Computer Troubleshooters - Oakleigh

Computer Troubleshooters assumes no responsibility for data loss or issues
that may arise from the use or implementation of information on this blog

Adapting Your Business to a Mobile on the Go World

March 24th, 2014

Mobility has quickly transformed the way most of us are now working. According to recent research over 50% of mobile phone users use now regularly use their mobile phone to access the internet. This rate has nearly doubled over the past three years. Are you using mobile internet features to enhance your business?

Increase Efficiency and Effectiveness with Mobility
The increased need for productivity coupled with affordable technology has shifted employees away from being tied to a desktop PC. Workers equipped with mobile devices are now communicating with customers from their cars and accessing data from the Cloud while working at home. Employers and employees can keep projects up to date by easily sharing information via mobile devices at any hour of the day. Mobile flexibility is enabling businesses to quickly move forward with enhanced efficiency.

Consider some of the following mobile efficiencies that can help your business:

Continuously Connected employees have the flexibility to work from home, while on the go and during travel. Conducting business is now a 24/7 proposition. Accessing information from the office while you are at the airport creates greater efficiency for you and your business. Perhaps you don’t want to be at the airport? Virtual meetings can conveniently connect you with colleagues and customers while saving time and money. Productivity with flexibility has become our new reality.

Protecting Company Data has become an increasingly important concern for business owners with the advent of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). Flexibility has ushered in the trend of employees bringing their own mobile devices into the workplace. This means that company data is probably stored on employees’ mobile devices. What would happen if an employee’s laptop is stolen and it contains confidential business data? Many businesses are now protecting sensitive data by using remote wipes and encryption software on employees’ personal devices in addition to the use of mobile virtual workspaces. Businesses need to establish written BYOD policies and educate their employees about security practices. Many businesses now require employees to sign BYOD contracts. If your business doesn’t have BYOD guidelines in place, you are already falling behind in appropriate business practices.

Online Resources can efficiently provide businesses with professional training, technical skill development and new product training with the agility of “as needed” availability. Employees can connect to e-learning opportunities through their iPhone or Android devices from home.  Business owners can easily take advantage of online management guides and financial tools that can benefit their business.

Mobile Apps
are available to help you run your business more effectively and efficiently. Business owners previously needed a core foundation of various office programs, an e-mail system and some industry-specific software to keep their business functioning. Now there are a wide array of mobile Apps that can help business owners with time management, scheduling, travel expenses, cash flow, accounting and e-mail organization. There are Apps for nearly anything a business owner needs and they are easily available. Many of these Apps enable small businesses to compete with larger companies, plus you can run your business from anywhere.

Is Your Business Prepared for a Mobile World?

Computer Troubleshooters can work with you to assess your mobility needs and develop a plan to keep your business’ technology up to date. If your business needs to move to Cloud services, utilize mobile Apps or strengthen data protection – we can help. Computer Troubleshooters is here to help your business stay productive and efficient through mobile technology. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.

 

The Final Countdown to Microsoft’s XP April 8th Deadline

March 24th, 2014

In 2002,Microsoft presented its official Support Lifecycle Policy that was based on detailed customer feedback. The predictability of support services was cited as a very important issue for Microsoft’s customers. Microsoft responded accordingly by alerting customers years in advance that the XP operating system and Windows 2003 have an “end of life” date scheduled for April 8, 2014. Although XP and Windows 2003 have been very popular, Microsoft will no longer
support these products after the April 8th deadline. This information has been well-publicized by Microsoft for many years. There are still over 600 million worldwide XP users and it seems that many have chosen to simply ignore these repeated notifications. We can assume that users who have not upgraded by now fall into one of two categories. The first group includes those who are willing to take their chances and plan to continue using Microsoft legacy products that are no longer supported. The second group is XP users who are truly unaware of the deadline. Do you fall into one of these two groups?

The Final Countdown is Now!
After years of these “end of life” warnings, XP and Windows 2003 are now in the final days of the deadline countdown. Surprisingly, one of Microsoft’s latest strategies has been to ask for help. Computer Troubleshooters recently posted a story on our Facebook page about how Microsoft had begun taking a grassroots approach to spreading the word. Microsoft resorted to asking for help by seeking volunteers to remind business owners, friends, family and colleagues about the upcoming XP deadline. Via their blog, Microsoft asked experienced and technically savvy users to help others understand why it is important to make the switch to Windows 7 or 8 and to make the upgrade now!

