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Webinar – Six Best Practices for Complete Laptop Protection – Tue May 28th, 2pm EDT

Hard disk data storage, backup, restore conceptDo you regularly make comprehensive endpoint protection recommendations to clients?

Be honest.

If yours is like many IT service organisations then you tend to focus on servers and data in the cloud. It’s easy to forget that the weakest remaining link in the chain of security that protects any organisation from data loss and downtime just might be the laptop the CEO (or that trusted, but possibly careless employee) takes home at night.

A few months ago I lost my laptop PC and the feeling was… sickening. It wasn’t just the frustrating loss of the expensive hardware, but the horror of all the critical data that was on that laptop and essentially unprotected.

On Tuesday May 28th, 2013 at 2pm EDT (that’s 7pm GMT) I’ve been invited by my friends at eFolderproviders of branded Cloud Backup, BDRs, Replication, Email Security, and Exchange Archiving Services – to join them in a webinar and talk the six best practices for complete laptop protection.

I’ll be talking about my own story and sharing:-

  • Why your clients are probably unprepared for endpoint losses
  • The best free software to help you recover lost or stolen endpoint devices
  • How to make endpoint protection a business opportunity

Free registration for the “Six Best Practices for Complete Laptop Protection” webinar is now open.

I’ll be taking questions during the live webinar, but if you can’t make it then please register anyway and eFolder will send you a recorded copy of the webinar.

The Lessons I Learned from Losing my Laptop Computer

A few weeks ago I was presenting at the Autotask Community on Tour event at the Grand Connaught Rooms, a very prestigious and (as the name implies) grand venue in London.

My presentation was just before lunch, and arriving early in the day I dropped my laptop bag (containing my laptop and my presentation) alongside many of my colleagues near the event registration desk.

Laptop ComputerAbout an hour before my presentation, I went to retrieve my laptop and in horror discovered that it was no longer where I had left it. I scouted around nearby tables, looked in every conceivable location, recruited help in the form of my friends crawling under tables but alas, the laptop had gone. My heart sank – not only had a £1,000+ worth of laptop gone, but all my valuable mobile accessories and more importantly, my presentation due in 30 minutes had gone with it!

Lesson Number One – Keep your belongings with you at all times!

Ironically (given I was about to give a presentation on Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery) I had stored a backup copy of my presentation on Windows Live Mesh. Borrowing Autotask MVP Lee Evans laptop, and using fellow presenter Paul Dadge’s wireless Internet, I logged on to Live Mesh to recover the presentation. Or at least I would have if I could find how on earth you actually logged on to Live Mesh from a web browser. Microsoft have changed the Windows Live tool brand so many times recently that I wasn’t sure what it was called anymore – Live Mesh, Live Sync, Live Mesh 2011? When I needed to access my backup in a hurry, the stress of trying to find out how to do so is most unwelcome.

Lesson Number Two – Know how to quickly access your Data Backups

Thankfully I finally found the correct login web-site, and thanks to having my KeePass information stored on my iPad (which was safely in my possession) I could logon to Windows Live, grab a copy of the presentation and copy it to a key disk ready to go on stage with.

I’m glad to say the presentation went well, despite my thoughts admittedly being on to how I could find my laptop after I got off stage.

Over lunch, my friends and I scouted around again and with no luck in finding my laptop, I finally resigned myself to the fact that it had gone and contacted hotel security. I reported my laptop stolen with the local Police Station who asked for specifics of the laptop. Luckily, I’d recorded the Serial Numbers and other specifics of not only the laptop, but my Flip HD camcorder which was also in the laptop bag, on – the web-site of the UK National Property Register.

Having this information easily to hand via my iPad meant I was able to describe the laptop and give all pertinent information quickly, as well as tag the laptop and Camcorder as stolen. In the event that the stolen laptop turned up at a Police Station, it could be identified as mine.

Lesson Number Three – Maintain an accurate record of your high value goods

My thoughts then turned to the data ON my missing laptop.

The laptop was password protected, and all data backed up to the Cloud, but it is not too difficult to access a file system using tools outside of Windows, nor to crack a Windows 7 password to gain full access to a system. Chances are that any thief would be stealing the laptop for the hardware, not the data contained on it, but that sinking feeling that you get when you realise the data on the machine is confidential is definitely not a nice one. I really wish I’d have gotten round to encrypting it as I kept promising I would…

Lesson Number Four – Your Data is more valuable than your hardware. Protect it accordingly!

Then, thanks to a conversation with Gareth Brown which jogged my memory, I recalled I’d installed the free Tracking software from Prey Project on my laptop. If the laptop was connected to the Internet at all I’d be able to track where it was and even take a screenshot of whomever was using the laptop via it’s webcam, but more importantly, I could remotely lock the laptop to hinder any attempt to access the data upon it.

Lesson Number Five – Install free Tracking Software on your Mobile Devices before you lose them!

