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

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.

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.

Is It Time To Retire Those Old Legacy Applications? Here Is How To Tell For Sure

How to retire old programs

You have likely been using the same applications for some time in your business. While you have been replacing computers and devices regularly to maintain your competitive advantage, the standard software installation have largely remained the same. The programs do the job perfectly and everyone knows how to use them, so what is the point of upgrading?

In some cases, it is completely fine to keep that old legacy program. However, there are some aspects that you should consider:

 

Support Available

With some software the author has moved on from supporting the program. They may have closed the business, sold it or gone in a different direction completely. Either way, they are no longer interested in helping and supporting the program. Every time you come up against a problem you have nowhere to turn and productivity takes a hit as you try and come up with a workaround. You also run the risk that it could suddenly stop working after a Windows update, start clashing with other essential software or even create large holes in your network security. Even applications from bigger companies like Microsoft have stopped support for older versions. Having support available to both assist and protect your business is a huge advantage.

Hardware Compatibility

Due to the rapid advancement of computer hardware, you may find a simple component refresh leaves your legacy program completely incompatible. The latest CPU, graphics card or motherboard may suddenly brings your entire business to a standstill, purely because it is too advanced. Owners can work around this by keeping some older computers running for that program, but as the hardware fails, you may find yourself struggling to find replacement parts or technicians able to install them.

 

Security Vulnerabilities

The longer a program has been around, the longer hackers have had to discover its weaknesses and holes. It can be a flaw in the program itself or in the operating system that runs it. For example, the program may only run on Windows XP, but Windows XP is not being supported by Microsoft any more. This mean any new weaknesses in XP are not being fixed by Microsoft leaving you open for attack. This is how hospitals across the UK found themselves infected with ransomware last year – they were running programs with known weaknesses that were out of support.

Sometimes it is not always feasible to replace a program immediately and we can help you run it on a virtual machine. That is, getting the older operating system or program to run from within another program. With this setup you will have increased security, an element of support and a strong backup system while you work to find a replacement program. These solutions are very specialized and resource hungry though, so let us know if you need help.

The other option is to move to a new application that fulfills your requirements, is supported, compatible with new hardware and secure. If you have been running the old program for some time, this may feel quite daunting at first but we can help you out and assist with the migration.

Do you need to talk through your options? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

6 Reasons to Migrate Your Applications to the Cloud

Migrating to the CloudAs we move closer to 2019, it is estimated that over 80% of business traffic will involve some sort of cloud applications. When cloud applications were first released, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available. Some of the most common cloud applications are Microsoft Office 365 and accounting packages such as Xero and Quickbooks.

But has your business embraced the cloud yet and if not what are the benefits?

Your Data Is Safer

While it can give you a sense comfort knowing your servers and thus your data is kept within your office, the risks are less appealing. Your servers could crash, drives become corrupted or unreadable due to a ransomware attack. There are always the standard fire / theft / flood scenarios to consider as well. With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in high security data centers and come complete with robust backup systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their SLA guarantees (usually at least 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians onsite whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application that it works. We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You Are Always Up To Date

Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices and unlike when you run an update on a local computer the process is almost instant. This is because the update is running in the data center. Thus you are always up to date with the latest features and security patches, with little or no input from your end.

You Are Free To Work From Multiple Locations

One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around where you can work. With new cloud applications, users don’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever and whenever they are. This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. You can bet we have tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy

Employees can collaborate with ease as all the data is held in one location. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, workflow is faster and results are quicker employees enjoy better satisfaction with a job well done. It may sound like a simple but we know how frustrating it can be for people to collaborate without the right tools.

All You Need Is The Internet

With the NBN and other fast Internet options Internet speed is fast becoming a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you are concerned, we can run speed checks and recommend other options to make it a smooth transition for you.

Because the cloud is internet based, the application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid of various connections). Some businesses also choose to have a 4G or another type of fail over Internet connection set up in case their primary internet connection goes down – this way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided. We can help set this up for you if needed.

