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Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: OneDrive

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Office products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

OneDrive is the Office cloud service that connects you to all your files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others and access them at any time of the day from any location and from any device. You can share photos, Office documents, other files and entire folders.

One of the biggest benefits to your business is OneDrive’s file sharing and collaboration. This can transform how you work in your business, particularly now that most of us are working remotely and from home. You will no longer have to email large attachments or try to keep track of multiple versions, you can simply save your file to OneDrive, share the file with the relevant people and you will always have the most up-to-date version. This will eliminate any worries of not working on the latest version. There is also an option to view the version history and restore older versions of files if needed at any point.

There is also real-time co-authoring on documents saved on OneDrive, meaning you can work on files at the same time with colleagues and external people. You will be able to see their changes and they will be able to see yours, as you make them. This will increase productivity and will really help to speed up the length of time it takes to get work completed.

If you are worried about keeping your information secure, the files and folders you store in OneDrive are private until you decide to share them. OneDrive files and folders can be shared with colleagues in your business as well as externally, but again, this is completely within your control as you can see who a OneDrive file is shared with and stop sharing any time. You can also restrict the level of access.

OneDrive can also be used to connect you to your files in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams, which we will also cover as part of this series.

If you are not using OneDrive yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business. It can transform the way you work with your team and external people. If you feel overwhelmed by all the different features of OneDrive and are confused about how to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you. We will talk you through every aspect of OneDrive, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running and using OneDrive in no time!

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!

Skype for Business (End of Life) – 31 July 2021

Mark the 31 July 2021 in your calendar, a year today is the date that Microsoft announced Skype for Business Online will be retired.  From the 1 September 2019, all new Office 365 customers have been onboarded directly to Microsoft Teams as the default for chats, meetings and calls.

Microsoft Teams has been available now for a number of years and has been gaining favour with users by offering much more functionality than before.  During this recent period of lockdown, Microsoft Teams has really come to the fore with many people relying on it for daily communication and collaboration with their teams and customers.  This is likely to continue with many people continuing to work from home for the foreseeable future and wanting to stay connected with colleagues and customers on a regular basis.

Here are a few pointers on how the functionality of Teams will be of more benefit to you and your business than Skype for Business:

  1. In Teams, the chat log is “persistent” and will be retained for as long as you need it. In addition to the chat itself, all images, files, and links that are sent are kept within the app which makes referencing that data much easier to find in one place.  In Skype for Business, at the end of the day, when the chat is closed, the conversation is no longer available within the app and all archives are kept in Outlook or Exchange.
  2. Team messaging is currently available within both Teams and Skype and both allow multiple contacts to join a group chat. Teams has expanded this functionality and you can now create different “teams and channels” where you can organise chats and shared files by department, project etc.  This provides a very useful searchable archive of all relevant information that users might need to access at some point in the future.
  3. One of the key functions of both applications is the ability to host video conferences. The primary features of Skype for Business Online are all included in Teams, such as call recording, screen sharing, and file uploading.  Teams have added some useful options:
    • Background blur and virtual backgrounds for video
    • Live captions
    • Full meeting recording
    • Live events with access available to users outside of Teams

One of the biggest benefits of Teams, which is key and has proven to be transformational for businesses, is the integration of 3rd party apps and custom power app flexibility. With this functionality, all your daily work functions can be consolidated into one place and be completely streamlined within Teams.

Also, within Teams you can edit documents such as Word or Excel files without having to open those applications separately.  This allows you to collaborate on documents together in real time in the cloud, rather than emailing documents back and forth and saving local copies on machines.  This makes sharing of information and data simple and easy.  All files that are worked on will be added to a collaborative SharePoint site which will allow all the benefits of SharePoint to be deployed in one location.  If you are still wondering about the benefits of moving your business to the cloud, read our blog post here about how the cloud can help your business.

And finally, on Teams, you can give users temporary guest access even if they don’t have Teams and you can also add users who use Teams in external organisations.

