Technology Solved
A member of the Computer Troubleshooters franchise network

How to reduce your business costs?

Reducing business costs is a “no brainer” win for most businesses, you get the upside directly into your net profit without investing more capital & the gains are ongoing. So in your business, where are the best areas to look for cost savings?

The hierarchy of costs in most business are;

  • Cost of Goods – cost of goods sold, distribution costs, inventory holdings and losses.
  • Payroll – staff wages, superannuation, annual leave, long service leave, workers compensation,
  • Overheads – rent on premises, travel, insurance, car, utilities, telecoms, broadband, & IT systems.
  • Marketing – advertising & promotion, printing, postage, web marketing, agency & creative costs.
  • Transactional Costs – banks charges, credit card charges, freight.
  • Outsource – accountant, lawyer, cleaning, specialist support services.

How to finding cost savings in your business?

While every business is different, as a business owner you can employ the same strategies as large corporates or cost analysis teams use to find cost savings:

  • Request Quotes - from existing & alternative suppliers.
  • Reduce Investment – seek alternatives to investing in new infrastructure or assets.
  • Operations – is there a better or new way to operate to achieve your operations goals?
  • Review Business Practices – does your current staff structure match your current requirement?
  • Support – internal staff versus external outsourcing.

When performing this task to finding cost reductions, quite often the answers are not available internally. Often external suppliers & outsourcing companies can tell you about alternatives and what competitors have done that might deliver savings to your business.

In our business we call this an “IT assessment”, where we go into a company and look at their current IT setups, review their business practices, assess their operational goals, and then give recommendations.

How to find ICT cost savings in your business?

We recommend the same approach as the generic saving strategies above: here are some examples of how these types of saving can be achieved;

Telephones & mobiles

  • Ask you existing supplier for a current contract, approach alternative telco for quotes on mobiles, landlines & broadband; this should be done every 2 years as plans change often, particularly with data allowances growing. Remember to approach the SMB focused channels as they generally have cheaper plans to retail shops.
  • Introducing a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy for your business, providing only calls and data to employees this saves contracting phones and tracking devices while the employee get to use their favourite device (iPhone or Android) without you footing the bill.
  • VOIP (Voice over broadband) developments have meant that roaming between office, home, travelling, or even overseas can be seamless to the caller – this means your phone number can follow you around and have integrated messaging with email & SMS.
  • Businesses can reduce investment by not investing in a physical PABX, but using a hosted PABX which is VoIP enabled. Charges are typically by the seat by the month but with cheaper calls and full PABX capabilities.
  • Office 365 includes features such as Skype for Business & Yammer (an internal social media platform) that allows teleconferencing, cheap external calls, internal messaging, and profile tracking that could reduce your external communication & travel costs.

 

IT Systems

  • If you have an external supplier for IT support ask them for a new contract and at the same time seek an IT assessment from another supplier. The key is to compare similar service levels and requirements, at the very least you can be assured you are getting value.
  • If you have internal staff managing your IT then you need to compare costs against the outsourced alternatives. Requesting an IT assessment from an external IT support supplier will be enable you to compare costs, remembering internal staff carry at least a 30% overhead component above their wage cost. Internal staff are often not aware of alternatives or may have a vested interest in not recommending substantial changes to IT support & systems.
  • The development of Cloud Computing has meant that many SMB’s can change business practices & IT structures by shedding internal IT staff, reducing internal IT infrastructure, and outsourcing the remaining support requirements with savings of up to 50% of costs.
  • Switching from internal infrastructure to hosted infrastructure, such as Office 365, can save you on the substantial initial capital investment for hardware & licences. It can also provide flexibility for future growth/decline, plus you save on running costs for rent, air conditioning, electricity, and on premise support that is a necessary part of having an on-premise infrastructure.
  • Cloud hosted systems such as Microsoft Office 365 offer great flexibility & save time for staff to access email and data while not in the office (in fact it can be accessed from anywhere around the world), & from multiple devices. This can only be delivered securely by the centralised Office 365 portal developed for remote management & administration of business accounts.
  • We often find that some companies just use their main business application vendors support desk for general IT support. This can be a very expensive approach to IT support – we recommend splitting applications vendor support from the general IT on premise & user support, this can again save up to 50% of the general IT support costs.