Size Does Not Matter

Cloud applications are a great option for both big AND small business. Smaller businesses can now use the same software as their bigger rivals as they now only need to subscribe to single user licenses. Larger businesses can enjoy the multi-user license savings and avoid the headaches associated with have local application servers running. We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and  Contact us now on either 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au to lock in the advantages today!

5 Tech Travel Tips You Can Use

Travelling with technology

Are you off on a business or personal trip soon? This can also mean making sure your tech is packed and ready for the adventure. Smartphones, eBook readers, tablets, laptops and smart watches are now so light and portable that you’d never think of leaving them behind, plus they can value to your trip.

Here are a few things to consider before you head off.

1. Backup Your Data

While you are travelling your devices are always going to be exposed to a level of risk. This might range from accidentally dropping it, leaving your laptop at a cafe, or having it stolen or lost. If the unfortunate happens your device is gone along with all the data it contained. If you have backed up your devices to the cloud (eg OneDrive or Google Drive) you will be able to access your files easily and securely from anywhere.

Hot Tip: Scan and then save important documents like your itineraries and passports to the cloud and also leave a copy with someone you trust back home.

2. Pack the right cables

It is not fun begging random strangers for a loan of their cable, so remember to bring the exact cables and chargers that you need. Most smartphones and tablets use universal plugs like Micro USB, USB C or Apple Lightning, so you can get away with only packing one cable but we suggest taking at least two in case one is lost or fails to work. If you are travelling overseas remeber to check the socket types and pack a plug converter. Depending on your destination, you might even find the voltage is different. so you may also need a voltage converter before you try and charge your device.

3. Download Online Data

Global roaming and data charges can give nasty bill shocks. While travelling, you might find yourself in a region or location where data costs a fortune, is extremely slow or is not available at all. Download any critical files you might need so that you can access them even without a connection.

4. Update and scan

Just like you’d make sure you have got the right vaccinations and travel gear, make sure your tech is ready to travel too! Set aside a few minutes or get your technician to run updates for all your operating systems and apps (remember your anti-virus). Also run a manual anti-virus scan too as the last thing you want to deal with is a malware issue on your trip!

Turn off auto Windows updates as you don’t want to be stuck downloading and installing an update as you are about to board a plane.

While you are updating your devices, turn on password protection for all devices so that only you can unlock them.

Hot tip: Use a complex password that is hard for hackers and thieves to guess. Also tell someone you trust the password so that you don’t get locked out of your devices if you forget it!

5. Label Your Devices

Label your devices so let everyone know this tech belongs to you. Write your cell number or email on portable devices in case you get separated so that whoever finds it can give you a quick call and save the day. If you don’t want to use permanent marker on your devices grab some sticky labels you can peel off when you return home.

You can also purchase little Bluetooth tracking tags to stick to your equipment, so that if you ever lose something you can quickly chase it down. Similarly, you might like to consider enabling the ‘find my devices’ option available on many devices. Having this feature switched on also means you can find or disable your device remotely, an excellent security option if it’s been stolen.

Need help preparing your tech for travel? Contact us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How to Get the Right Tech for Your New Business

getting the right tech

Congratulations on starting your new business! Costs can easily escalate and tech is often one of the bigger expenses. Just the sheer number of technologies available can overwhelm and confuse you. The latest tech has amazing features you didn’t know you needed, and suddenly your budget has gone skywards!

So how do you get the tech right for your business, without all the headaches and drama?

Do You Actually Need It?

Using a cloud application may mean you can skip the big server purchase and the ongoing maintenance costs of a server. Many line of business applications will have a cloud option that allows you to get all the benefits without the big upfront expense. So before you make the hardware purchase, look at what applications you require and whether a cloud version will suit your needs. You may be able to start with a basic package and expand to new versions as your business grows.Things to consider include: do you require remote access, will you need collaboration, do multiple users require access. This level of detail can be overlooked and causes expenses to spiral.

Get Professional Advice

It is easy and cheaper to ask friends and family what their recommendations are, but there are many more factors to consider than just their personal preference. Of course you can trust their input but they may be speaking from a consumer perspective, basing their recommendation on brand loyalty or on how another business does things (which may not be the best business model). As every business is different and matching the correct technology with the business can save you a lot of money and time in the long run.

