Tag Archives: computer

What is VoIP Technology?

01 Sep 17
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Is it time for your business to abandon that ancient land line phone and discover the flexibility and convenience of VoIP technology? If so, you’re in luck because we’re working on a series of blog posts on this topic.  Let’s jump right in and learn the basics…

When you install VoIP technology into your home or business, you’ll have the ability to talk to others using Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP.)  All that means is that you’ll be able to use the phone that’s connected to the internet to make calls.

Instead of phone lines that traditionally run over the electrical or phone lines in your home already, VoIP uses your internet connection instead.

In most cases, you won’t be able to tell the difference in using VoIP over other phone technology.  It gives you the same basic results.  It sounds easy, right?  It really is that simple.

To do this, several key things will be necessary.

  1. You will need to connect your standard telephone to an adapter unit that is VoIP qualified or get a new internet ready phone unit. You may also use a microphone equipped computer to make your calls instead of a phone.
  2. When you pick up the phone to dial your friend across the ocean, the VoIP adapter realizes what you are doing and turns the voice signals you are sending into your phone into digital based signals. These are then sent across the ocean through the Internet, instead of traveling through any phone line.
  3. Your friend receives your call in the same way. He or she will pick up the phone when you call and then VoIP goes to work again.  This time it translates the digital like signals back into a standard voice transmission.  When your friend uses their phone, they hear your voice, nothing more.

As you can see, it really doesn’t make much of a difference in the experience that you have using the telephone.  You’ll be doing the same thing that you are already doing.

Here’s how it works:

Phone Call –To- Adapter- Internet – Adapter –To- Phone

Although it may seem like this process takes time, it really does not.  It will take little to no time to convert your voice into a digital signal to go over the internet service that you have and back into your voice so your friend will hear you.  In fact, the process happens so fast you may not even realize what is happening at all!

Computer Communication

Another option that you may have comes in the form of using the computer in your home or business to make your calls.

In order to do this, you will need to have a computer that has a microphone built in.  This microphone will serve as your communication tool.

When you make a call, you will simply use the software that is installed on your computer to call your friend.  When they answer, you can talk to them without any type of handset.  Instead, you’ll use the microphone to talk into.

The process is still the same.  The computer will take your voice and translate it into a digital signal which is then sent over the internet to your friend’s computer.  They can either use the phone or their own computer to talk to you.  The voice once again changes from a digital signal into an actual voice and you hear your friend, just as you would if you had dialed their phone number into your phone.

You can also do this by using a computer that is equipped with a headset that allows you to speak into it for more privacy.

As you can see, VoIP technology is quite easy to use and can help your business stay connected to your clients, suppliers and associates around the world. Techno Advantage can help you get the right equipment, ensure that your connection is optimized and maybe even save money!

If you are considering VoIP technology for your business, contact our Techno Pros here at Techno Advantage. 

Cybercriminals Confess: The Top 3 Tricks, Sneaky Schemes And Gimmicks They Use To Hack Your Computer Network

21 Apr 17
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  1. We’re masters at getting you to click on fake e-mails. One of the most common ways hackers gain access to computer networks and devices is via phishing e-mails. Gone are the days when you could easily spot a spammer’s e-mail because of its poor English, typos and punctuation mistakes – attacks are getting more and more sophisticated. That’s because cybercriminals have access to the same cutting-edge online marketing tools that legitimate companies have, giving them the ability to send highly targeted messages that look completely legitimate from sources you trust. These e-mails often use your name, your professional title and may even reference a group you belong to. Further, if you click on the e-mails or respond, you’re inviting a hacker into your network that bypasses a firewall and antivirus software. The only way to avoid getting snared by a phishing e-mail is to NEVER click on, open or respond to any e-mail requesting personal information, passwords, login details, etc. Always go directly to the site.
  2. We automate attacks that work around the clock. Hackers have software programs that systematically test millions of possible passwords to break into your PC. Easy-to-guess passwords are worthless against the power, automation and sophistication of these super-apps that will constantly hammer away at guessing your password. Because of this, make sure your passwords contain both uppercase and lowercase letters, at least one number and special characters – and NEVER use easy-to-guess passwords like “letmein” or “password.”
  3. We can use legitimate web sites to attack you. A growing number of cyberattacks are coming via “drive-by” download, where a hacker gains access to a legitimate, honest business web site (or sets up a site that looks legit on every level) but has malicious code installed called an “exploit kit.” An exploit kit can discover a vulnerability fast by probing your operating system, browser and the software you have installed (like a PDF reader or video player) to find a way to access your PC or network. If you (or your IT company!) aren’t applying regular security updates, you are unprotected against these exploits.

