Blog

August 3rd, 2015

Damaged beyond repair? Or ready for the school year. Have you ever had a computer virus that just made you want to drop your computer out the window? Stop! Wait! No need.

Did you know viruses, Trojans, worms and malware were not created to damage your hardware? That’s right, you don’t have to throw away that old infected computer. Attacks are more than likely pointed at the data and software on your machine. So, what can you do?

Assess the damage. While infections are annoying, they are rarely a sign to toss your hardware. Check in with your local IT company to see if they can repair the system or wipe it completely and reload it. Be careful though, make sure to set clear expectations with any repair shop. Set a threshold for time spent on repairs like, “please call me after the first hour or two of work and let me know your recommendations.” This way, you won’t spend more money on the repair than the system is truly worth. Ask for a full assessment, an estimated time for repairs, and a dollar value for a replacement so you have all the facts before you make a final decision.

Repair or purchase new. This question generally comes up with very involved infections. Something that takes 8-10 hours of repair time may not be worth the work when you can buy a whole new computer for the cost of the repairs. If your computer is over 5 years old, we strongly urge you to consider a new solution with a more robust operating system and greater capacities. With each new release we see greater capabilities in laptops and tower computers.

What is a computer worm? A computer worm is a freestanding piece of malware that replicates itself in order to spread its infection to other computers. This type of infection feeds off of your computer network to access additional workstations and multiply. However, this type of infection doesn’t rely on programs to stay alive. Worms generally eat up your bandwidth instead of corrupting files.

Computer worm delivery methods. Most worms are spread from person to person through communications. There are e-mail worms, instant message worms and even net worms. These worms are generally spread through files sent as e-mail attachments, links to the web, FTP resources, even peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

How can I protect my business form harm? Make sure your computers, PC’s, laptops, tablets, Macs and smartphones have an anti-malware program running and kept up-to-date. Frequent updates are critical. They give you all the specifications for new infections so you are protected when you’re under attack. If you think you are fighting an infection or are interested in an anti-malware solution, give us a call. We’re here to help.

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

According to CeBIT, studies show that 3/4 of customers reference social media before making decisions. Now more than ever, social media has become a resource for marketing your business. Are you present? If so, take a look at these tips to stay safe online.

Social media steps up in marketing.  Social media has become a grand outlet for businesses to spread the word about new promotions, breakthroughs, and even community involvement. Often businesses will have more than one person involved in one resource or another, i.e. Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+. So, how can you encourage healthy social media habits?

5 tips for healthy social media posts.
First, avoid disclosing details about your business. Explain how these inside details can be used maliciously to hurt them or the company. Second, create a social media policy for your company. Third, don’t ban social media. This may encourage people to break through the security at your company. Fourth, teach employees how to manage their privacy settings so they can stay safe online. Finally, the fifth one is to keep your IT providers updated on the policy so they can dig into the trenches with you and combat online-security issues in your network before they erupt into a serious threat.

Want more tips? Join our social media sites online at www.pcmiracles.com

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

If you are still using Microsoft Windows Server 2003, Microsoft has already ended support for this operating system and your company is at risk. What does this mean? How can you make a change?

What does Server 2003 do for me?  Server 2003 is an operating system or OS that may live on your server. An OS manages all of the software and hardware providing a stable and consistent environment for your applications to run. Essentially, it is the framework that structures your server.

What does EOL mean?  EOL simply means, end-of-life. Support has ended and there will no longer be security patches. This leaves you unprotected from malicious viruses, spyware, and other harmful software. Microsoft will no longer provide technical support related to this widely-used operating system either. While you can still continue using the OS, your system will be tremendously vulnerable, and any sort of intruder will have a chance to harm your entire network.

What does it mean to migrate to a new operating system?  Migrating to a new operating system means transferring the entire environment over to a new platform much like moving into a new home. We won’t sugar coat it, this migration won’t be easy; it is an investment for the future of your organization. However, a new operating system will keep you safe from future problems that will crop up from using and outdated OS.

