Windows 10 – Need to know

Windows 10 – Need to know

News Windows

It looks like Microsoft has a winner on its hands with Windows 10. Over 75 million computers have already been upgraded. Not only will it be replacing the operating system on your personal computer but businesses are likely to pull the trigger and upgrade from the good ol’ Windows 7. Let’s take a look at its most important features:

It’s a FREE Upgrade (with a small catch)

Microsoft wants everyone to install Windows 10. To help this along it will be a free upgrade for a year (until of July 2016) for all Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 computers. The upgrade will come via a Windows update. You will see a small white Windows icon in the lower right taskbar (near the clock). Just click on it to register (takes under a minute) for the upgrade (downloaded in the background). You will need 3GB of free space on your system.

Win10upgrade

The Start Menu and Desktop are back. 

Windows 10 automatically switches from desktop mode to tablet mode depending on if a keyboard is attached to your device. An updated start menu will now be shown instead of the Metro tiles in Windows 8. This is really an improvement that all desktop users were asking for.

Virtual Desktops.

Current desktop cluttered with icons? No worries, you can now have multiple desktops (e.g.one for business apps and one home).

multiple-desktops

Goodbye to Internet Explorer.

Microsoft new web browser is called ‘Microsoft Edge’. It has many modern features found in other browsers such as Chrome or Firefox. Internet Explorer will still be around if you need it though (but you might need to dig around to find it).

New Personal Assistant.

Microsoft’s Cortana integrates right into Windows 10. It (She?) lives on the taskbar and will help with all your search needs. Think Google Now or Siri but integrated and personalized. Go to a restaurant’s web page and Cortana will show the menu. You can even say “Tell me a joke”.

This is the last “version” of Windows.

Going forward Windows will receive rolling updates as fixes and new features are added. No more service packs. This is basically the same model as Apple.

The above items are some of the biggest updates in Windows 10. There are others welcome features such as being able to log in via your face (Biometrics), full integration with OneDrive (cloud storage), Universal Apps, Xbox streaming, and a few others.

If you or your business has any questions about Windows 10 or need some assistance with planning and implementing a smooth rollout, please give us a ring.

-Tim

IT Storm Checklist

IT Storm Checklist

Uncategorized

As you might have heard on the news a large storm is headed our way here in New England. There are a few things you should check / do before the storm hits to make sure your technology works and you data does not get lost.

  • Before you leave for the day TURN OFF all devices (e.g., PCs, printers, scanners, copiers, etc.) Also, unplug them from the wall. If the power goes out the resulting surge when it is turned back on can overload that power strip you bought at staples.
  • If you have a server(s) make sure you have a UPS between it and the wall. A good UPS can handle the surge and shutdown your server gracefully when battery power gets low.
  • Following up on the previous item, if you do have a battery backup please check it to make sure the battery is working. Some have digital displays you can check, others lights (red = bad),  and others you need to press a button.
  • Make sure you have your data backed up. If it is backed up run a test restore to make sure it really is backed up and recoverable. If you do not have a cloud back up (e.g., tape, USB drive, etc). make sure the media is in a safe location not near the devices it has backed up in case of flooding, fire, structural damage. Get more info on cloud backups HERE.
  • Your business may be closed for a few days so make sure you have remote access to your data (terminal server, Office 365, OneDrive, Google Docs, etc.) A storm like this is why cloud services like Microsoft Office 365 were designed for. Those monthly fees suddenly are worth it when your business can stay open (and make money) instead of being down for days.
  • If your phone system can handle it reroute calls to your main number / emergency number to a cell phone so your customers can reach you.
  • If you use Twitter, email your clients your Twitter ID so they may receive updates on your business if your company is having issues getting back in service. (We are @Wireguided).

If you do need assistance getting your business back up you can reach us at our emergency # at 781-679-0660 x1.

Good luck and stay safe!

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2015 Check list

2015 Check list

Uncategorized

Now that the holidays are behind us it is time to get back to work and prepare for 2015. Below are a few items to check to help get your business started on the right foot.

