Remote Support – Watch Us Fix Your Computer!

Remote Support

When your computer is acting crazy the last thing you want to do is unplug it and take it down to the local repair shop. With so many cables and connections most people don’t know what goes where. Tech support though has come a long way in recent years and now you have another option: remote support.

With remote support, one of our experts will connect to your computer through the internet and fix your problem (as long as the computer starts and has an Internet connection). You can even watch what is happening on the screen or step away and we will contact you when the problem is fixed.

Remote support takes place when the end user is on the phone, or in a chat with the technician and can run a program to give the technician access to your system. Remote access, on the other hand, does not require an end user to be present but means that the remote access software has already been installed on the computer. If the device is on and connected to the internet, a technician has the ability to conveniently and completely fix the issue by connecting to the machine at any time.

Remote support and remote access are a better way to approach a huge range of issues and have some great benefits:

High success rate: Around 80% of problems can be solved this way. We are sure you have been on the frustrating end of a call center style support session at least once and can guarantee – remote support is nothing like that. Our technicians don’t ask you to click a hundred buttons and read the screen back as they can see your exact screen and can control your computer. Our technicians simply ask your to download and install our remote support software and then the technician takes over, identifies the issue and fixes it for you.

Location independent: For some people, the best part of remote support is that it doesn’t matter where you are located. If you are away on holiday, at home with the kids or laying a beach our remote techs can still fix your computer problems.

Complete privacy: Remember you can see exactly what the remote technician is doing? As such there is no better way to know your privacy is protected than to see exactly what is happening. Unless identified as the issue, our experts won’t go anywhere near your private files and photos.

You’re in control: We can either perform this support as a one off incident where you control the session (ie remote support) or we can install a program that allows us to remotely connect when you are not around (ie remote access) – we can then remote in after hours or at a time that suits you.

Next time your computer is misbehaving, or you need help setting up a new device or program, let us know. We may be able to jump in and get your system going again without you leaving the office or us coming onsite, saving you time and frustration.

Also remember to be on the lookout for scams. If someone rings you and says they need remote access to your computer confirm that they are from your IT support company and / or you requested the support call.

It has never been easier to get expert help for your computer issues. Contact us for more information.

IT vs Productivity – How You Can Win the Battle

Productivity & ITHow much time and productivity did you and your staff lose on computer problems over the last year? Without getting an analyst in to crunch each action and every number, you’ll never know how much money you could have earned in those lost hours. Right now, what you know for sure is that you didn’t go into business to be an IT expert, but suddenly there you are: battling servers, workstations, software, protections and permissions, all on a daily basis…managing all those things you don’t particularly care about, or understand more than you need to. Somehow, you ended up running an IT company plus your regular business.

It didn’t start that way. You got into business because you’re great at what you do. We can help you get back to doing what you’re really passionate about, and free up your time for revenue growth activities. Offload all those niggly It tasks sucking away your day to our Managed Service Provider (MSP) team.

Here are some examples of what we can take care of for you:

Software and security updates: If it seems like an update for something is always popping up, sending your employees away for yet another coffee break while it runs, you’re not far off. While it is great that software providers are continually improving their product, patching holes and reinforcing against threats, keeping up with them all can be incredibly time-consuming. Our MSP can handle all updates and patches keeping your employees focused on their business tasks.

Help desk: We can take care of all those “I don’t know how to”, “I think it’s broken” or “I need another” tech problems that can drive you crazy. You can simply circulate the new protocol – ask DP Computing – and watch how fast these small problems are solved, and your employees are back to work, more productive than ever.

Network management and security: The last thing you want is extended downtime due to a crashed server or a cyber-attack. Our monthly MSP plans works with you to balance security with your business’ necessary tasks and access, leaving you protected and operational. You’ll have staff set-up with the exact permissions they need, robust backup systems in place, and early warning when hardware/software is aging out.

Strategic IT planning: Why blow your IT budget putting out fires, buying incompatible systems or tech you simply don’t need? DP Computing can conduct strategic planning in line with your goals so you’re able to scale what you already have and schedule new expenses in time to meet projections.

The time you spend battling IT problems could be time you spend earning money, growing your business and moving strategically forward. Moving to a monthly managed service plan with DP Computing is easier than you might think. Simply let us know you’re ready to get back to the parts of your business you love and we’ll take the stresss of computing away from you.

Get managed services for your business. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or via email support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Protect Your Business from the Piracy Police

Piracy PoliceIt may not get the same attention as illegal movie and tv show downloads, but software piracy still isn’t something business owners should take lightly. In fact, one little slip can cost your business thousands or even millions of dollars in fines.

