Month: September 2017

Major updates to Apple’s macOS High Sierra

macOS High Sierra, Apple’s newest desktop operating system, aims to enhance current features, fix problems, and improve overall user experience. A long list of refinements await iMac and MacBook users, but here are the ones businesses will find most useful.

Greater speed and efficiency

The improved Photos app is getting most of the attention in the new OS, but what most users need to know is that macOS High Sierra has significant speed and performance upgrades.

The newly upgraded Apple File System increases Mac devices’ data-handling speeds, increases disk space, and reduces — if not completely eliminates — system crashes. The Apple ecosystem was already stable and secure from malware infection, but this enhancement gives it a further performance boost and greater protection from data loss caused by unexpected system failures.

It also increases disk space by cloning rather than copying duplicate files, which means they don’t take up space unless modified. Apple File System also saves up to 40% of storage space by compressing 4K media files without reducing their quality.

Better search function in Mail

Refinements in Mail include easier search, a feature that will delight users who constantly pore through hundreds of messages. The Top Hits feature pulls up the most relevant items based on usage criteria: the most recently read mail, senders most replied to, and contacts tagged as VIP. The Mail has also added a split-screen view, which comes into play when a user switches to full-screen mode and when sending a new email.

More Personalized Safari Settings

Significant changes in the new Safari include a more personalized setting and fewer ads. Safari users can now block content advertising, disable auto-play videos, and stop cookie tracking, which helps make their browsing history more private and secure. The new Safari also lets users adjust text size and location settings for certain websites, giving them greater control.

Other enhancements

These small yet functional enhancements in the macOS High Sierra are also worth noting:

  • The Photos app gets an improved search function, “Loop” and “Bounce” effects on live photos, new editing tools and filters, and an improved interface that aims to make photo editing and organization a lot easier.
  • Messages are now saved in the cloud, which makes retrieval easy for those who switch, replace, or lose their device.
  • Spotlight gets a flight integration feature that lets users get departure and arrival, delays, and other flight information from the search icon.
  • The Notes app now allows users to pin their most frequently used notes at the top and add tables to notes.

Upgrading to macOS High Sierra

Apple’s new OS is now available for download from the App Store. To install, go to the App Store (or click the Apple icon at the top left corner of your screen and click App Store), click macOS High Sierra displayed in the featured section, then click Download. Before you upgrade, it is recommended that you back up all your files.

Our experts can help you make the most of your OS’s productivity-enhancing features, regardless of OS version or device. Call us today if you need tips and recommendations from professionals.

Published with permission from Source.

Need business management software? Try ERP

Whether you run a startup or a well-established corporation, there are always ways to improve how the business is managed. For some, introducing new corporate policies can streamline business processes, but if you want to see significant improvement, consider enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

What is ERP?
Simply put, ERP software integrates various aspects of your business — from accounting and human resources to production and sales — into one system where you can easily manage tasks and process data.

The key feature of any ERP system is a central database that gives users a complete summary of financials, sales figures, and other important metrics. In practice, this means employees in different departments can rely on the same information without your having to reenter that information into a different database.

But simplicity is only one of many benefits.

Enhanced reporting
With business information consolidated in one location, you can generate comprehensive reports and analytics at any time.

One of the most popular uses for this feature is financial reporting. General ledgers, revenue recognition, and tax reporting functionality are built into most ERP software solutions, allowing you to balance the books in seconds.

In addition to this, ERP systems come equipped with business intelligence features that provide intuitive analysis into your operations and forecast the growth of your company. This helps you and other executives find fresh business opportunities and make better-informed decisions.

Better customer service
Access to up-to-date business information also makes it easy to provide high-quality customer service. Suppose a customer inquired whether or not an item was still in stock. Rather than wasting five minutes asking your supply manager, who then checks his or her own records, representatives can access the ERP database to provide the customer with information in half the time.

Simplified compliance
Until recently, most organizations were forced to rely on impractical spreadsheets and manual processes to meet compliance requirements; but with ERP, you can easily and consistently achieve this.

