Author: Jay Williams

Not backing up your data? Here’s why you should start

Not backing up your data? Here’s why you should start

When you work in the world of data recovery, you learn one thing very quickly: people consistently underestimate how valuable their data is on both a financial and sentimental level.

Apple Macbook with 'Backup' displayed on the screen

Owing, no doubt, to the fact that storage media is extremely reliable, both commercial and personal users forget that, whilst their technology is expensive, its value pales in comparison to that of the data held on it. This all changes when it fails and they’re no longer able to access that vital spreadsheet of leads or their portfolio of previous work – when this happens, they’re desperate to get it back and will pay substantial fees to do so; substantial fees that could have been avoided if they’d taken a few minutes to back up their data.

Backing up is easy

Many people forego the process of backing up their data because of their busy lives and the fact that, in order to keep the costs of a backup drive as low as possible, they’ll need to go through their files and determine what they want to keep. This, people claim, is too time-consuming and that their free time is too precious to waste on such a task when the likelihood of failure is so slim. Both arguments are deeply flawed.

All storage media will fail at some point and we all know which files we access on a regular basis. As far as the process of reviewing your data being too time-consuming goes, we all know which files we access on a regular basis so, if you’re short on time you can simply back these up and review all of your files when you have some time on your hands. Then, should your primary storage fail, you’ll at least have a copy of your most beloved files to hand.

Choosing the right device

Graphic depicting different personal devices and storage media

When selecting what storage media to use for your backups there are two things you need to consider: capacity and cost.

Any device that you choose will need to be capable of storing the files that you want to copy and also have a reasonably large surplus of remaining space to store any additional files that you may create in the future. In order to determine what you’ll need, you should move all of the files you want to backup into a single folder. Once this has been done, you’ll be able to check its size and determine what capacity drive you’ll require for your backups. Once you know this, you’ll be able to determine if something like an inexpensive flash drive will meet your needs or if you should spend that bit more on something like an external HDD.

Alternatively, the Cloud – a series of servers and data centres located around the world – will provide you with several GBs of storage for free – all you have to do is create an account. If you ever need more storage, you can purchase additional space (for a nominal monthly fee) at any time. As any files you store in the cloud will effectively be stored online, you’ll be able to access them from anywhere provided you have access to the internet.

One piece of advice I’d offer is to avoid higher-speed drives such as SSDs. They’re considerably more expensive and, as there is little benefit to having a backup drive with impressive read/write speeds, you’d simply be wasting your money.

A cautionary tale

We know that you’re probably thinking that data loss is so unlikely that backing up your data isn’t worth the time or effort, but I can assure that data loss can and does happen. What’s more, I’ve seen first-hand just how harmful it can be financially and emotionally.

From people who’ve lost photos and videos of their most precious memories such as their honeymoon or their child’s first steps, to businesses owners whose bottom lines suffered irreparable damage, I’ve seen data loss cause immense damage – damage that could so easily have been avoided.

The morale of this story is simple: it may be unlikely, but data loss is so destructive that backups must be conducted.

 

Author bio:

Jay Williams work for the hard drive recovery experts Fields Data Recovery and lives in Cardiff, Wales with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

How to Identify a Hard Drive Head Crash and What to Do Next

How to Identify a Hard Drive Head Crash and What to Do Next

Irrespective of the sector within which they operate, their annual turnover, the number of people they employ or anything else, all savvy business owners know that their data is vital to their success. So much so, that many even argue that it is data, not oil, that now drives the world’s most vibrant and vital economies.

This means that businesses of all shapes and sizes must have a backup plan in place, part of which will be ensuring that employees are able to identify one specific type of hard drive failure known as a head crash – even if your backup procedures are largely automated. If you don’t, your procedure simply cannot be considered to be comprehensive.

Why your employees need to be involved

Two business professionals analysing data
Valuable insights can be gained from all types of data

In my experience, no backup process, however advanced it may be, can completely eliminate the need for human involvement and, as head crashes can render data unrecoverable in mere seconds, the need to identify them as quickly as possible is vital.

Finally, in the era of big data, the most valuable information is often found in the most unexpected files and all of the data your organisation creates should be treated with the utmost respect as a result.

What is a head crash?

Close-up view of the opened hard disk drive(toned in blue mode)
Inside a typical hard drive

All hard drives use a read/write head to write data to and retrieve it from another vital component referred to as a platter. Platters are a series of discs coated with a magnetic material onto which data is written. The head is located at the end of a spindle and rests just millimetres above a drive’s platters. A head crash occurs when the head comes into direct contact with the platter, effectively removing the magnetic coating and the data stored within it. This is capable of erasing the entirety of a drive’s contents in very little time and, as a result, it is imperative that head crashes are identified rapidly.

