Archive for the ‘Tips’ Category:

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.

Are You Using the Right Tool for the Right Job?

wrong-technologyDoes it seem that your employees are not being as productive as you had expected? That might be true, but let’s not jump to the assumption it’s entirely the fault of the employees. Office inefficiencies are often caused by outdated or misused technology. In other words, the wrong tools can actually be at the root of the inefficiency problem. The 1907 slogan, “The Right Tool for the Right Job,” is still completely significant in today’s digital work environment.

 

Is Your Current Technology Really Working for You?

Here are several technology solutions that could significantly enhance your business’ productivity with little to no investment.

  • Productivity: Add a second screen to a computer and that employee’s productivity can be increased by as much as 50%.
  • Flexibility: Add an inexpensive solution (some solutions are even free!) that will keep data secure on your office computer while you can access it at any time from any location. Don’t waste time by continuing to email files to yourself. Are you still dealing with the confusion of multiple versions of the original file?
  • Communications: Add a client relationship management (CRM) solution that can enhance efficiency and improve customer satisfaction. You could link your CRM to your current phone system.  Also, consider upgrading your phone system. Remember that lost messages and missed phone calls lead to losses in revenues and missed opportunities.
  • Data Security: Add an automated online backup solution and secure your business’ critical data. Your business can save as much as 10 hours per week with an automated online backup solution.

It’s Time for a Technology Assessment

A yearly assessment of your business’ technology is important. Many business owners avoid this assessment based on the assumption that improvements will be prohibitively expensive. Trust us, not all improvements are costly. Sometimes even small and affordable changes can deliver profits to your business’ bottom line.

Geeks On Call can help you make an informed decision about your business’ technology. Give your local Geeks On Call office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to work with you and develop a customized plan for your business.

 

You Can Transform Your Business with Office 365

Posting Date: 08/08/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Most computer users are well acquainted with Microsoft Office. Office includes popular applications such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access. By 2012, Office had become such an enormously successful product that it had reached over one billion users.

Microsoft has presented Office 365 as the successor to the highly popular Office product. Office 365 is built around the Office product platform and is capable of running on Windows, Macs and portable devices such as iPhones and Android phones. The biggest innovation with Office 365 is that it is structured around a cloud delivered subscription service plan. Generally referred to as “software as subscription,” Office 365 represents the shift away from buying software. With cloud access, Office 365’s subscription plan eliminates the perpetual licensing structure associated with software purchases.

Office 365 provides users with some additional features. Microsoft has created Office 365 editions designed for various types of clients. For the business market, there is Small Business, Small Business Premium, Pro Plus, Midsize Business and Enterprise. For the consumer market segment, Office 365 is available in Home and the new Personal edition for the individual client.

 

The Advantages of Office 365

In you are working from a home office or own a business and are managing a team of employees; Office 365 offers the following advantages:

 

  • Work Wherever and When Ever: Your Office tools can be accessed from virtually anywhere. Use PowerPoint, Word, OneNote and Excel via cloud access. You can easily share files with team members, plus there is great data storage capacity.

 

  • Mobile Apps: You can use PowerPoint, Excel and Word files on your mobile device when you are working on the go. When you return to your office, you can quickly reconnect to these files from your office computer. Save time by picking up where you left off. Even the formatting stays intact.

 

  • Easily Manage Your Website: With easy-to-use DIY tools, you can quickly make changes to your website. Take charge of your marketing efforts with an up-to-date website. Without any web-hosting fees, you can add your existing website to Office 365.

 

  • Email and Calendar: With Office 365 you can sync your email and calendar. Private and secure communications via a hosted business class e-mail system. Anti-spam and anti-virus protection is provided in addition to instant messaging. Never forget another appointment again.

 

  • Online Conferencing: Take advantage of HD conferencing features. Save time and money by replacing business travel with online meetings that also include real-time note taking and desktop sharing.

 

  • Subscription Benefits:  Save on upfront expenses through Office 365’s subscription plan that enables users to pay on a monthly basis. With a monthly payment plan, you can easily cancel the subscription at any time. You can also upgrade your subscription to another edition within the same customer segment.