Buy Business Grade

The majority of computers and laptops you see in the big department stores are not up to business standard. They are designed for home users to perform quick tasks and not run a full 8 – 12 hour (or more) a day workload. Business grade systems have additional features that your business needs, plus longer warranties and better support. Even attached peripherals like network switches and printers are built to a higher standard, to last longer and perform better.

Prioritize Flexibility

Businesses grow and evolve during their first few years and the last thing you want to do is go out and buy new tech, playing catch-up and cobbling together an assorted mismatch of devices. Your new technology should be as flexible as your business, which means making purchasing decisions based on business strategy and not just on price. Perhaps this means instead of workstations for employees, they may only need tablets or rather than having a fixed point of sale system, you might choose mobile checkout devices so your staff can assist customers on the go. These two examples highlight how easy it is to commit to certain tech because it is ‘what you do’ but later discover you’re locked into a certain way of doing business. Trying to change business processes down the line impacts productivity, efficiency and culture in a big way, so we recommend buying with your future success in mind.

Choose A Trusted IT Partner

During your initial set up and growth, you will need an IT partner who can not only help with your purchase strategy but support you through any problems as they occur. That is the difference between a partner and a supplier, a partner is committed to driving long-term business success for you.

You can call on your partner and know they are immediately up to speed with your business, they know how IT can help leverage your competitive advantage and which critical systems they should focus on.

Getting good technology in place shouldn’t be seen as just an expense. It improves your productivity and allows you to serve your clients and customers better while enjoying consistent growth.

If you need an IT partner to help your business grow, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Why Regular Security Assessments Should Be Your New Normal

Security AssesmentsBy now you know that improving your cyber security is just as important as improving your cash flow – both are essential to your success. While most businesses keep an eye on the financials, they tend to think cyber security is something they can ignore or just set and forget. Unfortunately, cybercriminals are constantly coming up with new methods of attack and the security you had in place yesterday may not be sufficient today.

Instead of reacting to breaches and taking on the costs of downtime, lost files and destroyed trust, a periodic security assessment can identify blind spots that place you at risk. Once you know about these issues, you can setup adequate protection before cybercriminals strike. It is best to use independent IT experts who can audit your security from an outside perspective, often seeing risks that you would otherwise miss.

Regulations change – Are you affected?

Many businesses need to comply with strict government regulations around the way they store, process and protect data. Their operating license depends on staying as secure as possible. All regulations require regular security assessments but they vary in scope and timeframe. As regulations change, so do the security assessment requirements. You can imagine how much stricter they are now compared to just 5 years ago. Our team can ensure your business is meeting the relevant regulations, diving deep to be certain you are safe.

Security patches and updates are vital

It’s so easy to fall behind on your security patches (both for software and hardware), after all, it seems like there’s a new update every week and each one takes precious time to apply. What we are seeing though, is that cybercriminals are targeting any business running up=patched hardware or software. If you are unpatched, you are an easy target and are inviting the bad guys in. When we conduct your security assessment, we take a look at your history and see if your business has a robust patch plan in place and make sure you are up to date. If there’s an issue that is placing you at risk we will find it.

Viruses are always evolving

Just like the human variety, computer viruses are constantly evolving to skip past anti-virus scans and do damage in new and interesting ways. Cybercriminals know people are more aware of the traditional infection methods like downloading an attachment or inserting an infected USB, so they’re getting more and more creative. Your security assessment doesn’t just include ticking that you have the latest anti-virus, it includes identifying where where your biggest vulnerabilities are. This type of precise awareness has a lasting impact on reducing your risks.

Your business may have changed

As your business has grown over the years your entire setup has changed. More employees, expanded remote access, additional vendors, other locations etc. With each change has come a new risk, particularly if your security has been growing around you. It might be your password policies that haven’t been updated since you began, or that you still have the old voicemail system even though phones are within easy reach of customers. This is perhaps one of the most useful areas a security assessment can help with, as you and your employees are accustomed to the business working in a certain way, whether that way leads to risk or not. Our experts will be able to see things from a different perspective, particularly as we make sure to think the same way a cybercriminal would.

