Blog

December 8th, 2016

2018december8_hardware_cIs having the best computer for your small business really that necessary? The answer is a resounding yes. Given the changes in the business environment, entrepreneurs are fiercely competing for a place in the hearts of consumers. And that requires having the right kind of computers. If you truly want the best for your business, read on to find out how to select the best computers that can help make your business thrive.

Laptop or desktop?

Laptops are highly portable, efficient, and inexpensive. If these are the most important qualities your business requires in a computer, then by all means, choose them. Clearly, desktops aren’t built for mobility, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in storage, processing capacity, and security. Although laptops make perfect sense for small businesses with great need for portability, they are much more prone to security threats and are not as easy to upgrade and maintain, unlike desktops.

Processor

The Central Processing Unit (CPU), or simply processor, determines the speed at which you can access your data and perform business-critical tasks. Speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a processor that runs from 2 to 4 GHz should be plenty for small enterprises. Arguably the most important item on the list of a computer’s specifications, the processor plays a crucial role in your computer’s speed and efficiency.

Storage

As critical hardware components, hard drives indicate how much information you can store and use. Storage capacity typically ranges from 128 gigabytes on “light computers”, all the way up to 2+ terabytes on more critical machines. If your business doesn’t need to store large files such as videos and images and will be used mostly for email and a few applications, 250- or 500-GB storage should do the job. If processor speed is number one on your list of computer requirements, it’s followed closely by hard drive storage.

Operating System

Operating system (OS) decisions often boil down to choosing between Windows or Mac. It might help in your decision-making to know that Windows remains the most widely used OS mainly due to its high compatibility with business software, not to mention, its relatively cheaper price. Macs can perform just as brilliantly as Windows-operated systems can. And although Macs are usually more expensive, they’re well known for their own outstanding features, such as being less prone to crashes.

Other Components

Not to be confused with storage drives, a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is only used to run open applications. It is responsible for keeping your computer performing at optimum speeds, especially when you’re working with several applications or programs at once. For small businesses, a 1200-2600-MHz RAM should suffice. The higher the MHz of your RAM, the higher its performance will be. To keep your basic programs running, 6-8 gigabytes of RAM is often satisfactory.

Ready to Buy a New Computer?

Deciding which computer to buy is an important business decision. While there are a handful of factors to consider, what you aim to accomplish in your business’s day-to-day operations should be your main consideration when choosing a computer. Businesses that require plenty of remote and mobile work should definitely go for laptops. Those that require regular transfers of large datasets could benefit from the increased storage capacity associated with desktops.

Do you need expert advice in choosing the best computers for your small business? We’re happy to guide you in every step of your purchase decision. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
December 6th, 2016

2016december6_business_cMarketing automation was once a technology reserved for mega corporations and enterprise-level businesses. Fortunately, the IT industry is making business tools cheaper and more accessible all the time. Nowadays, if you’re a small business owner, you’d have to be crazy to pass up all that marketing automation has to offer. If you haven’t already implemented this wonderfully profitable technology, read up on the five best reasons to do so here.

Instant responses to email requests

If a customer or prospect sends your business an email via your website or a "Contact Us" form, any delay in response could ultimately cost you a client. But if you have a marketing automation plan in place, you can customize automatic email responses to respond to these leads as soon as an email is received. This lets potential customers know either the information they requested or that you will be responding in more detail soon.

Stop leaving voicemails and start closing deals

There’s a reason most people prefer to communicate via email: Keeping in touch over phone can be tough if both parties are always busy. An automated system solves this by logging when you’ve contacted leads and automatically emailing them about follow-up times. The call, email, and its response are all logged in your CRM and calendar without a single minute wasted entering mundane information.

Inbound lead assignment

When you have phone calls, emails, and meetings piling up, it’s hard to keep track of which customer goes where and who is working with them. With marketing automation software and tracking, customer service representatives are automatically assigned to inbound leads based on specialities and demographics so they can begin working on building profitable rapport right away.

Give and you shall receive

Potential clients and leads get dozens, sometimes hundreds of business emails every day. You need something to set your business apart from the rest. By offering valuable content such as “How to” guides and “Total Cost of Ownership” tools in exchange for contact information, you can provide prospects with content they actually want.

