How to Make Computer Issues A Thing of the Past
We repair many computers and laptops each week, but unfortunately this is often ‘closing the barn door after the horse has bolted’. Computers have a habit of dying at the worst possible time – like when an important project is due tomorrow, or before you copy family photos to a backup. We’ve combined our repair services with preventative measures to ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Our managed IT services can remotely take care of all the computers in your house, protecting you against both threats and system failure.
Anti-virus always up-to-date: While many homes have anti-virus software installed, they don’t often have the latest virus and threat definitions. These systems are at risk every minute they spend online, as the anti-virus simply will not pick up and stop an unknown threat.
New viruses and hacking threats arise every day, and there are entire companies dedicated to creating anti-virus updates to catch them. We can make sure your anti-virus definitions are always up-to-date, keeping your computer secure against even the newest viruses.
Software patches: Hackers like to spend their time figuring out new ways to break into computer systems. Software companies like Microsoft and Apple release regular patches to close these security holes. The patches are supposed to be applied automatically, but we often find that isn’t the case – patches didn’t download, were canceled or produced an error. Our services involve remotely checking that each patch has been applied successfully, and troubleshooting if required. As an added advantage, any time new features are packaged into an update, you’ll find them already installed for you.
Early failure detection: Some parts in your computer send out alarm bells when they’re about to die. Unfortunately, they’re not literal alarm bells (that would be too convenient), but information in the background that needs to be interpreted or manually checked. We can monitor these and advise repairs as required.
Data protection: Hard drives which store your information do eventually wear out, but they’re one of the parts that send out early failure warnings. We can monitor this and give you ample warning so that you have time to back up your important files. When it’s time, we’ll work with you to arrange drive replacement, making sure to either clone or re-install your operating system, whichever suits your needs best.
Tune-ups: Even the most cared for computer will slow down over time. Hard drives become cluttered, operating systems corrupt and ghosts of uninstalled programs still remain. We can remotely schedule and run a regular maintenance routine that will keep your system running in top condition and lightning speeds.
Our managed IT service happens entirely behind the scenes, so there is no disruption to your experience. You simply enjoy the benefits of having your own IT specialist team at one flat, low cost. You and your family continue to use your computer/s as normal, the only difference is problems are fixed BEFORE they happen and your system has the very best security against threats.
To Backup or To Archive? ’Tis The Question
Hamlet worried about whether to be or not. You may be more preoccupied with whether backup or archiving is better for your business. You know you need to secure your data, but how? This article examines the different benefits of both options.
Back in the day, businesses kept important information on paper. They stored important records and notes in nearby filing cabinets for easy access.
When there were too many files to close the cabinet drawers any longer, someone would do a big clean out. Older, important documents would get boxed for the basement or other storage area. They might still be needed for tax, or compliance, or other reasons. But you didn’t need those files readily accessible any longer.
A similar scenario is true of digital business data. You can back it up to recover from hardware failure, cyberattack, or disaster event. Or you might archive the data for space management and long-term retrieval.
Deciding Between Backup and Archive
When it comes to the right form of data storage you’ll need to weigh:
Backing up data, an operating system, or application files, doesn't delete the originals. However, your older backup may be deleted when you make the new copy. If not, the backup can have another use. It can allow users to go back and review or recover earlier versions.
It’s not a bad idea to have several backups. We recommend the “3-2-1” backup strategy. You’ll have three copies of your business data. One would be on the cloud, the other two on different devices (e.g. on your local computer and on a backup drive).
Archiving puts a copy of business data into long-term storage. This is the data equivalent of moving that box of files to the basement. Typically, the archived version becomes the only available copy of that data.
The archives’ permanent record of data may prove useful in future legal disputes. Archived data is often tagged to enable streamlined search down the road. Moving information to archive can also improve processing speed and storage capacity.
While a backup may be overwritten, archived data is generally not altered or deleted. In fact, it’s often physically disconnected from the computer or network. So, you’ll turn to a backup to restore your data if necessary, and to archives to retrieve information data.
