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August 27th, 2015

3-D Printing, or additive manufacturing, is a process that uses a digital file to create three-dimensional objects. Rather than spraying toner on paper, like traditional printers, it puts down layers of something more substantial (such as plastic resin) until the layers add up to an object. The technology was originally used to produce prototypes, but it has advanced so quickly that, in some cases, 3-D printers are replacing traditional manufacturing and building the final products. 


“How Does 3-D Printing Work?” Video from the Wall Street Journal

Calling it “Click to Manufacture,” The Economist suggests this may be the next Industrial Revolution:

“The printing of parts and products has the potential to transform manufacturing because it lowers the costs and risks. No longer does a producer have to make thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of items to recover his fixed costs. In a world where economies of scale do not matter anymore, mass-manufacturing identical items may not be necessary or appropriate, especially as 3-D printing allows for a great deal of customisation [sic].”

While most commonly used by manufacturers, architects, and inventors, 3-D printing has expanded to other industries, including pharmaceuticals. The FDA recently approved a quick dissolve drug from Aprecia called Spritam to fight epilepsy – produced entirely with 3-D printing. Engadget.com reports, “The medication uses a porous, 3-D-printed formula to help deliver even very high doses (as high as 1,000mg) while remaining easy to swallow – all you have to do is take a sip of liquid to quickly disperse the drug and get it into your body.”

3-D printing is part of a larger trend where software is collapsing layers. It used to take many layers of creation and hand-offs for architects to build a building. Today architects can use software to quickly go from brainstorming to showing their customer a 3-D model with landscapes and surroundings from Google Maps. This collapsing of layers is also helping car companies redesign their models every three years and many other companies to innovate faster than ever with fewer people and with faster collaboration.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “Among the numerous companies using 3-D printing to ramp up production are GE (jet engines, medical devices, and home appliance parts), Lockheed Martin and Boeing (aerospace and defense), Aurora Flight Sciences (unmanned aerial vehicles), Invisalign (dental devices), Google (consumer electronics), and the Dutch company LUXeXcel (lenses for light-emitting diodes, or LEDs). Watching these developments, McKinsey recently reported that 3-D printing is ‘ready to emerge from its niche status and become a viable alternative to conventional manufacturing processes in an increasing number of applications.’ In 2014 sales of industrial-grade 3-D printers in the United States were already one-third the volume of industrial automation and robotic sales. Some projections have that figure rising to 42% by 2020.”

The real magic with 3-D printers is that they can level the playing field for small businesses. Prototype development or product manufacturing is no longer just for big companies with large R&D budgets, now individuals with big ideas can leverage the technology to design, develop, and bring to market a variety of products. 

Brooklyn-based Spuni used 3D printing to develop its prototype at the fraction of the cost of what traditional manufacturers would have charged.A small company based in New York, Spuni, which makes small spoons designed to transition an infant to solid food, used a $2,000 3-D printer to develop its prototype, testing the product more than 30 times to tweak it until it was just right. “By using 3D printers, the company had their first prototypes within months, at a fraction of what traditional manufacturers would have charged,” said Spuni CEO Marcel Botha in a CNN Money report.

Although its flagship spoons are now mass-produced, Spuni continues to use 3-D printers for work on new products and packaging, reports CNN. The company is located in a co-working space in the Brooklyn Navy Yard called New Lab, where there are additional 3-D printers the team can use.

 While the technology is evolving quickly, one ArtsTecha.com blogger who reviewed 3-D printers made it clear that individuals should be cautious about the printers they purchase, because the technology is still new and “quirky.” However, as the technology continues to evolve, it will become more affordable and reliable.

In the meantime, if your business would like to utilize 3-D printing without making an initial investment in the hardware, there is an entire ecosystem developing around access to 3-D printing and design. 3D Hubs allows you to upload your design and select a local 3-D printer location to pick up your design in locations around the world. Shapeways allows you to create 3-D prints in over 30 materials, made to order, and delivered wherever you are in the world. Even UPS is getting in the game. After a successful launch of 3-D printing in six U.S. markets, The UPS Store® has expanded 3-D printing services to meet the growing demands of its small business customers to nearly 100 additional locations nationwide, including New York City and Washington, DC.

