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News and info on IT Services

We provide a range of Managed IT Services, Business IT Support, and IT Consulting that can help you keep costs down.

We know its hard to make sense of all the options available when it comes to IT. We can keep you posted on the latest trends and info with our IT Support Blog.


 

 

Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Businesses

Posted by on 10:55 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

New Years ResolutionsThe year is ending and the holidays are near. All you can focus on is what needs to get done and what your goals are for the following year. You have plenty on your mind and some of it has to do with financials and expansion. Profits and setting goals to achieve are difficult. Never take your mind off your goals, they are what keeps you profitable.

There is a lot to do and you need to stay focused. First, set goals in a journal, keep a weekly record and note what you are doing to accomplish them. Don’t set goals too high, maybe set a calendar of what profit levels or the amount of services you want to offer by certain dates. Keeping your goals realistic is key, and so is managing them. Here is what NOT to do in 2015:

1.   Ignoring the Budget

Whether you ignore the budget or simply don’t keep track, it’s the wrong thing to do. The economy might be kicking up, but you have to make sure you are not overspending. Overspending on services, including IT support, is a common mistake with business owners. It isn’t hard to let go of budgets, make sure you stick to them and seek out more affordable ways of completing daily tasks or keeping your data secured and backed up.

2.   Overlooking Timelines

Remember the calendar and weekly journal suggestion? It now comes into play by keeping track of where you need to be. Doing so allows you to hold your success accountable. Being able to go over numbers allows you to assign tasks to your staff to make those achievements possible. If you find yourself over performing and making more, train your staff and help others succeed where they have disadvantages. Being proactive and productive will only make your team stronger.

3.   Not Gathering Enough Data

Whether it is needing stats for marketing or knowing how your clients think of you, always need to keep up-to-date data. Statistics can tell you a lot about what you are doing well, where you can improve and what people want to see. Maybe you have new business opportunities in a neighboring city or the need for an online store. People’s opinions matter, and they will tell you what they will spend their money on.

4.   Do it all yourself

From your IT problems to your marketing efforts, it’s not always safe to do it all yourself. You have a business to run and, without your full attention, it may slip. It’s easier to fall than it is to rise, so focus on moving up and not bogging yourself down. Your IT support can be handed off to a local company like ours. Knowing your IT solutions and preventing attacks is their specialty. With the proper managed services, you don’t have to worry about downtime and loss of data. Local backups and basic internet security protection can leave holes, cause problems and are not reliable. Give your IT support experts a call to find out how they can be your IT so you don’t have to do it all yourself.

5.   Buy a better computer chair

So you might want one, but do you need one? If you need one because you plan on sitting in it more, that’s a bad idea. Get out of your chair and be directly involved with your business. Focusing on paper rather than your customer base will leave you behind with trends and ideas. If it is your programs keeping you behind, try asking an IT consultant on what you can do to lower your desk-time. Our team knows efficiency like it is everybody’s business, and they can handle it. Having the right managed services means being productive and less time worrying about your files and security. Let your employees do their work and focus on your team. Leave the IT support to us.

Having the proper IT support will make your productive by giving you the right tools and the time to focus on your needs. Don’t get behind in your work and seek out opportunities to make profits. Give us a call today and have the workload shifted off your shoulders. We can be reached by phone or email. Don’t miss out on any more opportunities, start with this New Year’s resolution.

End of Support for Windows Server 2003 – Warning to Upgrade Immediately!

Posted by on 8:26 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Windows Server 2003The end of support date for Windows Server 2003 will be July 14, 2015. This means that the operating system will no longer receive updates, security patches, technical support, software and content updates. It will also be prone to malicious infections. Do you operate off of one of the 12 million servers, as of July 2014, running this operating system?

Complications, As Seen Already

Like Windows XP, you will see a lot of support and software incompatibility issues. New hardware will not be supported, causing the operating system to not function as it is designed. New, more reliable features, will not be included and it will cause setbacks in productivity.

How Threats Can Infect

When security updates cannot be completed, there are holes left over – viruses, malware, spyware, and adware all look for holes to seep through. These threats have been known to crash servers, overload systems, and leave openings for information theft. It is advised that older systems run compatible antivirus and malware protection software, to assist with attack prevention.

Recommendations

In order to save yourself from major threats infecting your data, you should follow these steps:

  • Complete all current updates that are needed.
  • Install and/or update your internet security protection software
  • Backup your information.
  • Research a server system to upgrade to, ASAP.

You should be looking for an up-to-date system that carries the latest server operating system. This will ensure that you are ready to go for a number of years. On that note, make sure all of your other software is up to date. Taking a look at the full Support Lifecycle Index, by Microsoft, is a good starting point.

