3 Reasons Why Everyone Should Have Office 365

Office 365

Microsoft Office has been THE office suite for over a decade, whether it is for business or home usage. Other applications have come and gone, but it is expected that most people will be doing their work in Word, Excel, Outlook or PowerPoint. While many people have their favourite versions of Office, here are three good reasons you should upgrade to Office 365.

1) It is more accessible

Office 365 operates both locally on your computer and in the cloud – which means you can use your Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook from anywhere. This means no more forgotten homework, files you can’t access until you get to work or lost documents. They are all ready and waiting in the cloud, wherever you are.

Another benefit is that the barriers between Mac and PC versions have been erased. It runs on both platforms and on any device – even iPhones, iPads, Android, tablets and many other smart devices. A hefty allocation of cloud storage comes with it too, in the form of OneDrive. Many people have started using their OneDrive to store all of their important data. If needed you can even securely share your files with a simple link, and always have complete control over who sees what.

2) It is more affordable

Previously, there was a large upfront cost per computer and you were stuck with that version until you forked out extra money for an upgrade. For people with more than one computer in their office, this was a very expensive way to obtain software. Office 365 has no large upfront costs, no matter how many computers or devices you need to install it on. It is a small monthly subscription, with no contracts. Depending on your location (as pricing differs across countries), you can have five Office 365 licenses for a whole year, for less than the cost of your previous version.

3) It is always up to date

You are always rocking the latest version of Office. You are not stuck with the one you paid for years ago, like Office 2007, 2013 or 2016. Office 365 is always the very latest. If you are still using an older version, you will be surprised by how much Office has evolved over the years. Gone are the annoying helpers, tacky looking clipart and templates and confusing buttons. Everything is intuitive and easy to use, so you no longer need to take classes or tutorials on how to work it. Even the jargon has been stripped out in favour of human-speak so you can get your tasks done faster. With the latest features, your files also take on a whole new level of professionalism. Plus, any updates, upgrades or patches happen automatically, so whatever benefits Microsoft adds is included in your Office immediately. In the past, when you upgraded your Office version it was often a drama and left your files in a mess. Switching to Office 365 is like a breath of fresh air in this regard, as it’s essentially a sign up and go situation. Older files remain intact, your hard drive doesn’t get cluttered, and you are up and running in minutes.

With Office 365 there is also a home and a business version. In this article we have only talked about the actual software side of Office 365. Depending on which version of Office 365 your purchase, you may also get many other benefits including:

  • Exchange based mailbox.
  • OneDrive & Sharepoint (online file sharing).
  • MS Teams (collaborative tool)
  • Skype for Business (communications tool).
  • MS Planner.
  • MS Staff Hub.

Plus Microsoft is adding extra functionality every few months.

It’s a popular option for good reason as with Office 365 you are essentially getting more while spending less. The fact that it’s always available, always the latest version and works anywhere is reason enough to make the switch. The included security features also mean you are at less risk of cyber-attack It really is a stress-free solution, saving you both time and money.

Switch to Office 365 today- contact us on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au

The Best Way to Purchase New Computer Systems

Buying new computers

You have decided to buy a new computer for your business or perhaps even a whole set of new computers. You can almost taste the excitement as you think about those sleek new machines and how much more productive your employees will be. There is just one thing left to do: actually choose which ones you need. This is where it starts to gets tricky. Most people pop down to their local retail store and look at the display models and then get overwhelmed when the salesperson starts throwing around technical jargon. This scenario almost always ends up with your business having the wrong computer. Here’s why, and what you should do instead.

Most retail salespeople are minimally trained
Unsurprisingly, salespeople are trained to sell! They may have an interest in computers and they’re certainly great at reading the words on the box to you, but that maybe the limit of their knowledge. Their main goal is to make the sale, earn the commission and go home happy. You want a computer to suit your business needs, which isn’t particularly high on the salespersons priority list. They are not equipped to deeply understand the way your business works and nor do they have the time or desire to find out. You are also more likely to be upsold extras you don’t need but can rapidly drain your budget.

