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Office 365, Office 2016, & Windows 10: The Microsoft Ecosystem at Work.

Microsoft Office 365 is now the default software architecture for Microsoft products in Small Business, with the launches of Office 2016 & Windows 10 in the July quarter we now have a fairly good picture of the new Microsoft Business Ecosystem – so what’s the verdict? Overall, I would say impressive technically, and ultimately reasonable value for the average business. In assessing you need to understand the changing IT environment that these products are designed around, the major trends being:

  • Bring your own device (BYOD).
  • Multi Device with Syncing between devices on multiple operating platforms.
  • Tablets, Smartphone & PC smoothing (same software on different device types).
  • Collaboration & anywhere access.

This means the Microsoft business office environment needs to be flexible, duplicable, accessible & remotely administered. Personally having used the combined office software now for some time, and having downloaded my Office 365 on 4 different devices and types (PC, Smartphone, Laptop, & Android Tablet) I am impressed, particularly with Outlook 365;

  • Same Operation – Outlook 365 looks feels and operates similarly on all device types.
  • Cross Platform – Microsoft, Apple, & Android all just work the same.
  • Simple Downloads – once your Outlook 365 tenant has been professionally setup, data migrated, & deployed – downloading the software on extra devices is easy as long as you know you admin stuff.
  • Syncing – it just works seamlessly regardless of what device I am using, it stays updated and syncs without any drama, knowing that the Microsoft data centre is doing all this in the background makes the value equation easier to swallow.

While Outlook 365 may not be the 2016 version it still works like a dream and think the difference between the Outlook 2013 & Outlook 2016 is minimal. I love these features in Outlook 365;

  • Clutter inbox – working like a spam inbox it is like triage for email it learns which email addresses send you frequent emails that you are slow to open or just delete. It identifies these emails and puts them in “Clutter” to work through when you are not busy. It does work and becomes a cool feature.
  • Conversations – is a way of displaying your emails so it will show all the previous emails on the same topic next to each other, it allow you to ignore whole topics plus when you are done you can delete everything in that conversation. Try it under View in Outlook.
  • Search – big enough to warrant its own tab it gives some many ways to slice and dice your search filter than the straight old index search. Plus it seems to work at a much faster speed than previous search.
  • Skype Integration – Use Skype to check in and collaborate with someone using Instant Messaging (IM), voice, video, or screen sharing. Also join online meetings while on the go using the Skype for Business mobile app. See who is online, IM meeting participants, and follow along when a presenter shares his screen – all from your tablet or phone.

Office 2016 is now available with a full updated software range including Word, Excel, PowerPoint with some new cool features, but to be honest when upgrading from 2013 they are not that different, but for Office 2010, & 2007 users it’s worth the change. Given Microsoft now include Office 2016 as the default download for new Office 365 subscriptions, most businesses will find they will upgrade their Office version when they switch to Office 365.  A few other programs are included that may make the switch more interesting for old Office users;

  • OneNote- Like an electronic notepad collect any and all relevant information (e.g., photos, videos, clippings, & drawings) in one central location, work with others, and watch the app sync changes within seconds.
  • OneDrive - Access your Office documents from anywhere and any device by saving them to OneDrive, pick up anywhere you left off, and co-author with others from the comfort of your office or home, or even on the go.

Windows 10 now has over 100 million users worldwide so it has been stress tested & the commercial lagging with drivers & applications has in most cases been addressed. If you have a specific application it may still pay to check it is compatible with Windows 10. Why move to Windows 10;

  • Improved performance – including decreased boot-up time, which is markedly quicker, while better hardware acceleration and a host of other tweaks mean general navigation feels nippier, too. Power management has also been improved, so mobile device battery life tends to be a little longer.
  • Design – if you were hesitant to move to Windows 8.1 due its look, then Windows 10 takes a compromised view with the with the flat windows and bold colours taking over,  but with the old comfort  of the Control Panel and Computer Management interfaces using old icons
  • Price – it is still free to upgradeso it is tempting, if you’ve got a copy of Windows 7 you’d almost feel like you’re missing out. After all, you can still downgrade back to whatever previous version of Windows you had if you decide you don’t like Windows 10.