Both backup and archive can prove useful. It’s not going to happen every day, but entire digital archives can be lost if a server is drowned by a flash flood. All the paper backups can be burnt to cinders in an electrical fire. That external hard drive could be stolen or crushed by falling debris in a hurricane.
It’s best to avoid having a single point of failure. Both backing up and archiving business data is a smart precaution. Ensure business continuity by preparing for the worst. Our computer experts can help you backup, archive, or both. Start securing your business data with our support today! Call us at 520-355-7553.
The new year can mean resolutions and promises for a “new you.” One way to start this year feeling more in control is to clean up your computer. Follow these simple steps!
Tackle the inbox
We do a lot of shopping at the end of the year. Whether you shop online or in stores, you’re asked to provide your email address when you buy, which multiplies the number of mailing lists you’re on. Don’t start the new year deluged by unwanted newsletters and advertising emails.
The extra messages in your inbox distract you from the messages that matter. Instead of deleting every new unread message from “Let’s Make Cookies,” click on one and unsubscribe. Usually, there’s a link that lets you do this at the bottom of the email. If you’re a Gmail user, start your effort to cut down on unwanted mail in your Promotions tab. Google’s algorithm sends sales pitches here, so cut messages from this section first.
The internet is built for browsing. We’ve all lost hours to clicking and linking in this vortex of information. “Wait. How did I end up here looking at kittens eating cupcakes?!” To make things easier, we’ll bookmark sites we visit often or put a page we want to return to on a reading list.
By the end of the year, we have marked many sites that we don’t even remember favoriting in the first place. “When was I interested in this?” Getting rid of any bookmarks for passing interests can help you navigate the Web better this year.
In Google Chrome, click on the three dots in the upper-right of your browser window (to the left of your profile icon). The drop-down menu will have a Bookmarks option. Click on this to see another drop-down menu with Bookmark Manager on it. On the next screen every one of your bookmarks will have three dots beside it. Click on this to select the delete option, and get rid of the ones you don’t need any longer.
Safari users can click on Bookmarks on the top menu or the sidebar icon on the tool bar (to the right of the arrows on the left). Then edit your bookmarks by clicking on sites you no longer want and hitting your delete button.
Sort through downloads
We also download a lot of stuff in a year. Sometimes, because we’re impatient or don’t realize we’ve already hit download, we get multiple copies of the same file! A full download folder takes up storage space on your computer and can slow your computer down.
On a Mac, go to the Finder and click on Downloads on the “Go” drop-down menu. You’ll find a folder filled with .pdfs, .docs, and .jpegs you long forgot about. Click on those you don’t need any more and drag them to your trash can.
On Windows, you can usually go to the “This PC” icon and then the “Downloads” Folder. Right-click on the files you don’t want, and choose “Delete.”
Empty trash/recycling bins
Items you put in the trash or recycling bins at home take up space until you take those bins to the curb or the dump, and the same is true of your computer trash or recycling. Empty these bins by selecting “empty trash” on your Mac Finder menu, or “empty recycle bin” after clicking on the bin icon in Windows 10.
Remove unused programs/apps - If you’re not using a program or app, don’t give it computer space. On a Mac, you can click on the icon for that program and drag it to the Trash. With Windows, you’ll open the Start menu, click on Settings, then System, then Apps and Features from the left pane to select what you want to uninstall. Click the uninstall button, and you’ve decluttered your computer that little bit more for the new year. If you need help with any of these streamlining measures, let us know. We can help! Call 520-355-7553.
Small business owners are proud of getting everything done with few people. Every team member wears many hats. They are part of a family, devoted to the firm’s success. But that doesn’t make them qualified to handle IT. Really, you’re never too small to outsource your technology needs.
A small business may only have a few computers for its handful of employees. Having an in-house person dedicated to IT support would be overkill. But just because the technology is working fine today doesn’t mean your IT is performing at its best. That’s why it can be beneficial to outsource IT.
