Here’s How Managed IT Can Help Save Money In Your Business

Managed Services

When it comes to running a modern business, technology is always a growing line item in the budget. Costs can creep up every quarter, along with a new learning curve for simply keeping everything running along smoothly. It is no wonder then that budget restrictions for IT were recently found to be a universal concern for small and medium business.

You are balancing the outlay of maintenance with replacement, plus securing against a steady stream of threats – all while making sure every dollar gives you maximum return on investment. It even sounds exhausting! What typically happens is the tech budget gets stripped to a bare minimum, hoping nothing unexpected pops up and everything keeps moving along nicely. After all, everything is working just fine and that money could make a real difference elsewhere… except as soon as an IT emergency strikes, that tiny budget is obliterated and you’re left to either limp along with insufficient technology or have to dip into another budget area.

Now imagine if budget wasn’t an issue. Imagine that all your tech expenses were predicted and capped, and you got everything you needed without resorting to financial magic tricks. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Put simply, that’s how a Managed IT Service works. It’s a service designed for businesses with a limited budget who don’t have time for tech issues. For a fixed price each month (which is no doubt less than you’re thinking), you get a team of IT technicians actively monitoring your systems in order to catch issues before they occur, repairing problems on the fly, and ensuring your business is always as secure as possible. Included as part of your Managed IT Service, you also get expert business consulting around the solutions you need now, which solutions will help you rapidly scale, and which technology you don’t need. All for one predictable, fixed price each month. It even gets better with the following benefits:

Reduced downtime and associated revenue loss.

Forget scrambling while systems are down, with Managed IT Services you’ll know which tech is failing and can proactively repair or replace before it impacts your business. Downtime is planned or minimized and your staff are working on what they are supposed to be doing instead of being interrupted by technical dramas.

Your efficiency will skyrocket.

Currently you have probably been responding to your IT events in a ‘firefighter mode’, essentially dealing with problems as they arise and switching to new, improved equipment only when forced by a system failure. With Managed IT Services, problems are automatically reported and optimal solutions designed in advance. Even the small issues that have been slowing your business down and limiting progress come to light, ready to be solved for greater efficiency.

You will be secure against data loss.

Whether you’ve been following the news and worrying about the next cyber-attack, or you are working with confidential customer or proprietary data, your Managed IT Service has you covered. Our technicians secure your business against attack using the latest technology, full backups, software updates and leverage every drop of their know-how to keep your valuable data safe.

Learn know how Managed IT Services can benefit your business – give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Should I Buy a New Computer or Upgrade?

Upgrade or New?The age old question as to whether you upgrade or purchase a new computer and the answer usually depends on who you are actually asking! A store salesman will always recommend a new one and that geeky friend will probably say upgrade. Your best bet though is to talk with an experienced consultant or technician who should provide a few different options.

Start by looking at what you currently have and seeing if an upgrade is technically possible. For example, if your car is 30 years old and always having problems it is time to replace the rust-bucket! However, if your car is reasonably modern and in good shape but just happens to stall occasionally a quick trip to the mechanics will probably save you a lot of money over buying a new car. It is the same with a computer.

If your computer does need to be replaced, chances are you already know this. But if you’re not sure and some days it could go either way, these tips will help you decide.

Laptop / Desktop: What type of computer do you have? Generally desktops are much easier to upgrade over a laptop. Some laptops due to their small size can’t be easily upgraded so you may not have a choice.

Hard drive upgrade: New SSD’s (Solid State Drives) are super quick when compared to the traditional HDD’s (hard disk drives) and I highly recommend them on all computers to give them a significant speed boost. The main issue with SSD’s drives are they generally hold less information that a HDD but that is becoming less and less of an issue as prices drop.

Memory / RAM upgrade: Some cheap computers are underpowered from day 1 with most of them needing a memory boost. But depending on your usage even a great machine bought a few years ago could benefit from extra memory. Generally adding extra memory is a fairly straight forward task so speak with your IT consultant to see if it is worth adding some extra memory in your machine.

Video card upgrade: As time rolls on games and high end graphics applications are getting more and more demanding. The days of stick-figure animations are gone and lifelike 3D is the new normal. With that improved experience comes a huge strain on your computer’s graphic resources. If you are a gamer or need high end applications for your business you can often super-power your computer with a single component – a new video card. Speak with your IT tech to see if a graphics card will give your current system a nice speed boost or whether a new system is required.

Data / Applications Transfer: A lot of people overlook this and purchase a new computer thinking it will be a cheaper way forward. What they forget is that their old applications may not run on a new computer, that they need all their old data transferred and things like email and printers need to be setup and installed. When upgrading your current system you don’t have to worry about this.

Computer Service: Sometimes your hardware may all be fine and your computer just needs a service and cleanout. As time goes by old files and settings get left behind which slowly start to slow the computer down. Dust and dirt also get clogged in vents and fans causing the computer to overheat and slowdown.