Compatibility can be a problem
There are so many moving parts to your business network, from printers to routers, laptops to desktops and a variety of software programs that anytime you throw a new computer into the mix you could end up with compatibility problems. Salespeople don’t know what your current setup is at your office but may still make recommendations based on assumptions and hopeful guesswork.

Even the number and types of ports available on retail computers may cause a problem once you’re setting up. The last thing you want to do is end up with a collection of wobbly adapter plugs as you attempt to make do until it is time for a do-over.

Most computers sold at retail stores only come with the home versions of the operating system and MS Office software. This then leads to another round of compatibility issues.

Yes you can may be able to create workarounds but this then leads to efficiency and performance hits. It is best to skip the drama and get the right computer first time around.

Support could get tricky
Your IT provider will often stick to a handful of vendors to ensure all parts are kept uniform. That way they know which parts will work together, and should something fail, they can usually get replacements quickly. IT support providers often have special relationships with suppliers and vendors and can get special pricing, extended support and upgrades that a salesperson can’t match. Your IT budget goes further with your consultant, and not just on the day of purchase.

When you buy computers through your IT provider, you know you are getting the exact computer your business needs. They know your business inside and out, including your long and short-term goals and if needed will do more research before making  recommendations.

IT providers will also provide business class systems with business class warranties. Remember, you will want your computers to last at least 3-4 years of heavy usage, so it’s a good idea to buy only business-grade computers and components. While the computers at the retail store are equally shiny, they are rarely as durable as the ones your consultant can supply.

As well as selling you the new systems your IT provider will also be able to set the new computers up, ready to go with the exact software you need. They can strip out all the bloatware (unnecessary programs and trials that come pre-installed) and configure your new computers to your needs. Your employees will then be able to enjoy the new systems and take full advantage of the productivity boosts you paid for from day one. That means internet working, internal network connected, your programs playing nice with each other, printing without problems and all your settings data and email transferred from the old computer!

If you are in South Australia we can help with your next purchase – ask us how by contacting us now on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au!

It’s Official: Your Website NEEDS to Use HTTPS

HTTPSYou may have noticed many business websites now have a green padlock in the address bar next to the letters ‘https’. Until recently, you would have only see that on shopping or banking sites, but it is now become the expected norm for all business websites – even if you don’t need users to log in or enter credit cards. Simply put, the ‘s’ in https stands for secure and means any data sent and / or received by the visitor is encrypted.

Clearly, this is an essential feature for e-commerce sites, but why have all the info-only websites started using https too?

The New Google Rule

As of July 2018, Google will mark your website as insecure unless you use https. It is a movement they started a few years ago to make the internet a more secure place by default. Since Google pretty much rule the internet search and increasing security is always a good idea, business websites have been gradually switching over. Without https protection, someone with access to your internet connection, whether from digital eavesdropping or hacking, could intercept the information. They could also place malware onto otherwise legitimate sites and infect innocent visitors. That is why eighty-one of the top 100 sites online have already switched to https and a very large majority of others are following suit.

The Browser Bar Says It All

In the same way a green padlock in the browser bar indicates a trustworthy site, you can expect that non-https sites will be marked with a “not secure” warning. Previously, users had to click an information symbol to actively investigate the security status of sites. This shift to plain sight markers will be most noticeable on Chrome, however it is expected that other browsers will follow suit. Future visitors to your site may then be alarmed by seeing that the connection isn’t secure.

The fact that you may not be asking them to log in, enter personal details or payment is irrelevant as perceptions matter. Eventually that warning will be changed to an alarming red as Google declares war on insecure sites. As the common understanding is that a warning is bad, you may get more visitors bouncing straight away or even contacting you to report that your site has a problem.

Boosts for Secure Sites

Google is also taking its commitment to safe web browsing further by favouring https websites. This means that Google’s search algorithm is taking your site security into account, preferring https results. Since https status get preference in search results, you may find yourself climbing in the ranking while other businesses drop. It really is a win-win situation for you to implement https..

How to proceed?

It is a little more complicated than just changing a setting within your web hosting environment. You have to order an install a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate and then install it within your hosting environment. The easiest way to do this is to contact your IT technician or web developer, as they will be able to make sure that it is all done correctly and thus will keep Google happy.