What are the causes of a head crash?

Often, a head crash is simply caused by mechanical failure. A hard drive’s components have a finite lifespan and, when they fail, a head crash is one possible outcome.

The next most common cause is physical trauma caused by, for example, a user dropping a device.

What are the signs of a head crash?

Typically, the most obvious signs of a head crash are a computer that won’t boot up and, crucially, a scraping, clicking or grinding noise.

If the computer is emitting a clicking noise, the read/write head is frequently attempting to retrieve data but, as it can’t, is frequently resetting and returning to its original position. A scraping or grinding noise is caused by the head coming into direct contact with the platter.

In either instance, swift action is required.

What you should do

As we’ve stated previously, a head crash can render data completely irretrievable in very little time. So, tell all employees that, if they spot any of the signs we’ve discussed above, the device in question should be powered down rapidly and the company’s IT department or, alternatively, most appropriate decision maker, informed post haste.

Additionally, if a device has been dropped, it’s highly advisable that someone looks at it before anyone attempts to power it up and access the data held on it.

Conclusion

Without a backup process and disaster recovery plan, your business could find itself unable to operate. If you’re lucky, you’ll only be inactive for a few days, but it could be longer and, most worryingly of all, it could prevent you from trading altogether.

So, put an effective plan in place and ensure that your employees are informed of how to spot head crashes and know the procedure they need to follow when one is potentially identified.

Author Bio

Jay Williams work for Fields Data Recovery, an IT services provider specialising in data recovery in the UK.

Examples of successful data-driven digital marketing campaign types

Examples of successful data-driven digital marketing campaign types

What if I told you that there was a way to ensure that your adverts were seen by people who were certain to be interested in your services or that there was a specialist publication read by every member of the demographic you target? I think it’s safe to say you’d want to be leveraging such resources. The good news is, this isn’t some pipe dream, thanks to the internet and the data industry it’s entirely possible.

Yes, by utilising these three data-driven marketing techniques, you can significantly increase your visibility and reach more of the people and businesses looking for the goods and services you’re offering:

Paid Search Marketing

Pay per click banner with icons and text.
Pay per click banner with icons and text.

When you need a service or want to buy a product, we bet that a search engine like Google or Bing is your first port of call – and rightfully so. These fantastic tools can be used to find literally thousands of businesses in little more than a few minutes, after all. By using pay-per-click advertising, you can ensure that your website appears at the top of the results when users enter the kind of search term that indicates they’re looking for a business like yours.

Now, search engine optimisation yields similar results, of course, and we’d strongly recommend you utilise this too. The key difference here is that SEO – when done properly – takes time, whereas a pay-per-click campaign can be setup in just a few hours. It will need to be monitored and optimised regularly but, if you run a well-thought-out SEO strategy alongside it, you’ll go a long way towards leveraging the tremendous power of search engine marketing.

Social Media Advertising

Social media concept jigsaw piece reading marketing, networking, community, internet etc
Social media concept jigsaw piece reading marketing, networking, community, internet etc

People that use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram provide these sites with huge amounts of data which they, in turn, allow businesses to use in order to create highly-targeted advertising campaigns.

What’s particularly impressive is the way these sites allow advertisers to not only target users via standard demographics such as age, gender etc. but also more diverse options such as their level of education, job title or even profiles compiled by credit providers. Historically, such groups could be targeted by advertising on niche websites or in magazines that catered to their interests, but social media advertising is infinitely more precise and a lot more affordable.

Most impressive of all, though, is the way the algorithms utilised by these platforms are able to analyse how people use and interact with them in order to determine their likes and interests and advertisers are able to use this information in order to target users and create incredibly powerful campaigns.

Recycling Traffic

Set of black and green recycle symbols isolated on a white background.
Set of black and green recycle symbols isolated on a white background.

The principal of recycling your website traffic is straightforward but it’s also incredibly effective: you use pixels and cookies to display adverts to users who have visited your website but didn’t take any meaningful action. Depending on how they interacted with your website, you can also tailor your adverts in order to increase the likelihood of a conversion.

If, for example, a user placed items in their basket then left your site before completing their purchase, you can serve them an advert offering them a discount code. If they exited your site whilst looking at a certain product, you can show them an advert highlighting similar items you have to offer. Basically, a well-designed and robust remarketing campaign can effectively transform lost traffic into revenue.

