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Next year, Windows 7 will be put into an “end of life” state by Microsoft. This means that Microsoft will no longer be working on it, causing it to become extremely unsafe and more inefficient, similar to how versions such as Windows XP and Windows Vista already are. Starting in 2020, Windows 7 will be a target for hackers like no other, putting your data and personal security at risk.
The solution? Upgrade to Windows 10! It’s faster, safer, more powerful, and overall a great decision to make for anyone using an older operating system. Windows 10 is the latest and greatest from Microsoft, receiving new features and performance improvements all the time. Windows 10 is set to reach its end of life state in 2025, so all of its users will continue to receive constant support for another six years! In contrast, Windows 7 will be discontinued in 2020, opening the floodgates for hackers and glitches alike, all without the helping hand of Microsoft to stop them.
Security: When it comes to Windows, Windows 10 is by far the most secure version ever released. This is in part due to the fact that it’s newer, smarter, and more aware of modern security threats. However, a large portion of the security of Windows 10 comes from continuous security updates from Microsoft. These updates come so frequently that your computer will just install them automatically, without you noticing any difference. Constant security updates are absolutely crucial to the safety of an operating system, as new vulnerabilities in operating systems are found all the time, opening doors for hackers and intrusive companies to harvest or hijack your data. Given the importance of these updates, it should be repeated that Windows 7 will no longer receive security patches in 2020. It’s time to upgrade.
Speed: You may think that because Windows 10 is newer and has more features than Windows 7, it may run slower. This actually isn’t true! Windows 10 not only brought tons of new and helpful features to the table, but it also drastically increased the speed of several things like startup time, time taken to wake from sleep, and general computer performance speed. It has been tested and proven that even on older machines, Windows 10 only speeds up computers simply by being a more efficient operating system than Windows 7.
Features: It goes without saying that a new version of anything comes with new features. Windows 10 is no exception, as it’s chock-full of new things relating to user assistance, visual design, ease of access, and computer maintenance. An operating system has never been so easy to navigate with the addition of Microsoft’s new AI assistant, Cortana. A Siri-like program that can answer various questions about the operating system, general knowledge, or your data that you’ve input into it such as contacts and calendar events. The new design of Windows 10 is also sleeker than ever, taking the top spot on many people’s lists of most attractive operating systems. This is all accomplished while still retaining that old and reliable Windows 7 layout of things. You won’t have to wonder where most things are in Windows 10, because Microsoft didn’t waste time by reorganizing every utility just so users would have to re-learn where to find things. The content and design of the latest Windows operating system is more solid, consistent, and robust than ever.
Worried about the transfer? If you’re concerned about having to learn to use a new operating system, don’t be. Windows 10 is largely similar to Windows 7 in its layout, and Windows 10 is equipped with a much greater range of helpful tools to assist all users in navigating their computers. Additionally, the upgrade from Windows 7 can be completely seamless, maintaining all of your programs and personal files in exactly the same place as they were. At NEPA Geeks, we guarantee that the process will be as simple and as stress-free as possible.
It’s tempting to hire an in-house IT technician to take care of your network and set them up with a cozy office just down the hall, but is it the right decision for your business? If you’re like most businesses, you’re always on the lookout for ways to save money while improving results. Sometimes this means expanding your staff to include a team of tech specialists at your beck and call, but this can often be an unnecessary expense that leaves you with highly paid employees twiddling their thumbs all day. For SMEs who are looking for the best of both worlds, we recommend Managed IT services.
Put simply, Managed IT is our solution which gives you that team of specialist technicians and network experts, without the ‘quick, look busy’ element – and at a fraction of the cost. Naturally, you’d rather see your IT budget working to support your growth and kept as low as possible. That’s our focus too, and why we don’t simply maintain and repair your systems, we proactively monitor to avoid downtime and work with you to ensure your IT increases productivity and efficiency. Whether you already have in-house IT and are auditing the value, or are curious about what having IT support might be like for your business, we’ve put together a few factors to consider before making your choice:
Availability: Most employees work 9-5, but what happens if something goes wrong with your systems outside these hours? Your in-house technician won’t appreciate being woken at 1am and called in for emergency repairs. It’s more likely that they simply won’t answer the call (or hear it), or if they do, expect some hefty contract renegotiation come 9am. Managed IT is very different as we expect problems after hours and have support technicians ready. We know that every minute of downtime is affecting your revenue, plus your business reputation, so we prioritize getting your systems up and running asap. As a bonus, with our Managed IT these types of disasters are rarer as we’re constantly monitoring and correcting problems before they occur.