 

Is it Time to Reshape Your Business?

Office 365 offers you the ability to reshape the way your business operates. As a business owner, you can reshape your workforce into a more efficient team that is capable of being productive anywhere and at any time. Geeks On Call can help.  Contact your local Geeks On Call office and a technology professional will be happy to show you how Office 365 can benefit you and your business.

Should Your Business be Worried About HIPPA Regulations?

Posting Date: 06/18/2014  |   Filed Under: Security, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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The response is most likely yes! In fact many businesses and industries have to comply with HIPPA standards and regulations.

Unsure what HIPPA is and why it’s important?  Here is a quick review:

HIPPA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.  HIPPA was sanctioned by Congress in 1996 with the objective of enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of our health care system.  It also determined the guidelines for the security of vital and sensitive patient information known as protected health information (PHI).

PHI makes each of us rapidly identifiable based on our name; social security number; address; birth date; payment information; and our past, present, and future physical and mental conditions and treatment procedures. Shielding this kind of extremely sensitive information is of the utmost importance for any business that handles PHI including healthcare providers, insurers, financial services, and other health related service.

HIPPA built strict guidelines with the HIPPA Privacy Rule and the HIPPA Security Rules characterizing how this delicate information must be protected. Most healthcare providers and organizations work with a HIPPA compliant hosting provider and data center to safeguard information that is online or transmitted over the Internet. The HIPPA Security Principles fall into three classifications:

•Administrative Safeguards requires the assignment of a privacy offer; an annual risk assessment; employee preparation; workforce security and observance to information access standards for all involved with PHI.

•Physical Safeguards oversee four areas of compliance regulations that include facility access controls; workstation use; workstation security; and device and media controls.

•Technical Safeguards outlines the five areas of technology that defend PHI.  Technology must comply for access control; audit controls; integrity; authentication; and transmission security.

The punishment and penalties for HIPPA non-compliance can be extreme.  The financial ramifications can be as high as $50,000 per violation or more!   If you are concerned about your business meeting HIPPA’s strict standards for technology, please give your local Geeks On Call office a call for a consultation.  We have many owners that specialize in HIPPA compliance and regulations.  While we are not giving legal advice, we can certainly help with your technology.

What is your computer doing during while you are taking a summer vacation?

Posting Date: 05/22/2014  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Technology, Tips  |   1 Comment
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Your computer gave you a great deal of support and guidance during the planning of your summer vacation.  The time spent looking at travel websites to find the ideal vacation location, the hours of price comparing to find the best deal, the moment of exhilaration when you found those airline tickets for $200 less.  You couldn’t have planned this amazing vacation without the help of your computer, have you taken the steps to protect it?

The Ideal Vacation Experience: Suitcase, Sunscreen and a Computer with reliable backup solution.

Summers are the time many of take a break and enjoy the weather, but it can also provide unpredictable weather situations!  Summer brings extreme heats, hurricanes, heavy rains and flash floods that result in power failures and technology system break downs.

In the event that you leave your computer vulnerable to these weather situations, consider this a warning and a time to get your computer’s backup solution in order! On the off chance that you are truly able to have a worry free vacation, then make certain to protect your machine before you leave.  The last thing you want on the vacation that you spent weeks planning and month’s day dreaming about, is word from home that severe weather has destroyed your computer and you can’t recover any of your information!

Be ready and make a move to ensure you are protects and able to enjoy your summer vacation with these backup suggestions: 

  • Backup for Business: A dependable backup solutions is essential for the security of your business information. Your business information is the most important asset to your business. Imagine how you would run your business without financial, client, and inventory documentation.  Over half of businesses don’t survive after a major data loss, make sure you are not one of these and can easily get back up and running quickly when a data loss occurs.
  • Home Backup Solutions: How are you ensuring the safety of your personal files, information and photos?  Is it with flash drives that are thrown in the back of a drawer, external hard drives stashed next to your computer, have you ever really given it much thought?  Flashes drives and external hard drives are not acceptable backup solutions, and it is something you need to think about!  If you home floods or catches fire, hard drives and flashes drives will also be destroyed.  You need to protect your personal and financial records, and your cherished family photographs with a reliable and backup solution.
  • Work Flexibility: Backup solutions can provide more than just sense of security; it can also provide you greater work and life flexibility.  In the event that you are on beach somewhere or having a fun filled “staycation”, you may need to weigh in with your office at some point. You can stay joined with business data, financial information, or customer matters by means of remote access. You will not have to stress about missing out on your vacation or family time, you can stay up to date and connected to the office and everything you need from anywhere.

