25 06, 2019

Tech Tips for a Thriving Business

2019-05-27T01:55:12-05:00June 25th, 2019|Cloud Services, Managed Services|0 Comments

Tech Tips for a Thriving BusinessTech Tips for a Thriving Business

Maybe you started your business in a basement or home office. It was just you at the beginning. Then, your service or product gained traction. The number of staff grew, and you moved into an office. It’s amazing how far you’ve come. Better still, your business continues to grow. It may be time to consider some of these tech tips to help your thriving business.

#1 Upgrade to Business-Grade Cloud Services

Perhaps you’ve been relying on free software from Gmail, Outlook, or Dropbox. Who can argue with free email, calendars, collaboration and file storage right? Well, it may be time to upgrade to the business versions of the software your team relies upon.

Move from Gmail to Google Apps, or Outlook to Office 365, or Dropbox to Dropbox Business, or OneDrive to SharePoint. For a small monthly fee, you gain business-grade features.

Office 365 offers business email, video and voice conferencing, secure team messaging, shared calendars, 50GB cloud storage and document, spreadsheet and presentation creation. Plus, you gain greater security and administration controls. Right now, a disgruntled employee could refuse to give up control of a business account.

You’d be out of luck. With Office 365, your business would control all accounts and could simply reset the password.

Or SharePoint Online provides added storage space and user activity and sharing auditing. File version history makes recovery easier. A remote wipe feature protects files on a stolen device.

#2 Revise your backup strategy

A consumer grade backup setup was enough when you were only dealing with one computer. Now that you have many computers, it’s worth enhancing your backup strategy.

With 3-2-1 backup, your business has a minimum of three backups. Two would be onsite (but separate from one another) and the other offsite. We recommend the cloud. Having your backups in a unified location helps efficient recovery if disaster strikes. With cloud backup, your data is encrypted for storage in the cloud. You can set parameters for how often data is backed up and confirm that it is backing up correctly. Then, if something does go wrong, you can access essential data from anywhere, anytime via the cloud.

It’s also important to know that you need to backup your email, calendar, contacts, cloud based files, etc. Microsoft, Google and other providers are not responsible for your data.

#3 Consider Cloud-based Accounting Services

Traditional small business accounting software requires a large database on the desktop computer. As more people need access to the database, the problems start. With multiple people accessing the accounting software:

  • The network can slow when people try to access it remotely
  • Changes can’t be made while someone else is in database
  • Data can get mismatched depending on who has the “newest” version

Cloud-based accounting packages address these challenges. With online accounting software, it’s easy for your business to scale. Business owners can connect to the data from any device with an Internet connection. Plus, in the event of a disaster, productivity won’t suffer as the information is safe and secure on the cloud.

#4 Outsource your IT

Your expanding technology allows you and your staff to do more than ever before. Great. But it also takes extra resources to monitor, manage, and secure it all. By outsourcing IT to a local company, your business gains IT expertise. Meanwhile, your in-house team can focus its efforts on driving growth.

Outsourcing IT also provides long-term cost savings by reducing downtime, cutting infrastructure and staff costs, and improving security to avoid costly cyber-attacks.

Keep your business growth in check with an eye out for value-adding initiatives.

Want to know more about the benefits of any of these tech tips? Give us a call at 319-227-7000.

25 06, 2019

Are You Sick of Ongoing IT Issues?

2019-05-27T01:21:01-05:00June 25th, 2019|Managed Services|0 Comments

Are You Sick of Ongoing IT Issues?Ongoing IT Issues

Like a persistent cough or muscle strain that won’t go away, many IT issues prove ongoing. Every time they come back you think about getting an expert’s opinion. Then, the cough fades, you can walk freely again, or your computers are back up and running. You keep on going. Until the next time. If you’re sick of ongoing issues with your IT, look to a Managed Service Provider (MSP) for help.

