Upgrade to a new Computer or get a Computer Tune Up service?

On: December, 22nd 2016 | Under: Computer Repair


Does your computer seem unresponsive, sluggish, and unreliable?
Do you feel you spend time waiting for things to happen on your computer?
Is your productivity slowing down as a result of a slow computer?

One of the most common questions we get in our business is “Should I get a computer repair or replace my computer?” While it is an individual decision there are several key factors that should help determine your course of action. Obviously, the price difference can be huge and the disruption painful, but what are the key determinants of your choice;

3 key determinants to upgrade your computer?

We suggest you use a 3-step process to determine the correct course of action

  1. Computer Age; If you existing computer is over 3 years old the risk of catastrophic failure due to hard drive or part failure is much higher, and the overall expected life of a PC that is constant use is rarely over 5 years. Life expectancy is generally lower for laptops that are moved & carried around regularly. Doing maintenance on an old machine might not be the best answer, especially if you are critically dependent on it working correct & if it fails you will end up in an emergency.
  1. Computer Specifications: Check the specifications of your current computer; with the evolution of new software & applications, especially video applications such as Facebook and news services, means your current computer just may not be able to process fast enough to give you performance that is satisfactory. Most new computers now offer significantly more processor speeds & RAM than what was available a few years ago. If you are looking to run the latest versions of Windows 10, Internet browsers (like Google Chrome), Office 365 or Microsoft Office 2016 then it is difficult to get the maximum benefits without modern specifications. If your old computer has low specification components a Computer Tune Up may not resolve all your speed issues.
  1. Computer Maintenance: Assuming you have agreed the first 2 steps are not a problem; then if you are experiencing slow startups, slow application opening, application time outs or regular restarting requests this can generally mean your computer needs a Tune Up. A computer Tune Up is where we do a deep clean to remove unwanted programs and files then the operating systems cleaned of unnecessary bloat. Often just normal use on the web can accumulate, without your knowledge, thousands of small unwanted programs, cookies, and tracking code that ultimately accumulates slowing everything down. The final area of a Tune Up is defragging your hard disk, where the storage space can be reallocated and made more efficient, giving improved performance.

Just like servicing a car we suggest that even the best computer will need tuning at least every 12 months or more frequently if you’re a business user, this can be done using a maintenance plan with automated routines and processes that can be run remotely by your local Computer Troubleshooters.

Repair or Replace?

Given the 3 critical factors above and your individual circumstance you should have formulated your own view of whether you should repair or replace your computer. So what are the options?

Repair – You can simply call in an expert like Computer Troubleshooters to do a computer Tune Up to get your machine back to optimal performance. They will do a series of deep scans and maintenance processes that should remove the bloat. We also would recommend joining a maintenance plan that regularly does this process to keep you at the optimal performance level. Part of this is also reviewing your backup regime to ensure that you will not experience data catastrophe should a failure occur in the future.

Replace – Once you decide to replace your machine there are few options you can consider;

  • Upgrade – Simply replacing the hard drive on an existing computer with SSD (solid state drive) can significantly improve processing speeds and memory without the need to replace the full system. This also significantly reduces a key point of failure risk from an old system.
  • New Packaged– a new system ultimately will give you a new experience in performance, you just need to ensure the specifications will deliver on your expectations. Lower prices can often mean lower performance, you generally get what you pay for. We generally suggest a minimum of 4GB of RAM and an i5 or better CPU. Just bear in mind you may need to repurchase software that was on your existing machine.
  • New Custom – if you have a specific need or application we can help put together a custom-built system option that can take into account your specific user requirements. We can spec, order & install a system specifically for your needs. Ask us for a quote.

You can transfer all your data and settings on to your new computer so that your new machine is setup is the same as previously, this can be done relatively easily by your local Computer Troubleshooters. Just bear in mind that Windows 10 is now the standard operating system for PC’s, so you may need to adapt to the new Windows environment.

At the same time we also recommend reviewing your backup regime to ensure your critical data is protected.

Optimal Computer Performance

Regardless of your situation whether it is repair or replace we can help you optimise your computer experience to help you get the best performance. You don’t have to put up with a slow computer. Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call and one of their technology professionals will be happy to evaluate the status of your current computer and help you choose the correct course of action.

