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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(if your blog hasn’t been updated in months or years, for instance) can be an indication that your information might be outdated – or simply that the website is no longer in use.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.

 

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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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Facebook Developing “At Work” Version of Site?

WorkFacebookThere’s no doubt social media can be a valuable tool when it comes to developing workplace connections, discussing the latest industry news or even finding a new job.

Although, many will argue that LinkedIn is setup to do exactly that.

However, not wanting to miss out on this particular niche, Facebook is planning to build its very own “at work” website that will go head-to-head with LinkedIn as the professional’s choice of social network.

An unnamed source at the company has claimed it is working on a new version for use during working hours. Sky News reported the anonymous individual as saying: “We are making work more fun and efficient by building an at-work version of Facebook.”

“Facebook employees find using Facebook for work communication really useful. This has been on the list of things to do for three years but just hasn’t made it to the top of the list.”

Despite this somewhat “sketchy” information, it’s not known whether it will be standalone site, or simply a version of the original that can be activated in the workplace.

Just last week Facebook crashed leaving users unable to gain access to the site and many workers wondering how to spend their time.

And with many companies conscious of the amount of time employees spend on social media sites, providing something that would allow workers to share thoughts, opinions and information about the company they work for could be looked upon more favourably by employers.

It is thought the internal development project is called FB@Work, though Facebook has declined to confirm or deny the reports and says it does not comment on rumours.

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5 Things We’d Do If Facebook Never Existed

Wheres my Facebook goneA strange phenomenon occurred in offices and workplaces everywhere just recently.

Ashen-faced employees could be seen looking glumly at their monitors, scratching their heads and even conversing with the person sat next to them in more than just grunts and ineligible noises.

But what was it that caused this strange and uncharacteristic behavioural shift?

Was it news that an asteroid was plummeting towards earth and we only had minutes to live?

Was it the declaration of World War 3?

Surely it couldn’t be the announcement that a new series of Big Brother has been commissioned?

No.

It was that Facebook was “down” for 20 long minutes (I’m sure you noticed).

But for those who did, it was a 20 minutes that gave us a chance to reflect on the way we live our social media-obsessed lives – seeing as we had little else to do (besides write this article).

In the 10 years since Facebook’s inception there is little doubt it has changed the way we live, work, play and, of course, communicate with each other.

So this brief interlude, if nothing else, was a chance to “get back to basics” and do all the things we did pre-Facebook.

Great, but does anyone know what they actually were anyway?

As hard as it is to believe, life did exist before 2004, so here are just some of the things we might have found ourselves doing more of if things had turned out a little differently.

1. Work (more)

If last Wednesday is anything to go by, the productivity of workplaces across the world would be far greater if Facebook had remained just a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg’s eye.

Assuming we spend just an hour each day updating statuses and seeing what other people have (or haven’t) been up to when we should be working, that works out at almost a full working day every week, four days a month, 48 days a year….

Still not sure? See how much time you’ve spend on Facebook in the last 10 years.

2. Talk to others

OK. You can’t blame Facebook for the way we communicate digitally. That all changed with the advent of the internet.

But there is little doubt expressing feelings, anger, delight, sadness, pretty much every emotion we have in public is now acceptable thanks to what we put on our profile pages.

So would we have even considered sharing such private thoughts with people we barely knew before Facebook?

Well even if we had, we’d have had to say it to their face – what a horrible thought!

3. Enjoy our food

A recently opened restaurant is so aware that photographing dishes and sharing the images on Facebook is so de rigueur that they are actually offering free meals to customers who promise to tell the world about the food they are eating.

What’s the old saying about the proof of the pudding being in the eating?

Well it seems Facebook has changed all that too.

4.  Be more of an activist

It’s so easy now isn’t it?

You see something that annoys you or you feel strongly about and you join a Facebook campaign group – problem solved.

You don’t have to march on parliament; you don’t have to stand out in the cold and rain with a clip board hoping that people will sign your petition.

You just click a button and the world is a better place – well that’s the idea anyway.

5. Meet-up with old pals

Fifty per cent of UK Facebook users have 200 “friends” or more. But how often do we actually see them in the flesh?

An online community is a great way of keeping in touch with friends in far flung places, but it can also mean that we don’t bother to meet-up regularly with those we know who live just round the corner.

Think about it. When was the last time you were invited to a reunion or old friends get together?

It seems there’s little need when a gentle poke will do.

