Can I Use Windows 7 After January 14, 2020 or Do I Have to Upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 Upgrade Questions

Can I Use Windows 7 After January 14, 2020 or Do I Have to Upgrade to Windows 10?

If you’re still running Microsoft’s Windows 7 on your computer, maybe it’s time to upgrade to Windows 10. After January 14, 2020, Windows 7 won’t be supported.  

Windows 10 Upgrade Questions

If you are using Windows 7 on your computer, you need to be aware that after January 14, 2020, Microsoft won’t release any additional updates or support for Windows 7. Even though Windows 10 has been available for about four years, Windows 7 (which was originally released on October 22, 2009), is still running on millions of computers worldwide. Since all of the Windows 7 support will end on the deadline of January 14, Windows 7 OS has been displaying ”end of support” notifications. If you’re receiving these notifications, that means your computer is still running Windows 7. Many current Windows 7 users wonder if they can still use Windows after January 14, and what will happen to Windows 7 after that date. To help decide what to do, here is a list of FAQs and answers.

Can I still use Windows 7 after January 14, 2020?

Yes, you can continue using Windows 7 after January 14, 2020. Windows 7 will continue to run as it is today. However, you should upgrade to Windows 10 before January 14, 2020, because Microsoft will be discontinuing all technical support, software updates, security updates, and any other fixes after that date. Your computer will become less secure without any updates the longer you go without them.

What will happen to Windows 7 after January 14, 2020?

Nothing will happen to Windows 7. But one of the problems that will happen is, without regular updates, Windows 7 will become vulnerable to security risks, viruses, hacking, and malware without any support. You may continue to get “end of support” notifications on your Windows 7 home screen after January 14. However, anyone still running Windows 7 Professional and/or Enterprise editions can purchase extended security updates through January 2023.

Can I reinstall and activate Windows 7 after 2020?

Yes. You should be able to install or reinstall, then activate Windows 7 after January 14, 2020. However, you won’t get any updates via Windows Update, and Microsoft will no longer offer any kind of support to Windows 7.

Can I upgrade Windows 7 to Windows 10 without losing programs and data?

Most programs and data should be transferrable to Windows 10, but you should back up your computer or network before you upgrade in case any problems crop up.

Does my current PC’s hardware support Windows 10?

If your computer is running Windows 7, it should be able to run Windows 10. In other words, the minimum requirement for both Windows 7 and Windows 10 are the same. It’s recommended that you use the official Media Creation Tool to upgrade, because it will scan your computer for any compatibility issues before you upgrade.

Is Windows 10 better than Windows 7?

Yes. Windows 10 is a better operating system than Windows 7. And, Windows 7 is 10 years old, and can’t give your computer the security level needed now.

Can I try Windows 10 before buying it?

Yes. You can follow the instructions to download the Windows ISO file guide to the most recent version of Windows 10. It will tell you how to prepare a bootable USB of Windows 10, and then you can install in alongside Windows 10 to try it out.

How do I upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10?

The process of upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is easy to follow when you go through the steps outlined for the official Media Creation Tool. And most importantly, backup your computer BEFORE you download Windows 10.

How Do You Insert a PDF Into a Word Doc?

PDF Document

Insert a PDF Into a Word Doc

Need to know how to add a PDF to a Word document? Head here and learn two tried-and-true techniques for seamlessly adding PDFs to any Microsoft Word doc.  

PDF Document

Have you ever needed to insert a PDF file into a Word document?

Let’s say you’ve found a relevant chart or graph in a PDF file that you’d like to insert into a report you’re writing in Microsoft Word as a static image. Or, let’s say you want to insert an entire PDF file into a Word document as a linked object.

Below, we’ll explain just how to do both of these tasks using your Windows computer and the following versions of Word:

  • Word 2010
  • Word 2013
  • Word 2016
  • Word 2019
  • Word for Office 365

Before we explain these procedures, however, let’s explain what a PDF file is.

What Is a PDF file?

A PDF file is a type of file. PDF stands for portable document format. This format allows you to view a document of text, graphics, or both in a layout that appears as if it’s a printed document. Users can view PDF files on a computer or portable device, print them, or send them electronically.

How do you insert a PDF file into Word as a static image?

To insert a PDF as a static image (that is not expandable or clickable as an object or icon), you’ll first need to convert the PDF to a JPG file. Once you’ve done this, make sure you save the JPG in an easy-to-find location. The following process works best on older versions of Microsoft Word.

1. Open Microsoft Word.

2. Put your cursor in the exact place you want the PDF image to go.

3. Click “Insert” in the menu at the top of Word.

4. Click “Picture.”

5. Within the “Insert Picture” dialog box, find the JPG version of the PDF image you want to insert.

6. Click “Insert,” and the image will be inserted where you last had your cursor.

How do you insert a PDF file into Word as a linked object?

You may want to insert a link to a full PDF file in your Word document. This will result in the first page of the PDF being displayed as a preview. If the preview is clicked, it will bring the user to the full document.

1. Open Microsoft Word.

2. Put your cursor in the exact place you want the PDF file to go.

3. Click “Insert” in the menu at the top of Word.

4. Click “Text.”

5. Click “Object.”

6. Within the dialog box that appears, click “Create From File”

7. Select “Browse” and navigate to the PDF you’d like to insert.

8. Click “Link to File.”

There are other techniques for inserting PDF files into Word documents as well. If the above techniques do not work with your unique device or your specific version of Word, talk to your managed service provider to see how you should go about this procedure.

What Makes An Awesome IT Services Provider?

Awesome IT Service Provider

Awesome IT Service Provider

 

Technology is continually changing, and keeping up with the updates to your crucial infrastructure and software can feel like an overwhelming task. Many organizations begin to look for an IT managed services provider as they start to scale, but how can you know who to trust? You’re placing your mission-critical systems and devices in the hands of a technology partner. Here are some key questions that you should ask any new IT services provider to determine if they will offer you the impressive level of service that your business deserves.

