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How Your Small Business Can Benefit from Cloud Computing

There are over 30 million small businesses in the U.S., and without a doubt, they are the backbone of our economy. These businesses provide job opportunities and facilitate growth and innovation. However, small companies must be creative with their resources, as they don’t have the same financial cushion as their larger counterparts. 

One of the most difficult decisions that small businesses have to make is what technology to use. Some technologies aren’t necessary but others are. And cloud computing is one of them. If your business is considering migrating to the cloud, there are many benefits to consider. 

What is Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is the delivery of various services through the internet. It’s a great way for small businesses to rent computing power, reduce costs and increase productivity. 

Some companies have moved everything to the cloud, while others follow a hybrid approach that combines both a local server and cloud computing. Dedicated servers refer to physical hardware that serves only your company, while cloud servers are located in a third-party data center. 

What are the Advantages of Cloud Computing? 

Cloud computing is a major shift from how businesses traditionally think about IT resources. Here are the main benefits of adopting cloud computing like Microsoft Azure into your business. 

  • Reduced cost. Cloud computing eliminates the expense of buying hardware and software programs, running data centers, paying IT experts for managing infrastructure and more. Instead, everything is outsourced to the third-party data center.
  • Greater efficiency. Most cloud computing services are on demand, so the resources you need can be supplied when you need them. This gives your business the flexibility it needs. 
  • Enhanced productivity. Rather than having your IT staff deal with software patching, hardware setup and more, they can spend their time achieving more important business goals. 
  • Stronger security. Many cloud providers, including Microsoft Azure, offer a broad range of policies, technologies and controls that will make your business more secure. All data is maintained at a central location, which is better than having it spread across many devices. 
  • Improved reliability. Cloud computing makes everything easier – data backups, disaster recovery, business continuity and more. And, if your business grows and you need additional IT hardware, it’s quick and easy to scale up your cloud solution. 

Microsoft Azure and Cloud Computing 

Migrating to the cloud is a big decision, but it’s something worth considering for your small business. You don’t have to move everything to the cloud – you may find it best to follow a hybrid approach. To learn more about Microsoft Azure and how it can benefit your business, contact Arkware today.

 

How Do Indexes Affect Database Performance?

If you’re just learning the ropes of your database, one thing you’ll come across is indexing. Indexing is a great tool that allows you to be more efficient with your database. But not all databases need indexing and not every index will increase the query speed for the database. 

Let’s learn more about what indexing is and how it can improve the performance of your database.

What is Indexing? 

Indexes are used to quickly locate data without having to search every row in a database table. This is a huge time saver! 

To create an index, you need a few database columns. The first column is the Search Key that contains a copy of the primary key of the table. The second column is the Data Reference that contains a set of pointers. Together, these work together to create the structure of a single index. 

Here’s an example of how to use indexing. Let’s say you want to find a piece of information from your database. Instead of going line by line, you let the computer look through each row until the information is found. Keep in mind that if the data you’re looking for is at the end, the query will take a long time. Thankfully, you can sort alphabetically to help you run faster queries. 

What Types of Database Indexes Exist? 

There are two main types of database indexes: 

  • Clustered. Clustered indexes use the primary key to organize data. The reason to use a clustered index is to ensure that the primary key is stored in increasing order, which is also the same order that the table holds memory. Clustered indexes are automatically created when the primary key is set. 
  • Non-clustered indexes. Non-clustered indexes are data structures that improve the speed of data retrieval. Unlike clustered indexes, non-clustered indexes are created by data analysts or developers. 

When Should You Use Indexes?

The purpose of indexes is to speed up the performance of your database. You should use them any time you feel that they will make your database easier to use. If your database is small right now, you may not see as many opportunities to use indexes. But as your database grows, there’s no question that you will see benefits from indexing. 

To ensure that your indexes are performing properly, run a set of queries on your database, record the time it takes for those queries to finish and then begin creating your indexes. Continue rerunning your tests for continued improvements.

Now you know how indexes affect database performance – they greatly reduce query times. If you would like to learn more about how to use indexing, or you need an index built for your database, schedule a time to chat with Arkware.