We can help secure your website by migrating it to https – contact us today at 08 83264 364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

4 Ways to Avoid IT Downtime

Avoid computer downtime

Technology is a wonderful thing, but what happens when the IT stops working? In today’s world IT is a necessity. Unfortunately, this means when downtime inevitably hits, you have a BIG problem.

Maybe it’s from a malware or virus attack, a bug in the system, hardware failure or something else… Whatever the cause, the impact is real and measurable and you need it fixed ASAP. Research firm Gartner, reports that 43% of small businesses close their doors right after a major data loss, and only a tiny 6% survive long term. The financial cost of each hour can be in the thousands, and the damage to your brand could be irreparable. While downtime will occasionally strike every business, there are things you can do to minimize the duration, frequency and interruption to your business.

Taking a few simple actions now may result in your business staying open while your competitor gives up.

1. Use monitored antivirus and firewalls

While most businesses have these protections, not all have embraced the idea of monitored antivirus and firewalls. Instead most small business setups have more in common with a home network than a robust professional system. Given that SMB are a primary target for malware and cyber-attack, you should seriously consider moving to the monitored versions. Our experts set up custom protection to block all attacks, both known and emerging. All updates are taken care of and company-wide protections applied.

2. Have backups you can count on

A backup can not only protect you from digital threats like viruses and ransomware, they also protect you against physical threats like robbery, fire or natural disasters. The last thing you want is for your business to be crippled by data loss. A robust backup system can be as simple as asking our team to take care of it, or if you have an on-site technician, using the rule of 3: one backup on the server, one unplugged from the server, and one off-site. If anything ever goes wrong, you’ll be able to pull up the most recent backup and continue as normal. Businesses without good backups tend to be down for days, if not weeks. You also need to regularly test your backups to confirm they are working and also backing up the correct data.

3. Planning

Nobody likes to think about their business flooding or being hit with ransomware, but do you and your employees know what to do if the worst happens? Having a comprehensive Disaster Recovery Plan helps you get up and running quicker and  minimises downtime. Everyone knows what their role is, what steps they need to take, who to tell and which systems take priority.

4. Monitor hardware for early signs of problems

Computer hardware is like any piece of equipment – when it’s getting old it will let you know! This could be anything from making noises, being louder or slower than normal or even system crashes. Each symptom is your early warning sign that allows you to take action before a crash that sends everything into downtime. We can even implement hardware monitoring to look for signs of impending issues. If the signs point to imminent failure, we can let you know and often repair or replace the affected hardware with little or no downtime.

Downtime is an unavoidable part of all modern businesses but your preparation can dictate whether it goes for one minute or one week and how often it happens. According to one study, most firms experience 43 hours average downtime per year, a number much too high for most peoples comfort. While scheduled downtime can sometimes be unavoidable, your business will appreciate being able to skip the panic of surprise downtime events. Reducing your risk is the best action you can take, making downtime a truly rare occasion. Even better, our Proactive or Managed Services can take care of this for you, stopping many downtime events before they occur.

Talk to us about ways to reduce your downtime. Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Securely Dispose of Your Old Computers

Securely dispose of old computers

Getting new computers for your business is exciting, but what do you do with the old ones? Sometimes they may get handed down to another staff member, re-purposed for another function, sold or even thrown out.

The problem is that there is sensitive data on them. There are passwords, emails, account numbers, license keys, client details, financial information, browser history…. the works! Every computer contains a treasure trove of sensitive information that cyber criminals would love to get their hands on!

Deleting all the files on the computer doesn’t actually make them disappear, nor does waving a strong magnet over the drive. These mistakes have cost businesses millions of dollars over the years.

Most businesses and users are unaware that specialized data deletion and cleanup is necessary. A 2016 experiment proved just how dangerous the situation can be. Researchers bought 200 used hard drives and found that 67% held unwiped, unencrypted sensitive data, including sales projection spreadsheets, CRM records, and product inventories. Even more frighteningly is that they didn’t need any special hacking skills to get this data – it was all right there on the hard drives, easily readable and helpfully labelled. It is also not surprising that with simple data recovery tools, people have also been able to access medical records, financial info and even defence related  data, all waiting patiently on a discarded hard drives.