We advise our customers to approach the adoption of any new technology strategically. What’s the proper mix of traditional versus new technology? What’s the risk? These crossroads in technology provide an excellent opportunity to assess your operations, review hardware and software replacement plans, and identify opportunities for increasing productivity. 

Topic Articles
August 27th, 2015


Photo: Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek as reported in Wired on 7/21/15.

Right out of a Sci-Fi episode plot, news travelled fast a few weeks ago when two benevolent hackers showed the world they could breach the computer systems of some Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) vehicles using the UConnect system, and remotely control the car’s operational features. According to a recent blog in Forbes, the two hackers – Chris Valasek of IOActive and Charlie Miller, a former NSA staffer – believe that more than 471,000 cars are vulnerable to attack.

Forbes reports Valasek and Miller “were able to create attacks that could connect to that system, jump over to a chip powering the in-vehicle entertainment and rewrite the firmware on that little piece of hardware. From there, their exploit code could send commands across the car, from killing the brakes to shutting off the engine and playing with the steering, as shown in a video on Wired. It’s total car compromise.”

Setting aside the controversy around the merits of the dangerous live demonstration, Fortune Magazine points out, “automakers are, right now as you read, shipping increasingly connected cars to market that perform pitifully in terms of security. Their critical, internal electronic systems are not adequately isolated from one another. Their code has not been vetted to an acceptable degree by penetration testers. They are open to attack.”

The FCA solution is to mail out USB sticks with a patch to owners of affected automobiles. According to Carl Leonard, principal security analyst at Raytheon Websense (as reported in NetworkWorld.com), “The decision of Fiat Chrysler to mail out USB sticks to customers directly to patch the recent vulnerability is the security equivalent of waving a red rag to a bull … [Hackers] could, for instance, parody the update with a bogus letter and USB stick of their own, allowing them to launch a multitude of real-life threat scenarios, including crashing or stealing the car.”

Leonard also questions the wisdom of letting consumers do their own update: “This doesn’t even take into account the uncertainty that the USB patch has been applied properly without any negative consequences for the safe operation of the vehicle.”

In addition to the USB mailer, FCA has also provided a patch that’s available for consumers to download online. They created a website where consumers can enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and then download the update. Unless consumers take their vehicles to a mechanic, they are required to perform the patch upgrade themselves.There are basic instructions on the site, but for less tech-savvy consumers, it might prove easier and safer to go to a local dealer.

The recent Jeep hack is just one example of how the Internet of Everything may be moving past the point of no return. Consumer products, from cars to refrigerators, are adopting Internet technology not only to connect consumers to the on-demand services they are becoming accustomed to, but also to collect data on consumer behavior.  

As connectivity accelerates, there is a real concern with the ability of manufacturers’ to keep up with the Internet of Everything. For example, in February, well before this FCA hack, the Associated Press reported, “Automakers are cramming cars with wireless technology, but they have failed to adequately protect those features against the real possibility that hackers could take control of vehicles or steal personal data, a member of the U.S. Senate is asserting.”

While the Jeep hack received media attention recently, the safety concern goes well beyond the automobile industry, and affects many products consumers may not realize are connected to the Internet. 

If we are indeed past the point of no return and everything will be connected, we need to move beyond thinking of technology as just our computer, laptop, and smartphone. We need to ask how these consumer manufacturers will ensure our data is safe as they develop new, connected products. We can assume connection to the Internet is more important than ever, so businesses and consumers alike will need to understand and implement data security best practices. Your organization’s IT Team (and even your auto mechanic) needs to be comfortable dealing in a connected world, anticipate potential security risks associated with being connected using the newest technologies, and how using legacy, disconnected hardware may put your business at risk.