Total cost: One of the things that may have attracted you to having an in-house technician is the cost. But while you may be able to pay them a lower hourly rate, there are extra costs like hiring, training, ongoing training, healthcare and retirement. Once you start adding up the cost of an in-house technician, you might find it’s eating up your IT budget and leaving you scrambling to fill gaps you didn’t expect. Upgrades get delayed, opportunities missed, and IT expenses become a sore point. In comparison, Managed IT is one fixed monthly rate delivering enormous value, including access to specialists across all software applications and technology.
Ongoing Training: Putting aside the fact your technician will often spend entire weeks away upgrading their skills and leaving you scrambling for support while they’re gone, those training costs quickly add up. With a salaried technician, you’ll have to pay all ongoing training and certification costs, plus travel costs for industry conferences. We know how important it is to remain current, certified and skilled in new technologies, so we spend the money to invest in ourselves so we can serve you better. We’re part of industry related communities and attend multiple conferences each year, all at our own expense.
Different goals: For most employees, a higher wage is the goal and many will job-hop to achieve that. A salaried tech may be looking for the first opportunity to leave and get paid more, often leveraging all the training you’ve just provided. In these modern times, switching jobs regularly is expected, with an average of only 3 years in each position. Considering how much it cost your business to acquire, train and upskill your technician, 3 years is an unreasonable ROI. Our goals couldn’t be more different – we only aim to keep you a happy customer for as long as we can!
In the end, your business needs to find the right balance between profit and expertise. When you partner with our Managed IT, you’re securing availability, ever-increasing expertise and commitment to your success. We work closely with you to provide the very best support and protect you costly disasters, taking preemptive action to keep you safe and operational. There’s no doubt Managed IT is a better decision than hiring an in-house technician, and we’d be delighted to prove it to you.
Talk to us about Managed IT for your business. Call us at 570.235.1946
Refurbished computers are almost like an insider secret – you can get great system specs for a fraction of the price. It’s how many families are meeting their back to school needs and upgrading their old systems, complete with warranty.
There’s one hot tip these people know: a refurb is NOT the same as used. You’re right to avoid those 2nd hand computers you see on Craigslist or Gumtree because there’s a reason that person is selling it! It’s probably slowed to a crawl, making weird noises or flat out broken in a way you’d never discover until too late. Refurbished computers are the complete opposite. They’re computers that have been given a new life, usually with a comprehensive repair, or sometimes they’re brand-new computers that were returned with a small problem like a hard drive failure, so we swap it out and sell it at bargain prices. Occasionally, the computer was even returned simply because the buyer changed their mind, but it’s still essentially brand-new (it might still be in the box!).
Quite often, refurbished computers start their life as business machines, built to the latest specs with business-grade components. When the budget or lease says ‘replace the computers’, that’s what the business does, whether the computers need it or not. There’s nothing wrong with them and they’ve likely been babysat by a corporate IT department who kept them in perfect condition every day. These are great machines that are still plenty fast for home use, both desktops and laptops. Plus, because business-grade components are more durable than the consumer ones, the entire system has been built to last longer and perform better, often up to several years without a problem. Rather than send these impressive machines to landfill, we check and replace necessary components and re-install a clean operating system. Next, we put them through a stack of verification tests, then pack them up ready for their new home. When you talk to us about buying one, we’ll always make sure you get a system that not only keeps up with your needs now, but gives you breathing space for the next few years too.
What are the benefits?
Are they reliable?
Some people think that refurbished computers are more likely to break, when in truth, in some cases they’re actually more reliable than brand new. Manufacturers have an expected failure rate, a percentage of computers that go straight from the factory to buyers who discover their expensive new system is dead-on-arrival or breaks within weeks. A refurbished computer has already stood the test of time and it performed without missing a beat. By the time it’s gone through our checks and repairs (both required and pre-emptive), a refurbished computer is better than new.
If you need a better computer on a tight budget, give us a call at 570.235.1946.
Your employees need access to your various business accounts so they can do their job, but what happens to those passwords when you fire them? Nobody likes to think of firing their employees, or why you’d need to, but nonetheless, it’s a responsibility every business owner must face at some point. While your accounts team will no doubt be on top of stopping their paychecks, it’s important to take the same proactive stance to strip their system access.
Most of the time, the former employee leaves under good terms and you’ll wish them well. If you’re lucky, they’ll even manage hand-over to their replacement so your productivity losses are minimal. Other employees may leave your business reluctantly or in a storm of anger and suspicion. While you’ll have very different feelings about the two scenarios, the risk to your business remains high until action is taken. Here are 3 steps you can take to protect your business from retaliation and other password-related disasters.