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  • While reviewing your expenses for 2014 take a look at your phone and Internet bills. Many times you can lower each by getting competitors’ pricing and presenting that to your existing vendor. If you have business owned mobile phones it may be the year to dump them and move towards using employee’s own phones with business management software.
  • Find out if you (or any key employees) have been hacked. Visit haveibeenpwned.com and enter in your email address to find out. Which leads to…
  • Change all your passwords for local administrator accounts, cloud services, and other key systems. At least 8 characters. Take the first letter of a memorable phrase and add some other items you will remember to it such as your childhood house #.
  • Clean up old user and email accounts as well as old directories on the file server. Not only is it good for security and productivity it can also lower your expenses if you are paying for account or space based services such as online backup or Microsoft Office 365.
  • Do you have a local email server or are you still using a POP account from GoDaddy? This is the year to move to the cloud to save yourself costs and get improve productivity. $4/user/month is a good budget number to plan with for a direct email cloud migration.
  • Still using inkjet printers? Swap them out for laser printers for lower long term costs.
  • Check your UPS (battery backup systems). Some have buttons to test them other have lights (red = bad) or digital displays.
  • Count how many PCs are older than 4 years old. Ballpark $600/machine for replacement. They may work but they are probably so slow it is hurting employee productivity.
  • Test restoring a file from your backup solution. Not using cloud based backups yet? You should be (we can help).
  • …and of course contact Wireguided if you are not happy with your current IT service provider.

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Cloud Backup Prices have Dropped 60%

Cloud Backup Prices have Dropped 60%

Budget Savings Cloud disaster planning News

The good thing about technology is that the price of things usually drops over time. With the competition in the cloud space at an all time high our backup provider just dramatically lowered our pricing. So we did what any good IT partner would do and lowered our prices to match.

Lower Pricing and More Services

Not only did prices drop an amazing 60% but we can now offer additional services. All our plans now include at no additional charge the following:

  • Live database backups (Microsoft SQL & Microsoft Exchange)
  • Virtual Machine Backups (VMware & Hyper-V)
  • Option to backup your data locally
  • Self-Managing Portal

New Unlimited Plan

We are very excited that we can now offer an unlimited backup option. For one low rate you can back up as much data as you want. No limits mean no more worries about missing items or overage charges.

[button url=”http://wireguided.com/managed-cloud-backup/” size=”Large”]Click Here to View our New Plans & Pricing[/button]

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Two Big Microsoft Announcements

Two Big Microsoft Announcements

mobile

Office for the iPad (finally)

Microsoft just announced their Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) will now be available as a full fledged application for the iPad (an Android version has been confirmed to be in the works). This has been a long time coming and from all reviews it looks like a great product. So why is it important?

  • PowerPoint – Some of the Office compatible apps only allow you view or edit documents. With the official Office app you can also create documents, spreadsheets, AND PowerPoint presentations. Very handy if you are on a business trip with your tablet and need to get something done.
  • Cloud Integration – As with all Office applications you have integrated support with Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud file storage (7GB Personal / 25GB Business).
  • Compatibility – Documents, spreadsheets, or presentations created on the iPad will look the same when editing / viewing them on a PC or Mac.
  • Save as PDF –  Business users will find it very helpful to be able to save documents as PDF files on the go. (UPDATE: Need to be confirmed)

There is one small catch to all of this. In order to do any of the editing/creating you will need to have a subscription to Microsoft Office 365 ($9.99 / Personal ; $12.50 – $20.00 / Business). It is not too bad a deal if you have multiple PCs as it allows you to install Office on up to 5 devices plus Cloud storage.

Office for Android & iPhone is now FREE

As of today you can download Office Mobile for Android and iPhone for free (technically just for home use). This allows the viewing, editing, and creation of Word/Excel files. If you are in business this is a must have app.

Conclusion

It looks like Microsoft finally got the message that the world does not live in Windows anymore. By providing solutions for multiple platforms Microsoft not only spreads its influence but also adds more subscribers to Office 365. Business users now have more choices when choosing hardware for their environments. Overall it seems like a win-win situation.

-Tim

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Top 10 To Do List for 2014

Top 10 To Do List for 2014

Uncategorized

Everyone loves a Top Ten list so we though we would join the bandwagon. Below you will find a list of things to do as we start the new year. These items will secure you from hackers, speed up your systems, and make your IT life just a little better.