Is Your Business Ready to Take Advantage of new improved Microsoft Ecosystem? The new Microsoft Ecosystem may be a great way to help improve your business. Office 365 offers a range of advanced tools that enables your employees to be productive anywhere and at any time across a range of devices. With Office 2016 & Windows 10 now in release you can combine to get the very latest software across your business knowing it works and is fully compatible. If you wish to upgrade your Microsoft Ecosystem it still requires guidance to get it right, so give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call today and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss how Office 365 can benefit your business.

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Microsoft OneDrive – What is it?

Microsoft Office 365 is increasingly integrating cloud capabilities within it’s core Office range (Outlook, Word, Powerpoint, & Excel), cloud applications such as OneDrive are fully included in most subscriptions.

OneDrive is an external storage resource located in the Microsoft Data Centre in Australia, available as part of your Office 365 subscription package. OneDrive will simply appear as drive in your computer when you migrate to Office 365, much like any other external directory such as your C: drive, USB or portable hard drive. So when you go to save a file you have choice to save to your own hard drive or the OneDrive drive which is located in the Cloud.

Why use OneDrive?

OneDrive is great place to store & share files, as simple as if you would like to hold a duplicate external copy of your file for protection, or you wish to access the file from a remote location from a different device.

OneDrive however is much more, it allows syncing between your devices and sharing with external parties with a permissions. OneDrive for Business is particularly useful for small businesses who may share files on a continual basis and provides a similar advantage to a server in centralizing access and versions with permissions for access. Office 365 business subscriptions include a 1TB data allowance of storage per user, this is a very large amount of data stored in secure & external data centre operated by Microsoft, The three main benefits of OneDrive:

Store – Offsite Storage for up to 1TB of files per user

Sync – OneDrive syncs files changes from any device  or location back to the central version so you always get the most recent version

Share – OneDrive allow files to be shared and accessed with permissions both internally within your organization & externally.

Small business in particular may be able to get most of the benefits of a file server by using OneDrive with little additional cost – so why not use it?

What are the limitation of OneDrive?

OneDrive is wonderful cloud enabled extra in the Office 365 package, but it does have limitations and you need to consider warnings when you choose to move any of your storage to the Cloud.

Data Transfer – like all cloud based service the transfer of data from your premises to the data centre can come with a costs either in additional data usage costs, or in data traffic congestion of your network. The effect on your business will depend on your broadband connection method, ISP, and rate plan, but if you slow down your core business IT infrastructure, it can spell disaster.

Sync – OneDrive is driven by a syncing mode that means newer versions of files can be overlaid over older versions, this is a great feature when you have multiple users using the same file and ensures you always access the latest version, however if you are using OneDrive for backup purposes, the backed up original version may automatically be overwritten by the sync mode.

Off Site but Connected – While the OneDrive storage is physically located remotely from your premises, it still is connected as drive to your system and network. As it appears a dive on your machine (much like your C: drive), should you catch a virus or worse a malware Trojan, such as Crytolocker, it can easy be encrypted or corrupted like any other data on your system. If you are using OneDrive for backup we still recommend a rotation of media or specific backup facilities to fully protect you.

Are you Ready for OneDrive?

OneDrive for Business is a place where you can store, sync, and share your work files. As part of Office 365, OneDrive for Business lets you update and share your files from anywhere and work on Office documents with others at the same time. It can be a great way to great the benefits of a server network without the upfront cost.

Office 365 is increasing the preferred IT platform option for most businesses, we can help with the user setup, data migration, & ongoing administration of the your Office 365 environment, as well as making sure you get the most from the other value added Office 365 services such as OneDrive, Skype for Business, Sharepoint & Yammer.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand how your business can benefit by using OneDrive as part of your Office 365 solution and ensure you understand the limitations and recommendations we have around the implementation of these services. Call Computer Troubleshooters today to see how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get you started with OneDrive for Business.

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How to recover deleted files? – File Recovery

As IT support specialists virtually every day we are asked to recover deleted files. With so much valuable information now stored in digital format, so many devices and options we are all increasingly vulnerable to human error! That’s right over a quarter of data recovery requests are as a result of human intervention.

The good news is that of all the file recovery requests we receive, accidently deleted files are regarded as our most likely to have a successful file recovery. Recovering deleted files can still be complicated and may require an expert to use Data Recovery software to examine computers storage to find the hidden remains of the deleted files and extract them back into a workable form.

What to do if you accidently delete a file?