Topic Articles
August 27th, 2015

Here at Sinu, we spend our time safeguarding critical data so our customers can focus on what they do best – running a business. But often, the greatest threats to our data security come through our email. We’ve all been repeatedly warned to check for suspicious downloads, but often Trojan horses come with a logo from your local bank or credit union. Why rob a bank in person, when you can just politely ask for someone’s account information… and get it?

Cyber bank robbers have the resources and the financial incentive to develop sophisticated techniques to convince unsuspecting victims to hand over information to them. In the online fraud world, it’s called phishing. Instead of putting a worm on the line, they just send you a friendly notice from “your bank” with a logo that looks real. Hackers can even uncover your location from your email address and use a regional bank logo. Even the most wary of email users can be caught off guard.

According to the Charlotte Observer, phishing schemes are on the rise because… well, they work. Karl de la Guerra runs a Charlotte-based company that provides security-consulting services to businesses and law enforcement agencies. He told the Observer, “The criminals involved in phishing can be found all over the world, although Asia and central Europe are hotspots.” De la Guerra said some of the fraudsters tap away on laptops eight to 12 hours a day in warehouse-size buildings that can house 100 or more cybercriminals.

Email has become a central part of our lives, but it was never designed to be a secure communication medium. As such, banks don’t use it to request information from you. Never trust an email asking for bank account information. Call your local bank branch instead to verify an email communication that asks for sensitive information.

Here are some tips to keep you – and your company’s bank account – safe from cyber criminals:

  1. If you receive an email, check for misspellings and poor grammar. This is often a dead give-away.
  2. Before clicking on a link, check the URL. Often the fake URL will have the bank name in it, but it will not be a direct bank link.
  3. Use two-factor authentication for your bank accounts.
  4. Don’t store your bank or personal security passwords on an online storage system or email system. If a hacker gets into your online account, they then also have access to your passwords and other sensitive information.
  5. Set limits on who and how much can be wired from your accounts and be sure to close any unused bank accounts.
  6. Trust your instinct if you get a bad feeling in your gut about an email or an attachment. Sometimes your subconscious sees patterns that you may not have consciously put together yet. If you have even the slightest doubt, delete the email and call your financial institution. 

Anyone can be vulnerable to attack. CSO reports that Ubiquiti Networks, Inc., a company that manufactures high-performance networking technology, fell prey to a more sophisticated email phishing scam, costing them more than $39 million. More importantly, it reminds us that even if companies use heavy encryption and coding to protect their data, security can easily be breached right through the front door. With the increased use of online banking and big potential payoffs for cyber criminals, this threat will only increase.

Topic Articles
August 26th, 2015

BusinessIntelligence_Aug25_ADashboards have become an extremely useful tool for companies to make the most of their raw data. With proper implementation, a dashboard can display essential information in an easy-to-understand format, allowing business owners to take in the most important data about their company at a glance. But a dashboard can say a lot of things depending on its setup, and it’s important to choose one that can best serve your purpose. Here are three types of business dashboards to consider.

Strategic dashboards

Ideal for senior managers and executives, strategic dashboards are designed to help identify potential opportunities for business expansion and improvement. This type of dashboard doesn’t provide information in-depth enough to make complex decisions, and is typically is updated once a month or quarter.

Benefits of strategic dashboards As the name suggests, strategic dashboards are designed to provide strategic guidance. The dashboards give a bird’s-eye view of your business. They can contain anything from overall sales numbers to sales and revenue comparisons, or inventory levels, making it easy for executives to understand the overall health of the organization.

Analytical dashboards

This type of dashboard provides users with insights from a volume of data collected over time, enabling you to understand why certain things are happening, and what changes should be made in the future in order to accommodate them. The data presented in analytical dashboards tends to be complex, and usually requires advanced training to use. That’s why they are generally used by business analysts, instead of being widely deployed to other employees and across all departments.

