A Solid State Hard Drive Might Just Breathe New Life Into Your Old Computer

Strategic Upgrades
It has happened to all of us. That new computer that you got just a few years ago is starting to slow down. It’s not old enough that you feel justified in complaining too loudly about it, but you’re on it all day every day and you’re tired of waiting. Boot times get longer and longer and the frustration mounts.

In the past the answer to this question was to reload Windows and possibly upgrade your memory. While that works for a while, eventually your hard drive will start to slow down again and your boot times will increase. My new recommendation would be to spend a couple hundred dollars on a Solid State Drive (SSD).

Solid State Drives have been around for several years now, and as the technology has matured, prices have dropped and better drives have evolved. The secret of the SSD’s super-fast boot times and application load times comes from the very core of the technology. Instead of running off of spinning metal platters with a magnetic coating like traditional hard drives, the flash drive stores data on interconnected flash memory chips that retain data even when there is no power present. The advantage of this is that there are no moving parts to break and the data can be accessed at a much greater speed. Even low-end SSD drives will blow away just about any spinning drive for performance.

Lucas Mearian summed it up in a recent article in Computerworld:

“The overwhelming majority of end users will never fill a 1TB internal drive, while just about everyone will be able to appreciate the incredible performance boost that an SSD provides. For the money, there is no other system upgrade that will give you the performance boost of an SSD. That goes for consumers and data centers alike.”

So if your computer has been suffering from a case of the Mondays for the last several months, consider
an upgrade to an SSD. If you have questions about how to get there, feel free to get in touch with the
experts at i.t.NOW who can help.

Local Storage vs The Cloud

Have you ever heard of the possibility of saving your things in a cloud? Cloud computing and the possibilities of having all of your data stored in an easily accessible, remote location has opened up all sorts of possibilities in today’s technology world. However, many question whether it is the best alternative to local storage.

Local Storage
Local storage has been around for many years. You use local storage when you save your files onto a hard drive, flash drive, or any other device that provides a back up to your local computer. External drives and USB connections have proven to be some of the most popular choices among local storage choices.

Local storage is prized for its cost, security, and speed. Local storage, such as an external hard drive or a flash drive, is a one-time investment. Once the technology is acquired, there is no further cost for use. It also allows you to easily transfer any material on the local storage unit from one device to another (as long as they are compatible). It is also one of the safest devices because you need physical access to the device in order to see its file. Local storage devices can also be easily encrypted, making it so that only those with the correct authentication can open the files.

Cloud Storage
On the other hand, cloud storage is becoming increasingly popular due to its accessibility and portability. Cloud storage allows you to create a system that is instantaneously accessible to any number of devices. Because the system is stored in a “cloud” and not held locally on any device, it requires little space, which allows you to access all of its files from your smallest technologies, including smart phones and tablets.

The biggest question surrounding the cloud is its security. With all the data accessible through user names and passwords, cloud storage has been known to be the target of hackers. Hacking a system provides the intruder complete access to any stored information.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to both local storage and cloud storage systems. When choosing a storage system for your business, if you aren’t sure which is best for you, contact an IT expert for advice specific to your situation and needs.

Ergonomics: Take Care of Your Body

If you sit in front of a computer all day, your body usually is quick to complain. However, with a few simple ergonomic upgrades to your office space, it is easy to take care of your body so that you can get all your work done without creating the stress on your body that results in pain.

Elevate your computer

Take the strain off your neck by elevating your desktop or laptop. This simple act will help you stop subconsciously hunching over, which will decrease the stress and pain in your back and neck.

Align Yourself

Along with elevating your computer, it is important to make sure that your body is properly aligned with your space. As a general rule of thumb, your elbows should rest at a comfortable 90 degrees when typing, the monitor should be at eye level, and the computer should be 18-28 inches from your face. By moving your desk and taking the time to find one of the best chairs for the office for your back structure and type to comply with these guidelines, you can decrease the repetitive stress that can cause problems with your back, hands, and wrists.

Buy a Real Mouse and Keyboard

The hours of contact between your hands, mouse and keyboard can number in the thousands. Don’t content yourself with the mouse and keyboard that comes with your computer. Do some research and choose a mouse and keyboard that is designed for both comfort and functionality. Your hands and wrists will greatly benefit from the upgrade.

Take a Break

It is important to find moments throughout the day where you can stand, stretch, and move. Ideally, you should get up and move away from your computer once every hour. If you are someone who easily gets lost in a project, set up reminders through your computer software to take a stretch break.