There are many IT ailments that can negatively impact your ability to do work. Let’s consider some of the particularly common ones, and why an MSP is the right prescription.

#1 Network and Internet issues.

Business is done online these days. Not being able to connect to the network and slow connections are frustrating. Without the Internet, how can you do your job? You can’t even check and send emails! Let alone access team documents or enter data into cloud-based accounting software. A lagging network also slows down application and data loading time. It may only be a few moments of thumb twiddling. But add that up over several times a day and multiply by employees. You’re looking at a decrease in productivity that adds up.

An MSP has the know-how to survey the IT environment for what’s causing these frustrations. When there’s a problem, they’re at the ready to resolve it and help improve reliability.

#2 Repeated malware infections.

This can mean a couple of things. First, you don’t have effective system and application protections in place. These attacks shouldn’t be able to make it through the door in the first place. With the right firewalls, anti-spam, and protections, you should be able to keep your system on lock down. You don’t have to do this yourself. Gain expert knowledge with an MSP reviewing your security protocols to keep the bad guys at bay.

Secondly, educate employees about the dangers of social engineering. Don’t let them keep falling for the pretexts and downloading malicious files. Also, ensure passwords are strong enough to avoid adding another point of entry.

#3 Printing problems.

Many businesses are printing less today, but we’re not done with hard copies entirely. So, when a printer starts whirring, spinning endlessly, or can’t connect, efficiency halts. Know that printers sold at big box stores are consumer grade quality. Avoid printer frustrations with solid business-class printers (which your MSP can identify).

#4 Application overload.

Maybe some of your employees prefer Dropbox. Others rely on their free Gmail accounts. This hodgepodge of options can cause chaos. Staff have difficulty remembering the passwords to all of the accounts they need. So, they simplify, and that makes their accounts more hackable.

Upgrading to business-grade versions of important applications is easier with an MSP. They’ll help identify the software that best addresses your business needs.

#5 Aging technology.

You’ve had your current computers for ages. They are slower than you’d like (on average, computers that are 3+ years old are 50% slower than new), but you don’t have the time to look for something else. Plus, you can’t imagine having to learn something new. You’re too busy. But aging tech is more likely to fail, which could prove catastrophic if you don’t have the right backup in place.

MSPs know IT. Based on your individual business needs, they can suggest a plan of attack to update the IT and keep it secure. They can also provide backup strategies to prepare for the worst and recover quickly.

Basically, a managed service provider has your back when it comes to IT. Work with experts who focus on technology day in and day out. You’ll typically save money and gain time to spend innovating in your field.

Gain a competitive advantage with the support of an MSP. Give us a call at 319-227-7000 today!

18 06, 2019

Why Your Small Business Needs VoIP

2019-05-27T00:49:59-05:00June 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Why Your Small Business Needs VoIPWhy Your Small Business Needs VoIP

Why would a small business need VoIP? It’s not just another acronym to learn, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) offers many advantages for small business. Especially SMBs that want to run with the enterprise-sized companies.

Basically, VoIP turns voice conversation into data packets sent between the two network points. Don’t worry, the person you’re calling doesn’t need to be on VoIP. The technology turns the data back into analog at the receiving end if needed.

If you’ve been on Skype, you’ve experienced VoIP. With VoIP you use your broadband Internet connection to make and receive calls. Bypassing traditional or mobile phones, VoIP users avoid long-distance or extra minute charges.

Beyond long distance savings, VoIP setups often include features such as voicemail and call forwarding, at no extra charge. Other useful features could include call forwarding, voicemail transcription, and call recording.

Plus, there’s cost savings from reducing and consolidating communications infrastructure. Streamlining voice, data, and broadband services with one provider can cut costs. With VoIP, you can also reduce your investment in setting up and maintaining traditional communications.

VoIP Enables Flexibility

Mobility is another big reason to move to VoIP. Downloading the business VoIP application turns any Internet-connected device into a VoIP phone. Business users can take their business phone number anywhere – even if they are in another country.