I reported the laptop lost on Prey Project, and waited for it to report back. The likelihood that it ever would was admittedly slim, but at least I wasn’t kicking myself that I’d not bothered to install that free tracking software that you know, takes all of 30 seconds to install!

When I got back home later that weekend I dug out my Insurance Paperwork and prepared to make a claim. Thankfully I’d retained all details of my purchases, and in many instances, the original purchase receipts (including such things as the SSD Hard Drive upgrade and Memory Upgrades I’d installed in the laptop) – so I’d be able to make a full claim for the items. I’d also set a diary reminder at the time of my Insurance renewal earlier in the year to make sure the Contents Schedule was up to date – useful if you’re always updating your tech, as I am.

Lesson Number Six – Insure your Tech, and make sure your Insurance Schedule is current

Now for most people, the story would end here with an Insurance Claim and the purchase of a new laptop and the inevitable hope (and prayer) that the confidential data contained on the lost laptop would never fall into the wrong hands.

But a few days later, whilst I was travelling in Utretch in the Netherlands for business, I received an e-mail from a lovely lady named Jo Flood entitled “Are you missing a laptop?”.

The e-mail went on to explain how Jo worked for Hot Courses in London who had run a student event at the Grand Connaught Rooms at the same time as the Autotask Event, and whilst sorting out equipment brought back from the venue, Jo had spotted that they’d acquired an additional laptop!

Powering the laptop up, Jo had spotted my name on the login screen and then Googled it. My blog post about my speaking at the Autotask event had come up as the first search engine hit, and Jo put two-and-two together and got in touch via the contact details on my blog to see if it was indeed my laptop.

Lesson Number Seven – Social Media helps connect the world in the most unexpected ways! Smile

Thanking Jo profusely for taking the time and effort to track me down, my friend Guy Gregory at The Final Step in London heard about my predicament and offered to retrieve the laptop from Jo nearby– going out of his way to organise all the details with Jo directly. A week later, I was re-united with my laptop!

Lesson Number Eight – There are some genuinely helpful and wonderful people in the world

A huge thanks to Jo Flood and Guy Gregory for going out of their way to help me and giving their time to help re-unite me with my laptop, and to Lee Evans, Paul Dadge, Gareth Brown, my friends at Autotask, all the staff at the Grand Connaught Rooms and everyone else who helped me whilst I was panicking about finding my laptop and ensuring I got on stage to deliver my presentation as planned!

Thankfully I got away without losing any possessions or more importantly, confidential data. But I learned a number of really valuable lessons about what it feels like to lose mobile devices and data.

Over the next few days I’m going to blog about what I’ve learned that might help you protect your own data and high value mobile devices. I hope you’ll find my story above thought provoking in terms of how you view your own data and devices, and that the articles I post in the days to come help give you the peace of mind that you’re doing all you can to protect yourself.


Free Workshop: Building a Cloud Business – Birmingham, 12th Dec

Cloud Computing BannerA heads-up that ThinkGrid will be hosting a free half-day afternoon workshop this Monday 12th December in Birmingham on “Cloud Computing: Building a Cloud Business”.

The event, sponsored by Ingram Micro, is aimed at IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers and aims to provide education and provide the steps required in becoming a Cloud Services provider.

Like it or loathe it (and I recently wrote an article entitled “Should IT Companies Fear The Cloud?” on this very topic) – there’s no denying that the Cloud is here to stay. Increasingly the conversations I’ve had with MSP’s this year is not whether or not they embrace cloud, but how they do so – whether they build their own Cloud platform, or buy in services from the likes of Microsoft, Google and ThinkGrid.

ThinkGrid have put on an interesting line-up that will be useful to any MSP who is still considering their options.

How Cloud is impacting the channel and the end-users that it serves

Speaker: Rob Lovell, CEO of ThinkGrid

Coffee/Tea Break

Platform Selection: Build or Buy


How your business will change


What services to implement and how to productise


Delivery and Support Implications


Marketing and selling Cloud Services

Speaker: Scott Holmes, Director of Sales EMEA, ThinkGrid

Coffee/Tea Break

Linking Services with Products and centralising your “cloud” supply chain

Speaker: Jason Beal, Sr. Director of Ingram Micro

Drinks Reception

There is still time to register for the event, which takes place at The Studio in Cannon Street in Birmingham City Centre (a 2 minute walk from New Street Train Station and with plenty of parking nearby).

I’ll be joining the panel discussion at 3pm on “Platform Selection: Build or Buy” – so if you’re attending, do make sure to say hello in person!


Thoughts on the first GFI Max UK Customer Conference

GFI Max LogoLast Thursday 20th October, 2011 I travelled to the Williams Formula One Conference Centre in Oxfordshire for the first GFI Max UK Customer Conference.

Around 100+ IT Solution Providers and Managed Service Providers attended a full day of Workshops, Seminars and Presentations.

