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5 Warning Signs That It’s Time To Upgrade Your PC

upgradeimageYou only bought it a couple of years ago, so it can’t be time to upgrade your PC just yet.

Can it?

Well, for a start, it was probably much longer ago than you think that you purchased your latest desktop, and even so, there are no cast-iron assurances that your hardware will stand the test of time year-after-year.

Unfortunately for your wallet, technology runs in cycles. What was considered “mod” and revolutionary five short years ago (you know, 2009) might just be well past its sell-by-date.

Like any diagnosis, discovering you have a problem early can help you when it comes to finding the cure and limiting the damage.

So, if you’re sensing a little sluggishness or noticing some nasty noises, it could be a warning sign that all is not well with your computer.

Here are five signs it’s time to upgrade.

1) It runs infuriatingly slow

When you’re sitting waiting for what seems forever for your computer to spark into life, this is a strong sign that your PC is not up to the job. There is a chance that a clean-up will improve things but modern software will stretch older PCs to their limits.

Whatever the cause, a slow computer means less productivity (and more anger!).

So you need to ask yourself, as a business, are you sure you can you afford that?

2) Unexpected noises

A loud groaning noise from your fan or hard drive is a pretty good indicator that hardware failure is imminent.

So if you’re not in a position to upgrade just yet, at least take these noises as a warning and make sure you have a backup of all your important files.

3) Repairs are costing you a small fortune

Computers are rather like cars, there are so many individual components that have the potential to go wrong at any one time and they suffer from wear and tear.

So, if you find yourself constantly making-do and mending, it may be time to bite the bullet and opt for a new PC all together.

4) Continual Crashing

Fortunately most ”blue screens” aren’t fatal and you can simply re-boot your PC with little harm done. But if crashes are occurring with concerning regularity it might be time to ask why.

Constant crashing is usually either a sign that you have a virus or it’s a pretty good sign that the computer is running up against the limits of its ability and an upgrade is the only solution.

5) You’re out of space

If there’s not enough room for software to run properly and your demands exceed the systems’ specifications, then put simply – you need a new PC.

It’s no good just trying to manage a space or memory crisis on a day-to-day basis, so you need to think about your long-term requirements and planning for the future is key.

You need to ask yourself, will the software you are buying now be able to run on your patched up PC in 12 months time?

Posted in IT Support, Latest | Comments Off

Windows 10: What you need to know

whatyouneedtoknowAt a rather low-key ceremony in San Francisco last week, Microsoft announced to the world the imminent release of its brand new and hotly-anticipated operating system.

Wait a minute, where’s Windows 9?” I hear you cry.

Okay, new software will be released in 2015, but Microsoft has decided to skip “Windows 9” and bizarrely shoot straight for Windows 10 instead (presumably because the number 10 sounds a lot more complete than 9 does – at least in theory).

So why the change of heart?

Well, the problem for Microsoft is that around 1.5 billion people use Windows in one form or another but very few use the platform on their phones, tablets and other mobile devices.

So, if anything, tweaking their already successful Windows OS could be more of an effort to move with the times than cornering a new fan base.

Some even see it as an attempt to win back the traditional PC user, who has been on the receiving end of some serious flirtation from the likes of Apple and Google in recent years.

On first impressions it would appear that, rather that adding a load of new and unnecessary features, the latest package has been designed with simplicity very much at the forefront in an attempt to seduce those lost to Microsoft’s previous incarnation.

So what else can we expect from a company that is so keen to move on from Windows 8?

Here’s what we can all look forward to when Windows 10 is released next year.

1) A new name

First and foremost, the name of course… The official explanation; “When you see the product in fullness, I think you’ll agree with us that it’s a more appropriate name”. So it would seem it’s simply a case of putting a little numerical distance between the two packages rather than any technical rhyme or reason.

2) Back to the start

The Start button had been part of the furniture since the days of Windows 95, only to be kicked into touch with the introduction of Windows 8. Well, it seems Microsoft has listened to public opinion and brought back this most basic of tools – with a vengeance. Users will now be able to customise the start menu and even add live tiles displaying personal appointments, emails, even what the weather is doing.

3) Multiple desktops

Windows 10 allows users to switch quickly between apps and desktops through a feature called “Task View”. This is activated either by clicking on a button in the taskbar, or by swiping left on a touch screen device. It is then possible to access different apps through a range of mini-screens, which crop up at the bottom of the interface and enable users who spend a lot of time on their machine to grab apps from other desktops. This makes life a lot easier when using lots of programmes all at once and for extended periods of time.

