7 Reasons Businesses Should Use Cloud Storage

If you are running out of storage space or find that your current way of storing data makes it difficult to manage and use, then it’s time to consider an alternative option. Today, growing numbers of businesses are finding that the cloud is the best place to store their documents, files and data. Here, we’ll explain seven reasons to store your data in the cloud.

1. Never run out of space again

The amount of data that businesses store is growing exponentially. Companies are collecting more types of information than ever and keeping it for longer – and as they grow, so does the amount they generate. That can cause problems when storing it as its easy to run out of server space.

The benefit of storing it in the cloud is that no matter how much data you have, your vendor will always have enough space to store it. What’s more, upgrading to a bigger capacity package can be done very easily and quickly. It is also much less expensive than buying a new and bigger server.

2. Easy accessibility

Centrally storing all your data in the cloud means that none of it gets buried in departmental silos, making it accessible to anyone you have given access permission. What’s more, when someone updates a file and saves it to the cloud, everyone will have access to the latest update.

Equally important for the modern business is that being in the cloud, the data can be accessed over the internet. This means your employees don’t need to be in the office to do their work; they can work remotely or be out on the road and still have access to it on any device with a connection.

3. Solid security

Cloud vendors have to meet strict security regulations to keep your data secure. Their employment of security experts and use of the latest firewalls, anti-malware and intrusion prevention tools provide levels of security hard to match in-house. Of course, you’ll need to implement your own security measures, such as access rights, strong passwords and two-factor authentication, but, together, these make your cloud-stored data extremely secure – especially when the cloud provides a centralised repository for it all to be stored and securely managed.  

In addition, your data is protected against data loss through hardware failure. If there is an issue with hardware in a cloud datacentre, the virtual server on which it is stored will simply be moved to another physical machine. It will always be there and always be online for you to access.

4. Cost-effective storage

A cloud storage package is far less costly than the capital expenditure needed to purchase a large storage server. Neither are there any additional running costs, such as electricity, insurance or premises rent. Your vendor will even take care of the hardware management for you.

5. Makes collaboration and file sharing a breeze

Cloud storage gives companies the ability to share files and sync updates and new additions. Files can be sent to other users and audiences can be invited to access data available online. This helps teams collaborate far more effectively no matter where the members are based, giving them all access to the most up to date versions.

6. Complete convenience

When data is stored in the cloud, it can be accessed directly from the internet. This means it’s not reliant on any internal business system or specific device. You won’t need to be connected to your internal business network, use a company computer or plug in an external storage device. What’s more, viewing or working on a file can also be done online, meaning that you won’t need to fill up storage on devices, though copies of files can be downloaded if required.

It’s also worth considering that cloud servers offer exceptional performance, their all-flash storage and Intel CPUs ensuring that data-heavy applications will run like clockwork. – Read More

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6 Types of Content Your Website Doesn’t Need

Content is king, marketers say – but not all of it. Indeed, some content can harm your website, slowing its performance, irritating visitors and badly affecting its search engine ranking. The way to deal with this is to check your site regularly and get rid of the damaging material. Here, we’ll explain what to look for.

1. Heavy images

Images are important elements of any website and can have a positive impact on user engagement. However, they are data-heavy and can slow down the loading time, damaging SEO and user-friendliness. While we are not suggesting you delete your images, what we do suggest is following best practice by optimising them for your site.

This means using PNG files of 72 dpi which are much lighter and can be loaded more quickly than larger files. At the same time, use an image optimising plugin that will take existing images and create light versions of the right dimensions for your theme. To speed up your site even more, consider using lazy loading or a content delivery network.

2. Popups

While popups have been proven to help increase conversion rates, they are one of the most annoying features of a website and can lead to user abandonment, especially if you use multiple popups. If you don’t need them, take them down. If you do, ensure you use them minimally and have them appear when the user is leaving the page, not halfway through reading your content. You also need to make sure that closing them is easy and that they don’t appear on every page. Pay particular attention to how your popup works on mobile screens where they can be even more problematic and harder to close than on a desktop. 

Remember, also, that a popup adds an additional script to your website which will affect its performance and impact SEO.

3. Overeager cookie consent popup

Cookie consent is something all websites are required to ask for; however, users end up getting incredibly annoyed at having to click ‘accept’ every time they visit a site. So, while you can’t dispense with the law, you can make acceptance far less of a trauma.

For a start, consider replacing page dominating cookie popups with less obtrusive methods that don’t interrupt the user from reading the content. Secondly, set the cookie consent form to appear at the same frequency as your shortest cookie life. Once you have permission to store cookies on a user’s device, you don’t need to ask for it again unless you start collecting new cookie information or change the length of the cookie, the purpose you use it or the way the information is used, stored or shared. This means, if your shortest cookie life is 30 days, you’ll only need to ask for consent every 30 days.      

