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3 Questions You Should Ask Any IT “Expert” Before Letting Them Touch Your Computer Network
13th May 2022
3 Questions You Should Ask Any IT “Expert” Before Letting Them Touch Your Computer Network

There are seemingly countless IT service providers to choose from these days, and it can be challenging to tell one from another. However, not all IT service providers are created equal. Some offer independent services, while others are part of larger firms. Some are new to the field, while others have been around for years. There are also companies that put out slick marketing to grab your attention but make it hard to tell if they really live up to the hype. Well, we’re here to help you cut through the clutter. You want to hire someone who knows what they’re doing and is going to take care of your business the right way. To do that, there are a few questions you should ask every IT expert before you let them anywhere near your network to ensure you’ll be in good hands. What’s your IT experience? Education, certifications and hands-on experience are all important. You want to know your “expert” is actually an expert. It’s all too easy for someone to pass themselves off as an expert when they really have limited experience, so you should never hire an individual or a company without vetting them first. After all, this person (or team) will be handling EXTREMELY sensitive hardware and data essential to the operation of your business. This isn’t time to take risks or give someone the benefit of the doubt. When you work with an IT services company or MSP, you can generally expect that the people you work with are educated and experienced, but you should always ask. It’s okay to dive in and ask them about their certifications, how long they’ve been doing their job and how familiar they are with your industry. And if you aren’t sure what certain certifications are, feel free to ask follow-up questions. There’s a very good chance they’ll be more than happy to answer all of your questions, especially if they’re a true professional who knows what they’re doing! What’s your IT approach? There are different approaches to IT and network security. You have the old-fashioned break-fix approach, and you have the modern proactive approach. The break-fix approach used to be the staple of the IT industry – it was the business model of just about every IT support firm in the 1990s and into the early 2000s. This approach is pretty straightforward: Something breaks, so you hire someone to come in and fix it. If many things break or something complicated breaks, you could be looking at a pretty hefty bill – not to mention the costs associated with downtime. Today, most MSPs take a proactive approach (and if they don’t, look elsewhere). They don’t wait for something to break – they’re already on it, monitoring your network 24/7, looking for outside threats or internal issues. They use advanced software that can identify trouble before it strikes. That way, they can go to work proactively protecting your business so you avoid those hefty bills and long downtimes. These are companies that are willing to collaborate with you and your business to make sure you’re protected, your IT needs are met and you’re getting your dollars’ worth. What’s your GUARANTEED response time? This question often gets overlooked, but it’s one that can make or break your business – and it can make or break your relationship with your IT service provider. You need to know that you won’t be left in the dark when something goes wrong within your network. If you’re experiencing a cyber-attack or a power surge has taken out part of your server, the cost to your business can be catastrophic if your IT service provider can’t get to you right away. The longer you have to wait, the worse it can get. You need to work with someone who can give you a guaranteed response time in writing. It should be built into their business model, or better yet, the contract they want you to sign when you hire their services. They should be doing everything they can to instill confidence that they’ll be there for you when you need them. If you’re working with an IT company that doesn’t have your full confidence, you may need to rethink that relationship.

Simple PC Tips to Improve Productivity
29th April 2022
Simple PC Tips to Improve Productivity

Your desktop or laptop may have the applications you need for work, but it also features so many on-screen distractions that it’s easy for you to lose focus on important tasks. Here are a few tricks to help you avoid distractions at work and boost your productivity. Monitor productivity levels Start by tracking how much work you complete on an average day. There are many useful apps for this. For example, Google Chrome has an extension called RescueTime, which records your most frequently visited sites and tracks how much time you spend away from your computer. This app will provide you with a productivity rating and a detailed log of how you spend your time at work. If you discover you’re wasting a huge portion of your day on social networking and other online productivity killers, you’re more likely to make conscious adjustments to how you manage your time. Block sites that waste your time Visiting non-work-related websites hinders productivity. A quick five-minute break to check your Facebook feed may not seem like much, but a few of those per day add up to a lot of time. If you and your employees have trouble staying away from social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, then it’s a good idea to block access to them using URL filters. Alternatively, you can use browser extensions like StayFocusd or Strict Workflow, which allow you to set a limit on how long and how often users can visit non-work-related sites. Get rid of clutter You can also decrease distractions and increase your output by deleting old files, uninstalling unused programs, and organizing documents into appropriately labeled folders. Doing so makes finding files easier and improves your computer’s performance as well. As for the clutter in your email inbox, Gmail and Outlook both have features that filter out unimportant messages. Simply enable Priority Inbox on Gmail or Clutter on Outlook to get a clean, spam-free inbox. Stay on track with to-do lists To-do lists help you break down large projects into manageable, bite-sized tasks. Plus, crossing things off the list is surprisingly satisfying since it gives you a sense of accomplishment and total visibility over your progress. You can choose from a wide variety of digital to-do lists like Google Tasks or Trello, which allow you to set deadlines for small tasks and write clear instructions for each. What’s more, they’re incredibly easy to use and are great for keeping track of your workflow. Use keyboard shortcuts Mastering keyboard shortcuts makes it easier and faster to perform functions you’d typically do with a mouse. There are more than a hundred useful shortcuts, but here are the most common shortcuts you should keep in mind: Ctrl + C, Ctrl + V, Ctrl + X – copy, paste, and cut selected items Ctrl + Z – undo an action Alt + Tab – switch between open apps Alt + F4 – close the active app For more of these, take a look at this updated list of advanced shortcuts for Windows. In this digital age of short attention spans, focus is key to achieving business success. Drop us a line today if you’d like to know more about how tech can help improve focus and overall productivity for you and your business staff.