Calls can be forwarded from office phones to the individual’s device of choice. Really, users don’t even need a phone as they can make and receive calls from laptops or desktop computers too. VoIP definitely supports “bring your own device” workplace flexibility, which employees appreciate.

Along with flexibility, a VoIP platform is scalable. VoIP is easy to install as there’s little to no physical hardware to set up. As your business grows, your business can quickly expand the number of users. No more waiting for the telephone company to come out and add additional lines.

Plus, seasonal businesses can add or subtract lines as needed with little to no added cost.

Doing away with telephone hardware frees up space and means fewer maintenance concerns. Working with a VoIP provider, you also gain expert support and confidence your communication tech is up to date.

What About Quality, Security?

A common concern when businesses hear about VoIP is call quality. VoIP needs a good Internet connection to work well, so making sure you have high bandwidth can help. Still, when you don’t have to worry about competing traffic, the quality of a VoIP call can surpass an analog one.

Security is another concern. A VoIP business communications solution can be on-premises or cloud-based. When running VoIP over your private network, the data is as secure as any other application running on your business system. Also, most VoIP service providers encrypt calls.

Analytics Benefit of VoIP

With a VoIP solution, you gain access to more reporting and business analytics. For instance, some VoIP systems integrate with customer relationship management software (CRM) for better data and caller insights.

VoIP call monitoring, recording, and reporting capabilities are also helpful. You can drive better employee training, help identify security threats, and ensure compliance.

VoIP provides cost savings, flexibility, and operations transparency. With this technology as your business backbone, you can focus on revenue and growth.

There are many reasons to implement VoIP. Give us a call at 319-227-7000 on your traditional land line or mobile phone.

Let’s talk about giving your small business an enterprise-level communications system with VoIP.

11 06, 2019

Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow?

2019-05-27T00:36:56-05:00June 11th, 2019|Hardware|0 Comments

Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow?New Laptop So Slow

Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new laptop. The clouds part and the sun shines down on this bright and lovely new device. Everything will be faster and easier. Only, from the first day, the new laptop is lagging. Why is it running so slow? One of these might be the reason.

#1 Not enough computing power.

In many cases, the laptop doesn’t have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the computer’s main memory. This helps your computer do more at once. Information from the operating system, programs and data are kept here, when in use, for quicker processing.

RAM is like the computer’s short-term memory, while the hard drive is the long-term memory. Just as the human brain can’t hold everything in short-term memory, RAM can get overloaded too. When this happens on your laptop, the computer processor needs to go to the hard drive. This slows things down.

Resolution: You might see 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or more of RAM available. How much you need is going to depend on what you plan on doing with the computer. For a laptop with Windows 10, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is more comfortable for a better experience.

Not all laptops will let you access the RAM. When you can, though, upgrading memory can be quick and affordable.

#2 Mechanical hard drive.

Often a single part is letting you down. With a less expensive computer, manufacturers skimp. While it’s less common these days, some laptops will come with a mechanical hard drive. You might think of this like a record player with a needle reading the vinyl album. Since something is moving to find data, the laptop runs slower than it would with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which has no moving parts.

Resolution: In many cases, a mechanical hard drive can be easily upgraded to an SSD. However, some super slim laptops have limited upgrade options. Also, some laptops are not able to be upgraded after purchase.

#3 Bloatware.

Retailers like to tout all the bells and whistles that come with their laptops. So, when you turn on your laptop for the first time, you may notice there’s already a lot of software pre-loaded. Much of it you’ll probably never use. Maybe there are toolbars you don’t need, games you’ll never use, or stock widgets that you couldn’t care less about. These examples of bloatware slow down your computer.

The third-party applications are a revenue source for the manufacturer, but don’t usually help you. Microsoft, for instance, sells a line of computers that come without any pre-installed third-party software. Computerworld reported those PCs start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life.