Why deleting files doesn’t help

Data on a hard drive is stored like a book with an index. Every time data is written, a quick entry is written into the index so when you need it again, it knows where to look on the hard drive. The index is used for files you create as well as system files you can’t even see. If you delete a file it is more like changing the index to say nothing is on page 10 and you can write something else there when you are ready. But if you manually go to page 10, you will find the information is still there. The file still exists until it’s been written over – it is just the index reference that is deleted when you “delete” a file.

Wiping data before disposal

There are specialised software tools you can get to properly wipe the hard drives  yourself, as well as dedicated security firms, but your best option is to choose an IT business you know and trust. With that in mind, a methodical approach is required to ensure not a single drive is left untreated. You don’t want to leave data behind, or even clues that a motivated person could extrapolate any information from. The approach might include using checklists to maintain security, or dedicated processes to guide each step in decommissioning. Records should also be kept, including who signs off on completion of the retirement and where the computers are sent afterwards. A proper inventory and auditing process may slow the roll-out of your new computers, but it is always better than having your old data coming back to haunt you.

If you are located in Adelaide or the surrounding area we can migrate any needed data to your new systems and then securely destroy your old hard drives for you. We can then dispose of the computer for you via a recycling centre.

Upgrading your business computers should be an exciting time for you and your employees, so with a little forward planning, you’ll be able to keep everyone smiling and all your data secure.

Need help with your old hardware? Contact us today on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au so that we can securely dispose of your old equipment.

Think Before Clicking – 5 Red Flags of Phishing Emails

Just one click can be the difference between maintaining computer security and suffering massive financial losses. All it takes is just one employee to click on a link in an email for your business to be vulnerable.

Here are a list of 5 red flags that point out a potential phishing email:

1. Poor spelling and grammar

The occasional typo happens to even the best of us, an email filled with errors (both in grammar and spelling) is a clear warning sign of a phishing attempt. Most companies push their email campaigns through multiple reviews where errors are fixed and the language is refined. Errors throughout the entire message indicate that the same level of care was not taken and therefore the message is more than likely fraudulent.

2. An offer too good to be true

Free items or a lottery win sound great, but does the offer comes out of nowhere and with no catch? Then there is definitely cause for concern. Take care not to get carried away with the message and don’t click without investigating further.

3. Random sender who knows too much

Spear phishing is when an email or offer is designed and crafted especially for your business. Culprits take personal details from your public channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and even offline documents such as annual company reports etc) and then use it against you. The only clues? The sender is unknown – they weren’t at the event or involved in any way. Take a moment to see if their story checks out. Even check the email address of the sender to confirm that it is correct and not just a similar sounding or looking address (see #4 below).

4. The URL or email address is not quite right

One of the most effective techniques used in phishing emails is to use domains which sound almost right. For example, [microsoft.info.com] or [pay-pal.com] Hover over the link with your mouse and review where it will take you. If it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text then delete the email.

5. It asks for personal, financial or business details

Alarms should ring when a message contains a request for personal, business or financial information. If you believe there may be a genuine issue, you can initiate a check using established, trusted channels (ie phone the person on their known number not one contained within the email).

While education is the best way to ensure phishing emails are unsuccessful, a robust spam filter and solid anti-virus system provide peace of mind that your business has the best protection available.

DP Computing can help secure your business and can even organise a fake phishing attack to see if further staff training is required. Give us a call to discuss how we can help you on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Revive Your Slow Computer with an Superfast SSD

Old age creeps up slowly on most of us.  Unless you’re a computer – then it seems to happen overnight!

One day you are using the computer fine, the next day it is so slow and booting takes so long you not only have time to make a cup of coffee, you could have walked to the local café for the good stuff!

This is when most people throw their hands in the air and start wishing for a new computer. Except your computer isn’t broken, it is just….slow. Time-wasting, focus-losing, frustratingly slow. Like most machines, computers have parts that slow things down and eventually wear out (especially when they are in near-constant use).