All it takes is a web form and some creative writing that ultimately leads visitors back to your products and/or services. Your automation software delivers content to anyone who provides contact information, and it downloads metrics that can be tracked and analyzed by your solution.

Never type another phone number again

Networking events mean new contacts and new leads. Although that used to mean thick stacks of business cards, cutting-edge marketing tools make it possible to take a picture of contact information and automatically convert it into a cloud database. Call-ins, scanned business cards, and received emails all get organized into a single digital rolodex with recommendations for whom to contact, and when is best to do so -- without one minute of tedious data entry.

Every business owner knows that automating mindless tasks is a worthwhile investment. But not everyone knows just what sort of tools are available to help you cut down on wasted work. Our team specializes in using technology to add value to your business, and we believe that if you’re not utilizing any of the solutions above -- that’s the best place to start. Get in touch with us today to make your marketing technology work for you.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
December 1st, 2016

2016december_virtualization_cVMware is one of the flagship virtualization companies, offering business owners the virtual storage and workspace they need to grow. vSphere 6.5 is the latest update to VMware's core product, offering businesses a number of helpful features to increase efficiency and usability. Here are three of the main features you'll find in vSphere 6.5.

More simplified experience A program that is easier for the non-technical business owner to use is a definite plus. Developers changed the user interface to highlight options in a more logical way. Workspaces are wider and allow instant feedback options for teams working on important projects. It is also easier to install and run programs, since the majority of vSphere 6.5 versions use HTML5 instead of the cumbersome Flash-run interface.

Built-in security Security is a high-ticket concern for any virtual collaboration, and vSphere 6.5 offers a number of safety-conscious features to keep your business safe. First is the Secure Boot, which allows you to keep unauthorized programs from being loaded into your virtual space. It is particularly helpful because it keeps guest users from loading harmful programs that could affect your business. In addition to the secure booting capabilities, the vSphere 6.5 also ensures that virtual machines are encrypted at rest and as data travels between systems.

Universal app platform The new vSphere 6.5 features a universality that many older versions just couldn't handle. Not only can you use this program with the major operating systems (Linux, Mac, Windows), you can back up and update your system on the same server instead of moving it to a third-party server that may or may not be trustworthy. You can also create a workload and deploy it across one platform so it is easy to access and modify if necessary.

The new features contained within vSphere 6.5 will change the way you see the virtualization experience all around. As long as the program continues to be updated for easier use by "common" employees and business owners, vSphere's popularity and that of other hypervisor programs will continue to climb. Call us to learn more about how you can use vSphere 6.5 within your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 25th, 2016

2016november25_security_cBusiness technology has become one of the most important components for successful companies big and small. In an overwhelmingly digital landscape, businesses depend on IT for marketing, data storage, and financial transactions. And with that comes the need to secure every bit of private information cyber criminals might want to feast their eyes on. And while an outsourced security professional is a must, there are a few simple steps you can do yourself to get started. Check out five of our favorites here.

Limitation of lateral data transfers

Employees not being educated on data sharing and security is one of the biggest reasons for internal data breaches. It’s a good idea to limit access to important data and information by restricting access privileges to only a small number of individuals. Also, you can decide to use network segmentation to cut unnecessary communication from your own network to others.

Keeping your machines and devices updated

Internal breaches might also occur when employees work with unguarded or unprotected machines. They might unknowingly download malware, which normally wouldn’t be a problem if machines were properly managed. Updating your operating systems, antivirus software, business software, and firewalls as often as possible will go a long way toward solidifying your defense systems.

Use monitoring and machine learning to sniff out abnormalities

It’s not all on your employees, however. Network administrators should employ monitoring software to prevent breaches by analyzing what is “normal” behavior and comparing that to what appears to be suspicious behavior. Cyber criminals often hide in networks to exploit them over a long period of time. Even if you miss them the first time, you should monitor suspicious activity so you can recognize impropriety and amend security policies before it goes any further.

Creating strong security passwords and credentials

No matter how often we say it, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your passwords and login procedures. In addition to text-based credentials, you should require other methods whenever possible. Great for fortifying your network, fingerprints and smart cards, for example, are much harder for cyber criminals to fake. Regardless of which factors are used, they must be frequently updated to prevent breaches, accidental or otherwise.