4) Greater control of apps

Users will now be able to resize apps from the Windows store rather than always having to run them in full screen mode. Windows 10 will allow everything from the store to open in resizable windows that can either be minimised to the taskbar or completely closed.

5) Emphasis on business use

Put bluntly, serious businesses shied away from Windows 8 in their droves. This is mainly due to the fact that it was just too different from its predecessors. For this reason alone, Windows 10 is seen as being more familiar, more compatible with all the modern management systems, with productivity being very much at the heart of the product. There is even an option to allow the separation of personal and corporate data, allowing for varying levels of security and keeping confidential business information just that – confidential.

Posted in IT News, Latest | Comments Off

Staff AND Technology – must unite in the fight!

Spam2_2-300x200If you’re in the habit of checking the news online you will have noticed that almost daily now there are reports of data breaches by attackers. Cyber security headlines are all too frequent and alert us to the skill and persistence of hackers.

Many organisations still rely on traditional security controls in the form of technology such as anti-virus software and firewalls, etc. to protect their critical assets but it is now clear that this is not enough. The increasing importance of employee security awareness is often overlooked with companies providing little or no basic awareness training.

Personnel and processes are often disregarded when it comes to improving security, partly because the security risk they pose to an organisation is difficult to measure and track.

These days, this a crucial issue with cyber security, but businesses that (very sensibly) put in place IT software security often struggle to get senior management to address a risk that they haven’t been able to quantify, or even prove exists.

The problem is that as the technical, on-line security of organisations increases, attackers are looking instead to a much weaker area: employees.

Investing in improving security via staff and processes can vastly reduce the chances of undermining the investment in your technology-based solution.

If you think about it – there is so much information regarding an organisations employees available online and the most common way to exploit them is a phishing email that attempts to attract them to click on a link or attachment. Such e-mails can be anything from promises of deals or offers, to false claims of attached invoices or bank statements. Phishing assessments against employees have shown that as many as 60% to 90% of employees are susceptible to these attacks – effectively allowing an attacker to jump right over the traditional security controls.

So… how can you combat this?

How about some practical employee security awareness training?

Managed phishing assessments, for example, can act as a ‘cyber fire-drill’ for employees, regularly exposing them to various realistic attacks but in a controlled environment – it isn’t unusual for businesses to have 80% susceptibility the first assessment, but see a reduction to less than 10% after the second or third assessment.

Now for the processes … what do your computer users do when they do actually detect an attack? Do you have a process in place for them to follow if that happens? When employees fail to report attacks, it results in a greater exposure than your business would otherwise have had.

Regular “controlled” attacks can not only teach staff how to spot them, but also drills the security process to follow – dramatically reducing your exposure to attack.

Action you can take:

  • Teach employees to recognise bogus emails and not click anything they do not fully trust. Not all security technology will stop malicious emails getting through, therefore they must be vigilant
  • Carry out regular phishing assessments or “cyber-attack drills”
  • Have in place a process to report phishing emails and who to notify in case they clicked purposely or by error; ideally to be carried out within 15 minutes

Posted in Business, IT Processes, IT Purchasing, IT Security, IT Training | Comments Off

What are the chances of your Smartphone being stolen? (And how to avoid it happening to you)

IMG_1119A new Mobile Phone Theft report compiled by the Home Office has indicated that over 740,000 people were victims of phone theft over the last two years – with Apple handsets more likely to be stolen than any other phone.

In London alone, almost 100,000 mobile phones were reported stolen to the Metropolitan Police during the 12 months of 2013.

The report states that the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S and 4S were most targeted followed by the Blackberry 9790.

Apparently, 37% of mobile phone thefts took place on public transport or in another public place, with under a third taking place in bars, pubs and clubs. Surprisingly, nearly 20% of thefts occurred in places of work.

And as for those more likely to be the victim of mobile phone crime, the report suggests 4.7% of phone theft victims were women aged between 18-21, while 14-24 year olds are the targeted more than any other group – either stolen directly from their person, through pick-pocketing, or when the handset is briefly left unattended.

Interestingly, there is only a small difference between the numbers of thefts during the day and in the evening. Forty per cent of reported incidents were reported between 6am and 6pm, while 60% occurred between 6pm and 6am.