Benefits of analytical dashboards When it comes to creating and implementing strong business strategies, understanding the trends and events in your data is crucial. Analytical dashboards provide detailed information that allows you to compare current against historic data. Implementing analytical dashboards allows you to enjoy in-depth analysis, identify patterns and opportunities in your data, and determine why processes are working in certain departments.

Operational dashboards

Operational dashboards are used to monitor the real-time operations of employees, allowing them to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of their work performance. This type of dashboard is commonly found in departments where it’s essential to respond to critical information quickly, such as those working in sales and marketing.

Benefits of operational dashboards Business owners rely on operational dashboards to track their employees’ progress, and to be notified of issues as they come up in order to respond quickly. What’s more, the dashboards provide up-to-date information, all bundled in one place, making it easy for employees to make quick decisions without having to dig through large amounts of data.

Dashboards concentrate all data, metrics, and parameters in one place, bringing a totally new dimension to business intelligence. Your company can significantly benefit from the right dashboard. If you’re looking to implement dashboards for the first time, or to enhance the functionality of your current dashboard, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

August 17th, 2015

164_SM_AOne of the most valuable tools available to the modern-day marketer is the email list. A large one can make you millions, and a small or nonexistent one can prevent your business from properly taking off. So how do you grow yours? Using social media is one way that is often less talked about. Here are three tips on how you can leverage it to grow your email list.

Post and share your emails publicly

If you create great content for your email list and no one sees it except your subscribers, how are your non-subscribers going to know what they’re missing out on? They won’t, which is exactly why you should give your social media fans and followers a taste of the valuable content that awaits them after sign up.

Now let’s be clear. This doesn’t mean you should share every single email you send out to your list. If you did, there would be less of a need to subscribe. Instead, try sharing or posting an email once every few weeks or once a month.

Make it easy to sign up

Let’s face it. Many of us will take the easier, simpler path whenever possible. This is just as true in marketing as it is in other more primal aspects of human nature. Take eating, for example: if you’re short on time and have a choice between two restaurants for lunch, and one delivers and the other doesn’t, which one are you going to take? Likely the delivery. Even if you prefer the one that doesn’t deliver slightly better, you’d probably still take the delivery for the simple fact that they’ve made it easier for you.

In the online marketing world, the same concept works for gaining subscribers. This is why you need to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up after they’ve read your publicly shared email. To do this, simply add a sign-up link to the emails you share.

Create valuable content

You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king”. However, whoever came up with this catchphrase left out a very important keyword. It should instead read “valuable content is king.” If you’re shelling out dozens of blog posts, emails, podcasts or videos a month but the content is useless to the reader, you’re not going to make any traction with your email list.

When trying to gain subscribers, always ask yourself, “what’s in it for them if they sign up?” If you simply have a signup box on your website or social media page, but no valuable content to go along with it, why would someone sign up? Would you sign up? The point is that there needs to be a reason for someone to subscribe to your email list. And valuable content is a very good reason.

Lastly, don’t forget to demonstrate why it’s more valuable for your future audience to subscribe rather than simply follow you on social media. To do this, give them an incentive to sign up. This could be in the form of an exclusive offer or a free ebook, course, report, or something similar.

Want more tips on leveraging social media to grow your business? Send us a message today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
August 10th, 2015

BusinessContinuity_Aug10_AIn the current world, business continuity planning (BCP) is imperative to the sustainability of your business. Without a well-thought-out plan in place, it is highly unlikely that your company will be able to survive and recover from disasters. However, there are several major roadblocks to the successful implementation of a business continuity plan. If you’re struggling with BCP, check out our list of some common challenges organizations face, and learn how to address them properly.

Challenge #1: Prohibitive costs

Business continuity planning has become exponentially expensive as availability requirements increase. Many solutions require substantial investments on the installation and maintenance of additional hardware, software, and data center infrastructure. These requirements drive up the cost of business continuity, and many company owners are reluctant to invest in protective measures.