Having someone who knows technology working for your team can pay huge dividends. Your outsourcing partner will add value by:
Cybercriminals don’t care about business size. In fact, according to Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks were aimed at small businesses, and only 14% of the SMBs were prepared for defending their networks and sensitive data.
In fact, a small business can be a particularly appealing target. Hackers will exploit a small business as part of a campaign to attack a larger business. They know the SMB is less likely to have the same level of security as the bigger target in their sights.
Accenture’s 2019 study found that more than half of all small businesses had suffered a breach in the last year. These attacks can be crippling for SMBs. According to insurance carrier Hiscox, the average cyberattack costs a business $200,000. That figure can be a killer blow for a small business. Some 60% of SMBs hacked go out of business within six months of the attack. Even if they can survive the financial hit, damage to brand reputation and customer goodwill is devastating.
Advantages of Outsourcing
You may not have a clear picture of your cybersecurity status right now, but by working with a managed services provider (MSP) you’ll get one. Your partner will conduct an informal audit of your current technology and learn your short- and long-term goals.
Your small business, for instance, may not have a data protection procedure. You might be thinking you don’t have a lot to backup and store. But the quantity may not be the primary concern. Can you recover if your business loses an email chain it was keeping for legal or compliance reasons? What would happen if the computer holding your accounting database died? An MSP can identify where tech changes can better ensure business continuity.
When you outsource, your partner will also inventory all your tech assets. They’ll need to know everything about your infrastructure and your business’s technology capabilities. Your current team may recognize the importance of securing the business’s intellectual property, but are they also protecting customer data and employee records? Your business needs to be intentional about confidentiality, availability, and safety. An MSP can help.
The cost of outsourcing is often a stumbling block for the budget-conscious SMB. Managed IT services can often lower costs for clients by streamlining processes, managing vendor relationships, and ensuring that the business technology is best suited to current needs. And you'll pay a fixed regular fee for a technology team member who will help you avoid big, costly tech surprises.
No business is too small to outsource IT. Having access to a full-time IT professional via a managed service provider can improve your operations, enhance productivity, and lower cybersecurity risk.
Find out more about what we can do for you! Call us at 520-355-7553.
A New Year's Data Resolution To Stick To
Many of us set goals, tasks, and challenges to tackle in the new year. Cleaning out the spare room, shopping around for the best energy deals, or exercising more than we did last year. We set these goals to improve our lives and build on productivity, health, and organization in the future.
Resolutions to improve for the coming year are great ideas to aspire towards; whether organizing your office, tidying your house, or taking control of your digital footprint. The problem for many is motivation can quickly fall away by the time February rolls around. If you manage to achieve only one of your new year goals for this year, make it to put a good backup in place for your digital files.
Storage failure, theft, accident, or natural disaster can impact at any time. Many of us put these possibilities to the back of our minds. We plan to organize our files 'eventually' and then never get around to it. It's easy to think 'it won't happen to me’ or make creating a backup something that is always to be done tomorrow.
Replacing Old Valuables
Almost anything you own can be replaced one way or another. A broken laptop, tablet, or phone can easily be replaced with another model. Even credit card or financial details, if stolen or lost, can be cancelled and replaced by the bank in under a week.
Losing data, however, is far tougher to face. Without a safe backup, there's no way to recover it once it is gone. Backups provide a service which could be described as the world’s best insurance policy.
While an insurer will often give you some, even most, of the value of the previous goods lost; data backup provides you with your exact data, precisely how you left it. It does this instantly, repeatedly, and without any additional charges or excess. In some instances, it is even automatic and done behind the scenes.
Recovering Irreplaceable Data
There are almost certainly old essays, browser bookmarks, and notes that you can comfortably live without. Equally, there are likely to be photographs, videos, and important documents that you couldn't or should not part with.
