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Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

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Windows 10 free upgrade will start on 29 July, 2015.  No need to panic though, you have 12 months before this offer from Microsoft expires.  Anyone running a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 is eligible for the free upgrade.

This Microsoft Free offer doesn’t extend to earlier versions of Microsoft Windows (Windows XP or Windows Vista).  Updating for you guys would require the purchase of a new Windows 10 license and could be problematic given the likely age of the hardware, as some components may not be compatible with Windows 10.

How will you know?

Your PC may be displaying a new icon in the system tray, prompting you to reserve your copy of Windows 10 or to Upgrade to Windows 10.   These icons was included via Microsoft Patch Updates.  Once the release date arrives your PC will tell you when it’s ready to download and install.

Will it be a seamless upgrade?

Yes and no! Windows 10 has been extensively tested, however there may still be some bugs that need to be ironed out.  This is normal in regards to new operating systems.  You can also down grade again if Windows 10 just isn’t working for you.   Microsoft has made it a relatively easy process to roll back from Windows 10 back to Windows 7 or 8.1.

Will my Software applications and hardware work?

Maybe?  If you are upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 most software and drivers are likely to work in Windows 10, however before jumping in, see Our Recommendations below.  It’s always a good idea to keep your software and hardware drivers up to date.   For any of our clients who we provide Proactive Managed IT Support Services to, our Weekly maintenance includes includes installation of patch updates for Microsoft Windows Operating Systems and Office software and Monthly maintenance includes installation of latest updates for your mission critical software applications.

Most software vendors have a Windows 10 Compatibility Knowledge Base article.  Examples include:

Should I Upgrade to Windows 10? – Our recommendations

Our recommendation is to exercise caution when upgrading to the first release of new software, including Windows 10, especially in a production environment.  You may benefit from being a little patient and waiting for a number of weeks or even months for a more updated version of Windows 10.  Microsoft regularly provides update patches which would include bug fixes and patches for hardware drivers etc.  When new Operating Systems are released, we install them in a Virtual environment so we can test and the learn the new system inside and out, before we deploy it into live production environments.

Before upgrading, you should be check and confirm all your mission critical software applications and hardware drivers are compatible with Windows 10.

For Windows XP and Vista users, given the likely age of your computer hardware, it would be prudent to consider upgrading your hardware.  We support many Small to Medium Size Business (SMEs) who have an IT Strategy to step up to a new operating systems when they refresh their PC hardware.

If you need any assistance with determining whether you should upgrade to Windows 10, our IT Assessment and Planning Services may be of interest.

Please Contact Us if you need any help with upgrading to Windows 10, including our Standard Operating Environment (SOE) settings for Windows 10 that make the transition for users easier.

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Free Public WiFi Hotspots – Security concerns

Free Wi-Fi Hotspots

Security Concerns using Free Public WiFi Hotspots

There is nothing like a Free Public WiFi Hotspot.   You can browse the internet, update your Apps, watch a bit of Youtube without having the worry of using data on your mobile account.  Each WiFi Hotspot will have it’s terms and conditions for use.  Some will have restrictions on what can be access in regards to data usage and how long you can stay on that network.  But did you know that a Free Public WiFi Hotspot is not necessarily secure from potential online threats?

Australians love their Public WiFi Hotspots— in the three months to 30 June 2015, almost 4.23 million Australians went online using a public WiFi hotspot.

Potential online threats using Free Public WiFi Hotspots include:

  • Stolen identity
  • Hackers accessing your private information
  • Risks to your personal and physical safety
  • Malware being downloaded to your device
  • Your credit card, banking or log-in details being stolen

To help you be fully informed when using these convenient services, Stay Smart Online and the Australian Communications and Media Authority have released a short practical guide and infographic, with useful tips and general information about public WiFi hotspots in Australia.

For example, key tips to help protect you from online threats when using public WiFi hotspots include:

  • Use password-protected hotspots
  • Check the ‘terms of use’, particularly privacy and security clauses, before using a hotspot
  • Only use secure connections
  • Turn off file sharing and location services
  • Consider using a Virtual Private Network
  • Connect to the intended WiFi hotspot
  • Turn on your firewall and virus scanner

Other useful topics covered in the guide are:

  • What is a public WiFi hotspot
  • What are the major types of public WiFi hotspots in Australia?
  • What types of access are offered at public WiFi hotspots?
  • What can I do at a public WiFi hotspot?
  • How do I find a public WiFi hotspot?
  • How do I connect to a public WiFi hotspot?
  • How can I make a complaint about a public WiFi hotspot?