There even is a global agency dedicated to catching you out – even if the copyright breach wasn’t your fault! It could have been something an employee used once to solve a certain problem, grabbing a quick download instead of bothering you with a purchase request. Or maybe it is an application you use every day and long since forgot how the license works. Or perhaps you actually own a legit license but are running it on 8 computers when you’re only supposed to run it on 1. Whether you have set out to be a brazen ‘pirate’ or not, the Software Alliance (often called the BSA – Business Software Association) and their associates would love to make an example of your business. They are now advertising and will even pay for whistle-blowers.

Here is a bit of a background: Back in the late 80’s, Microsoft founded an external agency whose task was to protect the intellectual property of member companies, by finding and prosecuting as many cases as possible. The protection laws already existed, they simply needed a means to implement them. Until recently, finding software pirates was very resource intensive. Now, they can simply create a Facebook ad, target it to ex/current employees of a business, and offer a reward up to $1 million (depending on the country) for information. Your business does not even need to be actively using the illegal software, it simply needs to be installed or show traces on your devices.

How to protect your business

We recommend taking a zero-tolerance approach to unapproved software. This means locking down employee systems so that they are unable to install software, even on their own workstations. Set permissions so that only management and above can install new programs, and create a processes for requesting new software. When a software need arises, you then have complete control over the selection, installation and licensing.

Maintaining your software license documentation and running annual audits is also important. On a daily level, it ensures you’ve got records that can keep your business operating during bad luck circumstances, like when an employee leaves and you suddenly discover no-one knows a particular password and the resets go to a dead email address. Proper license documentation also makes sure you aren’t caught red-handed with illegal software, and if you are ever investigated, you have all the documents at the ready.

We can audit your network for pirated software and lock down employee systems – give us a call today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

All Hard Drives Eventually Fail

Hard Drive Failure

 

 

It is only a matter of time before all hard drives fail. Yes some may last longer than others but as they are mechanical with spinning parts and they will fail eventually. What things should you look for that point to a failing hard drive?

You can start by watching for these signs:

Your Computer Slowing Down
As hard drives contain moving parts, the slower they get, the slower your computer gets. It is like a record player, with spinning plates and a needle whipping from side to side. Your hard drive may eventually take longer to spin up and longer to retrieve files –  this will have an impact on everything you do from booting your computer to starting your applications.

Not Booting
During the initial boot up stage, your computer consistently reading from your hard drive. If your computer can’t see the hard drive or has issues reading files then Windows won’t boot.

Corrupted Files
Sometimes a file won’t open because the computer says it is corrupted. Some essential pieces of the file are missing, and unlike a book where a missing page is only inconvenient, it is a deal breaker for computers.

Noises
You should make yourself familiar with the normal noises your computer normally makes as when the hard drive starts to fail these noises can change. You might hear clicking, grinding or even a sci-fi phaser noise. Noises may get louder or speed up during heavy file access.

The Blue Screen Of Death
This is when your computer locks up and only shows a blue screen with an error code. While a blue screen may indicate any number of things it can also point to a failing drive. The more often your computer does this, the more severe the problem is.

Whenever something is clearly wrong, the key is to stop and turn your computer off. Continued use can result in more data loss. Even if you don’t have a backup yet, turn it off now because the large task of backing up can cause extra strain on an already delicate hard drive. It’s tempting to hurry and try to get a quick copy of your files, but in these cases it is best to seek immediate help from a professional.

Also remember to regularly backup all your important data. Sometimes you will get the tell tale signs of a failing drive as listed above and other times you may not get any warnings.

If you hard drive is failing or has failed bring it to us and we will do all we can to retrieve your data. Contact us on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au as soon as you can.

Eleven Best Security Practices To Stop Ransomware

Ransomware and most malware attacks start in two main ways. A booby-trapped email with a malicious attachment or via a compromised website; which then work their way down to your endpoints and servers.To stop these attacks, it is critical that you have a multi layered approach to security.

This starts with a training your employees and patching your devices right through to cloud based malware filters, dedicated hardware firewalls and corporate grade security applications on each device.