1. Your IT Services Provider Should Listen

While there are similarities between businesses in the same vertical, no company is exactly the same as any others. Your IT managed services professional should take the time to listen to your concerns instead of immediately offering cookie-cutter responses to the problem that they assume you have in your organization. A true partner will listen to your needs and then slot in their proficiencies to make your organization stronger and more resilient.

2. Have Availability That Meets Your Business Needs

Are all of your problems going to occur during working hours? Probably not — and your IT managed services provider (MSP) should have qualified resources available around the clock so your customers and staff aren’t left waiting in the event of a service outage. Carefully read through any offering contracts or service agreements to be sure that the response times meet the needs of your business before you make your final vendor selection.

3. Provide Recommendations for Key Strategies

Whether that means budgeting or disaster recovery planning, a true technology partner will always be on the lookout for ways that they could save you money or help improve the efficiency of your business. This could come during the budgeting cycle, when they let you know that some of your hardware could be replaced in the coming year. Another time that your IT managed services partner should help your business is by leveraging their knowledge of various industries to share best practices in backup and disaster recovery.

4. Retain Security Experts on Staff

Cybersecurity is a constantly changing realm, and it would be very challenging for a single staff member to keep up-to-date with security advances as they’re made available. Keeping software patched and hardware updated is also a very time-consuming task, making these two ideal ways to leverage your managed services provider. You should be able to feel confident that your MSP is regularly running security tests and actively monitoring for hacks.

5. Proactively Update and Test Your Systems

The time when you could rely on reactive technology management to maintain the security of your systems and data is gone. Instead of waiting for something to break, your services provider should be actively seeking upcoming updates and creating a schedule for an application that is consistent with the needs of your business. This will help your business stay on the right track for reliable growth in the future.

6. Help Appropriately Scale Your Business Infrastructure

Making a single wrong decision early in a technology build-out can have disastrous consequences down the line. Your IT managed services provider should have the experience with businesses similar to yours that allows them to peek into the future and curtail any decisions that might cause your business to be less flexible or scalable in the future. While customizations are nearly inevitable when it comes to technology, a truly remarkable services provider will look for and recommend tools that are an exceptional fit for your business first — before they recommend expensive platform changes.

Finding the best IT managed services provider requires time and trust on both sides, but everything starts with open dialog. Your team must be able to detail your current needs as well as how your business is expected to scale in the future as well as a rough timeline. Your IT services provider should be able to tease these details from your project team so you have a shared understanding of how to move forward in lockstep. From a deep understanding of cybersecurity to a willingness to listen to your needs: an awesome IT managed services provider is not a mythical creature!

How Much Does Managed IT Services Cost?

Managed Services Pricing Guide

Managed Services Pricing Guide

You have probably seen managed IT services offered from one or more providers in your area. The option of having your IT needs managed by an outside company has obvious appeal—you do not need to maintain a full-time IT staff, or at least as many IT employees, which should save your business some money. However, as a manager or business owner, you know it is important to read between the lines before jumping on just any opportunity that presents itself. How much does it actually cost to use managed IT services?

Managed IT Services Pricing Depends on Multiple Factors

The cost of having your IT needs managed by an outside provider depends on multiple factors. Each business has specific technologies that may be relatively simple or quite complex. The more complex the technology, the more it costs to maintain. And the level of management you can choose from varies as well. Managed IT services range from basic to comprehensive and are priced accordingly.

So What Does it Cost?

If you are looking for a direct answer to the question of what managed IT costs, you can estimate that your business could pay anywhere between $75 per user to $300 per user. The range is broad and maybe not terribly useful at first glance, which is why we encourage you to read on—and ultimately to speak to a reputable service provider to get a quote based on your specific situation and needs. Now let’s delve deeper into how managed IT services are priced so you can get a better idea of what your costs may be.

What Are Managed IT Services?

The biggest challenge with determining the cost of managed IT services—as we are attempting here—is the fact that there are so many services that fall under the umbrella of “IT”. Your business may have drastically different IT needs than another business. That being said, we can look at the basics of managed IT services to get a clearer picture of where your business may fall on the spectrum of technology service needs.

First, let us define what managed IT services means. At the core, managed IT means your IT needs, whatever those may be, are managed by an outside company. A team of experts offers to manage your IT needs, or at least a portion of those needs, for a fee. There is a huge range of services that fall into the IT category, though, which means managing a company’s IT could mean managing 10, 20, or 1,000 different things.

Network Support For Small Businesses

Managed IT services are presented as a way to save money because outsourcing IT management is typically more efficient for most businesses than employing a team of IT professionals. IT is a deep, complex subject, requiring extensive training in specific technologies and practices. Employing a team with the skillset to manage all your IT needs is costly, which is why only large corporations tend to do it. For small and mid-sized businesses, it often makes more sense to outsource IT management. With outsourcing, you only pay for the services you need, much like you would for legal services or other specialized, potentially high-cost services.

The Two Basic Approaches to Managed IT

Managed IT services fall under two broad categories—fully managed IT and partially managed IT.

Partially Managed IT Services

Some businesses have one or more employees that are tasked with managing IT. You may have specific IT needs that require a dedicated IT team to handle in-house. Even if you do not have an absolute need for an in-house IT person or group, you may just feel more comfortable having someone or a team there, in-person, every day to deal with certain IT tasks.

For businesses with existing IT personnel, IT service providers offer partially managed IT services. You can choose what they manage and when. Partial management can range from providing support for tasks that are exceptionally complex—possibly beyond the skill or workload of the in-house IT team—to providing support for routine tasks like security or backup administration.

Fully Managed IT Services

For many small to mid-sized businesses, the most economical and efficient option is to outsource all IT management. Instead of trying to determine what kind of IT employees you need, how many, etc., you can consult with a service provider who can give you expert insight, advice and the service necessary to keep your business technology running smoothly 24/7. A reputable managed IT services provider will be capable of collaborating with you and other leaders in your organization and deliver industry-leading services that an in-house team may struggle to match.