Gear up your network equipment with UPS
1st April 2022
Gear up your network equipment with UPS

During a power outage, responsible business owners use emergency power to keep desktop computers from unexpectedly shutting down. While that’s certainly a good strategy for keeping machines operational and preventing data loss, there’s something else you can do to ensure that your staff remains productive while weathering a storm: uninterruptible power supply (UPS) for networking equipment. UPS for network equipment UPS systems provide backup power in case of outages and protect against power surges, which don’t just damage computers but also make you lose unsaved work. Deploying them for Wi-Fi routers and modems allows you to stay connected to the internet in what is typically a chaotic time. Moreover, it makes sense not to just keep your PCs powered up, but to also have internet access during a disaster. This strategy works relatively well if your staff are predominantly laptop users, as that means you only need power for your Wi-Fi gear. Better than generators Although generators are indispensable for certain businesses, they also require greater upkeep. Small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) may not have enough capacity to maintain them because they typically require a utility crew who can manage high-maintenance equipment. What’s more, extreme mishaps when misused or mishandled could result in generator-related fatalities. On the other hand, misusing a UPS unit could result in the loss of a day’s work, but it’s unlikely to lead to anything as extreme. Why internet access is important during a disaster UPS-supported modems or routers help you stay online for as much as 90 minutes, which should be enough time to get your bearings before power finally runs out. Internet service providers (ISPs) are usually prepared for catastrophes and would normally have an emergency power source to stay operational. And if you can stay online via Wi-Fi during an emergency, you get the following benefits: Internet speed that’s faster than cellular access No extra telecom costs resulting from overreliance on cellular data All devices stay online using a stable Wi-Fi connection Devices don’t have to rely on cellular data-equipped phones for internet connection Plug in your network gear now Businesses that aren’t located in disaster-prone areas probably don’t give much thought to installing UPSs for their computers, let alone their modems. But accidents and emergencies are inevitable. And when they happen, you’ll find that having internet access is one of the most important things you need to ensure business continuity. Think of an emergency power supply source like a UPS as an investment that not just protects your systems from data loss but also keeps your Wi-Fi equipment functioning in emergency scenarios. Call us today for productivity-saving tips and other hardware hacks for your business

Why managed IT services are best for cybersecurity
18th March 2022
Why managed IT services are best for cybersecurity

Today’s companies need technology to function. Without it, businesses cannot compete and succeed. But with technology comes the ever-constant threat of hackers and cybercriminals. That’s why small- and mid-sized businesses need to protect themselves with robust cybersecurity solutions managed by IT professionals. The numbers According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2019 State of Cybersecurity in Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) survey, cyberattacks have increased dramatically. In the United States, 76% of companies were attacked in 2019, a significant leap from 55% in 2016. Sixty-nine percent of US businesses reported data breaches in 2019, up from 50% in 2016. The financial consequences have also increased considerably. The average cost spent by companies because of damage to or theft of IT assets and infrastructure increased from $1.03 million in 2017 to $1.2 million in 2019. Costs due to disruption to normal operations increased from an average of $1.21 million in 2017 to an average of $1.9 million in 2019. The attacks Globally, the most common forms of attack on SMBs are those that rely on deception: phishing (57%), stolen or compromised devices (33%), and credential theft (30%). Worse, cybercriminals are targeting SMBs more, with reported attacks having increased from 60% in 2017 to 69% in 2019. Why managed services? Partnering with MSPs is the most effective way to prevent attacks and protect your business from malicious threats. MSPs offer a full range of proactive IT support that focuses on advanced security, such as around-the-clock monitoring, data encryption and backup, real-time threat prevention and elimination, network and firewall protection, security awareness training, and more. And because managed services are designed to identify and fix weak spots in your IT infrastructure, you’ll optimize the digital backbone of your business processes. You’ll have faster network performance, a solid business continuity and disaster recovery strategy, and minimal downtime. One of the best things about managed services is that you get a dedicated team of IT professionals ready to assist you for any technology problems you may encounter. This is much more effective and budget-friendly than having in-house personnel handling all your IT issues. Being proactive when it comes to cybersecurity is the only way to protect what you’ve worked hard to build. If you’d like to know more about how managed services can benefit your business, just give us a call — we’re sure to help.