How to enable your business IT Systems:

On: November, 14th 2016 | Under: Office 365


Is your business struggling to keep up with technology change?
As a business owner are you swamped with IT issues and user requests?
Do your business’ systems seem old and stuck in the past?

IT for most business has changed significantly in the last 5 years. Traditionally Small and Medium Businesses felt they needed to own their own hardware, software and support infrastructure. To have everything located in your office seemed safe and reassuring that your business was in safe hands. Then along came smartphones, Gen Y, and cloud computing!

So how do you take your business IT systems to the new frontier?

Surprisingly the change isn’t as hard or expensive as you think, you just need to see ownership as an old-fashioned way to view IT, you need to think more about access and scale as the key to better IT systems. By leveraging off broadband and cloud technological advances you can now achieve large business outcomes on a SMB budget.

Microsoft Office 365 is now the default software architecture for Microsoft products in Small & Medium Business, it forms the core of new business IT environments with over 80 million users worldwide and growing fast, it has proven to be reliable & solid.

Office 365 Advantages

Office 365 has been built as a cloud “software as a service” product so it is relatively device agnostic, controlled centrally with security top of mind. This means the Microsoft business office 365 environment is flexible, duplicable, accessible & remotely administered. Beyond the standard Microsoft Office suite benefits we have enjoyed for years it delivers additionally on 4 major areas;

  • Bring your own device – particularly smartphones & iPhones (BYOD).
  • Multi Device with Syncing between devices on multiple operating platforms.
  • Tablets, Smartphone & PC smoothing (same software on different device types).
  • Anywhere access – Security enabled and administered remotely.

This translates into 4 key benefits for users;

  • 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 if you know your admin stuff. Software is updated regularly automatically.
  • Syncing – it just works seamlessly regardless of what device you are 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.

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 with corporate grade email access from anywhere across the globe, on any device, and all synced and backed up at the Microsoft data centre. This alone is enough to justify Office 365.

Business Owner Considerations

  • Capital investment – do you prefer to invest to upgrade systems or use a pay as you go subscription model?
  • Space and operating requirements – do you need to run your own infrastructure?
  • Maintenance – would hosting dramatically reduce staff or outsource costs for your IT support?
  • Scalability – will you need to add or reduce users in the future?
  • Operating control – can you trust an external IT expert to remotely manage your systems?
  • Applications – can you use hosted applications or do you need to host locally?
  • Data usage and file sizes – are your business characteristics suitable to use hosted applications?
  • Broadband speed and capacity – can your internet bandwidth handle hosted usage?
  • Statutory data retention – does your business have a requirement to hold and protect data?

End user considerations

  • Access anywhere – do your users need access from PC, tablet and phones?
  • Syncing – do your staff need synced email and data?
  • Information sharing – would accessing business information on the move be helpful to your staff?
  • Seamless networking – would eliminating the need for a VPN reduce access complexity and increase productivity?
  • Backup and central control – would automatic backup and centralized control reduce your risk of user originated data loss?

In assessing these considerations, you may need some additional help to determine if the Office 365 alternative is applicable, feel free give us a call to discuss your situation.

Are you ready to IT enable your business?

So hopefully you can see a clear path to IT enable your business using Office 365 as the core software architecture. 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 fully proven you can combine to get the very latest software across your business knowing it works and is fully compatible.

Checkout our Office 365 Solutions Catalogue that sets out in detail how Office 365 can IT enable your business view either online or we can give you a printed copy.

If you wish to upgrade your IT Systems it will 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.

Virus Removal

On: October, 20th 2016 | Under: Computer Repair, Office 365


Do you suspect your laptop or computer has a virus? Is it running slow or do random windows pop up as you browse the web? Your computer may have an infection, or two. The good news is this can be fixed with a few helpful tips and programs. During this four-step process, Computer Troubleshooters guides you through the actions you can take to remove these irritating computer viruses.

4 Steps to Virus Removal – please note this information is regarding simple virus and malware removal – if you have a Ransomware virus such as Cryptolocker or a Locky variant we immediately recommend you turn off your computer and disconnect from the internet then seek professional advice from Computer Troubleshooters on Cryptolocker removal and data recovery, or risk losing all your data.