Don’t Panic – we recommend that you keep the computer turned on, and all applications open while you investigate the simple solutions below:

  • Deleted Items – if in email, check the deleted items folder (it is generally near your inbox) this holds all deleted emails until you close your email application. If you can see your deleted file in the deleted items folder just click & drag across back into your inbox. File restored.
  • Recycle Bin – if the file deleted was a document or image file, check your recycle bin, which has icon that is generally found on your desktop, click on the icon, it will show you deleted files that are awaiting permanent deletion (generally these are deleted when the computer powers off), just click and drag back onto your desktop.
  • AutoSave –applications such as word and excel have an Autosave function that can sometimes saved an automated version copy. Within the application click on the top left Office button which will show a menu that includes an item such as Word Options & Save Options, this will generally show the autosave settings and the file location of the autosave directory. You can then go to the indicated location and recover the deleted file (this may vary on depending on which version of Office is installed).
  • File Search – Use the Microsoft Search function located in the Start Button (on the bottom left) to try find your file as you may have saved into the wrong directory or you may find an older version.

If you tried these simple solutions with no luck, then it may be time to get serious,

  • Restore Backup Files – if you have a backup in place you should be able to restore the file back on to your main computer hard drive or course it will only be a version available from last time you backed up. It will depend on where and what software you are using for you backup how this can be done.
  • Software Retrieval – this will mean you need to consult a professional to use data recovery software to interrogate your drive, find, & restore your deleted files. Do not run any disk cleanup or defragmentation tools in the interim as these will overwrite drives which may contain your deleted files. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters for this professional service.
  • No file found – of course we do find times when even we can’t retrieve an accidently deleted file, that’s when we call in our data recovery partners. Our data recovery partners have specialist equipment, software and use dedicated data recovery technicians to extract hidden data.

Hopefully you will recover your deleted files, of course being proactive about protecting your data is the best protection, back up regularly whether it’s for your business or your personal data.

Yet even with a tested and reliable backup system, sometimes unexpected accidents can still happen. Of course the other 74% of data recovery involves physical damage or corruption which can happen to all data storage devices including hard drives, cell phones and memory sticks.

If required we can use our Data Recovery Partner for the following specialized data recovery services:

  • Hard Drive Recovery: Hard drives are becoming increasingly less common in laptops. External storage devices are in greater use but are at greater risk for being dropped, damaged and compromising your data.
  • Cell Phone and Flash Drives: Flash drives are no moving drives problems such as deleted files, corrupted partitions, file system damage and physically damaged devices can be remedied by their recovery experts.
  • Notebooks, Tablets, Digital Cameras and MP3 Players:  recovery services for Notebook PCs and Tablets. Damaged image or audio files can also be recovered..

Computer Troubleshooters is Here to Protect You and Your Data

If you have accidently deleted files; don’t panic, if approached logically the deleted files can generally be retrieved.

If you need for help recovering a deleted file, or more serious data recovery services, or assistance in establishing a reliable backup solution, call Computer Troubleshooters and one of our technology professionals can help you.



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Windows 10 Help – what to do Before & After you Upgrade

Windows 10 is the latest Operating System (OS) from Microsoft; you may have read our explanation of Windows 10 the feature, benefits and risks associated with upgrading, plus some Windows 10 help tips.

Having taken all this into account if you are keen to proceed with your upgrade to Windows 10 here is our Before & After advice to help you protect yourself in the noticed a Windows 10 notification on your current system. Here are some Windows 10 help tips:

  • Check your computer to see if you have any devices, apps or compatibility issues that would mean an unsuccessful upgrade.
  • Check whether your computer has enough resources to run Windows 10. Most computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8 won’t have a problem unless you’re already running out of disk space.
  • Download 3GB over your internet connection.
  • Build in some protection for ‘rolling back’ the upgrade if it fails.

But being a realistic and slightly cynical systems administrator (one who sees the pain when updates go bad), here’s what I want you to do:

  1. BEFORE the upgrade, create a System Repair Disk (Windows 7) or USB Recovery Drive (Windows 8)

Instructions for creating a Windows 7 System Repair Disc:

  • Click Start, then Control Panel, then System and Maintenance, then Backup and Restore.
  • Click Create a System Repair Disc and follow the steps. You will need a blank CD.

Instructions for creating a Windows 8/8.1 System Recovery Drive:

  1. BEFORE the upgrade, lay your hands on your original software installation CDs and/or license keys for any of your critical software applications.
    3. BEFORE the upgrade, confirm that you have a copy of your important files (documents, photos, saved projects etc) somewhere else other than that computer i.e. in OneDrive/Dropbox/Google Drive/external USB hard drive

And sure, if the upgrade goes painlessly, you’ve wasted a little time being super prepared. But if it turns sour, your computer repair person will thank you for your diligence (and so will your wallet when you get their reduced bill).