Security Insurance

In the end, no system is perfect. Zero-day attacks exploit unknown gaps in security, and human error, accidental or otherwise, can never be totally prevented. And for this reason, small businesses need to start embracing cyber insurance policies. These policies help cover the damages that might occur even under a top-of-the-line security infrastructure. Considerations for selecting a policy include legal fees, first and third-party coverage, and coverage for reputation rehabilitation.

The field of cyber security is overwhelming -- even for seasoned IT professionals. But not for us. We spend our days researching and experimenting to craft the best security solutions on the market. If you're interested in one of our cutting-edge cyber-security plans, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 23rd, 2016

2016november23_hardware_cMovies have been showing audiences the dangers of artificially-intelligent devices for half a century. After last month's cyber attack on Dyn that sidelined Netflix and was caused by the cooperation of an army of bots created from hacked “Internet of Things” (IoT) devices, it seems the movies were right. If you want to know how security firms are fighting the rise of the machines through IoT scanners, read on.

The Dangers of IoT

The "Internet of Things" is a relatively new phrase that basically refers to a network of connected devices. The network might include your computer and smartphone, but could also include apps that you have downloaded, your Fitbit, a remotely monitored home security system, routers, printers and any other wireless device that needs an internet connection. Although all these devices are but convenience items, they can also be potentially dangerous considering how much personal and business information is stored on your personal computer, which is connected to the same network.

How can I protect my IoT devices?

Every device that connects to the internet must connect through your network. If you are technologically challenged and have only a laptop in your office and a couple of desktop computers scattered throughout the building, chances are you don't worry too much about the security of your connection. It's easy to install a firewall and antivirus program that will keep your network connection secure. But internet security isn't that simple for the business owner anymore.

The internet security vendor Bullguard has released a new tool that business owners can use to locate any vulnerabilities that might be found on their network. The program uses on online directory to double-check whether your device uses an "open" or unsecure port to connect to your network. If it determines that your network or any of your devices are connected with an open line, it gives you the location of the detected vulnerability.

What can the IoT Scanner Do?

While the scanner only points to places of invulnerability and does not attempt to fix anything, it provides the information you need to take that next step. Many times the real danger of a smart device is that it connects to your network without your knowledge, allowing hackers an "open door" to wreak havoc. Knowing where the hackers might enter can keep you vigilant to fix that breach.

Scanners like this are exactly what we hope to accomplish with our blog. We want you to provide you with useful tools that help educate you about your network and your IT, while also showcasing what we can do for you as an outsourced IT consultant. Bullguard’s IoT scanner will help you get one step closer to enterprise-level security, but we’re the partner you need to cross the finish line. Get in touch with us to start making improvements today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 21st, 2016

2016november21_businesscontinuity_cData is vital to your business. It’s how you keep records, track activities, and function as a business in general. However, with all of the data that your business generates on a regular basis, it can be difficult to keep everything backed up at all times. Fortunately, there is a way to better prioritize your data backups. By appropriating one of the IT industry’s favorite solutions, you can revolutionize your data backup protocols.

Too much data may sound like a good thing, but depending on your organization, backing up everything à la minute may be out of your price range or just flat out impossible with the amount of information you create. The problem then becomes: How do I structure my backup plan to prioritize the critical files? We believe the answer is analytics.

In order to avoid backing up unneeded data, you’ll require a “smarter” backup solution. This is where an experienced MSP (managed services provider) really earns its keep. We’ve spent years becoming experts in backup solutions and designing systems that keep your mission-critical data healthy, and we can offer something few others can’t: a backup solution that learns.

The first step in ensuring all of your customer information is safely duplicated and quarantined is to install sophisticated analytics engines that help determine what is most essential to your business's day-to-day operations. These ever-evolving engines will prioritize data in order of importance and translate that to a backup structure that ensures the right data is safe and sound should disaster strike.

Using analytics maintains your existing data-backup solution, but provides it with a map of what to save first, and what to leave for later. What does that mean? Drastically reduced recovery times in the event of untimely outages or disruptions. And, the use of analytics also helps increase efficiency and decrease overall backup costs by providing a better picture of what is unimportant or unnecessary.