Ignoring this Deadline is Not an Option
Some users claim a variety of reasons for resisting this XP upgrade, but don’t forget that there are a few key reasons you cannot ignore this deadline. The issues for residential users can be serious, but the consequences for businesses hold  additional threats and even possible legal ramifications.

Here’s How You and Your Business Can Be Impacted by Not Upgrading

Security Risks: Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information are vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. Malicious viruses will very likely be unleashed on XP’s “zero
day.” Undefended computers can be completely immobilized with viruses quickly spreading over the net to PCs still operating on XP. No business owner wants to think about a virus spreading through all of their computers. All of the data that keeps your business functioning will be placed at risk.

Compliance Issues: Businesses that continue to operate on XP can actually face compliance issues. Resulting compliance issues can lead to 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 in the process.

Upgrade Expenses: If you think a system upgrade is just too expensive, Computer Troubleshooters urges you to reconsider this viewpoint. Many technical experts consider using an unsupported product such XP, as an act of irresponsibility on the part of the business. Remember that the problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade. Don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish when it comes to investing in an upgrade.

Custom Support Available for a Price: In fact, there will still be some support available to XP users after the deadline, 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.

Upgrade Today!

Playing “chicken” with this deadline is tempting fate and there can be serious consequences. You can find yourself in the cross-hairs of cybercriminals on April 8th and potentially face business compliance problems. If you are still using XP, take action today. Call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our experts can help you understand your XP migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy. Call Computer Troubleshooters before it’s too late. The final countdown is now!  Are you prepared?

 

Is Cloud Computing in Australia ready for Small Business ?

March 24th, 2014

Cloud Computing is the latest buzz word in IT, but what does it really mean for Small Business in Australia. What IT services will Small Business use?
What IT support will they require to migrate and maintain their IT systems?

The reality is that cloud computing can come in a few different varieties and the chances are you are probably using one already.

Software as a Service – this is where the software that you would use in your business are physically running in data centre and you are access via your internet connection. The advantage of this type of relationship is that the provider does all the system and application maintenance, you can generally access from anywhere on the internet and the systems are often designed for multiple users access. Most of the financial products such as MYOB, Quickbooks and Xero have this as an alternative.

Infrastructure as a Service – With advances in virtualization technology it is now possible to have all of the business benefits of a server. With the physical server located in a data centre the provider is able to partition servers to multiple clients sharing the costs and allowing businesses to avoid the initial purchase & licencing costs, and share the running and upgrade costs such as electricity, and end of life replacement. If your current Hardware is more than 3 years old is may be worth checking this alternative.

Platform as a Service – This is when a both the Software & Infrastructure can be provided in such a way that your business systems are located in the cloud. Increasingly software providers and integrators offer complete platform service that allows your business to outsource IT to a specialist who can run you business systems for you remotely. Microsoft Hosted Exchange email is a great example where an outsource provider can manage the administration & management of the system, while your business can enjoy enterprise grade IT delivery without the big business price!

Hybrid Cloud – Hybrid is really a combination of your traditional on premise infrastructure with any of the 3 Cloud components mentioned above. It is not only regarded as migration strategy, but also a legitimate IT approach that allows you to cherry pick the suitable components for your business and integrate with your current infrastructure. Hybrid is a sensible alternative to gaining the benefits of cloud with the advantage of traditional on premise equipment.
Increasingly application development & Microsoft licencing is pushing all Small Business in Australia along the cloud path in one way or another. Our love of mobile and multiple devices also make the cloud approach more manageable. With soaring costs of electricity, & building of more of data centre capacity, the opportunity for Cloud services for Small Business is now a reality especially with additional benefits such as power redundancy, centralized backup, and core systems management.

Some of the downside of Cloud computing still exist, issues such as internet access speed, internet redundancy, data security, and data sovereignty (is it in Australia?) need to be understood and managed. An IT support provider such as Computer Troubleshooters have considerable experience in setting up a migration and system plans that maximises the benefits and minimises these risks. Having an IT support expert like Computer Troubleshooters who interests are aligned with your business interests will ensure you get the best solutions at the right price. We would only suggest embarking on the Cloud journey with a guide who will help you along the way.

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters to see if your business would benefit from having more of it Business Systems in the cloud.

AFP Computer Virus

May 13th, 2013

Recently there has been a big jump in the number of computers
recently infected with the Australian Federal Police Virus.

