Computer Virus

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Category: IT News, IT Security, IT Support.

The PC Support Group has issued a warning to all computer users about a type of computer virus attack which appears to be affecting an increased number of systems in recent weeks.

This relatively new type of malware is capable of bypassing anti-virus/anti-malware protection by changing its appearance, and until anti-malware software is made aware of the new ‘strain’ it isn’t able to block it.  This process can take hours from when the virus is released and as a consequence there is a window of time where systems are particularly exposed and vulnerable to attack.

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Category: Business, IT Support.

Here at The PC Support Group, we manage IT for hundreds of businesses and one thing that we regularly come across are business owners and managers who are frustrated that they don’t understand IT and so feel incapable of choosing a good IT support provider.

We often hear that they have been “blinded with science” and don’t know what to believe. Most have also had bad experiences with previous IT support providers too.

Of course there are no guarantees of a great service but there are some basic, non-technical, questions that any business should ask an IT support supplier before engaging them in order to improve the chances that they will perform.

This infographic shows 20 great questions every business should ask an IT support company when selecting a new support provider. You can see the full size image by clicking here.

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PC Support

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Category: Business, IT Support.

Asking the right questions can make selecting the right IT support provider for you and/or your business a much easier process. As an IT support business striving to provide a great service to our customers we love being asked tricky questions as we’re confident we can answer them. Here is a list of the questions we think will help you sort the wheat from the chaff.

1. Can you provide me with some reference companies to speak to?

Everybody knows that there’s no greater measure of a company’s ability to deliver than through referral so always ask for a number of references. You don’t have to call them all but if they can provide a few to select from it will instantly give you confidence.

And for those you do speak to, here are a few potential questions you could ask:

  1. Do they deliver what they promised?
  2. Are they responsive and easy to get hold of?
  3. Do they communicate well – letting you know what’s happening with issues?
  4. Do they stay within the projected budget?
  5. Would you use them again?

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Category: IT Support, Microsoft Office.

We’ve previously updated you on the fact that Microsoft is withdrawing support for the Windows XP operating system in April 2014 but you may not be aware that the same fate awaits Microsoft Office 2003.

In 2002 Microsoft produced the Support Lifecycle policy to ensure that users of their products where given clear visibility of the support they could expect. They committed to providing a minimum of 10 years support from product release (5 years Mainstream Support and 5 years Extended Support) and they also committed to informing customers when such support would be withdrawn.

In line with this policy, Microsoft announced that Windows XP (Service pack 3) and Office 2003 will go out of support on 8th April 2014.

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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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Category: Data Backup, IT Support.

Backup solutions can vary enormously and it is important to be aware of the consequences of choosing one solution over another. While many services provide excellent protection, some cover just data while others cover entire systems. Some enable faster recovery of your systems in the event of a major problem, while others ensure that your systems are safe from physical risks such as fires, floods or theft.

Data protection policies and legalities also need to be considered as some cloud backup solutions may not be suitable for UK businesses due to where the data is ultimately stored.

Data only or full system backup?

Data only backup

Backing up your data is a great start as it means that if there is a failure within your IT system then your vital, irreplaceable business data such as documents, financial information and emails can be safely recovered.

The disadvantage of only backing up your data is that everything else on your system has to be recreated from scratch – which in the case of a server can take several days.

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IT Outsourcing

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Category: IT Support.

IT Outsourcing is an extremely effective way for businesses to either fill a skills gap that they don’t have within their organistion, or when a support function can be delivered more effectively and more cheaply by a third party.

Outsourcing as a concept has been around for years and could be traced back to the early days of manufacturing where external companies and individuals were employed to produce specialist components. These days, the same principle is used but for a whole host of services such as marketing, HR and especially IT support.

If you or your company is having IT issues, this is where IT outsourcing can come to your aid. So, what are the real advantages of outsourcing?

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

The PC Support Group Managing Director, Phil Bird, shares his 5 technology trend predictions for UK small businesses in 2013.

1. 4G will move up the business agenda

At the end of October 2012 the next generation of mobile telecoms was launched in eleven cities with EE’s 4G network. After the Ofcom 4G auctions at the start of 2013 other operators will start to roll out their networks and the new technology should cover 98% of the country by the end of 2014. 4G will offer true mobile broadband with speeds equal to or greater than fixed line. People will be able to work more ‘on the move’, able to access the internet and their business systems from anywhere. For small businesses this flexibility could be the key to increasing productivity and efficiency.

2. System monitoring and “self-healing” systems

In a tough market businesses need to think smarter and be more efficient. Key to this is moving to proactive IT support, where the latest technology allows you to work on systems before they go wrong, to send alerts flagging potential issues and to even create self-correcting routines. This is clever ‘new generation’ IT support helps deliver greater “up time” and drive increased productivity.

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laptops vs. tablets

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

There has been a huge rise in the popularity of tablet computers over the last couple of years. This has been mainly due to their easy to use interface, portability, and the wide ranging ways they can be used. Recently Google has released their first tablet and Microsoft has announced that they will be bringing out their own tablet in October 2012, hoping to capitalise on the booming market. Some people are now looking at using these devices as an alternative to a laptop; below we consider the pros and cons of both.

Inputting Data

The obvious difference between a laptop and a tablet is that laptops have a physical keyboard. Tablets rely solely on a touch interface on the screen for input. This is fine when it involves mainly pointing, dragging or tapping to navigate around a program but when it comes to typing longer documents most people find it easier and more comfortable to use real keys.  It’s possible to add an external Bluetooth keyboard to many tablets to make this more like a laptop but it adds to the cost as well as having more to carry around.  This starts to detract from what’s great about tablets.

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windows7

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Category: Business, IT Support, Software.

Windows 7 burst onto the scene in August, 2009 and since then uptake has been gradual. According to analyst firm Forrester Windows XP still accounts for over 59.9% of market share for business use.

Windows XP was released in 2001 and is reaching the end of its life-cycle. In fact Microsoft has announced that it will discontinue XP support in 2014. Windows 7 has established itself as a stable operating system and can run the latest software, including Internet Explorer 9 (XP cannot run IE9).

If you are still running Windows XP (or the dreaded Windows Vista OS) here are a few reasons you should consider making the upgrade to Windows 7 Professional.

1.  Performance –Windows 7 was pitted against XP in 25 speed benchmark tests. Some of these tests included moving files, running various software, booting up, and shutting down. Windows 7 came out ahead in 24 of those tests.

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