While these are common ways hackers gain access, there are dozens of other more straightforward ways hackers gain access if you’re not diligently updating and patching your network, maintaining an up-to-date firewall, antivirus and spam-filtering unified threat-management system. The days of “That could never happen to me” are gone.

If you want peace of mind that YOUR business isn’t a “sitting duck” to hackers, call us for a free assessment at 317-857-0150. You’ll discover if you truly are protected from common hacker attacks and what you can do now to avoid being an easy target. Call today at 317-857-0150.

The #1 Cure For A Sluggish PC

16 Nov 16
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If you’re often – or even constantly – frustrated with slow loading times, screen freezes or crashing programs, your network may be in desperate need of an upgrade…or a tune-up. Here’s how to make your network run like new again…

Most computers and networks bog down as they age. Here’s why:

● Spyware, viruses and other stealth programs secretly hiding in your machine. And we mean “secretly.” Today’s sophisticated malware is more elusive than ever. Most users will never know what hit them until it’s too late. The only telltale sign that your system has been infected is that it starts slowing down over time. These nasty bugs attach themselves to all sorts of programs in your network and work in the background, undetected.

● Your machine is overdue for replacement. Hey, it can only last so long. Manufacturers don’t spec PCs to last more than about three to five years. When things start slowing down…or you can’t install the latest software…or plug in some of the newer cables…it’s time to start shopping. But there are ways you can extend your computer’s useful life. Which brings me to #3…

● It’s time for a tune-up. Just like a car, your network needs routine maintenance to run at top speed and performance. To keep it running smoothly, there are over 100 checks and updates that need to be done on a regular basis. These include disk defragmentation, patch management and the removal of unnecessary files and programs, to name just a few.

If your computer network hasn’t had the routine maintenance it needs to run well, contact a Techno Pro today!

Spooked About Your Network’s Security?

13 Oct 16
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You should be, unless somebody’s keeping a vigilant eye on it for you…
Not too long ago, in a place not so far away…when ancient hordes attacked your city, a single breach in the wall could mean certain death – or at least the end of life as you know it.
Yet times change…or do they?
Attacks by today’s cybercriminals on your network, while perhaps not physically life-threatening, can inflict severe damage to the life and health of your business.
FACT: The odds of a successful cyber-attack against your business today are one in five. And, at a typical cost of $300,000 or more, a full 60% of smaller businesses that suffer a breach shut their doors for good within six months, according to the National Cyber Security Alliance.
So, who’s “guarding the gate” at your company’s network?
The problem with keeping your network safe today is that these attacks don’t just happen randomly – they are constant and unrelenting. Ever more sophisticated “robot” software is making it easier than ever for attackers to stalk the Internet, probing for vulnerabilities 24/7.
Here are just a few of the ways these vigilantes can penetrate your network’s defenses:
An SQL Injection can destroy your database, steal e-mail addresses, usernames and passwords, gain access to sensitive client management and billing data, deface your web site and defraud your business. It’s also now the most frequent mode of attack.
Open Ports – An open port is basically a channel for Internet data to connect with devices on your network. A firewall normally filters data, but hacker “web-bots” constantly probe for vulnerabilities. When they find an open port, and if they have installed malicious code inside your system, they are then able to control your devices.
In a DDoS attack, a network of computers attacks a single server with a surge of traffic, forcing it to crash. They most often target political organizations and banks; however, small businesses are also at risk. To avoid getting shut down, you need a defense plan in place and around-the-clock monitoring.
Malware and Viruses – Unfortunately, anti-malware and antivirus software programs in reality often fall short of claims, leaving many SMB networks highly vulnerable. The problem is twofold: First, they only detect a breach after the malware or virus has infected your system. Second, detection solutions often lag behind the latest threats by days or even weeks, leaving a big window for them to inflict heavy damage.
Targeted E-mails – Cybercriminals seem to get better each day at creating enticing e-mails that innocent readers will click on without a moment’s thought. If that reader happens to be on your network, you now have yet another hidden attacker to deal with.
“Drive-By Downloads” are a client-side intrusion where a person in your network innocently picks up a nasty bug…
Credit Card Theft – How would you feel if one of your customers’ credit cards got hacked due to a flaw in your security? Now imagine how you would feel if that incident turned into a lawsuit… Yet that is exactly what can happen if your DLP (Data Loss Prevention) system isn’t up to snuff. As you’ve no doubt seen in the news, credit card data theft is now epidemic. To keep customer data safe and maintain PCI compliance, it’s absolutely crucial to make sure your DLP is on duty 100% of the time.
As cybercriminals hone their evil craft, we must now be on guard, as our businesses grow ever more web-dependent. Yet how do you find the time to keep up with it all, much less make sure your network is safe?
Lucky for you, there’s a silver dagger…our Techno Pros can help you find and install the right protection.  Contact us.