How Managed IT Service Pricing Works

The price for managed IT services varies by region, provider and customer. That being said, there are a few basic concepts that can help you understand how pricing works. These include:

Per User Pricing

Many service plans will be based on the number of users that are being monitored and cared for. You can calculate your users fairly easily—whoever is using the technology in your company can be considered a user. In today’s technology-driven workplaces, you can usually expect every employee to be a “user.” Anyone in your business that uses a PC, Mac, laptop, mobile device, tablet or anything else that requires IT support is someone you should count towards your total users.

Per Device Pricing

While per-user pricing is probably the most common, per device pricing is also a possibility. Instead of pricing services based on how many people are using the technology, the provider may offer to charge based on how many devices your business uses. You would include all the devices you want to be covered—which really should be every device that sees any use in your company—including PCs, Macs, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, etc.

Pricing Should Be Clear and Easy to Understand

Any reputable IT services company will be very clear about what your services will cost and what will be covered by the fees you pay. It will all be documented in your contract, so you can verify what you agree to before you sign anything or hand over any money. Clarity is beneficial for both you as a customer and for the IT company as they can justify their actions—or inaction—based on the contract that you both agreed to.

Managed Services Pricing

The Managed IT Service Options Available

IT management services are further broken down into service levels. The names that different providers use may vary, but you can expect services to fall into three general tiers:

1. Basic IT Services—Lowest Price Initially, But Variable Costs Are High

The entry-level IT management services are offered at the lowest recurring price. They involve basic monitoring of your systems and can cost around $70-150 a month. The services you get at this level are akin to having a security team keep track of your server. The organization pays close attention to what is going on and lets you know if anything seems off.

There are obvious benefits to having this kind of security and oversight, but the benefits are limited and the cost can go up quickly if you need any additional assistance. This is especially true if you do not have an IT team to address things when they do go wrong. If you need the IT service provider to do anything beyond monitor and notify, you can expect to pay between $50 and $300 per hour for assistance—depending on the complexity of the problem that needs to be solved.

It may be possible to purchase a block of time from the service provider at a discounted rate. If you can negotiate a contract for a block of time, you can have the IT provider work on issues until that block of time is used up. Of course, you will need to decide which issues are worth using the block for, and which may need to wait until next month when you have another block of time—or pay for a full-priced solution right now when you need it.

2. Mid-Range IT Services—Considered the Best Value for Most Businesses

As with so many things, the lowest priced option is often more expensive in the long run. IT services are no different. A mid-range managed IT service is more expensive up front, but can often save money over time as your service provider is able to help you avoid issues before they become major—and read to address issues immediately when they are easiest to solve.

Once you get into mid-range services, you are hiring more than just a monitoring service. You are hiring a team to serve as your IT provider in most if not all ways. The team will definitely keep track of your systems and notify you when something of concern pops up. But they will also take the initiative to solve those problems without the need for you to make unnecessary decisions—like whether you want to pay extra for the help. You have already hired the team at a rate that allows them to go into action now instead of later.

The services you can get, for a flat fee, may include:

  • IT planning
  • IT strategy
  • IT design
  • System backups
  • 24/7 IT support (possibly unlimited)
  • On-site support
  • Remote support
  • Disaster recovery

Mid-range IT management services are usually priced based on the number of users you have, or the number of devices you need support for.

Typical charges per user range from $50-$200 per user.

For per device services, pricing will be based on the type of device. For servers, you could pay between $120-500 per server. Workstations may cost between $30-120 per station. Firewalls can cost between $25-100, while switches may cost between $10-50 per switch.

3. High-End IT Services—Only Necessary in Certain Circumstances

The high-end of managed IT services is only necessary for certain types of businesses—specifically those that need full hosted or cloud systems. If the IT service provider needs to provide your business with the majority, or your entire infrastructure, then your fee will include the cost of providing that infrastructure. You get the full scope of services for the increased cost of the high-end pricing, including the use of the system and the support services you need with that system—as well as all the services offered in mid-range plans. A fully hosted service may cost $300 or more per user, per month, depending on the complexity of what is provided.

Managed Services Provider

Some Factors to Consider With Pricing Managed IT Services

IT service providers are in business, just like you, so they need to price their services in a way that keeps them in business. As with most, if not all, businesses, IT service providers base their pricing on how much time and resources they will need to devote to the customer to get the job done. The harder the job, the more they need to charge. And the more unpredictable the job, the more pricing needs to account for possible spikes in time and resources required for the customer.

When an IT company is deciding how much to charge you, they will consider the following factors:

How Complex is Your Technology Matrix?

Your technology matrix includes all of your technological devices and the ways that they need to interact with one another. The more devices, the more variety, the more connectivity that must be maintained, the higher the workload the service provider will expect. Your system or systems may include:

  • Laptops
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Desktops
  • PCs
  • Macs
  • Servers
  • Workstations
  • Antivirus software
  • Wi-Fi for internal use
  • Wi-Fi for guests
  • Web filtering
  • Personal devices
  • Cloud applications
  • Unique connectivity issues—like warehouse use or outdoor use
  • Business software

This is a very small list of potential devices, software and circumstances. You can see how the complexity of a system can increase rapidly, even if you are not what is considered a technology-oriented company.

Do You Have an Existing IT Team?

At first glance, it is easy to assume that having your own IT team would make the job of the outsourced team easier—but this is not always true. Integrating with an existing team presents its own challenges. If you are just hiring the outside team for a specialized task it may be economical, but the price of individualized services is not necessarily the best deal. The more control the outsourced team has the better they can predict their workload, which can make for a better deal with pricing.

Do You Need Individual Services or Comprehensive Services?

When an IT management company is monitoring your system and tells you of a problem, you have the option of hiring that company to address the issue. The actual monitoring work is relatively low demand, which is why it is inexpensive. But actually addressing the issue requires bringing in an IT professional to examine the problem, identify a solution and implement that solution. The IT company only has so many employees, which means taking care of your problem may mean pulling a team member off of a current project to deal with the problem.

The cost of having your service provider address issues on a per case basis reflects the challenge of dealing with problems as they arise. But when you pay for comprehensive services, like with a mid-range plan, you are compensating the company to keep an employee on-hand for your issues. There may still be some juggling of resources to meet unexpected needs, but much of the workload of handling your systems has been accounted for.