For many, these files can be as valuable as the memories themselves: photographs of loved ones, long ago vacations, or milestone events in life. We commonly take critical data for granted; Assuming that because we can access it today, it will still be there tomorrow. This is unfortunately not always true.
These irreplaceable files are too important to keep in just a single place. Retaining only a single copy leaves your data vulnerable to luck and chance as to how long and if it survives.
Losing Data In An Instant
Data storage is liable to develop faults or failures at any time. Often a storage failure isn't made apparent until the device fails to turn on or dies suddenly. These types of hardware failure become more and more likely as devices age.
Similarly, modern devices are more and more vulnerable to loss or theft as they get smaller and lighter. While criminals are not likely to be interested in your irreplaceable photographs and documents, they are vulnerable to being stolen along with the device they plan to sell. Whether lost through natural disaster such as flood or fire, misplaced by accident, or stolen by criminals; important files are truly painful to lose.
If you were to lose these files in an instant today, how much would you pay to end that stress and get them back again? Setting up a good backup is only a tiny fraction of the cost without any of the pain.
Backup For You
With the right backup solution, it doesn't matter how many devices are lost or stolen. Even without a device or away from home, the data important to you can be kept safe and sound to be returned to you when you're ready again.
Regular, consistent backups can even be made for you, automatic and in the background. Documents you create, photographs and video you take can be backed up and kept safe from the second they are captured or saved.
If you have traveled too long on borrowed luck, without putting a backup in place, give us a call at 520-355-7553 to get set up with a robust and dependable backup solution for your data.
Does Dropbox Make Sense For Your Business?
It seems so easy! Drag your files into a Dropbox folder and you’ve got yourself a file sharing system that brings your business in line with modern expectations. But then again, maybe not.
Dropbox has grown to become one of the main file sharing and cloud storage solutions of choice, with a core simplicity that’s hard to deny. But for business, that simplicity comes with a catch. In some cases, sticking with the familiar blue box can provide good value, and of course, it never hurts when your staff already know how to use your software. In other cases, you’ll need to consider alternatives designed to meet your needs more explicitly.
When Dropbox is a Good Choice
Micro-sized: If your business is small with no more than a handful of employees (or none);
No sensitive information: This includes accounts, customer details, vendor, staff or proprietary data; plus
Nobody ever accidentally deletes anything: Dropbox is a syncing service, which means when a file is deleted, it deletes it from all machines. While the file is recoverable from the Dropbox website within 30 days, by the time you notice it's missing, it might be too late.
If you’re thinking those attributes sound more like a fictional business, you’re not far off. Somehow, Dropbox’s popularity in the consumer sphere has snuck into business environments, despite the risks. Key among these is the fact that Dropbox is designed for syncing, NOT backup. This means while your data is sprawling across all connected devices, it’s a mirror of the source only – when you delete or change the original file, the Dropbox version immediately syncs with it. In some cases, this can spread malware between your connected devices and put all of them at risk.
Your business also misses out on important security controls, such as user-level access control and password protected links. Rather like a free-for-all, the shared files are sitting there available to anyone with either a connected device or an insecure web link. You’ll also miss collaborative editing, losing out in productivity and data resilience as multiple employees overwrite each other simultaneously, with no record of who even opened the file, let alone changed it.
If Dropbox makes sense for your business, there’s no reason to change. But if it’s clearly not a good choice for you, there are multiple corporate grade syncing solutions. These are designed for business with security, encryption and collaboration controls built in. Rather than the easiest solution which may pose a risk to your business and digital security, consider implementing a salable solution that meets all your needs.
Hello guys! Niels here. Lately (well, for the last few years anyway, but more so in the last few months) there have been TONS of reports of businesses getting hacked in various ways. Some are simple email hacks that send out a bunch of spam, and some are the most severe, data breach ransom hacks. What can you do to stay protected?