 

 

 

How To Make Your Smartphone A Mobile Office Workhorse

27 Jul 16
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lady on smartphoneSmartphones are a workplace double-edged sword. On one side, they are mobile computers, capable of performing useful functions, and getting real work done. On the other, they can be a distraction: texting, web browsing, gaming and more. The temptation to goof off is real, but so is the productivity power.

The threat of off-task usage is often a major point against using (or having) the devices in the workplace. The trick to staying productive is not just having the willpower to avoid distraction, but also knowing how to get the most out of the device. Communication and boundaries must be clear from the get-go.

Using a smartphone when it’s appropriate:

As a second screen — When you don’t have the luxury of a second monitor, a smartphone can make itself useful doubling as a “second screen.” Use it as a companion to your desktop when you have several windows open and need ready access to e-mail or another document. Or use it while you step away from your desk.

Smartphones and tablets can keep us productive while we move—whether we are moving to a meeting across the building, or across town. It could be used to write or edit documents, check and respond to e-mail.

Voice/note/image recording — Record audio from a meeting or phone call. Some smartphones have an audio recorder built right in. Those that don’t can use a number of apps to get the job done, such as Cogi Notes & Voice Recorder.

If you need to take down a few notes, like the audio recorder, many smartphones have a note app installed. Alternatively, an app like Evernote can sync with other devices, meaning you have your notes wherever you need them. No more misplaced or lost notes!

Cameras are ubiquitous on smartphones. Take a picture of a whiteboard scribbled with the meeting notes, or grab a shot of documents for later use. A smartphone camera is particularly useful when you don’t have a scanner handy.

Document editing — Many mobile office suites, such as Microsoft Office Mobile (Excel, PowerPoint, and Word) make creating and editing documents on the go nearly as easy as working on their desktop counterparts.

When you are conscious of the ways your smartphone or tablet can help in the workplace, it can make sense to use it in concert with a desktop computer. If using an additional device boosts productivity or efficiency, then the risk of distraction can be worth the reward. Smartphones and other mobile devices aren’t for every workplace. They have value, if you achieve a boost in productivity.

Backup

Will Your Backups Be There When You Need Them?

06 Jul 16
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When the livelihood of your business depends on data stored in your computer network, you simply cannot afford to leave anything to chance. Data preservation and the ability to retrieve it at any point in time is the foundation of business continuity.

Yet the facts about backup failures are shocking:

  • According to the Boston Computing Network, 31% of PC users have lost data due to events “beyond their control.”
  • Analysts at the Hughes Marketing Group found that 40% of businesses that experience a critical IT failure go out of business within one year.
  • In a recent Gartner study, only 35% of backup tests were successful.

Some of the more common reasons for backup failures include unintentional formatting of a hard drive, accidental data deletion, malware or virus attack, firmware corruption, natural disasters, logical errors and continued computer operation when the hard drive is starting to fail.

So how certain are you that your backup system is 100% reliable? Could a false sense of security be preventing you from taking actions that will insure your backups will really be there when you need them?

7 Ways to Avoid Data Disaster Due To Backup Failure

Without proactive measures in place – and Murphy’s Law being what it is – the odds of a successful restoration when you need it most may not be as great as you’d like to think… So what can you do? Here are seven ways to avoid a damaging loss of data due to backup failure.

  1. Insist on regular, remote and redundant processes. A good rule of thumb is 3-2-1. That means three copies of your data stored in two off-site locations, backed up a minimum of one time per day.
  1. Don’t go too cheap on disk drives. Less expensive arrays that save money by doing without features like redundant power supply and hot spare disks may leave your data at risk.
  1. Guard against human error. Make sure people performing backups and restores know exactly what to do – and what not to do. Take people out of the loop and automate wherever possible. And be especially cautious in situations where backups aren’t a part of someone’s regular duties.
  1. Are your backup software settings being checked routinely? When new software or updates are put into service, a change in the way the settings are configured can cause incomplete backups, or backups that fail completely. Do the people who maintain your backups include this on their regular to-do list?
  1. Could some files be getting left out? As resources are added and priorities shift, files and folders can get misplaced or accidentally left off the backup list. Insist on a quarterly or annual meeting with your backup management team to make sure all mission-critical files are included in your organization’s data recovery systems.
  1. Address network issues immediately. Any component in your network that isn’t working properly can introduce another point of failure in your backup process. Every juncture in your network, from a misconfigured switch to a flaky host bus adapter, can hurt your backups.
  1. Ask for help with your data backup and recovery system. You cannot be expected to be an expert in all things. Yet data is the backbone of your business – its protection and recovery should not be left to chance. Why not leverage the knowledge, skill and experience of an expert in the field?