Resolution: When you get a new laptop, check out the pre-installed software before you add your own. Determine what the existing software will do, and uninstall anything that you won’t want. If you purchase a new laptop from us or get our new computer setup service, this is taken care of before you get the laptop so you can focus on using your laptop rather than setting it up.

If your laptop is slow on the first startup, this may be due to system updates. For instance, a Windows 10 automatic update to bolster the security of the computer. You can’t do much about these, but look on the bright side, your laptop security is current!

Improved speed, stability and security are the main reasons to invest in a new laptop. Don’t let a lagging laptop disrupt your productivity. We can help with a slow running laptop. If you want to avoid this whole mess, let us select the best laptop for your needs and get it set up for you.

Instead of wasting valuable time waiting on a slow computer, give us a call at 319-227-7000!

11 06, 2019

3 Top Reasons for Onsite Computer Repair

2019-05-27T01:05:00-05:00June 11th, 2019|Computer Repair|0 Comments

3 Top Reasons for Onsite Computer RepairOnsite Computer Repair

No one wants to experience computer problems. Especially when it’s used for business use, your computer is likely indispensable. Essential customer files are on there! All your downloaded music! The family photos! Vendor contracts and employee payroll information! Compounding the crisis is the hassle of going to get the computer fixed. That’s why we offer onsite repair services for businesses.

When You Need Computer Repair

Regrettably, there are common computer problems you might encounter at home or work:

A blue computer screen with some white text, aka the “Blue Screen of Death,” or a STOP error. This one’s scary. It could indicate failing hardware, damaged software, driver problems and more. Don’t know what any of that sentence meant? That’s OK. We do!

  • Having trouble installing new applications.
  • The computer is running so slow a turtle would beat it in a foot race.
  • Your applications are acting possessed and are unpredictable.
  • The keyboard, mouse, or printer are not working properly.
  • Your computer keeps restarting on you.
  • Downloads are taking forever.
  • You can’t open that attachment from your boss.
  • The computer freezes or shuts off suddenly.
  • The graphics on the computer screen look wonky.
  • Your computer is making noises mimicking an old clunker car.

Troubleshooting these problems to diagnose what is really going on can be challenging. It depends on how much you know about computers to begin with. Since you rely on your computer for so much, it’s a good idea to consult with computer repair experts.

Why Onsite Computer Repair

#1 Convenience.

You don’t need to worry about doing more damage when you unplug everything and drive the computer to a repair shop. You also avoid the commute across town, headache of finding parking, and annoyance of waiting in line.

This is more convenient for you. You don’t have to lug the computer to a store and back only to have to set it up all over again. Your computer stays right where you typically use it. When we’re done, you can just push the power button and get going as if nothing happened.

#2 Context.

Seeing your computer in its natural habitat helps our experts too. Sometimes the issue isn’t internal to the computer. So, we wouldn’t be able to properly diagnose the problem if you brought the computer in to us.

For example, the hiccup could be caused by a faulty power cord or misbehaving printer. Unless you thought to bring those into the computer store too, the problem wouldn’t be replicable. And nothing’s worse than going to the trouble of getting help only to say “well, it doesn’t seem to be doing that annoying thing right now.”

#3 Cut Downtime.

When the computer repair service comes to your office, you can also reduce downtime. When the computer is essential for business services, you probably can’t imagine being without it for a few days. It’s like losing a limb! Onsite computer repair aims to fix the problem in just a few hours, without taking the computer away.

We can handle most repairs onsite. In some cases, it’s more cost-effective to bring the computer back to our office. We still save you hassle by dropping the computer back off to you. We’ll also set everything back up again when we return your computer. That way you don’t have to worry about which cord goes where!

We hope you never need computer repairs. But, if you’re ever facing an error message you don’t understand or your computer has ground to a halt, give us a call at 319-227-7000. Our computer repair service experts will be happy to schedule a time to come to you!