  • In the ‘Search the web and Windows’ box on the task bar, type Create a recovery then click the Create a recovery drive (Control Panel) that appears in the search results
  • Please wait will appear while the computer searches for a USB drive. You’ll need one that holds at least 4GB and it will be completely formatted, so don’t have anything else on it.
  • Once the file copy is finished, remove & label your USB recovery drive and store it in a safe place.

A recovery drive is the best way for a computer technician to restore your computer with your settings, but it an only be created BEFORE your computer has any problems.

For a complete Windows 10 Help – Before & After upgrade guide

Call your nearest Computer Troubleshooters for advice and Windows 10 help with your upgrade.


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Windows 10 Release – What to do?

Windows 10 is the latest Operating System (OS) from Microsoft; you may have noticed a Windows 10 notification on your current system. What does it all mean & what should you do?

Microsoft have has announced that eligible computers running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can gain a free upgrade to Windows 10 from the of 29th of July. This free upgrade offer is available to be taken over the next 12 month; those who are eligible will receive a system icon and popup on their screens.

Windows 10 notification

Once you have the notification after this date you will be able to upgrade. But the question is should you upgrade or not. Most experts are confident about the stability of this operating system than any previous version. The end user testing (through the Windows Insider program) has been unprecedented, so a significant amount of feedback has already gone into this product from technical people who are very particular! That doesn’t guarantee that your upgrade will go smoothly, but all software upgrades come with a degree of risk.

Windows 10 Recommendation

Our general recommendation is to initially hold off upgrading until there are sufficient worldwide users to stress test the OS and isolate any bugs that may have slipped through testing, after a few weeks there will be a consensus on performance. The free upgrade offer will be available until at least 29th July 2016 so there is no rush. Some of your applications may not work properly or some features may not function. QuickBooks has been identified as a potential problem, for example. Intuit does not have Windows 10 on their supported Operating Systems. Windows 10 introduces a totally new browser called Microsoft Edge/Spartan, replacing Internet Explorer.  This is sure to offer challenges and compatibility issues with web based applications many of our clients depend on every day.

Why upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 is regarded as a mesh of the best of Windows 7 look & the enhanced apps & multi device functionality from Windows 8.1. Here are some reasons to upgrade:

  • Improved performance – including decreased boot-up time, which is markedly quicker, while better hardware acceleration and a host of other tweaks mean general navigation feels nippier, too. Power management has also been improved, so mobile device battery life tends to be a little longer
  • Design – if you were hesitant to move to Windows 8.1 due its look, then Windows 10 takes a compromised view with the with the flat windows and bold colours taking over, but with the old comfort  of the Control Panel and Computer Management interfaces using old icons
  • Search – Windows 10 greatly enhances the features of search that was started in Windows 7, useful search functions that will quite rapidly look up matching programs and documents as you type. It also provides quick access to core features and your chosen programs. It’s simple but effective. Click on the now separate search box and it will also now include Windows Store apps and web search, with results shown in a much more organised fashioned.
  • File Management the tools used for finding and managing your files are some of the most oft used and fundamental to a good operating system. A new Share ribbon which makes it much easier to move files between different apps such as Outlook, Dropbox or Skype. Now copying/moving tasks are grouped into one window for easier management. Transfer speed is also shown in real time and operations can also be paused, where they could only previously be cancelled.
  • Tablet Mode & Touchscreens – Windows 10 is a vast improvement over Windows 7 when it comes to user experience and operation on touchscreen devices. Windows 10 is designed to work smoothly across a range of devices, making it much easier to switch between your desktop, hybrid laptop and tablet.
  • Price – we don’t know how much a standalone copy of Windows 10 will cost, but the big news is that it is free to upgrade from either Windows 7 or 8 for the first year of Windows 10’s life. So it is tempting, if you’ve got a copy of Windows 7 you’d almost feel like you’re missing out. After all, you can still downgrade back to whatever previous version of Windows you had if you decide you don’t like Windows 10.

If you can see the benefits of upgrading then make sure you read our advice on what to do Before & After you upgrade to Windows 10 or ask you local Computer Troubleshooters for some expert advice


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Cryptolocker is back – Ransomware beware!