Data storage: HDD and SSD defined
4th March 2022
Data storage: HDD and SSD defined

When purchasing new computers, buyers used to have limited choices when it came to what kind of storage they got with their laptop or desktop PCs. But nowadays you can configure your system with either traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), increasingly common solid-state drives (SSDs), or in some cases both. Here’s a comparison of both storage drives so you can figure out which best suits your needs. What is an HDD? An HDD is basically a storage device in a computer. It consists of metal platters with magnetic coating, a spindle, and various moving parts to process and store data. The common size for laptop hard drives is the 2.5” model, while a larger 3.5” model is usually found in desktop computers. What is an SSD? An SSD is another type of data storage that performs the same job as an HDD. But instead of storing data in a magnetic coating on top of platters, an SSD uses flash memory chips and an embedded processor to store, retrieve, and cache data. It is roughly about the same size as a typical HDD, and resembles smartphone batteries. HDD and SSD Comparison The differences in capabilities between the two storage devices can be grouped into six categories: 1. Speed This is where SSDs truly prevail. While HDDs need a long time to access data and files because the disk must spin to find it, SSDs can complete this task 200% faster since data is instantly accessed through flash memory chips. This is why an SSD-equipped PC will boot operating systems within seconds and deliver blazing-fast speed for launching programs and applications, whereas a computer that uses an HDD will take a much longer time to boot the operating system, and will continue to perform slower than an SSD during normal use. 2. Capacity The largest SSD units have a maximum 100 TB storage capacity. Although there are large SSDs, anything that’s over 1 TB will cost businesses a lot of money. HDDs, on the other hand, have much larger capacities available for much more affordable prices. 3. Durability HDDs consist of various moving parts and components, making them susceptible to shock and damage. The longer you use your HDD, the more it wears down and most eventually end up failing. Meanwhile, an SSD uses a nonmechanical design of flash storage mounted on a circuit board, providing better performance and reliability, and making it more likely to keep your files and data safe. 4. Noise An HDD can sometimes be the loudest part of your computer. Even the highest-performing HDDs will emit some noise when the drive is spinning back and forth to process data. SSDs have no moving parts, meaning it makes no noise at all. 5. Heat More moving parts means more heat, and HDD users will have to live with the fact that their device will degenerate over time. SSD uses flash memory, generating less heat, helping to increase its lifespan. 6. Cost SSDs are generally much more expensive than HDDs for the same capacity. This is why many budget laptops may only have up to 512 GB of SSD storage. Despite the high costs and low capacity, however, SSDs are the clear winner over HDDs in terms of performance. While you’re paying more for less memory with an SSD, you’re investing in a faster and far more durable data storage option in the long run. We recommend using an SSD as the primary storage for your operating system, applications, and most-used programs. Many laptops and computers also allow you to install additional SSDs, so you can upgrade as required if your storage needs grow. Implementing HDD as a secondary storage unit is another great idea, especially if you need a place to store documents and pictures because they don’t need to leverage the incredible access times and speeds of an SSD. Looking to invest in some new hardware for your business? Talk with our experts before you make a decision. We can provide sound advice and help guide you in the right direction.

Laptop vs Desktop - What's better for your business?
18th February 2022
Laptop vs Desktop - What's better for your business?

As a business owner/entrepreneur, you often have to make choices that can either make or break your company. One such decision you have to make is whether to use desktops or laptops. Make the best choice by assessing the current situation and taking the following things into consideration. Portability The pandemic has driven the majority of businesses to adopt remote work setups. If your business will implement a similar arrangement, investing in laptops is the smart move, as your staff can easily take their device with them anywhere they want to work. However, there may be instances when this can turn out to be counterproductive: if your employees can jump into work mode easily, they may get the impression that they have to work 24/7. As such, you must not discount desktops altogether. While laptops are light and portable, modern desktop computers aren’t nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases, desktop screens are thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to move around. Memory and speed Before, desktop computers had more memory than laptops, and they were faster because they had bigger processors. This has now changed, thanks to improvements in laptop technology. But until high-powered laptops become affordable to the general public, desktop computers are going to provide your business with more memory, speed, and power for your money. How much speed and memory you need depends on the work you do. If your employees’ work mostly entails word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. But if they need to run gaming software or access heavy media files, better invest in desktops. Security A desktop computer is more physically secure because it’s often kept in one location, making it easier to guard. And because a desktop’s internet access is often a single source (whether through Wi-Fi or cable), it’s easier to defend it against malware and cyberattacks. If you choose to invest in laptops, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect devices that are used outside of the office. Don’t let your staff connect to unsecured networks, and use encryption tools to protect data from unauthorized access. You must also employ mobile device management software to enable your administrator to wipe data clean off laptops should they get lost or stolen. Price Laptops, especially the smaller notebook-style ones, are a lot cheaper than desktops. However, desktop computers are also becoming more affordable through local channels and lenient payment terms. And with a capable IT services provider that can provide you with infrastructure or offer cheaper desktop options, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor. Quality Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, they’re prone to battery and charging cord problems. They are also easily damaged, especially if they are dropped or mishandled. By contrast, desktops are generally sturdier. But when they do experience a problem, repairing them can be expensive. Final recommendation The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice. A growing company usually needs a combination of both types of computers, especially as their needs evolve. If you have questions regarding choosing the best computer for your company, give us a call. We’ll be happy to assist you in choosing the right product and improving your business.

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