Do your emails often bounce back as undeliverable?
Do your contacts often find your emails in their spam filter?
If your email system is not configured correctly then your emails may bounce or be filtered out as spam. In a world where we all rely on quick responses, delays due to bounced mail and difficulty finding emails can mean the difference between winning and losing a contract.
Welcome to the first in a series of blogs detailing products that we're more than happy to recommend.
Your Computer Department is an IT Support and Solutions provider accredited with the CompTIA trustmark. To protect our strong reputation, we only recommend products that we are happy to support. A product is only good enough for us if it provides value for money and reliability.
In this blog, we're looking at office printers. There are bespoke label printers, 3D printers, carbon-copy printers and all manner of weird and wonderful machinery for those with unique requirements. In these cases, it's always best to have a chat with us directly. However, regardless of the industry sector that you work in, a standard small office administration environment generally needs a printer that can print in good quality, quickly & efficiently. We're talking about offices with between 1-10 members of staff that need to just get on with their every day tasks without fuss. They'll generally also need to scan, copy and maybe fax occasionally, too.
What would happen to your data in the event of a daytime disaster?
If you use external hard disks as part of your backup plan, then it is important to remember that your backups must be taken off-site. This is done to protect against data loss through theft, fire or flood. However, many businesses are still at risk even if they take their backups home at night!
If your external hard disk backup is the only backup you do then it is also important to remember that, during the day, both your live data and your backed up data may reside in the same building - probably within inches of each other!
Consider the event of a fire during the working day. Every member of staff will leave the building immediately. Collecting a backup disk on the way out of the building will not only be the last thing on anyone's mind but may also be a risk to their life!
Your data is vital to your business. Let's have a look at the common types of backup used today in UK businesses.
1. Periodic copies of files to other media.
Perhaps the most common of all basic backups - A copy of the live data written to somewhere else like a USB data stick, another computer or any external hard drive. While this appears to be good practice, it is often flawed by several points of failure.
What are we copying? ...and where are we copying to?
There are generally three techniques that are used in these cases:
i) Copy and replace - This is where the user copies the live data and paste it over the top of the backup data - replacing all files with the newer versions. This results in a messy file system as any files that have since been deleted, renamed, moved or generally tidied up become duplicated in the backup system. If the live system was lost, the backup system would provide a chaotic replacement in the event of a full system restore.
Did you know? If you don’t have the right licensing in place you could be fined!
There have been several incidents of small businesses being investigated and fined by software licensing authorities over recent years. Many will have seen references on the internet to firms such as property advisors Matthews & Goodman that were forced to pay a settlement of £17,500 for under-licensing various Microsoft software on 75 of their office PCs and 3 of their servers. In other reports, a design agency called Inca and an asset management firm, Fortune Asset Management, were also caught and had to pay £15,000 and £18,500, respectively. Contrary to popular belief, these authorities also target smaller businesses - and they do have teeth! They can (and do) issue fines that are legally enforceable in the UK.
Windows – The past and present
Microsoft generally tend to release good operating systems alternately with bad ones although many of the bad ones are eventually patched to make them at least acceptable. It’s become an almost comical conversation point between colleagues in the IT industry.
My experience started with Windows 3.11 back in the 90’s. That was a great operating system and many were shocked when Microsoft introduced the world to Windows 95. It was a drastically different user experience and was the first of its kind and introduced the START button. Prior to this, everything you needed could be found on the desktop within boxed groups of icons. Many people hated the new experience but, to make things worse, the operating system was inherently unstable.
Your hard disk (often referred to as a hard drive) is usually where your computer stores all of your important data including documents, pictures, videos, music – and really, anything else you have on there. So how devastated would you be if you lost it all? Whether you keep your files on a Mac, PC, Laptop or external hard drive, it could potentially go at any time. You can expect your average hard drive to last for 3-6 years, depending on how much it is used and how much it is moved around. However, new hard disks have been known to fail within weeks and some hard disks have occasionally lasted in excess of 10 years.
It's not an exact science and there's little you can do to prevent a failure. Therefore you must work to responsibly protect your data in order to protect your business and reduce the financial impact should a failure occur. We always recommend everyone has a regular backup process in place to protect against theft, damage or mechanical failure.
Microsoft are keen that every PC becomes upgraded to Windows 10. They have altered the status by upgrading this process to an automatic update. This means that, unless you're concentrating, you'll stand a good chance of accidentally upgrading to Windows 10!
We've been critical of the Windows 10 upgrade process for a while now as it's been less than clear in certain key elements of licensing.
However, the product itself does appear to be pretty stable. We've encouraged most of our clients not to upgrade but for those who have still gone ahead, we've noticed one or two issues to make a note of.
1. Reversal process - Having upgraded to Windows 10, there is a facility to reverse the process if you're not happy with the new OS. However, it seems that this does not always work as planned leaving programs missing and other minor issues.
These days, computers and other forms of technology are vital to the smooth and successful running of the majority of businesses. They're used for storing important and confidential data, creating documents to complete sales, running websites to gain customers, selling products, and generally communicating via email or social media. Not everyone is technologically minded, so taking care of these computers and the information they contain can sometimes be difficult and time consuming.
If something went wrong with the technology in your office, could you cope?
We would like to extend a huge thank you to all of our customers for your support during 2015. We hope you have a relaxing Christmas and look forward to a bright new 2016!
Our official line is that we're closed on bank holidays and we're offering a limited support at other times. However, as our regular customers will know, we'll generally be around for emergencies. You may just find that our reaction time may be a little more relaxed than you'd normally expect from us due to lots of mulled wine, turkey, mince pies and afternoon naps in front of the TV! The best way to reach us during this time is to submit a support ticket from our web site. This will generate an alert on our phones so we'll see your cry for help pretty quickly.
We are proud to say that Your Computer Department was the first IT Support company in the East Midlands to demonstrate the outstanding attributes to both running a business and planning for future success that were required to hold the recently introduced Accredit UK standard.
Until recently, there has been little to distinguish a reputable IT company from a bad one. After all, even a bad IT company can have a web site that creates a good first impression.
So, how are customers to know which companies are the real deal? Well, it's always been a bit of a lucky dip when it comes to IT support companies since the industry has been pretty much unregulated until the launch of a recent IT services benchmark standard.
"Thanks Eddie. Excellent service, as always."
"Thanks! 10/10 for resolving it quickly and easily!"
"As always 10/10 from me Eddie – really appreciate your speedy response to all our queries and efficient resolution of the issues we’ve had."
East Midlands Baptists Association
"Very quick, helpful (especially for those IT illiterates like me!), well priced."
Veracity Financial Planning
"You’re getting quite good at this, Eddie! Thanks for sorting."