Are You Ready for Windows 10?

Posting Date: 07/21/2015  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Microsoft will be releasing their newest Operating System on July 29, 2015. Perhaps you have noticed a Windows 10 notification on your current system and wondered about it? Now what? What does it all mean and what should you do?

Microsoft announced that computers running Windows 8.1 or Windows 7 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 after July 29. This upgrade is free, plus the offer is available over the next 12 months.  Users who are eligible will receive a system icon and popup on their screens.

Microsoft is moving to a “Windows as a Service” model with this latest release. This means that your new operating system will be updated regularly, plus you will never need to go through another major upgrade like this again. Windows 10 will be Microsoft’s last Operating System although this OS will continue to be upgraded and development will be ongoing.

Windows 10 Arrives on July 29, 2015

Immediately after July 29, 2015, users will receive notification regarding eligibility for the upgrade. However, the real question is should you upgrade? Many industry experts are very confident about the stability of Microsoft’s new operating system. Through Microsoft’s Windows Insider program, end-user testing has been unprecedented.  Feedback from a significant number of these professionals has already gone into the development of this product. With that said, none of this guarantees that your upgrade will go smoothly. Remember, all software upgrades come with a degree of risk.

Suggestions Regarding Windows 10

Our general recommendation is to initially hold off on this upgrade. We suggest that users wait to upgrade until there is a sufficient number of worldwide users testing the new OS. This is a sensible precaution so that any bugs that slipped through testing will be addressed.  There will be a consensus on performance after a few weeks of the initial upgrades. Remember, there’s no rush because the free upgrade offer will be available through July 29, 2016. Some of your applications or peripherals may not work properly with this upgrade. Software and drivers will need to be updated by many manufacturers to ensure their products are compatible with the new OS. For example, QuickBooks has been identified as a potential problem as Intuit does not have Windows 10 on their list of supported Operating Systems.

Windows 10 is also introducing an entirely new browser called Microsoft Edge, which replaces Internet Explorer.  This promises some challenges and compatibility issues with the web based applications you are already using. This is another reason to wait it out for several months before upgrading to the new OS.

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10 – Now or Later?

Windows 10 is considered to be a blend of the best of Windows 7’s look and the enhanced applications with the multi-device functionality from Windows 8.1.  Consider the following reasons for waiting to upgrade:

Better Performance:  Decidedly faster boot-up time while also offers better hardware acceleration. Plus a host of other tweaks means that the general navigation feels faster. Mobile device battery life lasts longer because the power management has also been improved.

File Management: Some of the most commonly used tools are utilized in finding and managing your files. Efficient file management is fundamental to any good operating system. A new Share ribbon now makes it much easier to move files between different apps. Tasks such as copying and moving are grouped into one window for easier file management. Transfer speed is shown in real time plus operations can also be paused, where previously they could only be cancelled.

Search Features:  Windows 10 greatly enhances Windows 7 search features. Useful search functions quickly look for matching programs and documents as you type. It also provides quick access to core features and chosen programs. It’s both effective and simple. Users can click on a search box that also separately displays Windows Store apps and a web search. Results are now presented in a more organized manner.

Sleek Design: If you were reluctant to move to Windows 8.1 because you didn’t like its look, then you may be very happy with the update. Windows 10 delivers flat windows and bold colors, but retains the old comfort of the Control Panel and Computer Management interfaces that still uses the old icons

Touchscreens and Tablets: Windows 10 really is a vast improvement over Windows 7, and this is especially true for operations on touchscreen devices. Windows 10 works smoothly across a range of devices, making it much easier to switch between a desktop, hybrid laptop and a tablet.

Cost: We don’t know the cost of a standalone copy of Windows 10, but the big news is that it is free when you upgrade from either Windows 8 or 7 during the first year of Windows 10’s availability. Remember, if you decide that Windows 10 really isn’t a good fit for you, you can always return to your previous version of Windows.

Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and request a consultation to evaluate your specific situation and how this upgrade will affect you.

Data Recovery Services Can Save the Day in an Emergency

If you are using a laptop, a desktop or a mobile device, you are involved in creating, processing, communicating and managing data. If you are employed by a large corporation or if you own a small business, you are involved in the protection of important data that seems to be continuously expanding.

