Archive for Backup and Recovery

Most effective protection against the Locky Trojan horse – an up-to-date backup

Locky: A New Trojan Horse That Encrypts Your Files

It’s time to take caution because a new Trojan horse known as “Locky” is striking terror everywhere and is spreading like wildfire all over the internet. More and more infections have been reported in the past few days, especially in Germany – thousands of infections an hour, in fact! Like many other harmful programs, this Trojan horse also spreads via E-mail. Specifically, E-mails with infected Office documents attached are being sent to unsuspecting victims. These document contain a macro code which the Trojan horse installs as soon as the document is opened. The insidious trick here is that such documents are often passed off under the guise of an open invoice. The virus is now being spread byJScripts as well.
Once installed, the virus searches for certain file types which the developers of the virus assume to be private files of personal value, such as text documents and multi-media files. Files in accessible networks and cloud storages can also fall victim to the virus. These files are then encrypted by Locky so that the user can no longer open them. Instead, the user is demanded to pay the developers ransom money to decrypt the files. Unfortunately, there is no way at present to remove the virus from the system once it has been activated. As soon as you detect that Locky has infected your system, you should shut your system down as quickly as possible – even the rough way by pulling the plug on your computer. This way, you can at least prevent the Trojan horse from causing even more damage. You can then remove the virus with a disinfection CD and attempt to restore the encrypted files. However, this approach only works for files which Windows has made a “shadow copy” of. Unfortunately, Locky will also delete these files, which severely limits your chances of success.
That’s why it’s better to take preventative action so that you won’t even catch the virus in the first place. This means there are basic rules for protecting your system from external attacks (which you should already be following anyway).
Do not open file attachments on E-mails from senders you don’t know, and back up important files on a separate data medium. Make sure to keep your antivirus program up to date at all times. You should also update your operating system and other programs regularly, since these updates often close security loopholes which Trojan horses take advantage of.
Specifically for this virus, you can configure your MS Office not to run any macro code at all, or only to do so upon confirmation from you.
If you have already fallen victim to Locky, make sure to keep the encrypted files. Since the virus is quite new, there is no way to reverse the damage right now, but this may change over time. This makes it all the more important look for updates on a regular basis.

How can you protect yourself?

The only effective protection in a worst-case scenario is to have a backup on hand which can reliably restore your data. This is also recommended by the BSI (German Federal Office for Information Security).

Paragon Backup & Recovery

Backup & Recovery 15 Home
Backup & Recovery Home

That’s why we recommend our solution Backup & Recovery 14 Free Edition for personal backups.
You can get it for private use free-of-charge at www.paragon-software.com/home/br-free/.

 

Don’t wait: today is the best day for a backup!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benefits of Licensing the Technician Rather Than the Hardware

Hard Disk Manager Field Technician License

By Tom Fedro

Guardian I.T. Services, a provider of IT services and consulting in southwest Florida, was faced with multiple similar projects where clients – including Charlotte County Airport Authority’s Punta Gorda Airport – had to migrate critical systems to new hardware and/or larger drives, to meet the growing demand for more storage and performance.

David Ward, president of Guardian I.T. Services, searched for nine months for software that enabled him to migrate his customers’ servers to new drives or all new hardware without hassle and without any risk of data loss. After vetting a short list, Ward selected software that ultimately offered a suite of disk management tools (including image-based backup and recovery), as well as a licensing model that saved his clients thousands of dollars because the software was uniquely licensed to the user rather than the hardware. Paragon’s Hard Disk Manager (HDM) Technician License offered twice the features at half the cost as the next best product he tested; the Technician License decreased the per-server cost even more.

After only four months of using HDM to create snapshots of all of the airport’s security systems, the hard drive of one of the servers failed and brought the entire system to a halt. The server that failed stored and managed all of the airport’s security data such as badges, personnel information, and security clearance – required for FAA, TSA, Homeland Security and FBI background checks along with all other regulations airports fall under.