Cryptolocker the planet’s worst ransomware trojan has reappeared in all its ugly forms. Across the world networks and computer files have been encrypted by this trojan before a ransom demand is made to the user or administrator. Some victims who don’t have adequate backup are losing all their files, or having to pay a ransom of thousands to the criminals who propagate this electronic curse.

Cryptolocker is propagated via infected email attachments, and via abotnet; when activated, the malware encrypts certain types of files stored on local and mounted network drives using RSA public key cryptography.  Cryptolocker itself is readily removed, however encrypted files will remain locked unless the key is provided. Worse some who have paid the ransom, have not had the key provided being left with encrypted files and a big bill. It is estimated that around 3% of affected users pay the ransom requested.

Almost a year ago the US Department of Justice announced that the FBI and Interpol had publicly issued an indictment against a Russian hacker and had gained the keys to the malware. However it appears a new version and clones such as CryptoWall and TorrentLocker are back in business,

Security software is designed to detect such threats, however it may not detect Cryptolocker at all, or only after encryption is underway or complete, particularly if a new version unknown to the protective software.

To how do you get Cryptolocker?

Email is the primary entry point for the Cryptolocker Trojan into networks and computers. Cryptolocker typically is propagated as an attachment to a seemingly innocuous e-mail message, which appears to have been sent by a legitimate company. These emails may contain company logos and representations that they are legitimate: examples in Australia and New Zealand include Australia Post, New Zealand Post, The Australian Federal Police, Microsoft, UPS parcel deliveries, and several of the major banks.

The emails tend to offer legitimate services or ask a reasonable request as simple as a payment receipt, deliver document, or in the case of the Australian Federal Police scam asking you to view a speeding fine or photo. Once the attachment is clicked, the ransomware is deployed in your systems and then encrypts files across local hard drives and mapped network drives with the public key, and logs each file encrypted to a registry key. The process only encrypts data files with certain extensions, including Microsoft OfficeOpenDocument, and other documents, pictures, and AutoCAD files.

If you think you have Cryptolocker?

Once the execution file for the encryption is completed it is almost impossible to unlock files without the key. If you suspect that you have clicked on a cryptolocker email it is important to shut down as soon as possible. The malware invades all mapped drives of the network, so any connected backup or external drives can be infected, as well other machines on the network can also catch the virus, so keeping the machine off and isolated is a very important part of reducing damage.

Once your machine is encrypted it is really a matter of isolating the machine from all networks, keep it turned off and disconnected from the internet. It then becomes a matter of determining the damage & spread, & if backups are available. It is  a great time to call an IT Expert, like Computer Troubleshooters, who can advise the appropriate course of action, be it restoring the machine with backup, or paying the ransom (and in both cases removing the Cryptolocker virus) .

How to prevent a Cryptolocker infection?

Prevention – don’t open or click on unsolicited emails

  • Educate everyone on the risk of opening email attachments that they shouldn’t. They may receive an email that they weren’t expecting or something may look wrong about it. These emails can also come from a spoofed account that may look legitimate or even appear to be from someone you know. The bottom line is to always be careful when opening email attachments.

Here is a our Checklist to protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Business from Cyptolocker

In both our professional and private lives, each of us needs to assume responsibility for our online activities. These responsibilities involve a combination of equipment maintenance and software updates coupled with appropriate online behavior and a constant vigilance against criminal activities. We suggest that you start with this brief checklist:

  • Maintain a Clean Machine by running the most recent operating system, security software, apps and web browser as a defense against online threats such as viruses and malware.
  • Security Software – every computer should have internet security protection to help detect Cryptolocker, it may also limit the harm done by warning you before the file is executed, should you accidently click on a host email.
  • Firewalls and Encryption should be in use by businesses to secure their internet connection. Educate employees about passwords and internet security guidelines.
  • Scams, Spam, and Phishing are hazards you can avoid. Don’t open e-mailed attachments from strangers and never click on unknown links contained within e-mails. Enable the filters on your e-mail programs to screen for spam. Beware of messages indicating upgrades, technical updates and special offers. These tactics are no longer limited to e-mail, so be vigilant when on social networking sites.
  • Have a Backup to non networked drive – either rotate external drivesor have off site scheduled backup. Beware of using sync backups such as OneDrive as they can also be encrypted.

