of your incremental chain even further.

Schedule Verifications  

Once you’ve got a backup image, you’ve got to verify that nothing went wrong and that you can use it—a corrupt image can’t be used to recover your data. All you’ve got to do is verify to avoid this. Using ImageManager 6 you can automatically verify or if you upgrade to ShadowProtect 5, you can set it to run executables that auto mount your new image and even run check disk to verify that the image is functional. It will even send you an email that the image either worked or didn’t work.

Anti-Virus Software

My New Year’s resolution is to regularly scan for viruses and malware. If you have zero protection and you use the internet, it’s pretty likely you’ll get a virus or malware. Even if all you get is the free Microsoft Security Essentials, please get something to protect yourself. Bringing a knife to a gun fight is one thing, but not having antivirus software is like rolling over dead before the fight starts. Now is the best time to upgrade your software, do a full virus scan, and schedule future scans.

Change passwords regularly

Your password is your first line of defense. You have complete control over how secure your password is so you’ve got no excuse not to pick a secure one. You’ll likely forget some passwords, have a few written on sticky-notes for all to see, and use duplicate passwords, but that’s very poor form. I’ve only encountered one person that can say she has none but secure passwords, and none are duplicates. How does she do this? She uses management tools. There are ways around having to write down nine billion passwords. Using tools like Lastpass, you only need one password. That’s right ONE PASSWORD, the rest are stored in the Lastpass cloud in “the vault” and auto-populate the forms

Alternatively, if you don’t want to keep your passwords online, you can also create a word document listing all of your passwords and encrypt it with one password. The issue here is that you probably need your passwords at work and at home, so where should you keep the document? Is the cloud safe for that content? You can always store the document in encrypted form in various file and folder storage services. Part of your resolutions should also be to change passwords and schedule a time to change them again, usually every three months or so.

Clean Your Computer

If you’ve got a laptop that you’ve had for more than a year, your fan is probably clumped with dust, and your keyboard is full of crumbs. It’s easy to overlook the necessity, but it’s important to keep things clean. It’s pretty simple to open up your fan and clean it out, so start there. Just look at our guide to fan cleaning, or learn how to clean your whole computer on PCWorld.

Revise Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan and Test

Take a look at your old plan and compare the needs your company had in 2012 with the needs it has for 2013. A lot can change in a year and the changes need to be reflected in your backup and disaster recovery plan if you want it to be fully effective in 2013. Take a look at our quick guide to revising your backup and disaster recovery plan for 2013 for more details.

Social Media Faux-Pas

Once your computer is tip-top, you’ll probably take a break on Facebook or do some Twittering. There are a lot of seriously terrible habits people have when it comes to social media and we should all resolve to stop. CNN has compiled a list of the biggest offenders but rather than look at each one in detail, I’ll simply summarize: use proper English online and don’t be a jerk on social media sites. Simple. The internet is not the best place to vent or call out your friend for being a cantankerous bag of data.

For help keeping your new resolutions, check out the latest article from Kristin Kotter.

What sort of tech resolutions do you have this year?