Limit access to a need-to-know basis
You might be surprised how often a new employee is presented the entire business on a platter when their actual job requires little more than a computer login. Accounts, strategy, customer details, industry secrets…all those sensitive aspects of your business that have made it a success – exposed. A better policy is to limit access to only what the employee needs to do their job. Rather than view it as a lack of trust, your employees will appreciate the care you’ve taken to protect your business (and their job). It also helps keeps them from being overwhelmed, confused or tempted if the situation ever turns sour. Likewise, take a few moments to delete old or temporary accounts that are no longer required, as you never know when a hacker or disgruntled employee will squeeze through the gaps.
Change passwords fast
On average, it takes at least a week before passwords are changed after an employee is fired, if at all. Unfortunately, this is the one type of delay your business can’t afford. In 2017, an ex-employee from the American College of Education held their entire email system to ransom for $200,000 after an unhappy exit. Stories of others stealing client databases are also common, especially as they leave to start their own business or work for a competitor. It’s not just full-time employees either, contract and part-time employees such as social media managers and customer support email specialists often have access to more of your business than you might imagine. Recent rulings make it easier for business owners to prosecute former employees who access their systems, however as we know, it only takes seconds to login and wreak absolute havoc. Knowing you can force those bad eggs into a lengthy court case is poor comfort considering the extent of damage you’ll likely endure. The best option is to change passwords fast – even before your employee knows they’re fired. This lessens the chance of revenge attacks and opportunistic access.
Use a password manager
If you have good password manager like LastPass, reducing your risk becomes mostly automated. You’ll be able to keep your logins in a central vault that only you can see, and share based on business roles/need. There’s even an option to share passwords without letting employees see them in plain-text. Instead of writing passwords down somewhere and manually entering them each time, they’ll be able to connect securely with a click. Plus, you can revoke the share at any time. If their role changes or they’re fired, you can use the dashboard to see who is having access to what and add/revoke at will. If you’re not sure what that employee has been up to, you can also generate reports of their history.
We can help you set up password management and lock down your network. Call us at 570.235.1946
How can you make the internet a safer place for your children? It’s a common concern as all parents want their kids to be protected and happy whenever they go online. It’s relatively easy to supervise and monitor the very young ones as they stare delightedly at the Disney Jnr site, but the risks increase greatly as kids get older and more independent.
You’ve probably heard the term ‘cyber safety’ before, but safe internet usage goes beyond reminding them not to talk to strangers. With the evolution of the internet and the way it’s now woven seamlessly into our lives, the focus needs to be on ingrained habits. That means ensuring your children have the tools and predefined responses to online events so that no matter what happens, they’re not placing themselves (or your family) at risk. Setting up these habits is easy, and begins with three basic understandings:
Downloads are a no-go
Most kids can’t tell the difference between a legitimate download and a scam/malicious link. It’s not their fault, the online world is full of things that will trick even the most savvy adult. The difference is that kids tend not to take that extra moment to check exactly where that link is pointing, question whether it’s too good to be true, or even read what they’re agreeing to. They want to get back to what they were doing, and if something pops up, their first instinct is to click ‘yes’ – purely so it goes away. Unfortunately, that single ‘yes’ may have just opened the doors to malware and viruses that will ruin their computer. Set a family rule that they need to ask permission for all downloads (and an adult will check it first), and to never click a popup. When you’re called over to give download permission or check a popup, talk through exactly what you’re checking and why. As your child matures, get them involved in this process so their safe habits extend outside the home.
Critical thinking is a must
Most youngsters think the internet is a magical place and can’t imagine their life without it. To them, the internet is on the same level as oxygen! With that acceptance though, comes unwavering trust that the internet would never lie to them, never trick them and never hurt them. While we adults know better, it’s only because we already view the internet with a certain level of distrust. The best way to keep kids safe is to teach them to approach every aspect of the internet with critical thinking. That includes teaching them to question the motives of other people online. Is that person really a kid? What do they really want? Unfortunately, all kids do need to be aware that predators use the internet to target and lure children. Ensure your children tell you immediately if a stranger makes contact. Along with this stranger danger, teach them to identify what marks something as suspicious, and what they should avoid. If they come across anything inappropriate, they should shut down the computer and come straight to you.
The internet is forever
Kids have an overwhelming drive to contribute to the internet, they don’t think twice about recording a video, jumping in a chat room or onto social media. The world really is their playground! But what they don’t understand until they’ve been burned, is that anything they upload, write or say is on the internet forever. Even if they delete it or use a platform where content self-erases, someone can still screenshot and send it right back out. Many cyber-bullying cases are based around this exact type of blow-back. Once your kids know that everything they post is permanent, they’ll be more likely to pause and think.