Computer Troubleshooters Can Help Your Business with Cyber Security

Computer Troubleshooters can do an assessment of your business’ computer network. We can also provide recommendations for establishing a strategic approach to cyber security and assist you with a variety of solutions to reduce the risk of a security breach.  We strongly encourage you to prepare your business for the threat of a cyber security crime, call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today for help and advice.


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Skype for Business – What is it?

In the popular 2008 film “Up in the Air,” George Clooney portrays a corporate downsizing expert who spends nearly all of his time flying around the country on business. In fact, the character actually spends 320 days per year on planes and in airports. His enthusiasm for air travel is partially based on his goal of accumulating 10 million frequent flyer travel miles. Clooney’s character does eventually achieve his frequent flyer travel goal, but by that point let’s not speculate on his health, wellbeing, social life or family relationships

Why Travel When You Can Skype?

Up in the Air” did depict the differences between face-to-face meetings and the video conferencing technology that was in use at the time. Now, seven years later video technology has steadily improved and business travel has dramatically declined. Flight cancellations, over sold flights, weather delays, lost luggage, overcrowding and cramped seats have conspired to make business travel even more frustrating and exhausting. Thankfully there are now great video communication alternatives to time-consuming and expensive business travel

Microsoft Introduces Skype for Business

Currently, over 300 million people use Skype every month to communicate with their long-distance family, friends and colleagues. Last year, Microsoft announced that they were updating Lync, their business-centric chat app, by meshing it with the strengths of Skype. Microsoft’s new upgraded product known as Skype for Business is based on Skype’s design while drawing on many of Lync’s features. Skype for Business is scheduled to roll out in May 2015. Here’s what you can expect from this new Microsoft business product:

  • Microsoft has expanded Lync features in Skype for Business with enterprise-grade security, compliance and IT control.
  • Accessibility enables users to search for and connect with anyone in the Skype network who is either inside or outside their organization. Simply use the Skype directory and contact any user on any device.
  • Microsoft Office has integrated Skype for Business as a built-in feature that delivers instant messaging, voice, video calls and online meetings.
  • Getting started with Skype for Business is easy because no new hardware is required. Current Lync users can simply update to the new Skype for Business Server in their datacenters. For Office 365 users, it’s very easy to get started because service is available through the online version of Office.

Are You Ready to Try Skype for Business?

If you never used Skype except for holiday “face time” chats with long distance family members or to keep tabs on your kids in college, you might want to reconsider the benefits of video conferencing for your business. If you have been using Microsoft Lync, it’s time to upgrade to Skype for Business.

Computer Troubleshooters can help you understand how your business can benefit by cutting back on travel expenses and increase efficiency with Skype for Business. If you are interested in learning more about video conferencing; want a demo of Skype for Business; or need guidance with the deployment of a new product, Computer Troubleshooters can help you. Call Computer Troubleshooters today how we can get you started with Office 365 and at the same time get your travel under control with Skype for Business.

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Microsoft Small Business Server (SBS) replacement

Microsoft Windows Small Business Server was hugely popular with businesses of up to 75 people. The most recent version (SBS 2011) offers a combination of Windows Server 2008 R2 and Exchange Server 2010 in one box at very good price. It also includes SharePoint Foundation 2010 and SQL Server 2008 R2 Express and, with the additional purchase of a Premium Add-On pack, it can support applications that rely on SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard.

However, last July, Microsoft said Small Business Server 2011 would be the last SBS version and no longer be available for purchase. Support would also cease sometime in the future.

So, where does this leave businesses that previously would have used SBS as their low-cost, all-in-one server solution?

Microsoft would like you to purchase Windows Server 2012 Essentials, the product it has positioned as a replacement for SBS. Essentials is however quite a different animal altogether.

For one thing, it provides out-of-the-box support for just 25 users (and 50 devices.) If you have more than that, you must purchase the full-blown Windows Server 2012 Standard edition.

More importantly, one key attraction of SBS has been removed: Essentials doesn’t include Exchange at all. For that functionality, you’re expected to subscribe to Microsoft Office 365, use a hosted Exchange service or buy and run your own Exchange server on a separate physical box, all at an additional cost.