ERP software generally comes with audit functionality, giving you full visibility into your processes. What’s more, it provides templates and guidance to help you meet regulations within your industry, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the International Financial Reporting Standards.

Streamlined workflow
Another key feature is automation. Repetitive tasks that eat a huge chunk of your time can be eliminated by programming automated workflows. For example, you can set your ERP to instantly reorder materials when stock levels have reached a certain threshold. This ensures that your shop never experiences out-of-stock or overstocked incidents.

You can even assign workflows that route invoices and reimbursements to the right accountant to make sure tasks are handled quickly and efficiently.

Rich integrations
The beauty of ERP software is that you can integrate it with other services to extend its capabilities. If you need to track customer information and sales figures, you can combine it with customer relationship management software or pair it with e-commerce services to streamline web-based purchases.

ERP systems can adapt to your ever-changing needs, which is incredibly valuable for your rapidly growing business. If you need more ideas or solutions that can add value to your business other than ERP, call us today!

Published with permission from Source.

Troubleshoot your WiFi with ease

You’ve invested in WiFi routers so you can access emails, collaborate in real-time, browse Facebook, and watch YouTube videos at blistering speeds. But when your WiFi refuses to work the way it should, the frustration sets in and you begin to contemplate smashing your router into pieces. Avoid the temptation with these easy ways to troubleshoot five common WiFi problems.

Range constraints

WiFi works via radio waves which are broadcast to all possible areas from a central hub, usually a piece of hardware known as a router. In order to avoid a weak signal in your office, make sure:

  • Your router is placed in a centralized location and not tucked away in the farthest corner of your facility.
  • Your WiFi antennae are either in a fully horizontal or vertical position for optimal signal distribution.

Note that WiFi range constraints can also occur from interference, so if your office is situated in a highly populated area, try changing your router’s channel.

Slow speed

Despite having high-speed or fiber optic internet, slow load times can still occur for a number of reasons. To eliminate this, try the following:

  • Make sure your router is located in the same room as your endpoints.
  • Have more routers to better accommodate a high number of connected devices.
  • Close bandwidth-intensive applications such as Skype, Dropbox, YouTube, and Facebook.
  • Disable your router’s power-saving mode.
  • Create a new router channel to avoid network bottlenecks.

Connection issues

We understand how frustrating it can be when the WiFi network shows up on your device but you just can’t seem to get it to connect. Before you give up, these solutions might help:

  • Determine whether your WiFi connection is the problem or if your internet is down by plugging in your laptop directly into the router via an Ethernet cable. If you get a connection, then your WiFi is the culprit.
  • Reset your router with a paperclip or a pen and hold down that tiny button for about 30 seconds.
  • Try rebooting your device.

Unstable connection

Random drops in WiFi connection can happen from time to time. If this has become a constant nuisance in your office, try the following quick fixes:

  • Move your router to a different spot or even a different room.
  • Avoid having multiple routers in the same location as they can confuse your device.

Network not found

Glitches in the router can result in your WiFi network not appearing at all. Two solutions that can resolve the problem are:

  • Disconnecting the router from the power source and waiting at least 30 seconds before reconnecting it.
  • Checking to see how old your router is; if it’s over three years old, you’re probably due for a replacement.

When you experience WiFi issues, these tips will help you avoid serious downtime. But if you’d rather have a dedicated technology provider take care of your hardware needs, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from Source.

Microsoft launches My Workspace for macOS

If you’re using Office 365 on a Mac computer, here’s some good news: Microsoft has introduced a new tool that will help you manage your Office 365 apps much more easily. My Workspace is a productivity-enhancing application that offers quick access to frequently used apps and files.

Office workspace for Mac

My Workspace sits in the Menu bar along the top of the screen and provides macOS users of Office 365 with a quick and easy access to pinned documents, recently accessed files, OneDrive files, Skype calls, and iCloud Calendars. It also makes their lives easier by offering quick buttons to Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and OneNote. You can download the app for free at

The app is the brainchild of four interns at the Vancouver offices of Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s Washington-based experimental projects division. It was created when the interns were tasked with developing a tool to “add value to a person’s day.”