Finding yourself always updating your systems, or falling behind and not being productive? Get a head start and finally get the technology that you need. Give us a call or email us. Our Windows Server experts are here and ready to get you with the times.

It’s Crucial! Get Updating to Fix the Holes in Your Systems!

Posted by on 10:38 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Computer UpdatesHave you ever wondered how hackers get through your systems? It’s all because of holes that exist in your systems and you must apply updates to fix these holes.

When They Happen

Microsoft updates happen every Tuesday and, if configured properly, your computer will install them for you. The average person won’t restart their computer and it leaves these updates uninstalled. People do this for days on end, leaving their system vulnerable. These updates are created for a few reasons; hackers already have gone through or Microsoft found the hole before the hackers and other vendors found issues with their software. Whether the update is critical or not, people can still get through your system, via these holes, if not installed.

Prevention

Making sure you are not skipping out on these updates is crucial to not have any problems with your computer. Since hackers can get into one computer and access entire networks, it’s that much more important to keep your systems updated. Follow these steps to enable automatic updates for the crucial and recommended ones:

Windows 8/8.1

  1. Right click the lower left corner and select “Control Panel” (then go to step 2)

Windows Vista/7

  1. Click “Start” and then “Control Panel” (then go to step 2)

All Systems

  1. Click “System and Security”
  2. “Windows Update”
  3. “Change settings”
  4. From the drop down menu, select “Install updates automatically (recommended)”
  5. Select “Give me recommended updates the same way I receive important updates”
  6. Select “ Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows”

Other Updates

Not only is it important to update what Microsoft recommends, but your other software needs updates as well. Usually, in the “Help” section of every software you will find a “Check for updates” button. I recommend doing this once a week. You can also check to see if your programs update automatically, in their preference sections.

While you’re at it, don’t forget about your virus and malware definitions. These prevent hackers from entering through your system from other avenues, ones not always related to your operating system.

Computer care can be a daunting task, and it’s not a fun part of your day. It may take up a bit of time, but it has to be done. Give us a call or email us to see how we can take care of your systems for you. We give you the opportunity to stick to your business, not your computer repairs.

Infographic: 4 Tips for Improving Your Android Experience

Posted by on 9:58 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

So you’ve just purchased an Android phone? Or maybe you’re looking to improve your experience on an existing Android phone? There is a plethora of options you can change and apps you can add to improve your Android experience!

Let’s go over 4 simple things you can do to speed up your phone and get rid of some of the more annoying default features.

Android Infographic

Infographic: 4 Vital Signs it’s Time to Update the Technology Within Your Business!

Posted by on 8:50 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Running a small business is tough. You’re probably not making much profit, and to make even those slim profits you have to squeeze the absolute most out of your resources. It’s easy to see why small business owners don’t want to fork over hundreds of dollars for new computers, smartphones, and tablets when what they have now is working “good enough”.

Stingy small business owners should be aware that buying the latest technology is not all about keeping up appearances with shiny new laptops and smartphones stuffed with the trendiest of apps. Skimping on tech updates will eventually cost money in the long-term, even if you are saving in the short-term by not spending capital now.

Here are 4 signs it’s time to bite the bullet and whip out the wallet to upgrade the technology used by your small business.

IT Support & Consulting

Want To Save Money On Your Next Vacation: Turn To The Internet For Help.

Posted by on 8:28 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Airbnb

More than Just a Trend: Airbnb Offers Better Service and Lower Cost Compared to Traditional Lodging

Vacations are expensive. A lot of families will try to save money by finding the cheapest motel they can find, but this isn’t always the most valuable option. Sure, you’ll save some money, but the cheapest motels are cheap for a reason. They offer few amenities, and they are often located in the worst part of town. Do you really want to spend your vacation in a neighborhood where it isn’t at all unlikely you’ll get mugged or your car broken into?

No, of course you don’t. Vacations are for relaxing, and the furthest thing from your mind should be potentially violent crime being inflicted on you and your family. Instead of going the traditional route for lodging, check out Airbnb, the popular lodging site where people rent out either a room or their entire house/apartment to strangers at a per-night cost. This arrangement has proven beneficial to absolutely everyone involved:

  • Hosts (they get to make a tidy profit with little to no capital investment required)
  • Visitors (they’re able to find a better place at a safer location and lower cost than traditional lodging)
  • Airbnb itself (the company is now valued at $10 billion).

In addition to vacations, Airbnb is great tool for business owners and managers looking to save money when their organization fronts the bill for employees travelling for meetings and conferences. Airbnb is also great for long stays, because for the cost of a mid-range hotel you’ll get amenities like a full kitchen and a washer/dryer, things you wouldn’t find in your room even in a top-of-the-line expensive hotel.

