Are “Speed Up Your Computer” Programs a Good Idea?

Speed Up Your PC

You probably have been alerted by popup windows while surfing the web. These popups claim your computer has thousands of errors requiring urgent attention. The popups offer a “solution” to cure your computers so called problems.

These advertisements are often described as Speed Booster or Speed Up utilities Reg and will attempt to convince the user they will somehow clean or improve their computer. Within the IT industry these programs are known as “scareware”. They are adverts and software programs specifically designed to convince you that your computer has problems – which it might not have.

Are these popups and utilities trustworthy?

Almost all popups and advertisements that use adverts saying “Fix now for free” or “Speed up your computer” are not trustworthy at all. They are little more than a scam attempting to take your money and / or install malware on your computer. At best these programs claim to scan your computer and show a list of plausible sounding computer problems. Using this, they will ask for payment to “fix” these problems and “speed up” your PC.

Some may even attempt to use these fake warnings and scare tactics to trick you into installing malware on your computers. Once installed, the malware can go many things including stealing files, accounting information, usernames, passwords, emails, and credit card details. Sometimes the first sign a user has that something is wrong is when they check their bank account!

Can software actually speed up my computer?

During normal computer usage you install and uninstall a variety of computer programs and applications may leave temporary files around or entries within the registry. Despite the large amount of “scareware” and fraudulent computer cleanup utilities out there, legitimate applications do exist that are designed to clean your system. This can be something we cover and is often done as a part of a complete computer tune up. The large speed boosts many of the fake utilities to unlock by simply moving files around are almost always false.

Most computer can have a speed boost by more conventional means which include a combination of temporary file removal, registry cleanup, startup file optimization as well as hardware upgrades.

Hardware components such as memory and a SSD upgrades can often be added to boost the speed of even an older PC and give it a new lease of life. Upgrading the computers RAM can double the working memory available to the system. With extra memory, many programs can keep more information available to work with. This upgrade reduces loading times and increases the computers ability to run more programs at once.

Switching from an older style mechanical hard drive to a modern Solid State Disk (SSD) can significantly reduce startup and loading times of any PC as well as speeding up application loading times. Loading data from the hard drive is very often the slowest part of a computer, the bottleneck in an otherwise very fast system. Because an SSD does not use any mechanical components the time to access the disk is nearly instant when compared to older, mechanical hard disks.

These upgrades offer boosts in speed to rival a modern system at only a fraction of the cost originally paid for the new computer. Performing some basic house keeping functions along with upgrading the RAM and swapping to an SSD will provide an instant, dramatic, and safe improvement to the speed of your PC.

If your computer is running slow give us at a call on 08 8326 4364 or support@dpcomputing.com.au and arrange a real and professional cleanup of your computer systems.

6 Ways to Extend Your Phone’s Battery Life

Extend your battery life

Today we use our phones for everything – phone calls, text messages, emails, photos, browsing social media sites, watching videos, playing games and many other activities. Since our phones do so much, we are using them more and thus the battery isn’t lasting as long as we would like. In our busy lives, we are not always near a power outlet and even if we are we don’t always have a phone charger at hand. If our phones die, we risk missing out on important calls and notifications. So what things can we do to improve our battery’s life?

1. Check Apps’ Battery Usage

When it comes to battery usage, not all apps are created equal, with some using a lot more battery than others. For example, checking your email uses a small amount of power but any apps that use the GPS drain a significant amount of your phone’s battery –  this is because they are constantly talking to the GPS satellites. Check to see which of your apps are draining your battery most and limit their usage.

2. Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

When you are not connected to wifi or your wifi signal is weak, it is good to turn off both Wi-Fi and bluetooth. They can drain a large amount of battery life searching for the Wi-Fi and / or bluetooth signals.

3. Lower your Phones Brightness

One of the easiest ways to save battery life is to reduce how bright your phone’s screen is. The brighter your screen is, the more power it is using. Most automatically phones adjust the brightness levels based on how light your surroundings are but you can override this and turn the level down to save battery. The more you dim the screen, the longer your battery will last.

4. Go on Power Saving Mode

When set your phone into Power Saving Mode, it stops it from automatically checking for new emails, powers off your display faster and reduces screen brightness. It also turns off other features and visual effects that use a lot of battery. On some phones it may make your apps run a little slower.