Small- and medium-sized businesses have been the drivers of innovation for decades because, as they say, “necessity is the mother of invention.” And we’re here to deliver some good news: Whether you’re interested in implementing a cutting-edge analytics engine or simply want to start with a more straightforward solution, we’re ready to create a new system that prioritizes backups, just for you. Take a second to analyze that, then give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
November 15th, 2016

2016november15_virtualization_cOne of the newest and potentially most innovative virtual desktop platforms for businesses is vSpace 10 Pro, which has recently been released. If you are considering transitioning your business over to this new business tool, you will first want to get to know some of the potential benefits and drawbacks of vSpace 10 Pro. Read on to learn more about this platform and see how it fits into your business.

The traditional way companies make it possible for multiple employees to use company and business systems is to provide all users with their own copy of Windows so they can install the program separately on their machines. However, this can be quite cumbersome. If a patch is required for Windows, each account will need to be individually accessed and updated. This can also be expensive for businesses, as they will need to purchase individual copies of Windows and other software.

The idea behind vSpace Pro 10 is to do away with this expensive and sometimes inefficient type of virtual desktop system. vSpace Pro 10 requires a company to purchase only one copy of Windows, which is housed on what is known as a host server. Only the virtual desktop will then be customized for an individual user.

There are many reasons this can benefit a business. First of all, the maintenance costs, time, and effort will be significantly reduced because you will deal only with one copy of Windows rather than several. The initial system costs will also be much lower than alternative options.

You could also potentially save on your energy bills, as you would need to operate fewer machines at once by hosting the core operating system and multiple virtual desktops in a single central location. The best thing about vSpace Pro 10 is how simple and easy it is to use and to operate once installed, and the initial costs and installation process are simple as well. The streamlined nature and efficiency of vSpace Pro 10 make it one of the best virtual desktop platforms available for businesses today. If you would like to know more or want to get started, contact us as soon as possible.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

November 10th, 2016

2016november10_security_cScam artists will stop at nothing to make an extra buck, which means that people need to be vigilant about protecting their valuable information. While the phone is still a popular method of approach, the Internet has opened a new avenue for the scammer to attempt to steal your money. Keep reading to find out why younger consumers are more prone to falling for new scamming tactics.

Results Conclude Youth is more Gullible

Microsoft recently conducted a survey of 1000 computer users of all ages and from many of the largest countries in the world to find out how many of them had been scammed by phony "technicians" claiming to be employees of Microsoft or other major computer conglomerates. The results were startling when studied demographically. Researchers discovered that seniors, who were traditionally viewed as the major victims of such fraudulent schemes, were not the most likely group to fall for the scam.

Research indicated that although seniors were most likely to buy into a telephone scam, they still did not fall for the act as much as younger age groups. The study found, in fact, that between the ages of 18 and 24, people were 2.5 times more likely to fall for the scam than seniors. Those between the ages of 25 and 34 were three times more likely than seniors to be tricked.

The scam that the Microsoft company recently studied involved the following scenario: Either a person calls claiming to be a technical support technician, or an email or pop-up alerts you that your computer is locked or otherwise compromised. In order to fix the problem, you need to call someone and pay for a program or provide access to your computer so some purported technician can solve the problem "remotely."

If you fall for this scam, you are giving them funds for a false program or access to your computer -- which also allows them access to your personal data and the ability to install malware onto your system. The study revealed that two-thirds of those surveyed (around 660 people) had experienced the scam first-hand. One in five had listened long enough to hear the story, and 1 in 10 actually gave the scammer money.

Why the Younger Demographic Became Easy Victims

While older adults often respond more to phone calls, younger people have learned to ignore phone calls, saving them from being phone victims. However, because younger adults spend the majority of their time online and often remain acutely aware of the status of their computer and online presence, they are more prone to react to a pop-up or email claiming that their computer is in danger. Nearly 60% of the adults aged 18-24 in the study say they were exposed to the scam through pop-up ads or online correspondence.

The takeaway here is simple: Cybersecurity is about more than just firewalls and antivirus software. You need to shore up the human side of your protection protocols. The best way to start is by doing some quick research on social engineering in our previous blogs, but ultimately you’ll need something a little more thorough. Contact us today for more tips and to ask about scheduling a cybersecurity training for your employees.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
November 8th, 2016

2016november8_hardware_cWith the advent of e-commerce and online storefronts, global commerce has opened a whole new world for the small business owner. It has never been easier to find customers for your product or service. Of course, you still need to have to right tools. One tool that you cannot do without is the computer. But what computer hardware is best for your SMB: a desktop or laptop? Here is some advice to consider when weighing your options.