Our recommended Small Business Server Solution;

  • Email – Small Businesses need to move to their email to Office365, or hosted Exchange, as a hosted solution it is an enterprise grade product supporting multiple device access (including Windows, Apple & Android apps for tablets and smartphones), syncing between devices, shared calendars & contacts, distribution groups, shared mailboxes, web based access, additional options include email archiving, compliance & retention polices – similar features to SBS
  • Office 365 Licensing – Full Desktop versions of Outlook, Word, Excel & PowerPoint on a subscription basis able to be deployed on up to 5 PCs or MAC’s plus 5 tablets plus 5 Smartphones per user. Plus you get access to Lync (soon to be Skype for Business) which provides video conferencing, screen sharing, and instant messaging. Also included is SharePoint, a company intranet application, that enables file sharing and document management.
  • Storage - Office 365 includes 1TB per user of OneDrive for Business cloud storage. For businesses requiring local storage for large data requirements and economical transfer, on premise Windows Server 2012 Essentials is the suggested solution.
  • Backup – As a hosted service all Office 365 products are managed and backed up at the data centre. However most business will still require a backup solution for local workstations and locally stored files. OneDrive for business can be configured as the cloud repository however data transfer sizes may mean that Windows Server 2012 Essentials is a better option also backing up shared files and application stored locally.
  • Applications – If you have locally based shared applications (such as MYOB) we can look at hosting on Windows Server 2012 Essentials or if you are looking for a cloud based alternative look to Microsoft Azure or similar services. Network Printing may also require a local server depending on your hardware and network.
  • Support – As Microsoft partners we aim to be your single point of contact for all your IT. We administer and manage your of Office 365, plus we can manage your workstations, security, and on premises networks to keep your business systems performing.

We can help with your Small Business Server Solution

If you need guidance and support on the complex decision please give us a call. We can sit down with you and explain the difference options, discuss alternatives for you business and ultimately make a recommendation. We are able to transform you business, migrate your existing data, and provide you with the support you need to make the change.

If you require guidance give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call today and one of our technology professionals will be happy to discuss how we can help.


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Want to Fall in Love with Your Computer Again?

The Thrill is Gone – do you remember that classic blues song? It’s a heart-breaking reminder about the loss of a once exhilarating and passionate connection. It’s a bitter realization when the old spark seems gone forever. Somehow over time, all the previous excitement has simply fizzled out. Excuse us, but we are talking about your relationship with your computer!

How is Your Relationship with Your PC?

Yes, even your formerly beloved computer can slow down over time until the thrill is most definitely gone. Honestly, does your computer seem unresponsive, sluggish and outdated? Are those exciting new models starting to turn your head? Maybe you and your cranky computer just need a little professional help to rekindle that old flame.

Tips on Learning to Love Your PC Again

It’s very likely that the relationship between you and your computer is salvageable, it just needs a little extra attention. Try these steps to put some zip back in the relationship with your computer:

  • Slow Startup? Does it take your computer way too long to wake up and get started with the day’s tasks? It’s possible that there are too many non-critical programs launching during the startup process. Streamline the start-up process by consulting with a technology professional who can identify unnecessary programs that are slowing down the functioning of your computer. Cutting back on these boot problems should speed things along.
  • Is Your PC Bloated? PC makers often throw in a lot of free tools. Initially, it sounds good to have all of those freebies, but a lot of techies call those freebies “bloatware” for a good reason. It’s possible your PC is running slowly because of bloat. If these free programs aren’t helping you, removing them might lighten the load on your computer.
  • Ready to add RAM? Does it seem like your old PC is in a perpetual state of sleep-walking? Is it nearly overwhelmed every time it has to open a spreadsheet? If yes, then maybe it’s time to spend a few bucks and add more RAM or memory. To assess your current RAM status, check System Properties to see what you have onboard. How much RAM should you add? Do you simply surf the net and check your e-mail or do you have a kid who’s a high speed gaming fanatic? Have a technology professional properly assess your needs and add the required RAM to your PC.
  • Is Your PC Ready for a Second Life? Didn’t everyone’s grandmother use the phrase – “don’t throw good money after bad?” At some point, it’s probably not worth pumping more money into a really old PC. That doesn’t mean it can’t still enjoy a second life as something other than your smoking hot primary computer. Turn it into a secondary computer. Do you love “old-school” gaming, then check into those older games that can run on your older operating system. You can also donate it to a local school, daycare center or charity organization if it’s not completely ancient.
  • Time to Retire and Recycle? If your old PC is not even up to enjoying a second life, maybe it’s time to pull the plug. If you are going to retire your PC, remember to be responsible to both the environment and yourself. First, be sure to eliminate all of your data from the PC. Deleting files, emptying the recycle bin or reformatting the hard drive is not enough to cover your tracks. Even the browser’s cache, cookies and e-mail contacts can contain sensitive information. Don’t jeopardize your digital security. Contact a technology professional for assistance with secure data removal. Also, be environmentally responsible and never toss an unwanted PC in a dumpster. Recycle the equipment through a reputable recycler.