Step 1: Enter Safe Mode

To enter into Windows Safe Mode, first shut down your laptop. Turn it back on and as soon as you see anything on the screen, press the F8 key repeatedly. The Advanced Boot Options menu will appear, select Safe Mode with Networking, and then press Enter.

If you have Windows 8 or Windows 10, at the Windows login screen, select restart and hold down the Shift key. A window with options to troubleshoot your system will appear and you can choose the option to boot into Safe Mode.

If you log in and see a black screen, press CTRL, ALT, DEL to bring up the selection screen, and choose logout and then restart. Next, hold down the Shift key and select choose Safe Mode.

Step 2: Delete Temporary Files

Deleting any temporary files that you have on your laptop will speed up the virus scanning, free space and can even remove malware. Select Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup > Select Delete Temporary Files

Step 3: Download and Run Malwarebytes

First, download, install, and update Malwarebytes onto your laptop. Once the program opens, keep the default scan option “Perform Quick Scan” selected and click the Scan button. Although it offers a full-scan option, Malwarebytes recommends that you perform the quick scan first. Depending on your device, the quick scan can take about 5-20 minutes and the full scan about 30-60 minutes.

If the quick scan does not find any infections, it will show you a text file containing the scan results. If you still think that your laptop has a virus, consider running a full scan. If Malwarebytes finds any infections, a dialog box informing you of the detection will appear. To see the files detected, select Scan Results. It automatically removes the infections that are known to be unsafe. If you want to remove other identified items, select those as well, and then click Remove Selected.

After removing the viruses, a list of the scan and removal results will appear. Review the results to confirm that the antivirus program successfully removed each item. Malwarebytes may prompt you to restart your laptop to complete the removal process.

Step 4: Tying Up Loose Ends

Your laptop should now be free of viruses, but your device may not be free of the effects the infection created. You may experience glitches to a particular search engine or homepages may come up that you did not choose. It is vital that you change all of your passwords and login data for anything that contains personal information like email and social media accounts.

If you are still having issues with your laptop or experiencing virus related behaviours, such as pop-ups or slow operation, get your device serviced at your local Computer Troubleshooters.

Of course, if removing the virus yourself seems dangerous & complicated or just don’t have the bandwidth to DIY, we can do it for you.

Alternatively, on our managed plans you get Anti-Virus and Malwarebytes included so they prevent the infections in the first place. Prevention is always better than cure.

We are here to advise you with the best security services and can install security measures on all of your computers and devices, provide information about online safety, place hardware to protect your private information and more! To keep your devices protected from hackers and viruses, call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today!

Call us on 1300 282878

Scams & Fraud everywhere – Beware!

On: September, 15th 2016 | Under: Office 365


Recently we have seen a spike in internet & email scams that could cost you time and money. The nature of these attacks may vary, but ultimately they all seek to make money from you in one form or another. We thought it would be worthwhile giving you, and those around you a heads up on the most preventable fraud attacks we have seen in the last few months:

  • Microsoft Support Pop- Up scam – this latest malware looks to be using Google Chrome & Edge search browsers to enable a fake Microsoft Support Pop-Up on your screen it advises “Your Computer has been Blocked” and to Call for Support on 1800 152 454 – this connects you to a fake help centre who then do their best to convince you let them take control on your computer remotely.
  • Telstra Telephone Scam – in this scam you are randomly called by “Telstra” and told you have errors on your computer. To prove they are from Telstra they get you to login to your computer & access your CLSID, they then tell you your ID (amazingly this is the same on all computers). If you buy their story they then get you to remotely to connect with their TeamViewer connection so they can fix your machine. Once they have access they can install their own malware that starts to infect the machine, ultimately they will seek to charge you for fixing the malware they installed.
  • Invoice Reminder Scam –using electricity & gas company names and logos they just seem to be sending the latest bill to your email with an instruction to click to download, unfortunately they can link you to a purpose built website that downloads cryptolocker to your computer. cryptolocker is a form of ransomware that encrypts all your files and demands a payment in bitcoins to release, it is almost impossible to crack.
  • Prize Win Scam – generally targeting the more gullible these can arrive by SMS or email indicating you have won a prize (in a draw you never entered) and by clicking on a link and supplying details they either seek to gain personal information for fraud or to place phishing software on your computer to gain access to bank and credit card details.
  • Government Business Scam – this email scam generally takes the form of a government agency seeking to verify information examples include speeding tickets from police departments, tax office refunds, or complaints from agencies. Similar to other scams, by clicking on a link they install malware, phishing or cryptolocker to get a result.
  • Parcel Pickup Scam – Using recognized names such as Post, UPS or FedEx these emails indicate you have a package waiting for collection and by clicking on the link you can arrange delivery. Once again by clicking on a link they install malware, phishing or cryptolocker to get a result.

