Archive for September, 2013:

5 Things to do Before you Upgrade Your Computer!

Posting Date: 09/27/2013  |   Filed Under: Consoles, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Are you looking to upgrade your computer and equipment for your business or home, but don’t really know where to start.  There are a lot of options out there when upgrading your computer and equipment.

  • Desktop or Laptop?
  • How much RAM do I need?
  • What is RAM?
  • Should I go MAC or PC?
  • How much do I have to spend?

By the time you answer these questions (and more!), and you begin looking to purchase a   computer and associated equipment the options seem endless!

We feel your pain, we understand that no one wants to have to make all of those decisions (and no one really understands what they are actually deciding).

So we are coming to the rescue, our franchise owners are always available to help you choose the best computers and equipment for your office or home, but there are still things you need to consider.

Below are the 5 things you should do when beginning your search for a new computer and equipment.

  1.  Set a Budget a Stick to It! – There is nothing worse than buying something and getting it home and feeling like you have been bamboozled.  This is especially true for business owners. You do not want to over spend.  So decide how much money you will be spending per computer and do not let anyone lure you to the shiny, newest and fastest computer on the market.
  2. Make a list outlining things you will be utilizing – You should know in advance what programs you will be running (even if they are internet based), if you will be using the Microsoft Office Suite, are there any special programs or utilities that pertain to your industry that you or an employee may need.  It may even be helpful to have your office staff track all of the programs that they use over several weeks so you can get a clear picture of what they need and why.
  3. Understand Computer Jargon – Don’t let people confuse you, stay ahead of the curve and prepare.  Find out what words like RAM (memory), processor speed, Input Ports and Drivers, Wireless Capabilities, and software packages may be included mean. Not only should you understand what they each mean, but how it impacts you and your needs. Make sure that whoever is assisting you in the buying process knows what programs you need to run, and can confirm that the computers you are purchasing has those capabilities and they can tell if you any of the programs you are looking for are included or if you need to buy them separately.
  4. Read Product Reviews – There is not a better way to decide if a product is worth buying than reading a review from a person who using that product every day for the same purpose as you and your company.  All of the big box stores and online outlets will have products reviews on their website.  You should also utilize resources such a CNet (reviews.cnet.com/) and PC Magazine (www.pcmag.com/reviews).  These resources will have unbiased opinions and will many times compare several models against one another.
  5. Protect Your Investment – The last thing to do is make sure you are prepared with a virus and spy ware package. This is possibly the most important part of protecting your computer. It will get attacked at some point and you have to be prepared when it happens.  Many have auto-updates, auto-removal or viruses, clean up and renewal alerts.  You want to make sure your investment is protected so this is not a step you should skip.

Does Your Computer and Equipment Need a Make Over?

Posting Date: 09/25/2013  |   Filed Under: Consoles, Technology  |   No Comments
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When was the last time your business did a computer upgrade?  Let’s be serious, not just a new monitor or replacing something that broke.  But a true upgrade and refresh of all of the equipment in the office.  Was it a couple of years ago, or maybe so long ago you can’t even remember?

According to the experts, the functional lifespan for a computer and corresponding equipment is five years. Business owners are always looking for ways to control costs, and one strategy is to keep equipment running and functional for as long as possible. After five years though this method can begin to backfire on a business as downtime and the time it takes to complete a task becomes increasingly longer.  Employee efficiency decreases, while employee frustration increases – as a business owner this is never a place you want to be!

Reasons to Upgrade Sooner than Later

Here’s a look at some reasons why your business should begin planning for a computer upgrade:

Support Costs and Repair Expenses: Keeping an old computer running is usually a lot like keeping an old car running. It begins with good intentions, but sometimes the repair costs start to overshadow the actual value. It is the same with an old computer. When the costs to keep it up and running exceed the cost of a replacement you probably have a losing proposition on your hands.

Decreased Productivity: Slow, slower, slowest? So your computer can barely reboot anymore, and running a program makes having a root canal look more fun!  If the answer is yes, then you are not working smart, effectively or efficiently.  A large corporation recently estimated the expense of lost productivity for a four minute boot-up time in contrast to a two minute boot-up at $28 million. That’s a lot of money for people drinking coffee while staring at a blank screen.

Time for a New Operating System: If you are one of the 600 million remaining XP users you should have April 8, 2014 marked on your calendar. Why you may ask.  Well that is the day Microsoft formally ends XP’s lifecycle and it will no longer receive updates or support. After the April date if you continue to use this defunct operating-system you will be placing your organization in the path of security hazards. This can also put your small business in danger if you are non-compliant regarding many different regulations. Many businesses are making plans to coordinate the purchase of new computers with the latest operating system just before April 2014. In case you weren’t aware in this Microsoft deadline, be aware!

More Cost Effective to Buy a New Computer or Repair the Old One: If the combined cost of upgraded software and parts for the existing computer is 50% of the expense of a new laptop or computer, then conventional wisdom says purchase new. Given the latest prices on a new computer this thinking can be very practical and affordable. A new computer can be priced as low as $300, and for $800 you can get something near the top of the line. Consumers and companies are always hedging their bets on laptop or computer commitments. “What if something better comes along a couple months?” If your computer is impeding your current productivity, stop looking to second guess it – maybe you need that completely new computer today!

 

 

Microsoft Windows XP: End of Life Issues for an Operating System and How This Will Impact Your Business

Posting Date: 09/18/2013  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Who plans a funeral years and years in advance? Microsoft – that’s who!

Next year on April 8th, Microsoft officially ends Windows XP operating system’s life cycle. Even with over 600 million worldwide users, Microsoft will no longer sell or support Windows XP and Office 2003. There will be no automatic fixes, updates, free assisted online technical support and security updates. Unfortunately, many of the 600 million users either don’t know or have forgotten about the funeral.