We can secure your computer and help keep your family safe – give us a call at 570.235.1946.
The 31st of March is World Backup day and it’s a great time to put a backup in place. Businesses are losing huge amounts of data every day, purely because ‘backing up’ is stuck at the bottom of their to-do list. So this is your reminder, that even if you only do this once a year when the calendar tells you to, it’s time to flip that to-do list and make it happen! But how? What’s the easiest, most effective way for your business to backup?
You’ve probably heard of file backup by a number of names: Cloud Sync, Cloud Backup or Cloud Storage. They’re all similar enough to be confusing and meaningless enough to be anything. Here’s what they mean and which one you need today.
Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, etc are services that sync up with a single folder on your computer. They mirror it. When a file changes in one, the sync service rushes to change it on your computer too, so they are always the same. Cloud Sync services are hugely flexible for remote employees, or even those squeezing in a few quick tasks while riding the train to work. They’re ridiculously easy to use, require no training, and the free tiers are enough for most individuals. This all sounds amazing, right? Except…when things go wrong, they go wrong big time. Accidentally deleting a file means it disappears from the Cloud Sync drive – almost immediately. Overwriting a file does the same thing, and if an employee makes edits to the wrong file, then those edits are there to stay. If disaster strikes and your local copy becomes corrupted (or ransomed), well you guessed it, the corruption is uploaded too. While some Cloud Sync services now offer a 30 day backup option, you may not notice the file was missing within this time.
Cloud Sync services are fantastic for productivity and accessing files on the go, but they simply can’t be relied on as your backup tech.
Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, etc are massive buildings full of storage drives that work just like your local hard drive, except you access them securely via the internet. In fact, when you use a cloud sync app like Dropbox, they’re actually sending your data to one of these locations. While the sync services have a constant back and forth connection between the storage center and your folder, and as explained above aren’t good for backup, you have another option. You can access cloud storage on a per/GB basis yourself and upload your entire backup as desired. It won’t update with changes on your local network, but it will be safe from disaster. When you need to retrieve a file, you simply login and download it.
Your backed up data is secure, protected against disaster, and always available to you. However, because it relies on you/your employee to handle the backup plan and manually take care of the uploads, this is a high-risk solution. Unless your employee is scouring your network each day/week/month for changes to files and uploading them with fervent dedication, chances are this plan won’t work. We recommend an automated or outsourced solution so you can get on with business AND be protected.
Carbonite, Backblaze backup, Crashplan, etc might not be names you’ve heard before, but they work in the background to monitor changes to files on your computer or network and make sure you’re backed up. You can roll back individual files or whole drives, and even select from earlier backups, not just one. Like sync services, they use cloud storage centers with extra-high security and redundancy so that your data is always there when you need it. Even better, neither you nor your employees need to worry about when it was last done.
The One You Need
Let’s take a moment to talk planning. We recommend starting with the 3-2-1 strategy. This means having 3 copies in total, 2 of them locally such as on your computer and an external drive, and another offsite in the cloud. Using this strategy keeps your business operating when data disasters occur and is an investment in your uptime. We can help get you set up with the 3-2-1 method, including selecting the best cloud service for your needs. If you’re looking for a more scalable, cost-effective solution that gives the utmost peace of mind, ask about our managed backups service.
Need help with your backup? 3-2-1… Call us at 570.235.1946!
For a device that’s supposed to make life easier, computers sure do involve a lot of work! There’s so much to keep track of that it’s no wonder most people push ahead and forget the routine maintenance until something breaks. Of course, the problem with being reactive is the damage is already done. Photos and files get lost forever in a crash, and information gets stolen in a hack…by then it’s far too late. It’s a bit like closing the gate after the horses have already fled. This is where proactive people come out on top. Thousands upon thousands of homes around the world are using managed services to put computer problems firmly behind them. It’s a done-for-you maintenance program we offer, and here’s why it’s the best choice.
You’re always up to date. It seems like every second day there’s some new and urgent update waiting to be installed. Whether they’re patching security flaws or adding new features, they seem endless. Sometimes, it goes beyond inconvenient, it gets overwhelming! Even if they do install automatically, they tend to do it at the worst possible moment, leaving you to wait up to 30 minutes when all you wanted to do was quickly check your email. Using our special managed services software, we can make sure your computer’s updates are all finished and done – before you sit down to use it. As part of our service, we also make sure all updates are compatible not just with your hardware, but also with your other software. After all, updates are supposed to make your experience more secure and more enjoyable!