 

In the event that a backup solution is not in place at your business or your home, use your impending summer vacation as a target date to aim for and get prepared!  Contact your local IT expert to help you determine and implement a backup solution that meets all of your needs.  With this crossed off your to-do list you can spend your summer relaxing – anywhere!

Why Your Small Business Must Have a Back Up Solution!

Posting Date: 05/16/2014  |   Filed Under: Data Back-up, Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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It is 2014, and every business needs to have a back up solution and recovery plan in place for their most critical information should a data loss occur.   The cold hard fact is that most businesses are failing in this department because over 40% of Small and Medium Sized Business do not back up their data at all, and that 60% of backups fail when tested!

The time it now for businesses to quit fooling around when it comes to backing up their most important data including client records, QuickBooks files, and other irreplaceable company information.  Here are motivators to convince you to make sure your data is backed up and your business can rapidly bounce back from a data loss disaster.

1.  Human Error: People represent 30% of all data loss; this percentage incorporates accidental deletion, rogue employees, and spills.  While a human error is difficult to prevent, you can at least proactively protect your business by having the ability to revert back to an error free file.  Occasionally employees will not properly update a document or delete a file, so having a plan to restore the lost or inaccurate data is imperative to running your business.

2. Technology Equipment Fails: Technology equipment that you are utilizing to run your business has made great strides forward, but it will not always work flawlessly and may fail.  It is extremely costly, if not impossible for your business to eliminate every failure point in your IT infrastructure, so the best option for your business is to back up your information consistently so you can get the failed equipment back up and running quickly.  This quick action will help you minimize downtime and revenue loss that your business would otherwise incur.

3. Natural Disasters are Unpredictable: Over the last several years Mother Nature has caused chaos when it comes to our technology system though deep freezes, extreme heats, and mass flooding.   Businesses that do not have their data backed up with a recovery plan in place will have a daunting task ahead of them attempting to resume operations in the event of a natural disaster.  In fact, over 80% of all businesses that experience a business interference of more than five days close permanently.

4. Competitive Advantage: It is a bizarre to think that having and backup and recovery solution in place could give you an advantage over your local competition, but it absolutely can! In the event of a local disaster that takes everyone’s technology down, the first one back up has the opportunity to gain all the business of those that are still recovering and not able to meet customer’s needs.

5. Theft: Theft can put your company data at risk in a number of ways including hackers obtaining client information or employee’s computer or mobile device with company information on it being stolen.  Instructing employees about utilizing the internet safely will help protect you against viruses and hackers, but in the event that a device is stolen it gets more difficult to recover.  Having a backup that will make it much easier for that employee to get back to work, and with the growing options in Mobile Device Management you may be able to remotely erase all of the company information off of the stolen device.

6. Compliance Issues: A large number of Professions and industries require all businesses in that niche to have a backup and recovery plan in place.  If you are unsure what is required by your industry you need to find out right away, because if you are out of compliance the fines and penalties that are associated can be costly and is many time more than the actual cost of putting a plan in place.

7. Cold Hard Facts: If the information above has not yet convince you to call your local Geeks On Call owner to discover how our experts can verify you have a reliable and tested back up solution in place, perhaps that facts will:

  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States. (Mozy Online Backup)
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster. 50% of businesses that found themselves without data management for this same time period filed for bankruptcy immediately. (National Archives & Records Administration in Washington)
  • 34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape backup failures.
  • 2,000 laptops are stolen or lost every day
  • 46% said each hour of downtime would cost their companies up to $50k

We know that it is human nature to believe your business will not have a data loss, unless you have already been affected by a data loss. Data loss can happen at any time and without warning, and if you do not have a backup and recovery plan in place your business will face issues.