What Will My Managed IT Services Cost?

You cannot get an accurate quote for your specific situation from an article, but you can use the information provided here to identify where your needs lie on the spectrum of potential services. Take a close look at your business and IT needs and consider the following:

  • Do you have your own IT staff, or do you want to have one or more staff members devoted to IT?
  • What is the complexity of your technology? (Answering this question with real accuracy may be difficult to do without the assistance of an IT professional. Even so, it is worth considering to get a ballpark idea of what you will be asking the IT service provider to do for your business.)
  • Will you be satisfied with remote services, or do you want to have someone on-site at least part of the time?
  • Do you need a full network provided for you, or do you have a network on-site?
  • Are you interested in a low initial price point for basic monitoring services—with the potentially high cost of individual services as needed? Or do you that a flat fee for everything would be more appropriate for your needs?

Things to Consider if you Do Have Internal IT Staff

When you have your own IT staff, there is an additional layer of questions you need to ask yourself. Having an “IT” team can mean a lot of different things. You could have one or more serious IT professionals on staff that have the credentials and training to handle a wide variety of tasks. Or, you could have an employee that does basic technology support—that may or may not even specialize in IT. Maybe you have something in between these two scenarios? As you can see, your situation may be entirely different than that of another business.

If you have a serious IT team, you can decide if maintaining that team makes sense for your business. If it does, you can consult with that team to determine what kind of outsourced services you need. If it does not make sense to keep the team, you could consult with different IT providers about how they might take over the role of your team.

If you do not have a serious IT team, it may make more sense to outsource and move your existing IT people—if you have any—to roles that they are better suited for.

Are There Other Options Besides Managed IT Services?

While managed IT services are the recommended choice for most businesses based on cost and efficiency, there are other options available. These include:

On-Demand IT Services

There are a lot of different names for this kind of service, including pay-as-you-go, break-fix, hourly and time & materials. They all refer to the concept of paying for IT services only when you need them. The term break-fix sums the idea up perfectly. If your team breaks something, the IT provider will fix it. Given the unpredictability involved, the cost for these services tends to be high. It may cost anywhere between $50-300 an hour depending on the job, along with the cost of any materials needed.

Block Time

This is a lot like on-demand, as you still get the help you need on demand, but because you pay early you get a discount. You can arrange a deal where you pay for a block of time. When something breaks, you contact the IT provider and let them know you need help. They work for as long as the amount of time you have paid for. If you need more time, they will generally charge you at the hourly rate.

Support from Your Software Vendor

Some software vendors will provide support for their specific products. The support may be included in the price of the software. Usually, you will need to pay extra for support, which may cost thousands or tens of thousands depending on the software.

Get an Accurate Quote—Contact Your Preferred IT Services Provider

As you know, technology can be confusing and frustrating when things start to go wrong. The idea behind managed IT services is that you can keep confusion and frustration to a minimum by outsourcing the management of your technology systems.

If you would like to know precisely what managed IT services will cost for your business, please contact us. We are standing by to give you a quote based on your unique needs.

Effects of A Data Breach on Small Business

Data Breach Small Business

Data Breach Small Business

The information that no business owner or technology director wants to hear: there’s been a data breach. These chilling words can put your brain into overdrive, trying to triage the problem before you even know the full extent of the problem. What will be the impact on customers? On staff? On vendors? Is this simply a temporary bump in the road, or will your business never truly recover? How you’re able to react and your level of preparedness will be the deciding factors in the level of devastation that a data breach can wreak on your business. A recent report from TechBeacon shows that it takes an average of 191 days — over six months — for companies to even identify a breach, much less begin remediation on the road to recovery. Even more frightening, with as many as 7 in 10 of all organizations in the U.S. suffered some sort of data breach over the past several years, with the average breach costing upwards of $3.6 million.

What Are the Immediate Impacts of a Data Breach?

Once you find that your organization has been the target of a cyber attack, your technology team and external vendor partners immediately create a plan of attack. This could include everything from launching an effort to stop the vulnerability that allowed the breach to ensure that your data is restored from external backups as needed. Each of these steps can take time away from your daily operations, while also negatively impacting your overall customer service, manufacturing, eCommerce and staff productivity in general. Plus, there are the additional costs associated with external consultants who are working quickly (and expensively!) to restore your operations and data access. There are also expansive regulatory issues to handle such as technical investigations and regulatory filings about the breach and impact on the public. You can quantify these costs with a little work, but there are some hidden costs that lurk behind the scenes in an extensive data breach. Organizations are reporting thousands of hours required by forensic analysts who are attempting to put together the true nature of the breach.

Loss of Data = Loss of Reputation and Loss of Business

Your customers trust you to be a secure citadel for their sensitive personal, health and financial information. How can you explain to the public that data breaches happen every day? Customers are much less likely to be understanding of your business challenges when they’re personally affected by a data breach. You need to have a plan in place to respond to data breaches urgently, transparently and with empathy, or you could lose a significant amount of business due to lack of consumer confidence in your organization. Finally, you’ll need to put a communication plan in place that includes informing all of your stakeholders about the data breach and how it could affect them. These costs and the time required to get your business back to full operations may make it sound appealing to consider cyber insurance.

Should I Invest in Cyber Insurance?

Just as with other business risks, it makes sense to protect against known threats such as fire, flooding — and cyberattacks. Unfortunately, cyber insurance can be incredibly confusing and there are no guarantees that the expensive investment you make in insurance will cover the specific incidents that could occur at your organization. Even comparing different benefits and offerings can be extremely complex and off-putting for business owners. Instead of buying this questionable insurance, many small to mid-size businesses are instead investing in cybersecurity solutions and comprehensive backup and data recovery strategies.

How Can I Protect My Business From a Cyberattack?

