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.

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.

How To Stay Cyber Safe When Travelling

Mobile Cyber SecurityWith cloud computing people are embracing the flexibility of working away from the office (whether at home or travelling) and working by simply accessing the relevant data or applications via the internet..

When in the office, you are protected by professionally designed firewalls, security infrastructure, and robust software. As soon as you step away from that network those protections disappear and leave your device and the data inside at greater risk.

Cyber attackers love to collect any data they can obtain – business or personal doesn’t matter to them as it can all be sold. These days the information stored on your device can be worth much more than the actual device.

Here are 3 ways a hacker may attack:

Random Opportunity: If you have left your laptop at a café or a thief has stolen the phone from your pocket, the outcome is the same – that device is gone. Hackers take any opportunity they can to gain access to a device: including taking them from hotel rooms and even asking to ‘borrow’ them for a few minutes – if they don’t steal it the device is handed back laden with spyware.

Creating a fake Wi-Fi Hotspot: We’ve all come to expect free Wi-Fi networks wherever we go. Hackers though will take advantage of this to create their own free, unsecure network just waiting for someone to connect. Once a user is connected a hacker can  grab any unsecured passwords sent across the network.

Intercepting an Unsecure Network: Hackers don’t even need to own the Wi-Fi network to steal content from it. Data traveling across an unsecure network is visible and available to anyone with the right software.

Don’t let these issues stop you using the Internet when out side the office. Just take the following precautions to increase your cyber safety and help protect your valuable data:

  1. Regularly make backups: In the event your device is lost or damaged, you’ll be able to replace the device with a new one and quickly restore all the data from a backup, all with minimal downtime.
  2. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi: Don’t use passwords or email when on a public network. Use a VPN or a 4G connection (ie tether your computer to your phones data connection) when you are accessing sensitive data or logging in to secure sites.
  3. Use passwords and encryption: At a minimum, make sure your device is password protected and has full drive encryption. With a password and drive encryption even if your storage drive is removed from the device the contents are inaccessible.
  4. Act fast after loss: If your device is lost or stolen, immediately notify the appropriate companies and people. This might include your IT provider so they can change passwords, your bank and any other financial institutions so they can lock down accounts, and any staff who need to be aware of the breach so they aren’t tricked into allowing further breaches.

If you need further help with mobile cyber security contact us on (08) 8326 4364 or on support@dpcomputing.com.au.

How To Take Care Of Your Laptop Or Phone Battery.

Batteries are rarely talked about – until they are nearly empty and then we will beg desperately for a charger, hoping to get enough juice to last through to the end of day. Batteries are a miracle of engineering that get taken for granted when full and cursed when they are flat.

If it feels like your battery is running out faster, you might be right. It’s not because of ‘battery memory’ and needing to be cycled (that’s an older battery type called Nickel–metal hydride or NiMh), it’s because the modern Lithim-ion (Li-Ion) batteries in phones and laptops just simply wear out over time.

Using some of these tips will help extend the life of your battery:

  1. Keep your battery at room temperature. Heat is the one factor that reduces a batteries life so try and keep the battery between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius (even when not is use). Check your vents are clear with good airflow, and if necessary, help it out with a cooling laptop stand.
  2. Charge whenever you can. Lithium-ion batteries don’t like all the time being charged all the way up and drained all the way down. Give them a little charge here and there, and they’ll be happy. Also don’t fully discharge a lithium-ion battery.
  3. Think about getting a higher capacity battery. Carrying a spare battery is good but batteries deteriorate over time whether they are used or not so a higher capacity battery may be more beneficial.
  4. Remove the battery when the laptop is plugged in all the time. If you use your laptop all day plugged into the power think about removing the battery and only connecting it when you need to use the battery.
  5. Charge batteries before extended storing: For extended storage charge the battery to around 40 – 50% before storing in a cool place.
  6.  Use energy settings on your device. Think about lowering the brightness on your laptops, tablet or phone screen and use “hibernate” or “sleep” modes on laptops in order to use less battery power.

Yes your battery will wear out over time but you can help it keep its charge by following the above steps.