 

What is a Database Query?

A query is a way of requesting information from a database. A query can be either a select query or an action query. A select query is a query for retrieving data, while an action query asks for additional actions to be performed on the data. 

However, you don’t just type in a random request and wait for the answer to be returned to you. You must write queries based on a set of pre-defined code so that the database can understand what you want. This code is called query language. 

The standard query language for database management is Structured Query Language or SQL. This is different from MySQL. SQL is a database language and MySQL is the software that uses this language. Although SQL is very popular, it is not the only language. Others you may come across are AQL, DMX and Datalog. 

How Does a Query Work? 

Let’s say you want to order a large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. You pull up to the window and ask for a large coffee. The employee will understand your request and return with your hot beverage. A query works in the same way, except that it takes place through a database. You use SQL to make your request, and the database understands this language and will follow through with the request. 

There are a few other ways you can request data aside from placing queries. For example, you can use the available parameters that come with your software. Choose a parameter to get the desired input, and the system will guide you. However, these parameters are limited and not as flexible as writing your own queries. 

Another option is to use “query by example”, which shows you a set of code with some blank areas. In these areas, you can write and specify the fields and values of your data. Of course, writing queries from scratch gives you the most flexibility and is the best choice when you want to manipulate data. You will need some understanding of SQL, though. 

What If I Don’t Know SQL?

Learning SQL is not too difficult, even for those who aren’t comfortable with computer science. While this language is most commonly used among database developers, database administrators and others, you don’t need a career in SQL to use and learn this language. In fact, it’s often used by marketers and scientists, too. 

A basic crash course in SQL can give you the background you need to write queries. But not everyone has the time or desire to learn SQL, and it’s okay if you don’t. That’s what Arkware is here for! We can fill in the gaps so that you can use your database efficiently and effectively. To learn more about the database services we offer, contact us today for a free consultation. 

 

Importance of Maintaining a HIPAA Compliant Database

If you sell products and services that require personal health data and you’re doing business in the U.S., your database must be in full compliance with HIPAA, an important law that protects the privacy and security of health data. In this article, we’re going to cover what the HIPAA laws are and what you can do to ensure compliance for your business. 

HIPAA: What it is and Who it Applies To 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a federal law that protects sensitive patient health information (PHI) from being shared without the person’s consent or knowledge. These national standards also reduce healthcare fraud and abuse, guarantee safety and privacy and assure health insurance portability (by eliminating pre-existing medical conditions).

Health care providers like doctors, dentists, pharmacies, hospitals, urgent care clinics and others must follow HIPAA laws if they transmit health information electronically. Even health apps that transmit and receive protected health information must follow HIPAA laws.

What is a HIPAA Compliant Database? 

To have a HIPAA compliant database, proper planning and configuration are required. Below are some of the requirements you need to know about: 

  • Complete data encryption. All health data must be encrypted in the database and in transit. This prevents a malicious party from accessing sensitive information. 
  • Unique user IDs. HIPAA requires unique user IDs for all users and prohibits the sharing of user logins. 
  • Authentication. Users who access sensitive information must be securely authenticated. 
  • Authorization. The database must control access to users by assigning different roles and privileges.
  • Audit Logs. All data usage must be stored in a separate infrastructure and archived according to HIPAA guidelines. 
  • Database backups. All backups must be fully encrypted and securely stored. 
  • HIPAA-trained support staff. Only trained personnel can address technical issues involving PHI.
  • Data disposal. When data is no longer needed, it must be disposed of properly such as by using high-security file wiping. 

What Happens if You’re Not in Compliance with HIPAA Laws? 

If your business fails to be in compliance with HIPAA laws, you could face serious financial or criminal penalties. In addition to this, your business could damage its reputation and lose business partners and customers. The best ways to ensure you are in compliance with HIPAA are by: 

  • Enlisting professional help from a lawyer or third party auditor 
  • Conduct an annual risk assessment
  • Ensure application and database security 
  • Educate employees about HIPAA 
  • Review agreements with other businesses 

Arkware specializes in the design and implementation of databases. If you have questions about your database being in compliance with the latest HIPAA regulations, contact us today. We can look over your database and offer recommendations on how to ensure compliance.