  • The first thing a user knows about this virus is when their computer freezes, with a pop-up on their screen of a photo, taken with their on-board web camera showing their (or their childrens) face, or the home or office environment,  sometimes including a Police logo from what appears to be the Australian Federal Police  and a message.
  • The message states that  your computer has been frozen because you have violated a law or visited an illegal website. Common claims made by the scammers are that you have violated laws around privacy, copyright or child pornography. In order to unlock the computer, users are instructed to pay a ’fine’ – usually $100 or $199 – using a prepaid money service. These services involve purchasing a money voucher from a store, which can then be used to make online payments.
  • If users pay, the scammers may or may not unlock the computer. Even if users do regain access to their computer, malware may continue to operate so that the scammers can use  personal and financial details to commit fraud.
  • Please DO NOT PAY any money to these criminals – this is a scam!

Bring your computer into Computer Troubleshooters to be assessed, cleaned and  tuned-up.

How to Combat Email Overload in the Workplace

May 12th, 2013

With the introduction of smart phones, our work lives were supposed to become easier. No longer would we have to be at the office to handle something – we could do it on the go! Spend more time at home! Work remotely!

Unfortunately, most of us have become slaves to our inboxes thanks to modern day technology in the workplace.  People email at all hours and expect a reply.  Or worse, the only time we work remotely is when we’re taking a personal or sick day.   So how do we reclaim our sanity?  Start by introducing new communication channels in your office.  With a few new methods – or the one that best fits your company’s culture – you’ll be working more efficiently in no time.

Not every question needs to be emailed:
It’s amazing how rarely we pick up the phone and actually talk to each other anymore. Often, we think emails are the most efficient way to get  an answer, but if you’re not clear in your email, the conversation could go on and on.  Instead, introduce messaging services like Skype or Chat to your workplace.  If HR allows, these services are great for quick questions, phone calls, and even video chats. Because you’re able to see if your co-worker is busy or available, you can shoot them a message and jump on a quick call or chat in seconds.

Project Management:
Ever work on a massive project through email?  No matter how many folders you create, you’re still bound to get lost in all the deadlines, sub-projects, and more.  Instead, introduce project management tools to your clients or co-workers.  These sites allow you to create projects, assign tasks, and generate automatic reminders. Even better, they tend to keep the working conversations on the site and out of your inbox, making your work more efficient and less stressful.  Sound good to you? Check out Basecamp or Desk.

Be efficient:
If you must use email, be sure to use it efficiently.  If your email requires a long explanation, ask yourself, “Would it be better if I just called them or set up a meeting?”  Also, if your email touches on several projects, consider breaking it into separate emails.  While this may seem like you’re flooding the person’s inbox, it should help them to sort through their emails by project and respond appropriately to each in its own thread.  Lastly, avoid emailing an entire team.   Establish a project manager or lead contact to whom you can email your updates.  If your email doesn’t ask each one of the receivers for something specific, it’s unnecessary to them.  Consider leaving them out or CC’ing them when needed.

What other methods have you found useful for cutting down on email fatigue in the work place?  Is it something your workplace deals with?  Or have you even introduced a company policy to alleviate the problem?

Working On the Go: How To Adapt to a Mobile Job

May 12th, 2013

Anyone whose job has them on the road a lot knows that working on the go requires completely different materials than working in the office. Gone are the staplers and stamps – working on the go largely means going digital.

So what should you download or purchase to ensure you’re as effective an employee on the go? Check out our list of must-haves.

Get A Calendar That Syncs:
Since you won’t be reporting to the same office every day, you’ll need a calendar that can follow you everywhere. Create a Google or Yahoo Calendar and keep all of your appointments there. Google will email you (if you like) to remind you of an upcoming meeting or assignment. Even better, if you schedule a meeting while on your computer, Google will sync it automatically with your smartphone’s calendar. No need to enter it in twice.

Quit Searching for WiFi:
While coffee shops may be your new best friend, there will undoubtedly be times that you wish you had WiFi – like when you’re in the parking lot at a client’s office and forget to edit a document. Look into purchasing your own hotspot generator. About the size of a credit card stack, you instantly can create your own hotspot to access the Internet– no coffee shop necessary.

Store it on the Cloud:
As much as possible, store your documents on the cloud. This way, no matter where you set up shop that day, you’ll be able to access your files remotely. Great sites for this include Dropbox or even Google Docs, which are both free. With Google Drive, you can share documents and preadsheets.

Fax if You Must:
Depending on your job, you may still need to use a fax machine. Instead of lugging around your own in your new mobile lifestyle, sign up for sites like MyFax.com, which forwards your faxes right to your email presentations with the rest of your team and see their changes instantly.