Even with all these measures in place, the best way to keep your organization safe from harm due to data loss is to verify your backup system by performing regular test restores. This will help identify any problems in advance so they can be fixed – allowing you to avoid getting hit with an ugly surprise when you least need it.

The Smart Way To Assure Backup Success

Unless your team has all the time and expertise required to consistently close all open loops in your backup system, your organization may be at risk of serious harm due to data loss.

Contact us today at 317-857-0150 – before disaster strikes.

Techno Advantage can help upgrade your computers and network within your budget

The Cure For A Sluggish PC

08 Jun 16
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If you’re often – or even constantly – frustrated with slow loading times, screen freezes or crashing programs, your network may be in desperate need of an upgrade…or a tune-up. Here’s how to make your network run like new again…
What’s Slowing Your Network Down?
Most computers and networks bog down as they age. Here’s why:

● Spyware, viruses and other stealth programs secretly hiding in your machine. And we mean “secretly.” Today’s sophisticated malware is more elusive than ever. Most users will never know what hit them until it’s too late. The only telltale sign that your system has been infected is that it starts slowing down over time. These nasty bugs attach themselves to all sorts of programs in your network and work in the background, undetected.

● Your machine is overdue for replacement. Hey, it can only last so long. Manufacturers don’t spec PCs to last more than about three to five years. When things start slowing down…or you can’t install the latest software…or plug in some of the newer cables…it’s time to start shopping. But there are ways you can extend your computer’s useful life. Which brings me to #3…

● It’s time for a tune-up. Just like a car, your network needs routine maintenance to run at top speed and performance. To keep it running smoothly, there are over 100 checks and updates that need to be done on a regular basis. These include disk defragmentation, patch management and the removal of unnecessary files and programs, to name just a few.
How To Get Your Network Up To Speed
If your computer network hasn’t had the routine maintenance it needs to run well, you may need to do the following:

● Run a full diagnostic on your network to troubleshoot slow, problematic PCs, error messages and other problems.
● Review your firewall and security settings to make sure you are PROTECTED from hackers, viruses, spyware, etc.
● Verify that your data is being backed up in a format that COULD be recovered in the event of a disaster.
● Review system logs for errors and other “red flags” that could develop into bigger problems.
● Examine your computer network’s power sources to make sure it’s safe from lightning strikes and power surges.
● Tune up your server to free up more space and improve its speed.
● Inspect critical components for dust buildup that can cause overheating, excess friction on moving parts such as fan motors and potential breakdowns.
● Check for loose or poorly connected cables.
● Clean out old and unnecessary temporary files that are stealing precious disk space.

Our friendly expert technicians are ready to help with any and all of these items, so don’t tolerate sluggish computers one more day!  Contact Us

3 Deadly Sins of Computer Care

18 May 16
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If you’re like most people in business, you require a computer to do some if not all of your daily work.  But how often do you actual consider the proper care your devices require to work optimally and keep you connected to the world around you?  

If you’re committing these 3 deadly sins of computer care, read through our suggestions to help ensure the health of your hardware.  The last thing you need is your computer crashing, losing unsaved work and ruining your productivity.  

1.       You don’t have a cooling fan.  A cooling fan for your laptop or computer will help ensure that it does not become overheated.  Sometimes the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” will appear as a result of an overheated hard drive.  For PC users, a small desk fan will also improve the temperature control for those long work hours at the office.

2.       Is that a dust bunny in there?  A quick burst on the keyboard with your handy dandy “Can O’ Air” is not enough to keep the dust out of your computer tower.  Every couple of months you need to open the case of your tower and clean house!  Dust will slow down all of your systems and choke the processing speed right out of your computer.

3.      Snack-a-holic!  Eating in front of your keyboard is a fast way to sticky keys and stuck space bars.  Don’t let your keyboard become a garbage can due to your bad habits.  A clean work space is the key to cutting down the list of problems that can occur in and around your office.