The eleven best security practices to apply now are:

  1. Employee training
    Regular training for employees is essential. Employers need to inform their staff on what to look out for and don’t trust the contents of every email they receive.
  2. Patch early, patch often
    The sooner you patch Windows the fewer holes there are for ransomware to exploit.
  3. Backup
    Backup regularly and keep a recent backup copy off-line and off-site. Offline and off-site means ransomware can’t get to it. With recent backups data loss can be minimized.
  4. Implement corporate grade security software
    A free antivirus program might be ok for home use but do you really want a free program protecting your confidential business data and financial information?
  5. Install a firewall or UTM
    You probably don’t just rely on a cheap door lock on the front door of your house so why rely on a basic firewall on the electronic entrance to your business?
  6. Enable cloud based email filtering
    Don’t rely on your local antivirus software detecting and stopping malware within your email application. Block it before it even enters your network by using using a cloud based filter – one that uses multiple filters is even better.
  7. Enable file extensions.
    Enabling extensions makes it much easier to spot file types that wouldn’t commonly be sent to you.
  8. Disable Macros
    Don’t enable macros in document attachments received via email. A lot of infections rely on persuading you to turn macros on, so don’t do it!
  9. Be cautious about unsolicited attachments
    If you aren’t sure – don’t open it. Check with the sender if possible.
  10. Admin Login Rights
    Don’t have more login power than you need. Having administrator rights may bake things easier for administration but they also give malware free ranges on your computer and network. An infection which may be able to be contained to one device could become a network disaster is the malware exploits admin rights.
  11. Keep applications up to date.
    Stay up-to-date with new security features in your business applications
    For example Office 2016 now includes a control called “Block macros from running in Office files from the internet”.

Don’t Become a Victim of Social Engineering

Social EngineeringYou can have the best in computer and network security but if you or one of your staff members inadvertently give out some information all the security can come to nought.

Social engineering is the art of manipulating other people to take certain actions or divulge private information. Some hackers use social engineers techniques and skip the hassle of writing code and go straight for the weakest link in your security defenses – you and your employees. A seemingly innocent phone call or email may be all it takes to gain access to your computer systems, despite having solid software and hardware protections in place.

Here are a few ways on how social engineers work:

Email: Pretending to be a co-worker, supplier or customer who needs a simple piece of information. It could be a money transfer, contact person or some sort of personal details that they pretend they already know, but simply don’t have in front of them. The hacker may also create a sense of urgency or indicate fear that they’ll get in trouble without this information. Your employee is naturally inclined to help and quickly responds with a reply.

Phone: Posing as IT support, government official or even a customer, the hacker can manipulate your employee into changing a password or giving out information. These attacks are hard to identify and the hacker can be very persuasive, even using background sound effects like a crying baby or call-center noise to trigger empathy or trust.

In person: A person in uniform or a repairman can easily get past most people without question. The social engineer can then quickly move into sensitive areas of your business. Once inside, they become invisible and are free to install network listening devices, read a Post-it note listing passwords or gain information and tamper with your business in other ways.

It’s impossible to predict when and where (or how) a social engineer will strike. The above attacks aren’t particularly sophisticated but can be extremely effective. Your staff have been trained to be helpful, but this can also be a weakness.

So what can you do to protect your business? First, recognize that not all of your employees have the same level of interaction with people, the front desk person taking calls and welcoming visitors is at higher risk than the back office or factory worker. We recommend cyber-security training for each level of risk identified and focus on responding to the types of scenarios like those listed above. Social engineering is too dangerous to take lightly.

Talk to us about your cyber security options today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au

Why Is My Computer So Slow?

Computer running slow?Your computer used to speed through startup and open up things fast but now it is struggling to crawl along! Everything takes so much longer or freezes without warning. Something isn’t right with your computer but you don’t know what it is and how to get the speeds of days of old back again?

Computers can start to slow down within 12 months. It is not because their parts are broken or faulty. It may not even because you have so many programs open that you lose count. Slow computers have a number of causes and the most common ones are easily fixed.

Background programs

Background programs are a major cause of slowdowns. Whenever your computer is turned on, it’s running programs in the background. You didn’t start them and they may not be essential to operation, but they start anyway and continue running in the background.

Many of these programs and invisible as they don’t have windows or anything to look at. A good example is your security or antivirus program – you don’t notice it running but you know it’s running in the background and protecting you from malware.

As you install and remove applications over time, programs slip into the background and slowly suck up your computers resources. Programs such as the iTunes helper, Acrobat updater, Cortana, Skype and Spotify are all silently running in the background. You can speed up your system by setting these background programs to run only when you needed or uninstall them completely.