The solution Instead of relying on costly physical servers to accommodate your backups, consider using efficient and affordable cloud computing solutions. You can transfer your important business files to the cloud and eliminate the expense of having to install and manage hardware infrastructure and software licenses.

Challenge #2: High complexity

Traditional business continuity planning is complex to implement, manage and execute. From managing the recovery infrastructure to updating disaster recovery documentation and testing the BCP to find and close potential loopholes, the prospect of embarking on a BCP project can be daunting, and the whole experience can prove time consuming. Combine with the pressure of your ordinary day-to-day duties, it can seem almost impossible to focus your attention on initiating a BCP.

The solution With all this in mind, it makes more sense to hire a professional IT service provider to plan, implement, and execute your business continuity plan. This way you can leverage their experience and expertise to ensure that, in the event of a disaster, your company will be able to get back on its feet and resume business operations as quickly as possible.

Challenge #3: Lack of staff involvement

There are so many requirements to be considered in a business continuity plan. And the more employees your organization has, the more difficult it is to relay the essence of the plan for everyone to understand. Staff involvement isn’t an option - it’s an absolute necessity if you wish for a successful BCP implementation!

The solution Depending on the size of your organization, you can either hold a company meeting to announce the essentials of your BCP, or schedule a meeting with key staff members who take an active role in the planning process. To create a long-lasting BCP program, you need to get everyone on the same page by emphasizing the importance of the plan in an easy-to-understand way.

Business continuity planning is one of the most important things you need to have in place. You never know when, or in what form, a disaster will strike - all the more reason to take a preventative approach to securing your company and all you’ve worked for.

Need a reliable partner to take care of all your business continuity planning needs? Get in touch with us today - we have exactly what you need to prepare and protect your company.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

July 30th, 2015

164_Prod_ AYou may have heard of Managed Services, but are clueless as to how they can help your business. You may have heard of how they can boost productivity and increase profits, but are unsure of exactly how they do that. For those who need a better understanding of just how Managed Services can benefit a business, today we’re going to demystify it all. Here is the explanation you’ve been waiting for.

Managed Services essentially amounts to preventative IT maintenance. What this means for your business is that little IT problems are nipped in the bud as soon as they bubble up, and before they have a chance to compound into much bigger, more costly ones. But before we delve deeper into how this increases your business’s productivity levels, it makes sense to look at the history of this service and the role of “preventative maintenance” in our culture.

Why preventative maintenance matters

Managed Services have been around for decades. But despite this, many businesses have been slow to catch on. And really, is it all that surprising? Preventative maintenance is not exactly a priority in mass culture. Whether you hire a mechanic to replace a catalytic converter, a plumber to repair a leaky pipe or doctor to correct your coronary heart disease, many of these oftentimes preventable problems have been culturally accepted as commonplace. Yet people are so used to the mindset of thinking “everything is okay until it’s not”, which is really where the true problem lies.

Additionally, when preventable problems are ignored long enough to the point they explode into emergency repairs, your wallet almost always suffers. This is just as true for a network crash to your business’s IT infrastructure as it is for a trip to the emergency room for a neglected health problem.

Because Managed Services prevent catastrophic IT repairs that surprise you out of nowhere, your bottom line will enjoy long-term savings. Along with this, you’ll also get a significant bump in your productivity levels.

How does Managed Services boost productivity?

To answer this question, it makes sense to look at a fundamental principle of productivity - focus. Imagine if you’re trying to complete a new marketing strategy for the next quarter. You’re doing some research, compiling a list upcoming networking events and trade shows to attend, when suddenly you’re disrupted by an urgent phone call. After you’re off the phone, you return to your research, and then your secretary bursts in with an handful of vendor invoices you need to sign off on. As these disruptions continue to pile up, what happens if your IT breaks down and you’re unable to use your computer? Basically, you don’t get anything done during the day. You become stuck.