If you don’t have a plan in place to handle data breaches or other cyberattacks, it is never too late to get started! With an average cost per record of $148, according to the 2018 Cost of Data Breach Study, a little prevention against a cyberattack can pay major dividends in the future. Are you confident that your organization has all the safeguards and protective mechanisms in place to maintain adequate security or quickly discover a breach in the event of a cyberattack? A comprehensive cybersecurity solution provides you with a high level of protection that includes:

  • Active monitoring and reporting
  • Vulnerability assessments and remediation
  • Intrusion detection
  • Behavioral monitoring
  • Compliance reporting
  • Agile integration with internal platforms
  • Asset discovery
  • IT and business user training
  • Best practices and process recommendations
  • Extensive backup and disaster recovery planning

When you fail to plan for a cyberattack, you’re essentially planning to fail! In today’s world, it’s rarely a question of if your business will be targeted and more a question of when.

What Are the Benefits of Active Monitoring?

Working with a partner who offers active monitoring of your systems means you have a cybersecurity professional on your side at all times. Someone who is familiar with the footprint left behind by intrusions, and intimately knows the steps required to heal the breach and regain secure control of your systems. Your technology services partner should invest in ongoing education and recommend an aggressive security posture to protect your business. With active monitoring, you may still experience a cyberattack, but you may be able to limit the intrusion to certain systems or records — effectively saving as much of your data as possible through quick action in executing a pre-defined strategy.

As you can see, the effects of a data breach can be far-reaching and extremely expensive. It’s crucial that your business is fully prepared for any eventuality, and that includes an extensive data breach. The faster you’re able to identify the breach and heal it, the better your chances are for long-term business viability. Your technology services partner can provide you with customized recommendations to help protect your business from this pervasive problem.

Top Advantages To Local Small Business When They Outsource IT Services

Outsourced IT Services

Outsourced IT Services

Small business growth is a challenge of keeping up with success without crumbling under commercial weight.

Many improvements needed to reach the next stage of success can be prohibitively expensive, leading to debt and risky gambles that could fail from random chance even if you’re doing everything right.

Tech growth opportunities are becoming more affordable every day. Here are a few details to help you understand how tech outsourcing can improve your business growth.

Reduce Utility Costs

How much power does it take to run a server? What about a room of desktops?

Do you think that equipping everyone with a smartphone or tablet will solve your electrical problems? Not if they still need a server to manage files or run a website.

What about your network equipment? If your business is growing and has heavy network needs, you’re still paying for routers, switches, and hubs. What is the electrical load on those devices?

The answer to those questions is different for every business, but they’re still a cost that can be observed. Every minute of every connected device means more ticks added to your company’s electrical meter, and that adds up over time.

Not every business can operate as a lean, agile tech dream that swipes its way through the cloud. Many businesses still need desktop computers or all-in-one solutions for heavy-duty computing tasks.

Servers are still necessary for any business, whether it’s to share bulk files through the business, host a global customer-facing website, or render complex graphics. All of these tasks generate heat, which means more electricity used in cooling from air conditioning systems.

This could be a good time to discuss the best way to cool a server room. Discussions about central air versus directed pipes, water cooling for high-performance graphic design or scientific research computer may be necessary.

You could build a data center for your growing, small business. You could also struggle through a swamp of growth, making it harder to break that plateau between a small business and a powerful enterprise.

Or you could make it someone else’s problem.

Cloud Computing Turns Tech Needs Into Simple Services

Outsourcing IT services such as web servers, file hosting servers, backup systems, or even workstations is easier than ever. There may be a lot going on in the background, but for you, it’s simple: power up, log on, and access your cloud services.

Almost anything digital can operate across cloud computing. Your business could use a standard internet connection to log into outsourced servers that hold your business files and work with virtual computers that do a lot more than the standard desktop or laptop.

Virtualization allows you to spend less money on powerful workstations. Basic, reliable workstations can be installed to log in, and as long as they can handle a few basic office tasks, they can log into a virtual server.

This server and its virtual workstations are carved from massive cloud computing resources to fit the mold of what you need. Virtual machines can be erased and rebuilt quickly, and can be configured to fit greater needs as long as you give virtualization engineers a reliable set of requirements.

It all comes together to an easier to understand, consistent, and probably lower bill for your tech assets. Your business can grow on the cloud, and you can perform estimates to figure out when—if ever—you need to split off to your own IT infrastructure.

Keep in mind that great businesses still use these services as they grow to behemoths that control global commerce. Just because they can afford to build their own systems doesn’t mean it’s efficient, and it can be more cost-effective to seek outsourced IT partnerships for specific projects.

Do you have high-security data that can’t be compromised? By all means, protect what needs protecting and outsource anything else.

That said, be sure to bring up your security requirements with a system engineer. You may discover that their security standards are higher than your own, or you could enter an agreement to modernize your security.

By working with outsourced IT professionals, you’re not just buying a single service and ignoring them for everything else. If your partnered professionals lack the skills or resources for a specific task, they know where to find someone who fits the job.

Reduce Staffing Overhead

How much does the average IT professional cost? It’s more than just their salary.

When hiring a technician or engineer for a necessary, meaningful position, they need to work at peak efficiency. Just like the hardware and software they manage, a technician needs maintenance, updates, and continued relevance in the business.

A good technician can handle the task at hand. A great technician grows into new challenges, searches for other tasks that leaders may not have noticed, and innovates.

To create a great environment for IT professionals, a business needs to provide training and encourage participation in multiple industry events. They need to have their finger on the pulse of your business ventures and know their own tech potential, which often means reaching into other industries.

While doing all of this, IT professionals need to do the job that you give them. They also need to sleep. They probably need a personal life, but the work-life balance is always a touchy subject.

The question is simple: can you afford that kind of technician?

If your business isn’t creating a bleeding-edge engineer as an incubator of industry progress, neither you nor that technician is reaching their greatest potential. You’re paying them for a specific set of tasks, and in order to grow, that technician will need to reach outside of the business for their growth.

If they reach too far, you may lose that technician and the few growth opportunities you were able to pay forward. Instead, create a partnership with a business that deals in technician growth.