Different Types of Hacks
This is the recent heavy hitter, the one we are all hearing about. In a nutshell, ransomware encrypts all your data, holding it hostage until a ransom is paid, usually in the form of bitcoin, to an untraceable wallet. We NEVER recommend paying the ransom, since you should have good backups in place. Once ransomware hits, it is IMPOSSIBLE to tell if any confidential data was stolen or if any backdoor access was allowed. If you are hit, wipe everything out, and pull from backups. This also falls under data breach, so you should inform the parties involved.
This is a bad one, but easier to track down whether or not confidential data was stolen. Data breaches can consist of different types of hacks, but it's worth talking about on its own. If you have a data breach, you must notify your customers and any compliance organization you must follow, like HIPAA. If you have a data breach, the first thing to do is secure the entry point of the breach. Usually, it's less technical than you think. Some data breaches come from physical stolen computers/phones/server, and some come from disgruntled employees. Keeping track of access logs will allow you to figure out what happened.
These are simple, sometimes more annoying than anything. Email hacks fall under the phishing category. We'll talk about that more in another post. Email hacks are easy to identify, easy to stop, but can cause real problems. Remember when you got that spam email from a client, business, or friend? They probably got hacked and their email is sending out garbage and spam in an effort to hack others.
How To Stay Safe
Staying safe is actually pretty easy. Most of the recent hacks come from only a few internal issues. Let's learn how to do it right!
If you are still saving passwords in a word doc or on sticky notes, STOP NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Using a free password manager like LastPass or Bitwarden (our favorite) allows you to safely store all your passwords. This comes to point 2, you should NEVER reuse passwords. This is how the most recent hack on 400 dental offices came about-a management company reused a password and forgot the account was there. Using a password manager means you don't have to remember all those passwords you create. It will keep track of them, log you in, etc all without racking your brain over complex passwords. Also, changing your passwords every 90 days makes sure leaked passwords are unusable.
2 Factor Authentication
Another very easy one, 2 factor involves sending a text or entering a random code when you sign in. This means that someone singing in from an unknown location won't be able to get past unless you give them the random code. This means you must always have your mobile or other trusted device with you, but it is an EASY and HIGHLY secure way to prevent hacking. We recommend you go turn it on right now on everything you can.
Clicking on bad links on email is the # 1-way hacks start. Training staff is an easy and cost-effective way to stop hacks before they even get past the email. Most phishing emails are easy to spot, and if your service provider gives you an advanced spam filter, you may never even see them. Training staff on what to look for may save your business from disaster and expensive recovery.
Short post today, happy fourth of July!
How should you protect cloud services? Do you need to protect cloud services? It depends.
Some cloud services, such as business software, may be fine without any additional protection from you. Quickbooks online, Clio, and others generally do a good job protecting their services from harm. This means, while you need to do your diligence in protection such as password changes and 2 factor authentication, you can be confident that the cloud data and infrastructure is protected.
Other services like Google Apps, Office 365, email, and some websites require extra protection. While I was at a conference this week, we were shown a live demo of ransomware taking over an online email account. All the emails were encrypted, the content jumbled, and a nice email was sent to them that said “oops! Your emails are encrypted”. WHOA!!!!! Scary. The same thing can happen to some websites, google drive data, one drive data, and more. These services require active protection and backups to keep things safe, and help you recover if something does happen.
Stay safe out there today, and have a good day!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE backup your important stuff.
You know the feeling. When you go to look for something on your computer, and you cannot find it. In fact, it seems like all kinds of stuff is missing. HUUUUUUHHHHH???????
A couple days ago I was helping a customer fix some settings which required the removal and re-installation of the software. After explaining the potential for any data loss, they confirmed that there was nothing there that could be lost. Well, it didn't go like that.
After reinstalling, and the initial problem resolved, they began to look for their old files. But none of them were there. In fact, the service that was supposed to be keeping everything was not doing so, and what once was thousands of files became only a handful. They panicked. They started stressing, worrying about what they would do. This was a business and all their work files for many years were now missing. But, thankfully, they weren't missing, they just hadn't been imported yet. The removal of the software did not touch any files, and a few minutes later everything was back as it was.