There are many more benefits to using Airbnb. Primary among those benefits is the connections you can make with other people. In a normal hotel or motel, you check in with the desk clerk and that is the beginning and the end of your human interaction. With Airbnb, you can make face-to-face contact with the owner, and if you’re renting a room rather than the whole place, you’ll make conversation and maybe even share a meal with your host. Many a long-term friendship has been made this way, and you can never have too many good friends.

Is the sharing economy a fad, or is it here to stay? Who cares? All that matters is that it’s here now, and you should take advantage of Airbnb to get the better mix of quality and cost than what traditional lodging has to offer.

Learn more about Airbnb at http://www.airbnb.com.

China Hacks into US Federal Weather Network: How Can YOU Avoid a Similar Fate?

Posted by on 11:33 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

National Weather HackerThe latest in a series of hacks was directed at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This federal organization, which oversees the National Weather Service, was infiltrated in late September, but the NOAA did not inform officials or the public about the breach until nearly a month later on October 20th.

In October, the NOAA made a public statement where they acknowledged their systems would be down for “unscheduled maintenance”, but they refused to admit that they had been hacked. They did, however, bring in some cybersecurity specialists to better protect information regarding the following:

  • Disaster planning
  • Aviation
  • Shipping
  • Other sensitive areas.

Despite the obvious implications of these protective measures, at no point did the NOAA admit that their security had been compromised. Not to the public, at least. “NOAA told me it was a hack and it was China,” said US Representative Frank Wolf, a 17-term Republican from Virginia who has held his office since 1981 when he swept into congress on the same red wave that brought Ronald Reagan to the presidency. Wolf decided not to run in 2014 and is currently serving out his last term.

“[The NOAA] deliberately mislead the American public in its replies. They had an obligation to tell the truth. They covered it up… [The information stolen] may not look significant until they’re put with something else and then they become valuable. The Chinese are stealing us blind.”

Wolf isn’t the only one upset with the NOAA. “We’re in the process of looking into the matter, including why NOAA did not comply with the requirements to notify law enforcement about the incident,” said Todd Zinser, Commerce Department Inspector General. Zinser says his office was not informed of the breach until November 2nd, well past a month after the breach occurred. Agency policy dictates that the NOAA should have notified the Commerce Department within two days of the breach.

As for now, who knows what kind of consequences the NOAA will face as a result of failing to report the breach; however, we suspect the consequences will be vast. If you’re worried about hackers, it’s best to take proper security precautions to protect yourself, such as:

  • Installing anti-virus software to protect your IT systems and data from anything that might cause harm: viruses, malware, adware, and much more.
  • Using firewalls to prevent intruders from accessing your network while keeping your confidential information safe.
  • Following best practices and knowing the warning signs of a malicious website or attachment so you can prevent infections.
  • Backing up data and creating a business continuity plan to keep your IT systems and data safe in the event of a disaster or malware infection.

Interested in learning more about IT security? Or maybe you’re looking for an IT support company to handle the security of your IT and data? Give us a call or send us an email. Our security experts put your security first.

Who Do You Trust to Handle YOUR IT?

Posted by on 8:19 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Geeky Computer GuyPicking a company to help you with all your IT needs can be difficult. Aside from an IT company supporting the software you need to run your business, you need to make sure they can take care of you with ease, talk to you in a way you understand and be able to do so promptly.

Rabble, Rabble, Rabble

Ever talk to a tech savvy person and wonder what they are doing to your computers, or even remotely understand what they are talking about? The last thing you want to hear is rabble, rabble and rabble. Any IT company that knows their clients, and their services, will be able to communicate to you in nontechnical terms. It should be as easy as hearing “Mom went grocery shopping to buy cereal for tomorrow morning.” Easy, simple and in plain English. Never should you have to be left in the dark trying to understand what someone is telling you. If your IT company is professional and knowledgeable, you should be able to able to understand them.

What Qualifies Them?

Just because someone has been doing IT for many years, doesn’t mean they are qualified to do the job. Finding out what experience they have, and how much of it they have done, is crucial to having the best support. Asking for certifications is never a bad idea, either. Sometimes, experience is all that matters. Below, you will find a list of recommended questions to ask, based on qualifications:

  1. What kind of work have you done before?
  2. How many staff members do you have and how long have the majority of them been with you for?
  3. What makes you stand out from everyone else?
  4. Your staff: what certifications do they have, what do they stand for and what are your training policies for keeping them up-to-date?

These top four questions can help you pick the right IT company for your needs. They should be prepared for these questions and should be able to answer them with confidence. Keeping up with the times is a big plus, and so is recertification. Take a note that some expire after a certain amount of time, which is why it is important to ask all these questions.