Despite the alarming numbers, the research suggests that the introduction of stronger security features in phones is likely to have reduced theft levels, and in recent years mobile phone manufacturers have been stepping up security measures to try and combat this trend.

Apple claim to be leading the industry in protecting people’s devices mainly due to the new finger print recognition system as part of the iOS7 operating system introduced with the release of the iPhone 5 in September 2013.

While Samsung have introduced the Find My Mobile and the Reactivation Lock.

But it’s not just the phones themselves that criminals are keen to get their hands on.

It’s no surprise that smartphones are much more desirable than older models due to the technology they can offer, but they also provide access to more personal content like bank details, which can also be exploited or sold on.

How to avoid your Smartphone being stolen – 5 tips

So what can be done to stop you being the next mobile phone crime statistic and how can you ensure you don’t give would-be criminals an easy ride?

In addition to the security functions introduced by the industry, there are some simple steps that mobile phone owners can take to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of mobile phone theft. Here are five of them.

1. Register your mobile

Register your mobile device for free at Immobilise.com. This will help the police to identify you as the owner if your phone is recovered and allows you to keep a record of your IMEI number, which you will need if your mobile is lost or stolen.

2. Use a PIN

It might seem like a pain, but using a security PIN might just deter someone from stealing your phone as it locks the device and means nobody else is able to access your information. But try to ensure your code is not easily guessed.

3. Don’t leave it unattended

Never leave your phone unattended in a public place, like in an unattended handbag. Keep your eye on your phone at bars, cafes, coffee-shops, restaurants or music venues – anywhere that criminals are likely to be active.

4. Install a tracker

If your device is stolen a tracker/security app could help trace your device and allow you to wipe personal data before it falls into the wrong hands. If you are unsure which app to install, seek advice from the manufacturer.

5. Report theft immediately

If your phone is stolen, the quicker it is reported, the quicker something can be done about it. Tell your network about the theft immediately and report it to the police, informing them if you have a tracker app installed. Ensure you have the IMEI number available for the police, which your network will provide for free, or you can type *#06# into your handset and make a note of the number should you require it at a later date.

Key points

- Over 740,000 people were victims of phone theft in the last two years

- 100,000 mobiles were stolen in London alone during 2013

- 37% of thefts took place on public transport

- Nearly 20% in places of work

- 4.7% phone theft victims were women 18-21

- Apple’s iPhone most desirable smartphone at around 55%

- Blackberry second with around 17% and Samsung 15%, Nokia 6%

Posted in IT News, Mobile Computing | Comments Off

Is your office computer network costing your business money

Cabling

Is this a familiar situation with the data cabling in your offices?  Is there just one of these or are there multiple situations throughout the building, hiding under desks, in cupboards and above ceilings?

The reason for the appearances of these “Mini Switches” is usually that as a company grows or invests in new equipment they find they don’t have enough IT cabling outlets to support what they need.

Additional staff will require extra data cabling outlets for PC’s and phones and as new equipment such a telephone systems are installed, new dedicated IT cabling outlets are required but not always available.

The quick fix approach shown in the photographs is to find 1 spare data cabling outlet and add on 5/8/16 way mini switches and plug all the new requirements into that.  These can number 1 per room if the equipment installed needs a lot of new IT cabling outlets.

However, the more of these mini switches are installed, the greater the bottlenecks down the IT system.  In a lot of cases these mini switches will then link from one to another.  In some businesses we’ve seen (for example) a main switch linking to a floor serving switch to 4 mini switches in a row in each office.  Several of them also had 2 connections between switches creating a loop on the network almost shutting it down completely.

The end results are:

  • A much slower network
  • Increasingly poor quality on IP phone systems and increased drop outs
  • Several points of failure
  • Trip hazards and fire risks

Steps to an overall solution:

To minimise the effect of these mini switches on your computer cabling network, the aim should be to always run the data cabling back to the central core cabinet in that office, floor, building.

The data cabling should go back to the main switch in this cabinet for the most effective speeds and quality of service.

  • Locate and highlight all the mini switches within the building
  • Determine how many data wiring outlets these mini switches serve as this will be the additional number of cat5e cabling or cat6 cabling outlets you will require
  • Install new cat5e or cat6 cabling as required
  • Re-label, re-patch and swap over network to a single central point.