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7 Ways to Protect Yourself from the Latest Bug Scare

IMG_0899With the recent news that online users ought to be braced for an incoming cyber attack, many people will be wondering what they need to do in order to keep their personal details secure.

Unsurprisingly, the Get Safe Online website has been inundated with people wanting to find out more information and advice. With that in mind, and following on from our blog last week, here are some pointers to take a note of that could help protect that valuable data and financial information from possible attack.

1. Use a Virus Scanner

Install internet security software from companies listed on Get Safe Online’s Facebook and Google+ profiles. If you have IT support then arrange for your IT support company to scan for these particular viruses (Gameover Zeus and CryptoLocker) and remove them from your computer.

2. Be Vigilant

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) or from banks and large reputable organisations. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so don’t open anything that you are not expecting.

3. Maintain Your Security

Make sure your internet security software is up-to-date and switched on at all times. If you haven’t updated software such as AVG for a while then do it now – before it’s too late.

4. Update Windows

Are you using the latest update of your version of Windows operating system? If not you could be putting your computer and personal information at risk. Make sure your Windows operating system has the latest Microsoft updates applied as soon as possible.

5. Install Software Updates

Make sure your software programs have the latest manufacturers’ updates installed and applied. This should help to fight aggressive viruses and bugs that are attempting to access crucial files.

6. Back-up All Files

Ensure all of your files including documents, photos, music, bookmarks and anything else you may need are backed up and readily available in case you become “locked-out” and are no longer able to access them on your computer.

7. Keep Passwords Safe

Never store passwords on your computer in case they are accessed by Gameover Zeus or another aggressive malware program. Keep them safely stored somewhere else, but obviously in a place where nobody else can access them.

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Two Weeks to Prepare for Powerful Cyber Attack?

IMG_1297The National Crime Agency have announced that online users have two weeks to prepare for a “powerful cyber attack”. Two pieces of malware software known as GOZeuS and CryptoLocker are at the centre of this alert and are reported to be responsible for hundreds of millions of pounds of fraud globally.

 

At The PC Support Group, we’re putting together an action plan to best protect our customers

All computer users are being warned to ensure their security software and operating system are both up to date, and to run scans to check for any problems. Important files should also be backed up.

How does the virus attack your computer?

Basically, it’s being spread via e-mail with links or attachments that may look like they have been sent by genuine contacts and may purport to carry invoices, voicemail messages, or any file made to look innocuous.  If a user clicks on one of them, the malware silently monitors activity and tries to capture any private information, such as banking details. It’s very hard for antivirus software to protect you against this as by opening the attachment the virus has been ‘invited in’, plus it changes it’s disguise, sometimes as quickly as antivirus companies can send out their updates.

These emails are generated by other victims’ computers, who do not realise they are infected, and are used to send mass emails.  This is sometimes why a computer can run slowly when it’s infected.

The second threat comes from the Cryptolocker malware, activated if the first attack is not profitable enough.  It locks a user out of their files, for example photos or music, and threatens to delete them unless a “ransom” of several hundred pounds is paid.

More than 15,500 computers in the UK are infected and “many more” are at risk, according to the NCA.  A senior NCA investigator said “It’s there purely for the criminals to harvest your money direct from your bank account, or by demanding a ransom to get your files back.”

So what can be done?

Well – action taken now to strengthen online safety can be particularly effective.

You now have a chance to clean up. The first thing you should do is update your operating system – especially if you’re on Windows, then look to scan your computer for viruses and it should be able to find it.

Our full BusinessCare plan, with the optional managed antivirus and managed backup installed on each computer that holds data will be a fantastic help right now.  It’s up to computer users to ensure they are backing up their data files (including those financial documents and precious photos) as an infection may destroy them, or at least hold them to ransom to the tune of hundreds of pounds before they can be recovered.

If you are a BusinessCare customer of The PC Support Group with our managed antivirus and managed backup service on each computer we will do this for you.  Whilst we can’t guarantee you will be protected, we will take care of carrying out all the precautions you need to reduce the risk to the minimum, just leave your computer on each Monday night as usual

We must emphasise though, that the nature of the threat means that the best way to prevent infection is to ensure you and all the people around you are extremely vigilant about not opening emails they don’t recognise or that have any sort of attachment.   As stated earlier, that’s how infection occurs and it can bypass all known protection software by varying its appearance.

Why is an anti-virus package not a guarantee of protection?