What to do with your assessment results

While many experts might present you with a long list of problems and leave you feeling overwhelmed, our team ensures you have a benchmark for progress. You will know exactly what you need to do, what takes priority and how we can help. You will also know exactly what you’ve done well and where your security strengths lie. Employees will see how much you value security, which in turn helps to create a stable culture, and you’ll be able to report your commitment to customers, confirming they’re making the right choice by staying with you.

Book your security assessment today. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

eBook – 5 Reasons Your Business Needs Office365 Today!

5 Reasons Business Need Office365Microsoft Office works well enough in many situations, but you may not know what you are missing out on if you don’t at least take a look at Office 365. Not only will Office 365 make your business more productive, in most cases it will also work out cheaper than what you are currently paying for the Office suite. This is why so many of our clients are switching to it.

We wrote an ebook about it so you can see how it’ll help your business and save you money.

 

Click here to subscribe to our monthly newsletter and access your copy of this book – don’t worry we won’t share your details and you can unsubscribe at anytime. If you are already a subscriber and would like a copy please email david@dpcomputing.com.au. You will also receive a free copy of our other great eBooks including the following so sign up now!

  • Is Your Old Tech Dragging You Down?
  • Spectre and Meltdown: How you’ll be affected.
  • 10 Tips to Stay Safe Online
  • Digital Transformation – What’s In It For You?

As always, if you want to talk about ways you can save on your IT, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.

What’s Best for Your Computer: Shut Down or Sleep?

Off or Sleep?Most offices and homes are trying to reduce power costs by turning off lights and appliances, but do the same rules apply to computers? After all, it requires more than flicking a switch on your way out the door. Some people believe you should shut down your computer after every use to save wear and tear, others believe you should never shut down your computer – ever. While others simply want to make sure the programs and documents they left open are still there waiting for them when they return. So, who is right and who is wrong?

Back when computers were huge behemoths that took a long time to start, you’d go nuts at the person who shut it down when it was your turn. If you have an older computer you may still do! Modern computers actually have two options for their downtime: Shut down or sleep.

When it shuts down, the system goes through and closes any open programs (often prompting you to save first), then gradually cuts power to all components. It is a  process that seems quite fast to us but is actually made of 1000+ intentionally ordered steps. If there’s a sudden blackout or you hold the power button until it turns off, these steps aren’t followed and damage may occur. The second option is to put your computer to sleep. This can be triggered by an automated timeout or a user click. Your system uses a special type of memory called RAM to hold all your running programs exactly as you left them but using minimal power. The hard drive stops spinning, the graphics card lets the screen go black, and even the system fan slows to become almost silent. When you wake it by moving the mouse or pressing a key, it ‘wakes’ again almost instantly.

Reasons to Shut Down

A switched off computer isn’t drawing power which is great for the environment. But shutting down is about more than saving power. It can sometimes give improved stability over a machine that’s been running for days/weeks. This is because every time you shut down, you give your computer a chance to clear out all temporary junk files it’s been carrying in memory. It also triggers various health checks on startup that may otherwise be missed, important routines like checking for updates or scanning for viruses. It’s certainly more convenient to spend an extra minute booting up than lose everything to a system failure or cyber-attack. For older computers or those under heavy strain like gaming or video editing, shutting down also provides a necessary chance for the components to cool down.

Reasons to Sleep

Speed is the big selling point here. You can literally sit down and start working where you left off without the delays of bootup, finding your program, opening your saved files, scrolling down… it’s all right there and ready. You can even tell it how long to wait before putting itself into sleep mode, just in case you get called away and forget.

The best method is….

Since the whole point of having a computer is that it’s ready to work when you are, we recommend shutting down at night when it’s definitely not in use but using sleep mode during the day. Updates will get all the rebooting they need, memory is refreshed for the new day, and you’ll get the best of both worlds – speed and stability.

 

We can help give your computer a service and improve your computers boot time, give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au.