If you like it or not, it’s time to accept the death of XP and make a plan for the future. “When XP goes out of support, it’ll be a lot like driving a car that you can’t buy parts for anymore,” said Jay Paulus, Microsoft’s Director of Windows Small Business Marketing.

If you are feeling like you missed the memo, apparently you are not alone. Microsoft’s customer surveys indicate that for enterprises with 5-250 employees, only 55% of them know about the end of XP and 70% have no idea what the change will entail or how it will impact their business!

Are you part of this group?

Upgrade or Your Business Might Face the Consequences of Security and Compliance Issues
Windows XP

You should take this situation seriously and find out immediately if any of your computers are still running XP. If the answer is yes, your business can be negatively impacted with some significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Windows XP migration plan.

  • Security Risks: The biggest problem is the security threat to your business. Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information are vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. There is a strong likelihood that malicious viruses will be unleashed on XP’s “zero day”, leaving undefended computers immobilized and viruses spreading quickly over the net to PCs still operating on XP. No business owner wants to think about a virus spreading through all of the computers that keep your business functioning.
  • Compliance Issues: For many businesses, continuing to operate XP can result in compliance issues leading to the suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to securely maintain its systems and customer information. Compliance problems can place your business in legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation.
  • Upgrade Expenses: As a business owner trying to control costs, do you think an upgrade will be too expensive? Think again. Some experts view a business that continues to run XP as a liability bordering on irresponsibility. The problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade.
  • Custom Support Available for a Price: For businesses in denial about the end of XP, support will actually remain available after April 8, 2014 but at the annual cost of $200 per device. Depending on the number of computers your business is using, it’s not much of a bargain. In reality, this is only a temporary, contingency plan.

Security and compliance are perhaps the two most critical issues facing the business community in regards to the end of the XP life cycle. Tim Rains, Microsoft’s Director of Trustworthy Computing, stated in Microsoft’s Security Blog, “After April 8, attackers will likely have more information about vulnerabilities in Windows XP than defenders.” 

Do You Have an XP Migration Plan in Place?
Migration

Microsoft is fully invested in ending XP’s life cycle, so this is not a situation you can simply ignore. It’s happening on April 8, 2014, so mark your calendar. Most large organizations have been working on their migration plans for years. For small-medium sized business owners, the hour is getting late so we strongly encourage you to take action today!

Windows 7 and Windows 8 offer greater efficiency for enhanced productivity; more fully integrated WiFi and Bluetooth; improved user-interface; less down time and decreased labor costs for repairs. Again, Geeks On Call encourages you to take this situation seriously and develop a migration plan immediately. Our experts can help you understand your XP migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy for your business. Call your local Geeks On Call office today before it’s too late.

Do You Have a Reliable and Tested Backup System in Place?

Posting Date: 09/18/2013  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Security, Technology  |   No Comments
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Imagine that you are working on some critical financial data at the office or perhaps sorting through family photographs on your computer at home. What would you do if the computer containing all of your business and/or personal information crashed and your entire “digital life” suddenly vanished? What would you do if your computer was lost in a fire, destroyed in a flood or stolen at the airport? Do these scenarios put you into an automatic panic thinking about your data? At least the information can be recovered because you have a reliable and tested backup solution in place. Right?

Backing up is something we all know we are supposed to do. Yet, sometimes we feel that we are simply too busy to spend the time researching various secure backup solutions or we feel that money should be budgeted in other areas. Many of us are still relying on old tapes, stacks of disks and USB flash drives as our backup plan. Even if you have an external hard drive backing up your computer, this system isn’t entirely foolproof. External hard drives can also crash or be stolen and all of your information will be gone. Once disaster strikes and all of your business or personal information have been wiped away, it’s too late to think about what you should have done. Trying to recover this information is impossible in most situations and extremely costly.

We strongly encourage you to be proactive and establish a backup plan immediately. Even if you already have a backup plan in place, you should reevaluate the solution as technology is evolving rapidly!

Backup Solutions Move Online
Did You Know Utilizing Outsourced IT Support Can Benefit Your Business?

As ominous as the disaster scenarios above may sound, the good news is that backup options have become significantly more reliable and widely used. Technology and increased internet speeds have switched backup processes to on-line data storage. Here are a few informative pointers on how on-line backup systems work:

  • The on-line backup provider will download their software to your computer.
  • The application simply runs in the background backing up your data to the provider’s secure storage servers. It’s a simple automated system that backs up everything on your computer. Not just select files – everything.
  • Most on-line backup providers encrypt stored data in a class known as “Bank Grade Security.” With this high-level of data encryption, there is no need to worry that your business or personal information can be seen by others.
  • A user friendly interface enables you to set-up a backup schedule and to download and restore files once the files are backed up.
  • Think of on-line backup as insurance for your data. If you lose any files, you retrieve the information via the on-line backup system. You pay a monthly fee to keep your data insured.
  • On-line backup keeps your file structure intact. You can search for backup information just as you would find the information filed on your computer. It’s efficient and user friendly.
  • On-line backups provide easy recovery if disaster happens to strike.

 

Why On-Line Backup is Your Best Solution
Stay Ahead of the Competition with Outsourced IT Services

On-line backup is the best solution for ensuring the security of your business data and also personal information. On-line backup provides protection for your data in the event of a computer crash, theft or natural disaster while also delivering an elevated level of security. Within the realm of on-line backup solutions, there are a number of vendors and solutions to consider. Contact your local Geeks On Call to help you determine the best backup scenario for your business or home use. Be sure that your data is safe, secure and backed up.