Look for a data cabling company who offer a free site survey to locate your mini switches, determine the potential bottlenecks and issues, and who will propose a solution to removing these.  Check that they offer a same rate installation on weekends so that your network will not be down during your working day.

Guest post by Garry Crilley of NM Cabling – Complete Voice & Data Cabling solutions

Posted in Computer Maintenance, Computer Networks, IT Support | Comments Off

Six Things You Can Expect from the iPhone 6

iphone6There are a few things you can be sure of at this time of year.

The nights start to draw in, the weather takes a distinctively autumnal turn and Apple produce their latest iPhone handset.

If rumours are to be believed, Apple’s latest offering – the iPhone 6 – is expected to be just around the corner with a September 9 announcement date mooted.

Despite what seems to be an annual event at the end of every summer, there appears to be no let-up in the frenzy of excitement that surrounds this well rehearsed event and there’s little doubt that the world will be watching as CEO Tim Cook unveils another piece of “must-have” technology.

However, with many questioning the advances in innovation that Apple’s recent iPhone models have made – the pressure is somewhat on Cook to deliver.

The rumour mill has been in overdrive in the lead up to the widely anticipated launch, with many experts predicting a larger, faster, “all singing, all dancing” version of a handset which was first released over seven years ago.

So, as we all wait for the official announcement, here are six things that you should probably expect from the iPhone 6.

1. Bigger is better

We all look back and have a good giggle at the size of some of the early mobile phones, yet their evolution has been fascinating to watch. From the “brick” size handsets of the 1980s, phones then became no bigger than a packet of cigarettes during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

But now it seems manufacturers are in agreement that size does matter, with the iPhone 6 expected to launch with two screen sizes – one measuring 4.7ins, and a larger 5.5ins version.

2. Larger display

It goes without saying that a bigger phone allows for a bigger display, and the iPhone’s screen has been criticised for being a little on the small side, with rivals such as Samsung opting for much larger screens on their devices.

Though it’s unclear how big the display will actually be, Apple are rumoured to have spent millions on developing a toughened sapphire glass for their screen, which will be music to the ears of anyone who has smashed their display recently and had to pay to get it fixed.

Extra strong and virtually scratch free this new material would suggest a larger display, but Apple chief executive Tim Cook has refused to confirm that it will be used on any new models –  despite a new plant being built in Arizona to manufacture the material.

3. Protruding camera

If predictions are to be believed, then an impressive 10-megapixel camera (two megapixels more than the current iPhone 5s) will be included on the new iPhone 6.

However, even that would leave it trailing behind some of its rivals, who now boast resolutions of up to 16 megapixels.

A more interesting addition could be the introduction of a protruding camera that will pop out of the back of the phone. A patent filed in 2012 shows interest in a bayonet mount system for an iPhone camera, which is currently seen in SLR cameras to allow interchangeable lenses.

This would be Apple’s answer to the more clunky screw-mount systems used in other phones to enable features like wide angle and optical zoom capability.

4. Improved software

As sure as night follows day, a new iPhone release is backed up with some nifty new software that shows off just what the new handset can do, and we can expect no change this time around. And unlike the phones themselves, this could be immediately available for download for existing iPhone users – if only to fuel anticipation for the release of the iPhone 6.

It’s thought that the latest version (iOS 8) comes with a smart keyboard, more advance photo sharing facilities, improved messaging, as well as a health monitoring app!

One thing that is likely to remain the same though is the dual-core in the new A8 processor, something which Apple are reluctant to change. While Android phones have boasted quad-core chips offering speedier performance, it would seem this version will simply be be supped up to 2GHz – a massive increase on the A7’s 1.3GHz.

5. More capacity

If any evidence was needed of how much we store on our phones, it’s Apple’s decision to not offer a 16GB hard drive on the new iPhone 6.

Word is that the iPhone 6 will only be available in options of 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB, a decision that will only fuel speculation regarding any budget options for the phone – which are currently offered on the 16GB models..

6. Recessed controls

Leaked pictures from a Chinese website apparently show recessed volume controls on the side of the new Apple handset.

This will please those who yearn for a smoother design around the edges without the annoying buttons protruding out, as well as removing the risk of accidentally changing the volume when the phone is in your pocket.

Posted in Mobile Computing | Comments Off

Microsoft Office 365: What it means for your Business [Infographic]

With their latest Office 365 suite, Microsoft has certainly made a bold statement when it comes to the future of home and business computing, while also throwing down a challenge to competitor products.