Large Accidents and Tiny Disasters

It it’s for your business or your personal household finances, it’s always important to be proactive about protecting your data. Assuming you are using a tested and reliable backup system, unfortunate accidents can still happen. Even if you go through life following the Good Scout Motto of “Be Prepared,” at a moment’s notice an unexpected accident can occur. Data storage devices such as hard drives, memory sticks and smart phones can sustain real world physical damage.

It’s an annoyance when those small accidents happen. While small accidents are a nuisance, major disasters are just that – a disaster. Remember when unpredictable weather recently pummeled Texas? Within two weeks, the Lone Star state went from drought conditions to being hammered by epic rain fall that culminated in vast flooding. These shocking floods violently swept away homes, businesses and the lives of many citizens. The Governor declared 37 counties in Texas as disaster areas. At Geeks On Call, our hearts go out to everyone impacted.

Try Data Recovery Services from our Partners at Flashback Data

flashbackdataWhile a back-up system is your first line of defense, sometimes it’s no match for fires, landslides, tornados, floods or earthquakes. Even if it’s far less dramatic, human error and hardware failures are a huge problem and actually account for 75% of all data loss occurrences. The Gartner Group, the leading experts in data loss, state that only 6% of small business survive after a major loss of computer records. Geeks On Call can help you and your business get back on your feet by recovering your data with help from our partners at Flashback Data. Flashback Data is an international industry leader in accredited data recovery services.

Flashback Data offers the following specialized data recovery services:

  • Hard drives are becoming less common in laptops. Now that external storage devices are in greater use, your data is at a higher risk due for being dropped and damaged.
  • Flashback Data specializes in flash-based technology. Problems such as deleted files, file system damage, corrupted partitions and physically damaged devices can be rescued by their expert recovery services.
  • Flashback Data offers recovery services for notebooks, PCs, tablets, digital cameras and MP3 players. Don’t despair, Flashback Data can recover your damaged image and audio files.

Geeks On Call Can Protect You and Your Data

If you experience an unexpected data loss accident, there is still hope. Geeks On Call is now working in partnership with Flashback Data to retrieve what you feared was lost forever – your priceless data.

 

 

 

 

Technology Gifts for Moms, Dads and Grads!

giftsThinking about a special gift for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Graduation Day? You can’t go wrong with the gift of technology! The number of choices in technology is simply overwhelming, so let Geeks On Call help you with some suggestions.

Ready to Update That PC?

How about Microsoft’s Surface 3? Perfect as a replacement for a PC or large laptop. The HP Omen is a real workhorse that is also perfect for the gamer in your family. The HP Stream 11 is another great choice as a super affordable mini-laptop that covers the basics. It also offers a very long-lasting battery.

How about a Tablet?

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 3 is considered a top of the line choice. So good in fact, it’s the first tablet capable of fully replacing a laptop. For Android fans, consider the Google Nexus 9. It’s considered one of the best tablets on the market. The Lenova Yoga Tablet 2 features a cool digital pen and utilizes a cool device called AnyPen and Sony’s Xperia Z4 rugged road warrior tablet is ideal for the accident prone user!

Make Someone Happy with a New Smartphone!

At the moment, the top choices are the new Samsung Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy Note 4. If your giftee is an Apple fan, the iPhone 6 is great. Both the iPhone 6 and the S6 have developed incredible new cameras. Plus these slim and trim designs have great processing power. If you are on a tight budget, the HTC One M9 or Motorola’s Moto E, are good products available at affordable prices.

Very Entertaining!

Who wouldn’t love to receive Google’s Chromecast HDMI Streaming Media Player? Start enjoying your favorite online movies, tv shows, photographs, websites and music via your TV. Simply plug the device into any HDTV and control your entertainment selections from a Smartphone, tablet or laptop. How about some new headphones?  Sennheiser Momentum is at the top of the list. Bose offers Quiet Comfort 25 noise cancelling headphones and SoundLink Bluetooth headphones and speakers. Another gift suggestion is Bluetooth speakers from Bose, Sony, UE Megaboom, Jawbone or Logitech. All good choices and very entertaining.

