Cloud Vendor Buyer's Guide: 4 Ways to Make the Choice a Breeze

A dedicated IT team can help a small business scale and grow quickly, but it's not a luxury all SMBs can afford. But the ever-present threat of a computer crash or other data disasters mean that businesses can't afford not to invest in some kind of IT solution. For many, this means outsourcing at least a portion of IT infrastructure to cloud and other third-party vendors. 

Selecting a reliable cloud provider can be complicated, even for the most tech-savvy buyer. For starters, keep it simple. “Complexity in any mechanism — not just in IT — means too many components working together with a lot of potential tension or incompatibility,” says Sam Roguine, engineering director at Acronis. Here are four basic guidelines to keep in mind when choosing a cloud solution:  

The End of Windows XP and Putting People Before Technology: Weekly Roundup

Windows XP's fate is sealed. On April 8, Microsoft will discontinue support and updates to the more than decade-old operating system. The deadline is no secret, but that doesn't mean businesses are ready for life beyond XP. More than 95 percent of ATMs in the U.S., for example, still run on the soon-to-expire OS, highlighting the data protection and security hurdles businesses must deal with. Here's a look at what the experts around the web have to say about XP's final days and other data-related IT challenges: 

IT Pros: To Protect Against 'Bit Rot,' Ask Cloud Vendors the Right Questions

Decay is a fact of life that applies to digital bits and bytes, as well as those leftovers in the shared company kitchen. When it comes to data, that decay, or "bit rot," can threaten the piles of business-critical information that IT departments increasingly trust cloud vendors to manage, store and protect. How can IT pros determine whether their cloud vendors will adequately protect data? It starts by asking the right questions.

VMware’s acquisition this week of AirWatch is the latest example of the fuzzy distinction between mobility and the cloud. And that's not the half of it. It's harder than ever to determine where personal data ends and work data begins — or what boundary will fall next.  

Here's a look at this week's stories on on the blurred lines between mobility and the cloud, what IT buyers expect from cloud investments, how to craft that perfect BYOD policy and more: 

1. What the VMware’s / AirWatch Acquisition Means for Mobility 

7 Predictions for Virtualization in 2014

In 2010, IDC forecasted that by 2014, 70 percent of all servers would become virtual

3 Simple Tips to Prepare for a New Year of Data

It’s time for a new year and a fresh start. In 2014, why not resolve to take better care of your data? As you begin to use any new devices you may have received for the holidays and continue to depend on your old ones, how you store and protect your data is important. Follow these three tips and tricks from Acronis to extend your devices’ lifecycles and get the most out of your technology.

1. Back It Up

A 9-Step New Year’s Data Detox

This time of year, everyone’s starting to think about how to shed the extra baggage incurred by drinking too much eggnog and eating too much pie. But there’s another area prone to bloat that we should all be thinking about targeting: our devices.

While a juice cleanse might leave you glowing, and a personal trainer might help you finally get those six-pack abs, a data detox could help you start the new year organized, secure and at peace with your files. Here’s how to do a 9-step data detox:

1. Put Folders to Good Use

4 Steps Back Up Your Holiday Memories (Before It’s Too Late)

The holiday season is upon us once again! It’s a time for family and friends to gather, exchange presents and laughs and make lasting memories. But it’s easy to forget, as you’re snapping photos and making videos, that all of those precious moments could disappear in a flash. Slipping on ice and dropping your phone onto the pavement, sipping hot cocoa on your laptop, or accidentally placing your digital camera into a bowl of eggnog could lead to disastrous results. But never fear! To help you keep all of those cherished memories safe for years to come, here are a few tips from Acronis:

The Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Data Safe

Every year we create more data than the year before. If you can believe it, 90 percent of the data in the world today was created in the last two years alone. IBM has estimated that our current daily creation rate is 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. IDC projects that the digital universe will reach 40 zettabytes (ZB) by 2020, which is 50 times larger than the digital universe at the beginning of 2010.

4 Steps to Secure the Devices Your Employees Get for Christmas

During the holidays, many people receive tech gifts like laptops, tablets and smartphones. And many of them will want to bring these devices along with them to work in the new year.

BYOD has been a huge trend for 2013, and we expect it to increase in 2014 and beyond. It makes sense from a lot of perspectives. For one, letting employees bring their own devices cuts the cost of purchasing new hardware. It also means that employees are generally familiar and happy with the tech that they’re using. They wind up being more productive and more satisfied with their jobs in general.