The system was ultimately restored from an HDM image-based incremental backup to new hardware (MS Server 2003 with a new RAID configuration and two 500GB SATA hard drives).  Paragon’s “Adaptive Restore” technology allowed for a seamless restore to the dissimilar hardware.

It took only 54 minutes to get the server back up and running like nothing had ever happened. “After that one incident I will never consider using anything else; I absolutely swear by it,” said Ward about the Paragon product. “Before buying anything else, you must try Paragon. For a server restore or migration, no other software comes close in restore time, reliability and ease-of-use. I recommend Hard Disk Manager Tech License for any company with field technical support.”

Today’s Storage Mosaic

Popular Backup Methods by IndustryBy Tom Fedro

Paragon recently surveyed more than 370 IT professionals regarding the backup and restore methods employed in their networking environment. The results show that today’s storage environment is primarily serviced by local servers and Network Attached Storage. Cloud storage only made up 30 percent of the mix. And, long ago considered obsolete, tape’s foothold is nearly 40 percent.*

However, the interesting numbers lay among the makeup of storage implemented in vertical markets. Among those surveyed, the

  • Healthcare, aerospace and aeronautics industries did not use cloud services for backup at all, instead relying primarily upon local server and tape storage–this may be due to the sensitivity and complexity of the data produced by these two industries, along with associated regulations;
  • Finance industry’s unique mix of very short system-recovery and long data-retention requirements makes it the market segment with the highest integration of cloud services (36.8 percent) in the storage environment. Finance is also the highest integrator of tape into the storage mix, 68.4 percent of those surveyed; and lastly
  • Logistics and Government industries were the second and third highest users of tape backup.

Here’s a look at how the numbers aligned:

Industry

Server

Tape

Cloud

Aerospace/Aeronautics

66.7%

50.0%

0.0%

Education

50.0%

53.6%

17.9%

Finance

47.4%

68.4%

36.8%

Healthcare

50.0%

50.0%

0.0%

Government

60.0%

56.0%

16.0%

Insurance

50.0%

50.0%

25.0%

Logistics

66.7%

66.7%

33.3%

Manufacturing

41.7%

55.6%

25.0%

Non-Profit

42.9%

42.9%

21.4%

Real Estate

75.0%

50.0%

25.0%

Retail

47.1%

23.5%

35.3%

Telecommunications

33.3%

50.0%

33.3%

Transportation

60.0%

40.0%

10.0%

For all the hoopla surrounding cloud, it appears that in all industries IT professionals still prefer to maintain some control over their organization’s critical data, unwilling to completely trust the cloud in the event of a disaster.

* Note: In some cases, multiple storage methods are employed within the same IT environment thus resulting in a totaling of storage methods greater than 100 percent.

Paragon Software Survey Results Show That Performance Is the Most Important Consideration in Backup and Recovery Software

Additionally, Over 70 Percent of Respondents Are Still Utilizing Windows 2003 and Nearly 80 Percent Have Windows XP in Their Operating Environments

Disk drive partition misalignmentBy Tom Fedro

Paragon Software conducted a survey last quarter that consisted of both Paragon and non-Paragon customers. Respondents revealed a couple of interesting results: 1) a reluctance to upgrade older operating systems (OSs) with newer software platforms and 2) when considering a backup and recovery software solution, performance is more important than price or support.

Out of 580 respondents,

  • 70.8 percent of respondents are running Windows 2003 in their environment and 79.0 percent of the respondents are running Windows XP in their environment
  • In order of importance when selecting a backup and recovery solution, 77 percent of respondents rated performance as their highest priority (over price and support)

At first, the two do not seem related, but in fact they are. No matter the reason for keeping an older OS in operation (i.e., cost or functionality), system performance may become an issue due to the transition from the 512-byte sector to 4K-byte sector storage standard. As explained in Partition Alignment: Problems, Causes and Solutions written by storage guru Thomas Coughlin, “…older operating systems and utilities can misalign the logical sectors in the host device and the physical data on the HDD sectors resulting in a significant performance degradation…if there is misalignment of the 512 byte logical sectors to the 4K byte physical sectors, it forces the hard disk drive to perform an addition read operation…” Hence, if you use an older OS with a newer 4K disk drive, you will run into performance issues.