Fast Solutions

The last thing you need is to be down for longer than you need to be. Choosing an IT company that is fast, reliable and remote is important to your needs. Sometimes, the problem is a setting box that was unchecked or a simple conflict that can be resolved over the phone. However, for those tough times where it isn’t so easy, remote access is a crucial to your needs. Having someone that is able to remotely connect to your computer, and fix your problem fast, keeps you and your staff working efficiently with minimal downtime.

Caring Services

Having an IT company that follows up with their services and builds relationships with you is something you should look for. The proper IT company will help you with efficiency and provide solutions for problems you may not know are hindering you. They will also provide you with the proper service and not charge you for services you do not need. Having a friend, rather than a business, by your side will provide reliable, dedicated and consistent services, while keeping you afloat during the crucial times.

Billing, Simply

Having a bill come in and not understanding anything on it is an on edge feeling. Don’t fret over the small stuff because the proper IT company wouldn’t bill you something you don’t understand. Even if they do, it should be easy to call them and find out exactly what it is you were billed for. Clear, concise, and specific services are what to look for in an IT company. It makes billing simple and your tech life easier.

Finding the right IT company shouldn’t be difficult, nor do you want them to be. Give us a call or email us and find out how we can make your workdays easier.

Microsoft Updates Must be Applied to Kill the Security Bug!

Posted by on 10:19 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Windows SecurityBy now, you’ve probably heard of the recent security breach in Windows operating systems. Don’t panic! There is a way out!

Background

Microsoft updates their operating systems on a weekly basis. During last week’s updates, a security flaw was noticed that could compromise your system. Microsoft has taken every step to make sure that this bug is fixed. To explain this security threat, it allows hackers in through a backdoor and into your computer/servers. The systems that remain vulnerable are the following:

  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows Server 2008
  • Windows Server 2012
  • Windows Vista
  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8 and 8.1 (RT included)

What Should You Do?

This is a very simple fix. Microsoft has released an update to further prevent this from happening. You can easily access it by completing your Windows Updates, which is accessible through your control panel. If you cannot find your updates, or have many to do before getting to the latest update, you can access the security advisory download page, here. Once on the page; find your operating system; follow the link and the instructions. If you do not know your operating system, please complete all required and optional updates or contact our team of IT experts immediately, just to be safe.

Ways to Prevent Future Issues

Microsoft has many settings that seem to impede your business style, but they are actually better to have turned on. Some operating systems are no long supported and have no resolution to this security vulnerability. Here is a list, in which you can do, to prevent security issues from happening:

  1. Upgrade older operating systems – look into a new Windows 8.1 or Mac OS computer
  2. Turn on automatic updates – set updates to daily and a time where you are not at your computer
  3. Internet security software – be protected from other threats and security measures
  4. Contact us about network monitoring – we’ll monitor your network 24/7 to watch for security threats.

What are you waiting for? If you haven’t done your updates, it’s time to start. Security issues are a major problem in the computing world. Protect your information and important documents from being stolen or deleted. Give us a call or email us. Let us be your guide to proper security.

 

What’s New at Microsoft? Here’s the Latest Updates to Your Favorite Programs & Services!

Posted by on 7:35 am in IT Support Blog | Comments Off

Microsoft UpdatesMicrosoft is constantly rolling out updates and innovative new features for its programs and services. For most busy business professionals, it’s hard to keep track of the latest changes; so let’s go over some of the major updates and features that have been released over the past couple months:

Windows 8.1:

August 12th: Microsoft released an update to its Windows 8 operating system. Don’t get too excited, as the update was a minor one, mostly just an array of patches to fix some bugs that could have been exploited by hackers. One thing that’s also changed: the touchpad remains active when connecting a mouse, so you won’t lose those precious few seconds that previously frustrated Windows users worldwide.

Office 2013 SP1:

November 6th: Preview versions of mobile Office apps, including Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, were released for Android tablets running the KitKat operating system. Apple iOS users already had access to these preview programs. Microsoft plans to release the full version of these programs in early 2015.

Lync Server 2014:

November 11th: Microsoft announced that the latest version of its real-time communications server software will be rebranded as “Skype for Business”. The name chance will take place something during the first half of 2015.

Dynamics CRM ‘Leo’:

November 13th: Starting in the first quarter of 2015, CRM will be available from Japanese datacenters.

November 5th: Microsoft announced new pricing for CRM 2015, a tool used by businesses to better understand their customers and boost sales productivity. It now costs $65 per month per user (compared to the $125 per month per user that Salesforce.com, a similar service, charges). Existing Office 365 users only have to pay $45 per month for CRM 2015.