Where to draw the line: There are other upgrades such as the CPU (the brains of the computer) and the motherboard (where all the parts plug into) but once you’re in that territory, it is really time to go for a full replacement – you will save money by getting a computer that meets your needs and can grow with you.

Is your computer letting you down? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au to help you with upgrading or selecting a new computer

Why Do People Create Viruses?

Why Do People Create Viruses?Writing a computer program is hard and writing a virus is even harder (BTW you don’t even need programming skills as viruses templates can be bought online), so why do people do it? In the majority of instances it comes down to 3 reasons:

  • Money
  • Bragging rights
  • Simply being a jerk.

While bragging or being a jerk is pretty self-explanatory, the money side is more interesting. Here are some of the ways people make money with viruses:

Bank account theft: As with real bank robbers virus creators are more than happy to help themselves to the money in your bank account. Once they have your login details (obtained via a key logger) they simply transfer your funds away or use your credit card details to go on a shopping spree. Sometimes they’ll leave the fun to another person by selling your details to the highest bidder.

Ransomware: Sometimes a virus will encrypt your files and demand money for a key to unlock you own data. Without a true backup procedure in place you are at their mercy.  Once you have paid the nightmare may not be over as they now know you are an easy target and request even more money.

Ad swappers: A very cheeky technique which you may never know is happening to you. This scam is when a virus puts annoying ads on websites you visit or places affiliate codes on pages. When you buy something legitimately – eg, from Amazon – the affiliate codes allow the hacker to get a percentage as a ‘referral fee’. Their kickback doesn’t make your purchase cost more and you may not even know you are infected.

Bitcoin mining: You have heard of digital currencies being used for payments but did you know you can also earn money via bitcoin mining? You can earn this money by running specialized software on your computer but sometimes this means paying more in running costs than you would actually make – unless you were very clever and sneaky, and used a virus to use the processing power on other people’s computers.

Botnets: If infected with a botnet, a computer can be remotely controlled to do whatever the virus creator wants. In most cases they’ll usually set the infected computers to overwhelm a target computer and blackmail the owners of that computer – the ‘Botmaster’ says “pay me thousands of dollars or I’ll crash your computer.”

Account stealing: Subscription accounts like Netflix and Hulu are often hijacked allowing other users a free ride by using your accounts. Gaming accounts open up another world of financial incentives with those digital items that people work hard for in the games worth a pretty penny on the black market.

These are just a few of the ways people make money through viruses and malware. If you know of any others please leave a comment below.

Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 to make sure your computer is secure and protected.

Strategies To Increase Your Email Impact

Smart email strategies

Many small businesses rely on email as their preferred form of communication. Communications either internally or externally to clients, customers and suppliers, still use email as the go-to format. Our love affair with it is no surprise as email is quick, simple and provides a paper trail. Its convenience though shouldn’t mean relaxed – in fact, poor email communication can hurt your reputation and cost you customers. Here’s are some tips on how to be smart with your business email:

Manage your inbox: Your inbox should only be for items you still need immediate access to. Once you are finished with an email it should be deleted or archived. You would never leave a stack of physical letters on your desk reach 6-foot high and you shouldn’t do the same with email. It’s not hard to identify which ones to keep for reference, so create inbox folders and file them accordingly. As emails arrive and are actioned, move them to the relevant folder or delete them.

Write professional messages: Going from casual to careless is easy if you skip the basic elements of good business writing. Spelling and grammar is always important and the sentence structure of your language hasn’t changed. All email programs include a spell-checker and many draw attention to errors, so there is really no excuse. Typing in all CAPS is seen as yelling and using paragraphs makes your message so much more readable. Before you click send, remember to quickly glance over your email to make sure your tone is appropriate and no mistakes have snuck in – or if it is a real important email get one of your work mates to check it for you.

Embrace the subject line: Many emails are overlooked because the subject line meant nothing to the receiver or was empty. Writing these an attention-grabbing subject can be tricky but simply summarizing the message should be fine – just remember to keep them under 5-8 words so they fit on mobile displays.

Be smart with attachments: Try and keep attachments small (under 5MB) as they can clog up email servers. For larger attachments, share the file location as a link using your favorite cloud storage provider. Due to email being used to spread malware always explain in the email body what the attachment is and even follow up with a phone call to the receiver. As always, be careful when receiving attachments, especially if you are not expecting them. If in doubt contact the sender to confirm what the attachment is and always to scan them with an antivirus program before opening.

Keep your CC/BCC under control: The carbon copy (CC) and blind carbon copy (BCC) fields let you send emails to additional stakeholders – this is mainly used as a FYI for the receivers more than anything else. As a rule, use BCC if you’re using an email list or where privacy is an issue. Before you add extra people to the email though make sure the email IS relevant to them as there is nothing worse than being stuck in a pointless email chain!

Contact us know to find out how IT can make your smarter in business.

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.