When it comes to IT, Managed Services take preventative measures to ensure your IT is always running at its optimal level, so that you don’t suffer technology breakdowns or distractions that blow your focus - preventing you and your staff from getting any work done. Smooth running IT won’t resolve all your productivity problems, such as your staff focusing more on Facebook or their phone rather than their work, but it will resolve all of those that relate directly to technology. No longer will your business be held down by daily computer disruptions and associated repairs, and instead you and your staff can move forward and focus on growing your business. That is the beauty of Managed Services. More productivity, focus and growth for your entire organization.

Have more questions about Managed Services? Give us a call today. We’re happy to provide you the information you need.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Productivity
July 29th, 2015

An infamous hacker group,Team GhostShell, has made a recent comeback, claiming it successfully hacked over 300 websites in 24 hours and has posted over 13,000 users’ personal details online.

Team GhostShell is using its Twitter feed to link to lists that include a number of database information dumps, including database and server details from a variety of victims sites, ranging from educational institutions in Australia to Korean music services. Some of the files appear to have leaked sensitive information including names, email addresses, physical addresses, Skype names, phone numbers, and dates of birth.

GhostShell was mainly active in 2012, claiming responsibility for a series of high profile strikes on the world’s top 100 universities that year. The attacks saw the GhostShell group post 120,000 students’ information online. In December of that same year, the group dumped 1.6 million accounts and records from numerous US government departments including ESA, NASA, Pentagon, Federal Reserve, and the FBI.

Business Insider reports that if the current GhostShell group’s claims are true, the end number of victims will likely range in the millions according to estimates by Symantec researchers.

Symantec also reports that while some of the data dumps appear to show passwords which are salted and hashed (a code used to disguise the password), others are stored in plain text. And yes, the much-mocked, but still apparently oft-used password “123456” can be found on this list!

While it will take time to know the full impact of the GhostShell hack, there are several best practices provided by Symantec that can be implemented immediately to help protect from GhostShell and other cyber-attacks:

To help determine the risk of attacks such as from GhostShell to your own website, ask the company who is hosting your website if they are aware of these recent cyberattacks and how vulnerable they are to such breaches. Ask them what steps they have taken to address their exposure. If you don’t get clear answers and/or they do not take responsibility, your website may be vulnerable.

Contact Sinu for more information about how you can reduce your risk and keep your organization’s data safe from cyberattacks.

Topic Articles
July 29th, 2015

While we are not web developers, Sinu strives to be a source of info for all things tech for our customers, and many ask our advice about website development and design. Since we started our business over 10 years ago, we have always recommended using website builder services. Back then, there were fewer options and they were hard to customize unless a developer inserted quite a bit of custom code. Today, there are several options that can provide all of the most often-used elements of web design built right into customizable templates – complete with a variety of content management system (CMS), design, and developer functions. We have always believed that you should not spend time and money for someone to write custom code to build what thousands have already built, instead, start with a proven website building platform that can be customized to meet the unique needs of your company.

Website builders are tools that allow the construction of websites without manual code editing (Wikipedia). There are a number of excellent web builder services available today, and you will want to first determine the basic look and functionality of your website or blogsite to help you select the one that will work best for your company.

Each platform offers a different degree of ease of design and development. If you need more complex page designs, then you may want a platform that provides your designer a bit more flexibility. A few years ago, some robust website functions (such as solutions for e-commerce, polling, and mobile-responsive) would have required costly custom coding by a developer, today hundreds of plug-in options or themes are available that provide advanced website features for little to no cost, saving your developer time and your business money. If you are looking to get a basic one-to-five page website up quickly, there’s a platform for that too!

A few other considerations when selecting a website builder:

Does it offer hosting and how much storage space does it include? (Make sure you are comfortable with the web hosting policy and that it is hosted under the name of your business and you get all the login information from your developer when the website goes live.)

  • Is the site mobile-friendly – does it offer responsive design? (Google ranks websites higher if they are mobile-friendly.)
  • What level of SEO does it provide?  (They typically offer some level, but you may need to consult with an SEO specialist to identify keywords in your industry to ensure good search rankings.)
  • Can it easily push your updates out to your social media sites? (This can be especially important for bloggers or online storefronts.)
  • How does it handle video and other media file storage? (You do not want your website to load slowly or you will lose visitors.)  