Give the Give of Fitness!

Trying to send a message to a family member about their wavering commitment to health and fitness? Who wouldn’t appreciate a cool gift such as the Fitbit Charge HR, Jawbone UP3 or Apple’s Watch Sport? If you are considering a Smartwatch, Apple’s Smartwatch is a crowd pleaser. Also, take a look at Moto 360 that runs on Android. Another popular choice is the Pebble or Pebble Steel that runs on both iOS and Android. What’s not to love about that?

If it’s a new smartphone, tablet or laptop for a job-seeking graduate or a computer upgrade for your business, Geeks On Call can help.  Don’t hesitate to contact your local Geeks On Call office and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.

 

Why Fly When You Can Skype?

Posting Date: 04/22/2015  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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shutterstock_171075893-300x200Ugh, air travel. It just keeps getting worse and worse. The combination of over-sold flights, cramped seats, lost luggage and weather delays have made business travel more frustrating than ever. Luckily there are great video communication alternatives to expensive and time-consuming business travel.

Microsoft Introduces Skype for Business

Each month, over 300 million people use Skype to communicate with long-distance family, friends and colleagues. Microsoft announced in 2014 that they were updating Lync, their business communications “chat” app. The update product is known as Skype for Business. It’s based on Skype’s design yet draws on many of Lync’s features. Here’s what you can expect from this new Microsoft business product that is scheduled to be available in April 2015:

  • Skype for Business features enterprise-grade security, compliance and IT control.
  • Users can search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network. Users can connect with others who are either inside or outside the same organization. Just use Skype’s directory to contact any user on any device.
  • Skype for Business doesn’t require any new hardware. Current Lync users can easily update to Skype for Business Server within their datacenters. For Office 365 users, service is easily available via the online version of Office.
  • Skype for Business is integrated into Microsoft Office and has built-in features that deliver IM, voice, video calls and online meetings.

Skype for Business – Give it a Try!

If you have used Skype only for family-friendly holiday chats with long distance family members, you might want to try video business conferencing. Plus, if you have been using Lync, it’s time to upgrade to Microsoft’s Skype for Business.

Geeks On Call can help you learn more about video conferencing or help with the deployment of a new product, Contact Geeks On Call today and one of their technology professionals can assist you.

Risky Business: Is Your Business Using Unsupported Products?

Posting Date: 03/10/2015  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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GOCBlogAfter Microsoft XP’s demise last year, we hope that you followed the migration guidelines and are no longer using Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Office 2003. If you didn’t follow through on those important upgrades, you have a problem on your hands. If your business is using Microsoft Server 2003 your problems are about to get even more complicated. Continuing to use unsupported products such as Windows XP, Office 2003 and Server 2003 can be a risky business with dangerous consequences.

Don’t Ignore Microsoft Server 2003′s Deadline

Server 2003 is scheduled to join the Microsoft legacy list on July 14, 2015. Ignoring this deadline is not an option. Here’s why:

Compliance Issues:  The Department of Homeland Security’s Computer Emergency Readiness Team has been issuing alerts about the demise of Server 2003. Just the mention of Homeland Security indicates that this is an issue of major concern. Enterprises that are subject to regulatory obligations and are still running Server 2003 after July 14 are in danger. Any organization not meeting standard compliance requirements can face the suspension of certifications. This can lead to non-compliant issues and legal peril that can damage your business’ reputation.

Security Issues:  Homeland Security has issued warnings that continuing to run Server 2003 after the deadline will leave your business open to elevated cybersecurity risks. Your business’ data and customer information will be at risk to viruses, hackers and spyware. Don’t become a victim of cybercrime by leaving your most valuable assets at risk.

Upgrade Expenses: As a business owners, don’t try to save money by neglecting an upgrade. This is not the place to trim costs. You could end up dealing with problems that are significantly more expensive than the cost of an upgrade.