Reducing business costs is great way to improve your businesses bottom line, but it does require a focus on seeking alternatives to current operations and structures.

Call us for an IT Assessment to help find cost savings & reduce your IT costs?

So there are few ways you can drive more savings from your ICT. Ultimately for business we recommend giving us call so we can make a time to discuss your needs and put together recommendations on how we could help your business save ICT costs.

Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business to reduce your costs. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you

 

 

 

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

Office 365 Setup, Migration & Support – DIY vs. Outsource

Microsoft Office 365 continues to dominate the space for a small business suite of office applications. As a cloud hybrid licence it offers the scale benefits of corporate grade email & the Microsoft office suite, without the upfront capital requirements of a Small Business Server environment. According to Microsoft, Office 365 Setup, Migration & Support can be taken on by the technically literate person without the specialist knowledge required for a server implementation.

So can Office 365 Setup, Migration & Support actually be undertaken as a DIY project in a Small Business with limited IT knowledge & experience?

A typical Small Business IT Environment

As someone who is not a technical expert, but who is technically literate I embarked on testing this DIY theory for myself. My partner has a small rapidly growing business with four staff, and they were looking to avail themselves of all the benefits that Office 365 can offer.

The business is run from multiple offices (mostly home offices). Increasingly the business needs access to data and email services on the go from multiple devices such as laptops and iPhones. With a cloud hosted application database system, and Xero as their main financial and CRM system they have been on their way to the cloud for some time. They already use the basic Microsoft Office 365 products such as Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel, & Word on a continual basis and would like to share files between all the staff as they have clients who interact regularly with different staff and orders. Increasingly this has meant sending files to each other, and as the business is growing they have also found they need to cover for each other when staff are away or unavailable.

Their current IT environment has meant they often have trouble letting clients know when they are away or travelling, and often they have trouble identifying the latest version of files to use as the business has become more complicated. The existing laptops were due for upgrading being over 3 years old, and they were increasing worried that if they lost or damaged a laptop that all the information, files, setting and knowledge would also be lost. As the owners of the business they had their own phones but didn’t want to provide iPhones to the employees. Additionally every time they travelled (particularly overseas) or were on holiday they had issues sending emails.

Office 365 is the answer?

In the past (pre 2012) the solution would have been to install a Microsoft Small Business Server to the local network. These servers had exchange email, shared calendar and contacts, file sharing and remote access capabilities. Small Business servers were expensive in terms of initial hardware, licensing and implementation costs, and on an ongoing basis, IT support, maintenance and power consumption also weighed heavily. Additionally, considerations needed to be made for physical space and air conditioning, wiring/cabling etc.

Nowadays Microsoft Office 365 is the answer, with all these functions, but without the large capital expenditure expenses or the need to setup locally. Of course, now you pay a monthly subscription to Microsoft to provide the back end hardware, software and infrastructure in their Australian data centre.

Office 365 Setup

Office 365 can be setup through a number of channels in Australia and New Zealand. Options include direct with Microsoft or through authorised Cloud Service Partners like Computer Troubleshooters who are typically used to provide implement and support Microsoft hosted services.

Licences – You need to learn & understand the licencing structure to determine which plan is right for each of the users. Bear in mind that you can have different users on different plans depending on their usage. So you might have one user who users all the Office products, and some who just need email.

Subscriptions –  You need to buy & provision the Office 365 licences, this is generally transacted over the web but you need to be careful if you are buying a by the month or annual plans (general the annual plans have a small discount). You may also be asked to buy an annual licence, but pay monthly.

Administration – Once your domain has been setup with Office 365 it is relatively simple to set up each user in your admin account. The admin account is the central hub of Office 365 that sits over the top of each of your user accounts & allows you to do all the configuration at a domain level. This includes password, collaboration, profile & user management that is the heart of servers.

DNS Management – You need to change your DNS settings with your domain provider. Office 365 provide you with the DNS setting changes that you need to put into your current domain providers portal to direct emails to the Office 365 host. In my case this took a couple of hours before the change was done by the provider.