4 06, 2019

Immediate Business Answers with Instant Messenger

2019-05-27T00:20:53-05:00June 4th, 2019|Software|0 Comments

Immediate Business Answers with Instant MessengerImmediate Business Answers with Instant Messenger  You may have hated group projects in school, but collaboration is a lifeblood of business. Yet members of a team may not work in the same workspace.

You may have hated group projects in school, but collaboration is a lifeblood of business. Yet members of a team may not work in the same workspace. Even those who do, don’t want to spend their day crisscrossing the office to get quick questions answered. While they could send an email or pick up the phone, instant messaging is an even more efficient solution.

Don’t confuse this solution with the old AOL or MSN Instant messenger. Instant messaging (IM) for business takes group communication and collaboration up a notch.

First, IM is truly instant communication, faster even than email. When you type in your comment and hit Enter, your message appears on the screen instantly. You can see it, and everyone else in the chat can see it. While email is fast, it’s not instant. You must wait for the email to arrive and hope the recipient has their inbox up and will answer right away.

Calling on the phone could be as instantaneous, but often you’re going to get voicemail. Don’t even try to get several people on the phone at the same time without pre-scheduling a time! With IM, employees can chat in real time as if they were on the phone with someone or on a conference call. An added bonus?

They can use IM while on the phone too. So, a sales team could have IM up to relay information, while on the call, to make the best impression with the client.

Users can click and drag files, images, spreadsheets, PDFs, and more into the chat. For some businesses, IM is a way to keep all team documentation accessible in a single place.

IM Improves Productivity

Common business IM applications, such as Slack or Microsoft Teams, allow users to coordinate chats for greater efficiency. In group channels everyone on the channel can see what is going on. So, a business might set up channels for different client projects or a certain team members. Even clients can be invited to participate on channels.

IM also allows for direct person-to-person messaging. So, someone in marketing might shoot over a screenshot for a quick vote on wording or font size.

Group channels (open or private) and direct messages in the IM app become a record of what’s been going on over time. They are searchable and have many integrations with other tools you may be using in your office. For example, someone could post a link to a Dropbox or Google Docs file and instant messenger will show a preview.

A possible drawback is that instant messaging can be distracting. Being always available makes it more difficult to focus on the task at hand. Fortunately, most instant messengers let users change their status to Away. They will still be in the chat, but not available to respond to messages. Otherwise, the user can simply close the app. Microsoft Teams also integrates with your Exchange (Outlook) calendar to show you as away when you have a meeting.

IM’s Other Benefits

Since many instant messengers for business are also phone applications, employees also gain mobility. After downloading the app, people can access the system from any Internet-connected device. Talk about real-time communication and collaboration.

Other business benefits of instant messaging? Our email inboxes get cluttered with messages that steal attention and waste time. The same thing doesn’t happen in business IM as users are only in channels with other invited parties.

With an IM solution, employees won’t use personal texting, which could have compliance implications. Providing a continuous record of communications, IM channels can also help quality control.

Ready to make the move to instant messaging for your business? Let us help you find the best solution for your needs. Give us a call at 319-227-7000!

27 05, 2019

Firefox 67 Empty Profile

2019-05-27T00:09:04-05:00May 27th, 2019|Computer Repair, Software|0 Comments

Firefox 67 Empty Profile

Firefox 67 Empty Profile

How to fix Firefox 67 Empty Profile Issue

Firefox users have reported empty or blank profiles after upgrading to version 67. The missing items include bookmarks, history, customizations, and addons.  This is due to a new profile option that Mozilla has added. To get back to your original profile do this: In the address bar type in about:profiles then click the button labeled Set as default profile on the profile that has your data. Typically it’s going to be called Profile: default. Once you have selected your actual profile you will need to close Firefox and reopen it. We have seen reports where you may need to do this several times to get the change to actually get your real profile to work.

 

If you need help with this give us a call at 319-227-7000 or fill out or contact form.