Their innovative office suite differs greatly from previous versions of Microsoft Office – from how you use it, what you can do with it and even how you pay for it.

And though change for change’s sake isn’t always a good thing, it certainly seems like this latest software has real potential.

But before you decide to install the suite to your own machines, here’s a look at just what Office 365 can offer you and your business, as well as how we at The PC Support Group might be able to support you in this process – we call this infographic Office 365: What it means for your business.

Want to demonstrate how Office 365 can benefit a business you know? Feel free to share our infographic using the HTML code below. You can also click to enlarge the image.

For more information on Microsoft Office 365 Support contact The PC Support Group

Embed This On Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

Posted in IT Support, Microsoft Office | Comments Off

9 Top Secret Ways to Extend Your iPhone Battery Life

iphonebattUnless you’re still using that faithful old Nokia 3210 you’ve had since the turn of the millennium, you probably find yourself constantly checking the battery life of your iPhone to make sure you’re not stuck on a desolate hillside in the middle of nowhere without being able call for help or (more importantly) left out of social plans, unable to see what your friends are up to or play Candy Crush Saga.

Battery drain for smartphone users isn’t a new phenomenon but since the launch of Apple’s iOS 7.1 mobile operating system iPhone users in particular have complained about dwindling battery life.

But according to former Apple Genius Bar worker Scotty Loveless, it’s not necessarily iOS itself that is causing batteries to drain quickly – but all the Apps that are running on it.

So does this mean we need to change the way we all use our phones and access the Apps we value so dearly or simply change our phones full-stop?

Here are nine tips you can try that might just increase the battery life of your smartphone.

1. Stop Closing Apps in the Background

You may have heard that closing Apps in the background increases your battery life – however, you may be surprised to learn the opposite is true.

In the same way that a car uses more petrol when you turn the ignition, a smartphone actually saps more battery life launching an App than keeping it “idling” in the background. So for Apps you use regularly, it’s probably best to leave them open, while closing the ones you only use once in a while.

2. Disable Push Notifications

If you can just about survive without constantly being told what the weather is doing, how your favourite team are getting on or the latest news headlines; then turn off your push notifications. Each time you get one of these push notifications, your phone wakes from sleep to illuminate your screen and wait for your potential action upon each notification. So think about it, receiving 50 notifications a day amounts to 8 minutes of your usage time.

3. Use Airplane Mode (even if you aren’t in an Airplane)

Should you find yourself somewhere with little or weak phone signal (that desolate hillside maybe?) your smartphone will increase its power to the antenna in order to maintain the strongest signal possible. When this happens then it’s time to cut your losses, as if you can’t make or receive calls or access data, then what’s the point in having the phone on anyway? Switch your settings to “Airplane Mode” in order to save whatever battery you have left for when you might need it most.

4. Disable Background App Refresh

This is a feature that allows Apps to check for new content and download updates even when they’re not running. All good in theory, but a terrible drain on your battery’s resources, especially if you have dozens of Apps installed. Facebook is one of the worst culprits for this, consuming a huge amount of memory and processing power, even when you’re not using it. So go to Settings > General > Background App Refresh to select the Apps you don’t want to automatically update.

5. Reduce Auto Lock Period

Obviously, for security reasons we all like to lock our phones and tablets when we aren’t using them. But most phones go into Auto-Lock mode after a period on inactivity anyway. So obviously the sooner the device goes to sleep the less battery it will drain. In order to reduce the amount of time before your Auto-Lock kicks in, go to Settings > General > Auto-Lock and set the interval to the shortest possible time.

6. Carry a charger

If the thought of not being able to use your phone when battery life becomes critical makes you go cold, why not consider carrying a charger around with you? This can either be in the form of a USB cable or there are some on the market that you pre-charge and can then use to boost your battery without the need for a plug. An external battery can also extend the life of your iPhone for almost twice the ordinary amount of time, though these will make your iPhone thicker in size and heavier to carry.

7. Turn off Location services

Smartphones use the inbuilt GPS for handy functions such as maps and weather updates. They also use this technology for updating pointless personal information or allowing people to know exactly where you are. It’s actually surprising how many Apps use the GPS and that all adds the pressure on your battery. Either turn off all of your location services or go into Settings and decide which Apps need to use it and, more importantly, which ones don’t.