Protect Your Eyes

The glare from your computer screen can cause a huge amount of strain on your eyes. Consider installing a darker desktop theme to decrease the strain and program your computer to increase the monitor’s refresh rate.

How Secure is My Password?

You hear all the time about identity theft and online fraud.  But you think you’re not at risk, right? Think again. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing Internet crimes!  The easiest way to protect yourself from identity theft is with a strong password.  You have one of those, right?

The best passwords, according to Microsoft, follow these five steps:

  • Don’t be complacent and use things like 12345, or something similar in a password.
  • Know what makes a bad password. Using your name or the names of a spouse or children makes it easier for hackers to break your password.  You also shouldn’t use words that can be found in the dictionary, even foreign ones.
  • Become proficient at creating good passwords.
  • Keep your password to yourself.
  • Change your password often, multiple times a year.

You still might be thinking, “my password is a good one.” If you really want to know just how secure your password is, visit this site. It will tell you just how fast a personal computer could hack a password. By all means, don’t use an actual password you use, but a similar one to give you an idea of how vulnerable you may be.

This writer’s favorite password, one he’s been using for years, could’ve been cracked in 52 seconds! Time for a new password!

Server Basics

When several people are collaborating on a project, it can be difficult to keep track of all the necessary documents in a location that everyone can access. One solution is to use an internal server. A server acts as a central computer to store all the information from your business. It also serves as the administrator and router for all of your company’s computers and communication devices. Each individual computer connects to the company network, which allows information to be easily stored and accessed.

This connection is particularly helpful in the sharing of information. Co-workers can work on the same Word document, Excel file, or Powerpoint presentation from different computers. Any computer that is connected to the server can be given access, regardless of their physical location. This can be particularly helpful when certain employees or parts of your business are located in different regions.

A server can also help keep your customer information up to date. With all of the computers linked, when one employee updates information on a customer, that information is instantly accessible by all other employees. This decreases the hassle of making sure that you have access to the most current information or document.

It is possible to establish different levels of access within your server. If you are handling particularly sensitive information, you can make it so that only specific employees have the ability to access certain folders or files. This helps you maintain any level of necessary confidentiality.

If you are finding yourself frustrated by a lack of organization, or if your projects are blocked by a lack of communication or coordination, then a server could be a viable option. Talk with a local IT company to see how a server could benefit your business.

Data Backup and Recovery Solutions from i.t.NOW

In 2011, Bluffdale City was looking for a way to consolidate and upgrade its data backup and recovery needs. To do so, Bluffdale representatives searched for a company that provided a comprehensive and time-tested data backup and recovery solution.

Enter i.t.NOW.

i.t.NOW is a Utah-based provider of I.T. solutions including data backup and recovery, cloud computing, desktop virtualization and more.  The company’s i.t.BDR offering gives organizations the ability to effectively and frequently back up vital company data (as often as every 15 minutes) in secure off-site storage areas, and recover that data when needed.  Whether a company experiences an earthquake, fire or some other type of disaster, i.t.NOW can get it back up and running with little to no down time.

As fate would have it, Bluffdale’s city offices experienced an event that essentially destroyed their in-house data and computer systems: a lighting strike! Luckily, i.t.NOW was ready for the challenge.

First, with its frequent data backups and constant system monitoring, i.t.NOW immediately detected the power surge from the strike. The event destroyed Bluffdale City’s backup power supply and its servers wouldn’t restart. To fix this problem, i.t.NOW implemented an off-site server. And because i.t.NOW’s data backups run as often as every 15 minutes, it was able to restore Bluffdale City to its most recent backup.

In fact, i.t.NOW had the city back up and running in less than 30 minutes!

Second, i.t.NOW ran the city’s entire data center and computing needs for two days while a replacement power supply was ordered—all on i.t.BDR software from i.t.NOW.  Once the new power supply arrived, i.t.NOW transitioned Bluffdale back to its old network after hours.

To learn more about i.t.NOW and its comprehensive I.T. services, contact us or call (801) 562-8778.

What to Look for in an IT Company

When you decide to outsource your company’s IT services, it is important to pick the right company for the job. Picking an IT company is like picking another partner for your business. It is imperative that you choose the company that will work best with you, your mission, and your work ethic. The choice will have a huge impact on your future success.

A lot of your search will be determined by your preparation. Make sure that you have a clear idea of what you are looking for in your IT company. This should include potential projects, expectations, timelines, and fees. The clearer you are on what you need, the more you will be able to tell if a company is the right match.

