Enhance your Business with Desktop Video Conferencing

Desktop video technology is already a part of almost everyone’s phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.  Organizations can make use of existing conferencing systems to accomplish enhanced communications today.

What we’ll cover:

  • Current desktop video technology
  • How to evaluate your needs
  • Desktop video solutions
  • Video and audio tips

5 simple ways to achieve IT device security

Hackers, malware authors, and identity thieves are all on the prowl for ways to access your IT devices and harvest your enterprise data. Fortunately, you can take measures to defend yourself by following a few common-sense steps. Below, we’ll go over the 5 most important yet accessible protections that you can take to keep your IT devices safe.

Use Strong Passwords

This is rule #1 of protecting your IT devices, but far too many businesses continue to overlook it. Set a minimum length for employee passwords, and enforce a certain degree of complexity in the characters (such as capital letters, numbers, and symbols).

Make sure employees don’t use the same password in multiple locations and consider implementing two-factor authentication, which combines passwords with another layer of security (e.g. a code given to the user in a phone call or email). If passwords are stored on your local network, you should encrypt or hash them so they’ll be useless to any hackers who break in and find them.

Install Patches and Upgrades

Installing new software updates is like going to the dentist—you may not particularly enjoy it, but it’s essential to keep yourself protected. Software updates contain valuable bug fixes and patches that cover up security vulnerabilities.

In fact, countless data breaches could have been prevented if IT had installed new security patches in a timely manner. The Equifax 2017 breach, for example, occurred due to a vulnerability in third-party software (the patch had been available for months before the attack).

Related Content: How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Back Up Your Data

IT devices, particularly mobile ones like smartphones and tablets, are highly susceptible to physical damage — which can obliterate all the data they contain.

But when you back up your data in the cloud, your data will be safe from physical damage. Whether your laptop refuses to turn on, your smartphone is stolen, or your workstations are wiped out by a natural disaster, your data will be okay and easy to recover.

Related Content: 8 Things to Include in the Perfect Disaster Recovery Plan

Avoid Suspicious Emails

Emails remain a common attack vector for bad actors to spread malware or steal your personal data. If your employees receive an unusual email from someone they don’t know, they should report it to your security staff. They should also never open unsolicited email attachments.

“Phishing” emails attempt to impersonate a trusted entity, such as a bank or government institution, in order to trick you into providing sensitive information. Train your employees on how to recognize phishing messages, or use an email provider with advanced phishing detection capabilities.

Use Secure Connections

If you connect your IT devices to the Internet using an unsecured connection, it’s all too easy for malicious third parties to “listen in,” eavesdropping on your potentially confidential data. Never use a public network unless you’re protecting your connection with a VPN that encrypts the packets you send and receive.

Instead, make sure you use secure protocols such as SSL, TLS, and HTTPS, which will help safeguard your sensitive data. When browsing the web, look for a padlock icon next to the URL, which indicates that the website uses a secure HTTPS connection.

 

Want to keep reading? Check out 5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer.

The 4 Most Common PC Issues (And How to Solve Them By Yourself)

From mysterious slowness issues to the infamous “Blue Screen of Death,” your computer is liable to experience many different problems throughout its lifetime.

The good news is that most of these problems are fairly rare.

It’s only the most common errors and failures that you’ll likely run into, which have already been well-documented with potential solutions.

You don’t need to be an IT genius to solve some of the most frequent problems with your PC. Below, we’ll go over 4 of the most common technical difficulties that you might face, as well as how to tackle each one of them.

1. Your Computer Won’t Turn On

One of the most basic, and most common, issues is a computer that simply won’t turn on. First, make sure that the battery isn’t dead and that the computer is connected to a power supply. If you’re using an external monitor, also check to make sure that it’s working.

Related: 5 Common IT Support Questions, Answered

If your computer turns on and then off again, it’s likely an electrical or hardware issue. Make sure that you’re using the right voltage for the power supply and that there are no electrical shorts inside your computer. Next, try reseating the different components of the computer, such as the RAM and CPU.

2. Your Computer is Slow

Slowness issues can stem from multiple sources, which makes them initially more challenging to deal with. Fortunately, once you know which one applies to your situation, most of these causes are fairly easy to address.

Related: The Top 5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

The first step is to make sure that it’s your computer that’s slow, and not your Internet connection. Videos and websites that take a long time to load might be due to a slow Internet connection, but applications that are slow to open nearly always indicate a problem with the computer itself.