Outsourced IT solutions from managed IT businesses will give you access to trained technicians who are ready to handle your challenges. You are the task, the goal, and the client. You are not, however, responsible for building an entire technician.

Education And Training A Benefit, Not A Cost

Your business is still part of that growth and still provides benefits. Like any profession, experience is a steady march forward through workplaces, job sites, and challenges. Someone else is helping that technician grow, and that’s okay.

Unless your business is centered on IT education—or if you’re an engineer who really likes taking other engineers under your wing—this is a better deal for everyone involved. Tasks can be spread out across multiple technicians who can handle the same projects, but you’re quoted for the service that you purchase.

You’re not responsible for posting job applications on Indeed or CareerBuilder. You’re not responsible for sending technicians to expensive seminars with questionable benefits.

While there’s nothing wrong with taking interest in an outsourced technician’s training or even suggesting a path, the distinction is important: your business won’t sink or swim if you’re not paying for their classroom and self-study growth.

Contact an IT support professional to discuss other ways to enhance your business growth.

What Are The Benefits Of Managed Services To Local Companies

benefits of managed IT services

benefits of managed IT services

Depending on their scope and impact on your workday, tech issues can take hours to resolve, if not days. In some cases, you may spend far too much time tracking down a problem, only to come up empty-handed in the end. In others, such as security breaches, you may not even know there is an issue until the damage has been done. If you and your team have been handling any tech issues that arise on your own, you could greatly benefit from partnering with a managed IT service provider. Here are some of the benefits you can expect from this partnership.

Increases Speed of IT Repairs

When you acquire managed IT services for your company, you can report any and all tech issues as they arise and receive a prompt response. Upon receiving your call, your managed service provider will immediately look into the problem and find the most effective solution. With their years of experience in this realm, their IT experts have likely come across the problem before and already know how to fix it. This makes for very speedy service that helps keep your business operations moving forward without disruption.

Prevents Tech Issues

Managed IT services prove extremely valuable in the prevention of tech issues of all kinds. From malware attacks to hardware failure, your IT service professionals can stay ahead of the leading issues and potentially keep them from cropping up at all. Through these preventative actions, you can avoid unnecessary downtime that could otherwise derail the work efforts of your entire staff.

Improves Employee Productivity

When your employees can hand off tech issues to a dedicated, outsourced team, they can remain on task in fulfilling their daily work duties. This keeps their productivity high, so you can meet your daily business goals and continue to push the annual growth of the company. With your employees on task, rather than dealing with IT issues, your business operations can continue running smoothly day after day.

Boosts Data Security

Computer software and hardware issues can have a detrimental impact on the security of your business data. Especially since most of these problems remain hidden from view until a catastrophic loss of data occurs. Therefore, your company and client information likely remain at risk without help from a skilled IT expert. These professionals specialize in optimizing security at the network, server and workstation levels, so you can focus on running your business without worry.

Ensures Regulatory Compliance

With improved data security, you can rest assured that you are not breaching regulatory compliance rules for your industry. Your managed IT service professionals stay on the cutting edge of security to ensure their clients always remain in compliance. You can customize your service plan with the right level of protection for your company and its associated industry regulations.

Decreases Equipment Upkeep and Repair Expenses

You can decrease the amount you spend on upkeep and repair of your equipment with oversight from skilled IT professionals. These pros will only perform the necessary tasks that are required to maintain your daily business operations. Their ability to track down the problem and fix it the first time around will likely prove invaluable as you work on minimizing downtime and boosting employee productivity. These professionals can also help you time and plan your equipment upgrades perfectly to avoid wasting money on unnecessary items or overspending on parts.

Works Well for Any Budget

With your managed service partnership, you can build your custom IT plan around the exact needs of your company. You can select the items that will benefit you the most and leave the rest. If you only need computer and cloud support, for example, you can leave all server-related services off your plan. You are not locked into the services you select in the beginning either. You can also make adjustments to the scope of your managed IT service plan as you expand your operations.

Ability to Easily Expand

As your business achieves phenomenal growth, you will likely need to add computer equipment and make other key adjustments to accommodate your team and their needs. Your managed IT service provider can help you develop a plan that supports your current and future levels of growth. You can build a stronger network, upgrade your software and add computers to your workplace, for example, in support of your company’s continued success.

Peace of Mind

When you sign up for managed services, you will give yourself true peace of mind in knowing that all your IT needs are handled. You can call for service any time that your computer equipment acts up or software programs fail to operate as expected. You will receive support and oversight in the prevention of problems that would otherwise cause much downtime for your employees. Through all the managed IT service benefits, peace of mind comes out on top as it allows you to focus on what really matters –accelerating the success of your company.

Setting Up Your Managed IT Service Plan

With a look at these managed IT service benefits, it is clear that there are many ways this arrangement can boost the success of your business. You can get started in building this partnership by calling your preferred managed service provider. With this call, you can share the network, equipment and other IT needs of your company to start building your plan.

If you are uncertain of your company’s IT needs, that is okay. Using their skills and expertise, your service provider will assist in identifying the areas that will help your business grow and thrive. Your IT pros will also take a close look at your industry, including all regulations, to help you find the appropriate level of service for your company’s success through the years.

Is Having a vCIO Essential?

vcio

vcio services

Are your company processes aligned with the technology you have? Have you purchased different software for different things when one software could have been used for multiple things? Do you feel there are technological gaps or challenges not being appropriately addressed? Is your company providing its services or products in the most optimal way? Do you want systems streamlined to meet company goals?

If you have any one of these questions or any others like them, then you may be in need of a vCIO. But is a vCIO just another expense for your company or is it essential to obtaining optimal performance and achieving goals? Here’s what you need to know and should consider.

What is a vCIO?

A vCIO, short for virtual Chief Information Officer, provides all the functions of a CIO that large firms employ to develop strategies designed to leverage technology for optimal business performance. The CIO looks to technology for solutions, aligns it with business needs and goals, and measures its success by establishing metrics. In addition, the CIO keeps informed of all new opportunities and technological developments to ensure the company is up-to-date and on course for success.