F1 Conference Centre

GFI Max Users at the Williams F1 ExhibitionFirstly, the venue was superb. Friendly staff, free and open Wi-Fi Internet connectivity, and if you are a Formula One Racing fan – as many of the attendees were – you’d be in heaven thanks to the exhibition area and F1 memorabilia everywhere. Kudos to GFI Max for finding a venue that was a great Conference location and a lot of fun.

GFI Max General Manager Alistair Forbes kicked the day off outlining the companies growth from Hound-Dog Technology, to their acquisition by GFI Software, to the additions of GFI Max Mail and Monitis to the Max family – through to a look the future product Roadmap.

User Discussions

Some time was then put aside for groups of users to discuss and give feedback to GFI on both product feedback, and service feedback. I wrote recently about GFI’s growing user community, and this session vindicated the fact that GFI users are both passionate about the product, and vocal about what they want it to do! There was almost across-the-board praise for GFI Max’s Technical Support team – who I know first hand are top notch – and a lot of constructive feedback on what GFI Max need to improve on. A really good session that had the room buzzing.

Key-note presentation

The morning’s key-note speech was given by the Research company, IDC. It was focused on the industry changes involving Cloud services – but was fairly academic in nature and heavy with statistics. I personally felt it missed the mark in terms of relevance to the SMB audience in attendance, and it wasn’t well received by those commenting using the #MAXCC hash-tag on Twitter. That said, others I spoke to after the presentation enjoyed it – so mixed feedback.

Social Media Feedback

GFI Max UK Customer ConferenceTalking of Twitter, I observed a *lot* of positive networking going on between Max users who were using the Conference to cement on-line relationships with face-to-face meetings. I spoke to a dozen or so partners who said they’d like to see the atmosphere of networking, sharing ideas and feedback replicated through regional user group meetings in the future – something I hope GFI will be quick to support their user base on.

The team from the recently GFI Max acquisition of Cloud-Monitoring provider Monitis was also in attendance, demonstrating how their service could help GFI Max customers to monitor and report on Hosted Services. I initially felt an interesting sense of “How is this relevant to us?” from Max partners about Monitis, but as the day grew I saw lots of partners talking about the potential for using Monitis as an offering to their clients. I think the Monitis acquisition is a smart move by GFI as the MSP world moves further towards a Cloud Hosted environment.

Technical and Business streams

The day then broke into two streams, Technical and Business, allowing partners to mix and match sessions.

Before Alistair Forbes closed the day by thanking everyone for attending and their feedback, Autotask CEO Mark Cattini then presented an outlook on the changing face of the IT Solution Provider market. It hit all the right notes, and felt relevant to the audience who weren’t so much interested in statistics, but how the changes affected their business and their clients. A strong way to finish the day.

Throughout the day I was roaming the halls and corridors with my trusty Flip HD camera (more videos to follow) and amongst those I spoke to, towards the end of the day Alistair Forbes was kind enough to record a short video interview with his thoughts on the Conference.


Chatting to attendees at the post-event drinks GFI put on, the underlying feeling I picked up on was that the most popular sessions throughout the day were those presented by GFI Max Customers who were talking about their experiences. I’d be interested to see if the feedback GFI Max received matched that observation, as it further suggests Max users want GFI to facilitate their ability to get together and meet, but then direct the topic of conversation themselves.

Overall, the day was a huge success and was very well received by all attendees. It wasn’t without it’s issues – both in timing and some content – but GFI Max have a great community of critical friends who will guide them to improve. I’m going to bet the next GFI Max User Conferences in Europe, Australia and North America take that feedback on-board.

The important thing is that the GFI Max User Community that I recently wrote about has now taken a big step from the on-line world into in-person meetings. I see that Community only growing and getting stronger as a result of this.

CRN Channel Conference 2011 – 13th Oct, London

CRN Channel Conference 2011 LogoA heads-up that the CRN Channel Conference 2011 takes place on Thursday 13th October, 2011 at the Emirates Stadium in London.

The Conference is a well established annual forum which draws a lot of UK Resellers, IT Companies and Managed Service Providers together to discuss the potential direction of the UK IT Channel for the next twelve months.

CRN have put on a great programme of presentations this year, and I myself will be presenting a couple of interactive sessions entitled “Motivating and retaining your Sales team” as part of a practical networking discussion.

A load of the leading IT Channel Vendors – including Microsoft – will be in attendance, along with Distributors and Independents – so it’s well worth checking who is attending to setup some time to meet with them.

As always, one of the real benefits of Conferences such as these is that it draws a load of the best and brightest in our industry into one location – those conversations with your peers and industry contacts over lunch, dinner and even in the corridors between sessions will prove to be invaluable. Don’t miss them.

If you’re attending, make sure to let me know so I can say hello on the day. Registration is still open, is free and can be found at

Hope to see you there!



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