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Category: Computer Maintenance, IT Security, IT Support.

Office StressDoes any of this sound familiar?

  • You have one or more slow computers, frustrating you and your staff; affecting your productivity and therefore your profitability?
  • You want to make your computer(s) run faster?
  • You’re looking for a quick, simple, cheap or free tip?

The main issues with slow computers usually lie not with the hardware but with changes that occur to the PC’s software. The two most common causes of slowdown are:

  • Every time you or a member of staff loads a program, file, or webpage, the PC’s software registry is updated with new instructions needed to operate that item. However, when the item is removed, these instructions usually remain on the PC. The result: A significantly slower computer.
  • Spyware and viruses are software programs that are loaded on your computer without your knowledge or permission.

You probably already know that the simple rule of thumb to follow is to never download programs like screensavers, emoticons, films, etc from unknown sources. In addition, you should never open any attachments to an email unless you are 100 percent certain you know and trust the sender.

Unfortunately – this also applies to software sold online that purports to “Clean Up” your PC in seconds. You will see these on offer, making claims such as “literally only takes 5 minutes to work”, “Your computer will instantly be restored and you can schedule automatic system clean-ups to keep it running like new.”

The advertisements may also go as far as to claim: “…also protect you against viruses and attack from malicious files, ensuring it runs smoothly all of the time”.

Let’s take a look what SafeBro.com say, for example, about one such TYPICAL download …

“… a nasty rogue infection that works as a double agent. On one hand, it pretends to be a powerful system optimization and antivirus software that would fix your computer, but on other hand (in reality) it brings viruses to your computer and steals your money. Actually this virus is associated with cyber crooks who create fake programs to trick users. Once this software has been installed, it alerts you of several viruses detected on your machine (even if there is no virus in your computer). After a while, it will force you to buy the full/professional version in order to remove the viruses from your computer. That is the actual target of this nasty program. We recommend you to uninstall the software as soon as possible and do not purchase it on any condition. Please note: Manual removal may cause damages to your system if you do any mistake. Use this method only if you understand what you are about to do”.

 

If your PC is infected by this kind of application virus it may do the following…

  • Enter into your computer without your knowledge
  • Scan your computer without your request and claim it has found viruses
  • Display a lot of warnings and alerts popping up on the screen
  • Provoke you to buy its full version or activation code (which may not even work)
  • Collect Personal user information which may include sensitive financial data such as logins, usernames, accounts
  • It may bring further infections are direct the user to infectious sites
  • Make the computer run slow, uses a big part of system resources

That’s not a great picture is it?

It may cost a little more to ensure you use the right software to protect your systems and use qualified, knowledgeable engineers to resolve problems but ultimately it could save you thousands or even save your business.

At The PC Support Group, every computer we look after is subject to a remote weekly health check that includes:

  • Spyware protection and Anti-Virus check
  • Check for early warning signs of problems
  • Removal of unnecessary temporary files that can choke your system
  • Organisation of your disk drives to prevent your computers from slowing down over time

Call us on 03300 886116 if you want your business critical IT System to be in SAFE hands! We’re here to help!

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Author

Category: Computer Maintenance, Customer Service, IT Support.

New-support-contract-photoIf any of these sound like they might apply to your IT Support Company… then it might be time to consider switching to a new provider and starting afresh with a new business relationship

  • “… we never used to have problems but since we/they got bigger….”
  • “… it take ages to get through by phone and even then it’s often an answering machine or someone that just logs the call…”
  • “…we have no way of knowing if and when they have completed a task…”
  • “…why are we always at the end of the queue?”
  • “…I have to assume our data back-ups are working, no-one ever tells us…”
  • “… they never seem to be able to just fix stuff. There’s always an excuse …”

I’m sure you can add more scenarios to that list! I think that covers the WHY.

So now the HOW…

If there is a problem – first try to resolve it amicably – especially if you are locked in to a contract. If those discussions fail, then you will probably want to seriously consider making the switch.

Check the conditions of the contract with your existing IT support company. You may find you are tied in for a set period and you may also have to give notice a number of weeks or even months before the end of that period. Make sure that if you switch you don’t get tied in again.

Before choosing a new IT support supplier, think about what did/didn’t work for you with your current one. Take a look at the list above and add your own thoughts about how your support company struggled to cope with your needs

You may be the person responsible for choosing a new IT Support Service… but it’s well worth canvassing the opinions of all the IT users in your workforce. What frustrations have they been encountering with the current support service? What do they think would make for a great relationship with a new supplier? Is there any immediate work or any improvements to the system that are needed? You can then use all this feedback in selecting a new IT support company.

Take all your thoughts and the comments from your workforce and craft them into questions to ask when interviewing alternative IT support providers.

So…. You’ve found a new IT Support Company. They’re approachable and seem proactive and professional. Their testimonials speak volumes about their customer service, and you really like the thought of switching to them because they ticked all the boxes when you interviewed them.

A smooth handover can help create the foundations of a long, happy partnership.

Take backups of all your data if possible …

If your IT support company maintains your website and network for example, some of your website files, shared documents, etc might actually be stored on computer equipment owned by them. At the very least, they are likely to have high-level access to your systems.  If your IT Support is provided by an unethical company with whom your relationship is quite poor, they may change vital settings – giving them the ability to lock you out of your own business IT! In effect, holding your data to ransom. So ask for all the access passwords and information about where things are stored before you give them the cancellation notice.

Help the new IT Company to hit the ground running…

If you don’t already keep documentation on your IT network… now is a great time to pull it all together – it can really pay off in terms of helping to minimise any level of disruption. This should include as much of the following as possible: network diagrams, usernames, passwords and log in addresses, plus software and hardware inventories. Also ensure you know where all your original software disks are. Do you have a support log? If you can let your new IT Support company have sight of this, they’ll be able to identify the main recurring issues you’ve been facing. They might even be able to suggest some better, and permanent solutions.

Will your outgoing IT support provider work with the incoming one to help smooth the handover? If they will (and ethical ones should) then this is an excellent way for the new team to understand how your systems work. Be aware that this may be hard to arrange and that you may have to pay the outgoing company for this extra help.

Be prepared – it’s almost inevitable that there will be some level of disruption – but remember that it will be very much worth it when you end up with an IT support company you can truly rely on.

And finally….

Once you have switched suppliers, change passwords so your old support company cannot access your systems.

 

Cabling Issues

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Author

Category: Computer Maintenance, Computer Networks, IT Support.

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.

Read more »

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Author

Category: Computer Maintenance, IT Support.

Just like checking the oil and water levels in your car we should be checking on the health of our computers. Here, David Tyrrell of The PC Support Group (Leeds) provides an overview of what he would recommend:

AntiVirus and Malware

Antivirus software should always be up to date and a full computer scan should be run at least weekly. If this is left unchecked then even a seemingly operational AV system will be ineffective and any new virus could cause havoc on your system. It could corrupt important documents or even attach itself to an email and spread itself amongst your friends and business partners. Most Antivirus software will allow you to schedule a scan at a time of your choosing. Set if for late one evening and simply leave your computer on overnight.

Windows Updates

Microsoft regularly writes fixes for issues that are found by everyday people. They obviously can’t get to everyone’s PC themselves, so they put these updates on their website. To make things easier they also give you a program to apply these updates called, unsurprisingly, Windows Updates. Again this can be set to run automatically at a time of you choosing. Personally I like to set mine to download the updates in the background so that I can schedule there install after my Anti Virus scan has run.

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