Buying Computers

Buying Computers

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Many business owners do not understand that purchasing a computer from the local retailer is a bad idea. A computer is a computer right? Well there is a reason that system is only $300.

Reasons to avoid buying a computer for your business from a retailer

  • Warranty – Retail systems usually have only a 30-60 day warranty and after that you may have to mail your system back for repairs. Can you be without your computer for two weeks?
  • Bloatware – Retail systems are loaded with lots of useless applications which slow your machine down over time. You may end up replacing your PC earlier than you had too because it was ‘old and slow’ when it is really what was pre-loaded onto it bogging it down.
  • Made for cost – Cheap parts = cheap price.
  • Operating System – Retail computers come with the Home version of Windows which may not work if you have a server based environment at the office.
  • Support – Good luck. Most retail manufacturers have no phone based support. If they do, it’s usually not worth the time on hold.
  • Old Tech – Many retail models use older versions of standards such as USB 2.0 and 802.11n. These older standards can mean much slower performance.

Reasons to purchase Business level systems

  • Warranty – Most business computers come with 1-3 year next business day onsite warranties. Something goes wrong and you have a tech at your office to fix it. Also, many business level systems allow you to extend warranties if need be.
  • Streamlined – Very limited bloatware means a much longer time before the need to replace them. Unlike home users businesses should be able to get 3-5 years out of their computers if maintained.
  • Made to Last – Built better and usually with the same predictable parts.
  • Support – US based support is normal and if you go through a partner business to purchase your hardware they can usually get to higher up support to get your issue resolved much faster.
  • Customizable – Many vendors have websites where you can customize your systems for your specific business needs. For example, if you still need Windows 7 you can still get it pre-installed.

Recommendations

We have had great luck with Dell products for many many years (we’re Dell Partners). The Optiplex line is great for desktops (some as small as your hand) and the Latitude line is known for its solid performance and longevity. If you have money to burn and you want a light and powerful, the XPS laptop line is rated #1.

  • Memory – At least 8GB
  • CPU – Core i3 or better (6th Gen)
  • Disk – Solid State (for laptops it’s a must)
  • Wireless – 802.11ac
  • Ports – USB 3.0 (and soon USB Type-C)
  • Video – DisplayPort and VGA (for older monitor support)

-Tim

Top 10 To Do List for 2014

Top 10 To Do List for 2014

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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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iPhone vs Android – Best for Business?

iPhone vs Android – Best for Business?

Hardware mobile

As you may know by now Apple just released the latest version of its smartphone operating system, iOS7 and some new models. Since then we have had a few clients ask us “what phone should I get?” or “what is the best smartphone?”. The quick answer is that if you use a Mac, iPad, and generally live in the Apple world stick with the iPhone. If not, buy an Android phone, but only models with the latest software.

Android Can / iPhone Can’t

If I wrote this article last year I would probably lean towards an iPhone for use in business. However Google’s upgraded Android software and a new generation of great Android smartphones have been released tipping the scale. When buying an Android phone it is very important that you get one with version 4.1.2 or greater of the operating system (the latest version is 4.3 with 4.4 around the corner). Anything older and your experience will be much different (in a bad way). So what does Android have over iPhone that will help business productivity?

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  • Google Now– Google Now learns about you and your daily travels. It learns where you work and where you live. Then it tells you how long it will take you to get there (or any place you travel frequently) and when to leave.gn_cards It knows your car rental, tracks your packages,and updates you on your airline airline reservation status. Most of the time it requires no input on your part. It can extract this data from your email and your environment.
  • Widgets – Widgets allow you instant visibility to things such as your inbox and calendar (and much more). No need to click on an icon first to see who emailed you or to take a look at what appointments you have today. Think about how many times you check your email per day and subtract a few seconds for each time you do not have to click on an icon to see who emailed you.
  • Built in USB drive – Plug your Android phone into a computer’s USB port and it shows up as another drive (like a flash drive). A quick and simple way to transfer large files, music, or anything you may need. The standard micro-USB port means you can find a connection (and a recharge) most anyplace.
  • Expandable and Repairable – Need more storage, just plug in an SD Card. Battery died, just replace it. iPhone cannot do either.
  • Better Sharing – With iOS your sharing options are limited (Message, Email, Twitter, Facebook). With Android you can share with any app that has sharing enabled (Microsoft and Google cloud storage, Instagram, Kindle, etc.). On top of that some of the new Android phones support NFC which allows you to touch two phones together to transfer data instantly.
  • Voice Recognition – iPhones has Siri, which nobody uses. I have yet to meet an Android user that does not use the speech recognition on a daily basis. It is that good. Make appointments, get directions, ask questions, etc.
  • Separate Profiles (Android 4.3 Only) – If you use your phone (or tablet) for work and business you know that sometimes mixing the two can be a headache. What you may not know is that if you sync your phone to your business network you hand over some control to your company. If you lose your phone, the one with both work information and all the pictures of your family, your IT department can erase everything (sorry family). With the latest version of Android you can have separate work and business profiles (or profiles just for your kids).
  • Extensions / Sync – With Android your web browser bookmarks you use on your PC (must use the Chrome browser) are on your phone (and tablet). Use an extension such as ‘Chrome to Phone’ to send map directions from your PC to your phone and automatically launch the navigation app. Google Keep is a great quick note taking app that also syncs between all your devices. It is the little things that save you time and increase productivity.

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What Phone do I Purchase?

There are lots and lots of Android based phones. Most are so-so but a few stand out above the crowd. Which one is best for you depends on personal preferences (screen size vs camera quality vs cost, etc.). The top three as of today are:

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  • Samsung Galaxy S3 / S4
  • Motorola Droid Maxx
  • HTC One 

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Wrap up

Both the iPhone and Android phones work great. iPhone is not horrible and Android isn’t a solution to everything. The constant changing nature of technology may make this article obsolete in a year. However, right now Android leads the way. Outside of the US it is by far the #1 phone type and you can ignore Blackberry and Microsoft phones (both dead ends). I hope you enjoyed this article and if you have any questions about integrating a little bit of mobility into your business please contact Wireguided anytime.

-Tim

WiFi in Your Pocket

WiFi in Your Pocket

Hardware Internet mobile

One of the biggest annoyances when you travel is that the wireless signal in your hotel room is too weak (and probably insecure). Most rooms have a network jack but that is useless if you want to get online with your tablet or use the wifi on your phone to make calls to avoid roaming charges. It is also not very convenient if you want to get online anywhere else in your room besides the desk (e.g., your bed).

Solution: Nano Wireless Routers

Nano Wireless Routers are tiny devices that plug into a network jack  and provide wireless access to a small area (e.g., your hotel room). They are only a few ounces and are smaller then a credit card. They can be powered by a standard wall outlet or from a USB port on a computer. The best part is that they are not expensive at all ($25-$50).

If you would like more information on Nano Wireless Routers or how to keep your computers secure when traveling overseas please contact Wireguided.

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