Let’s migrate together.  There are a variety of options available including Windows Server 2008 or 2012 as well as cloud solutions to fit the needs of your business. Give us a call if you are ready to explore the options. We will assess your current operations and present you with a complete plan for migration to a safer environment.

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

There are a bundle of new technology products hitting the market this fall. Here is a little taste of the new supplies to look for.

Microsoft released Windows 10 and 3/4 of businesses are looking to make the change. Microsoft is running a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and 8.1 users but you have to upgrade in the first year. This new OS features a new start menu, voice-control features, the Project Spartan browser, a multiple-desktop feature, and even touch support for Office apps.

Ikea’s wireless charging station.  Ikea has been working hard to break into electronics. They’ve released a number of charging pads and furniture items with charging stations built right in. Take a look at the new electronic line up at ikea.com and check your local Ikea for availability.

Livescribe Smartpen.  This handy little product actually captures your handwriting and stores it for you. When it is paired with your tablet or smartphone, your notes are all synchronized and available in a digital format for easy sharing and reference.

SnapLite Desk Lamp iPhone 5 Scanner.  Don’t miss this one. It is just what it says, a lamp that doubles as a scanner just for your iPhone 5. Oh, so handy.

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

These words of wisdom are from Verne Harnish in his new book: Scaling Up. It Can Help You Avoid Common Growth-Stifling Mistakes. Harnish is the CEO of Gazelles, an executive education firm.

1. Don’t be myopic about marketing. Most entrepreneurs treat marketing as glorified sales support. Pay attention and plan it well.

2. Crank up the flow of qualified job applicants.  Harnish recalls a trash collecting company that used this ad to attract people who were physically fit enough to collect trash: “Would you like to be paid for your workout?”

3. Value your accountants.  They will keep tax collectors at bay, issue and pay invoices, and much more. But hire one who can gather the data you need to see where you’re making money by product, customer, location and salesperson.

4. Teach your people well.  According to Harnish’s interview with Fortune, they need to be able to predict where the market is heading and be able to communicate about the company’s goals, values, and priorities. Give them time to attend classes, conferences and seminars so they can learn.

5. Fight process paralysis.  Functions like recruitment, billing and customer service are likely to have hallway closets. Clean them out rather than just throwing more money at them. Streamline the workflow.

6. Invest in systems.  Harnish says growing companies should upgrade their infrastructure at three critical points. At 10 employees, get a better phone system. At 50, invest in sophisticated accounting software. At 350 employees, develop a single database that links all key information, so a simple change of address by a customer doesn’t trigger a cascade of mistakes.

Remember, procrastinating on this will stall your growth. Your rivals have already made these changes.

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

No, not our youthfulness… Sorry, we didn’t find the fountain of youth. International Youth Day (IYD) is coming up on August 12th. Take time to celebrate our youth.

What’s celebrated?  This observance was created by the United Nations (UN) to raise awareness about the cultural and legal issues surrounding our youth.

The first IYD was observed on August 12th, 2000. This day was set aside as an opportunity to address youth issues worldwide.

School is starting.  With educational institutions beginning the 2015-2016 school year, this time of year is focused on the health and education of our youth. The journey from childhood to adulthood can be very complex and difficult without the support and structure of our communities.

IYD’s focus for 2015.  This year, the theme for International Youth Day is “Youth Civic Engagement.” The engagement and participation of our youth in political, economic and social groups is a huge step in teaching them to be actively involved in our future.

How can we help?  Cultural events, workshops, and a variety of national and local government meetings around the world are gearing up for August 12th. Call a school, college, or community group in your area to inquire about volunteer opportunities. Visit the United Nations website for more information:
undesadspd.org/youth/internationalyouthday/2015.aspx

Get involved and make a change.
Don’t worry, if you don’t have time to break away from work to organize an event, you can help by spreading the word about IYD. Event something as small as Tweeting, Facebooking, or Instagraming about this observance or local events will help.

Organizing something new?  If you’re ready to dive in, organize an event and let the UN know. They will add your IYD event to their activities map online for all to see. Visit the website above for more details or e-mail youth@un.org for further information. You can get some ideas from the United Nations toolkit at: http://bit.ly/1f7gC4S. Happy IYD.