Download & Profiles – Once each user is setup by the admin & the DNS change is made, the users can then setup their account of their own hardware just by downloading the software direct from the Office 365 hosting site. They can setup a new profile for Office 365 or integrate Office 365 into the existing profile, this is probably one of the most confusing areas that can take some time to resolve. This software can be downloaded by the user to a maximum of 5 of the user’s devices (PC, Macs, smartphones or tablets). Usernames and passwords associated with each user will of course be needed for the download.

Office 365 Migration

The migration of existing data, files and setting will depend on the current IT environment

  • A server to Office 365 migration requires movement of all data & user profiles to Office 365, these need to match correctly with passwords and user profiles for a smooth transition. The data migration will depend on each user’s data size, but typically the migration of a large mailbox may take a few hours. The big difficulty is that in the interim, emails may be lost or not received.
  • A pop email migration is fairly simple, as the data is on the user’s laptop, so that the data can be simply held on the same machine and the office 365 profile directed to the exiting email store.
  • Files will depend on where they are currently stored, but can be moved to OneDrive or SharePoint once the account profiles are setup.

Overall migration is really a factor of how much data is being migrated and where it is currently stored, remembering that with Office 365 you are effectively transferring the data store to a data centre so it needs to transferred via your internet to seed your account. Just be aware that you need to understand your broadband data allowance and the effect on data speeds that you may encounter during the migration.

Office 365 Support

If something goes wrong support is a major issue – understanding the role Microsoft support plays in helping with office 365 deployments should you encounter an issue you don’t understand. SLA Critical & Urgent incidents where they are responsible is fairly prompt, calls are answered within one hour and update provided very 2 and 24 hours respectively. However, issues raised as important or advisory are updated every 72 hours or as decided by Microsoft. So experiencing an issue during migration it will be difficult to get prompt Microsoft support.

Office 365 – My DIY Experience

My experience in getting Office 365 fully functional is fairly positive I managed to get all 4 users setup over 2 days & get all the niggling issues sorted over the following days. Although I later discovered that by default Office 365 was rejecting the forms from their WordPress website for over 2 weeks. The disruption to the business was minimal although getting non-technical users setup with both laptops and mobiles was difficult to the extent they all needed to visit the office to get setup. The time did include setting 2 new laptops and setting them up. We did lose emails in cutting over for a few hours.

The end result is that I estimate I took me around 6 hours per user to get everything working 100%. When I sent this information out to the Computer Troubleshooters group they laughed. In general, they charge for about 2 hours labour and have tools that automate much of what I did manually. Some tools they use do the migration before the cutover, so that when a user sets up their profile the data and setting have been pre-provisioned, so no business interruption in encountered and they can do the migration at night over weeks so there are no data slowdowns during business hours.

Office 365 – My Recommendation

My experience suggested it takes about 6 hours per user to manually setup, migrate and then tweak Office 365 for a small group. That said I do work in IT Marketing and have used Office 365 in my business for some time so I did start with an advantage. If you are not good with IT, I would definitely get an expert to do it.

The bottom line is most business people earn more in 6 hours than they would paying an IT expert 2 hours in labour, & that is not taking into account the niggling WordPress issue that was solved by the Computer Troubleshooters guys.

So if you are thinking of setting up & migrating to Office 365, at a minimum I would get a quote from an IT expert to see if the trade-off is worthwhile. Most expert Office 365 guys will give you a quote to compare. Even if you try yourself and get stuck you have a good idea for the alternative should you need help in a hurry.

Office 365 – Office 365 Setup, Migration & Support outsourced

Computer Troubleshooters can provide professional IT services to your business to provision and administer Office 365 environments as needed. Office 365 purchased through a Cloud Service Provider like Computer Troubleshooters is at no additional cost to purchasing through Microsoft.

Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customized plan for your business. Computer Troubleshooters can manage your IT services and you can manage your business. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of our computer professionals will be happy to help you.

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

Office 365, BYOD & Mobility?

Office 365 continues to be the leading platform for most Small Business IT environments in Australia, but as a hybrid cloud technology how does Office 365 sit with other mega trends in IT such as BYOD & Mobility?

BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a term created by Intel in 2009 to indicate the growing trend of employees utilizing their personal devices in their work environment. While employees have been bringing their phones to work with, it wasn’t a big concern until personal devices like tablets and Smartphones started to be used by employees for business critical tasks.