Have a Tech Resource:
If anything comes up when you’re working on the go, you can feel stranded. Be sure to have tech support on speed dial, like Computer
Troubleshooters
. We’ll be there to assist you – no matter where your office is that day.

Can Your Business Survive a Data Loss?

May 12th, 2013

Mostbusinesses report that they are not properly prepared to combat the risk or to bounce-back in the event they suffer a catastrophic data loss.  There are a number of factors that affect the majority of businesses today and may increase their susceptibility of a data loss:

  • Business owners incorrectly assume that quality backup services are too expensive or beyond what they need.
  • Businesses are often using out of date technology for their data backup and storage needs and assume that it is working.
  • The number of online security threats has increased.
  • Many companies are trending towards BYOD- or “bring your own device”- and therefore there is an increasing amount of company and client data stored on employees’ personal laptops, smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, that is likely not protected or backed-up even if the company devices are.

What is the Real Cost of Data Loss to a Business Owner?

According to the Gartner Group 43 percent of companies were immediately put out of business by a major loss of computer records, and another 51 percent permanently closed their doors within two years.  This leaves a mere six percent “survival” rate.

What about a loss that is not catastrophic?  This type of data loss is an expensive problem as well that costs organizations an estimated average of $200 per record affected according to a recent survey by Ponemon Institute, though to some degree the true costs associated with data loss are difficult to measure.

What can be Done to Avoid a Catastrophic Data Loss?
Implementing a data protection program is essential for every organization.  While most business owners recognize that their data files are their livelihood, more than half admit to not having a quality data backup protocol in place.

Here are some tips on what you can start doing today to protect your business:

  • Accept the fact that your data is at risk.
    The reality is that computer hard drives, whether on a server, a desktop, or a laptop, will fail.
  • Invest now to save money, and your business, later.
    An automated and fully protected backup service starts at about $30 per month (depending on the amount of data being backed up) and provides you with the peace of mind that your data, and your business, are protected. The cost of attempting to recover deleted data, once lost, is significantly more expensive and is estimated that 20 percent of lost data is not recoverable!
  • Check the viability of the backed up data regularly.
    Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your backups are being done, whether your company uses a manual or automated backup process.  Also, never assume the data is retrievable. Talk with your Computer Troubleshooter technician about your current backup solution to verify that it is still the best option for your needs.
  • Make data protection a company-wide initiative.
    Work with your Computer Troubleshooter technician to develop policies and a plan of action for all employees to follow regarding the proper location and access to company data to ensure that data is being backed up as well.

A proactive approach to protecting your data and establishing a plan for recovery in the event of a loss is smart business.

How Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Businesses

May 12th, 2013

More than ever, business owners need to squeeze even more productivity out of limited time, staffing and resources. Many small businesses see cloud computing as a way to access advanced technologies that were previously affordable only for larger companies.

A recent survey conducted by CompTIA, a nonprofit IT industry trade association, stated that more than half of micro businesses (one to nine employees) and small businesses (ten to ninety-nine employees) use cloud-based business productivity applications.

Analysts and industry leaders agree that global demand for hosted IT services will continue to expand rapidly as cloud-based solutions offer significant resolutions for organizations of all types and sizes. Can cloud computing services help your business succeed in the marketplace?

Give Your Business a Competitive Edge

Finding the right business tools is an important task. Cloud computing can help your business edge out the competition with reduced costs and enhanced productivity in a number of ways:

  • The latest innovations in cloud computing are making business applications even more mobile and collaborative in ways similar to Facebook and Twitter. Consumers expect information in real time and more business applications in the cloud are heading in that direction.
  • Accessing specialized computer resources as they are needed enables businesses to quickly deliver quality results with greater affordability. Faster turn-around time can propel you ahead of your competition.
  • You can bring your product to market faster and generate higher revenues as customers are able to access the service immediately.
  • Cloud computing can enable innovative business initiatives that generate new value propositions and revenue streams. Some companies, such as Spotify, are building entirely new business models solely using cloud services.
  • Cloud computing services can help you gain “business agility” with efficient projects that allow your employees to spend their time on work that has a greater potential value to your business.
  • Utilizing cloud computing services can enable your business to shift from a capital expense model to an operational expense model. By forgoing long term financial IT commitments, an organization can complete projects more quickly without losing any investment.

Cloud computing might sound over-hyped and tech-heavy, but in reality it’s a rising trend among small business owners.