Ultimately, Teams includes all the functionality that Skype for Business offers and so much more.  Don’t wait until the 31 July 2021 and be forced into a situation of having to use Teams with no experience of it or any idea how to use it.  If you have been using Skype for Business for a long period of time, it can all seem a bit overwhelming making sure Microsoft Teams is set up correctly and knowing how to use it.  Ilkley IT know all the tips and tricks to help you to set up Teams so that you can use it effectively.  They will take you through each step to ensure that everything is configured correctly so that you use Teams to its full potential.

There is still time to get fully up and running on Teams, but don’t leave it until the last minute, if you are still unsure about switching (before you are forced to!) and want further information on how Teams can be used effectively by each department in your business, read our blog post about it here.

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat about how we can help you get fully set up and operational using Microsoft Teams and in plenty of time before the Skype for Business retirement date!

Why the Cloud is not a backup

There is a misconception that storing data in the cloud means it is backed up.  Unfortunately, people delete data, mostly accidentally, sometimes intentionally.  There are also threats from hackers and malware.  This means that even in the cloud, data can be lost.  Without a cloud backup solution for Office 365, you are missing a critical component of data protection that ensures your data can’t be lost.   

The statistics show that 1 in 3 businesses report losing data stored in cloud-based applications. In addition, out of all MSP reported SaaS ransomware attacks, 49% occurred in Office 365, up 17% from last year. Not only can the loss of the data itself be devastating to a company, but the time lost in attempting a recovery can be equally damaging. 

 

What does SaaS Protection Recover?

OneDrive:  

All files (including One Note) and folders with file structure intact. 

Contacts:  

All contact information (excludes photos). 

Calendar:  

Events (including recurrence, attendees, notes), attachments and any calendars owned by users. 

Mail:  

All emails, attachments, notes and folder structure. 

SharePoint: 

Primary, custom, group and team site collections 

Custom generic site lists  

Folder structure 

Document libraries and sets 

Site assets, templates, and pages 

 

Fast & Effortless Restore

One-click restore means companies easily avoid business downtime. Quickly identify and recover individual items or entire folders without overwriting existing files. 

We recommend using a 3rd party SaaS protection as a backup system to protect your data, reducing the risk of data loss and being vulnerable to hackers.  SaaS protection gives you the peace of mind that data loss can be recovered to the time of the last backup.    

Ilkley IT offer full cloud backup for Office 365 and can manage the entire process for you. Our support packages also offer unlimited restores so you know you will be back up and running quickly.  Download this useful article which provides more information.  Get in touch with us today to talk about cloud-to-cloud backup and how we can help with this. 

 

It is time to swap your physical server for cloud services?

Have you been using your servers for many years and finding that they are now getting old?  Are your systems and applications running slower because your servers have reached their limit?  Are you facing rising costs for the maintenance of your hardware?  It might be time for you to seriously consider swapping your physical servers for cloud services.  All elements of your server infrastructure can be moved to the cloud. The thought of this might fill you with anxiety and seem like an impossible mountain to climb but Ilkley IT can help you and make it a smooth process.

Migrate Files

Migrating your files from your server to the cloud is a straightforward process however the timeline for this needs to be considered.  A realistic timeline needs to be worked out and this can depend on several factors such as the number of files and folders, total amount of data being moved and the complexity of file and sharing permissions.  Ilkley IT will work with you to determine the best plan for this and recommend carrying out the migration during quieter times, such as the weekend to avoid work disruption.

Move to Cloud Software

More and more software companies have cloud-based software products, such as CRM and Accounting packages.  Some companies only have cloud-based software and are moving away from on-premise versions completely.  Cloud-based products can be accessed at any time from any location, whether you are working remotely or from the office.  Accessing tools in the cloud is very secure and provides a huge amount of flexibility.  It makes any product updates much quicker and easier as there is no need to manually install the updates on every single local machine.

Migrate users to Azure Active Directory (AD)

If you are worried that you will lose your log-in details for all the systems and programs you use, there is no need to.  The process to migrate cloud logins for all users can be done seamlessly. Using cloud logins also opens the door for single sign on for 3rd party web applications.

