Calculate the Number of Workdays in a Set Time Period

When you’re planning a project, just looking at a calendar can make you feel like you have a lot more time than you actually have. Particularly at the end of the year, when a number of holidays occur, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s can translate into a pretty limited number of workdays.
 
The NETWORKDAYS function in Excel automatically takes into account weekends and (manually assigned) holidays in order to calculate the total number of workdays in a time period. It’s an easy way to figure out if the deadlines you assign have actually allotted enough time to get the work done.
 
Note: This function is included in Excel 2007. To perform it in Excel 2000 and Excel 2003, you’ll first need to install an update. Go to the Tools, menu, click Add-Ins, select the Analysis ToolPak check box, then click OK.
 
First, assign a start date, and end date, and any holidays that fall in between those dates. In the example below, the project begins in mid-November and ends in the second week of the New Year, with time off for Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day.

 

Go to the Insert menu and select Formula. Go to the Date and Time tab and select NETWORKDAYS.
 
The formula looks like this:
 
=NETWORKDAYS(start_date,end_date,[holidays])
 
 
After you’ve selected the formula, click the cell containing your start date. Then click the cell containing your end date. Finally, click on your first holiday and then drag the mouse down to your last holiday.
 
In the example above, if we’re working in cells B2 through B7, it looks like this:
 
=NETWORKDAYS(B2, B3,B4:B7)
 
Press enter, and you’ll have the net number of working days in the time period. Amazing how nine calendar weeks can translate into just 41 days of work!

The Data Storage Rule of Three

If you really want to keep your data safe and ensure that it will not be lost, destroyed, or corrupted in the event of a disaster, most storage practitioners advise keeping it in at least three locations.

A single location gives you virtually no protection against disaster. Two locations might be enough, as long as one is offsite – but even then you risk data loss if both locations fail at the same time. For example, imagine a virus corrupts your server and wipes out your CRM database. You go to a tape backup to repopulate the database, only to discover that the backup is worn out or corrupted. Or, as we’ve read about numerous times in the news, your tape backup gets stolen out of your home, car, or wherever you’re storing it.

 

That’s why you really need three separate locations for your data, with at least one of them offsite. While all three locations or media could theoretically fail at the same time, the chances of that happening are minimal.

 

So why must one location be off site? To avoid a tragedy like the following one happening to your business. (We’re not naming names here because this isn’t a story about a client – but it did happen to somebody we know. We wish they had been clients, because we could have made certain this didn’t happen!)

 

A long-established company had years’ worth of data to store, including a CRM system and detailed records on past projects. They knew it was important to be well covered when it came to backups, and their technician assured them the data was stored in three places.

 

Then disaster struck – not through any fault of the company. A fire broke out in a neighboring office, and before long the whole building was engulfed in flames. Every server, every computer, and every other piece of electronic equipment in the building was trashed.

 

You might think the company would be fine – after all, they had redundant storage, and surely one of their storage devices was offsite, right? Wrong. The data was indeed in three places: on the server, on a drive next to the server, and on another drive in the next room.

 

This story illustrates precisely why it isn’t enough to keep multiple copies of your data. One or more of those copies must be stored offsite – preferably in a geographic location that’s not prone to flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes. (That’s why many high-security data centers are located in the desert: they’re far from major metropolitan areas that are more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and power outages, and they also tend to suffer from fewer natural disasters.)

 

So the next time you talk to your IT provider, you might ask them two things:

 

  1. How many copies of our data are we keeping?
  2. Where are those copies being kept?

 

Once you have those answers, you’ll know a lot about how well equipped your business really is to weather disaster.

 

CMIT Guardian, our backup and disaster recovery service, automatically stores data in highly secured data centers with round-the-clock monitoring and security, advanced fire detection and suppression systems, seismic safeguards, and diesel generators for continuous and reliable protection. To find out more about CMIT Guardian, click here.

Why Spam is Less Successful – And More Plentiful – Than Ever

As recently as just a few years ago, most email users felt like they were drowning in spam. They’d open up their inbox at work and find that half their messages or more were worthless at best and harmful at worst, and it took a long time to sort out the good messages from the bad.
 
Spam filters have evolved pretty well, so that most businesses behind a corporate firewall – and most home users who engage a major email host like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL – will find that most of their spam ends up in their junk mail box or gets turned away at the gate to their email server. But even though security researchers and anti-spam forces have really stepped up their game, worldwide spam volumes continue to climb. You’d think that if people stopped responding to spam then it would just eventually … go away, right?
 
If only it were that simple. The fact is that somebody will always click on a spam message. And while spam’s click-through rates have plunged, it can still be a profitable marketing method if it’s deployed in sufficient volumes. In fact, its very diminishing success helps explain why spam is still so ubiquitous. Spammers need to send out more messages to get even minimal results. (For more details on a recent study that calculated the success rate of spam at around 1 in 12 million, check out this article in The Register: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/10/storm_botnet_spam_economics/)
 
Unfortunately, marketing spam – the kind that asks you to visit, say, an online pharmacy for cheap Viagra – is the least of your worries these days. Many of the messages that are clever enough to fool spam filters manage to fool human recipients as well, leading them to click on attachments that carry viruses, or to click on links that lead them to sites that automatically download malware.
 

The take-home message is this: Just because you’re seeing less spam in your inbox doesn’t mean it isn’t still a huge bandwidth hog and a major problem for security researchers. The very success of spam filters and the increasing sophistication of email users has forced spammers to be more creative – and often more harmful – in pursuing what they want, whether it’s online sales or spreading mischief. So stay vigilant, don’t open attachments from unknown senders, don’t click directly on links from unknown senders, run regular system scans, and keep those antivirus and antispyware definitions up to date.

CMIT Anti-Spam filters spam out of your e-mail before it arrives at your mail server or in your inbox. When you combine CMIT Anti-Spam with CMIT Marathon, our managed services program, you get automatic security updates along with your spam filtering — that’s two of the best ways to head off spam at the pass and minimize the damage in the event that you encounter potential security threats.