Both hardware and software issues can be responsible for a slow PC. In order, try the following steps to diagnose the problem:

  • Rebooting your computer
  • Stopping programs from opening on startup
  • Cleaning out or replacing your computer’s fan
  • Defragmenting your hard drive
  • Installing more RAM
  • Replacing your hard drive with a solid-state drive

3. You’re Seeing Weird Behavior

If you notice unusual icons appearing on your desktop, or strange pop-up ads even when you’re not online, then your computer likely has an adware infestation. Adware is one type of malware (malicious software) that can display ads and hijack your web browsing experience by redirecting you to advertising websites.

Related: Webinar | Keeping Yourself Protected from Phishing Emails

There are many different kinds of malware, all of them undesirable. Spyware secretly collects your personal information and activities, while ransomware locks down your files and makes you pay a ransom in order to continue accessing them.

You should deal with any signs of malware as soon as possible by using a dedicated antivirus and anti-malware software program, such as Microsoft Security Essentials.

Related: They Stole You?

4. Your Wi-Fi Isn’t Working

When your Internet connection is on the fritz or keeps disconnecting, it may be due to an issue with your computer, your router, or the internet service provider itself. First, test the connection with another device, such as a smartphone, to see if you experience the same issues; if you do, you can cross your computer off the list of suspects.

If you diagnose your computer as the source of the problem, first make sure that your device is within range and close to the router, and then reboot the system. You may also need to install new drivers for your wireless adapter. Finally, try temporarily turning off your firewall to see if there’s a problem with your security settings.

Frustrated? We’re Here For You

It’s true that you don’t have to be genius to fix your own IT issues. But here’s another truth – you probably don’t have the time or resources to fix these mundane issues over and over again.

What’s the cure?

Partner with a managed service provider that can do it all for you. We offer proactive management services that will keep your device infrastructure running seamlessly at all times.

 

5 Ways to Speed Up Your Computer

Whether your computer has gradually declined over time or it’s recently come to a shuddering halt, its performance has become intolerably slow. Slowness issues may arise from a number of underlying causes, but can almost always be fixed. The five options below are among the most common and effective solutions to the problems of your computer’s poor performance and slowness.

1. Reboot

In many cases, the issues that you’re experiencing are temporary for one reason or another. It’s possible that a program is draining your resources and memory, causing your computer to be slow. A simple reboot will wipe away the current state of your system, including any problems, and start you back at square one.

Related: 4 Business Benefits to Outsourcing Your IT Support

2. Remove Startup Programs

If you’ve had your computer for a while, you may have installed dozens of applications and utilities on it. Many of these programs ask permission to run each time your computer starts up, even if you never or rarely use them. These applications can clog valuable computing resources while they run in the background unannounced.

Related: How Businesses Can Save Time with IT

You can disable programs from running at startup by using the Windows Task Manager, or by removing them from the list of “Login Items” under System Preferences > Users & Groups in Mac OS X.

3. Delete Viruses and Malware

Computers that are experiencing unpredictable crashes and strange messages may be suffering from the hidden presence of viruses and malware.

These programs are installed on your computer without your knowledge or permission and may be used for a number of nefarious activities: tracking your web browsing data, displaying annoying pop-up ads, or even locking down your system and holding your files for ransom.

Fortunately, there are a number of antivirus and anti-malware software tools that can help detect and remove these malicious programs. Microsoft Security Essentials is a free and well-reviewed tool for Windows PCs, protecting your computer in real time.

4. Install a Solid-State Drive

Hard drives naturally slow down with age, and the fix to your slowness issues might be to replace the drive. Solid-state drives (SSDs) are storage devices that have a variety of advantages over traditional hard disk drives (HDDs).

Related: 5 Common IT Support Questions, Answered

HDDs consist of a metal “platter” that spins rapidly when turned on, allowing your computer to access the data. Meanwhile, SSDs store your data on flash memory chips, which retain the information even when your computer isn’t powered on.

SSDs boot your computer faster than HDDs, and can run and transfer files faster as well. In addition, because SSDs don’t have moving parts, your data is more likely to be preserved if the drive is accidentally dropped.

5. Add More RAM

RAM (random access memory) is the main space in which your computer stores, reads, and writes the data that it uses for its computations. It’s often referred to simply as “memory.”

In the event that you run out of RAM, your computer can access data from the hard drive as well, but this is orders of magnitude slower. Think of RAM as an office desk while your hard drive is a filing cabinet down the hall. While you can store more data on the hard drive, it’s not as easily accessible.

Adding more RAM to your computer reduces the number of times that you need to read data from the hard drive, which will often have a noticeable improvement on performance.

Where We Come In

Fixing your own computer is certainly doable, but it’s not exactly feasible if you’re doing multiple.