Benefits to macOS users

For those who use several Office apps at once, My Workspace’s unobtrusive placement and long list of accessibility features will make their Office experience far more efficient.

By clicking the icon located at the right-hand corner of the screen, you can get a quick overview of your day, respond to event invitations in your calendar, and join Skype calls. The intuitive tool determines recently opened files and displays them on the Recent tab, which gives you quick access to your most important documents.

Under the Pinned column, you’ll find a full list of recently opened files along with shareable links, making collaboration easier.

Account management and customization features

With My Workspace, you can easily access your Office 365 account settings, making account management a breeze. From this window you can manage Subscriptions, Security & privacy, App permissions, Install status, and other general settings.

What’s more, My Workspace allows you to customize your App Settings, where you can set the number of events and recent documents you can see, and decide which apps you would like displayed in the launcher.

Small yet substantial improvements such as My Workspace make Office 365 a thoroughly convenient business tool. There’s plenty of productivity-boosting functionalities within Office 365 regardless of device, and if you want to explore its useful features, call us today for tips and recommendations.

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5 types of clutter that slow down Windows

If you’ve noticed that your Windows 10 operating system has been running slow, yet no virus has been found and everything seems to be running okay otherwise, your PC might have too much clutter. Clutter can impede its performance and eat away its memory. To help your computer perform at its peak once again, you need to know five types of clutter and how to remove them.

5 types of clutter you need to know

  1. Pre-installed software: This unwanted OEM software, referred to as “bloatware,” poses security risks and takes up tons of CPU, RAM, and disk space. To get rid of it, Refresh Windows.
  2. Windows Updates: All too often, Microsoft launches updates that fail to download correctly, leaving you with corrupted and unusable files. Some of them will be deleted by Windows, while some will hang around forever. To remove them, Reset Windows.
  3. Registry Bloat: Every action performed in Windows gets recorded in your computer’s registry, including files and applications you’ve deleted. And gradually, Windows becomes bogged down by thousands of redundant entries. The solution? Reset Windows.
  4. Error files: Whenever software in your system encounters errors in processing or crashes altogether, Windows will keep a log file of it. And, as with Registry Bloat, these log files accumulate. To remove all these space-eating files, Reset Windows.
  5. User Bloat: This means a large number of your own files, especially if it’s unorganized. Solution: Refresh Windows.

How to declutter Windows

To rid your computer of all this clutter, you have two choices: Reset or Refresh. When you Reset, a brand new copy of Windows 10 is installed and “resets” your system to its original state. When you Refresh, your PC reinstalls Windows 10 free of any bloatware.

Both tools will delete Windows 10 apps and your customized settings, and will give you choices of keeping your old files or deleting them.

To get started, go to Start > Setting > Update and Recovery > Recovery

If you want to Reset Windows, choose Reset This PC > Get Started and then follow the on-screen instructions.

If you want to Refresh Windows, you need to know whether your Windows update version is Windows 10 1607 or Windows 10 1703 since the processes are a bit different.

  • For Windows 10 1607, choose More Recovery Options > Learn How to Start Afresh With a Clean Copy of Windows 10, at which point you’ll see a new screen in your browser. Click Download Tool Now at the bottom of the page, and when the download is finished, follow the on-screen instructions.
  • For Windows 10 1703, click Settings > Update & Recovery > Recovery > More recovery options > Start Afresh to launch Windows Defender. Then click Get Started to start the Refresh process. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key + R, enter systemreset -cleanpc and click Enter. When you see the Fresh Start menu, click next to start the process.

There are innumerable ways to make your computer perform faster and more efficiently, and our Windows experts are equipped with all the tricks of the trade. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from Source.