Topic Articles
August 3rd, 2015

Like most business owners, I’m sure you know back-ups are an essential component of your network health. However, too many businesses don’t have all the facts about backup. Take a look at these back-up risks that we commonly find bullying local businesses.

Back-ups are inconsistent.  Remember the 7th grade. You know, that awkward stage when everyone is discovering new developments with their bodies and bullying becomes more direct and hurtful. Come to think of it, everything seemed a bit inconsistent in Junior High. This type on inconsistency in your back-ups can be the difference between pushing through an attack or losing your gym shorts. Make sure your back-ups run every night to give you the most recent copies of your company data when you need them.

Your back-up is incomplete.  Back-ups should include all of the data for your business from applications to stored files. You can start by mapping out your business’s data. Work with a trusted IT professional to learn what information you have and where it is kept like on a server in your office or in a data center off-site. Inventory all of your data to make sure nothing is missed and make a clear map of the information you need to include in your regular back-ups. Don’t forget things like your client profiles, personnel files for your employees, general company information and marketing materials.

Not enough data was stored.  Generally, there are specific pieces of data that companies are required to keep files on for a specific term like 3 years or 7 years. Most back-up systems are quite flexible regarding how much historical data they hold for recovery. Look at the point of recovery date and time for your business’s data.

Often times, off-site users are overlooked.  Think about every person in your office and outside your office that uses and stores company data. Your remote employees may need to have their laptops or tablets included in the back-up since they are always on the go. Do you have a strategy in place to capture these out of network files?

Servers were never put into the equation.  Your business is not just what is held on each computer, but all the data on your computers and servers. There is a plethora of data stored for your e-mail, applications, and even website or hosted data. All of this information must be backed up to be restored gracefully.

No one documented the recovery procedures.  Your business may suffer from an intrusion online, a break-in at the office or even a sabotage by an ex-employee. Regardless of the disaster, your company will need copies of your business data to restore operations. Your back-ups are the only resource to get you up and running again, but what if no one knows how to do it? Make sure there is more than one contact in your business that knows just what to do when there is a breach.

It was setup and forgotten.  Test, test and test again. Make sure you don’t forget that your back-ups are running. Take time to test them each quarter to ensure all of your data is present and accounted for. It is not a question of IF your data will be compromised, but WHEN.

Our back-up is onsite.  Unfortunately, this is an elementary mistake. Back-ups that are onsite with the actual data they are backing up are just as vulnerable as the original data. For example, a fire, flood, power outage, equipment failure, or theft could leave you down with no recourse if your data and back-up are both in the same physical location. Shift your back-ups to an off-site location to avoid a total loss when disaster strikes.

Losing data will always be a business risk. The question is, can you get your data back and how fast. Give us a call if you are interested in a custom solution for your business. We are here to help!

PC Miracles

248-558-3595

Topic Articles
July 2nd, 2015

Watch Out! Your Car Is A Death Trap.  As The summer heat hits, don’t forget to take your electronics with you. The hardware you thrive with at work like your laptop, flash drives, backup-drives, and cell phone can be ruined in a hot vehicle even just for a half-hour. Your car is a death trap for electronics.

Avoid extremes.  Your car or carrying case may be a danger zone for your devices out in the summer heat. The danger zone for your laptop is 95°F. Using your laptop outside in the sun or leaving it in the car when you shop, can cause the temperature to rise to a dangerous level. Make sure you give your laptop time to acclimate when you take it in and out of extreme temperatures too, hot or cold. Avoid shocking your system by shutting your devices off when you travel between extreme temperatures like your air conditioned office to your 110°F car.  

Don’t forget about humidity too.  Keep an eye on humidity too. The sweet spot is below 80% with temperatures between 50 and 95°F. High humidity can cause condensation to build up inside your equipment shorting out circuits and triggering the water damage sensors sometimes voiding your warranty.

When Was The First Virus Released? Computer viruses are simply a nightmare for many of us, but let’s take a glimpse of the history of the computer virus.