We challenge you to think about how much money you are losing every time a server or desktop fails and your employees are not productive or your clients cannot complete orders.  Putting a proactive backup and recovery plan in place today will save you time and money later when disaster does strikes!

What Is Business Technology Support

Posting Date: 04/30/2014  |   Filed Under: Technology, Tips  |   No Comments
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Business technology support is often described as the services that aid in the delivery of technology products, such as computer, software, and mobile devices to the end-user within a business environment.

•Technical Assistance: Many are well acquainted with technical help that is available via email, a help desk, an online support center or a call center.  These sources of technical assistance traditionally assist with equipment and software issues. Fast emerging is also assistance through remote access.  Remote assistance allows a technicians access to the user’s work station via the internet in order to quickly and more cost effectively diagnosis and begin repairing issues. Remote access is ideal for computer optimization and the removal viruses or spyware, among other issues that they can repair remotely.  This is a prefect option for business clients and home office clients that cannot easily bring equipment into a repair shop.

•Managed Services: Managed Service Providers have the ability to handle all of your business technology or specific pieces on an on-going basis that is set up at a fixed monthly fee. These services typically include monitoring and maintenance of servers, network security, back-up solutions, cloud services, and vendor management.  Many Managed Service Providers can also provide solutions for helpdesk, on-site services, and other customized technology solutions for your business and industry.  This model of outsourced IT support has been growing within small businesses, because it is often difficult and very costly to have an in-house IT staff with this level of skill and experience.  It is also an extremely effective way for small business to handle technology cost and gain access to new technology solutions.

•Technology Advisors & Consultants: Business technology support can move to a higher level and provide small business owner’s access to Trusted IT Service Advisors. These Advisors work closely with the client to understand the long-term business goals in order to make strategic recommendations and develop a technology plan. This includes informing the business about new technical solutions that will allow them to grow and be more productive, giving them a leg up on their competition. The advantage of utilizing this type of business technology support is that the business gains access to an IT professional who helps them grow and achieve future goals with the help of new technology solutions.

Yes, business technology support covers a wide variety of services and options.   All you have to do now is decide what level of business technology support you need!

 

 

Understanding the Heartbleed Bug

Posting Date: 04/10/2014  |   Filed Under: Internet, Security, Technology, Tips  |   2 Comments
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Yesterday an enormous exploit was announced impacting OpenSSL, the open-source software package extensively used to encrypt Web communications. They named this exploit the Heartbleed Bug. Many have questions about what this bug is, how it will impact them, and what they should do to protect themselves online. Hopefully this post will help you answer these questions and more about the Heartbleed Bug.

 
What is the Heartbleed Bug?
The Heartbleed Bug uncovers a vulnerability in the OpenSSL cryptographic library that permits attackers to access to highly sensitive data that is regularly protected by the SSL/TLS encryption methods. This sensitive data includes username, passwords, credit card numbers and information on virtual private networks (VPN’s).

 

What is does?
This noxious Bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software,” according to Heartbleed.com. The bug compromises the secret keys OpenSSL utilizes to encrypt online communications. With access to these secret keys, attackers are able to eavesdrop on communications, impersonate other users and steal information.

 

Who discovered it?
The Bug was uncovered a late last week by the Finnish security firm Codenomicon and analysts at Google who then revealed it on Monday. By mid-day Tuesday many websites stated they had already addressed the issue, or were in the process of upgrading their websites OpenSSL.

 

Are you at risk?
OpenSSL is the most commonly used open source cryptographic library and TLS implementation source to encrypt data on the Internet, so the answer is yes you are likely at risk. Popular social sites, your organization’s site, hobby and interest website, commerce or shopping websites and even government sites use OpenSSL and therefore may be impacted by this Bug.

 

What should you do to protect yourself?
Experts suggest that refraining from using the Internet for 2-3 days, specifically from accessing social sites, banking sites, and email accounts will give you the ultimate level of protection against the Heartbleed Bug. This is not realistic for most us, so it is suggested that you change all of your passwords once the OpenSSL update has been installed on the impacted website.

For more information visit www.Heartbleed.com.