The hard drive is the #1 cause of speed issues in most computers. Traditional hard drives are made up of round magnetic platters, spinning at up to 7200rpms, while a  head on a mechanical arm whizzes back and forth reading and writing data. Eventually, the platters take longer to spin up, unable to reach full throttle and the mechanical arm becomes sluggish. Which leaves you waiting and waiting…

SSD’s Can Give Aging Computers A New Lease on Life.

If you haven’t heard of SSD’s previously then you should get excited as the new era of hard drives are here with Solid State Drives – and they have no moving parts.

They are actually a lot like your USB stick that continually takes a beating but still performs perfectly.

Making a simple upgrade from an old hard drive (HDD) to a SSD can significantly reduce boot time and improve application loading. They are also:

  • Cool – With no moving parts they are much, much cooler than traditional hard drives.
  • More durable – No moving parts to wear out
  • Compact – A little larger and thicker than a credit card
  • Lightning fast – Data is accessed nearly instantly.
  • Suitable for all systems– laptops and desktops

Upgrading your tired hard drive to a super-fast SSD can be done within one day. For only $AU320, we will supply and install a 240GB SSD for you, as well as clone your existing hard drive to it (Windows, programs and data). A full 12 month parts and labour warranty is included.

This is a limited time offer so don’t delay, book your SSD upgrade in today (someone else can make the coffee tomorrow!).

Call us on 08 8326 4364 to book in your upgrade.

Do You Have a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion?

Passwords

You’re not alone! Most people use the same password everywhere – home, work, Twitter, Facebook, email and even for banking. Considering how many passwords we use everyday and are expected to remember them, password exhaustion is a real thing. It is no wonder that when yet another prompt for a password appears, users enter very easily guessed combinations like ‘abcd’ or ‘password’.

Trouble is, even if your password conforms to strict password rules, hackers are taking regular strolls around the internet and collecting logins and passwords, from either leaked details or sites with security flaws.

Then, they will try their luck with that login/password combination on other sites. They know more than half the users only have only one password and email combination, so the chance of gaining access into another one of your accounts is quite high.

As the same password is used elsewhere, one site breach follows another and another until hackers have nothing more to gain. The only way to break this chain reaction is to use a different password for each site.

How to Create Easily Remembered Passwords

Have a system or template for creating your own unique passwords, that you’ll be able to remember, but is not obvious to hackers. For example:

<character><word><something about the site><numbers><character>

Becomes:

 !K1ttyFB75!

At first it might seem complicated, but the above is really just based around the words ‘kitty’ (with an upper case K and a number 1 for the i) and ‘FB’ for Facebook. For other sites change the FB to something else.

What to Do If Your Password Has Been Hacked

You can check to see if any of your accounts have been compromised by entering your email into a site like:

www.haveibeenpwned.com

If it alerts a breach, you will need to change your passwords immediately – all of them. Use the example system above to create a new set. If you’re struggling to remember your set of passwords, consider using a secure password tracker such as LastPass. (http://www.lastpass.com) or Keepass (https://keepass.info)

If you assistance changing your passwords or setting up a secure password system, let us know on (08) 8326 4364 and we will be more than happy to help you out.

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

More and more businesses and organizations are getting hit by ransomware demands. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, hospitals, schools, factories, offices,… are all getting infected and hackers are raking in millions.

Ransomware attacks are devious in their simplicity. A user in a business is tricked into opening a file, usually through a phishing email or download. The file contains malware which then encrypts your data and demands money in exchange for the password to decrypt you data.

All businesses should have a backup and thus should simply be able to restore from their backup if the worst occurs. But this is not always the case.Sometimes the backup  fails for some reason and the data can’t be retrieved. In other instances, the business has a backup that can be restored but it doesn’t include everything they need. So have you tested your backup recently?

Sometime the backup is also caught in the ransomware encryption and becomes useless as a recovery method. This is why it is good to have at least one backup stored offsite and not connected to a computer network.

