Business today relies on technology more than ever. As a result, there is more and more potential for frustration for everyone in the business, when something is not working or goes down.
When a computer issue causes a disruption to an employee’s ability to perform daily tasks, not only is productivity impacted but also employee frustration. Very Often this leads to an impact on the employee’s perception of the business.
When an IT problem hits a business there is no such thing as a convenient time.
How does a business overcome this challenge?
To overcome this inconvenience and the associated cost of disruption a business needs to have in place a proactive support option, or the ability to seek support quickly. A proactive support option is where the business has entered into a relationship with their IT provider to monitor their IT systems and perform regular maintenance and associated tasks as defined by their managed services plan for a monthly fee for the term of the agreement. As a general rule, the proactive nature of regular maintenance and monitoring provided under a basic level managed services plan eliminates 65-85% of disruptive downtime.
A secondary option is to have a plan of purchased hours that is then supplied by the IT provider under an onsite support plan. An example could be 3 hours. The business can call upon the provider to support them at any time through the month up to the time allowed under the plan.
Under either of these options, the IT provider would generally provide first line response by accessing the businesses network and devices through a remote connection tool such as TeamViewer.
What are the key benefits of such a plan?
Time and speed of response is a key benefit for the business. Remember that when something breaks, every minute of downtime is costing the business in terms of staff productivity. It’s not hard to see how not only it is costing the business in employees time, but it can mean not being able to earn revenue as you may not be able to create invoices or even collect the cash from the sales you have made.
By being able to an IT provider can immediately start diagnosing the issue and start fixing it. This means the most important and urgent problems can be addressed quickly.
The depth of issues that can be remediated is significant. Issues like malware, removing viruses, patch updating on software, clearing disk space, printer issues, backup, email issues, office 365, password rectification/management of users and general testing of performance are just some examples of what can be supported immediately.
How can Computer Troubleshooters help your business?
All Computer Troubleshooters locations can provide support on demand. This means if your business is not on a managed plan then you can still get immediate help and assistance and be able to minimise the period of disruption to your business. Under this “on demand” model the normal hourly rate of the provider is charged.
Alternatively, you can engage your nearest CT location on a monthly plan that is either based on hours or based on a proactive plan of defined activities. Look at the Computer Troubleshooters BEST Managed Services plans or develop a customised plan based on your needs and requirements.
Remember, today it is all about prevention and minimising the disruption to your business.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
Tech Support: 7 Deadly Signs You Should Never Ignore
We have all done it, we all ignore some very blatant signs that something is wrong with our computers deferring the call for tech support. We will let it go or find a workaround to push off having to deal with the problem as long as possible. Unfortunately, that often means we put it off until something really bad occurs and we are thrust into a very costly or even devastating situation.
To avoid the risk of a serious emergency for your business, watch for these signs indicating your technology may be in need of professional tech support:
Regular pop up messages;
This often includes critical issue like renewing your security software or installing important updates for your operating system or applications, if they not being completed you are vulnerable to security attacks.
One or more systems are running unusually slow;
This can be a sign of hardware starting to fail or software corruption.
Your system regularly freezes up and forces a reboot for no apparent reason;
You may have a hard drive on the brink of complete failure and the potential for loss of important data if not addressed immediately.
You face the “Blue screen of Death” or a blank black screen;
This generally happens with older systems, when disk sectors are failing they can often have difficulty loading the operating system, while it may work when you reboot it is a sign that all is not right and a future catastrophic disk failure maybe round the corner.
An application closes without warning;
When a business application closes without warning it could mean you don’t have the latest version of the application or that your operating system is not compatible with the version you are using.
Your system is making noises;
Like any electronic device, computers need to be properly maintained and regularly cleaned. Any unusual noise should be looked at right away and can be as simple as a dirty fan or as critical as a failing hard drive.
Blinking or flashing screens;
If you experience screen resets in the middle of using applications it may mean your video card or graphics chip is failing and is a clear warning sign that it will fail permanently in the future.
Computers and software are likely one of the most expensive and important assets in your office. Your business cannot run without them. It is critical that you make sure that they are properly maintained and that problems are addressed quickly by a professional tech support.
If any of the seven deadly situations listed above sound like your business or home, you need to call your local Computer Troubleshooter professional tech support right away. They will come to your office and work with you to assess the problems and determine the proper course of action that meet your needs and budget. Remember, even small issues can be a sign of a much bigger problem, so don’t put it off!
Microsoft Internet Explorer has been at the heart of the Windows Operating system as the default browser on most computers since the rise of the internet. With 11 versions since it made its debut on August 16, 1995 it has evolved with the internet.
Microsoft are keen to migrate everyone to the latest version of Internet Explorer 11 and have announced as at mid-January 2016 they will only push security updates and bug fixes to Internet Explorer 11 users currently running Windows 7, 8.1 and 10.
Those utilizing legacy versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (8, 9, & 10) could be exposing themselves to malware and cyber-attacks that not only demolish your computer, but can lead to a slew of other hazards like identity theft.
To ensure security and an agile browsing experience, Microsoft Support highly recommends that users upgrade to Internet Explorer 11.
What’s new with Microsoft Internet Explorer 11?