8. Reduce the number of Apps you have

As we’ve established, Apps use up vital battery life. So if your phone is loaded with Apps you simply never use, have a good clear-out and get rid of them. Most Apps these days are free, so have a thing about what ones you don’t need – as you can always download them again (even those you’ve paid for).

9. Change your habits!

Maybe there’s nothing wrong with your phone battery at all? Maybe you simply use your phone far too much and should think about limiting the amount of time you spend on your devices?

Limit yourself and designate particular times of the day for tasks like checking messages, sending email and browsing websites. You’ll be amazed how much more use you will get out of your battery – as well as how productive your days can be.

Posted in IT News, IT Support, Mobile Computing | Comments Off

Search Engine Optimisation – DIY or Outsource?

Search engine optimisation (or SEO) is one of the key aspects in driving traffic to your website.  As a business, generally speaking, you have two options; learn and perform SEO in-house or choose to outsource to a suitable SEO company.

SEO imageHere are some tips to help you make the right decision for your business.

DIY IN-HOUSE:-

Use your writing skills

Keeping your website content updated and relevant should be a priority.  Inactive content (if your blog hasn’t been updated in months or years, for instance) can be an indication that your information might be outdated – or simply that the website is no longer in use.  Writing news or blog posts on a regular basis is a good way to stay updated. Not only is this an advantageous SEO strategy but it also sends out the right signals to your audience.

Submit your website to the main local search directories

It can be relatively straight-forward to submit your site to Google Places, Bing Local and Yahoo Local.  Sign up and choose categories that are relevant to your business. Upload a few photos and videos if you can. Once you’re listed, ask satisfied clients to leave positive reviews. By doing so, you are adding credibility to your business online and enhancing your reputation.

Do your keyword research

If a keyword or phrase is not listed on prominent places on your website then you aren’t providing Google with the information it requires to rank your website. Examples of “prominent places” on your website can be titles, headline tags, body content, image alt tags and internal links.  Use Google Adwords Keyword Planner to find new and relevant keywords for your business.

Sign in with your Google account and enter the URL of competitors in the box at the top of the site called ‘website’. Choose ‘exact’ as your preferred match type and, If you get too many words in the output, try to remove keywords with the ‘exclude terms’ function. After running a few of these tests, you should have a good list of keywords to analyse. The most relevant can be made into new sub-pages on your own website.

Create new website sub-pages

Implement new sub-pages with the most relevant keywords you have found. Imagine ‘Gizmo Production’ is one of the chosen keywords. What you do is creating a new sub-page called ‘Gizmo-Production’ and include the term ‘Gizmo Production’ with other relevant keywords in the title, headline, web content and alt text. Write all this naturally in a way that makes sense.

Take note of your analytics

Start collecting traffic data via a free web analytics tool (Google Analytics, for example).  After a few weeks you should begin to get an idea of the traffic patterns that relate to your content.  Identify which keywords result in a high bounce rate. Perhaps your landing page isn’t converting well enough? Or the content isn’t relevant to the user’s search?

Equally, take note of the keywords where people stay a long time on your site and try to find more keywords related to that topic, to later be add to your site.

Request Backlinks

Great people to ask for backlinks are business partners and suppliers – people that you enjoy a healthy relationship with. Backlinks can be one of the most important factors to get your site ranking prominently in Google, Bing and Yahoo.

There are various other ways to build links to your website but it must be stressed that you should be careful of adopting a “links for links sake” or “links for SEO” policy. Anything that Google deems to be spam-orientated – such as automated article and web directory websites – ought to be avoided to evade the possibility of being penalised.

OUTSOURCE:-

Do some comprehensive research

A thorough search on the internet coupled with the advice of friends and business associates will help you find reputable and progressive SEO companies or marketing agencies. Shortlist a few of them to ask for a quotation – but make sure to check the background of each company.

Who are their clients?

Check out client testimonials to confirm the credibility of the company.  Ring some of them and make sure that they’re still happy since they gave their testimonial.

Compare proposals

Analyse and compare the proposals of different companies for different SEO services. Can their services meet your specific SEO objectives?

Have a frank discussion

Talk face to face with company representatives to evaluate their timeline, objectives, specialities and services.

Look for a proven track record

Choose an SEO Company with a proven track record of generating success.  Confirm the feasibility of methods they are proposing.  Scrutinise the success rate of previous projects and customer satisfaction.  Experience always matters when it comes to delivering flawless professional SEO services.