Luckily, Paragon Software has an easy solution to correctly align your partitions and eliminate redundant read/writes: the Paragon Alignment Tool (PAT). PAT is a powerful utility that automatically detects if the drive is misaligned and then properly realigns all existing partitions, including boot partitions (and any data they contain) to the 4K-sector boundaries. Additionally, if you are using virtual server technology or have recently upgraded to solid state drives, your partitions may be misaligned.

Without realignment, performance loss can range between 20 and 50 percent, which can cause catastrophic issues during peak times.

 

Migrating from a Hard Disk Drive to a Solid State Drive can be Tricky Without the Right Tools

By Tom Fedro

The task of migrating the operating system, applications and files from one storage drive to another can be a slow and tedious process.

In the case of migrating system files from an HDD to an SSD, it can be especially complicated. The latest SSDs usually do not come with very high capacity. Smaller-sized drives and faster processing speeds are the norm. The robustness of SSDs is a prime benefit, which is leading more users to consider migrating their OS to SSDs to get the most out of their systems. The main obstacle they are facing is the modest capacity of SSDs for the price. So, how do you migrate an OS and hundreds of gigabytes of data on one huge volume to an SSD drive of 80-128GB? Without migration software, the only solution was to re-partition the HDD first, and then perform the migration using a special utility to separate the system and data, a process which risked data loss and was quite time consuming.

To help circumvent these potential issues, Centon Electronics Inc.  decided to include Paragon Migrate OS to SSD software in its SSD Notebook kits, bundled with their solid state drives (SSDs).

“After testing another party’s software with our SSDs, we decided to look for a more intuitive software solution,” said Aaron Campbell, product marketing manager for Centon Electronics. “I had worked with Paragon in the past, asked for a copy to test, and it worked perfectly. It was simple, quick and accurate. Exactly the solution we were searching for. Paragon was very responsive and more than willing to work with us even though we were not a large corporation. The customer and technical support was excellent and made us feel we were just as important as an International firm.”

Migrate OS to SSD provides easy copying of system data including the operating system, data files and applications to Centon’s SSDs. With an intuitive wizard-driven interface, the software automatically downsizes the source system volume, if needed; auto-aligns the copied system partition; and provides intelligent selection of specific files and folders for migration — all without rebooting the system.Paragon Migrate OS to SSD

Key features and benefits include file-exclusion technology (which increases migration speed), a simple and convenient wizard-driven graphical interface, automatic partition resize capability (prevents common issues when migrating system data from an HDD to a smaller SSD), automatic partition alignment awareness (to prevent redundant read/write operations), Microsoft Reserved Partition awareness, hot copy (without a system restart), and a smooth migration process regardless of the operating system.

 

State Governor’s Office Ensures Reliable Backup in Case of Disaster

Paragon Backup Software for Disaster RecoveryBy Tom Fedro

After Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf State region of the U.S. in 2005, IT departments in states based in the southern part of the U.S. became particularly sensitive to the potential loss of their critical data.

When the director of technical services started his new position in the govenor’s, one of the first tasks was to replace the old tape backup system with a more reliable, and cost-effective, image-based backup solution. After a lengthy and comprehensive evaluation process Paragon Software’s Hard Disk Manager (HDM) Server was selected to ensure that their files were safe in case disaster strikes.

Not long after the selection was made the office had its first test of the new backup system. Their RAID controller and the backplane on one of their servers failed, thankfully Paragon’s HDM solution rose to the challenge and not only ensured there was no data lost, but also had the office back up and running in record time. To read the case study in its entirety along with others, search by product or by market.

To view a video demonstration of our Drive Backup Server software (bundled with HDM for Servers), check us out on YouTube:

 

 

The Importance of the Recovery Time

By Tom Fedro

Tom Fedro discusses data backupThe goals of data backup and recovery can be summarized with two metrics. The Recovery Point is the term that describes the point in time at which a system and its data is protected. The metric might be expressed as a time value in days or hours. If a system is backed up nightly, all data is recoverable to the previous night. Data altered between the backup and the crash represents data at risk. Some organizations will attempt to create a recovery point that approaches continuous backup. Therefore, data at risk is minimized.

