WWWalker's Disaster Recovery

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Backups | Security | Web-Based Systems | System Upgrades | Virtualization | Communications Infrastructure

Disaster Recovery Plan

Every business requires a disaster recovery plan. We can assist you with setting this up and maintaining it to make sure you have your system restored in good time.

We have survived a number of disasters in our computer systems ranging from disc crashes to monitors failing. You need a backup strategy and several copies scattered all over the place to ensure survival. Redundancy is very important. These days this is called cloud computing where files are stored on the Web and do not require the local PC to be as protected. If the PC crashes, a new PC is bought and the work continued using the system on the Web.

Many sites and small businesses now backup their entire system remotely to enable them to recover from disaster or loss in their main site.

External Disk Drives Not Responding

In January 2017, I bought an HDD all in one docking station on eBay for 2 external hard drives that no longer responded due to interface cards failing. I got drives out of external drive chassises then loaded them one at a time into docking station and read them OK via USB on PC! This saved 7 years of backups being lost!

NAS

In March 2011, we were going to do remote backup using NETGEAR ReadyNAS but by October 2017 we had done nothing and will cease supporting NETGEAR due to PowerShift Partner site going down indefinitely and NETGEAR staff moving to USA and Australian staff changing.

Cloud

Backup and restore of EC2 instances on Amazon Web Services can be done via snapshots.

In February 2017, Cloudflare had massive data breach to all sites using them as DNS servers (domain cloudflare.com). Domain registry needs to have password reset.

In January 2017, we migrated our Website hosting from Linux hosting to Amazon Web Services EC2 Linux instance. This involved backing up site and mail and using Amazon Web Services S3 to migrate to an EC2 instance. We then used third party DNS to delegate the site.

Instead in June 2012, we did backup and restore to Amazon Web Services S3 storage in the Cloud to move a huge mailbox from one hosting site to another. This is a very quick and easy way of moving large amounts of data for small business applications such as hosting, email or backup files. We did this again in November 2012. In June 2013, 12 month free tier ran out and I am now paying a small amount per gigabyte per month till I backup all data to a local drive on my laptop.

In February-March 2012, Symantec Netbackup and EMC MozyPro cloud-based backup services are being offered which we can setup for small business clients to give them extra flexibility and robustness in these tough economic times. A server can be rebuilt on a physical or virtual server from a backup stored in the cloud.

NAS can be used for remote backup akin to Dropbox.

Mobile Backups

Cloud

In January 2012, we also imported contacts from another phone's SIM to a Nokia MeeGo phone.

We used Nokia Account to backup contacts from Nokia MeeGo to Web and then restore them from Web to Nokia MeeGo when phone was flashed. We also imported the contact CSV file into a private Web database.

We will also import contacts from another phone via Bluetooth.

We downloaded lost apps from Nokia Store.

SMS messages were not backed up so were lost when the Nokia 6230 was lost. Backup at Nokia Care did not work on the old Nokia 6230's SMS messages but on everything else - phone numbers, images, audio files, video files.

Migrate Phone Numbers to New Phone

In June 2014, my N950 died so I had to export phone numbers from account.nokia.com as CSV and convert them to VCF with a Windows tool and import them into a Samsung Android phone. Some of the phone numbers were not imported, just the person's name.

Nokia N950 Backup

The Nokia N950 froze up and said 'too frequent boots - reflash device' when I tried to boot the phone when the battery was nearly flat and had inadequate power to boot. I ignored the message and powered up using power switch and the device luckily booted. I then backed up images and audio recordings via developer SDK. I plan on writing an FTP tool that will allow users to backup their phone's images, video, audio, phone numbers and SMS to an FTP site of their choosing via USB, SD Card, wifi or 3G. A Linux single user mode needs to be setup so a Nokia support person or developer can boot and rescue important files before reformatting and reinstalling the system. Too much vital information is stored on a smartphone and proper backups need to be setup or the phone will lose vital data if it crashes with a disaster recovery plan.

On Nokia N950, I did Settings / Sync and Backup / Backup and then FTPed the Backup files to the PC or select 'use as mass storage device' when USB is plugged into phone. Go to Accounts / Nokia / Synchronise to backup contacts to account.nokia.com. To enter changed password, go to Store / Download an item.

In March 2012, the Optus SIM card died so I had to get a replacement and restore contacts to SIM from Optus Backup, Nokia Account and Nokia N950 contacts.

Optus SIM Backup Down 2 months

In March 2012, I replaced my Optus SIM card.

Optus SIM Backup was down for 2 months with no end in sight.

I got Optus to email me the last backup as HTML table which I converted to CSV using app. I later imported it into MySQL for safe keeping.

New Optus SIMs do not have SIM Backup plus I would not rely on it but would use Nokia Account if you have a Nokia phone to backup and restore via the Internet over 3G as it is more reliable.