 

How to Access the Built-in CRM Template in Microsoft Access

Customer relationship management (CRM) software keeps all customer interactions in one place. CRMs have evolved significantly over the last few years because they are effective at streamlining communications, improving customer satisfaction and retaining loyal customers. Some CRMs are expensive, but yours doesn’t have to be. With Microsoft Access, you can access the built-in CRM database template. Below we’ll show you how. 

Features of Microsoft Access CRM Template 

Microsoft Access has a great selection of templates that you can download and work off of, but be aware that not all may meet your needs. In this case, it’s best to hire a company like Arkware to build a custom database for your business or organization. This way, you’ll have everything you need to keep track of your customers in one place.

Here are some of the features that an MS Access CRM template will include: 

  • Account/client information
  • Contact information
  • Potential sales opportunities 
  • Activities (phone calls, appointments, emails, etc.)
  • Invoices 

How to Make Your Own CRM in Access 

Below are the steps to creating your own CRM using Microsoft Access

  • Step 1. Open Access and locate the template gallery. To find the CRM, select “File” and “New.” Here you will see all of the available databases. Download the sales contact management database. It’s included under the “business” templates. 
  • Step 2. Review the template. Make sure it meets your needs. To view the full database, press F11. This lets you view the tables, queries, forms, reports, macros and modules. 
  • Step 3. Modify the tables and forms to meet your needs. This may require you to edit field properties of the tables and forms. Fortunately, MS Access is fairly easy to work in  – no coding experience necessary! 
  • Step 4. Review the relationships between tables. If necessary, modify them to fit your needs.
  • Step 5. Enter your data into the tables and forms. You can do this manually or by inputting data directly from Access. 
  • Step 6. Run your queries. If the template does not contain queries, use the query wizard to create them. 

What if You Can’t Find the Right CRM Template? 

The selection of client tools in Access is limited, so it’s possible that you may not be able to use the built-in CRM template for your business. If this is the case, contact Arkware for a customized solution. We can build you a personalized CRM that fits your unique needs and budget! 

5 Powerful Features of Microsoft Access

Microsoft Access sometimes has a reputation for being too streamlined and basic. But it’s actually far more powerful than people realize. While Microsoft Access may not meet every organization’s needs, it can accommodate many. And it’s likely that you’re one of them! 

Below are five powerful features of Microsoft Access that you should know. 

1. It’s easier to understand than client-server databases. 

Users don’t need any special training or experience to use Access. Some users have self-tutored themselves while others have learned from their coworkers. Either way, there’s not much of a learning curve thanks to the well-organized templates you can dive right into. If you’re comfortable using Excel, you’ll be comfortable using Access.

2. You can import and export to other Microsoft Office applications.

One of the most useful features of Access is the ability to import and export data from other programs. It’s also fairly easy to combine data, transfer data between two programs and store data over the long-term for future exports. To do this, you can copy and paste objects as well as export objects, which comes with more options. 

3. Templates are available for immediate use. 

The templates that Access comes with are pretty great. They can save an incredible amount of time by not having to build a database from scratch. Better yet, you can still make modifications to the templates to meet your organization’s needs. Both desktop and web-based database templates are available. 

4. The ‘Tell Me’ feature will help you get the most out of Access. 

Even though MS Access is user-friendly, you’ll probably still run into questions along the way. Fortunately, you’re not alone. Access includes the ‘Tell Me’ feature that works as an assistant to help you complete tasks efficiently. It was introduced in 2016 as a way to help users save time and do things quickly and correctly. 

5. Output reports in PDF.

More and more users are sharing databases through electronic image formats like PDF by Adobe Systems and XPS by Microsoft. Using Access, all you have to do is create reports in electronic image files through the External Data tab on the ribbon. Even users who don’t own Access can view the reports in their entirety. 

As you can see, Microsoft Access is a powerful database solution that has many new features. It continues to be user-friendly and cost-effective for businesses of all sizes. To learn more about creating an Access database, contact Arkware today.