You’ve got super anti-virus. The best anti-virus is the one that’s up-to-date and running, yet you’d be surprised how many people switch it off or never let it update. While you might be in the habit of scanning files and browsing safely, others in your home might not have the same priorities. Having managed services ensures your anti-virus is always running and dealing with any viruses it finds. As soon as a new virus becomes known, we make sure your system is actively protected against it. We also monitor for cyber-attacks and can alert you before they become a problem.
Your hardware stays healthy. While a reactive person is always suddenly stuck without a computer when hardware fails, proactive people with managed services have already had the problem fixed. Our special software monitors the health of your hardware, eg, your hard drive, looking for early warning signs of failure. If detected, we can let you know in advance. This means you’re able to get it repaired at your convenience, making sure no files are lost and no other hardware is damaged in a domino failure.
You never miss a backup. The worst part of a crash or hack isn’t the financial cost, it’s losing your files forever. Many people have their entire collection of photos stored on their computer, plus important family files, most of which can never be replaced or recreated. Whether it’s a report just created, a recipe handed down for generations or a novel you’ve been working on for longer than you’d care to admit, managed services ensures your backup is working correctly. Backed up files are ready to go when you are, and losing files to corruption, failure or theft is a thing of the past.
Support is a phone call away. Just got a new printer and it won’t play nice? Got a weird error popping up? Your laptop won’t talk to the wifi? Our remote support team can help with whatever technology issue has been bugging you and wasting your time. No nonsense advice is just a phone call away, and our team can remotely connect to diagnose and fix many problems. This means you can likely skip the cord shuffle and carting your computer into the shop, and still get your most pressing computer issues fixed.
You’re always optimized. Whether your computer is actively playing up or not, our monitoring service can keep in touch with your event logs, services and processes and look out for anything that needs correction. This means we’re effectively stopping problems before they get to you, making sure that when you sit down to use your computer, it’s doing exactly what you want.
Put computer problems behind you – get managed services today. Call us at 570.235.1946
15 years after the world united to crack down on spam emails, we’re still struggling with overloaded inboxes. All that unwanted email continues to flood the internet, much of it targeted towards small businesses, and the impact goes wider than you might think. Here’s the full breakdown of how modern spam works and how it’s hurting your business.
What is spam? Generally speaking, spam is any unwanted message that lands in your email, comes via text, social media messaging, or other communication platform. It might be sent to your main business account, eg your ‘contact us’ email, or direct to your employees. Most of the time, spam is annoying but relatively innocent messages from another business inviting you to buy/do/see something. They’re newsletters, reminders, invitations, sales pitches, etc. You may know the sender and have a previous relationship with them, or they might be a complete stranger. Occasionally, spam may even be part of a cyber attack.
Why you’re getting spammed. Maybe you or your employee signed up for a newsletter or bought a $1 raffle ticket to win a car. Perhaps you got onto the mailing list accidentally after enquiring about a product, not knowing that simply getting a brochure sent through would trigger a spam-avalanche. Often there’s fine print that says they’ll not only use your details to send you their marketing, but they’ll share your details with 3rd parties so they can send you messages too. That single email address can be passed around the internet like wildfire, and before you know it, you’re buried under spam. Sometimes, and more than we’d like to think, your details are found illicitly, perhaps through a hacked website for example, like the recent LinkedIn leak. More often though, your email is simply collected by a computer ‘scraping’ the internet – scouring forums and websites for plain text or linked emails and selling them as prime spam targets. It’s easy to see how individual office employees receive an average of 120 emails daily, over half of which are spam!
More than annoying. We all know spam is annoying, but did you know it’s also resource hungry? Your employees are spending hours each week sorting their email, assessing each one for relevance and deleting the spam. Too often, legitimate emails from clients and customers get caught up and are accidentally deleted. Add in the temptation to read the more interesting spam emails and productivity drops to zero. On the other side of the business, your email server might be dedicating storage and processing power to spam emails, occasionally to the point where inboxes get full and real mail is bouncing out. While most spam is simply an unwanted newsletter or sale notice, there’s also the risk that any links may be a cyber-attack in disguise. After all, one click is all it takes to open the door to viruses, ransomware, phishing or other security emergencies.
Talk to us about your anti-spam protections. Call us at 570.235.1946
It’s pretty obvious when your computer is already broken, but how do you know when it’s about to break? Even before it falls into a heap and refuses to turn on, or flashes big messages about how your files are now encrypted, you’ll be given multiple hints that something is wrong. Here are the common signs your computer needs repair, sooner rather than later.
Is your computer doing these things? Let us fix it for you. Call us at 570.235.1946.