Three Ways Managed Services Improve Your Business

If you are running a company or a business of your own, you might be asking yourself, “Do I need Managed Services? Is it really worth it considering all the costs?” With the very competitive nature of today’s market, Managing Services may be well worth it. IT problems may be largely minimized or halted even before they occur if you have an IT consultant that constantly monitors your network. With an IT consultant, problems are addressed right away – many times even before they disrupt your operations. But despite this, many companies still tend to shy away from Managed Services. They believe it’s an extra expense that they are better off without, since Managed Services typically involve monthly or annual fees. What companies don’t realize that without Managed Services, they may be spending more than what they thought they save by not signing up. Here are three reasons why you should choose Managed Services: No unplanned expenses – Fixing IT problems will cost you, and more often than not, it’s not a measly cost. You’ll be forced to shell out money unexpectedly so that you can address the problem as soon as possible to minimize the effects on your work. With Managed services, you can allocate your budget accordingly. Lower staffing costs – Filling-in IT staff positions is often expensive, not to mention more tedious, when compared with Managed Services – and remember training costs as well. Managed Services provide you with trained personnel who specialize in managing your network for a much lower cost. Increased operations efficiency – With no network problems occurring, the efficiency of your operations would noticeably increase. You could do more and serve more. Customers would be happy and your employees would be free from frustration. All of this of course leads to higher revenues. So give Managed Services another look – you’ll be glad you did.

How to Assess Your Backup Solution

Most backup solutions available these days certainly do a good job of backing up your data. However, all backup solutions are not the same, and careful assessment is needed to ensure your backup solution is suitable for your requirements. It’s impossible to have a disaster recovery plan without first having an efficient backup solution. So, the question is:  Is your backup solution truly efficient – or just good enough? Traditionally, backup processes use a tape storage method. But unfortunately, tape has many limitations. Tape-based backup systems involve high costs. This is especially true with large capacity backups. Additional problems include complicated upgrades, degradation over time, and sluggish backup and restoration. Traditional backup procedures only capture a single snapshot of your information each day. This means that if your backup is programmed to occur at 12 midnight, you jeopardize losing the entire next day’s work if disaster strikes. Backing up traditionally requires rigorous manual labor . Someone has to make sure that the proper media is in the drive. Someone has to evaluate the backup results to ensure completeness, as well as periodically execute data restorations. Once the backup is complete, someone has to take it offsite for security purposes. Although some companies are equipped to perform all of these backup-related tasks, most aren’t—and many are unsure whether their backups will be available when needed. However, during the last three to five years, the standard backup method has shifted to digital solutions that provide greater capacity and quicker backup and restoration. Here are some ways that you can improve your backup system: Ensure that every bit of your data is backed up several times per day. Remove the human factor from the backup equation. (This reduces the possibility of error as well as operating costs.) Choose a restoration process that is fast yet flexible, so you can easily re-instate your entire data set or any part of it if needed. Ensure that your system has very little impact on your business operations. It should be transparent to you and your employees that the backups are even taking place (that is, until you need them, of course!). Don’t hesitate to contact us for more details. We can help you put together and manage an efficient backup solution that’s ideal for your specific requirements.

Search the Internet with Start Menu Search

Start Menu Search is one of the best features in modern Windows versions, but in Windows 7, it can only be used to search for programs and files by default. Fortunately, with a simple change, you can use Start Menu Search to trigger Internet searches as well – and these searches will be performed by your default browser and search engine. Read more.

Are You a Victim of Online Banking Fraud?

Beware! Someone maybe stealing money from you where you least expect it – your bank! According to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, online criminals have been getting away with what they estimate to be over $100 million in bank fraud – mostly at the expense of small to midsized businesses. Typically, hackers plant malicious programs known as Trojans into the networks of target companies, which then steal passwords to various online services such as online banking and fund management. Having gained access to these services, these hackers then commit something called ACH or Automatic Clearing House Network Fraud. Typically, they wire money out of their victim’s accounts and into the accounts of money “mules” who help them launder the money for a cut. These funds are then transmitted to the criminal masterminds – who are often located in countries outside the reach of American law enforcement, such as China and Russia. Small and midsized businesses have become a favored target by hackers lately because they often lack the time and resources to put stringent security controls in place. A survey conducted by security vendor Panda Security reveals that of the 1,400 businesses questioned, around 52 percent employed no basic security measures such as Web filtering, while 29 percent lacked anti-spam protection. How can you protect yourself and your business? Make sure you educate employees about the threat and train them in basic security awareness, such as avoiding opening emails and attachments coming from suspicious senders or with suspicious content. Consider beefing up your network security measures – including installing and using updated antivirus software, network firewalls, and web and mail filtering solutions. Too busy? Don’t know how to start? Then perhaps this is a good time to seek out the services of a professional. Call us today to see how we can help protect your business.