Computer repair and maintenance can be costly, depending on the problem. You must also consider the time it takes to actually diagnose the issues, and perform the repairs.

Turn to the pros. We can help you proactively manage your device infrastructure to keep your computers running quickly. In turn, it’ll keep you more productive and less frustrated.

How Businesses Can Save Time with IT

Every business can benefit from effectively utilizing their IT in the office. While not every technological advancement is necessarily practical or affordable, the right devices and programming can help you save time and money.

Small businesses need big ideas, and technology can bring increased productivity. Big businesses need scalability, and technology delivers that for them, too.

The barrier between plain ol’ technology and these benefits is understanding how to actually apply them to your needs.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone – hiring a managed IT service provider can help you get the most from these technological improvements automatically.

However, if you’re keen on saving time for yourself, follow these suggestions.

Software as a Service

SaaS applications allow your small business to easily acquire cloud-leased tools for a monthly subscription fee. Instead of purchasing and installing onsite software, your SaaS provider gives you access to the vast majority of the programs you need.

Plus, paying by monthly installments helps you better budget your expenses. You have constant access to the latest, most effective applications AND experts who can recommend the best programs for your business.

Related: 5 Common IT Support Questions, Answered

These applications can streamline your workflows and lower the time it takes to perform tasks.

Look at that – you’re already saving time with SaaS.

Artificial Intelligence

AI applications are not just for huge corporations. Businesses of all sizes can use them and their usage will only increase in the future. Your staff can benefit from AI assistants who can organize tasks (and even perform some of their own, such as calendar setting).

Currently, the medical industry benefits from apps that help doctors diagnose various conditions automatically. AI software can also perform human resource duties and monitor your office energy usage.

Related: 5 Reasons to Outsource Your IT

A majority of small businesses report plans to incorporate more AI in the near future to make their companies more efficient. After all, automating tasks gives you plenty of time for other more important tasks.

Mobile Computing

Small businesses especially benefit from mobile devices and collaborative software that allows for staff members to coordinate with clients, vendors, and other employees from anywhere in the world.

With the proper software, you can safely access business accounts no matter where you are. Additionally, you can efficiently complete tasks any time of the day or night. Laptops, tablets and even mobile phones can allow you to quickly deal with any business matter while you relax by the pool or spend time with your family.

In short, they allow you to work from anywhere – saving you the time and trouble of having to wait to get to the office to do work.

Cybersecurity

One of the biggest challenges to small businesses is cybersecurity. You are vulnerable to hackers who can steal sensitive information, including customer credit card information or critical company data.

Malware attacks can shut your entire system down, costing you time and eliminating productivity. The average small business loses over $8,000 for each hour of downtime.

You need advanced protection against hackers as well as training for your staff to remain competitive.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Promote Cloud Security

Managed IT Services

Needless to say, time is everything in business. With it, you can get things done and complete more work. Without it, you’re stuck in disarray.

There’s a simpler way to save a lot of time automatically.

A managed IT service provider can provide tech services and manage them for you, freeing you from many time-consuming tasks. They can offer you cloud solutions to keep you connected, as well as security services to keep you protected.

They provide help in employee training and also create implement backup and recovery plans to ensure your business keeps running in case of a natural or man-made disaster.

In short, a managed IT team ensures that any difficulties are addressed immediately. You won’t suffer the delays you have when you hire contractors to fix specific issues. With the help of managed IT services, all of the tools you need to save time will work together to give you the power to grow your company.

Keeping Your Business Secure Online

If you think cyber thieves are only targeting the enterprise accounts, think again. Recent waves of ransomware and other attacks impacted organizations of all sizes. Recently, the FBI reported that the little-known CEO Fraud scam cost businesses more than $2.3 billion over the past 4 years alone.

The last door left open for these cyberattackers isn’t through technology. Rather, it’s through your employees. Cybercriminals are aggressively targeting and taking advantage of social engineering as new primary means for vast array of data compromises.

In this webinar, we’ll discuss some of the most common cyberthreats to organizations and what you can do to mitigate these issues.

What we’ll cover:

  • Common cyberthreats
  • Tactics used in social engineering
  • Steps in safeguarding client data
  • Ways to fight online fraud

 

4 Business Benefits of Outsourcing Your IT Support

When it comes to deciding on how to format a companies IT infrastructure appropriately, many business owners wonder about the most efficient way to handle all of their IT-related needs.

While some companies deploy in-house teams to manage their day-to-day support, others have found it advantageous to outsource most or all of their IT functionality.