New phishing scam targets Office 365 users

With more than 100 million monthly active subscribers, Office 365 has attracted the attention of hackers who’ve revamped an age-old trick. This time, they come up with a highly targeted, well-crafted spear-phishing scam that’s even more difficult to identify. Here’s everything you need to know.

What makes it different from other scams?

The new threat comes in the form of spear phishing, an old familiar method in which hackers send emails that purport to be from trusted sources and dupe you into disclosing sensitive information. In this particular attack, the email messages are admirably well-crafted, making them even harder to spot.

The emails are also rid of the usual telltale signs such as misspelled words, suspicious attachments, and dubious requests. You might have to recalibrate what you know about phishing scams, because this new threat ticks all the boxes that make it look legitimate.

How does it work?

The hackers behind the attack craft personalized messages, pretending to be from trusted sources, such as your colleagues or Microsoft itself, and send them to your inbox. The messages could contain a link or a PDF file that leads to a legitimate-looking landing page. Upon clicking the link, the user will be prompted to enter his or her credentials, which the hacker will use to launch attacks within the organization.

Once they gain control of your account, they might set up new forwarding rules to monitor your communication patterns, which will be useful for their future attacks. They might even use your account to send further phishing emails to your co-workers to collect more sensitive information.

As for the phishing emails with PDF attachments, there will be instructions to fill in username and password to view the document. And once you do, your account is no longer yours.

Another way they can get your credentials is by sending an invoice that requires you to log on to a web portal to view the file. Attackers can also use this technique to trick you into performing a certain action, such as forwarding sensitive information or paying an invoice.

What can you do to stay protected?

Your first line of defense is multi-factor authentication, whereby you use a password and another authentication method — like an SMS code — to secure your account. This function is already included in Office 365 and here’s a step-by-step guide on how to activate it.

The second line of defense is training yourself and your employees to spot common phishing techniques. In particular, verify the accuracy of the wording and the sensibility of the requests in the messages.

For good measure, your organization can also install an email-validation system which is designed to detect and prevent email spoofing, such as the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance (DMARC).

Identifying phishing emails and planning and implementing a robust defense system are ways to protect you and your organization against the new Office 365 threat. For tips on how to spot this type of scam and how to plan thorough security practices, contact our experts today.

Published with permission from Source.

Apple released a new iPhone and so much more!

10 years after the first iPhone was announced, Apple’s keynote addresses are still global events. This year’s slate of fall releases included a lot more than incremental updates to the company’s flagship device. Regardless of whether your next Apple purchase is coming out of a personal or company budget, you’ll want to know what’s new.

iPhone X

Everyone suspected the new iPhone would have an edge-to-edge screen, but now it’s official. The 5.8-inch OLED screen covers the entire front side of the phone, except for a small notch along the top of the device.

The iPhone X, AKA the iPhone Ten, has no fingerprint scanner, which means users will need to unlock the device with either a passcode or a facial recognition scan. The top notch includes an updated 7-megapixel front-facing camera, call speaker and infrared sensors that power the iPhone’s new FaceID feature.

Apple’s newest smartphone includes some new high-tech hardware under the hood as well. The A11 Bionic chip can handle up to 600 billion operations per second, which allows the iPhone X to render high-resolution 3D experiences on top of real world images while in the camera mode.

iPhone 8/iPhone 8+

This model isn’t getting the same OLED screen as the iPhone X, but both versions of the iPhone 8 do come with their own improvements in screen resolution. Some of these are due to minor hardware upgrades and some utilize new software to adjust the colors on your screen based on your reading environment.

Both versions of the iPhone 8 also come with the brand new A11 Bionic processor, which Apple claims is 70% faster than the iPhone 7’s chip.

Apple Watch Series 3

The smartwatch market has had its ups and downs, but the most recent release from Apple is sure to disrupt the industry. The Series 3 Watch will include an integrated SIM card that allows wearers to send messages, receive calls, and stream media regardless of where their phone is at any given moment. Depending on what you use your phone for, you could potentially go without it for a full workday.