Consider Alternatives to Microsoft Server 2003

Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a long list of improvements over Server 2003 such as including better scalability, security, new operational roles and more.  Avoid Server 2008 because that product already reached the end of mainstream support in January 2015.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud hosted version of Office applications that is offered as a subscription service. The subscription format means you that won’t need to upgrade your Office products in the future. The subscription format enables a monthly or annual subscription fee that offers access to the latest version of the products you need.

Azure is Microsoft’s hosted server product developed for IT integrators. Azure enables applications and software to be deployed on an individual rather than a collective basis. A hybrid of Office 365 and Azure can be an alternative for industries that have developed applications that are reliant on 32 bit technology.

Avoid Risky Business!

Are you the owner of a small to medium sized business and are still using Microsoft Server 2003, Windows XP or Office2003? If yes, we strongly encourage that you take immediate action. Continuing to use unsupported products can place your business in serious jeopardy. Geeks On Call can help you understand your migration options. Contact Geeks On Call today and one of their technology professionals can work with you to develop an upgrade strategy.

You Really Can Fall in Love with Your PC Again!

Heart_corazón.svgRemember when you really loved your computer? What happened? Did things seem to slow down and just fizzle out? Does it feel as if there’s no spark left in the relationship? Maybe your relationship with your computer just needs some extra attention to get things back on track.

 

If you want to put that zip back in the relationship with your computer, try the following steps:

 

Startup Takes Forever? Does it take your computer a ridiculous amount of time to get started? Does it seem as if your computer just can’t wake up and get to work on time? One possibility is that too many non-critical programs are launching during the startup process. Expedite the start-up process by consulting with a technology professional. Most likely, unnecessary programs that are slowing down the functioning of your computer can be identified and removed. Processing can be sped up by cutting back on boot problems.

 

Feeling Bloated? Maybe your PC is sluggish due to bloating. PC makers often add in a load of free tools that techies call “bloatware” for a good reason. All these freebie programs are probably not really helping you or your computer. Removing the overload of “bloatware” can lighten the unnecessary load on your computer.

 

Time to Add Extra Memory? Does it seem as if your computer is practically overwhelmed every time it has to open a WORD document? That’s not a good sign. Perhaps it’s time to spend a few bucks and add more RAM or memory to your computer. RAM needs vary by user depending on user needs. Needs for a high speed gaming fanatic or a photo-editing artist are different than for a user who just checks e-mail. Have a technology professional properly assess your needs and add the required RAM to your PC.

 

Is Your PC Ready for a New Life? “Don’t throw good money after bad” remains a genuine truism. At some point, it’s probably not worth continuing to invest money into an old PC.  However, that PC could enjoy a new life as a secondary computer for your school children or just for checking e-mail in the kitchen. You could also consider donating the aging PC to a charitable organization located in your community.

 

Retirement and Responsible Recycling. Eventually the day will come when it’s officially time to pull the plug. When your PC is facing retirement, remember to be responsible to yourself and the environment. First, you must eliminate all of the data from your PC. Remember that just deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough adequate. The browser’s cache, cookies and e-mail contacts can still contain highly sensitive information. Play it safe and ensure your digital privacy by contacting a technology professional for assistance with secure data removal.  Be environmentally responsible and never use a dumpster as a means to deal with an unwanted PC. After removing the data on your PC, recycle the equipment through a reputable recycler.

 

Your Relationship with Your Computer Really Can Be Improved

It’s very likely that your computer can be improved with some professional maintenance.  Geeks On Call can help you increase the efficiency of an older PC by removing unnecessary programs and adding some additional RAM. Contact your local Geeks On Call office and one of their technology professionals will be happy to evaluate the status of your current computer.

 

New Year’s Resolution: Improve Your Financial Efficiency with QuickBooks

Posting Date: 01/07/2015  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology, Tips, Uncategorized  |   No Comments
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high angle view of a credit card on a laptopDid you make a list of New Year’s resolutions?

Does it include all of the usual items?

A new exercise regimen and a diet plan? De-clutter your basement and attic? Do better at recycling? Volunteer? Spend more time with your family?

Beyond those noble efforts, have you thought about improving the efficiency of your financial processes?