Portability

Modern desktop computers aren't nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases the screen is thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to unplug, move and plug in on the road. But there are still places the desktop cannot go. Laptops allow you to go anywhere, even places without electricity. But this ability to take your work anywhere can be counterproductive by creating more stress on employees who think they must work all the time.

Memory/Speed

Desktop computers often have more memory than laptops, and they’re faster speeds due to better processors. This is now changing as a result of advancing technology, but until the cost of high-powered laptops becomes affordable to the general public, the desktop computer is going to provide businesses with more speed. If your employees’ work is limited to word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. However, anything more will probably require a desktop machine.

Security

An SMB’s computer hardware needs to be secure to ensure that private company information doesn't end up in the wrong hands. On a desktop computer, the hardware is easier to defend against malware and adware. It’s also more physically secure because the desktop is often kept in one location and not easy to snatch. If you do choose the laptop route, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect machines that leave the office.

Price

Traditionally, the laptop has been cheaper and available to more people. This is true particularly for smaller notebook-style laptops. But desktop computers are becoming more affordable as more people have access to them through local channels. With a capable IT service provider, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor between the two options.

Quality

Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, over time they’re prone to problems with the battery and charging cord. They are also easily damaged. By contrast, desktops are generally more sturdy. But when they do experience a problem, it often leads to expensive repairs.

Final Recommendation

The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice to all who will listen. A growing company really needs a combination of both types of computers. However, a desktop computer will be generally more reliable for the fledgling company owner to start with. Laptops should be added as budget permits to provide that extra portability and convenience.

If you have questions regarding the best choice for your company, give us a call. We'll be happy to provide you the assistance you need to improve your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 7th, 2016

2016november7_socialmedia_cFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram have changed the way we interpret the word social. Whereas it used to mean just catching up with a friend over tea, being social online now has blurred the lines between friends and customers. But far beyond the “big three” lies dozens of untapped social networks. If you’re hoping to get into some of the biggest rising stars in online marketing, you’ve come to exactly the right place.

Having great content on your site is the magnet that attracts visitors. However, when there is too much competition on the most popular platforms, it's hard for your social media reputation management to deliver the results you expect. To reap nominal rewards from social media marketing, you need to devise new methods to stand out from the crowd.

Meetup

For people with similar interests, Meetup is a great site to plan face-to-face meetings. Does your company sell hiking, camping, and backpacking products? Organize a meetup for the people in your community to go on a hike. You really can’t get a better customer interaction than engaging them in the activities they love.

Eventbrite

If you’re looking for a more formal event platform, Eventbrite helps you to organize, plan, and market your event so you can ensure its success. Another way it differs from Meetup is its recruitment potential. You can easily market yourself as an expert in an industry to either attract freelancers or educate potential customers about the problems you aim to solve for them. Townscript, and Picantic, offer similar services and can go to great lengths to improve your social media reputation.

Answer Forums

How many times have you scoffed at the amatuer responses to the questions posted on sites such as Yahoo Answers, Quora, and Reddit? However, if you take a step back you’ll realize that these people are often searching for information about certain industries or products. When providing helpful answers to their questions, establish your credibility by identifying your expertise and product.

Disqus

It’s easy to get stuck in a narrow interpretation of ‘social media.’ It’s just web technology that helps us to communicate with each other, right? By embedding apps such as Disqus into your online content, you can connect with readers and external websites to boost your material as well as your reputation. What’s more social than getting people talking about about your products or industry?

Slack

Most people who use the messaging app Slack see it as a way to communicate with friends and coworkers. However, with a little creativity you can join conversations from all over the world to boost your online presence. There are countless channels devoted to industries, categories, hobbies and more. All you have to do is insert yourself and your company into the conversation to get people talking about your business!

It’s hard to deny that technology has made our lives more complicated. We still believe it has made up for this downside ten fold, but we understand it can feel a little overwhelming at times. Thankfully, the answer is simple: a managed technology provider. For a never-ending source of information on reputation and social media management, get in touch with us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media