File Recovery

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Category: Business, IT Security, IT Support.

Keeping computers up and running is a fundamental requirement for any business.

Companies are starting to recognise the importance of having good data backup processes but this is only part of the picture. If there is a major incident, how quickly can the backed up data be restored to provide operational systems again? Many small businesses don’t know, and most lack an effective IT Recovery Strategy.

Whether you are a sole trader or running a business with thousands of customers, system failure can result in loss of crucial data, time, money and clients.

There are 4 main points to consider:

  1. Location – where can you continue to operate if you are unable to gain access to your regular office or if it is destroyed?
  2. Data – have you backed up your data to a safe place?
  3. Equipment – how quickly can you obtain new hardware on which to run your systems?
  4. Configuration – how quickly can the systems be set up again and who will do this?

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Working Remotely

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Category: Business, Cloud Computing, IT Support, Mobile Computing.

In business you need to be there for your customers, come rain, hail or shine. Hours lost away from the office can mean missed deadlines, which can lead to lost clients. Your business needs to keep functioning and that’s exactly what remote working can deliver.

The ability to work effectively from almost any location is one of the biggest changes happening in workplaces today. Innovations in technology have been the greatest driver of this. 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.

Many companies have stayed away from remote working in the past, this is particularly true of smaller businesses that think it is expensive and difficult to implement. Ironically smaller businesses stand to gain the most from flexible working.

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Spam Emails

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Category: Business, IT Security, IT Support.

Junk emails, or Spam are emails sent to you without consent by people or businesses with which you have no relationship. Receiving Junk email can cause significant problems for your business as it can clog up your email system and often carries viruses or spyware.

The problems of junk email

You may wonder why it is so important that Junk email is managed. Here are just a few reasons:

  • If you are constantly receiving Spam email it will use up your internet bandwidth (effectively costing you money) and important messages can be delayed or blocked.
  • Spam is often sent with the intention of spreading viruses or spyware. Opening Spam emails could infect your PCs.
  • Many junk emails messages are inappropriate and contain material that could offend people in your company.
  • Even relatively harmless spam can distract staff and waste their time as they check the content and follow links to irrelevant web sites.

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Category: Business, Home Computing, IT Security.

It may be wrong and it’s certainly illegal but according to a recent survey we have conducted, one in two Wi-Fi users in the UK still access someone else’s wireless Internet network without permission.

Wi-Fi ‘piggybacking’ has been around since the dawn of wireless computing, with people obtaining free Web access by using networks which have been left unsecure because the owner has not set a password. Over half (58 per cent) of the 300 respondents we surveyed around the UK admitted to the practice. What’s more, almost one in three people believe there’s nothing wrong with it – despite the fact that dishonestly using an electronics communications service with the intent to avoid paying is an
offence under the Communications Act 2003.

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Category: Business, Cloud Computing, IT Support.

I was recently discussing some of my concerns about Cloud computing being viewed as a blanket answer to all IT issues with a legal friend (Geoffrey Sturgess from Warner Goodman Commercial) and he had some very useful and interesting views on the matter. I’m delighted to say he put his thoughts in writing. Here’s what he had to say:

“Whatever ‘cloud computing’ is, it is definitely here, or at least the numbers of references to it in the legal press or even in ordinary conversation would suggest it is.

In fact it has been here for a number of years.

Wikepedia says:
Cloud computing refers to the use and access of multiple server-based computational resources via a digital network,(WAN, Internet connection using the World Wide Web, etc.). Cloud users may access the server resources using a computer, netbook, pad computer, smart phone, or other device. In cloud computing, applications are provided and managed by the cloud server and data is also stored remotely in the cloud configuration. Users do not download and install applications on their own device or computer; all processing and storage is maintained by the cloud server.

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Category: Business, Mobile Computing.

Tablets are all over the news at the moment, whether it be an iPad, Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Eee Pad or anything in between – you have to admit, they are popular. Basically most of them are just mobile phones on steroids – they provide a larger, higher resolution screen which makes things like composing emails and surfing the web much easier. Plus they are portable… very portable. But there is another contender for the portability crown that the Tablet currently holds…the netbook!

For those of you that don’t know, a netbook is basically a small laptop. They usually have a 10.1″ screen instead of the standard 15.4″ screen on a laptop. They run a normal computer operating system like Windows 7 (which means they can do everything your laptop or PC can do) but are they better than a Tablet, let’s discuss…

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Category: Business, Data Backup.