Cloud Printing 

It makes sense if you are moving your server infrastructure to the cloud to also move your on-premise print infrastructure.  Cloud printing is the technology that enables printers to be accessed over the network via the cloud, in simple terms, it is a service that connects your printers to the web.  You can print from anywhere using any internet connected device.

Transitioning Legacy Software to your Cloud Server

Once you have made the decision to migrate your business to the cloud, the second step is to decide which software programmes to take with you.  You might think, well all of them, but it is the perfect opportunity to evaluate the tools you are using and whether these are serving their purpose within your business or not.  Some legacy software might not be compatible with being used as a cloud product, depending on its age but others can be successfully migrated.  It is worth considering if there is a cloud solution offering the same functionality that can replace the legacy software.

The team at Ilkley IT have the expertise to help you to migrate your business to the cloud, so if this is something you are considering, contact us today to find out how we can work with you to do this with minimal disruption to you and your business.

How the Cloud can help your business

We have now been in lock-down for over 8 weeks and have had to adjust to working from home and working remotely.  Now, as we wait to find out how we are going to navigate returning to work and the likelihood of observing social distancing and a “new normal”, it might be a good time look at how the cloud can really help you with your business.

The word “cloud” is a word that is used all the time which can sometimes cause a lot of anxiety for business owners.  The cloud is a shortening for “cloud computing” which are servers, storage, databases etc which are on the internet making data accessible anytime, anywhere, from any connected device.  The cloud has many benefits, making it easier to work from anywhere rather than remoting into your local machine.  Let’s consider these:

Remote Access and Mobile working:

Cloud computing allows anyone to connect seamlessly at any time of the day from any location from any device.  This makes it easy and flexible for all your team to work at any place and time, being able to access the data whether they are in the office or working remotely.

Information sharing and collaboration:

Wherever your team is located, they will be able to collaborate on documents together in real time, rather than emailing documents back and forth and saving local copies on their machines.  This makes sharing of information and data simple and easy.

File Storage:

You probably store many files within your business, some of them large video or picture files.  These files can take up a significant amount of space on your hard drive which could cause problems with having enough space and is costly to keep upgrading the disc space.  The cloud allows you store these large files but still have access to them on a day-to-day basis.

Flexibility and Growth Planning:

The cloud can grow as your business needs grows giving you flexibility to be agile enough to adjust accordingly.  When software updates are required, these are usually done automatically which is much quicker and easier and saves time as there is no need to manually install the updates on every single local machine.

Data Security:

This is one of the most crucial things you can do in your business. The cloud is secure in many ways constantly backing up your data as you work. The cloud also gives more storage capacity and is more secure than keeping it on your own computer as there is less chance of losing information.   If a computer is stolen, for example, everything stored on it is stolen too. When those files are also stored on the cloud, downloading them to a new computer is simple.  There is a misconception that storing data in the cloud means it is backed up.  Unfortunately, people delete data, mostly accidentally, sometimes intentionally.  There are also threats from hackers and malware This means that even in the cloud, data can be lost.     We recommend using a 3rd party SaaS protection as a backup system.  We can manage the entire process for you and support you through the set up and with any issues after that.

Security:

Cloud storage is safe as the data is encrypted but Two Factor Authentication (2FA) provides an extra level of protection in the cloud.  If a hacker tries to sign into any of your accounts, it will be flagged up to you that there is a sign in from an unrecognised device and they won’t be able to go any further as they won’t be able to provide the second form of authentication.

Cloud-based computing is the future for small and medium sized businesses, Gartner forecasts that up to 60% of business owners will be relying on the cloud for hosting data by 2022, roughly doubling the numbers since 2018.  Considering the COVID-19 situation, this number is bound to be higher now.  On-prem servers can be very costly and time consuming with having to run software updates and manage email and file servers.  There are many cloud-based tools and applications that you can use within your business which can help you to consolidate separate applications into one multi-application and save a lot of time – the tools are out there and they work.

Our team at Ilkley IT can talk you through all the options available to you for your business.  We will take the time to understand your needs and make the best-fit recommendations to benefit your business to enable you to work from anywhere at any time.