The truth is, however, hiring managed services for company IT needs can be extremely beneficial to organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Here are 4 business benefits that outsourcing your IT support team can bring.

Better Controlled Costs

Typically, organizations that don’t outsource their IT needs work off of a “break-fix” method. This is a reactive approach that many internal teams use which simply adopts the attitude of “don’t fix what isn’t broken” when it comes to implementing new systems or upgrading hardware.

Related: How to Fix Your IT Budget

This approach may seem to be the most cost-effective way of handling your IT support. But, it’s also a recipe for disaster when something inevitably goes wrong with your systems.

Outsourcing your IT support allows you to benefit from variable cost services that proactively plan for all your organization’s software and equipment needs much more efficiently, while still only paying for the services you require at any given time.

You’ll also be able to save the considerable amount of investment capital normally put into recruitment services and sign on bonuses for experienced in-house staff members. Instead of limiting yourself to one or two talented individuals, you’ll get a team of experienced IT professionals for nearly the same annual budget.

Increased Core Business Focus

Hiring a managed IT service enables team members to focus on the strategic business goals of the company, while an experienced team of IT professionals ensures the business is operating at maximum efficiency.

Managed services can help automate many of the manual business processes that company’s use on a day-to-day basis and make it much easier for the scalability of your organization.

Did You Know? 42% of small businesses plan to increase IT spending in 2017.

Another important feature that outsourced IT services can provide is the development and execution of effective disaster recovery plans. These emergency measures are critical for companies to continue operating after catastrophic system outages and security breaches leading to data loss.

Trusting the pros to create one for you can end up saving your company.

Immediate Access To Newer Technologies

In-house teams typically take longer to budget necessary time and resources to execute new IT development projects. Meanwhile, outsourced teams are able to act immediately. That ensures your company’s IT efforts operate as efficiently as they can at all times.

The experience of managed IT service teams also provides a fresh perspective to organizations when comparing older technologies in use with newer ones readily available.

Along with the experience and flexibility that managed IT services provide comes potential savings for the latest software tools and resources. Since IT service companies develop relationships with vendors, they’ll have better-negotiated rates.

These discounted rates are then passed on to their clients during system integration.

Wider Pool of Talent

Managed IT providers are specialists in their industry, meaning they know what it takes to build a successful IT department. This specialization means that service companies tend to be more qualified. When it comes to sourcing and hiring the best IT professionals available, they can’t be beat.

Since many teams work remotely, service companies usually have a larger pool of talent to choose from than most companies looking to hire in-house IT personnel. This flexibility allows managed IT services to employ large teams, allowing quicker solutions and 24-hour IT support for your company.

Related: Want Young Professionals? Migrate to the Cloud First

This is a tremendous benefit, especially when it comes to reducing downtime and ensuring system integrity.

Many benefits can come from outsourcing your IT support needs. Managed IT companies help control operational costs in an organization while enabling businesses to benefit from the latest technology available with 24-hour support provided by IT industry professionals.

5 Common IT Support Questions, Answered

Common IT support questions are a plague for users and IT people alike. It’s typically small issues that annoy us the most, and these are no different.

Why not solve them yourself and save some time?

Here are a few of the most prevalent IT support questions, and how you can resolve them yourself.

Why is my computer so loud?

For the most part, the noise comes from wobbly fans. Whenever they’re not set properly on their axis of rotation, they spin at an angle and clip their surroundings. That’s most likely the noise you’re hearing all the time.

Dust can also cause them to rotate improperly, causing noise. The remedy to it all? Clean out your fans with compressed air (and be careful to not blast the sensitive electrical components). In a worst-case scenario, you can always replace the fans – the installation isn’t hard and they’re inexpensive.

Is this supposed to be there?

If you have to ask, the answer is usually no. Many people often inadvertently download toolbars and other random bloatware programs. Typically, these are bundled in with legitimate downloads (which makes them super annoying to spot and remove).

Related: They Stole You?

The big problem is that people can accidentally download viruses and other malware. To avoid this problem completely, you’ll need to combine proper permissions with robust antivirus/content filtering programs.

Why does my screen look… weird?

Resolution concerns are extremely common in the day-to-day. You might notice that images and applications look a little… off. Sometimes, the problem can be so apparent that you’ll actually have black bars around your display.

Luckily, this one is an easy fix.

  • For Windows: Right-click on your desktop and find the resolution or display settings. From there, you should be able to use a slider that changes the resolution. Your computer will even automatically recommend a size that fits your specific monitor.
  • For Mac: Click on the Finder and locate “System Preferences”. From there, you’ll need to find the option labeled “Displays”. You can then manually adjust your resolution or let the computer automatically detect the best settings for you.