There are a number of website builders to choose from, and it can overwhelming to sort through them all, so we’ve compiled a few of the leaders in the field and summarized features below. We also included information from performance reviews from a number of sources, including Digital Trends,Site Builder Report, and Website Builder Expert.

Squarespace

A favorite here at Sinu. Squarespace has years of experience and has built a mature platform. All its themes are mobile-responsive so they work well across a variety of devices. It maintains a large ecosystem of developers who know their tool well, so you can get assistance with customization and any fixes later down the road. Designers and artists embrace the elegance and flexibility of the stylesheet designs, and the latest version of Squarespace has a wonderful array of galleries. Squarespace does have good e-commerce tools, but it does not have the extensive number of plug-ins available with some other platforms such as WordPress.

Wix

With 63 million published websites, Wix is rated one of the top free website builders, particularly for consumers and smaller businesses. The hundreds of available HTML templates are extremely user-friendly and reliant on the software’s drag-and-drop interface, which makes building a website a similar experience to crafting a PowerPoint presentation. While Wix offers integration with several third-party plug-ins, its designs are not currently mobile-responsive.

WordPress.com

Because of its open source nature, WordPress excels when it comes to ready-made themes, mobile-optimized templates, and widgets that allow you to include everything from comments to images. However, the platform’s exhaustive tools also require a baseline knowledge of coding at times, and some plug-ins definitely work better than others. To rearrange the layout of a particular template, for instance, the code needs to be modified. Given about 24% of today’s websites are powered by WordPress, there is a large community of developers able to make adjustments or fixes to your website if needed. 

Weebly

Weebly is considered by many to be one of the easiest free drag-and-drop website builders in the market. Straightforward – yet effective – tools enable a business or consumer to build a decent-looking website in a matter of hours. The template is a bit more limiting than some other website builder options, since elements can only be inserted into designated areas of the  webpage. Although the service is not mobile-responsive, it offers a customizable mobile site. It also offers a wealth of commerce tools for putting up a storefront.

There are also a number of website builders that have robust e-commerce tools, including Jimdo and Shopify, however they do not offer the development and design flexibility of some of the other services on the market today.

Some smaller businesses – particularly in service industries – have opted to use social media in lieu of a traditional website. Social sites like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter are typically free, easy to use, update automatically, and allow interaction between a small business and its customers. These social networks can expose a business to groups of people who are “friends” or connected in some way, and because of that connection, they would be more likely to want to learn more about a product or service if they see their “friends” likes or recommends it. There are some companies who have leaned heavily on these social networks and may only use a one or two-page website to provide contact info and links to their social media sites.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on custom coding a website that is dependent on that one developer who has the keys to the code. It is analogous to a custom built car. Would you pay the price for a custom car when there are hundreds of models that could provide just about the same functionality for a fraction of the cost? And if you would, who would know how to fix it?

Topic Articles
July 29th, 2015

Businesses are finding that people are working from home, on the road, and even on your vacation. Allowing employees the freedom to access data and catch up on work from a mobile device often makes sense when you look at the data, such as a Forrester Research survey which reports that 75% of companies indicate workplace mobility leads to increased productivity. Forrester even coined a name for this emerging class of worker – the “anytime, anywhere employee.”

But mobility poses a backup problem, because people using laptops often store data on the local drive – which goes where the laptop goes – rather than on the server, which is backed up.

In response to the fast-growing number of laptops being used in the workplace, Sinu now offers installation and management of online backup on all of your laptops quickly and efficiently. If your company uses laptops, Sinu recommends installing a Cloud backup solution on each laptop. The cost is about 50% cheaper than external hard drives for the same amount of storage, and is well worth the price to keep your company’s data protected. Additionally, it gives you peace of mind that if an employee should leave the company, you can access the data from their laptop.