Application bloat

How do software developers improve on their last version of a program? They add more features of course! The problem with this is that the applications bigger and bloated with features you may not need or even know about. The application though now needs more and more resources. The developers have the fastest computers and assume that you do too! This means a computer only 1 to 2 years old can slow to a crawl after a software update. As some updates happen automatically you may not even know it happened – just that your computer is suddenly making you very unhappy. Eventually after multiple updates from a variety of programs your system grinds to a halt. We can remove unused applications or increase your computers power as required.

Slow hard drives

Your data is stored on a device called the hard drive. It is usually a mechanical type that has a spinning platter with a moving head that reads the information. If your data is spread out across lots of places on the platter, the hard drive head has to go back and forth thousands of times just to retrieve a single file. Unsurprisingly this takes time causing your computer to appear unresponsive.

We can optimize your data to give the hard drive a break, but a better solution is to upgrade to an SSD. That’s a Solid State Drive that stores data in memory chips (like a USB or thumb drive) and has no moving parts. Without the physical need to move a hard drive head your computer can access data much faster.

As with most things once your computers starts slowing down the causes multiple and your system starts to crawl. The background programs continue to multiply, the bloat keeps on occurring and the hard drive begs for relief. Rather than buy a whole new system take your computer to a professional for a service and tune up to help return the computer to how you remember it was –  all for a fraction of the cost of a new system.

Contacts us at support@dpcomputing.com.au or on 08 8326 4364 to book your computer in for a tune up and service.

When is Your Business Ready to Move to the Cloud?

When to move my business to the cloud?By now you would have heard of the cloud and know that the cloud is not going away any time soon (click here to learn more about cloud computing). In fact, thanks to its many benefits, cloud computing has become a natural step in business growth. More and more business applications are being released in an online format and staff are becoming more familiar with this type of interface. So when is the right time to move your business computing to the cloud?

As the cloud has become mainstream many businesses are facing this question. Like any strategic business decision though, timing is everything. Here are a few factors to consider before making the switch.

Age of your current servers

If your current servers are reaching their end of life and a large capital investment is needed you may be able to minimize the expense by moving to the cloud. This can be a huge cost saving made in just moments.

Need for remote and mobile access

Many businesses now have a mobile workforce that needs access to files from anywhere and at any time. Cloud computing allows your staff to work safely, securely and efficiently from any location with internet access.

Current support setup

If your business currently outsources your IT management and support you are perfectly suited for the move to the cloud. Network maintenance and monitoring becomes a non-issue as it is handled automatically as part of the cloud service. You will find problems are fixed before you knew they existed and server downtime becomes a thing of the past.

Internet Speeds

If you move to the cloud your internet speed becomes a important factor to consider. If you currently have a slow and unstable connection you may need to examine other Internet options (ie NBN, fibre, MBE, EFM and 4G) for faster speed or maybe even look at delaying your move until a faster service is available. Having a failover Internet connection is also preferable in case anything happens to your main link.

Need for predictable IT costs

If your IT costs sometimes spiral out of control, challenging your patience and budget, cloud computing will seem like a dream come true. With the cloud you are moving from a capital expense to an operational one – server replacements are no longer your concern. You can budget for IT costs in advance with the majority of your IT expenditure already known leaving your cash flow free for other expenses.

Now that cloud computing is more advanced, secure and priced competitively it is a good time to examine your options. At its core, cloud computing is purely about doing things better and can have a massive impact on your profits, productivity and even staff satisfaction rates.

We offer a variety of cloud services to help your business. Give us a phone call at 08 8326 4364 or via email on mailto:support@dpcomputing.com.au to discuss how we can improve your business IT.

How Much Could A Ransomware Attack Cost Your Business?

How much is your data is worth? Information is probably the most valuable part of your business. Imagine if you lost your client database, accounting software, inventory management and any intellectual property you may own. How long will it take to recreate this data and how much money would you lose in lost productivity, staff wages and the time it takes to either recover or recreate the lost information?

Recently when the WannaCry ransomware spread through out the world, many businesses were suddenly forced to re-assess the value of their data: was it worth saving and what would be the ongoing costs of the attack?

If you don’t have a recent backup most ransomware attacks cost at least $US200 (if not a lot more) to get your files released and that is only IF the cyber criminals honor the payment and actually give you the decryption key (some even demand further payments). Meanwhile your business is still running and new client calls are still coming in and you may find yourself unable to operate with your systems down.