5. Buy a Case With an Inbuilt Batter

Some people need to use power-draining features often and have a very phone-heavy lifestyle. If this is you, it may still be a struggle to keep your battery lasting throughout the day. If the other options are not sufficient, you can often  buy a phone case with a built-in battery. This case can then charge your phone while using it and thus make it last longer throughout the day.

6. Buy a Spare Battery

If you phone has a easily removable battery then purchase a spare battery and keep it charged. Then when your battery is getting low you can easily swap the battery out and keep on using your phone.

Our phones are critical to our modern day lives, but they can’t do anything for us if they are flat. Even more importantly, we want our phones available in case of an emergency. Luckily, using the above methods will help keep our batteries alive throughout the day. Just remember to charge them when you are back int he office or at home.

Are You Struggling with Email Overload?

Stop email overload

While email is a great business tool that has allowed near instantaneous communications with people around the world it can also lead to problems. Many people now receive dozens or even hundreds of emails in a day and at times it can seem like you are wasting your entire day dealing with all those incoming messages. You can quickly become overloaded with emails and the amount of emails also makes finding important messages harder.

So how can we deal with this overload? The first step is to reduce the number of emails you receive and there are a few ways to do this.

Restrict who you give you email address to: It is important to think carefully about who you give your email address to. For example, if you enter a lot of contests, this often automatically subscribes you to their email campaigns and / or adds you to a spam list. If you type your email into every popup box asking for it, these add up. Reduce who you give your email to.

Unsubscribe: If you haven’t opened one of those newsletter emails in months, go through and unsubscribe. Turn off notifications from social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. If you like emails from these networks, then adjust the settings so they email you the highlights once a day or week rather than allowing them to spam your inbox several times per day.

Do you need that notification? If you receive emails that contain information you can find elsewhere, switch those emails off. eg. you might run an e-commerce site that sends an email for every sale. If your website already has a record of this, you don’t need those notifications doubled up. If you really need that notification or email then create a rule to move it into a different folder and thus not clog up your general inbox.

Change your email habits: Change your own email sending habits. If a topic is complex and will require a lot of back and forth conversation, consider discussing it in person, over the phone or via one of the new online collaborative tools like MS Teams. Sending fewer emails will reduce how many you receive and remember that you don’t need to respond to every email you receive.

Resist sending unnecessary messages: Stop the urge to send messages with a single word like “Thanks!” or “Ok” and you will notice others will stop sending you similar, unnecessary messages. When sending group emails, you can also remind others not to use “reply all” unless the information is relevant to the entire group.

Start cleaning up: Start emptying out your inbox now and get rid of any old emails you don’t need to keep. Delete old calendar invites, advertisements or any emails where the problem has been resolved. Respond to any messages that can be answered as soon as you can. Move everything that is left until you have a completely empty inbox. Archive messages where you don’t need to take an action, but you think might be useful. You can search and find these later if necessary. Put other emails into folders based off of the type of email and the priority level.

From now on, try and automate things via rules. You can have receipts automatically go into a receipt folder, calendar invites into another, etc. A cluttered inbox can lead to your mind feeling just as cluttered.. Free up your inbox to free up your mind and create more time in your day-to-day life. Follow these steps and let email overload become a thing of the past.

If you need help with your emails, give us a call on 08 8326 4364 or via email at support@dpcomputing.com.au.

Think Before Clicking – 5 Red Flags of Phishing Emails

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

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

1. Poor spelling and grammar

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

2. An offer too good to be true

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

3. Random sender who knows too much

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

4. The URL or email address is not quite right

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

5. It asks for personal, financial or business details

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

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

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

Revive Your Slow Computer with an Superfast SSD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do You Have a Bad Case of Password Exhaustion?

Passwords

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

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

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

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

How to Create Easily Remembered Passwords

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

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

Becomes:

 !K1ttyFB75!

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

What to Do If Your Password Has Been Hacked

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

www.haveibeenpwned.com

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

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

Could Your Backups Survive A Ransomware Attack?

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

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

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

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

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

7 Tips for Using New Technology to Benefit Your Business

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

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

  1. Invest in a chat-bot platform

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Templates for Your Video Wall Are an Excellent Idea

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

  1. Set Priorities When It Comes To Data Mining

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

  1. Invest In Time Tracking Software

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

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

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

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

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.