Well, if you think about the annual flu jab – it can help to reduce risk of infection but it can’t guarantee prevention because new strains of flu virus come out each year before new vaccines can be developed to counter them.  So it is with anti-virus packages!  You will still need to do whatever you can to avoid the virus in the first place.

If you have the SLIGHTEST DOUBT – don’t click on a link or attachment in an e-mail.

If you need our assistance or would like to take out a BusinessCare package to maximise your protection call our support line on 03300 886 116 – we can set you up with weekly health checks, anti-virus and secure backups.

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The eBay Hack: Should you be worried?

ebayEbay, the world’s biggest internet auction site, is the latest large organisation to be the victim of a cyber hack.

Blaming what they call an “Achilles heel” for the encrypted user information being taken, the company quickly advised users to change their password in order to prevent personal information falling into the wrong hands.

It’s thought to be the biggest reported hack ever in terms of the number of people affected (approximately 223m worldwide). Although it’s believed that financial data is not at risk, it’s still a major concern that data such as phone numbers and email addresses could be exposed to hackers.

So how does this news affect you, the eBay user?

Here are the answers to some pressing questions that you may have.

So, do I need to change my password?

In short; yes.

It might seem a hassle but it’s possible that your details have fallen into the hands of hackers, so to prevent any illegal activity like identity theft, you should change your password immediately.

Oh, and remember to choose your new password wisely.

What about my bank card details?

eBay has been keen to point out that no financial data has been pilfered, as this is stored separately, so your debit and credit card details should be perfectly safe.

What is the encrypted data at risk?

It’s not clear exactly what information is at risk but it’s more than likely coded passwords as well as personal information such as customer names, email addresses, encrypted passwords, physical addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth.

My PayPal account is linked to eBay – is that at risk too?

Although eBay owns PayPal, the systems are completely separate and weren’t both subject to this hack.

However, many people tend to use the same password on eBay as they use on PayPal, so it goes without saying that if you change your eBay password, you should do the same with your PayPal details – ideally making sure they are both different and not making the job of hackers any easier.

If my cards are safe, what should I be worried about?

The biggest risk is from “phishing” emails that ask you to change your eBay details but actually take you to another site where your details can be stored and used illegally without you knowing.

Usually these “phishing” emails can be spotted easily due to the fact they are very generic and don’t contain any of your personal information. But if hackers have gained access to your details then they will be able to personalise them and make them appear more convincing. To be on the safe side, don’t follow any links in emails that seem to come from eBay – type the site’s address into your browser instead.

And what about my secret security question? Should I change that?

No, eBay have assured customers this is not a risk and doesn’t need to be changed.

So even if I changed my passwords after the “Heartbleed” bug I need to do it again?

Yes. The “Heartbleed” bug was around at about the same time that this hack was thought to have taken place. And, although it’s difficult to tell which came first, to be on the safe side it’s recommended that you should change your password again.

Who are the hackers?

Nobody has come forward to claim responsibility and eBay haven’t pointed the finger at anyone as yet, but the fact that it was their customer database that was targeted suggests this was a commercially oriented attack and not just the work of anonymous “hacktivists”.

Why did it take so long for eBay to tell us?

That’s purely down to the time it takes to realise that a breach has taken place and then to work out the extent of the potential damage to accounts. This hack is thought to have taken place in March, so not a long time really considering the amount of information it has stored.

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5 Warning Signs That Your Child is Addicted to the Internet

childaddictedAccording to new research, over a third of young people believe they are addicted to the internet.

The poll, carried out on behalf of Tablets for Schools, a charity that campaigns for the increased use of tablet type devices in education, unearthed some shocking statistics on how much today’s young people actually rely on devices that allow them to access the web.

One 12-year-old who was interviewed as part of the survey said: “The internet nearly always controls my actions.

“I have been told that I am addicted to the internet, and prefer its company rather than being with other people. I feel lost without the internet.”

Being addicted to the internet at a young age can have dangerous consequences with potential exposure to cyber bullying, violent and pornographic content.

So how can you tell if you’re child – or a young person you know – is addicted? Here are five things to look out for.

1. They are difficult to separate from their tablet, smartphone or laptop

Quality time with the family is vital in any household and that shouldn’t come second to time spent surfing the net and chatting with friends online. Young people who take their tablet, smartphone or laptop to the table when eating evening meals or during other social occasions should be discouraged to do so in order to avoid it becoming an acceptable practice.

2. They spend more time on their devices than with their friends

Children who are addicted to the internet can quickly become socially isolated. Instead of spending time with friends and family, they spend all their time with their device.

