7 Benefits of Office 365

Office 365You have probably seen all the advertising for Office 365. They are popping up when you surf the web 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.

Why Do Computers Slow Down Over Time?

Is your computer slowing down?Remember the way you felt when you turned on your new computer and up it came in a flash? Your computer was the envy of your business colleagues and you loved all that glory. Turn on your system and you were ready to go – those were the days!

After a few years the computer now doesn’t seem to be quite as fast. No, you’re not imagining it, it really has slowed down. There is a measurable drop in speed and power but the good news is that with a little maintenance your computer can be faster.

Let’s look at what items can slow computers down:

Start-up applications: A lot of applications automatically add themselves to start-up when the computer starts. It may be convenient to have programs start automatically but others may be a hindrance. In fact many of the applications starting themselves with the computer are of little usage and are the main reason your computer is running slow.

For example, the iTunes helper loads in the background to speed things up when you connect your device – but if you can’t even remember the last time you ran iTunes on your computer then it is probably unnecessary and can be deleted from start-up. Programs like this are using your computer resources and adding to your speed issues. Some computers automatically load all sorts of programs which can be safely stopped from automatically loading.

Temporary junk: Computers programs leave temporary files and snippets of information all over your hard drive, each action leaving a trail rather like a roaming toddler with sticky fingers. Every webpage you visit, every program you run and every game you play leaves something behind.

It may be the tidbits of information called temporary internet file, cookies, saved game files, auto-restore files or even log files that are clogging your system.The more junk your computer builds up, the slower it gets.

Viruses and malware: These infections sit in the background consuming computer resources while doing various dangerous and unwanted things. They may be spying on your actions, stealing your information or reaching out through your network to infect others. Sometimes the impact is limited to seeing your computer slow to a crawl but other infections can easily reach into the thousands of dollars with lost data and productivity.

Bloating: With every new version of software comes a new set of features and other “improvements” – some are beneficial to you while others are not. The problem with this is that the applications becomes larger and larger with each new version and require more system resources to run – and slowing your computer down.

Hardware Issues: As with anything the older things get the more chances of failure or other issues occuring. Hard drives can have trouble reading data and fans get clogged with dust and cause over heating issues. A simple internal cleanout of the computer or a replacement hard drive (or even better an upgrade to a SSD) can bring the speed back to your computer.

Just like a car, computers need regular maintenance – check out our blog on computer maintenance for some hints and tips. We also offer a Tune-Up service to bring your computer back to its original speed and extend its life. If you are in Adelaide South Australia then email us now at support@dpcomputing.com.au to book your computer in for a tune up.

Should You REALLY Click That Button?

All of us have had that pop up that just won’t leave. It’s hounding you to upgrade your software or change some sort of setting and clearly it has zero intention of giving you a rest. That software wants to be upgraded or that setting changed and it wants it now.

update

Begrudgingly you click the “Yes” or “Ok” button and let it upgrade in the background or change that setting. Maybe now it will leave you alone to get some work done but instead of doing something positive you quickly discover it’s given you the exact opposite. Your essential hardware no longer works, you’ve got errors all over the place, and that application no longer runs at all.

The urgent popup was more of an instant downgrade.

Before you click that nagging upgrade button, consider the following:

Is the popup for legit software?

Do you have that software already installed on your machine? Does the popup look dodgy with poor spelling or grammar? If so it may be a virus or piece of malware trying to install on your machine.

Will this upgrade benefit your business?

Some upgrades are only cosmetic. They look great and the developers pitch them as the latest and greatest, but without additional innovation on offer – you’re better off waiting for a version with some actual benefits.

Is the upgrade going to work with your current systems and processes?

If your project management software no longer talks to your scheduling software, you’ve got a problem. It’s reasonable to expect the upgrade to have gone through robust testing and bug fixes, but even the mega corporations are caught out in an instant.

Is your current solution still an option?

Developers cease support of older software versions after a certain date. In these cases, continuing to use an outdated version leaves your system vulnerable, without patches and security updates. If your software is at the end of its cycle, you’ll need to upgrade regardless. This, however, gives you the perfect opportunity to revise your selection and make some experienced decisions – upgrade or replace.

On the other hand, if the upgrade is going to have a positive effect on productivity, efficiency or customer satisfaction, definitely put it on your to-do list. Hold off for just a few days or weeks while your IT technicians research any conflicts that might arise.

Being an early adopter isn’t always the best idea. Sometimes you need to let your other software packages catchup – compatibility issues will always be an issue. It’s more important than ever before to take your time and research the upgrade to see how others have fared – before things come crashing down.