For IBM PC.  The earliest computer viruses were not as malicious as they are today. One of the first viruses for the IBM PC was named Brain. In an attempt to be safe from software pirates, two Pakistani brothers, Amjad and Basit Alvi developed a virus program in 1986. It was not a seriously harmful virus, but it was used to infect the boot sector and slow down the disk. If anyone ran the pirated copy of the software, the following ominous message came out: “Beware of this VIRUS…. Contact us for vaccination.” The goal of the virus was to track and punish those who were involved in medical software piracy.

For Apple.  The first ever Apple focused virus was developed by a high school student in Pennsylvania, Rich Skrenta, in February, 1982. Rich was a gifted programmer with serious interest in computing. The name of the virus he developed was Elk Cloner, which became the first virus to spread in the wild outside the network and computing system in which it was created. It was simply a boot sector virus which had the power to infect floppy disks in an Apple II computer. Whenever a computer was attacked by this virus, the following poem was displayed on every fiftieth boot:

Elk Cloner: The program with a personality
It will get on all your disks It will infiltrate your chips
Yes it’s Cloner!
It will stick to you like glue It will modify ram too
Send in the Cloner!

Topic Articles
July 2nd, 2015

Do you have an old or very cheap tablet laying around? Here are some amazing ways to put your tablet back to work.

Tools for the car.  No, you can’t change a tire with just a tablet. However, you can mount a tablet in or on your dashboard. Built-in tablets in your vehicle can be a great navigation tool and music player. Many tablets even offer voice controls so you can direct your tablet hands free!

As a Picture Frame.  Hosting a dinner or BBQ this summer? Want to share your family photos with your guests? You can stock your tablet with all your favorite pictures and display them with your tablet like a photo frame for everyone to see. This is a great conversation starter too. Your family and friends will love to thumb through the special images you’ve set out to share.

As Wall Clock/Alarm Clock.  If you have a tablet PC, you can easily use it as a quality clock. An app like Animated Analog Clock Widget can be a great solution. There are a variety of apps like Stereomood and iHeart Radio that give you a multitude of settings so you can wake up to your favorite tunes.

Cooking companion.  Tired of examining your cook books just to find something new for mealtime? Try cooking with how-to videos and recipes at your fingertips. Apps like The Kitchen, Allthecooks, Epicurious, Allrecipes Dinner Spinner, and EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry are available on Android and iOS tablets. Go ahead, try something new today!

Topic Articles
July 2nd, 2015

Take a look at these 5 most desirable leadership qualities to become a successful leader in your business.

  1. Communication Skills. As the leader, motivate your team members so that they are encouraged to work hard and deliver their best. Communicating effectively verbally, in e-mail and even with your body language are skills that allow you to express your expectations in a clear and concise manner. Furthermore, your communication skills are important for training and expressing success stories to the top-level management in your organization.
  2. Commitment. To foster success through leadership, you must set good examples yourself. You should show your unquestionable commitments for the organization and become a role model for your junior team members. Gain the respect of all your coworkers through your dedication and willingness to do the work. A true leader not only sees the way, but goes the way and shows the way.
  3. Decision-making capabilities. As a leader, you must know how to make timely decisions that can bring remarkable success. If you suffer from procrastination and make unnecessary delays, there is a big chance that you will fail and lose credibility from those who rely on you. Make sure to lead with confidence and demonstrate the same principles and rules you expect others to follow.
  4. Creativity. Think differently and try to become the master of solving problems in the most creative manner. Follow novel approaches when necessary, but don’t be afraid of more unconventional solutions. Explore options with state-of-the-art techniques that can bring amazing results. However, be careful to carve a clear path for others to follow and set goals in place that give your teammates the tools they need to succeed too.
  5. Attributes. People relate better and follow leaders that they see are reliable, open, competent and compassionate. Good leaders take time to actively listen to others, share success stories, and encourage their team members. Regardless of your profession, the people around you like to feel heard, cared for and empowered. Don’t forget to articulate the needs of your organization and keep your company at the forefront of every move.
Topic Articles