Wireless charging

Apple is finally making it possible for their devices to charge wirelessly. New iPhones, Apple Watch and AirPods will allow you to juice up your battery simply by laying down your device on a charging mat.

Apple devices have always been especially well suited for business environments. They’re secure, reliable and compatible with almost any business-class software. If you need help with anything Apple-related — from mobile device management to Mac servers — give us a call today.

Published with permission from Source.

Is your business ready for hurricane season?

In late August 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused widespread power outages and floods across Texas and certain parts of Louisiana. Weeks later, Hurricane Irma hit the coast, affecting Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina businesses. Now, experts are saying there are more storms to come, which is why you need a good disaster recovery (DR) plan that has you prepared for the worst.

Pay attention to location
First and foremost, your backup site should be in a hurricane-free zone. Ideally, your offsite facility should be located at least 100 miles away from your main location. If this isn’t possible, make sure it is built to withstand wind speeds of 160 mph (as fast as Category 5 storms), and is supported by backup generators and uninterruptible power supplies.

You should also request an upper floor installation or, at the very least, keep critical IT equipment 18 inches off the ground to prevent water damage.

Determine recovery hierarchy
Certain parts of your IT are more mission-critical than others. Ask yourself which systems or data must be recovered in minutes, hours, or days to get your business back to running efficiently.

For example, you may find that recovering sensitive customer information and e-commerce systems take priority over recovering your email server. Whatever the case may be, prioritizing your systems ensures that the right ones are recovered quickly after a disaster.

Use image-based backups
Unlike fragile tape backups, image-based backups take “snapshots” of your systems, creating a copy of the OS, software, and data stored in it. From here, you can easily boot the virtual image on any device, allowing you to back up and restore critical business systems in seconds.

Take advantage of the cloud
The cloud allows you to host applications and store data in high-availability, geo-redundant servers. This means your backups can be accessed via the internet, allowing authorized users to access critical files from any device. Expert technicians will also watch over and secure your backups, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of enterprise-level backup facilities and IT support.

Back up your data frequently
Back up your data often, especially during disaster season. If your latest backups were created on the 15th of September and the next storm, Hurricane Jose, makes landfall on the 28th, you could lose nearly two weeks of data.

Get in the habit of replicating your files at the end of each day, which should be easy if you’ve opted for image-based backups.

Test your DR plan
After setting up your backups, check whether they are restoring your files accurately and on time. Your employees should be drilled on the recovery procedures and their responsibilities during and after disaster strikes. Your DR team should also be trained on how to failover to the backup site before the storm hits. Finally, providers, contractors, and customers need to be notified about how the hurricane will affect your operations.

As cell towers and internet connections may be affected during this time, make sure your company forums are online and have your employees register with the Red Cross Safe and Well website so you can check their statuses.

It’s nearly impossible to experience little-to-no disruptions during disasters like Harvey or Irma, but with the right support, you can minimize downtime. If you’re concerned about any natural disasters putting you out of business, call us today. We offer comprehensive business continuity services that every company must have.

Published with permission from Source.

5 Simple ways to cut your printing costs

It may not seem as though your printing infrastructure is costing your business a great deal. But if left unmanaged, you could end up with an overinflated IT budget dominated by equipment maintenance and hardware and supplies purchases. Here are some ways to avoid that.

Replace outdated printers

Outdated and cheap printers may be functional, but they are putting a huge dent in your IT budget.

Any piece of equipment that is seven years old (or older) requires frequent repairs and causes more trouble than it’s worth. Because old printers are no longer under warranty, fixing them is more costly and challenging. It’s also difficult to replace parts for old printers because manufacturers have stopped carrying them for models that have been phased out.

When you replace outdated equipment with newer, multi-functional printers, you’re investing in hardware that will pay for itself with increases in productivity and efficiency.

Avoid purchasing unnecessary supplies

A poorly managed printer environment could result in a stockpile of cartridges, toners, and reams of paper. This happens when, for example, an employee uses a printer that’s about to run out of ink and makes an unnecessary request for a new ink or toner. This is more common than you may think, and definitely more expensive.