Thus, a CIO is vital to an organization’s development, growth, and continued success. The one difference between a CIO and a vCIO, however, is this: resources. A full-time CIO is expensive and requires a lot of resources. You have to provide an office, a workstation, a good salary, and benefits. Those are costs that medium to smaller sized organizations would like to avoid. A vCIO allows these companies to benefit from the skills and knowledge of a CIO without having to put forth the full expense of one. A vCIO can be retained on an as-needed basis, so you pay only for the times you benefit from his or her services. In sum, your smaller company outsources a vCIO and receives larger company executive-level expertise at an affordable basis.

What benefits can a vCIO bring to your company?

To know the benefits a vCIO would bring to your company, a good starting point is understanding better what a vCIO actually does.

A vCIO is equipped with pretty much the same duties and responsibilities that a CIO is, and these include:

  • Analyzing IT. A vCIO assesses the hardware and software you use as well as your overall IT infrastructure and aligns it with your business processes and business goals. This analysis allows the vCIO to understand your work processes as well as to identify any challenges, gaps, and tech solutions. Based on this analysis, a vCIO will recommend hardware, software, and IT infrastructure expenditures.
  • Strategizing. A vCIO’s primary goal is using technology strategically. The vCIO will develop a plan to create and manage an IT system that helps the company achieve goals. The vCIO has a deep knowledge of technology and business and is able to incorporate both to benefit companies. To incorporate the strategy, the vCIO will work with other stakeholders and direct the IT roadmap.
  • Adding Value. A vCIO makes sure that the technology used brings value to the company by helping employees do their jobs better and by providing services and information, among other things, to clients more efficiently. A vCIO makes sure employees and clients get what they need.
  • Providing information. They are not called chief information officers for no reason. vCIOs must stay current on all things related to technology, including things that pose as risks to the company, technologically speaking. The vCIO will know all the industry trends and will analyze what the future holds so that the company invests in the right technology now and does not lose out later because of it.

These are the broad responsibilities of a vCIO, and through these responsibilities — if executed well — the company benefits. By leveraging technology strategically and successfully, a vCIO helps the company increase its employee and customer/client satisfaction while also increasing revenue and decreasing expenses.

In this way, the ultimate benefit of a vCIO is this: competitive edge. A vCIO can be that competitive advantage your company has over the competition.

Does your company need a vCIO?

In today’s market, no matter what industry you are in, technology plays a role. And technology is changing and evolving all the time, and with the latter come new opportunities as well and new challenges. No company today should be without an information officer, but so many are, and that’s why so many companies fail to achieve their goals. An information officer brings together technology advancements with company goals, and through this strategic alignment, magic happens.

So the question should really be: do you need a full-time CIO or a vCIO? The answer is dependent on several factors.

  • Number of employees. How many employees does your company have? Generally speaking, a company employing 250 people or fewer may benefit from a vCIO, but larger companies typically require full-time CIOs.
  • Technology. How much is your company reliant on technology? What are your security needs? How many employees are dependent on technology for their day-to-day tasks? How is data stored and managed?
  • Company Growth. Do you intend to grow your company? If so, when and how?
  • Business Goals. What are your business goals? How do you intend to reach those goals?
  • Resources. What resources, especially in terms of financial resources, does your company have? A vCIO saves you money and helps you increase profits, but the initial costs must be considered.

There are no straightforward means to determine if your company needs a vCIO or not. You must consider the above factors and weigh your answers. Technology today is complex. Its application for strategic purposes is complex. Its benefits, however, are many. Can a vCIO take your company where you want it to go, and can it do so faster, more efficiently, and more effectively?

Is a vCIO essential to your company?

Now for the real question: is the vCIO essential to your business? The short answer: yes. But if you are still unsure, ask yourself these questions:

  • Does your company have a go-to IT person who knows all things technology?
  • Is the technology your company has being used fully and strategically?
  • Are you creating value through your technology?
  • Is your data safe and secure?
  • Are your employees satisfied?
  • Are your clients/customers satisfied?
  • Do you see growth in the future?
  • Do your IT infrastructure and your business procedures lead to outcomes that achieve business goals?
  • Do you have a competitive advantage over your competitors?

If you answered no to any of these questions, then that can be problematic. A vCIO can ensure that all the above questions are answered affirmatively, and when that’s the case, you can rest assured your company is performing optimally. So, ask yourself now: is a vCIO essential to your company? Then act; do your research and find a vCIO that will fit well with your company.

A Look At The 2018 Cybercrime Stats

2018 Cybercrime Stats

2018 Cybercrime Stats

What Is the Big Picture in Terms of Cybercrime in 2018?

The past few years have revealed trends that show us cybercrime won’t just go away. The following stats put the breadth of the threat into perspective:

  • Cybercrime was the 2nd largest crime in terms of the number of incidents reported.
  • Cybercrime accounts for more than half all criminal activity in the U.K.
  • An attacker is present in a network an average of 146 days before getting caught. That’s enough time to get what they need without getting caught.

What Did Cybercrime Cost in 2018?

With technology continuing to advance in favor of cybercrime, 2019 is likely to see its share of hacking headlines. The Cyber Security Breaches Survey revealed that 43 percent of businesses experienced some kind of cybersecurity breach in 2018. California alone lost $214 million to cybercriminals.

VPNs are one way people try to protect their online privacy, but user behavior continues to counteract the best firewalls and security strategies. For example, despite knowing the risks of clicking an unknown link or email, many people do so anyway.

What is a Cybercrime Platform?

The cybercrime economy mimics the global economy’s shift towards a platform model. This mirrors the legitimate shift to social media, Amazon and Google. Platforms connect retailers and consumers and give people a place to interact in other ways. Unfortunately, this has given unscrupulous people an opportunity to get to know how these systems work and use that knowledge to commit cybercrimes.

What Is the Most Common File Format Used By Cyber Criminals?