If your computer could use some TLC, contact TechnoAdvantage today!

Put the Zip Back into Google Chrome

23 Mar 16
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Like the old story of the frog that gradually, unwittingly gets itself boiled in a pot of water, users of the Google Chrome browser may not realize they’ve been cooking in their own accumulated data bits, suddenly finding one day that their browser is operating super slowly or crashing all the time. Because Chrome is the most widely used, popular browser on planet Earth, it’s worth mentioning these easy tips for putting the zip back into your Chrome.

Of all the techy problems you can have, slow browsing is probably one of the most annoying, in our humble opinion. You’re fast, brilliant, efficient, productive—yet you can’t get this darn page to load up so all your work comes to a screeching halt.

Don’t be the frog—don’t simmer to death in a slow Google Chrome browser. Here is a three-pronged philosophy for getting Chrome back to optimum speed:

  1. Clear Your History Often

If you’re like most people and you might be since the average person is like most people, then you don’t even think about the accumulated history gathering in your cache. For every visit you make to a website, that browser data is stored in a virtual storage bin. Over time, the bin gets stuffed with bits of information that sucks up memory and causes your software to struggle to get things done. This can be easily remedied by making a habit of clearing your data history and cache periodically. Give yourself a reminder alarm to clean it out every month; it’s simple and can make a big difference.

  1. The Fewer Plugins, the Better

Again, the average user probably isn’t even aware of how many plugins they’ve downloaded over time. If your Chrome browser is running slowly, it might be time to check this. Just type “Chrome:plugins” into your browser bar and it will reveal all your plugins currently in use. Even if you are not actively using them, each plugin will load and remain operational, thusly clogging up your browser with unnecessary software data bits. Simply uninstall or disable those you do not use. Feeling lighter? Good—there’s one more tip.

  1. Clean Up Your Extensions

Here’s another one you’ve probably been collecting each time you see a cool new thing to add to your Chrome experience. Pinterest, Hola, Pockets, WOT, Last Pass—the list goes on. You may have extension overload. Just type “chrome://extensions” into the browser to see your collection. Now which ones are you still actually using? Get rid of the rest, and this—combined with steps one and two above—will start to free up memory and create a leaner, faster cheetahlike Chrome. And that means a less annoyed, more productive, more efficient you.

Contact Techno Advantage for additional IT advantages to learn better smarter ways to get things done.

Running your business on relics? Time to think of cleaning house.

15 Sep 15
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You’re small, nimble, and don’t need the latest and greatest expensive technologies—we get that. It’s costly. It’s time consuming to research the stuff. You may not even know what exists out there. However, some of the old technology you’re still hanging onto to run your business may be costing you more money than avoiding a new purchase is worth in the long run. And you may be unwittingly blocking new profitable opportunities.

Now might be the time to embrace new technologies as you purge your office of the relics. So what are these old technologies you should think about getting rid of? Consider moving away from:

  1. Big old honkin’ desktop computers. They were once the standard, just like landlines. We all know what’s happened there. You no longer need these clunky space hogs that chain your employees to their desks. Today’s business is done on the go. Give your employees the freedom to get the job done anytime anywhere. Today’s laptops have all the power, speed and affordability that desktops had. There’s no reason not to make this change.
  2. Mobile phones for your business. To be clear: Mobile phones for your employees—yes, great. Paying for them—no, don’t. A more cost-effective and preferred route is the “Bring Your Own Device” policy. Most businesses today are doing this—and savings thousands of dollar each month. Don’t forget to protect your business with a written BYOD policy.
  3. Purchasing localized software. Used to be that businesses would buy software they needed for any old computer function: word processing, image/ graphics, accounting. These often came bundled in expensive packages along with a lot of crap they don’t need but were paying for.  If this is the way you’re still doing it, consider a move to Software as a Service (SaaS). You pay only for what you need and it’s stored on the fluffy white cloud. Many of the networks, platforms, and software you need are available as a service with more being added all the time.
  4. Using portable onsite storage exclusively. Backing up your valuable data with physical onsite storage devices has its place—external hard drives, flash drives, CD burners. They make sense for a lot of situations. But if that’s your only line of defense against data loss, you are putting a lot at risk. If a device fails or is stolen or damaged, you’re in trouble. Wise is the business owner who employs the cloud or offsite storage to back up his or her data.  There’s an efficient and cost-effective way to combine the best of both onsite and offsite data backup that will give you peace of mind.

Get in touch with TechnoAdvatange for more ways we can help your business flow with the best IT solutions.