 

22 05, 2019

Check The Space Used in SharePoint Online

2019-05-22T17:37:43-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Cloud Services|0 Comments

How to Check The Space Used in SharePoint OnlineCheck The Space Used in SharePoint Online

Have you wondered how to check space used in SharePoint Online? Here is how to do that.

  • Sign in to https://portal.office.com
  • Click the SharePoint icon
  • Click the Settings (gear) icon at the top right
  • Click Site settings
  • Click Storage Metrics under “Site Collection Administration”
  • Here you can see an overview of the SharePoint Online storage use

If you need assistance on how to Check The Space Used in SharePoint Online call us at 319-227-7000 or fill out our contact form.

22 05, 2019

Check The Space Used in OneDrive

2019-05-22T17:29:55-05:00May 22nd, 2019|Cloud Services|0 Comments

How to Check The Space Used in OneDriveCheck The Space Used in OneDrive

Have you wondered how to check space used in OneDrive? Here is how to do that.

  • Sign in to https://portal.office.com
  • Click the OneDrive icon
  • Click the Settings (gear) icon at the top right
  • Click OneDrive settings
  • Click More Settings on the left
  • Click Storage Metrics under “Features and storage”
  • Here you can see an overview of the OneDrive storage use

If you need assistance on how to Check The Space Used in OneDrive this call us at 319-227-7000 or fill out our contact form.

21 05, 2019

Stop the Inbox Insanity

2019-04-26T18:59:26-05:00May 21st, 2019|Email|0 Comments

Stop the Inbox Insanity: Tips for Better Email ManagementStop the Inbox Insanity

A staggering 269 billion emails are sent every day. Your business is receiving only a small fraction of those emails. Yet your staff likely feel as if at least 269 of those are coming their way daily. In fact, the typical employee in 2018 received 90 emails, and sent out 40.

Email is a powerful tool. But its help with doing business ever faster creates added business pressure. Consider these five strategies for better email management.

  1. Don’t start your day with email. Many people do. It’s how they set up for the day. However, beginning the day with a cup of coffee and clicking through your inbox, can backfire. Many of those emails become items on your to-do list. You put off important tasks from your day responding to other people’s requests. Plan your day around your business needs first. Even knock off some of the more important tasks, before diving into that inbox!

 

  1. Think twice about checking email constantly. It’s tempting to open emails as soon as they arrive. But, you only want to tackle your inbox when you have the time to take action. If you open an email planning to get back to it later, you’ll likely forget. When you have to revisit an email to remind yourself what it’s about, you’re doubling the time you spend on that message. Avoid interrupting your momentum by turning off email alert notifications and phone badges. Instead, set regular times to read and respond to accumulated emails.

 

  1. Write clear, concise emails. Avoid contributing to a colleague’s inbox chaos. Provide as much relevant information as possible. Now, that doesn’t mean writing a War and Peace-length email. Focus your message for your audience, anticipate questions, and answer in that email. Starting the message with an informative subject line can make a big difference too.

 

  1. Save time with reusable messages. You often end up answering the same questions over and again. Create template emails that you can have at the ready to provide relevant details. Depending on your email software, this capability may be built in or you may need to add a plug-in.

 

  1. Use filters and folders to sort email. Learn how to automatically filter your messages into the appropriate folders. For example, if the email is from [email protected] then send it to your”Accounting” folder. This can save hundreds of hours a year. The better your folder system, the less time you’ll spend looking for specific emails when you need them. In Outlook, you can also set up a filter to change the color of email for different senders. Your boss could be red, and you’d know to handle that one first. Also save time by setting up strong filters for junk and spam. Unsubscribe from mailing lists that you don’t need any longer. Cleaning out the clutter can make your inbox much less overwhelming.

Email is an essential tool in business today. Don”t let it become a drain on your energy and attention. Make the most of the time you spend in your inbox with smart strategies for email management.

Need help selecting the right email or setting up useful mailbox management tools? Give us a call at 319-227-7000.

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