On 24/5/15, Nokia Account was replaced by Microsoft Account.

Windows Backups

In March 2012, I tried several times to use Windows 7 backup tool to backup a laptop but it was so slow and unclear which files were backed up or whether the backup job had failed and where the image was stored.

In the end I did a quick, successful backup using Macrium Reflect which was clearer to select partitions to backup and easier to restore from an image using a network drive.

In June 2015, Macrium Reflect 5.3 64 bit worked OK in Windows 8.1. I had to deactivate license from previous crashed Windows 7 laptop to use it on Windows 8.1 laptop.

MSP

If hosting or remote service is provided by an MSP, customer then only pays a monthly fee for maintenance, backup and security.

Security

Spam Assassin (Email Filtering)

In January 2016, we configured Spam Assassin and account level filtering to move spam into Trash based on Spam-Score threshold. Before that spam was mixed up in the main email inbox and took hours to delete or remove. It mostly gets it right, otherwise the reader can rescue any misclassified spam and move them back to the inbox.

Facebook Security

In September 2014, I was locked out of my Facebook account and I had to provide ID to get back in when I added as a friend a fake entry for Australian Cane Farmers Association. That fake entry was deleted by Facebook.

In 2012 or so, my login on Facebook was infected by a virus when someone from Orange City Council I was a friend of on Facebook shared a post that made out I was swearing at all in my group when I clicked a link on the post that had reverse meaning to what the link did. I unfriended that person to stop this.

Malware Removal

WannaCrypt Attack

Around 15/5/17, WannaCrypt Ransomware worm attacked 200,000 Windows servers in 150 countries through security exploit and brought them down. Servers had to be patched and rebooted.

In May 2013, a Windows 7 was infected with MIXI.DJ browser plugin when I installed CrossFont (converts Mac fonts to Windows fonts), so I uninstalled it and several games and removed it from add-ons, search engines and default page in Firefox and Internet Explorer.

In April 2012, our Windows 7 laptop was infected by Security Shield malware which blocked all apps including browsers, delete and rename and made the PC run very slow. Safe mode and using a Linux PC were ways to download an antivirus or antimalware to remove it. We tried PC Tools Spyware Doctor with Antivirus, AVG, Windows Defender and finally Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware full scan is very slow, taking 7 hours for 500,000 files. AVG did the same in 2 hours.

Microsoft Security Essentials detected Rogue:Win32/Winwebsec so I let it remove it.

The first video is better but the second video has info about http://live.sysinternals.com/procexp.exe for seeing and killing processes running when task manager is blocked.

Web-Based Systems

reCAPTCHA for protecting Web forms from spammers

In April 2017, I upgraded to Google Recaptcha v.2! It took me 2 or 3 hours to work out syntax! Recaptcha now uses JSON and Javascript as well as PHP.

We removed Sweetcaptcha because it has been infected with ad links.

Installing Google reCAPTCHA on Web site forms to prevent bots trashing the email system is also done by us. Contact us for an example. No more bots get through now.

Data Integration of Financials with Web Portals

In October 2010, we moved our bookkeeping to a private Web portal rather than rely on old PCs and managing upgrading Windows. We do bulk uploads of records to Web and report for tax purposes and business accounts using the Web instead of PC software making us more agile and flexible and not forcing us to come back to Orange to do accounts.

Cloud computing is where the user uses applications loaded from the Internet. The data is stored offsite, perfect for mobile applications or disaster/recover options for small businesses with small IT budgets and pay by the month modes.

Monitoring

In February 2012, we provided Web-based email-to-SMS alerts for ourselves or customers on a 24/7 basis using our own online scripts that monitor emails for specific criteria. Later we will use Nagios when have more resources. We also examine standard logs and deduct the best way of repairing the security breach or restoring the system to a safe restore point from backups.

Mailing List Archive Backups

In February 2012, we are working to recover a 1980s style system Lyris ListManager mailing list after the server was rebooted and only part of the list archive was restored from backups. Later we may migrate it to Mailman. As the original was lost, I found a copy of a personal flat file Eudora mail archive, munged it with Python, Ruby, PHP and flex and am migrating it to another Website. Others converted an HTML archive of earlier years to Word and uploaded it to box.com and Google Docs as redundancy.

System Upgrades

Windows Update not working on Windows 7

In January 2017, I installed new client for Windows Update on Windows 7 and installed over 200 updates. Before that no updates were done as the client was faulty.

Windows Upgrades and Cloud Computing

Office 365

Your email, Microsoft Office, Exchange and Sharepoint can be migrated to Office 365 by us. We are qualified administrators of Office 365. We did this in June 2016 in Caboolture for a Windows 10 laptop customer and migrated their email and address book from Outlook .pst file.