I think it’s fair to say that most businesses lock their doors at night to make sure that thieves can’t just walk in and take what they want. Many also have alarm systems and some of these link to CC TVs and even security companies that can be at the premises in minutes.

Most companies also have a number of insurance policies in place to pay out if equipment is stolen or if their premises are damaged, say through fire or flood.

In general, this is all seen as sensible and in the case of some insurance policies it’s viewed as so important that it’s a legal requirement.

To me this seems fairly ironic as all this protection and risk management is not protecting the most valuable asset… the company’s data!

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Category: Business, IT Purchasing.

A key part to our IT support at The PC Support Group is total focus on providing high levels of customer service and part of doing this is a policy of recommending Tier 1 suppliers when purchasing hardware. What difference does this make to our customers? Well this is best demonstrated by providing some feedback on my recent experiences.

Typically when purchasing hardware we look at machines from the likes of HP, Compaq, Toshiba, Sony or similar, which in most cases are slightly more expensive than brands like Acer, Mesh, Packard Bell, etc.

As part of a Microsoft Small Business Server 2008 installation there was a requirement for one server whilst another job required a number of high end “gaming” PCs. The Server was purchased from HP and at the request of the customer to save some money, the “gaming” PCs were purchased from one of the 2nd Tier manufacturers.

The HP Server unfortunately failed to power up and after phoning the supplier we were advised to phone HP directly. An HP technician then asked a number of pertinent questions to determine the cause of the failure and diagnosed a faulty power supply. The result – A new power supply was shipped out that day, it arrived the following day along with a return label for the broken unit.

RESULT – A fully functional computer in less than 2 days.

Comparing that with our experience of the Tier 2 supplier. Phone an 0871 premium number, wait up to 10 minutes, speak to someone who is obviously working from a standard script and after 2 days of tests we determine it is the memory. Wait four days to have a return label posted out after which we have to phone another 0871 premium number to arrange a courier to pick up the entire PC. After getting a slot two days later, the PC is picked up and after a further ten days the replacement is returned. That is almost THREE weeks after receiving the faulty unit.

Now maybe we have been unlucky but this is not unusual so we will continue with our policy, knowing that our customers will ultimately save time and money in the long term.

Web Browser Selection

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Category: Business, Home Computing, IT News, Software.

What is Browser Choice?

Due to a recent agreement put in place with the European authorities and Microsoft all users of Microsoft Windows are being offered a free choice of which browser they wish to have installed as the default. Whilst you have this Browser choice today, it does make it a simple operation for even the novice user to change.

What does it apply to?

This applies to all versions of Windows from Windows XP SP2 onwards (which is probably 98% of the currently installed windows base).

So how does all this happen?

The Browser Choice Update, as it is affectionately being called, will automatically be installed on your computer with “Windows Update” and should automatically prompt you with the Launch Screen at the next restart. As is usual with wide-scale updates, the actual update is staggered over a number of weeks so don’t panic if it doesn’t appear immediately. After downloading the update and restarting your computer, you’ll automatically be shown the Browser Choice screen (see below), and you can then select and install the browser(s) you want to use.

The Browser Choice update doesn’t add or remove any programs from your computer. If you’re using Windows 7 and Internet Explorer is your default browser, the update will unpin the Internet Explorer icon from your taskbar although Internet Explorer will still be available from your Start menu, and you can choose to pin it back on your taskbar.

The actual installation is really a matter of following instructions.

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Category: Business, Home Computing, IT Support, Mobile Computing.

Printing by Wires
Typically most Home Users / Small Businesses are reliant on having a single printer that connects to the computer via a USB cable (or parallel cable for those with older models). Now this is fine for your workstation that generally doesn’t move from the desk.

The Wireless World
With the advent of wireless routers (given by the suppliers as standard nowadays) and laptops, many users have suddenly become mobile – why shouldn’t you use the computer in the lounge, kitchen or bedroom?

The Challenge
This is all very well for internet access as you can wander about the house and still gain full uninterrupted access to your email, customers sites and movies. Where the problem arise is when printing as most people don’t own a wireless printer.

Solution
Whilst it is always possible to purchase a wireless printer, for most people this is not a viable option (why get rid of perfectly good device). Now there is a little box that allows you to create a virtual wireless printer (well two printers if you need them) meaning that you can print from anywhere in the office / home. For those that want to install this yourself then have a look at the Belkin 802.11g Wireless USB Print Server at around £50 – £60. For those that would like some assistance why not give us a call on 0845 2233116.