If you are still wondering about laptop backup, read on…

What is online file backup?

Online file backup is the process of storing the contents of your computer’s hard drive, such as your important documents and media files, through the Internet using a third party online backup service.  

Why do I need an online backup service?

Online backup services provide a simple, secure and economical way to protect all the files on your computer’s hard drive. If your hard drive crashes, your computer is stolen, you accidentally erase important information from your computer or you otherwise lose access to important files, online backup services give you the ability to quickly restore any lost information. 

Will my hard drive really fail?

It is a fact of life that all computer hard drives will eventually fail or crash. A recent study by Google found that 8% of computer hard drives will fail within the first two years of operation. That means one in every 12 computer hard drives will crash within the first 24 months of operation.

When your hard drive does eventually fail, you risk losing all the information that was stored on your computer. Restoration of a crashed hard drive that has not been properly backed up can be very expensive without guaranteed results of restoring your data.

In addition to hardware failure, you may also lose files if your computer is stolen or you accidentally permanently erase important files. In those cases, you have no way to restore your files unless you have been consistently backing them up.

Is online file backup secure?

Yes. Online backup services utilize the same security measures that financial institutions use to protect sensitive data. This means that the data you store with an online backup service is as secure as your bank account or credit card account information.

How do online backup services work?

Online backup services allow you to download a small computer program on your laptop or desktop computer. This application will allow you to select which files you would like to backup and set up automated scheduled backups of your files.

The first time you use an online backup service it can take several hours or even days to scan and backup all of the files on your computer’s hard drive. However, once that initial set up is complete the online backup service will only need to backup new files or those that have changed. This will typically only take minutes if you schedule your automated backups to occur relatively frequently. We recommend that consumers backup their files every day to ensure that they are protected in the unfortunate event of file loss.

Does my computer need to be on and connected to the Internet in order for online backup services to work?

Yes. Online backup services use the Internet to transmit files from your computer to an online backup service provider. Most top-rated online backup services can process automated file backups while you are completing other tasks on your computer, such as surfing the Internet or checking your email.

Keep in mind that it typically only takes a few minutes to process a daily file backup, so you can also run your backup right before you shut down your computer for the day if you prefer.

What is the difference between online backup and backing up my files to an external hard drive?

External hard drives allow users to save files from their computer on another separate hard drive. Online backup is a better solution for most consumers for several reasons.

First, external hard drives have the same hardware failure issues that the internal hard drive in your computer has. They will eventually fail or crash and put the stored information at risk, whereas online backup services are not dependent on a single hard drive to store your information, which makes them infinitely more reliable.

Second, external hard drives are only as secure as you make them. If your external hard drive is misplaced or stolen you immediately lose all the backup information that you have stored there. Online backup services, on the other hand, allow you to store your information remotely and securely on computer servers that are maintained by professionals. In fact, many major corporations use the same online file backup services that are available to consumers to store important business information because these services are so secure and professionally managed. 

Third, external hard drives have storage limitations. For example, if you purchase a 100 GB external hard drive it will be able to store 100 gigabytes of information before you need to either purchase an additional drive or delete some information of your existing one. The top-rated online backup services offer unlimited storage capacity for all your important files. You will never need to buy additional storage capacity or hardware and you will never need to choose which files you will keep and which you will delete based off of how much storage space is available.

Finally, external hard drives are more expensive per gigabyte of storage than most online backup services. We recently analyzed the costs of both options and found that online backup services are about 50% cheaper per gigabyte than using external hard drives.

How do I restore my files using an online backup service?

The process of restoring lost files differs depending on the service provider. In most cases, it is as simple as accessing your online account and downloading the files you have backed up.

The amount of time it takes to download your backed-up files varies based on the amount of data you have stored with your online backup service. It can take anywhere from a few hours if you have a small number of files backed up to several days if you have many large files to recover.

Contact Sinu with any questions about laptop backup or to discuss the other services Sinu provides to protect your data.