Call us for a quick compatibility check BEFORE you click any popups.

Free Windows 10 Mini Course

Windows10For almost a year now Microsoft has been promoting (and even pushing) a “Get Windows 10 Free” upgrade to every PC running Windows 7 or 8. The upgrade has been very controversial due to Microsoft’s aggressive tactics – a lot of our customers have found themselves “upgraded” to Windows 10 without permission!

All that will end soon, as on July 29, 2016, the free upgrade offer will finish, forever (really). So should you take advantage of this free offer while you still can?

This is not a “one-size-fits-all” situation – there are quite a few computer models which aren’t fully compatible with Windows 10 – if you upgrade you may find your mouse,  network or say printer doesn’t work quite right anymore. And a few (very few) applications that run on Windows 7 won’t run properly on 10. (The good news is if you decide you don’t want the upgrade it’s easy to revert back to your previous Windows if you do so in the first 30 days after the upgrade).

But overall the new Windows 10 has had mostly positive reviews, and it’s designed to be more secure and more cloud-and-touch-friendly than Windows 7 without being as shockingly different as Windows 8. Plus Windows 10 will be supported by Microsoft for the foreseeable future, where Windows 7 will become unsafe to use in 2020 (and
Windows 8 in 2023). If your hardware is in good shape then taking advantage of the free upgrade may save you from buying a new computer for a few more years.

Windows 7’s support ends January 2020,  Windows 8’s ends January 2023. Windows 10, if kept updated, is expected to last long after 2025.

Still, after the debacle that was Windows 8 and Microsoft’s pushiness with the free upgrade many people are hesitant to upgrade. So if you want to learn more about Windows 10 and what it’s like to use BEFORE you upgrade, we’ve got a deal for you. Our partners at Bigger Brains are allowing us to post their “Windows 10 Essentials” training course right here on our website for you for FREE until July 29 (Click the screenshot below).
free windows 10 training

If that is not enough we even have another Windows 10 Tutorial video which you can check out here on Youtube:

Check out the award winning free course HERE. And for a full year of Bigger Brains training, including courses on Excel, QuickBooks, Outlook, Gmail, HIPAA and 50 more, ask us about our $79 special!

What’s So Good About Windows 10?

MS Windows 10 has just been released. We have written this blog and produced some videos to help you decide whether to upgrade to Windows 10.

To get a great feel for the new operating system, check out our Windows 10 Tutorial and Windows 10 First Looks & Impressions video.

 

While no computer program or operating system is perfect, Microsoft is getting a lot of things right with Windows 10.  Some of the highlights include:

  • The return of the Start menu Many of the folks who experienced the previous operating system, Windows 8, were very put off by the Start screen, which highlighted “metro-style” apps and live tiles. In Windows 10 Microsoft have brought back a more familiar style start menu in the lower left corner of the screen.  It is a hybrid between the Windows 7 start menu and the Windows 8 app-driven start screen. It is highly customisable and makes it easy to access most things you need on a daily basis. If you love the start screen though don’t despair as Microsoft gives users the option of using the new start menu or the Windows 8 style start screen. 
  • Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.  Cortana is a bit like Siri, Apple’s voice-driven assistant.  In Windows 10, Cortana will be available on every device – phone, tablet, desktop and laptop.  You can essentially talk to your computer to perform searches or access information on your computer. Cortana learns about you and will start to use what she knows to offer increasingly relevant information when you ask for it.  
  • Microsoft Edge, the new web browser.  Windows 10 introduces Edge the new web page browser. Edge is very minimalist compared to Internet Explorer. There are no toolbars, icons and settings to get in the way of viewing various web pages. Internet Explorer can still be installed in Windows 10 for users who must use it for compatibility reasons. You are also free to install other web browsers, like Google Chrome or Firefox.  
  • Virtual desktops – Users will be able to set up multiple desktops on their Windows 10 computers.  For example, you can set up a desktop with all of your work-related icons and a separate desktop for all of your personal items.  Another use might be to set up a different desktop for each user in your home, rather than separate accounts for each user.  
  • Free upgrade for the first year.  For users who are running Windows 7 (service pack 1) or Windows 8.1, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for the first year after it is released.  If you don’t upgrade within that year you will have to buy the operating system.  

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

While I believe that Windows 10 will be successful for Microsoft, I would strongly advise you not to upgrade straight away once it is released. The initial release may still have some bugs to work out which may cause issues on your computer.  It may be better to wait a few months for these to be worked out.  

