7 Benefits of Office 365

Office 365You have probably seen all the advertising for Office 365. They are popping up on your everywhere and your employees are bugging you to upgrade and improve their productivity. You may have even done some research and checked out what all the fuss is about but is Office 365 a necessary upgrade for your small business? The answer is yes. It is much more than just hosted email and includes many more tools to improve your productivity. Here are 7 reasons you may not of thought of why small business owners should upgrade now.

1. Data security is built in
Office 365 is designed with data security at its core. The built-in compliance and security protocols mean your storage is safe in the cloud and you can control access.

2. Ditch the licensing drama
Software version differences are a real nightmare in small offices. Not every system can do the same things or even open the same files. It quickly becomes a hodge-podge of workarounds and time is lost trying to find keys that came when you bought your computer years ago. Office 365 includes site-wide licenses with upgrades at the same time. All your licenses are in the same place and you can easily upgrade and also downgrade the number of licenses when required.

3. Mail storage for real people
Most people leave messages in their inbox forever. Occasionally they may do a quick clean up but that doesn’t happen often. With Office 365, your employees can communicate without worrying about storage space.

4. Better time management
Every person in your business is busy – they are juggling meetings, emails and contacts – usually across multiple platforms (computers in the office and at home, tablets and smart phones). Office 365 combines all those elements and integrates them seamlessly for more efficient time management. Contacts that are updated via users mobile phones are automatically updated across all connected devices. Meetings scheduled in an email are added instantly to the calendar. You can even access files from any device, edit them on the run and then back in the office, simply pick up where you left off.

5. Predictable costs
Forget about planning for costly software upgrades as the monthly subscription model of Office 365 has you covered. You can choose a plan based on your unique needs and change it at any time. You can even add or decrease the number of users as you scale and streamline. For a low monthly cost it is now so easy to fit Office 365 into your budget while knowing you now have the same functionality that previously only the big corporates could afford.

6. Work on the go
The days of fiddling with settings are over. Thanks to Office 365 you don’t even need any special IT skills or extra software. Users can now securely access their files from home, during their commute, or in meetings. An internet connection is all your staff will need to squeeze extra productivity out of every day.

7. Stay up and running with little downtime
A whopping 25% of small businesses shut down permanently after flood, fire, crash or cyber-attack. With Office 365, all your data is stored in the cloud. No matter what happens, your data will be there and as long as you have an internet connection your data is always available.

If you are ready to take your productivity to the next level contact us on support@dpcomputing.com.au or on 08 8326 4364.

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.

What is the Cloud and Where is it?

What is Cloud Computing?All you here about now a days is cloud this, cloud that. But what actually IS the cloud? Most people don’t understand it so don’t worry as you are not alone.

The cloud or cloud computing is about storing your data (personal or business) on the internet. This allows you to access the data from anywhere, just like you do a web page. It doesn’t matter if you are working from home or at the beach on holidays you can access the data and even collaborate with colleagues just as if you were sitting in the office.

If may sound futuristic but email services such as Gmail and Hotmail (now Outlook.com) have been providing this service for quite a while now. With Gmail and Hotmail none of your emails are actually stored on your local device as they are stored in the cloud on Google’s or Microsoft’s servers allowing you to access them anytime you like.

Netflix is another cloud provider. Netflix allows you to access movies and television shows stored remotely on Netflix’s cloud server any time you want. Netflix even remembers what you watched and where you were up to every time you login (even if you are on a different device).

Where is all this data stored in the “cloud”?

They are stored on another computer in a large data center that is connected to the internet. These data centers are huge and contain rows and rows of servers and data storage.

In terms of location, the US is a popular site, but the machines can be located in any location in the world and may even be in multiple locations to provide redundancy – if problems occur at one location, the other location still has a copy.

With some cloud providers you can choose your preferred location. This helps with local privacy laws and can increase speed of access (as the data doesn’t have to travel as far across the world).

So cloud computing can provide better collaboration, security and redundancy.

Ready to take advantage of cloud computing? Give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au. Or check out our other article on “When Is You Business Ready To Move To The Cloud“.

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.

WannaCry Ransomware Explained: Is Your Business At Risk?


With all the media attention last week you would be hard-pressed to not of heard about the WannaCry cyber-attack. Businesses of all sizes and even hospitals and police departments found themselves crippled with out warning.

Here in Australia we looked to have missed a large part of the attack due to the time zone differences and the fact that a kill switch was found for the malware. We shouldn’t rely on these factors going forward though. This articles details what the malware is, why it caused so much damage and how to protect ourselves moving forward.

What is WannaCry?

The WannaCry cyber-attack was a type of malware (the collective name for malicious software which includes viruses, worms and spyware) called ‘ransomware’. Just like the name suggests, it actually demands money from the owners of the computers infected. Like all ransomware attacks, WannaCry encrypts your files and holds them hostage until payment is made –  in this case, the price was set at $300 payable with the internet currency Bitcoin (and you had 3 days to pay before it doubled). If you don’t pay the ransomware threatens to permanently delete all your files. It is not yet known how much money the WannaCry hackers have earned with their latest attack – but you can be sure that plenty of people have paid the ransom. Even the FBI recommends paying the ransom – especially if the ransomed files are of a sensitive nature or weren’t backed up.