How to prevent becoming a Scam victim?

Prevention – don’t open or click on unsolicited emails or SMS

  • 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.
  • Be Skeptical – if something looks too good to be true then it is probably is! Think before you click – check the sending email address is actually a domain that would be associated with that business. You can also preview links to see if they look legitimate with the business name.

Your Checklist to protect Yourself, Your Family and Your Business from Scams & Threats

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 infections such as Cryptolocker, it may also limit the harm done by warning you before the file is executed, should you accidently click on a malicious email.
  • Firewalls and Encryption should be in use by businesses to secure their internet connection. Educate employees about passwords and internet security guidelines.
  • Using a hybrid cloud serviceOffice 365 as a hosted email & file service that will always have a copy available in the cloud that will not be infected by some of these type of malware, so if your computer is inflected the original copy is located in the cloud can be accessed by a different device
  • Have a regular backup copy – have a scheduled backup so you always have a recent copy of your files.
  • Have a Backup to non-networked driveCryptolocker and its lookalikes can find mapped and shared drives. For your backup either rotate external drives or have off site scheduled backup. Beware of using sync backups such as OneDrive as they can also be encrypted.

Computer Troubleshooters Can Help Your Family & 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.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) – Surviving a Disaster

On: August, 17th 2016 | Under: Office 365


Protecting your business from disaster seems like an obvious strategy to reduce the risk of failure.

How many businesses have a Business Continuity Plan to minimise loss in the face of disaster?

What are the 5 key risks to business?

  • Natural Disaster – fire, flood, earthquake, & cyclone.
  • Security Breach – burglary, employee theft, vandalism & cyber-attack.
  • Equipment Failure – infrastructure failure (sprinkler systems), IT hardware failures, broadband & utility failures.
  • Compliance Breach – privacy, data confidentiality, data retention, tax, & OHS.
  • Operational Breakdown – data loss, product recall, & service delivery failure.

Most of these risks effects on your business are predictable so you should be able to determine the correct course of action to minimize the impact an event on your business.

Focusing on the IT side of the risk mitigation:

  • Natural Disaster Offsite replication of data & cloud based infrastructure.
  • Security Breach – Unified Threat management & scheduled backup of systems & data.
  • Equipment Failure – Redundancy of broadband links & standby hardware.
  • Compliance Breach – Centrally controlled IT security polices, user access & data retention.
  • Operational Breakdown Standby hardware & UPS power systems.

How can this be achieved in SMB Business?

Many of these goals can be achieved by using off the shelf solutions & professional IT support. Most businesses have similar IT requirements and can achieve a large number of BCP goals by simply implementing an ecosystem approach like Microsoft Office 365.

Office 365 is a hybrid cloud solution that provides hosted email & file storage that can means some goals such as backup, redundancy, compliance & operational control can be easily maintained in the face of a disaster. Office 365 is controlled from a remote central console so other areas such security policies, user access, and data retention can be maintained remotely by an outsourced IT specialist.

Of course, some of these risks remain within your premise and need to be assessed by an experienced IT person who can make recommendations as part of your plan. These would include plans for local backups, on site essential server replication to an offsite location, local user internet protection & core business application protection & data backup.

IT Assessment Recommendations

Ideally you should get an IT professional to look at your business as part of a bigger review of your operations with other experts. However just getting an IT assessment done on your business and listings their recommended solutions for to each type of risk outlined above will at a minimum will give you sense of the solutions and the time taken to recover.