When you do decide that you want to upgrade, here are some things that you will need to do first:

  • Make a complete backup of your system.  If something goes wrong during the upgrade process, you want to have a way to restore your computer to the way it was before the upgrade.  The easiest way to do this is to use the built-in tools with Windows 7 or 8 to create a system image on an external hard drive.
  • Install all of the latest updates on your operating system.  It would be best to run Windows updates on your system prior to an upgrade to be sure that you have the latest security and system patches.
  • Make sure that your current software and hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  Everything may run just fine on your current system but it may not run smoothly on Window 10.  Microsoft will release a compatibility tool which will inform you if your hardware and software will work with Windows 10.  We recommend that you install the latest device drivers for your computer (particularly video and network devices) prior to upgrading.  
  • Be sure to back up your data.  In addition to a full system upgrade, it would be wise to create a separate copy of your critical data (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) prior to upgrading. You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.

Upgrading your operating system is a daunting task for most users.  If you are in Adelaide South Australia and feel that this is beyond your technical ability, we encourage you to give us a call. We will be offering a special Windows 10 upgrade service to our customers beginning in early August.

Can I return to Windows 8 / 7?

If for what ever reason you don’t like Windows 10 you can revert back to your operating system if you did an upgrade install.  To do this follow these steps:

  1. Click StartSettings or type Settings in the search bar.
  2. Click on Update & Security and then the Recovery section on the left hand side.
  3.  Then under the Go Back to Windows 7 (or 8) heading click on the Get Started button.
  4. Then follow the prompts.

Note: you may lose data and or programs so remember to backup all your data.

 

If you have any questions please leave a comment below and we wil try our best to help you out.

MS Windows 10 First Impressions

Windows10
Many of you may be aware of the fact that Microsoft released Windows 10 today. Well I logged into the Microsoft Partner Portal earlier and downloaded the MAPS (Microsoft Action Pack) copy of the Enterprise edition. I then loaded it up in a virtual machine and had a quick play around with it. This article lists some of the new features and hopefully helps you decide whether to upgrade or not. Also check out our video below to see how Windows 10 looks and feels.

The Start Menu

Many of the folks who experienced the previous operating system, Windows 8, were very put off by the Start screen, which highlighted “metro-style” apps and live tiles. In Windows 10 Microsoft have brought back a more familiar style start menu in the lower left corner of the screen.  The menu is a bit of a hybrid between the Windows 7 start menu and the Windows 8 app-driven start screen. It features live tiles and is highly customisable. If you love the start screen though don’t despair as Microsoft gives users the option of using the new start menu or the Windows 8 style start screen. 

Cortana

Cortana is a bit like Siri, Apple’s voice-driven assistant.  You can essentially talk to your computer to perform searches or access information on your computer. Unfortunately I tried to use Cortana but was met with a “feature not available in your region” error (I’m located in Australia). As this was the first day of release I was a bit disappointed but hopefully it will be available soon.  

Microsoft Edge 

Internet Explorer has been replaced with Edge. Edge is very minimalist compared to Internet Explorer – there are no toolbars, icons and settings to get in the way of viewing various web pages.  I haven’t fully tested it but it seemed nice and fast. Users can also install their favourite browser though (eg Google Chrome, Firefox or even the “old” Internet Explorer).  

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

While I believe that Windows 10 will be successful for Microsoft, I would strongly advise you not to upgrade straight. I haven’t fully tested everything yet but this release may still have some bugs to work out which may cause issues on your computer.  It may be better to wait a few months for these to be worked out.  

When you do decide that you want to upgrade, here are some things that you will need to do first:

  • Make a complete backup of everything on your system.  If something goes wrong during the upgrade process, you want to have a way to restore your computer to the way it was before the upgrade.  The easiest way to do this is to use the built-in tools with Windows 7 or 8 to create a system image on an external hard drive.  
  • Install all of the latest updates on your operating system.  It would be best to run Windows updates on your system prior to an upgrade to be sure that you have the latest security and system patches.
  • Make sure that your current software and hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  Everything may run just fine on your current system but it may not run smoothly on Window 10.  Microsoft will release a compatibility tool which will inform you if your hardware and software will work with Windows 10.  We recommend that you install the latest device drivers for your computer (particularly video and network devices) prior to upgrading.  
  • Be sure to back up your data.  In addition to a full system upgrade, it would be wise to create a separate copy of your critical data (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) prior to upgrading. You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.

Upgrading your operating system is a daunting task for most users.  If you are in Adelaide South Australia and feel that this is beyond your technical ability, we encourage you to give us a call. We will be offering a special Windows 10 upgrade service to our customers beginning in early August.