How to prepare your business for Cloud Computing

December 19th, 2012

The IT industry may shout that Cloud Computing is the way of the future and that all businesses should move their IT to the Cloud.  The reality is that any IT solution should be investigated and planned, whether it’s within your office or accessed via the Internet.  So, what factors will you need to consider? The following guidelines address some of the pains that can be experienced with a hurried, unstructured move to Cloud computing.

Identify what you want in the Cloud - Cloud computing doesn’t need to be an ‘all or nothing’ project.  Start with a picture of your current IT setup and the functionality that it gives your business.  If you’re only just starting up, this will be different than if your business is already established with historical information.  Is there something new you want to explore, like email marketing or a prospect database?  This could be perfect for the Cloud. But if you are looking to only move pieces of your existing IT capability, consider any flow-on effects to other systems.  Make sure that a move to the Cloud won’t hinder any future integration opportunities.

Confirm your ongoing costs & savings - Cloud providers will point out the cost savings from using a centrally owned and managed system.  Certainly this may give your business access to IT at a fraction of the cost of owning it yourself. However, can your business handle a cost on an ongoing basis instead of a one-off purchase when you do have the cash to invest?  If there is still a large amount of technology needed in your business, Cloud computing may not significantly decrease your support costs.  Do your homework and know the costs you will be committing to and where the savings will be coming from.

Confirm the flexibility - Cloud solutions can be cut-down versions of the full software, so if you are getting ‘email’ (for example), make sure you know what functionality is included and what isn’t.  How flexible is the hosted system if you want to make changes, like increasing attachment size limits? Are you locked in to what you can change and what you can’t … and are you OK with that?

Prove the Backup & Disaster Recovery plans -Debate rages on whether businesses with their information in the Cloud also need their own local backup. Thoroughly reviewing your provider’s agreement is only the first step.  Ask about their last Disaster Recovery test. Include offsite backup testing reports in your contract. Plan how your business will survive if your Cloud provider fails and ensure your plan is implemented and tested on a regular basis.

Review your Infrastructure - Your Cloud solutions still have to be accessed via your local computers with your internet connection.  If your PC is slow, or if you are significantly increasing your internet usage, then your Cloud application may be slow or unreliable.  Consider your local IT components and plan for any necessary upgrades.  Also consider additional redundancy, like a backup internet connection or spare internet modem, as any failure in your connectivity will have a larger impact.

Ultimately, Cloud computing must deliver increased business benefits or reduce IT costs overall without reducing functionality, unless your business is prepared to make sacrifices to improve your bottom line.  Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters to cut through the hype and make your Cloud adoption a success.

Essential Tips for Internet Access when Travelling Overseas

December 19th, 2012

With today’s smart devices, we take internet connectivity for granted. Now that we’ve untethered ourselves from large, immobile computers, we’re used to accessing websites, social media and emails no matter where we are. So how is “mobile computing” impacted if we travel? Can we expect the same connectivity overseas that we have at home? This varies from country to country and may be expensive if you want to use your own mobile phone. Here’s what to keep in mind when accessing the internet abroad:

Before you go – Set your “out of office” email message before you leave, to notify senders that there may be a delay in your reply. Change your phone’s voicemail greeting as well and leave the details of an alternative contact person. You may even be able to set your voicemail so callers cannot leave a message, if interested. Check with your phone provider in case you need to enable “international roaming” so your phone will work overseas and ask them if they have any arrangements with providers in other countries for preferential rates. Also remember that the governments of countries like Mainland China, Syria, Iran, Vietnam and the United Arab Emirates block access to some internet sites, so additional research prior to travel will be helpful.

When you arrive – Your phone may automatically connect to an available network upon your arrival in a new country. It may be worthwhile to manually choose the provider you prefer to use, as the automatically chosen one will likely not be the most cost effective. It is suggested that you check whether your phone automatically changed to local time, which can alter your calendar entries. You should also confirm the call and data costs of the network you are now using. If the data charges are high, you might want to turn off “mobile data” on your phone and instead rely on WiFi access when it’s available. This should help guard you from large unexpected bills when you return home. Remember that incoming calls and SMS/MMS messages will be charged to your account at international rates and therefore it may be cheaper to buy a local SIM card for calls and other messages. The local tourist information
center will be a helpful resource and will offer SIM cards in most countries.

Be wary of free internet - Watch out for free internet access offers and instead opt to use known, trusted organizations. Internet connections can be monitored to capture login names, passwords and credit card details, particularly if you use their computers instead of your own device. Be careful about websites you visit on shared connections, especially when
accessing your personal information and always take caution to sign out.

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters for more advice on internet access overseas and how to get friendly, local support from our network of franchisees in 25 countries.