Take Your Business to the Next Level with an Outsourced IT Support Model

Is an IT professional currently handling the technology needs of your business, or are you contemplating transitioning to an outsourced IT services model like many other small businesses?  According to a survey completed by CompTIA 62% of the organizations surveyed planned to make greater investments in Outsourced IT Services (managed services) over the next two years.

If you are thinking about moving in this direction let us help you understand what your IT Service Professional should be doing to support and improve your business technology:

Trusted IT Expert & Advisor: Any IT Service Provider that you choose to work with must be an expert in consulting and providing IT service to small businesses.  The small business is unique in its needs and growth potential.  Additionally, they often come with a diverse and skilled workforce, which is difficult for small businesses to hire on their own.  And finally, they should have a comprehension about your business in order to make technology suggestions that will improve technology and increase profit potential.

Proactive Management: Proactive management of your technology equipment provides information on how your infrastructure is currently running, and allows for advance planning and knowledge regarding equipment upgrades and replacement to avoid disruptions in employee productivity.

Secure & Backed Up Infrastructure: When you move to an outsourced IT support model you no longer have to worry about the possibility of malicious online attacks to your equipment or network should your employees click on an unsafe link or open an infected email attachment.  They will also provide managed backups of all your company information and data so if something is deleted or a natural disaster occurs and everything is lost, they can quickly recover it and get you back to work.

Increased Efficiency & Productivity: They will work to identify slow running equipment and network issues, and schedule maintenance to fix these issues decreasing the amount of downtime your employee’s experience.  Technology upgrades provided by the IT support provider will result in a streamlined workflow that increases business efficiency and employee productivity.

Controlled Costs: An extreme benefit when moving to an outsourced IT support model for a small business is the ability to control and predict expenses.  When you moved to an outsourced IT support model you are given back control of your technology costs through one monthly bill that covers all of your technology needs.

Scalability: Since your IT service provider understands the long term goals of your business, they are able to take them into consideration as they are implementing new technology now and ensuring future growth potential will not be impacted.

IT Support Dedicated to Your Small Business

There are over 23 million small and medium sized businesses in the U. S. who are trying to remain competitive against large corporations with more money and resources. One of the main ways a small or medium sized business can continue to compete with these larger businesses is through the strategic planning and use of technology. Small and medium sized business owners see technology only as a device to increase productivity, increase communication with customers, and decrease operational costs. Expending past these obvious uses is sometimes difficult for small business owners to uncover.
As a business owner you should be able to answer the following questions:
o Is your business running an updated operating system?
o Will your business be impacted by the end of the Windows XP life cycle?
o Is your network secure against cyber-attacks?
o Do you have a reliable and tested backup system?

Smart business owners understand that their “job” is to work on the business, not in the business. Owners can stay competitive and focused by utilizing the functions of an outsourced IT service provider to enhance or even be the small business IT support department. We recommend you explore the following services that can be provided by an outsourced IT service provider
•Cloud Services: Currently 61% of small and medium sized businesses are running some type of cloud based programs. Cloud services give you the ability to have access to reliable data storage and back up systems, and a variety of industry and business software. Cloud based programs gives employees the ability to access many programs and files remotely, expanding their productivity and your profit potential.
•Security Services: With a new virus popping up daily, security services are becoming increasingly more important. In 2013, digital assaults on small businesses had increased by 18% over a two year period. Of the businesses that were impacted, over 60% folded within six months. Absence or inadequate security services can compromise critical client and business information. Additionally, with the end of life cycle for Windows XP happening on April 8, 2014, those who have decided to ignore the warnings you will be leaving their business vulnerable to criminals who are waiting in the wings to attack computers that are still running XP.
•Managed Services: When you take advantage of Managed Services you can really give your business an edge. You have a Trusted IT Service Advisor at your disposal to manage all of your technology and the vendor relationships, you will receive predictable and stable billing, and you are able to create customized plans that fit your business needs. Outsourced IT support is able to provide a helpdesk for your employees to utilize, accomplish specific technology upgrades and fixes, or manage your entire IT infrastructure. They are also able to make technology recommendations when equipment is aging or new products are launching that can make your business more profitable and productive.