What You Need to Know About Facebook Privacy

Facebook PrivacyA lot of people use Facebook but finding the balance between privacy and Facebook fun can be challenging. It allows us to connect with friends near and far but also it publicly shares information that just a few years ago, we’d never dream of putting online. With a Facebook search you can look for people based on where they went to school, town they live in, clubs they belong to, who they’re related to… but when is it too much information?

Your birthday is the first piece of info collected by Facebook when you sign up and it is great getting birthday wishes from friends and family when it appears in their news feed. But while your friends are sending you balloons and funny memes, your birthday is now public knowledge. It may seem harmless, but when you call your bank or other institution, what’s the first question they ask to verify your identity? Your birthday! Some companies and organisations even ask questions like ‘which high school did you go to?’ assuming this is knowledge that only you would know. Except… a lot of people have publicly shared it on Facebook. Whoops!

Then there are the stories of people who have lost their jobs after less-than-wholesome pictures or comments have gone public. If you want to protect your reputation, you may not want pictures from last weekend’s private party showing up online. While you can’t control what others do with photos they take of you, you can control whether or not you are tagged in Facebook in them.

Fortunately, there are settings in Facebook that allow you to control who can see what information and what happens when you’re tagged in a photo. Despite what rumours you may have heard or seen floating around, you do have complete control over your Facebook privacy and it is easy to adjust.

How to Check and Adjust Your Facebook Privacy Settings

Here are some settings you can easily change within Facebook to help secure your privacy and see who can see what on your profile. These steps assume you are logged into Facebook via a browser (using an app on your phone or tablet may be different).

See what your account looks like to an outsider

To see what others can see of your profile follow these steps:

  1. From your Facebook homepage, click your name on the blue bar at the top of the page.
  2. Click the three dots next to ‘View Activity Log’.
  3. Now select ‘View as…’

Run a quick privacy checkup

To run a checkup click the question mark in the top right corner of Facebook and choose the ‘privacy checkup’. Facebook then guides you through a few steps showing what your main settings are.

From within this section think about what you really need to share. For example do people need to know the YEAR of your birth or just your birthday? You can hide the year and your friends will still get the notification.

Edit advanced privacy

While the above checkup covers the most obvious information you can delve much deeper via the privacy section. Click the V-shaped drop down to the right of the question mark and go to settings and select privacy.

Adjust timeline and tagging

In the privacy settings (mentioned above), you can control who can tag you, who can see or share the tagged content and what shows up in your news feed.

I hope that explains about privacy and allows you to go in  and change the settings to what you want and not what the Facebook defaults are.

Tightening your Facebook privacy only takes a few minutes, but it can save you a whole lot of trouble in the future. If you need help with this, just give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

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 To Keep Your IT Equipment Clean

We use our IT equipment every day, but did you know it is one of the most disgusting pieces of equipment you own? Your phone may look clean, but studies show that a mobile phone can be 18x dirtier than a public restroom – and it gets worse. That keyboard you sit in front of while eating lunch is probably the biggest bacterial threat in your office with about 20 000 times more germs than a toilet seat (and if you share your computers with others this number will be a lot more).

Dirty equipment doesn’t only affect users as when dust builds up inside gadgets it causes them to overheat, malfunction and slow down. Your device essentially chokes on dust as vents and filters get clogged by sucking in pet hair and other floating debris.

Here are some steps on how to clean your essential tech items without damaging them:

  1. Skip the household cleaners: Most cleaning products are too harsh for technology and can end up causing permanent damage. You want something that can kill germs and remove everyday dirt and grime without scratching or leaving behind a residue. Your best bet is Isopropyl Alcohol. You’ll find it in hardware stores or even and your local chemist.
  2. Power down completely: Before doing any cleaning turn off the equipment (don’t just put it to sleep) and unplug it from any power sources. Switch wireless keyboards, mice, etc off underneath or remove the batteries.
  3. Remove any cases or covers: Undress your device as much as you can, but leave screen protectors on (unless there’s grime underneath). If your screen protector needs replacing, have a new one ready to apply.
  4. Grab a microfiber cloth: Dampen the cloth with Isopropyl Alcohol and wipe screens and external surfaces gently. Older build-up may require a bit of extra effort.
  5. Go deep: You can use a cotton tip or toothbrush to clean between most crevices, but some areas will need a bit more ‘oomph’ to clear. We don’t recommend vacuum cleaners as these can generate static electricity which may kill the item you are trying to clean.  A can of compressed air is good to blow the dust out. You can get these from many stores and they come with a long nozzle so you can direct the air flow. You’ll be surprised what flies out, so it’s best to do this outside! Hold the fans with a pencil (or something similar) so that they don’t spin and potentially cause damage. Another option is to use a tech-specific vacuum, but unless you are using it a lot they can be expensive.

How often you clean your tech is up to you. But it’s a good idea to blow out the computers internals at least twice a year and wipe down the equipment a few times per month.

Is your computer making too much noise, getting too hot or would like us to clean them out? Give us a call at 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au and we will take care of the cleaning for you.