PC Support

As Windows XP support expired on 8 Apr 2014, we are able to migrate Windows XP, 7 or 8.1 to a Windows 10 or into the Cloud. No more virus updates or patches will be available after that date so the system is vulnerable. This will require wizards and backups to be run and software and data migration from old applications to those that will run on Windows 8.1.

In July 2015, we upgraded to Windows 10 including installing drivers for biometrics and Web camera from earlier versions of Windows.

In April and August 2012, we upgraded Windows XP systems to Windows 7 including a backup. In January 2014, we upgraded a laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

Microsoft Money is obsolete and only runs on Windows XP. Data from financial information needs to be exported and imported into software that is supported either on the desktop or into Cloud software like we did.

Other common jobs are rebuilding PCs with Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10, Linux or FreeBSD.

Examples:

Virtualization

To save hardware, we can create virtual machines to run your applications. This allows us to run Linux and Windows on top of each other. We did this on limited hardware in Brisbane to enable us to test software running on FreeBSD, SuSE Linux and Fedora Linux all on a Windows XP Pro PC without having to install them on separate partitions. This is heaven for a sysop with a limited budget.

This flexibility improves agility and produces quick disaster recovery. This is what they had to do after September 11, 2001 in USA - move their staff to another location and rebuild servers from backups to survive using minimal hardware and working over the Internet from remote locations. Many sites or small businesses worldwide now backup to a remote server for a monthly fee per Gigabyte. This is now called cloud computing.

Using virtualization, snapshots of various operating systems like Unix, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS X and Windows can be saved and then reloaded on a totally different operating system allowing for very quick response should the hardware fail or a system be overrun with viruses or spambots due to lax security.

This can also be done via Docker.

Testing

This is ideal for setting up various work or test machines without having to purchase many pieces of hardware to run them on.

If the customer provides us with a support ticket with configuration information in it to reproduce a bug, we can login to our own virtual server and reproduce the errors without having to go near their server and deploy a fix for the problem from our inhouse resources.

If the customer does not have enough modern PCs to run test machines, we can install VMWare and load a virtual operating system image to test systems at low cost and high efficiency and enable us to get on with the job despite a lack of dedicated hardware on the customer's premises. We have done this onsite in Brisbane when we were doing technical support for a small company and just could not get a spare PC to test systems on to achieve our objectives. VMWare virtual images are a great way to get around these hardware limitations often foisted upon us to save money by the customer.

As usual it is easier to spend our own time and money doing virtualization than waiting for ages for the customer to spend money then ending up doing it for them for free just to get a job done on time and make money. This seems to be how small businesses avoid paying any money - they put financial pressure on suppliers and in the end they donate equipment or time to get a job going rather than have it fold due to the customer avoiding investing in equipment and training. The tradeoff is we own the technology and bring our own tools to the job to avoid delays so the customer owns nothing and just gets a service.

As of March 2012, Symantec Backup Exec 2012 now supports VMWare and Hyper-V so only one backup for multiple Windows or Linux Virtual Machines on a host is required.

Tools

VMWare is mostly about setting up virtual machines in data centres. We do not use it much inhouse except for setting up a test machine. They are into 1000s of seats (licenses) per customer (enterprises) not little guys like me who have may be 1 or 2 licenses. They are a greedy big company. I do not recommend VMWare for small businesses only medium to large enterprises. Apart from their free VMWare player, everything else they sell is over $10,000 USD per licence.

VMWare has several open source divisions: Springsource (Cloud Java beans platform), RabbitMQ (messaging) and Zimbra (groupware) which is of value to me as an opensource developer. I went to a course in Brisbane in 2011 with Queensland JVM on Springsource and RabbitMQ.

We recommend opensource virtualization products like Xen Project.

VDI is Virtual Desktop Infrastructure so the user can run their desktop on a virtual server not their own PC. Microsoft, VMWare and Citrix support this.

Around 2014, we looked at Docker containers to run instances of operating systems.

Communications Infrastructure Disaster

In November 2012, Southern Grampians Shire Council was cut off for 2 weeks when Telstra Warrnambool Exchange burnt down. This is a lesson on having backup plans that are tested.

Due to excess data on Optus and Vodafone mobile networks being very dear at $10/GB, in November 2015, I setup TPG broadband at my home office to combat this excess data charges.

NBN cuts copper about 6 months after it comes to an area. Caboolture will be cut off in September 2016 so all people must switch to NBN or mobile for communications.

Contact Us

Get in touch if you need help rebuilding, upgrading, recovering, backing up, virtualization of your system or protecting of Web forms from bots. We have experience with Windows and Linux both local and remote backup to disk, flash drive or tape and to the Web.

We have experience with gigabytes of backups.


Created: 28 June 2007 23:10
Last Updated: 6 Aug 2017 9:59

WWWalker Web Development Pty Ltd

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