 

Improve the Efficiency of Your Financial Processes with QuickBooks

If overhauling your business’ financial processes didn’t make your list of goals for 2015, perhaps you should reconsider your list of resolutions. Maybe reorganizing those financial processes just seems like too much of a headache. Think again and consider QuickBooks. Many small business owners use QuickBooks to handle their daily finances, record-keeping and tax preparation.

QuickBooks Features:

  • With one quick click, you can see where your business stands by checking on your balance sheet. It’s easy to stay on top of your profit and loss statements.
  • Automatically download and categorize bank and credit card transactions. It’s easy to stay in sync with your bank and streamline your banking processes.
  • At tax time, it easy to track your expenses plus you can use mobile apps to photograph receipts with your smartphone.
  • Manage employee payroll and file payroll taxes.
  • Create customized professional-looking invoices with company branding.
  • Set up mobile payment processes.
  • Record and pay bills from vendors. Set-up and schedule recurring payments.
  • Your data is automatically backed up with bank-level security on a daily basis.

Give QuickBooks a Try in 2015

Geeks On Call can help you increase the efficiency of your business’ financial processes. Now is an ideal time to reevaluate your business’ financial systems. Contact your local Geeks On Call office for help with QuickBooks and other technology solutions.

Are You Protecting Your Data from Cybercriminals?

Posting Date: 12/16/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Tips  |   No Comments
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cybercrime

Do you remember when JP Morgan Chase was hacked earlier this year? Maybe you remember it vividly because you were one of the 76 million customers affected by this enormous data breach? The theft of digital information has actually exceeded physical theft.

Big retailers and financial institutions are continuously fortifying their networks against cyber attackers. As a result, smaller businesses are increasingly becoming the targets of cybercriminals and hackers. Why? Because smaller businesses are typically less prepared in the fight against cybercrime.

If you are the owner of a small business or are self-employed, Geeks On Call recommends that you safeguard your data with following tips:

 

  • Cybersecurity Awareness: When it comes to protecting yourself or your business, education and training is your first line of defense. Get informed and establish a plan. Follow appropriate internet safety guidelines while on the job or at home.

 

  • Clean Machines: Upgrade to the newest operating system, web browser and security software to guard against malware and viruses. Use a firewall software that prevents outsiders from accessing your network

 

  • Passwords and Authentication: Use unique passwords and change your passwords every three months. For greater security, use multi-factor authentication because it requires additional information to gain entry. If you work with vendors that are handling your business data, ask if they use multi-factor authentication. If not, you might want to find a vendor that does.

 

  • Secure Your Wi-Fi Network: A major misconception is that by simply having a router on your network this will provide the protection you need.  Without a password on the router, it is like putting a door on your office but not locking it.

 

  • Financial Transactions: Use encryption software to protect your business’ financial accounts, personnel files, product information and other highly sensitive data. Also, don’t surf the internet from the computer you use to process payments.

 

  • Mobile Devices: Require employees or other users to password protect their mobile devices, encrypt their data and install security apps to prevent cyber criminals from stealing information while the device is on a public network.

 

Geeks On Call can help you defend your business and home computers against cybercrime by strengthening your network and using security solutions. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to help you.

Is It Time to Clean Up Your Act?

MP900387618

“Hey, there’s not a single clean coffee cup in the entire kitchen!”

“How long has that milk been sitting out on the counter?”

“Wasn’t someone supposed to empty the garbage on Friday night?

What a mess! Anyone who works in an office environment has certainly heard their share of those kitchen complaints. If regular maintenance is ignored, things can deteriorate quickly. The same goes for your computers. Except your computers handle your most important assets: accounting, financial records, communications and client information.

Establishing a Maintenance Plan for Your Computers

Last month’s Geeks On Call’s Blog offered tips on keeping the outside of your computers clean. This month, the Blog presents maintenance guidelines for the “nuts and bolts” of your computer with the following tips:

Step 1: Windows and Mac both release security updates for their operating systems. Generally, these updates are set to run automatically. Follow these directions if you aren’t sure if the updates are complete or if you have disabled the automated updates:

Mac: Open the Systems Preference menu and choose Software Update. Select the updates you want to install from the list.