How It Spread So Fast

WannaCry self-replicates and spreads. So far, no common trigger has been identified, as is normally the case with phishing links (a phishing attack needs to be activated – usually with a click). WannaCry moved rapidly from system to system, spreading out through the entire network, including all connected backups and storage devices. At the same time it infected other networks, who then spread it further and further. Given the nature of the internet it had spread widely within hours.

Why Some Businesses Were Safe

WannaCry took advantage of a specific vulnerability in Windows of which Microsoft patched months ago. Thus only systems that have fallen 2 months behind in their Windows updates were infected. Without that patch, the ransomware could waltz right past the firewall, past the anti-virus and directly into the system (the NHS were reportedly running Windows XP – which is no longer supported by Microsoft). Those running Windows 10 or a fully patched, recent version of Windows were completely unaffected as the virus literally had no way in

This outbreak shows the importance of staying up to date with security patches on your systems. We haven’t yet seen a second spike in WannaCry attacks yet, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be one. A quick Windows update could protect your business from weeks of downtime and lost revenue making attacks like this a non-issue.

With our regular maintenance plans we can make sure you stay up to date and protected. Give us a call today at 08 8326 4364 to discuss ways we can help your business stay safe.

Internet Lingo 101 – A Cheat Sheet for Beginners

Internet Terminology 101The Internet is growing and changing so fast that even the dictionary has trouble keeping up. Here are some common terms that are helpful to know.

Browser
A browser is a software program that lets you view web pages, videos and other online content. It’s a core requirement of going online, as it converts the computer languages HTML, Javascript and XML into a readable form.

Popular browsers are Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Microsoft Edge – Internet Explorer has been superseded by Edge and due to security issues is no longer recommended.

Email
Electronic mail (aka email or e-mail) is a typed message sent from one person/business to another via the Internet. Email is usually delivered to the recipient quite quickly (sometimes in seconds) but can take up to a few hours or longer.

To read and write email you will need a program such as MS Outlook or access to an email service such as Gmail or Outlook.com (usually through a browser).  Most emails are in the form of letters, newsletters or catalogs and are often written with a more casual tone. Email can include text, links to the internet and images but can only include video and sound as an attachment.

Firewall
A firewall is a security measure designed to act like a bouncer to your network. It can be both a hardware or software device. When an unauthorized user attempts to gain entry, the firewall blocks their path and refuses their access.

HTTP and HTTPS
These are acronyms for the rules of how data is transmitted across the Internet. The actual mechanics are incredibly complicated, but the terms have one very important distinction – the s on the end.

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) describes how the images, text and links ion a webpage are transferred across the Internet.

HyperText Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS) means the page has an added layer of security to hide your personal information from hackers. Data sent through pages with this prefix are securely encrypted before transmission.

IP Address
Every device directly connected to the Internet is assigned a unique IP address to identify itself. It is used to make sure that when you request a page or document it is sent back to you. Your IP will look something like ‘202.9.64.55’ and may be referred to as fixed or dynamic IP address.

ISP
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the company that allows you to connect to the Internet. You usually connect to them through a hardware device such as a modem or router. They can also offer extra services like email or web hosting.

Malware
Malware is the short form of the phrase malicious software. It is a broad term used to describe viruses and other software that performs a function that you don’t know about. Malware can trick you into paying money, take control of your computer, be used to launch attacks against other computers, steal your private details or break your computer in some way. Instead of listing each specific threat separately you’ll commonly see them lumped together under the general term ‘malware’.

Router
The traffic system for your network the connects computers and devices within your office or home and acts as a basic defensive gateway to the Internet. These hardware devices can be wired or wireless and allow you to share one Internet connection amongst all the computers and devices in your office or home.

Social Media
A term to widely describe all the websites and applications that let you share and interact with others online. To fit this term the site needs to allow user profiles, live updates and the ability to add friends and / or followers.

The most common social media websites are Facebook and Twitter.

Spam and Filtering
Spam refers to any unsolicited email message sent over the Internet. It is the electronic form of junk mail but is also a technique hackers use to trick people into clicking links which may infect their computer with malware.

Email applications are reasonably good at identifying spam and should shift dodgy messages automatically to a spam folder before you see it. Occasionally the filters get things wrong and you may find a relevant email needs to be dragged back to your inbox from the spam folder or allowed through. Filters should also allow for blacklisting and whitelisting email addresses.

URL
Each website has a unique address on the web known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). URLs commonly end in .com but can also end in a country specific extension like .com.au or .fr, or more recently, in new and exciting extensions such as .xyz or .me

Let me know below in the comments if you have any other words or want a description for a word or phrase you don’t understand.