Hackers love Microsoft Office file extensions. They know people trust them and are more likely to click on them. Emails are the most common way that cybercriminals defraud their victims, and they do so by sending files with familiar extensions to mask malware and spyware. People use emails every day for all kinds of communications, including very sensitive information. Unfortunately, it’s relatively easy for bad actors to send you an email that opens you up to viruses, identity theft and other risks.

How Are Cyber Criminals Making Money Off Your Computing Power?

Some hackers aren’t interested in your personal information or causing havoc with your sensitive files. Believe it or not, some cyber criminals break into your computer to steal your computing power. They may use these unauthorized resources to mine cryptocurrencies, for example.

One of the latest threats involves the use of your computer or other devices for bitcoin mining. Symantec has reported an increase of 8,500 percent in the number of people caught coin-mining. This indicates that there are hackers dedicated to accessing and using a victim’s computer resources in lieu of stealing personal data.

How Much Money Can a Cybercriminals Make?

The short answer to this is that an individual with the right skills can earn far more via cybercrime than most legitimate lines of work. Individuals can earn about half a million dollar a year by selling stolen data. There are several levels involved, however. Low-level hackers may be happy with petty crimes that put extra cash in their pocket. Highly specialized hackers can make millions working alone or as a team. Generally, though, hackers make about 15 percent more than those in traditional crime brackets. High earners bring home about$167,000 a month, mid-level earners rake in $75,000 a month and at the low end of the spectrum, petty cybercriminals make $3,500 a month. For instance, someone managing multiple card data forums can bring in millions each month.

How Do Hackers Use Existing Platforms to Make Money?

Just turn on the news any given night and you can find stories on data breaches, the bread and butter of cyber thieves. Personal data can be sold as is or used to created bank accounts and apply for credit cards, which are sold for small or large fortunes. Theft isn’t the only crime possible. Major platforms are targeted for the myriad of data they collect. Even Facebook is not immune. It was in the news for a significant data leak in 2018. Yahoo also had a major breach that compromised 3 billion user profiles. Cybercriminals aren’t shy about going after these giants, so it’s up to you to increase your vigilance at home and at the office.

Are Smart Homes Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks?

Smart home devices usually connect to your home network from an outside network. If your router is adequated protected, you’re opening the front door of your home for cybercriminals. With smart home devices becoming more common, savvy criminals are learning to take advantage of their vulnerabilities.

Is Your Business Being Taken Care Of By A Professional Help Desk Team?

Computer Help Desk

As much as people hope their business can run like a well-oiled machine, the truth is issues are inevitable. With businesses using an increasing number of technologically advanced tools, many issues experienced in the workplace have to do with the technology itself.

If a system or tool fails or becomes inoperable, or an employee lacks knowledge on how to use technology effectively, the organization is unable to optimize its IT in the most useful, profitable way. In short, technology should be working for you, not against you. Enterprise help desks—often a component of the remote monitoring provided by Managed Service Providers (MSPs)—are a vital part of helping a company, large or small, run smoothly by providing a single point of contact for users to get assistance. From there, help desk technicians work to keep organizations’ technologies up-to-date and running smoothly.

What is a professional help desk team?

In business, and particularly the IT area, there are two main concepts when it comes to help desks, which are responsible for addressing, answering or troubleshooting the technical issues experienced by users. The first type of IT help desk has to do with the services, software or other options a company sets up to handle customer queries and issues. If a user (or customer) is experiencing trouble using a company’s website or some other technical difficulty, they often will interact with the company’s help desk by messaging with a representative online or on the phone, emailing, or filling out a ticket.

Businesses themselves also benefit by being taken care of by a professional help desk team, staffed by professional, certified experts who can support the organization and its IT systems. These internal help desks are set up to offer a similar type of help, except aimed at the employees within the organization, rather than the customers.

Where does help desk support come from?

Some major companies maintain an in-house help desk to support their IT and offer preventative maintenance, network monitoring, and other solutions that decrease the downtime of IT services and functions. Other companies use remote, outsourced help desk services, generally offered by Managed Service Providers (MSPs), and access the same support from technicians via phone, online and occasional site visits.

Help desk technicians are trained to quickly address and resolve technical issues relating to:

  • User administration
  • Desktop performance
  • Hardware and networks
  • Printer installation and support
  • Microsoft and Apple Desktop operating systems
  • Microsoft Office and leading third-party applications
  • Email applications and web browsers
  • Mobile phones and tablets

Help desks often use desk software or an issue-tracking system to keep track of user requests, which allows them to prioritize cases, efficiently locate solutions to common questions and concerns, and maintain records of issues.

Some help desks utilize a tiered approach to manage a variety of queries and conveniently categorize problems. For instance, the first level is designed to provide answers to frequently asked questions and the like. Those problems that are a bit more complex or cannot be solved at the first level are passed on to the next level, where technicians who are better trained or have special areas of expertise can take care of them.

How do businesses benefit from help desk support?

Having proper technical support from a professional help desk helps prevent IT problems from halting your business, leading to enhanced efficiency, a seamless work environment, and boosted productivity. When employees are able to accomplish tasks and do their jobs without hitting technical snags or experiencing system downtime, the entire organization profits. End users experiencing trouble with their computer hardware and software or other technologies can rely on help technicians to provide support and troubleshooting services.

Equally important, however, is the proactive and preventative maintenance provided by help desks for optimal network stability. Many times, the goal is to detect small issues before they become larger, crippling problems that can lead to system failure.

Help desks are often an extension of a more robust remote monitoring platform that allows an MSP to take care of its clients. By taking a proactive approach to network monitoring and engaging in regular maintenance, help desk technicians help you stay ahead of the game. They can detect problems early on and then actively work to resolve them—sometimes even before they have been reported.

What should you look for in a help desk team?

A professional help desk team should include technicians who possess technical knowledge, effective communication skills, and the ability to identify and prioritize technology solutions. Skilled technicians will have a deep understanding of computer software and hardware, operating systems, smart devices, and other types of technology. They also should be receiving regular training, coaching and quality review to sharpen their skills as technology continuously evolves. Additionally, your professional help desk team will be backed by professional managers and supervisors who can provide cohesion and consistency, ensuring you receive the best service delivery.