I was confused. The service they were confident in wasn't working (and it was not cloud or another type of backup), and after explaining to them that the ONLY copy that existed in the universe was here, vulnerable to user error, disaster, viruses, forgetfulness, and more, I proposed cloud backup.
We offer cloud backup starting at $10/month per TB that gets monitored, tracked, tested, and more. Other companies offer similar or cheaper plans that do not include testing.
Side note: A BACKUP IS BROKEN UNLESS IT IS SUCCESSFULLY TESTED!!!!!!!!!!! YOU DO NOT HAVE A BACKUP UNTIL YOU TEST AND CONFIRM YOU HAVE A BACKUP!!!!!!!! Please test your backups.
Okay, that's out of the way. The point is, it's cheap to back your stuff up. It's cheap insurance, and when we regularly do data recovery for $2000 or more (which buys over 11 YEARS of backup) you can understand our frustration with the answers we get.
And you will never guess what they said........
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????????????? YOU JUST HAD A PANIC ATTACK OVER MISSING FILES!!!!!!!!!!! SERIOUS?????? LIKE, FOR REAL???????????? YOUR COFFEE COSTS MORE!!!!!! AND THAT'S EVERY MORNING!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU SPEND MORE ON A MCDONALS MEAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! (this was all internal, none of this made it to the customer's ear)
I really enjoy doing data recovery. It's amazing to see the relief people experience when we are able to give them their data back. But I would love nothing more than to NEVER recover a hard drive again, and only ever help people restore backups.
This time was okay. The data was still there. But we get many calls from people asking about this or that, viruses, computer stolen, fire, etc, and it's disheartening how many people have to accept the fact that their family photos, tax documents, children's school assignments, and more are gone. And it's aggravating when businesses tank because of lack of backups.
Another side note: Google Drive, One Drive, Dropbox, etc. are NOT BACKUPS. They are a storage medium just like a thumb drive, hard drive, CD, etc. Yes, they are much safer than physical devices, but they are still vulnerable to many of the most likely problems like user error.
Does this look familiar? Maybe, and if you were like millions of others, you clicked on the above link to sign in and, well, got hacked.
But how? And what is Phishing? How did they get your email? What happened?
First and foremost, this was an email hack. Except in a few circumstances, this only affected your email. The spam setup rules in your email that sent a spam message to anyone in your contacts list, hid the emails it sent, and disabled a few other things as well as making itself look legitimate by sending a link to a valid one drive document. However, once you opened the document, it prompted you to sign in once again, and the website then stole the credentials you provided and hacked your account. This spam message has been going around for a while, but recently a large number of users in the law community in Tucson were hit. If you have not yet been hit yet, be aware. It is still making the rounds. If you see a page like the one below, STOP, and talk to your IT guy, and DO NOT sign in.
The email you got (or may get) is called a phishing email. It is a malicious email designed to look legitimate while attempting to steal credentials. You have gotten these before. Remember the "There is a problem with your bank account, click here to fix it" emails? Same thing. Why is this one successful? Many professional services regularly send files using one drive or another service, so getting an email that talks about opening a file is expected. Many users actually emailed back (after entering their credentials) asking where the file was because the link "didn't work". This scam asked users to sign in to access the shared file, and in the process stole the credentials entered by the user, setup rules in the users account, and sent out thousands, continuing the spread. The source of the email is unknown, but everyone who signs in sends a new wave to their existing contacts.
At the moment this page is down (we may or may not have had something to do with this) so your users should be OK, but we need to use this time for training. It is true, the most successful hacks do not come from the Russians, but from security problems that exist inside a business, and most of the time those security risks are your users.
I don't want to point fingers, we all make mistakes. People are often the easiest way to hack a business. We regularly perform various tests to make sure our users are staying vigilant and keeping an eye out for threats. Unfortunately, we often succeed in the fake hacks. We use these moments to train and assist, so when the real hack comes around they are prepared.