Yes, this might spell the end for muddy school uniforms and sibling rivalries, but that is all part of a child’s growing-up process and the way they learn how to interact with others.

A 2012 study of children aged 11 to 16 by the London School of Economics, found the UK was among the worst nations for excessive internet use, with more than 25% spending less time with family and friends because of being on the web.

You can’t actively force your child to go out and socialise with friends face-to-face, but limiting the amount of time they spend with a computer or smartphone might just encourage them to go out and make their own entertainment.

3. Having a set “bedtime” becomes a challenge

Apparently, almost three quarters of 14 to 15 year olds take a web-enabled device with them to bed. Okay, it’s one thing to gently nod off while talking to friends or catching up on the latest news, but it becomes a problem when young people can’t get through the night without checking to see if they have new mail or what people are discussing on social media.

A broken sleep pattern and a restless night can have a knock-on-effect in terms of a child’s behaviour and mental performance during daytime hours.

So next time you hear something go bump in the night – it might just be your child indulging in some late night Twitter activity.

4. Their school work is suffering

The irony here is that the internet can actually help and enhance a child’s education. But the many distraction offered by social network sites and other unrelated web pages can often have a negative effect on a child’s concentration levels – and ultimately their school work.

While two thirds of 11 to 17-year-olds take their tablet, smartphone or laptop to bed with them, only a third confess to using it for homework with the remainder talking to friends or watching films and videos.

Combined with tiredness and apathy due to lack of sleep (see previous point) it’s no surprise that schoolwork often tends to suffer.

5.  You notice worrying behavioural changes

Aside from some of the more aggressive behavioural changes that have been linked with children accessing violent movies and games online, a more worrying aspect of a child using the internet is the very real threat of cyber bullying.

The charity Childline has seen a rapid increase in the number of children contacting them regarding online bullying, which leapt from 2,410 in 2011/12 to 4,507 in 2012/13.

Claire Lilley, the head of online safety at the NSPCC, says: “There is a lot of pressure on young people, including from their peers, to be ‘always on’, and the 24/7 nature of children’s access to the internet means that issues like online bullying can escalate quickly.”

So sudden behavioural changes or mood swings might indicate that something isn’t quite right with your child and delving deeper into their change of mood is required.

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Busted! 10 Genuinely Shocking Tech Myths

shocked2Despite advances in technology, the way many of us use our phones, PCs, laptops and pretty much everything else containing a chip or circuit board remains well and truly stuck in the past.

So how many of these unwritten rules still apply when it comes to devices today – and were they ever actually true in the first place?

Writing on behalf of The PC Support Group, Matthew Crist takes a closer look at some relatively unknown tech fables.

1. More mobile bars means more signal

The bars on your phone actually indicate the signal strength from the cell tower nearest to you, and have no bearing on your ability to make a call. Your mobile reception still depends on how many people are connected to that tower. So you could still make a call perfectly with just one bar, while struggle to be heard when you have all five.

2. LED and LCD are different

The only difference between an “LED TV” and an “LCD TV” is the type of backlighting it uses. LED displays use light-emitting diodes (yes, you’ve guessed it LEDs!) to illuminate the display – whereas non-LED sets (such as LCD TVs) use fluorescent backlights – following??

3. The 30 second rule

Waiting 30 seconds to reboot your computer can seem to take an eternity. Well there is a quick and simple alternative. Don’t wait that long! There is no evidence that a computer needs to be turned off for half a minute before rebooting; with some experts suggesting anything between 5 and 15 seconds at the most.

4. Turning a computer on and off regularly is bad for it

The less time a PC is working, the longer it should last. PCs also produce heat when they are working, so turning them off reduces cooling loads. The thing is, most PCs reach the end of their useful life well before the effects of being switched on and off multiple times have any kind of impact on their service life. So unless you are still making do with your Amiga 500 from 1990, you should be OK.

5. Macs don’t get viruses

Apple once claimed that their computers were immune from bugs and viruses, but were forced to change their marketing approach when the claim was proven to be, well, completely false. While not as widespread as they are on Windows PCs, Macs are definitely not immune from viruses – something that was illustrated in April 2012; when more than 600,000 Macs worldwide were reportedly infected with the Flashback Trojan bug.

6. More megapixels means better pictures

It’s true that more megapixels means more detail, especially in larger photos. This isn’t just down to pixel count though, it also depends on the camera’s sensor. The larger it is, the more light data it can be picked up, and the more detailed your images will be.

