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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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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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Backup Button

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Category: IT Security, IT Support.

If there’s one important task computer users regularly ignore, it’s backing up their data. The data on your hard drive is the most critical and valuable item inside your computer (far more important than the hardware itself), and can’t be easily replaced if lost.

The files on your computer are very fragile. They can be destroyed or damaged by a software malfunction, viruses, Trojan worms, physical damage (such as dropping a laptop)
One of the biggest reasons people neglect backing up is that they don’t know where to start, what tools to use, or how to go about it. They also think it’s going to take a lot of time, cost and effort. and user error.

There are a lot of different options out there, all with their own merits. Here are just a few of the options that are open to you.

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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: IT Security, IT Support.

A New Year detox is top of the “To Do” list for many of us in the first week of January – but there’s no need to limit the big clean-up to your body.

I spend much of my life giving advice about backing up, repairing and renewing IT systems. I can get especially evangelical about it at this time of year, when quieter work flows for many organisations make it easier to contemplate bad habits and think about the essential steps to a healthier IT set-up. So the first of my New Year resolutions is to protect your data properly.

It’s ironic that a typical company will have locking doors, alarms and insurance policies to secure their physical property, but very little in place to guard against the loss of the information that allows the company to operate.

Put another way, if your office building burnt down, it would cause serious disruption, but the permanent loss of data could be catastrophic. A business simply can’t operate without the matrix of information that underpins operations such as invoicing, sales, stock, HR, and contracts with customers and suppliers.

And don’t just consider the back-up – think about how quickly and easily you can get your systems operational again. Just because you have the data backed up doesn’t mean you’ll be operational again in hours – it could be days. Ask your IT provider for an estimate on the recovery time and decide if further processes or systems are needed to protect your business.

The second resolution is to minimise downtime risk. You can achieve this by maintaining and monitoring your IT systems properly. Yes, it does require resource, but the investment pays off in terms of efficiency.

And, finally, for those with old creaking servers, don’t think that simply replacing them with a new one is the solution. Take a look at the various cloud-based solutions. It could mean you can upgrade sooner than you think and have a more flexible system.

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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: IT Purchasing, IT Support.

As an IT support provider we often come across internet connection problems with home based businesses and small businesses and these are down to many factors but one recurring issue is the use of “home” routers. I.E Those basic routers often given away by Internet Service Providers.

In most instances these are perfectly adequate for home use as they offer a reasonable performance at a reasonable price… usually free! But they are generally not made with the best hardware and therefore don’t always offer the best performance. It’s a bit like comparing a Mercedes S Class with a Ford Focus – they are both cars, both have engines, both have 4 wheels, both get you from A to B but the Mercedes can just do it all better and faster.

If a reliable and resilient internet connection is important to you as a business then here are our recommendations.

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