The only defense is to block the malware before it can infect your network and then continue the protection with a comprehensive backup strategy for all workstations and servers. Give us a call to discuss how we can help secure your business against ransomware today on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

7 Tips for Using New Technology to Benefit Your Business

Technology makes it possible for businesses to adapt to their environments quickly. For example, imagine a new player in the market who produces items that are similar to yours. In this case, customization would benefit your business greatly because it would differentiate your goods from your competitor’s products. In this case, a new packaging system with customized graphics printing, barcodes, and printed information would be an excellent idea. Online verification of the product’s authenticity would be a differentiating factor as well.

Here are 7 tips for using new technology to benefit your business.

  1. Invest in a chat-bot platform

A chat-bot refers to a computerized program that conducts conversations with real people. These conversations can be auditory or textual. Most companies use them for customer support services including answering calls from their customers or responding to their queries on social media. This program benefits your business in various ways including the reduced need for hiring many customer care agents. Another advantage is immediate and targeted responses to queries from your clients. Investing in chat-bots helps you when it comes to improving the quality of these conversations. You can even use them for generating leads for your business in addition to building brand awareness.

  1. Transfer Your Files to a Virtual Data Room (VDR)

VDRs refer to online repositories of information. More specifically, organizations use them for storing and distributing documents. The benefits of VDRs include increased speeds when uploading files, improved management of these files, and enhanced levels of control over them. Another advantage is added convenience because workers can access the documents stored in VDRs from their PCs, smartphones, or tablets. Review interfaces and test support services before you select a VDR. Check the pricing as well for hidden charges.

  1. Opt for a Physical Security Information Management System (PSIM)

PSIM is ideal for schools, factories, casinos, stadiums, and malls because they require security structures that are rigid and effective. These structures include closed-circuit cameras, fire alarms, fraud detectors, and alerts for cyber-attacks. Unfortunately, managers handle them separately making it easy for criminals to target them individually. PSIM integrates all of them. Doing so enhances coordination among the people who are in charge of these structures. Centralized management of logistical, safety, and security concerns is possible when increased levels of coordination are a reality in your business.

  1. Templates for Your Video Wall Are an Excellent Idea

A video wall refers to multiple screens mounted next to each other on a particular surface. In most cases, people place them on an actual wall so that it looks like one big screen. You may have seen them in newsrooms behind news anchors or malls as they advertise discounts and sales. The effectiveness of this technology is indisputable. More specifically, people notice it wherever it is. They examine it for a while and take note of the message it contains. Enhancing this impact on your customers is possible if you use templates for your video walls. These templates will help you organize your videos so that it looks like a beautiful mosaic image or a carefully crafted collage.

  1. Set Priorities When It Comes To Data Mining

Businesses receive an enormous amount of information from their clients. The data that your company collects is valuable if you use it correctly. More specifically, discovering patterns in it and using these patterns to your advantage is possible. Start by differentiating consumer groups. Then look for trends in shopping habits. Search for hidden possibilities of making an additional profit and finally, create predictive models with the data that you have mined.

  1. Invest In Time Tracking Software

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published shocking statistics on time management within most businesses in America. For example, did you know that managers waste more than three hours a day on delaying with interruptions? Did you also know that miscommunication contributes to 280 lost hours annually? You can recover this time through tracking software. It will keep people on track so that meetings end on time encouraging people to communicate concisely and directly. Time tracking software would keep managers on their toes as well so that they limit interruptions as much as they can.

  1. Use Technology to Create and Present Reports to Your Stakeholders

Reporting is critical for any business because keeping consumers, suppliers, and investors informed increases their interest in your company. Unfortunately, compiling reports is a tedious task because it takes time. It requires resources as well including human labor. Using new technology helps you when it comes to limiting the use of these resources and the time taken to compile reports. Go for technology that supports dynamic dashboards, advanced filters, and real-time summaries. It should have pre-packaged reporting mechanisms as well in addition to campaign analytics.

Our guest blogger for this article was Mia Clarke. Mia is part of the content and community team at Userful.com, experts in all things video wall and display solutions. When Mia is not spreading the word about video walls she is often found discovering the great outdoors, walking or cycling.