Paying the ransom may seem like a quick fix but:

  • There is still the downtime involved to restore your data resulting in lost productivity.
  • If word gets out that your data has been compromised you may find confidence in your business plummets and your existing clients head elsewhere.
  • The cyber criminals you pay, may now see you as an easy target and demand more money or target you for other scams and malware activity.
  • You may recover the data but is it compromised with other malware?
  • You may not get back all the data that has been lost.

So that $US200 ransom may end up costing many, many thousands of dollars!

How To Prevent Ransomware Attacks on your Business

Keep your systems up to date: Malware can take advantage of flaws in older versions of Windows and software – sometimes ones that have already been patched by Microsoft and third party vendors. To be protected businesses have to stay up to date with their patches & versions. To be up to date with Windows patches you need to be running a supported version of Windows. Delaying patches and updates puts your business at risk – we can help you keep you systems up to date.

Use corporate grade security software and firewall: Free software may be fine for low end home computers but if the worst happens you will get no support or help from a company providing free software. A firewall or UTM (unified threat management) device can also help block malware and ransomware infections. But whether it is a free or paid for solution the software (and any hardware devices) must be kept up to date.

Lock down employee computers: Very few staff will require full administrator access to your business network. With a higher level of permissions the more damage a person can do – either accidentally or by inadvertently installing malware. By locking down your computers you have a better chance of containing a malware attack to non-vital systems. Our expert computer technicians can design an access management plan that gives you best of both worlds – flexibility and security.

Educate your workplace: Most employees believe they are being cyber-safe but in reality it is quite different. Many malicious links and embedded malware have become harder to spot – and all it takes is a microsecond to click (and later regret it). We can work with your staff to establish procedures around checking links for authenticity before clicking, awareness around verifying the source of attachments and the importance of malware scanning and keeping systems up to date. We can help get the message through!

Have a solid backup plan: When ransomware hits, a connected backup = infected backup. Also a lot of cloud backup systems, such as Dropbox, immediately clone the infected files which also renders the cloud copy useless. The only safe backups will be the ones both physically and electronically disconnected. Our experts can set you up with a backup system that makes recovery simple.

Be proactive: The best way to avoid the costs of a ransomware attack is to prevent it from happening in the first place is with up to date antivirus software, regular systems updates and security audits. Remember, many businesses were able to watch WannaCry from the sidelines, completely unaffected and seized opportunities while their competitors were down.

Our regular maintenance plans can help protect your business against the next cyber-attack. Call us today on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputin g.com.au.

Is Dropbox Suitable For Your Business?

Dropbox - is it suitable for me?

It seems easy! Install Dropbox and then drag your files into a Dropbox folder and you’ve got yourself a cloud based file storage system that brings your business in line with modern expectations. But then again, maybe not!

Due to its simplicity Dropbox has grown to become one of the main file sharing and cloud storage solutions around. For some businesses using Dropbox can provide good value, and it never hurts when your staff already know how to use the software. In other cases another alternative designed to meet business needs may be more suitable.

When Dropbox is a Good Choice

Micro-sized business: If your business is small with only yourself or a couple of employees.

No sensitive information: This includes personal details of customers, vendors and staff or other proprietary data such as accounting information.

Nobody ever accidentally deletes anything: Dropbox is a syncing service, which means when a file is deleted, it is deleted from all machines. While you can recover the file from the Dropbox website you need to do this within 30 days – which by the time you notice it’s missing may be too late.

If you’re thinking those attributes sound more like a fictional business, you’re not far off.

Dropbox’s popularity in the consumer space has caused businesses to use Dropbox despite the risks. Dropbox is designed for syncing and NOT backup. This means while your data is copied across all connected devices, it is a mirror of the data only – when you delete or change the original file it is immediately synced across devices. If malware infects one machine this can spread between all your connected devices and put all of them at risk.

You may require access control on certain files or folders. Dropbox acts like a free-for-all, the shared files are sitting there available to anyone with access to read, change and copy. You will also miss collaborative editing, losing out in productivity and data resilience as multiple employees overwrite each other simultaneously.

Another issue is – where are your files that are located in Dropbox actually stored? What country, what type of data centre, what countries laws apply, for privacy reasons do you require all data to be stored within Australia or another country? These are all legitimate questions which Dropbox doesn’t have an easy answer for.

If Dropbox makes sense for your business, there’s no reason to change. But if it is clearly not a good choice for you there are multiple corporate grade solutions available. These are designed for specifically for businesses with security, encryption and collaboration controls built in. Rather than the easiest solution which may pose a risk to your business consider implementing a business class scalable solution that meets all your needs.

Call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au to discuss online cloud storage solutions for your business