 

Four Reasons To Use Anti-Spam Filtering In Your Business

Monitor screen showing spam in the mailbox

Remember the times when spam was obvious and unless you desperately needed a special blue pill they were easy to ignore and delete? The impact on your business was minimal as spam was just an annoyance rather than anything else. Unfortunately spam has now matured into an aggressive threat, marked by sophisticated attacks and rapidly evolving techniques. It is not just random electronic junk mail anymore and is putting a costly strain on your business resources.

How Spam Impacts Your Business

Hackers are now sending cleverly disguised emails to your business containing malware. Once clicked by an employee the malware can infect your computer system or steal your private data. The malware can spread across the entire computer network and beyond – including your clients and vendors. The fact that your employees must pause and examine every email adds hours of lost productivity. Some spam is so convincing that only an expert would be able to visually identify it. Employees are also more likely to miss an important email, either not seeing it arrive at the same time as a spam attack or becoming overwhelmed with the sheer number of emails.

How an Anti-Spam Filter Can Save Your Business

Spam emailEmail clients such as Outlook can perform basic filtering but to rely just on Outlook is not recommended. The best method is to implement a corporate grade filtering solution. Depending on whether you have an on premise or cloud based server an on premise or external filtering options are available. Even if you have an on premise mail server we recommend an external filtering option. An external option stops spam ever reaching your office saving precious bandwidth and server processing time.

Ways in which a spam filter will benefit your business includes:

  1. Block threats before they reach your inbox: The spam filter’s purpose is to block the spam from ever reaching your employees mailboxes. The threat is automatically identified and either held securely or immediately deleted. This is the best way to avoid activating any malware present in spam – as it’s so easy for you or an employee to click on a link in an email that seems authentic and / or important. The effects of that one click may be instantaneous or may lie hidden for months. Removing the email before it is in a users mailbox is a much safer option.
  2. Filter legitimate emails: Real mail needs to be able to stand out and avoid the trash. Anti-spam filtering has sophisticated recognition abilities which block spam only and allow real mail to land safely in mailboxes.
  3. Meet data regulations: Many businesses are subject to strict privacy and data storage regulations, some more so than others. To continue operation, they need to meet conditions including the use of spam filtering to reduce the risk of data breach.
  4. Protect your reputation: You can see how uncomfortable CEOs are when they go public to admit a breach. They must acknowledge that they failed to protect client data or that users may be infected with a virus. Not only do they then face financial loss but their business reputation takes a nosedive. Anti-spam filtering is a simple way to help reduce these types of scenarios.

Filtering has come a long way in recent years, with complex algorithms identifying and catching spam before it becomes a risk to your business. Real emails can now pass safely through without the classic catchcry of ‘check the spam folder’, and businesses can work with greater productivity and more safely than ever before. You need email, but you definitely don’t need spam or the chaos it can bring to your business.

We can block spam and keep your legitimate emails flowing. Call us at 08 8326 4364 or email support@dpcomputing.com.au today!

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

Four Steps To A Modern Paperless Office

Paperless OfficeEver since computers were invented people have been talking about a paperless office. But if you are like me your desk is buried in paper, shelves are overcrowded with stacks of documents and there is just enough space for your keyboard, mouse and coffee? Well it is now time to go paperless, not just for your own sanity, but to streamline your entire business. It’s the one move that will save time and space while gaining flexibility for your mobile workforce.

When you’re ready to move to a paperless office, consider these 4 steps:

  1. Leverage the cloud for storage and search: Research the cloud and see how you can implement in your business. Documents can be uploaded, viewed and edited only by those with permission. There are free options like Google Drive and Dropbox right up to corporate grade solutions like Soonr (which is what we use). Some solutions provide functionality that easily enables you to find files using search functions, and no longer need to remember whether it was filed by name, subject or category – just enter what you need and let the system locate it for you. Then simply edit, share or email the file as required. No more filing cabinets or archive rooms, just clutter-free workspaces, room to breathe, and possibly even lower overheads now that you could fit into a smaller office space. Cloud based file storage also allow remote access, perfect for working on the go or telecommuting staff. Access files at any time using your secure login, on any device, from any location.
  2. Provide training across the board: Ongoing training is needed to ensure all workers are up to speed with the new system and the way you’d like things done. This is also the best time to set standards for file and folder names, new collaboration norms and security protocols. Long-term adoption requires cooperation from workers at all levels of your business and training for everyone will go a long way towards its success.
  3. Scan necessary papers: Unless you are a new business you will probably need to scan a lot of your old paperwork. Most office grade multifunction printers offer double-sided feed scanning, thus you can quickly scan papers into the system and then dispose of the paper. Alternatively, you can obtain special scanning hardware like the Fujitsu Scansnaps. If you still need a fax machine consider a fax to email service or see if your fax machine can be set to accept digital files only. File will scan to quite a small size, so running out of hard drive space shouldn’t be a concern.
  4. Prioritize backups: Once you have digitized your files you don’t want to lose them so you best have a robust backup system – including a regular off-site backup. Treat your backups as a vital insurance policy, so that your files are readily available and intact if required. Use your backups to address any issues as soon as they arise and keep your new paperless files well-managed and secure.

Ready to go paperless? We can help. Call us today at 08 83263 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.