7. 16GB means 16GB of storage

Not true. The amount of storage on a phone varies according to the size of its operating system and pre-installed apps and software, also known as Bloatware. For example, the Samsung Galaxy S4 is advertised as having 16GB of memory, but actually only offers around 9GB of free storage space.

8. Closing Apps can increase battery life

This one is difficult, mostly due to the fact that different phones use different operating systems. However, even after a number of tests carried out by independent experts, the results have been inconclusive. It seems closing background apps on iOS and Android platforms in order to improve battery life very much depends on the app itself and there is no general rule.

9. Run your battery down before charging

Remember when we were always told that is was best to run down the battery of a mobile phone before charging it again? Well, this may have been the case for those old enough to remember the old Nokia 6210, but today it’s not as straight forward as that. This particular theory originates from the days of the old nickel cadmium batteries that suffer from a memory effect. However, they are no longer present in modern devices which rely on lithium batteries. Even so, many experts are still divided on whether to keep your battery topped up or run it down completely before charging.

10. Airport scanners ruin your memory card

As if the hassle of removing your shoes, belt, watch, coat and just about everything else as you go through airport security wasn’t enough; the sight of your bag, which happens to contain all your holiday snaps, disappearing down to conveyor belt towards a huge X-ray machine is enough to turn any dream vacation into a nightmare. But don’t worry; there simply is no truth in the myth that scanners will erase your pictures.

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Work Smarter Not Harder

Smart crowWe believe that businesses of all sizes can start to work smarter and more productively in 2014 by embracing the concept of remote working and really harnessing the power of technology.

Many companies have been reticent about using remote working, and it’s not really expensive or difficult to implement. Companies of every size need to evaluate where and how greater connectivity can improve their business

Having access to systems, files and emails whilst away from the office brings a range of business benefits and cost savings – from increased productivity and greater staff motivation to more effective use of time.  So, what can you do?

Enable your staff to work from anywhere…

An amazing 80 per cent of businesses report that employees do not have full access to business systems that would make their work easier and more efficient, including the technology to work away from the office.  The ability to work effectively from almost any location is one of the biggest changes happening in workplaces today and can increase productivity significantly.

Increase opportunities to collaborate from any location…

Ensure your staff have access to ‘read and share’ collaborative document viewing and editing services, such as Google Docs and Microsoft SharePoint to increase productivity on team projects. Working away from the office used to mean either copying files to your laptop or logging in to a terminal server which was housed, expensively, back at the office, but advances in technology mean this is no longer the case. The introduction of Cloud Computing and faster, more reliable internet connections mean that staff can collaborate much more efficiently and you have the reassurance that the data remains secure.  Employees can store and share files with each other using an online file sharing service. Such services act as a virtual folder on the user’s desktop or mobile device, allowing files to be ‘dropped’ in an online storage folder to be accessed again later from anywhere.

Collaborative working can also be enhanced using services such as Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 – a suite of applications that bring together essential services to help businesses, including; Email, document sharing and shared calendars. These tools allow multiple employees to organise schedules and view and work together on a single document at the same time. These services require no additional hardware or software creating time and cost savings for your businesses.

Stop journey time from impacting on efficiency…

Stop spending so much time and money on travel that you don’t always need, whether it’s between home and the office or between multiple UK locations around.   Even when journeys are necessary, they’re often nevertheless unproductive.  Simple measures like investing in remote working technology, from webmail to 4G connectivity for laptops, could save employees 127 hours per year.

Don’t forget to include telecoms…

In addition to being able to access work on files from anywhere, you can also install Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) phone systems that enable you to make and receive business calls over internet connections. This means these phones become part of the office network with all the abilities to transfer calls, and pick up voicemails. Employees can even take the phone anywhere with a network connection, plug it in and pick up calls just as if they were in the office.

Using software applications such as Skype can further enhance communications by offering text chat (often faster and more convenient than sending emails), as well as allowing users to communicate and conduct free audio and video conferencing with up to five work colleagues.

These are great ways for businesses large and small to give an instant boost to their productivity. The technology behind remote working is getting cheaper every year making it an attractive option for employers.

Even small improvements, such as using smartphones, mobile apps, and cloud computing services, will help drive business productivity and restore the UK’s competitiveness within Europe and beyond.

For more independent advice and assistance with your remote working strategy , call us on 0845 221133.

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