The Recovery Time is concerned with restoration rather than backup. This metric represents the length of time it takes for data and systems to be made available after an interruption. Unfortunately, this particular element of storage management is often relegated to the back burner. The level of distress in a catastrophic failure is usually great enough that the relief associated with the final return of the data overshadows the interruption in availability. The fact that critical data was recovered becomes more important than the loss of productivity and business operational efficiency prior to its recovery. This kind of thinking, though, is short-sighted and based on reactionary management rather than proactive business management.

Data is important to a company for its use, not just for its existence. When the data is not available for company operations, there are hard costs as well as opportunity costs involved. Real costs are obvious. Employees sitting at a desk unable to work still generate payroll expenses. A building filled with computers not in use still has a lease cost per square foot. In short, company overhead continues but the revenue that overhead should generate is lacking. No business would survive willingly continuing to expend with no expectation of return. When critical data and systems are unavailable to assist in the conversion of company efforts into profits, this is exactly what occurs.

Opportunity costs are also generated during an interruption in system availability. Orders cannot be processed. Sales cannot be made. Customer interactions (and customer relationship management is one of the most critical aspects of ongoing profitability) are hampered, meaning continued monetization of the customer base is impossible. Sadly, these losses are hidden. They’ll never appear on a company’s financials and will likely never be noticed. Still, the losses are real, and companies fail because they ignore the vague by real impacts of opportunity loss.

Hard costs and opportunity costs mandate that companies examine their recovery time objectives with the same attention given to their recovery point objectives. Data is not an amorphous idea that needs protection. It is the very foundation by which most companies operate and continue as going concerns. Availability of that data is as critical to a company’s success as the existence of the data, and until both aspects of the company’s reliance on its systems are addressed, the company has no effective data protection strategy.

 

 

Optimizing the Recovery Point

By Tom Fedro

Tom Fedro discusses optimal recovery timeWhat’s the optimal recovery point in data backup?  Most tech professionals immediately jump to shout out as loudly as possible “continuous!” or “on the fly!”  Believe it or not, that’s just not correct.

Okay.  Take a deep breath.  I know it sounds like I’ve just committed techno-heresy, but I’m speaking from an operational standpoint here.  The reality is this—on the fly continuous backup is disruptive to most businesses and—brace yourself—unnecessary to most businesses.  The disruptive nature is fairly easy to understand.  Constant image-based backup uses resources and stops users from making changes.  System resource use alone would create a dramatic slowdown.

Does that make sense for a business that doesn’t deal with dynamically changing data?  What about businesses that regularly use but don’t regularly alter data?  Excessive data backup will sometimes cause more of a slowdown than minor data loss.

While nearly every business relies on data nowadays, not every business changes the data with enough frequency to justify the expense or the irritation of attempting to reach near-continual backup.  Companies ought to search for the optimal backup solution.  This solution will be based on the amount of data that needs protection and the frequency of modification in that data.  In some cases, a single backup procedure a few times per week is all that’s needed.  Some businesses will need daily backup, and some businesses will need consistent image-based backup with file-based backup at regular intervals.

There’s an optimal choice and its different for different organizations.  Don’t make the mistake of buying and implementing a solution that makes a whole lot of sense—for someone else’s company.  Determine your real risks and real needs.  Then, consider the impacts of the following:

  • The cost of the backup solution.
  • The costs of implementing the backup solution. (I’m talking about tech department payroll, here.)
  • The costs to the business operations of the implementation.

You may come to the conclusion that backup approaching on the fly consistency may indeed be what you need.  Don’t reach that conclusion because it’s the best available, though.  Reach that conclusion because it has the greatest operational impact on the business.  Somewhere between regular backup and constant backup is the right interval for most businesses.  Find out where on that timeline yours belongs and act accordingly.  Don’t fall into the trap of acting first.