Your Business Continuity Plan

Your BCP should be also part of your business strategic plan that in IT determines the longer term structure and IT risk that is acceptable to your business. In reality getting an IT assessment with a view to accepting an off the shelf solution like Office 365 with support by IT professional may provide 60% of the IT BCP plan with the local premise solutions evaluated individually,

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about doing an IT assessment to keep your business running smoothly if you’re suddenly without your technology.

 

Why your Office 365 network needs professional IT support?

On: July, 28th 2016 | Under: Office 365


Microsoft’s Office 365 is now very much at the core of many small & medium business IT systems. With its enterprise class exchange messaging service and its default office suite products like Outlook, Excel, Word, and PowerPoint all available by subscription, it is difficult for some to understand why a business would need IT support outside the standard Microsoft technical support offering.

So it is worth exploring what can be expected of Microsoft technical support and what are the additional IT services a provider like Computer Troubleshooters can offer to your business.

Standard Microsoft Office 365 Technical Support

If something goes wrong with Office 365 support is a major issue – to assist you in understanding the role Microsoft support plays in helping with Office 365 should you encounter an issue, they (Microsoft) classify Office 365 technical support into 3 types:

  • Critical: Events that prevent you from accessing or using your services or data, severely impact deadlines or profitability, or affect multiple users or services. Available: 24/7, Response time: one hour
  • High: Events that affect the productivity of users but have moderate business impact, can be dealt with during business hours, or affect a single user, customer, or service. Available: business hours, Response time: no commitment
  • Non-critical: Events that have minimal service or productivity impact on the business, such as a single user experiencing partial disruption, but an acceptable workaround exists. Available: business hours, Response time: no commitment

Microsoft’s Office 365 support is focused around the operation of their centralised hosted applications that they control within their data centres. Understandably individual support for your business is deprioritised without a commitment to answer, many non-critical events taking up to 24 hours to resolve and with some lesser events updated as decided by Microsoft. They will not support non Microsoft issues experienced with your business IT systems such as networking, security, & end user support.

This type of support policy ensures Microsoft can guarantee at 99.9% service level guarantee at an application level however at an Individual business level the experience can be considerably different.

How does professional IT support facilitate an Office 365 environment?

We manage your entire IT systems requirements in a holistic manner, from planning to execution with the ongoing responsibility for your business processes, security and end users. We administer the Office 365 platform to ensure maximum efficiency and minimal disruption. Areas including;

  • Planning – Office 365 licensing, procurement & administration.
  • Setup – Each user must be defined and setup on the Office 365 platform.
  • Migration – Existing data, profiles and files need to be correctly setup.
  • Administration – Your Office 365 platform is administered remotely to manage/add/change users, policies, and security.
  • End User Support – Ongoing support & troubleshooting both remotely & on site for local users, for multiple devices and office network management.

What advantage does professional IT support provide?

Computer Troubleshooters already offers this type of skilled IT service to many of our clients for on premise equipment and we have extended our managed services to Office 365. Here’s why:

  • Cost Control: Control costs by eliminating full time staff or expensive non local IT providers to manage your IT functions. By outsourcing IT support responsibilities to a local business, you pay only for the specific tasks you need accomplished and the service level your require, at an agreed monthly cost. Administration of Office 365 can be done remotely from our offices. As a product built for the Cloud it is designed to be supported remotely, reducing support costs, and improving response times. Plus you can also limit your initial capital outlay for IT infrastructure and running expenses (such as electricity).
  • Expertise: Expertise and efficiency is immediately available by outsourcing your Office 365 Administration functions to a local expert. As a specialist we have developed tools for fast and accurate setup and migration plus we remotely manage multiple businesses on Office 365 so we are deeply knowledgeable on the platform applications. As a business owner, you won’t need to worry about an employee being trained, skilled and experienced to administer Office 365.
  • Local Service: Simply call your local Computer Troubleshooters who you know & with whom you have a personal relationship, with the peace of mind that a skilled professional is available to help locally & who understands your business. NO overseas call centres. NO Identity checks. NO remembering account numbers & passwords. NO explaining your systems to THEM every time.

Stay Ahead of the Competition with a Managed Office 365 IT environment

Computer Troubleshooters can provide professional IT services to your business to provision and administer Office 365 environments as needed, with no need to hire full time employees or large IT service providers. Let the experts at Computer Troubleshooters work with you to assess your IT needs and develop a customised 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.