1. Get Rid of Windows XP..Right Now..Seriously..We’re Not Joking.

If you have seen our past articles you know that after April Microsoft will no longer release any security fixes for XP (end of support). The bad guys are stockpiling exploits to unleash once support ends. Bottom line,If you have a button that says START in the lower left of your screen you will probably be hacked.

2. Switch from the Big Blue ‘E’.

Do you use Internet Explorer to browse the web? If so, stop doing it. Switch to alternative browsers such as Google Chrome or Firefox. You will be more secure, have faster response times, and be able to use extended features. If you use Chrome for example you can sync your browsing data, bookmarks, etc. with any other device that uses Chrome (smart phones, tablets, etc.).

3. Drink some coffee but ditch Java.

HTML5 is now the standard and most websites don’t use Java anymore. It is full of security holes and has many other issues. Removing Java may cut your risk of malware infection by more than 50%. Click here for removal instructions. Make sure you remove all versions.

4. Upgrade to the latest Adobe Reader.

Adobe reader allows the viewing of PDF files but it is also one of the top 3 programs exploited by malware. Keeping it up to date is key. Luckily the latest versions do this automatically for you.Click here to install the latest version. NOTE: Uncheck the installation of McAffee before clicking install now.

5. Test your backup solution before the disaster.

Your files are backed up and secure right? Are you sure? When is the last time you did a test restore? We didn’t think so. Take 5 minutes out of your day to restore some business critical files from your backup solution (tape, disk, cloud) just to make sure your data is really being backed up. Wireguided does offer a business grade cloud backup solution if you are still backing up to tape or a USB drive stuck under your bed.

6. Test your UPS (battery backup). Don’t have one, buy one.

The batteries on a UPS die just like any other battery. Most have a simple button you can press to test it. Press the button and if it beeps you should be good. Other models may have a red light when it is time to replace. Winter storms mean power outages. Power outages mean crashed computers.

7. Switch to laser printing and save money.

Did that $70 inkjet printer just cost you over $300 in toner? Laser printers can now be purchased for under $200. The toner lasts much longer, the printers are built better, and the paper will not smear. There is really no use for an inkjet anymore unless you have extra money to burn.

8. Change your passwords the right way.

How many passwords do you have? 3,4,5,10? The more passwords you have the more insecure they are. A simple way to manage your passwords is to have three levels. One for web sites that are looking for an account but have no personal information (e.g., news websites, games, etc.). One for social media sites and sites you order items from (e.g., Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). And the most secure for banking and other sites with personal information. To make a secure password that is easy to remember make sure it is at least 8 characters long. Think of a phrase and pick the first letter of each word. Add a number at the end or in between the letters and there you go. Add a special character and you have a secure password you can remember. Or you can just go here.

9. Clean up the junk in two clicks.

If you have a PC go and download the free version of CCleaner and run it. If your machine is over a year old you should see improved performance. You may also want to go to your installed programs, sort by installation date, and remove items that are no longer needed or installed without your knowledge.

10. Shutdown your computer when not using it. A reboot couldn’t hurt either.

Many people never shutdown or reboot their computers. We have seen users keep machines on for months. This is bad for many reasons such as wear and tear on the machine (fans do not like spinning non-stop) and power cost (a high end machine on non-stop can cost as much as $600/year). The top reason from an end user point of view would be that shutting down and rebooting a machine cleans it up and helps keep things stable. Think of how you are when you get no sleep. Now look at your machine  you have kept on for months and wonder no more why it is acting strange.

Conclusion

We could have added many more but these should be a good start. Follow these steps,make sure your antivirus is up-to-date, don’t click on zip attachments from ‘UPS’ or the ‘IRS’ and your 2014 should be a happy one. Please feel free to share this article.

-Tim

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2013 – Year of Improvements

2013 – Year of Improvements

News

In 2013 we made a number of changes to improve things. Below are some stats and our most noticeable upgrades.

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  • Migrated 73% of our partner’s email to the cloud via Microsoft Office365
  • Migrated 92% of our partners to cloud based Antivirus. Malware issues dropped 99% for upgraded partners.
  • Simplified our Referral Rewards program.
  • Upgraded our Helpdesk system to improve responsiveness and tracking.
  • Upgraded our network management tools to improve proactive maintenance.
  • Implemented new mobile device management tools.
  • Modernized our remote management software.
  • Rolled out new software installation tools to lessen downtime during upgrades.
  • Renegotiated Cloud provider agreements to remove yearly contract requirements.
  • Switched from quarterly to monthly billing based on your feedback. (Thank you!)
  • Enabled the ability to pay via Credit Card.