4. Broken links

Links are important for both the user experience and SEO. Internal links help users find the content they are looking for more quickly and enable search engine crawlers to discover and index content on your site. Outbound links are considered by search engines to add value to your content and can, therefore, improve your SEO.

While working links are good, broken ones are not. Users get frustrated if they click on a link to a page that doesn’t exist anymore and this can lead to them having a poor impression of your site or even leaving it. That poor experience is noted by search engines when they follow your links and this too can lead to the pages that they appear on being downranked.

You need to check for and amend broken links regularly, especially if you have been deleting pages or changing URLs. The easiest way to do it is to use a link checking plugin that will take care of the legwork for you.

5. Out of date content

Hidden in the metadata of your web pages is the date on which the content was published. While this isn’t visible to your visitors, it is to search engines which use it to understand how up-to-date your content is. As the world changes so quickly around us, search engines look for fresh information, considering it more relevant to a user’s query.

At the same time, the users themselves want the latest information – someone searching for ‘Best clothes shops in Bradford’, for example, would be disappointed if they found a page containing a list of shops of which many had shut down.

For websites, this means regularly going through your content, deleting pages and posts which are completely out of date and updating outdated information on those that still had some relevance. For companies which have product and service pages where there has been no change to what’s on offer, it may seem that there is no need to make changes. However, even making minor tweaks now and then will refresh the content for both users and search engines and update the publication date at the same time.

6. Third-party ads   

A helpful source of income, many sites display adverts, including video ads, from third-parties like Google and Bing or show imaged-led links to content on other websites. While the odd, discretely placed ad does little harm, some sites can go overboard and this can significantly slow down the loading time of the page and become a major obstacle to reader retention. It can have a serious impact on SEO, user engagement and conversion rates. You are most likely to see this overloading of ads on newspaper websites.

Ideally, you should test how the loading time of your website is affected by the ads you show and use analytics to see if they are impacting your ranking, traffic and engagement. If they are, you should remove the worst offenders until you reach a satisfactory balance.    – Read more

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IT Security Checklist for When Remote Workers Return

Following months of remote working, companies everywhere are starting to bring employees back to the office. While this is a positive step forward, it also poses a number of IT security concerns that will need to be tackled to prevent business systems being left vulnerable. Here, we’ll look at what those concerns are and provide a list of security checks that you may need to carry out.

Predatory attacks

Today’s predatory cybercriminals seek out vulnerabilities and weaknesses they can exploit. Just as they have targeted remote workers using security holes in routers, VPNs and remote desktops, as well as through phishing attacks, they will see opportunity in the inevitable security oversights which will happen when workers return to the office. Avoiding this means organisations need to implement a ‘return to the office’ IT policy, which should include a thorough audit of their IT systems and devices, as well as refresher security training for staff.

Vulnerability checklist

While every company will have its own circumstances, here is a range of security issues you might want to consider, together with possible approaches to solving them.

1. Checking on-site systems

On-site servers and network devices left unused in the office may not have had any updates since the lockdown began. Before using them, the IT department should check every device for vulnerabilities, install any patches, update software to the latest versions and update its antivirus so that the newest vulnerabilities can be scanned for and detected.

2. Bringing devices back to the office

Whether employees have been using their own or company devices for remote working, there are obvious risks to reconnecting them to the business network. Just as with the equipment left in the office during the lockdown, vulnerability checks, patching and software and antivirus updates will need to be carried out.

3. Resetting passwords

Password resetting should be a key priority when remote workers bring their devices back to the office. It is possible the device was used by family members during the lockdown, letting children access online lessons, for example, and this may have led to usernames and passwords being shared. At the same time, device and business system login credentials may also have been used when registering with other online services. Updating passwords for devices and applications can quickly solve any potential issues.

4. Transferring locally stored files

It is quite possible that staff may have created new files or downloaded and stored business documents and data on local drives of their devices during the lockdown. On return to the offices, these files should be transferred to more secure locations on the company server where logical control policies keep them protected. Local versions should then be deleted.

5. Delete unauthorised apps

The huge reliance on the internet for entertainment, education, communication and shopping during the lockdown means that some staff using business owned devices for remote working may have installed software not authorised by the company. These applications might have vulnerabilities or data privacy concerns and should be deleted before reconnection.

6. Review spam filters

The increase in phishing attacks aimed specifically at remote workers during the lockdown remains a major threat and IT staff should check that email filters are operating as required to prevent these kinds of emails getting through. The use of email certificates that digitally verify and encrypt company emails should also be considered.

7. Review logical access controls

The urgent need to enable remote working may have led companies to relax some of their access control permissions during lockdown to facilitate a smoother running of operations. While returning to the workplace doesn’t necessarily mean these extended permissions should automatically be reversed, they should be reviewed. – Read more

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