Why can’t I log in?

There’s a fairly good chance you’ve been misspelling your password this whole time. It’s quite common. Be sure to look at which keys you’re pressing to ensure that your password is totally correct.

Another common culprit is caps lock. When you’re stuck in uppercase letters, all case-sensitive computer systems won’t grant you access.

I can’t print! Is the printer broken?

Probably not. Before you take a hammer to your printer, make sure that it’s on and eligible to receive print jobs. Most printers have panels that display error codes, so be sure to look out for those.

Related: The Top 5 Apps to Boost Your Productivity

If your printer is on and functioning, it may be a driver-related issue. A “driver” is the software in your computer that “speaks” to the hardware to make it work. Without it, there’s not a way for the two to communicate and work.

Many times, you’ll need to reinstall your drivers to get the printer working again. It’s not a hard procedure, but it’s known to cause madness in IT people (given enough occurrences).

…But if you’re fed up?

If you’re fed up with dealing with these issues, consider switching your business to a managed services approach. With managed services, you’ll never have to waste your time with trivial IT support matters again.

Related: 5 Reasons to Outsource Your IT

Managed IT support providers give your business proactive solutions that keep these problems from happening in the first place. Not every issue is avoidable, but managed service providers make sure you’re quickly taken care of when they do.

 

5 Reasons to Outsource Your IT

Outsourcing is nothing new to the tech industry and any enterprise who leverages technology or an IT team. For decades, it’s been a major source of reducing costs while improving business processes.

IT outsourcing is a great option if you want to easily manage your IT budget and scale according to the growth of the company. It’s an especially good choice if you lack a technical background, or your IT team doesn’t have the resources and expertise to solve tougher IT-related issues.

While you can outsource IT to individual consultants and “freelance” IT guys, a managed service provider (MSP) gives you a better overall experience.

Here are five reasons why you should consider IT outsourcing to an MSP.

1. Enhanced Cybersecurity

In this rapidly evolving digital era, cybersecurity is critical. If your computer security isn’t up-to-date, you run the risk of putting your clients sensitive information in the hands of hackers.

Security gaps can also leave your company liable for any financial damages that may result from data breaches.

Did you know? The average total cost of a data breach was estimated at $3.62 million.

However, outsourcing your IT to an experienced MSP allows you to quickly implement new security technology. A reliable MSP will already a team of qualified IT security professionals with data security expertise to handle your network security.

On the other hand, an in-house IT may lack the exact knowledge required to carry out a large-scale security infrastructure update. Moreover, it could take a lot of time and resources to hire someone who is equipped to handle the project.

Related: Webinar | Keeping Yourself Protected from Phishing Emails

2. Ongoing Support

When you practice IT outsourcing, you get to take advantage of ongoing support. While a consultant may offer flexibility as to what time they’re available, they may not be able to give you around-the-clock IT support.

Related: 3 Ways to Save Your SMB Money with Technology

Conversely, many MSPs can offer 24/7 support thanks to the size and availability of their teams. While they may not always be available to help on-site, they can always remotely connect to your systems and provide assistance from there.

3. Flat-Rate Costs

When running a company, one of the most important factors to keep it operational and growing is making sure the expenses are under control.

Thanks to the lack of local expertise and the high demand for skilled works in tech, salaries for tech workers often climb into six-figure salaries. Moreover, you’ll have to offer health insurance and other benefits to attract the right IT professionals. There’s also training costs and day-to-day costs to consider, too.

However, you can leverage a flat-rate cost when you outsource your IT to an MSP. This allows you to easily adjust your budget as your company evolves.

Related: Put Your IT Dollars to Work

4. Relationship-driven

Another great benefit of leveraging an MSP is the relationship you can build. MSPs can rely on a vast network of vendors and suppliers. This network can help MSPs to quickly implement IT tasks and take care of issues on-demand with leading third-party vendors.

5. Diminished Risk

With IT outsourcing to an MSP, you reduce the risk of liability. The MSP will leverage the expertise of its trained staff to get IT tasks done correctly from the get-go. That means you’ll have less to worry about when it comes to decision-making and more time to do the important tasks that help drive your bottom line.

Related: 3 Simple Ways to Promote Cloud Security

Final Thoughts

When you leverage managed services support from a professional MSP, you can save time and money for your business and reduce your liability risks while enhancing your customer’s experiences.

MSPs take the complex job of IT support off your plate so you can focus on your core business operations and not be concerned with processes the company is not built around.