Improve Your Relationship with Your Computer

Those lyrics, “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” can also apply to computers. If you can’t afford a new computer at this time, it’s very likely that your current computer can be improved with some professional maintenance. Computer Troubleshooters can help you increase the efficiency of an older PC with a little TLC and maybe some added RAM. Consider a deep cleaning to remove unnecessary programs that are doing nothing but slowing down the functioning of your PC. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to evaluate the status of your current computer.



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Microsoft Server 2003: End of Life July 2015?

Microsoft have confirmed that they will end support for their popular Server 2003 product range on the 14th of July 2015. It was first released on April 24, 2003. An updated version, Windows Server 2003 R2, was released on December 6, 2005. This product range also includes Small Business Server 2003.

These products were aimed towards the small to medium-sized businesses. Supporting file and printer sharing, secure Internet connectivity, centralised desktop application deployment, and in the case of Small Business Server the addition of Microsoft Exchange (email) and SQL (database).

When Microsoft ceases support for Server 2003 they will no longer issue security updates or software patches for any version of Server 2003. If you continue to use this product it will be like basing your business on a piece of equipment that is 12 years old, no longer serviced, and who the manufacturer no longer provides parts.

Ultimately businesses who continue to use Server 2003 will take on declining performance & escalating risk over time.

Upgrade or your business systems due to Security and Compliance Issues

If you are still using Server 2003 or Small Business Server 2003, you should take this situation seriously or your business will be negatively impacted with some significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Server 2003 migration plan.

  • Security Risks:The biggest problem is the security threat to your business. Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information is vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. There is a strong likelihood that malicious viruses will be developed & unleashed on Server 2003 once it is no longer supported. No business owner wants to think about a being attacked by Malware or their business not being able to function properly.
  • Compliance Issues:For many businesses, continuing to operate a non supported software can result in compliance issues leading to the suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organisation’s inability to securely maintain its systems and customer information. Compliance problems can place your business in legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation.
  • Upgrade Expenses:As a business owner trying to control costs, do you think an upgrade will be too expensive? Think again. The problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade.

The good news is that Microsoft provides a number of alternatives that may suit your situation & budget.

So what are the alternatives for your business?

  • Windows Server 2012 R2 – Windows Server 2012 R2 offers a lengthy list of improvements compared with Windows Server 2003, including integrated virtualization, better security, extensive scalability, new operational roles, script execution capabilities, and far more. While it is a substantial learning curve to move directly from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 R2, customers are well advised to not make an interim upgrade to Windows Server 2008 as that product has already gone to end of mainstream support in January 2015. Licensing & hardware investment can be significant to facilitate this migration.
  • Office 365 – This is a Microsoft cloud hosted version of much of the server software product plus it can be provisioned with the full range of Office software such as Email Outlook, Word, PowerPoint & Excel. By subscribing to this per user per month service you can avoid investing in new hardware, on site running costs (such as electricity, rent, air con, security) & for larger companies in house IT staff. Smooth migration from Server 2003 to office 365 requires professional user management and ongoing administration much like a server, but without the critical infrastructure management (Microsoft does this in their data center), so IT support can more easily be outsourced.
  • Microsoft Azure – This is a hosted server product that Microsoft has developed for IT integrators to host server infrastructure centrally and control locally, so software & application can be deployed & managed on an individual rather than collective basis. An Office 365 & Azure hybrid (using virtualization) may be a practical alternative for industries that have developed applications that are reliant on 32 bit technology that was the core of the 2003 product and may not be compatible with the 64 bit technology

Do you have a Server Migration plan in place?

Microsoft has flagged this drop dead date for support for a serious reason, so this is not a situation you can simply ignore. It’s happening on July 14 2015, so mark your calendar. Most large organisations have been working on their migration plans for years. For small-medium sized business owners, the hour is getting late so we strongly encourage you to take action today!

Computer Troubleshooters encourages you to take this situation seriously and develop a migration plan immediately. Our experts can help you understand your migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy for your business. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today before you run out of time.


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