To connect to a WiFi hot spot make sure on your device under settings that your WiFi is switched on. Most devices will scan and pickup automatically  that there is an available WI-FI signal to make a possible connection.

To make a connection will depend on how the WiFi Hotspot is setup to be accessed. Some of the access offered at public WiFi Hotspot can be one of the following:

  • Free and open (no charge to the user and no password is required).
  • Free with conditions (no charge to the user but subject to certain terms of use).
  • Free for customers (a purchase from the provider is required before access is allowed).
  • Fee-for-service (user pays for access).

For more information about online threats, ways to protect yourself and other practical tips when using public WiFi hotspots, view 

Your guide to public Wi-Fi hotspots in Australia’

Stay Smart Online

SSO Alert Service

 

 

 

 

iTandBeyond are an SSO Partner.

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What is Microsoft OneDrive and should it be used for online backups?

What is Microsoft OneDrive?

Microsoft OneDrive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Microsoft’s OneDrive (previoulsy SkyDrive) is a cloud storage service that allows you to upload and synchronise files across all your devices including PCs, Macs, tablets and smart phones, from anywhere, anytime, both online and offline.

logo-onedrive

OneDrive comes pre-installed on Windows 8.1. OneDrive is not supported on Windows XP. Plans start at 15Gb of storage for Free.

 

 

logo-onedrive-business

OneDrive for Business is part of the Microsoft Office 365 collaboration and productivity tools delivered in the cloud an provides a massive 1Tb of storage per user.

 

For more information refer to https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-au/ and for a Getting started with OneDrive Tutorial http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-8/getting-started-onedrive-tutorial

 

Should OneDrive be used for online backups?

OneDrive is a great tool that is designed to be used as online storage of documents files, pictures and videos that can be worked on and shared with other people. OneDrive uses “SharePoint” as its backend. It synchs files to a SharePoint Document Library, not directly to a hard drive. SharePoint Document Libraries have size limitations and limitations regarding characters that can be used in file names. OneDrive is not marketed as or meant to be a online backup your hard drive(s) as it does not have many features that online backup solutions should have, including:

  • OneDrive only synchronises files. If you accidentally delete something on your local machine, it will be deleted from the OneDrive cloud. If you make a mistake in a file on your local machine, that mistake with by synchronised in the One Drive cloud.
  • OneDrive does not retain multiple copies (version history) of all files. In a Online Backup solution, you should be able to retrieve earlier version of files, say up to 30 days ago. At present OneDrive can maintain version history for Office documents only but not other files.
  • OneDrive does not have the ability to recover all files from a particular point in time.
  • OneDrive does not include automated email alerts and logs functions.

For more information, please refer to the following forum posts:

Ask us about our Online Backup and Remote Data Storage IT Solutions.

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When Is Your Business Ready For Proactive Managed IT Support Services?

If you are a small business owner and considering whether or not Proactive Managed IT Services will benefit your company, the answer is almost always- yes. There is little doubt that most small businesses can benefit from Managed IT Services, yet that in itself does not always justify the cost of bringing on a third party provider. Accepting that Managed IT Services Providers can offer solutions to common problems found in small business operation, the real question is: when does it make sense to switch from in house IT solutions to the next level which includes Managed IT Services?

There is a good chance if you are already considering Proactive Managed IT Services the time might be near when you are ready to make the switch. Small business owners do not have the luxury of a never ending IT budget, therefore it is very important to recognize when your current IT management is no longer cost effective. For most small businesses this occurs when the business grows to the point of needing either a contract with a local service provider who is “on call” for IT needs or hiring a full time IT person to remain on staff. There is of course another option for small business owners to consider and that is hiring a Managed IT Services Provider to oversee their IT needs.

If you are still unsure that your business is ready for the switch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find IT costs are continually increasing?
  • Is it difficult to find and retain quality IT staff?
  • Is your network and workstation performance and speed decreasing?
  • Are your employees spending more time dealing with IT issues than focusing on job they have been hired to perform?
  • Do you have problems with viruses, spyware and other security issues that could threaten the confidentiality of proprietary information?
  • In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, would your network be at risk? Would recovery be a concern?
  • Do you find network downtime is increasing?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above questions, then your business is ready for Proactive Managed IT Services.

