Strategy and Advice

How Important Are Windows Updates?

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We’ve all seen the notifications for when Windows Updates are available, and I’m sure most of us have thought to ourselves “Again?! I only just installed one last week!”.

Have you ever thought to yourself why they pop up at what seems to be the most inopportune moments, and with such importance?

What is a Windows Update?

Windows Update is an inbuilt Microsoft service used for periodic updating of system files, to patch known issues and vulnerabilities with Microsoft products. This includes the Windows OS itself, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Edge, etc.

Each Microsoft Update is assigned an associated Knowledge Base number (KB) which gives further information on the updates. Updates are classified as one of four types:

Critical Updates

  • These fix major issues, found across all Microsoft Products, that cause errors or unexpected functions. Alongside Security Updates, these are the highest priority updates to apply and should be done as soon as possible.

Security Updates

  • Security Updates are applied to address security vulnerabilities which can allow a system to become compromised. Security updates have five different levels of importance; Critical, Important, Moderate, Low or non-rated. Security updates classed as Critical are the most important updates for your system and ignoring these can leave your server or computer vulnerable to hackers and other malicious attacks.
  • Security updates are provided with a Microsoft Security Bulletin number (MS) for further details.

Software Updates

  • Applied to cover non-critical problems, often applying feature updates and addressing minor bugs.

Service Packs

  • Service packs are an amalgamation of all updates up to a certain date, for a specific piece of software or operating system, typically including feature updates.
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How can I ensure that my systems are secure?

All recent Microsoft Operating Systems have in-built automatic updating features, which allows you to schedule and download high-priority updates.

If you are managing multiple desktop computers and even servers, the most efficient and effective way to stay up-to-date is to offload what can be a mammoth task to a Managed Service Provider (MSP). Managed Service Providers employ professionals with years of experience maintaining, reviewing and applying Microsoft patches to a vast range of different environments.

Using monitoring software MSP’s are able to monitor patch statuses remotely and schedule regular patching cycles to ensure that all critical and relevant patches are applied as soon as they are available. If issues are to arise from any patches pushed by Microsoft, your MSP is able to analyse the issue and determine which patches can be causing the issue and disable them, or roll-back where necessary.

By removing the burden of responsibility internally and placing it in the hands of experienced professionals, you can rest easy knowing that your systems are receiving the best in pro-active care.

If you are interested in what Advance can offer in this scope, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

5 Challenges Faced On Small Data Reporting

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Five challenges faced on Small Data reporting

Big data is often touted as imperative to businesses, however in recent years perhaps we have been so blinded by Big Data that we are ignoring its poorer cousin, Small Data?

Big Data simply put looks at trends, information and patterns that can be utilised to forecast as well as give an overview of how your business is tracking. Big data takes high volumes of different sets of data and displays this information in a way that management can make decisions quickly and efficiently. Usually Big Data is generally generated outside of the business to assist the business make decisions moving forward.

Small Data on the other hand allows for the business to extract transactional information from data sources that end users can make use of immediately. Its focus is on providing information to the end user, so they can take action right now. It allows users to be able to determine why things happen, analyse this in real time and then take corrective action. Small Data can be generated as a sub set of Big Data or from other non-traditional data sources. The main thing to remember here is that it helps the end user achieve a result.

Big Data and Small Data each have their place in the business aiming to make inroads into improving decision making ability and resolve problems.

Formulating a plan to extract Small Data that suits each need within the company is paramount. If you ignore Small Data over Big Data then you are robbing yourself of some analytical tools that can help your company develop and improve.

Challenges facing managers looking at developing tools that allow Small Data reporting is:

  • what type of data is required?
  • where will it be obtained?
  • who requires it?
  • what format is it required?
  • how will you extract the data?

The best methodology is to look at the problem you have and work backwards from that point.

As an example let’s look at the problem statement “Average Days Debtors take to pay have increased”. If we look at our challenge we can see that want to interrogate each customer and determine what the payments days are for each invoice payment has been made against (What). We check with accounts and find that this data can be retrieved from their SAP Accounts database (Where). It has been determined that Accounts Staff and Sales Account Managers will use the data (Who), accounts to chase up overdue accounts, and sales to check credit terms prior to selling. The decision then needs to be made as to what format they want to see the data in (What). An example may be a program that can run real time analysis of the accounting data and display that to screen. Selecting the right tool to extract and display this information is paramount to ensuring that the tool gets used (How). There are many good Business Intelligence tools that will allow quick extraction, analysis and display of the results the user requires.

As they say “look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. In other words Small Data can and will affect Big Data if looked after properly.