Author bio:

Jay Williams works for Fields Data Recovery, one of the leading providers of data recovery services in the UK.

Five ways you can use data to improve your marketing

Five ways you can use data to improve your marketing

Effective marketing is an essential part of any successful businesses and effective marketing is, when stripped down to its most vital features, a combination of creativity and scrutiny; of combining great ideas with analytical dexterity and interpreting data in order to optimise your efforts and maximise profitability. Here are five ways you can use data to do just that:

Improve sale funnels

Sales Funnel Concept

A sales funnel is essentially the path customers take before they purchase goods or services from a company’s website and can be broken down into four distinct stages: awareness, interest, decision and action.

Essentially, what this means is that a potential customer firstly looks for a product/solution to a problem etc. and become aware of your company. They then conduct research into what you and your competitors offer, become more interested in what you’re offering and take action by purchasing from you or a competitor.

The key to improving this process is determining when potential customers deviate from it and making appropriate changes. You may find, for example, that certain search terms result in a large number of potential customers clicking on your Google ads only to then leave without taking action suggesting that the ad should direct users to a different landing page or that the current page’s content needs to be amended. If a large number of users add items to their basket only to then leave on your checkout page, there may be a fault with it such as something that affects usability on certain devices.

By drilling down into each step of this process, you can significantly improve your advertising efforts and your website’s performance.

Targeted adverts

Three arrows on target

Does your sales data indicate that a certain demographic (say females between the ages of 25 and 34) really love your products? If this is indeed the case, you can use various advertising platforms to place adverts in front of this exact audience to improve awareness.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram afford you platforms through which you can show your adverts to a specific section of an audience only. The interface these platforms provide are also easy-to-use and require no prior experience or specific expertise meaning they can easily be used by your existing marketing team.

We’d strongly recommend you try targeted adverts, just remember to start with a relatively low budget and to continuously review their performance before scaling things up if you’re successful.

Eliminate poor channels

Bar graph showing a downward trendSadly, some platforms will not deliver results. The reasons for this are many and, ultimately, so varied that considering why they don’t drive valuable traffic to your website should nigh-on always be a low priority. What must be treated as a priority, however, is the need to identify and refrain from advertising on these channels.

It’s worth remembering that you should give new platforms a little time to ‘settle’ (it’s why I’d always recommend assigning a very low budget when trying new channels) and to look for any metrics that suggest promise but, ultimately, you need to be ruthless with any that aren’t profitable.

Improve your adverts

Businessman staking lego blocks

Take a look at how your adverts are performing and, provided you’ve done the sensible thing and differentiated your messages, you’ll certainly find that some result in more traffic, sales etc. than others.

Naturally, the logical thing to do is to try and improve this message or to utilise something similar to create new adverts. You’ll then need to review how they perform and pause all that aren’t driving traffic and sales.

Setup a remarketing campaign

'Try, fail, try again, success' on a blackboard in chalk

Remarketing campaigns are display campaigns that target users that visited your website without taking meaningful action and your adverts can be tailored to each user in accordance with how they used your website.

By using pixels across your site, you can show bespoke adverts to users who, for example, leave on certain product pages. This provide you with an opportunity to convert their interest into a sale, whether by offering a discount, reiterating the product’s benefits or anything else. Again, you’ll need to monitor the results your various creatives generate frequently and will also need to check your various pixels regularly to ensure there’s no crossover in your audiences, but remarketing campaigns are a great way of turning what would otherwise have been lost opportunities into sales.

Author Bio:

Jay Williams works for the Fields Group, specialising in marketing for the company’s data recovery division.

How to create compelling data-centric content

How to create compelling data-centric content

Have you ever noticed that news sites frequently use content that is heavily reliant on figures and statistics? Maybe you’ve noticed that most if not all entertainment sites regularly post top-ten lists? There’s a very simple reason for this: data and numbers are psychologically satisfying and extremely revealing. As a result, content that utilizes them generates more clicks and better rates of engagement.

Tablet on wooden background with the words 'consistent compelling content' displayed on its screen

Use Google Analytics

People are interested in how other people use the internet and, if you have a website that’s tied into Google Analytics, you can access a wealth of data that can be used to produce countless pieces of content.

Does your site’s traffic fluctuate at certain times of the year? Are your products particularly popular in one city? Maybe your customers prefer Bing to Google? These are just three things that you can find out with this invaluable tool.