BYOD is actually great for most small businesses owners, as they don’t need to invest in the latest technology as the devices are owned and upgraded by the employee. Employees tend to look after their own equipment much better than a company asset as they are using something they love and understand, be it an iPhone or Android, each person seems to have their own preference.

It is estimated that employees gain 45 to 60 minutes of productivity per week simply by having the anytime, anywhere access offered by their personal devices. Office 365 is built to allow this type of access from multiple devices with remote access.

So letting your employees use their own devices & get access to company information from anywhere at any time can be great for the business, but what are the key benefits &risks?

Office 365 on BYOD benefits

Each Office 365 licence can be deployed on up to 5 PC/Mac devices, plus up to 5 Smartphone Devices (iPhone or Android), or tablets (iPad or Android), so each employee can have synced access to hosted Outlook email, Word, Excel, & Powerpoint giving a single view & same feel from any device, anywhere.

  • True mobility & flexibility for the user – Once the Office 365 account has been correctly provisioned & setup the downloading onto further devices is relatively simply using the Microsoft user account.
  • Centralised Control – Office 365 as a hosted application is administered centrally so that access & profiles can be administered from a central panel rather individually on each device, this makes centralized control & management far easier than software being deployed individually & setup on each device.
  • Linked Accounts – Office 365 uses server functionality to allow users to get all the benefits that was originally the domain of the on premise Small Business Server such as shared calendaring, shared inboxes, files sharing, & distribution lists.
  • Employee Paid – in many cases most companies now just provide mobile plans with calls & data allowance to employees, so no need for company handset contracts or tracking mobile assets.

Office 365 on BYOD risks

While the business owner can rejoice at the large savings in technology spending and the dramatic increase in productivity, these benefits do come with risk. Allowing your employees to openly access your business network environment opens up many potential risks such as;

  • External Threats – Employee exposure to external threats such as Viruses & Malware that could threaten your business IT environment.
  • Security – Every device can be lost that is not properly secured becomes a potential doorway for hackers and data thieves.
  • Employee Confidentiality – When an employee leaves your company, they can possess a lot of confidential and important information that your business can no longer access or control

How does Office 365 & Professional IT management mitigate these risks?

External threats still exist on the individual level (due mainly to individuals behavior) and we would always recommend that individual devices are protected using Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware products with backups to minimize frontline attacks, in addition Office 365 is managed in the Australian Microsoft data centre with enterprise grade security protect so it offers a second line of defense and backup. This also means that hackers & data thieves are dealing with 24/7 monitoring with enterprise grade detection & protection in the data centre.

Breach of employee confidentiality is probably the biggest threat to your business, with Office 365 the admin control panel is built to manage access from multiple devices. User access can be managed centrally so should an employee leave, passwords and access can be instantly shutoff. If a user loses a device, the software on the device & any company data can be removed using the centralized control panel.

Ultimately the centralized admin function of Office 365 is key to managing BYOD and mobility ensuring you keep your business IT environment protected.

How to embrace Office 365, BYOD and Mobility?

In reality over 53% of businesses in the US now allow BYOD for company business IT environments, so it is more than a trend, it is a reality. While large businesses can afford teams of IT specialists to manage this complexity what do small business do?

We of course would recommend talking to an expert like Computer Troubleshooters who understand these complexities & can help you setup an IT environment to suit your business. Office 365 is an affordable alternative for smaller businesses who want the flexibility of BYOD and Mobility with the functionality of a Small Business Server, however the Office 365 environment still should be professionally setup and administered to protect against threats.

If you would like to learn more, contact your local Computer Troubleshooters office and request that one of their technology professionals meet with you to assess your risks and discuss your options for keeping your business safe.

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Cloud, How TO: Technology 101 | Leave a comment

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.

 

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

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:http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows-8/create-usb-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).

NOW THE ABSOLUTE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU SHOULD DO AFTER THE UPGRADE IS …  create a Windows 10 recovery drive.

  • 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

http://offthescuff.com/2015/06/03/what-you-need-to-do-before-and-after-upgrading-to-windows-10/

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

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

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.

 

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Computer Repair | Leave a comment