Windows: At the Start Menu, click on All Programs, then click Windows Updates. See the status of your updates and check on the automatic updates settings. You can perform these tasks manually or set your computer to download and install updates.

Step 2: Most recent computers offer hard drive maintenance as an automatic task. It defragments and reorganizes data storage for enhanced efficiency. It also provides disk cleanup by deleting duplicates and unused temporary files. On a Mac, this process is typically automatic. With Windows, if your computer doesn’t provide automatic hard drive maintenance, use the Start Menu to open and run the maintenance program.

Step 3: Periodically you should clear your Internet history or eventually performance issues will occur due to data build up. Internet browser tools can handle the problem with the following instructions:

  • Chrome: Hold Control and Shift, then click Delete to clear data. A new menu will open where you can erase selected data. Click on Clear Browsing Data when you are done.
  • Firefox: See Firefox menu and open Options to click the Clear button. This will erase cookies and cache data.
  • Internet Explorer:  Go to Internet Options control panel and click Delete on the General tab under the Browsing History.

Safari: Use the Edit menu to clear the browsing cache then select Empty Cache.

Step 4: Now that your computer is running more efficiently, be sure that the computer has a reliable backup system in place. There are many different options for backup solutions that are both reliable and affordable. Geeks On Call can advise you on a reliable backup system.

Step 5: Guard against malicious viruses by having an antivirus program on your computer. Protect your computer against losing important data or and save yourself from expensive repairs. Talk to your local Geeks On Call about your security needs

Step 6: Malware creates security holes that will compromise the performance of your computer. There are a variety of paid and free programs that will erase both spyware and malware programs. Also, be on guard and never download anything that comes from an unfamiliar e-mail address. Beware and never open attachments from unknown sources.

Take Care of Your Computers so That You Can Take Care of Your Business!

Regular computer maintenance, service and updates will keep your machine working at optimal efficiency. Geeks On Call can help you with backup solutions, malware virus and protection. Contact your local Geeks On Call to establish a regular maintenance schedule for your computers.

How to Keep Your Computer Clean

Posting Date: 10/15/2014  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Laptop on Kitchen Table with Cup of Coffee

Do you know how to keep your computer clean?

Office cleanliness can be a messy topic. A disastrous mess in the office kitchen generally brings on a scolding group email. People, clean up your act!

But what about your computers? Your computers are probably your office’s most valuable asset. Your computers are responsible for your business’ financial records, communications, book-keeping and customer data.

Keeping the outside of your computers sparkling clean isn’t meant just for aesthetic appeal. Computers create static electricity that pulls in dust that can inevitably clog the fan and other components. To clean the external surfaces of your computer, follow these cleaning guidelines.

Supplies:

Can of compressed air

Isopropyl (rubbing) liquor and distilled water

Microfiber material

Screwdrivers, Phillips-tip and flat-tip

Directions for Cleaning External Computer Surfaces:

Step 1: Turn off your computer and unplug all sources of power. Remove the battery is you are cleaning a laptop.

Step 2: Open the computer by removing the screws or utilize the sliding board. Clean the vent with the can of compress air. Use the air to blow dust, hair and crumbs from the vent. Always spray compressed air in short bursts while keeping the nozzle several inches from the components. Never shake the computer to remove dust. Shaking the equipment can loosen delicate parts. Refer to the computer manual or check online resources if specific directions are required.

Step 3: Clean the computer keyboard with compressed air. Use the spray nozzle to blow debris from the keyboard’s crevices. Never use a vacuum for cleaning your computer. A vacuum cleaner will create a static charge that can damage your machine.  Use rubbing alcohol and a Q-tip to carefully clean all of the computer seams. Never spray cleaning fluids directly onto the screen. Permit everything to dry completely before powering up the computer, then reattach any peripherals.  Every few month, follow this cleaning regimen. If your work environment is more inclined to grimy dirt, dust and hair, such as a manufacturing business or a salon, more frequent cleaning is recommended.

Your computers are an important asset to your business. To keep your computers running efficiently, we suggest regularly scheduled maintenance for both the internal workings and external surfaces. Contact your local Geeks On Call office and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss this service with you.