If you are currently running on a legacy version of the popular web browser and are uncertain as to why you should upgrade, here’s what you can look forward to in Internet Explorer 11.
Elite web browsing. Even if network speeds are slow, new support enables Internet Explorer 11 preview to have the fastest browsing ever. It also allows network requests to be formulated so information is received at lightning speeds.
Streamlined navigation. Updates to how information is gathered helps search results feel instant.
2D and 3D capabilities. For gaming and other interactive content, Internet Explorer 11 is equipped with the latest Web Graphics Library standards. Internet Explorer 11 also maintains superior security, dependability, and performance.
Excellent for all screens. No matter the size of the monitor or tablet you have, Internet Explorer 11 supports gyroscope input and display orientation lock. For the extra large screens, Internet Explorer 11 also has side-by-side browsing, multi-monitor support, and high pixels per inch (PPI) scaling.
Superior compatibility. Internet Explorer 11 enhances compatibility with web standards, and real-time websites. Support has been fully integrated for popular web standards and improvements that forbid older websites from displaying incorrectly.
Impenetrable Security. Internet Explorer 11 raised the bar on security to defend you, and your devices. Previous versions blocked 85% of malware, but IE 11 now has a 99% block rate.
What are the alternatives to Microsoft Internet Explorer?
On March 17, 2015, Microsoft announced that Microsoft Edge will replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on its Windows 10 devices and will work in tandem with Office 365 products. This effectively makes Internet Explorer 11 the last release, so maybe you might like to try something new & choose other browser providers as your default browser, here are a few alternative you might consider;
Google Chrome is a freeware web browser developed by Google. It is estimated that Google Chrome has a 58% worldwide usage share of web browsers as a desktop browser. It is also the most popular browser for smartphones, and combined across all platforms at about 45%. It can easily be loaded onto Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, IPhone & iPad. Generally, it is believed that if your use Google as your home page that it runs better with Chrome.
Mozilla Firefox (or simply Firefox) is a free and open-source web browser. Firefox It can easily be loaded onto Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, IPhone & iPad. It is preferred by many geeks and developers not only due to it open source coding heritage, but it is generally regarded as a low resource hungry alternative.
Maxthon is deceptively powerful &, stuffed with lots of little features that you would never discover unless you knew they were there. There’s also an option to put the browser in split-screen mode. The browser comes with AdBlock Plus pre-installed, so you’re unlikely to ever be troubled by bothersome pop-up ads or auto playing videos. Maxthon’s trying to position itself as the “cloud browser”, with the option to share bookmarks, password and history from device to device – it has browsers for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Windows Phone and Linux. For those who don’t trust big corporations such as Google and Microsoft with such data, it’s another good option.
The Tor Browser has a simple purpose: to prevent others from tracing your internet activity. It reroutes your internet traffic around a host of volunteer relays across the world, making it incredibly difficult – if not impossible – for anyone to trace the sites you visit back to your individual IP address. It is a derivative of the Mozilla Firefox open-source web browser and works on most devices and can be contained on a USB for complete anonymity. Why might you want to hide your location or identity? Of course, there are all manner of reasons, but there are some pretty strong legitimate ones too, such as whistleblowing from inside an organisation, to avoid having your browsing activity traced by an employer, or to post with complete anonymity on a forum or message board.
You should upgrade your version to Internet Explorer 11:
How to upgrade to Windows 11. Generally, this upgrade will happen through automatic updates in Windows. However, if automatic updates are turned off, you will need to go to Control panel > Windows update > check for updates.
How to know what version of IE you’re on. Open browser > click the Tools icon in the upper right > click on, About IE.
If you decide on a different browser:
Simply search for the browser online then Download the software onto your device, generally once it is downloaded it will ask if you wish it to be become your default browser: Tick or click yes. The next time you access a link to the internet it will use the new browser.
If this doesn’t happen Open your control panel & check your settings under Internet Options
.Do you need help with your internet browser?
Computer Troubleshooters can help resolve many issues in accessing the internet and fixing the settings and software on your computers. We can also provide recommendations on internet security & network setups to help you get the best performance to reduce the risk of a security breach. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today for help and advice or use our locator to find your nearest Computer Troubleshooters location.
Monday a massive vulnerability was found in OpenSSL, the open-source software package broadly used to encrypt Web communications. They named this vulnerability the Heartbleed Bug. Many are confused about what this bug is, if they are impacted, and how they can protect themselves. This post will help educate you about the Heartbleed Bug and how you can protect yourself online.
Approximately two-thirds of employers do not monitor their employees’ access to social media sites, according to Media Bistro. As a result, it’s not uncommon for employees to indulge in a little Facebook or Instagram from their work computers. Although many employees use the Internet responsibly at work, a poorly articulated Internet use policy can leave your business vulnerable to hacking, phishing scams and other IT security issues.
As we close the books on 2013, people begin producing lists that review what has happened. I think these lists are interesting, and look forward to reading them. As we move into 2014, let’s review the computer viruses that wreaked havoc in 2013 and will most likely continue to in 2014, so you ensure you and your technology are protected and informed. When you are online remember to STOP.THINK.CONNECT.