H Street Business Solutions
Contact Us
Foggy Bottom Houses

July 2013

Dear Reader

Please send feedback. Anything you'd like to know more about? Questions?

Special Offers

Free flying disc (while quantities last).
Please call to arrange pickup or delivery.

What is Image Backup?

Most people are familiar with data backup of the sort where documents, pictures, music, and such are copied onto an external hard drive, a DVD, or out into the “cloud”. The importance of this kind of backup can’t be overemphasized; because, for the most part, this is data that can not be reconstituted easily. That novel that you’ve been writing is unique (one would hope); and if it’s lost, you’ll need to start over again at page 1. However, much of what’s on your computer can be reconstituted; but it may be difficult, time-consuming, and aggravating. These consist of items such as:
  • the installed operating system (e.g. Windows 7) along with all the updates and patches
  • the installed drivers (which allow your computer to communicate with printers, flash drives, etc.)
  • installed applications (Microsoft Word, antivirus software, iTunes, Chrome web browser, etc.)
  • system settings (desktop wallpaper, screen resolution, icon placement on desktop, etc.)
  • email connection information (username, password, POP settings, etc.)
A data backup alone won’t save these things. If you try it, it won’t restore properly afterward. An “image backup”, also called “disk cloning”, stores the information from your computer in a much different way. With an image backup, every byte of information on the hard drive (or drive partition) is recorded, in order, from beginning to end. Because every bit of information is stored, it is feasible to install a new hard drive, copy the saved image, and resume as if nothing happened. The system will perform with Windows, applications, email, and desktop all intact.
If that’s the case then, why not always use image backup? Here are some of the downsides:
  • you need to copy the entire drive; you can’t filter files or folders
  • for the reason above, the backup may take a long time
  • you can’t image an actively running system; you must boot from a CD, DVD, or flash drive to copy or restore
  • all file system problems (e.g. file fragmentation) are preserved & return upon restore
  • similarly, any viruses, adware, inefficiencies, OS corruption (e.g. Internet Explorer broken) are also preserved and will come back to haunt you again upon restore
  • the image backup will not work if restoring onto a new computer; it must be restored onto the same computer than that original image came from
Two of the most common computer problems seen today are operating system corruption (including viruses and malware) and hard drive failure. A good, recent backup image can go a long way to making the recovery process relatively painless.

Why Use a Tech Company?

How many large companies today have an IT department and/or staff? Most, if not all of them, do. If the IT competency is not in-house, then they’re outsourced. Why is this? Is it a conspiracy aimed at job security for IT people?  The answer, of course, is that having an IT competency that the company can rely on either (1) makes the company more productive, (2) saves the company money, or both. Otherwise, large companies just wouldn’t do it.
Many small businesses; though, don’t realize that the same benefits that accrue to large businesses by having an IT department also apply to smaller businesses. Rather than employ a 30-person IT staff, a small business might outsource their tech competency to a small tech company for a correspondingly smaller cost investment. But the benefits can be the same, if not greater.
Here are some of the benefits:
(1) Allows focus on core business
Unless your company is in the tech support business, time and attention spent on technology issues distract you from what’s most important: (1) serving your clients and (2) attracting new clients. This is presumably why you’re in business and these are the activities that will promote the prosperity and growth of your business. Troubleshooting your computer will not.
(2) Predictable cost structure
Being able to reliably budget and plan how time and money are spent is indispensable in a well-organized, well-run business. Lack of adequate attention to tech matters can result in huge and unexpected cost and time outlays down the road. Many businesses simply can’t operate without the technology that they rely on every day. A small upfront investment is easily justified if it insures proper and smooth functioning for the foreseeable future.
(3) Expertise and experience
A good tech company will bring the skills and wisdom that ensure that your technology is empowering your businesses - not sabotaging it. IT professionals are expected to keep up with technology and know what works best in practice. This is what they do all day. The breadth of experience from working with many different companies enables them to help each of them that much better.
(4) Morale and peace-of-mind
How does it look when you tell a client that you can’t help them right now because your computer is down? Underpowered, unmaintained, slow, and broken computers make your company look bad in front of clients, employees, investors, and in your own mind. By contrast, having well-tuned, well-maintained tools has an invigorating effect on people and promotes good feelings, creativity, and success.  Some of my clients have expressed that it’s good just to have somebody to call that they can trust if something goes wrong.
Not working with a tech company currently? Why not give it a try?

Your Local IT Solution for home and office. Serving Silver Spring, Rockville, Bethesda, Montgomery and parts of DC and Prince George's County