Prevent Your Mouse from Waking Windows 7 from Sleep Mode

Among a host of power management options available in Windows 7, sleep mode is a convenient way to save power and reduce wear and tear on your computer’s hardware. However, your mouse is set by default to wake up Windows 7 from sleep mode, and one slight tap or vibration can wake your computer up. Luckily, you can disable this feature. Read more.

Laptop Stolen? Get it back!

In the wrong hands, a stolen laptop can compromise your personal security and the security of your business, not to mention the actual loss of the data. This is why it’s paramount that you guard yourself against laptop theft and put measures in place that guard your data in the event that your laptop gets stolen. A study by security vendor Symantec cites that in the United States alone, someone’s laptop gets stolen every 53 seconds. And of that number, 97 percent of those are never recovered. Besides the obvious loss of your hardware and the inconvenience that brings, experts cite a much more important concern with stolen laptops: the loss of the information you have inside. Saved passwords, sensitive business and personal information – in the wrong hands, a stolen laptop can compromise your personal security and the security of your business, not to mention the actual loss of the data itself. Symantec and the Ponemon Institute, an independent data, information, and security research firm, pegs the average loss from a stolen business laptop to about a whopping $10 million. This is why it’s paramount that you guard yourself against laptop theft and put measures in place to guard your data in the event that your laptop gets stolen. Fortunately, there are several options you can choose from, such as installing a tracking program on your laptop and regularly backing up your data. You can also use more sophisticated passwords and encryption for your computer, making it harder to crack. Some trace programs also include an option to remotely wipe the data on your laptop in case of theft. Both your laptop and the data on it are important business tools, which is why you might want to consider upgrading your security measures to help prevent losses from theft. Please give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide a blueprint of security policy that works for you.

Printers 101

These days, printers have become more than just, well, printers. There are many features and factors to consider in your purchase to make sure the printer you buy is as cost effective as possible. Multi-functionality is one of the most important factors you should consider when buying a printer. With technology moving in leaps and bounds, having a device that just prints out paper won’t cut it anymore. Today’s printers have multiple functions, which make them more versatile. Look for features such as a built in scanner (preferably capable of multiple page scanning), as well as fax and copy options. It’s much more convenient to have everything in a single device, and it saves space too. Another factor to consider is how economical your printer will be to use. One feature that helps reduce costs is called duplex printing, which allows you to print on both sides of the page – saving on paper costs and making your operations much more environment friendly. Make sure that your printer has the option of setting duplex printing as its default mode. Another way to save is by determining which type of printer you need – laser or inkjet. Inkjet printers print slower, but are cheaper to purchase and use. Laser printers print faster and offer better quality output, but are much more expensive to purchase, and the ink cartridges cost a lot more, too. So before buying a printer, it’s essential to determine how you’ll use it first. Also make sure that your printer has the option to print draft and black-only copies for not-so-important documents. When you don’t need professional quality or color prints you should have the option to enable lower quality printing, which will save on ink costs. You should also look into network printing, which lets multiple users print from a single printer. This enables you to monitor ink and paper usage better, and also eliminates the need for multiple printers in the office, saving on purchase, operation, and maintenance costs. An LCD on your printer will also help you diagnose and troubleshoot problems, as well as preview documents that are printing or in the cue. If you are looking for help in buying a new printer for your office, or want to organize your existing printing system to save on costs, please feel free to give us a call so we can discuss options that will meet your particular needs.

Old Programs can Get Stale, in More Ways than One

One of the more subtle ways hackers use to get malware into your system is through programs that are not up-to-date. This is why it is essential that your programs be upgraded regularly, especially with the latest security patches that plug up the holes in the system. One of the more subtle ways hackers use to get malware into your system is through exploiting programs that are either old or not up to date. Naturally, most programs are not perfect when they first come out, and hackers are always out to exploit weaknesses in the design and infrastructure of these programs. This is why developers constantly send patches and updates to their clients and subscribers. Programs that do not have these patches and updates that fix vulnerabilities in the system are very viable entry points through which malware can enter your system. Also, older programs on your system might be phased out, which means the developer is not releasing patches or fixes for them anymore. This is why it is essential that your programs be up to date, especially with the latest security patches that plug up holes in the system. And if there are programs that are beyond their expiration date or aren’t being used any longer, it’s a waste of space and resources to keep them installed in your computers. It’s important that you regularly check the status of your programs to make sure that they’re always in tip-top shape. If you’d like to ensure that the programs you use are always patched, updated, and safe, please contact us so we can sit down with you and develop a customized security system that meets your specific needs.