Ultimately, the key to using this resource to create great pieces of data-centric content is creativity. A truly enormous amount of data can be gleaned from Analytics and the more regularly you use it, the more intriguing pieces of data you’ll find.

Send out surveys

Image of a computer mouse with its cable attached to the word 'Survey'
A simple online survey can be used to gather the information needed to create great content

If you don’t have any interesting data to hand, create some. Think about a fun question that you can ask people that relate to your product or services and post a survey on social media or, if you have the required permissions, email it to your existing customers.

If you’re an online retailer of foodstuffs, you could ask people what they prefer to eat on Sundays. If you sell shoes, ask people what their favourite brand is. Just make sure you keep it fun in order to get the most responses possible.

Make comparisons

Don’t think that you’re confined to just using your own data. Comparing and contrasting your own data with that which has been produced by others is a great way of producing unique and engaging content. So, after you’ve compiled your own stats, get online, look for similar pieces that have been written by others, add their findings were relevant and make sure you credit the original author.

Compiling statistics from several sources (in order to provide a more comprehensive summary of an issue, for example) is another great way of creating great content. Just ensure that you credit each source appropriately.

Use infographics

An infographic showing the various disciplines of online marketing
A simple infographic showing the various disciplines of online marketing

I’m very much a lover of numbers and the revelations that they provide but the same can’t be said for everyone. Indeed, there are some who might say that articles that are data-centric can be a little dull. Others are simply not looking to read lengthy articles and would, instead, prefer something that is easy to consume. This is why you should consider using infographics.

If you’re not already familiar with them, infographics are visual representations of data. In other words, they’re a way of communicating your findings in an easily consumable and visually enticing format. With a compelling piece of data and a well-designed infographic, there’s no reason your content can’t go viral!

Bio:

For the last ten years, Jay Williams has worked for Fields Data Recovery, the data recovery specialists with offices throughout the UK including London, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Cardiff.

Marketers, Here Is Why Data Is Your Secret Weapon

Marketers, Here Is Why Data Is Your Secret Weapon

Historically, marketing was a much more subjective discipline. If you wanted to know that an audience responded well to an advert, you’d have to hold a focus group. If you wanted to evaluate your branding efforts, you polled clients or looked at your sales figures. Ultimately, the raw quantitative information needed to effectively and objectively review your efforts wasn’t available, but this has changed in the digital age.

In our eyes, the beauty of online marketing is the fact that it provides companies with all of the information they need to analyse how their efforts have affected their visibility and, ultimately, profitability. Basically, it’s now a lot easier for a marketer to know whether their last idea was good, bad or just indifferent. How? Here are a few examples:

Meta Descriptions

It’s well established that meta descriptions don’t affect your rankings, but don’t let that fool you into thinking they’re something you should ignore.

Along with your page title, a page’s meta description is your opportunity to sell your page to search engine users so test it, test it and test it again. Then use Google Analytics to determine which description generated the best click-through-rate (just divide the number of clicks you receive by impressions and times the figure by 100).

Just remember that search engines like Google will not immediately index your new meta descriptions so you’ll need to keep checking to see when these changes take place in order to ensure you identify which description works best.

Bounce Rate

Do you want to know if your website’s pages are providing your target audience with what they want? We think it’s safe to say that you do, and you can by reviewing one simply metric: your bounce rate.

Your site’s bounce rate represents the percentage of users who, having visited a page of your website, took no further action. Naturally, the higher this number, the worse your website is performing.

By using Google Analytics, you can see which of your website’s pages generate the highest bounce rate and make changes to it in order to drive this down.

On-Page Conversion Rates

If one page of your website is designed to drive conversions then whether you’re looking for leads, sign-ups, sales or anything else, you’re going to want to everything you can to ensure that it’s performing as well as possible.

To do this, you’re going to need to test ever single element you can possibly think of. Simple changes like a different coloured button, an alteration to copy, reducing the size of borders and numerous other modifications can all make a big difference. Again, you can analyse how these changes have affected your on-site conversions by dividing the number of conversions you receive by the number of unique users that visited the page over the same period.

Conclusion

There are a vast number of key metrics that can be used to review the performance of your websites, SEO strategies, advertising campaigns and more. Tools like Google Analytics can be used to analyse vast swathes of data which, in turn, can be used in order to improve performance – ignore it at your peril.

Author Bio:

Jay Williams is employed by Fields Data Recovery as a communications officer and has been with the company for more than a decade. In his spare time, he enjoys gaming, exercising and persistently attempting to convince his wife that their two-year-old daughter needs a Nintendo Switch.