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Why to migrate from Windows XP in One Chart

Why to migrate from Windows XP in One Chart

Security Windows

As we have mentioned before Microsoft’s end of life for Windows XP is approaching quickly (April 2014). After that time no more support or security updates will be available for the 12 year old operating system. Hackers are not wasting anytime though.

Here is the Reason to Migrate *Now*

The below chart shows the infection rate of different Windows operating systems. It shows that the infection rate of Windows XP is double that of Windows 7 and six times the rate of Windows 8. If your PCs are running Windows XP you’re asking for trouble. In business, trouble equals loss of income and/or productivity. After April 2014 it may also mean loss of industry security compliance standings (e.g., MA 201 CMR 17) which means possible legal issues if something does happen.

Source: Microsoft Intelligence Report, vol 15
Source: Microsoft Intelligence Report, vol 15

What should my business be doing?

If you have not already started the migration process you (or your IT department) need to start taking the following steps:

  1. Contact vendors to make sure any business critical applications that are on XP systems now are compatible with Windows 7. Upgrading may be necessary. Don’t forget to test software compatibility before rolling out new systems to everyone.
  2. Determine how many new systems you will need to purchase (you cannot upgrade from XP to anything. Systems running XP are generally at their end of life anyway). You should budget around $550 per new PC (no monitor) to estimate upgrade costs.
  3. Make sure you have access to installation media, download locations, and licenses so you can install your software on any new system.

Other things to consider

If you will be replacing a significant portion of your hardware you may want to consider looking at other aspects of your infrastructure

  1.  The Cloud – Is now a good time to move to the cloud (e.g., backups, email, antivirus, etc.). It may make fiscal sense to do this instead of having to purchase new software licenses. Microsoft Office365 has been excellent for hosted email. Symantec Endpoint Protection SBE 2013 is equally good with anti-malware.
  2. Virtualize – Instead of new PCs maybe virtual workstations should be considered if you have 20+ computers and/or a large remote employee base.
  3. Outsource IT – We might just be a *little* biased on this one but if your IT support consists just of a desktop support person they may not have the skills or manpower to implement new technologies or large upgrades. Outside expertise may cost less then possible downtime.

Like anything else planning is key. If you would like help or just need some free advice please give us a call or shoot us an email.

 

Ditch Internet Explorer Now

Ditch Internet Explorer Now

Internet Security

Do you click on a blue ‘e’ to surf the web? If so, now is the time to move on to another browser for many reasons. The most critical is the security of your PC (and your business).

Background

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer comes with Windows so most individuals and businesses use it as their way to access the Internet. The problem is that it’s riddled with security holes, prone to poor performance, and the latest versions are incompatible with some websites. With the advent of new web technologies such as HTML 5 and much better alternatives there is no reason anyone should be using Internet Explorer any more.

Did I mention it’s a huge security risk?no_ie

A month ago a new exploit was released into the wild that takes advantage of yet another security bug in Internet Explorer. Microsoft will not have an automatic fix for this until Oct 8th. This new bug is being used right now to install malware on computers around the world. While no browser is 100% secure, most of the other ones would act more quickly to fix such a serious issue. Also, most bad guys will write exploits for Internet Explorer as it is the most popular browser in most places.

What are my options?

The good news is that there are many other browsers to choose from. Most Mac users use Safari. Other popular ones are Google Chrome and Firefox. Our recommendation is Google Chrome. It is fast and reliable. It also offers many features not found in Internet Explorer such as syncing of bookmarks and history across all your devices. This makes it the perfect choice if you have an Android based phone or tablet. It also has many free apps that connect your data between devices and makes life a lot easier. Two of our favorites are Chrome to Phone and Google Keep

I run a business. What can I do at work?

If your in charge of managing multiple computers at work going to each one to install Chrome can be a chore. Luckily many free tools exist which can remove the Internet Explorer icon from the desktop and remotely install your new browser of choice. If you would like more information on these tools please contact us via email or phone.

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