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November 6, 2014

How to Rock Data Protection

Drew McCallum
Product Solutions Analyst
ConnectWise, Inc.
Data Protection

Being a managed service provider (MSP) means making sure clients have the best possible service. Typically, when it comes to protecting their data integrity and business continuity, that means making sure the servers are backed up and tested regularly. The My Documents folder can be redirected to the server for backup, but what happens when users save files to their desktops? Are you confident you can restore all your clients’ important data today? How do you serve your clients’ needs when important files go missing or aren’t backed up because they were never properly stored?

When talking to experienced MSPs in the field, the following four best practices consistently appear.

Training Users

If users don’t know how backups work, they’re probably not storing their files properly. Users erroneously assume that their work is backed up regardless of where it is saved, when in reality, only the network location or the My Documents folder is backed up in most organizations.

When an end-user fails to follow the correct procedure and data is lost, clients still hold you responsible. If you fail to recover lost data, even though it’s not your fault, it can still lead to a lost customer. Educating users can help ensure everyone knows how to protect their own work, and hands-on training should touch every user to make sure the message is spread efficiently and effectively. Direct emails or lunch and learn sessions are a great place to start.

Managing Outliers

Not all users are created equal when it comes to backing up data. Executive level users might have different permissions and custom software, and are ultimately the decision makers when it comes to your contract. Anyone who works remotely is traveling with their laptop and may not be connecting to the system consistently. This means they’re saving data locally, leaving those crucial files vulnerable.

Protecting these nonstandard users is just as important as managing the main workforce, particularly since they’re at a higher risk for security breaches, stolen devices or device damage. The best combination for these users is a focus on user education and providing clear instructions on how to perform regular backups.

Including Everyone

It seems like a huge undertaking to back up every machine when you consider the time and storage requirements, but most experienced MSPs are able to leverage de-duplication in backup software through OS standardization. That way they can back up every computer in the network efficiently, without excess time or storage requirements. Reviewing the specifics of each client environment and the specifications of your backup software can help you determine if de-duplication would give you the same ability to backup each individual machine.

Every client is different, so their needs may vary. For most MSPs, a combination of all of these options is the right answer. A client’s company size, user base and work habits all play a part in determining the right strategy. Once you know where data is being saved, you can begin the process of educating users and work together to choose the solutions that give your clients the best data protection.

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Drew McCallum Product Solutions Analyst
ConnectWise, Inc.

As co-founder of his own managed services business, Drew truly understands the day-to-day challenges of building an IT services business from the ground up.


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