Now that you have determined Proactive Managed IT Services are right for your business, the next challenge is finding the right provider of these services. This is a decision that should not be made lightly or rushed as the wrong provider can end up costing your company more money than your current situation. Before you begin the search for a Managed IT Services Provider you should first consider your IT budget as well as issues or problems you want to be addressed. It is important to remember that Proactive Managed IT Services are not a one-size-fits-all type of solution to business problems. Each business and industry has their own issues to contend with and a qualified Proactive Managed IT Services Provider will work with you to find the solutions that will benefit your company the most. If a potential provider is more intent on selling you services and not listening to the needs of your business, move on to another provider who is willing to listen to your concerns and offer customised solutions that address these needs. The point of outsourcing your IT management is to save money while freeing up time to focus on other business operations. For this reason it pays to put forth the effort to find the best Proactive Managed IT Services Provider to oversee your technology needs.

Click here to learn how can help you benefit from Proactive Managed IT Services for your business in .

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Is an iPad tablet Useful as a Mobile Computing Device for Businesses?

Some businesses have jumped on the tablet (eg. Apple iPad or Android) wagon and are finding creative ways to use the tablets as a mobile computing device.  For example:

  • iT and Beyond client FareShare developed an iPad app to allow the food charity’s van drivers to obtain real-time updates on food collection points and feedback on stock collected and delivery times to the charity’s chefs, improving the quality and speed at which food could be cooked and donated to over 100 charities in Melbourne.
  • The Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney, Australia uses the iPad as an interactive menu.
  • Budget airline, Jetstar Airways, uses the iPad for in-flight entertainment, rented for $10 a flight.
  • A luxury sedan by Hyundai comes with an iPad instead of a user manual.

Other than these extreme cases, how can an iPad be used to increase productivity or convenience by the average business owner?

Conventions and Workshops

Do you travel to conventions and workshops for your business? Many people bring their laptop to these events. While laptops are of course very convenient compared to a desktop personal computer for travelling, Tablets weigh less and could be even more convenient if you’re travelling from room to room at a convention or workshop. These events are also often designed for networking – so you’re not just sitting at the table all day, glued to your laptop. The smaller, iPad Mini could be slipped into your pocket or a small bag while you walk around the room, or even carried in your hand for easy access as needed, but without being cumbersome.

Flights and Traveling

It’s true a laptop can go on a flight with you, but even the smaller netbooks and laptops add to the weight of your carry on bags and can be frustrating when in the small seats of the plane. If you’re sitting in coach, you know every time the person next to you has to get up to use the bathroom you’re trying to balance the laptop and whatever else you happened to have out in your hands with turbulence knocking you around the aisle. The iPad could be slid into the pocket of the seat in front of you if you have to get out of the way for the passenger next to you – it’s about the size of a magazine.

The same holds true on trains, in taxi cabs, or as a passenger in someone else’s car. Just don’t try to use your iPad while driving, yourself.

Presentations & Sales

Do you travel to client offices to give presentations? How sleek would it be to whip out your iPad and give a sales presentation or demonstration? Apple reports that iPads can connect to the majority of projectors, so you could even broadcast that presentation over a large screen for a larger audience if necessary.

Replace Your Briefcase

Sure, the iPad has a word processor and spreadsheet. Those are always useful for business people. It would be much more convenient to read and edit documents on an iPad over your iPhone while on the road.

But what about the stack of magazines and newspapers you lug around with you in your briefcase? You could have all of your reading materials ready for you on the iPad and skip the briefcase. Use it as an ebook reader, newspaper subscription, and file storage and you’ve literally got everything at your fingertips. With the use of third party Apps, there’s little you can’t do with the iPad for as a mobile computing device for your business.

Click here to learn how can help you get the most out of your iPads, Smartphones and other mobile devices with our Mobile Computing Services for your business in .

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5 Reasons to Implement a Proactive Managed IT Support Services

Information Technology services are essential to the success of every organisation, large or small. With increasingly competitive business environments, CEOs and small business owners are under great pressure to maintain a highly qualified staff and to make sure their technology is obtaining a better ROI than their competitors’.

These goals are not easily achieved, particularly for young or small businesses with less financial resources and time available. Having your own successful information technology department can eat up too much of the company’s budget and time resources, and eventually cause a loss of its competitive edge. These disadvantages of maintaining an in-house IT department are why companies of all sizes have turned to using Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to either assist their existing IT department or become their Virtual IT Department, handling all of the technology involved in keeping their businesses running at optimal levels.