Assess costs

Is this company going to be an investment in your business?  Place importance on the quality of work for a given budget.

Find out how you can track progress

A professional SEO company must offer an option to track the status of your project. They also have a responsibility to provide an idea about your website performance and final outcome.

 

Posted in IT Support, Online Marketing | Tagged , | Comments Off

Keep Business Data Safe – 9 Tips That Could Save You Thousands

New research suggests that cyber-crime costs small businesses around £800 million a year.

Not only that, but you have a responsibility to put adequate measures in place – if not, you could face fines of as much as £500,000 for cyber breach and data loss under current legislation. Other threats include: social media misuse, hacking, and loss of company devices.

SpamAs many as 60 per cent of small firms reported security issues last year, with major breaches costing a small firm on average between £65,000 and £115,000.

Here, we’ve created a useful checklist to help you assess whether you are helping reduce the chances of the worst happening to your business.

How many of the following questions can you answer “YES” to?

 

Q1: Do you back up your business data?

A copy of your data, should be kept on a storage device which is then secured away from the original. It should be updated regularly and include customer, employee, and bank information.  The Data Protection Act 1998 states that it’s your responsibility to safeguard this information.

Q2: Have you created a business security and disaster recovery plan?

You need to know how you would keep the business running should disaster strike your business.

Q3: Are you keeping your internet security software up to date?

How long is it since you last updated your anti-virus software?  Is it switched on at all times?

Q4: Do you know how to recognise some common symptoms of a virus?

These include: Your system slowing down, unexpected activity on your machine or pop-up messages, your email server becoming overloaded or slowing down, data files becoming corrupt or going missing or unexpected changes in the content of your files.

None of the above are conclusive proof of infection, but they are a warning that further checks should be made. If you are suspicious you have a virus, use your security software to diagnose the problem. If necessary, contact your IT support company and arrange for them to scan for any viruses and remove them from your computer.

Q5: Can you/your staff spot phishing attempts?

These are an attempt to get you to part with financial details or passwords, divert website traffic to a bogus site or direct orders to a different server to acquire confidential information – for example, by sending an email pretending to come from your bank or another organisation.  Make sure you meet payment security requirements. If you take payments via your website or any other situation where the card holder is not present, you need to make sure you comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).    Be cautious of any email that does not know exactly who you are, for example addressing you as ‘Dear Sir/Madam’. Ignore emails appearing to come from a bank or similar institution that ask you to supply information online – if in doubt, contact your bank directly.   A good email filter will block many of these types of messages. Do not open attachments sent via emails unless you are 100% certain that they are authentic. This includes emails that look genuine from friends (as their computer may have a virus and is sending emails without their knowledge.

Q6: Can you recognise fraudulent websites?

These exist to infect your computers or obtain information from them. It’s difficult to judge sites on looks alone because it’s easy for someone to clone a website.

They can offer “bargains”, taking payment but never shipping the goods. Some sites impersonate legitimate companies, but check domain names. Malicious sites often substitute characters in domain names (like a “1” for an “I”).

If you’re buying from a website, make sure the site you’re on uses a secure connection to transfer your payment details. Look for a padlock in your web browser – click this for information about the company running the site

Check that an online business has a real world presence, with a street address and telephone number

Web filtering software can reduce the risk, but you should also make it a matter of policy that employees only do business through known, reputable websites.

Q7: Are you using the latest update of your Windows operating system?

If not you could be putting your computer and personal information at risk. Ensure your Windows operating system has the latest Microsoft updates applied as soon as possible.

Q8: Do you store your passwords safely?

Never store passwords on your computer in case they are accessed by a virus. Keep them safely stored somewhere else, but obviously in a place where nobody else can access them.

Q9: Is someone experienced and qualified looking after your IT system?

Often this task falls to someone within the business who has ‘some’ IT background but who is employed to do another role entirely.  This can mean they don’t have the time to truly focus on either job as well as possible.  Not only that, but they won’t be able to stay abreast of new developments in the world of IT.  If the cost of employing a full time expert is prohibitive then consider outsourcing.  This can be an incredibly cost-effective solution, giving you a whole team of experts for much less costs – without the added hassle of holiday and sickness periods etc.

The PC Support Group can provide advice and assistance with all of the above security issues. If you would like to discuss these email info@pcsupportgroup.com or call 03300 886 116 (local landline rate in the UK from all phones)

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