  • Start your search early and take your time. You want to make sure that you have the time to feel comfortable about your choice instead of making a rash decision.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask around. Solicit referrals from other companies with similar needs. When you have found a company that you are interested in using, ask for referrals or testimonials from existing or previous customers.
  • Match the company with your needs. If you have one specific need, try and find a company that specializes in that area. If your needs are broader, look for a company that is more flexible.
  • Ask about backups and security. You want to make sure that your data is safe. Look into the amount and type of backups that the company uses to ensure that nothing gets lost.
  • When possible, try it out. Ask for a demo or a trial run. This will help you make a fully informed decision.

By going through these simple steps, you can make sure that you feel completely comfortable and confident with the IT company of your choice.

Why Outsource IT Services?

Whether your business is large or small, there is always the question of whether or not you should outsource your information technology (IT) systems and servers. When making this choice, it is important to look into both the benefits and risks that come along with outsourcing. This article will focus on some of the benefits.

The success of your business depends on your ability to reach your goals and objectives. Many managers and company owners feel torn from the work that enables them to engage with customers, improve their products, and follow up with concerns because of the time demands of their IT systems. This causes particular problems when they are not particularly tech savvy. When a business manager makes the choice to outsource the IT system, he is alleviating the need to split his focus. By turning over the IT to an outside company, he has the peace of mind that it is running efficiently while having the freedom to focus on the other needs of the business.

Another benefit to outsourcing your IT systems is the cost. Companies who choose to handle their IT systems in house must carry the fixed cost of paying for the necessary staff to keep the system running. Outsourced IT has a variable cost depending on the needs of the company. This change can help free up capital that the company can then funnel into different aspects of the business.

The reduction of cost has an additional benefit for your customers. Instead of needing to incorporate the cost of an in-house IT department into the prices of your goods or services, the decrease in expenses can help lower your prices. These lower prices can help give your business a competitive edge in your market.

Adware, Spyware, Malware and Viruses

Any computer owner has heard of all the many potential dangers that can crash your system. The words “malware,” “adware,” “spyware,” and “viruses” are used to describe the potential dangers that come from connecting your computer to the Internet. By understanding the differences between these malicious programs, you can better identify potential problems with your computer. Here’s a quick guide to help you know the distinctions between these individual threats.

Malware is defined as a software program that is intentionally designed to cause harm. Malware can infect a computer either through accidental installation by the user or by sneaking through other programs. Malware only describes programs that are deliberately designed to damage a computer’s hardware.

Adware is a type of malware that contains advertising that automatically displays without the user’s consent. Adware is usually connected to and downloaded with other programs. Adware often works together with Spyware, allowing it to target its adverting to your specific interests.

Spyware is another type of malware that is designed to spy on the computer user. Spyware is often used by hackers to collect keystrokes and other information, which allows them to steal passwords and other personal information. Spyware can also be used to record a user’s actions and browsing habits to help adware.

A virus is a program that is created with the intention to cause havoc with your computer. A virus infects your computer and can cause errors, crashes, and even destroy your hardware. Viruses tend to keep a low profile at first, allowing them to spread more completely through your computer before causing its full harm. A virus is unique due to the fact that it can grow and replicate itself. Viruses are dangerous as they can travel through an Internet connection, enabling them to travel from one computer to another. Viruses can also be transported through infected files and webpages.

Email Management 101

Email has become one of the leading methods of communication in the business world, used to manage projects, serve customers, secure new business, and correspond with fellow employees. You and your employees probably use email on a daily basis. The amount of information passing through your company’s email servers creates several different challenges and risks, making it essential to have a trustworthy email management to keep your computers and information safe and secure.

Companies should keep copies of all email correspondence for several years, in case they are required to provide them during litigation or investigation. However, most servers are not equipped to handle the vast amounts of emails held in inboxes, sent, and deleted folders. The mass quantities of emails held in the server can negatively impact its performance, leading to slow speeds or crashes.

Email management services work to take the pressure off your email server, increasing its performance and decreasing your risk of losing valuable information. Email management systems capture and copy all emails that are created and received by your employees. The system uses a classification scheme to assign proper controls and to manage content. It then creates an archive of every email correspondence, usually by creating a copy of the email and storing it in a separate location.

A good email management system gives you peace of mind that your email system will always be available, running at full speed, secure, and fully backed-up. Many will also help make your email available from any location through mobile applications or web access. The system makes sure that all email, calendars, and contact are available and in sync no matter where your employee is accessing them. Whatever the demands and uses of your email server, an email management system can help your business run efficiently and effectively.