The benefits of using a Proactive Managed IT Support Services solution are numerous, but the top 5 benefits for business include:

  1. Benefit from the expertise of a specialist, without having to spend time and financial resources training your staff to become experts
  2. Decrease your technology risks with Proactive Managed IT Support Services. Your company doesn’t have to worry about losing and trying to replace trained staff members, or about repairing, implementing or replacing complex technology solutions with Managed IT Services
  3. Enjoy access to the most up-to-date, sophisticated technology solutions without having to invest in expensive equipment.
  4. Experience ultimate control over your business technology without having to manage an information technology department. This gives you the time you need to focus on what you do best: your business functions.
  5. Reduce stress and improve efficiency of your staff. When you make good use of Proactive Managed IT Support Services resources, your staff aren’t tied up with IT concerns and they have more time to focus on tasks that are productive for the business.

Click here to learn how  can help you benefit from managed IT services in .

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Microsoft Office 365 Donation Program

o365

Did you know if your a Non-for-Profit or an NGO you can get Microsoft Office 365 for free!

Press release back in September 2013, Microsoft launched worldwide Microsoft Office 365 Donation Program for Not-for-Profits and NGOs immediately to 41 countries around the world and for up to 90 countries by July 2014.

Is Australia one of those countries?  Sorry to say but we are not in the list of  the immediate 41 selected countries for September 2013. But the good new is we are in the up to 90 countries by July 2014!

Qualified Non-profits can get Office 365 for free or at a significant discount price. By using Office 365 it will reduce your costs, create better collaboration and better your organizational capacity.

With Office 365 you can create, edit and share with anyone in real time.  Share internally and externally, work together on the same file, sync your email, calenders and contacts and be up to date where ever your are.

Just to name a few clients who have embraced the opportunity  of the Office 365 Donation Program, Ocean Racing Club of VictoriaApprenticeship and Traineeship Employment PartnerDisabled Winter Sports, Fareshare .

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Windows Server 2003 End of Support

Windows Server 2003

Windows Server 2003 end of support  begins on July 2015.

There are still thousands if not millions of servers out there still using Windows Server 2003 with out a problem.  Business don’t like the idea of migrating to a new system as they are already familiar with the old system or concerned of cost and possible down time with the migration process.

Don’t panic your server is not going to stop working once the support stops. It just means there will be no more patch updates for that operating system. Microsoft warns us to “Watch out for performance bottlenecks and intends to Stop sending updates to anti-malware definitions and the engine for Windows Server 2003.

Got Deep Pockets?

Just so you know if you decided to keep going with Windows Server 2003 and support is needed ! Check out the costs. Microsoft is officially charging customers at least $600 per server to safely run Windows Server 2003 after it’s July 14 cut-off date. so there is another reason to migrate!

Failure to upgrade your systems can have a variety of consequences:

Hardware ills: Older hardware would be now be add least a decade old. Vendor warranties would no longer apply and getting new parts would be a thing of the past.

Operational costs: Some may have 64bit OS but anything 8 years old or more would most likely be running 32bit.  Those old servers are inefficient may have no virtualization technology or possible no proper power management.

Software compatibility issues: If you are still running a 32bit OS almost all software is now 64bit. Your Apps in 32bit may not be able to be updated as software companies are slowly phasing out 32bit updates. 

Data breaches: There is one thing to be concerned with and that is security. Once the end of support stops there will be no more security patch updates and this leaves you open to possible security breaches. You could go spending more and more on security Apps to hide your machine from the outside world but in the long run the costs would of been better spent on migration.

Windows Server Endings

  • Windows Server 2003 meets it’s end on July 14, 2015
  • Windows Server 2008 support ends January 14, 2020
  • Windows Server 2012 ends January 10, 2023.

More information on Microsoft Official Life Cycle can be found here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/gp/lifepolicy

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Microsoft Windows 7 Tips and Tweaks

140812REDMackieWin7

 

 

 

 

Microsoft Windows 7 – Tips and Tweaks

The release of Windows 7 is a relief for any Windows XP user needing to upgrade as they can avoid Windows Vista.  Microsoft have learnt from some mistakes with the troubled Windows Vista Operating System.  But an all new operating systems can still create a little confusion on user friendliness. While most things are pretty much the same across the board there can be quicker and easier ways to do things.  That’s why we have added some tips to help you understand using the new Windows 7 OS.  

There are some efficiency improvements you’ll want to include in your Standard Operating Environment so all users will benefit from the.

 

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