In the absence of a dedicated printer manager, you can avoid this situation by automating supply replacement. Assign a point person to proactively place orders when supplies are about to run out, so your company can avoid needless purchases.

Impose strict process workflows

Submitting expense reports, filing reimbursements, and other administrative tasks require a proper document workflow. Without a guideline, employees and administrative staff tend to print an unnecessary amount of documents.

Automate your company’s document-driven processes to reduce or prevent redundant print jobs that result in stacks of abandoned documents. Not only is it wasteful, it’s also a security and privacy concern.

Go paperless

Designing a document management solution that reduces paper consumption is the best way to save money. It may not be possible in every department, but those who can do their jobs without printing should be encouraged to do so by management. Printing lengthy email chains that can be discussed in a meeting is just one example of a wasteful practice that should be avoided.

Reduce IT support calls for printing issues

Calling your company’s IT guys to assist with problems like paper jams, printer Wi-Fi issues, and other concerns reduces employee frustration. You and your IT personnel could avoid dealing with these productivity killers by identifying the problem areas of your print environment. Then, you can work on solutions specific to your office, such as drafting a printing workflow, or getting help from document management experts who can recommend time- and budget-saving solutions.

Having a group of experts manage your IT workflow can make your day-to-day operations more efficient and help you save on printing costs. Our experts will gladly recommend best practices and tips on document management. Call us today.

Published with permission from Source.

OneNote: the hidden gem in Microsoft Office

Almost everyone loves PowerPoint, Excel and Word, but there’s another Office application that should be recognized as a must-have: OneNote. It’s an app for pulling together text, video, audio, and other visual resources to create shareable notebooks full of useful information. With this article, you can master OneNote in no time at all.

OneNote is a digital notebook

Despite the visual similarities, the thing that sets OneNote apart from Word is the way it stores and displays saved information. In OneNote, one window displays all your Notebooks, which can contain several pages and separate documents.

To create a Notebook, click File and then New. From there, you’ll be given the option to create a new Notebook, which can be saved locally to OneDrive or to SharePoint.

A Notebook will help you organize several types of information in one space, so let’s imagine we’ve named a SharePoint Notebook “New Product Ideas” and clicked Create New.

Next, you’ll be looking at a blank screen with “New Product Ideas” in the upper left-hand corner. To get the most out of OneNote, we need to start organizing our Notebook.

Separate your Notebook into Sections

Every Notebook is organized into Sections, similar to what dividers do in a physical notebook. For example, our New Product Ideas Notebook might be divided into Sections based on things like design, price and materials.

Sections are shown as color-coded tabs along the top of the screen, next to the name of your Notebook. You simply click the ‘+’ button to create a new section.

Start filling your Sections with useful Pages

Up until this point, OneNote seems like little more than a Word document with improved organization. But Pages in OneNote are built so that different types of media can be dropped into your pages with the click of a button.

So let’s say you’ve bookmarked a number of websites with reference images you want to add to your Design Section. Open up Design and select Add New Page on the right-hand side of the screen. Right-click it and name the page, and in our example this could be Ideas from online.

One way to insert the images from your bookmarked webpages is to save them to your computer and then drag each icon onto your OneNote Page where the image will automatically appear.

However, with Microsoft’s OneNote Web Clipper this can be done much more easily. After installing the browser extension, open it and select what you want to save from the web page with your cursor. The Web Clipper will ask which OneNote Page you want to save the selection to and it will automatically be added.

Start experimenting!

Now that you understand how to organize your information, you can experiment with linking Pages from different notebooks, adding category tags to Pages, and inserting online videos into your notes.

If you’re worried about a Notebook becoming overly complicated, don’t worry. Above the Pages pane is a search bar that you can use to find keywords from Notebook titles, Section titles and Pages content.

You could spend an entire year learning the ins and outs of every Microsoft Office application, but a faster way would be to let us help you cut through the clutter with practical recommendations and assistance. Call us today!

Published with permission from Source.