Posts in Internet

Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing

March 18th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Devices, Internet, Managed Service Provider 0 thoughts on “Pros and Cons: Cloud Computing”

Should you be entrusting your data to the cloud or keeping it down to earth on your own servers? This is a decision facing every business. It’s one you’ll be forced to consider carefully, because it’ll impact your business practices and expenses for the foreseeable future. There’s plenty to be said for both cloud storage and dedicated servers, which makes the question which one is right for you. In this post we’ll be covering the pros and cons of the cloud.

Advantages of the Cloud

Cost Savings
One of the biggest benefits of cloud computing is the cost savings. With cloud computing, you can save substantial IT costs by eliminating the need to purchase, operate, and maintain server equipment. You pay for what you use, and you can stop whenever you like. This can make cloud computing ideal for some businesses all by itself. Though it is worth noting that in some instances an on-site server can actually be less expensive than using the cloud.

Reliability
With a managed service platform, your business can benefit from a large pool of IT resources that are dedicated to ensuring a reliable connection to your data at all times. These generally include redundancies that most businesses wouldn’t have built into their own personal servers.

Manageability
With a service level agreement (SLA) you get all the benefits of a high-end system without the hassle of performing updates and maintenance yourself.

Strategic Edge
The ease and accessibility of computer resources can give you a competitive edge, since the time you require for upgrading your IT resources to meet the needs of your business is basically nothing. This allows you to focus on moving your business forward.

Disadvantages of the Cloud

Downtime
If the internet is down, you have no access to your data and possibly the applications you use to run your business. Depending on the quality of internet service available in your area, this could be a significant disadvantage.

Security
Cloud service providers do everything they can to ensure the security of your data. But any time you’re storing data and important files with external service providers, it opens up some risk. It’s unlikely to be an issue, but you should consider the potential consequences any time you’re trusting someone else to safeguard your business’s information.

Vendor Lock-In
Moving to the cloud can be a quick, easy process. But moving between cloud services can get rather difficult. Not all services are cross-compatible, and you may end up staying with a less-than-ideal set up for a few features that you’re not sure how to do without.

Limited Control
Since the cloud infrastructure is entirely owned, monitored, and managed by the service provider, control over what you can change, update, or access is limited to the applications, data, and services you’re paying to use.

The advantages of cloud computing are many, and it’s well worth considering as an option for your business. But don’t forget about on-site servers just yet, because they have some pretty great advantages of their own. We’ll discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of on-site servers in our next blog post.

If you’re considering the future of your business IT and want input from the experts, our engineers here at Think would be happy to help. Contact us to schedule a consultation.

relationship issues blog post header

Relationship Problems: 5 Ways Your Outdated Tech is Getting Between You and Your Staff

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, collaboration, Desktop, Internet, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Relationship Problems: 5 Ways Your Outdated Tech is Getting Between You and Your Staff”

Technology exists to make our lives easier, our work more efficient, and our businesses more productive. It’s the perfect marriage of need and solution. At least it’s perfect until these 5 issues start causing downtime that interferes with your staff and their ability to do their jobs. Are any of these outdated tech issues getting between you and your staff?

1. Low Bandwidth: Nothing is quite as frustrating as waiting for a slow internet connection. Whether it’s downloading files or folders, accessing a database, or waiting on that important email, low bandwidth can make simple business functions torture for your staff. This can lead to everything from frustration to high turn-over, and both of those will impact your bottom line. Create an easy and enjoyable experience as well as an efficient work day for your staff by ensuring that your hardware and network are set up for optimum speeds.

2. Security Issues: Your staff is responsible for handling information that is vital to your business every single day. It’s important that this happens in a safe and productive way. In a digital age this means up to date firewalls, backups, security patches, and policies to ensure that your staff can do their jobs without worrying about an outside threat. Because losing data or getting hacked could cost you far more than just money; it could cost you your business.

3. Outdated Hardware: Old hardware can be the source of all kinds of issues, from overheating components that can fry entire systems to outdated software that leaves your system wide open to digital attacks. The good news is basic maintenance and regular upgrades are a lot easier and less costly than dealing with aging hardware and band-aid fixes. And your staff will be able to focus on their tasks instead of spending their time troubleshooting themselves or with technical support.

4. Inefficient Solutions: Sometimes the biggest problem a business has is not knowing what the best solution is for their IT needs. There are multiple options for every kind of hardware and software need, and choosing the wrong one will slow you down and ultimately cost you. Is cloud the right solution? How advanced is your antivirus? What is the best firewall? Do you have the IT policies and procedures in place that will ensure the security and success of your business? Knowing the right direction for your business will ensure that your staff is as productive as possible.

5. User Error: All the high-end technology in the world can’t save you from an employee who isn’t prepared to use it correctly. This can be devastating when there’s a security breach or a network outage because an employee misplaced a password or deleted the wrong setting. Taking the time to properly educate and train your staff on the digital aspects of your company will not only save you trouble, it will give your business an important edge. We always recommend a business have an IT policy and properly train employees on the BYOD culture. This will give your staff the peace of mind that comes with knowing they’re doing the right thing the right way.

Did a few of these sound a little too familiar? The good news is everything on this list is easy to address, which makes for a happier and more productive workplace. Who doesn’t want that?

Are you ready to get your relationship with technology back on track, but don’t know how? Think’s engineers are highly trained and certified to assist with all of your business technology needs. Contact us for a consultation.

Videoconferencing

Videoconferencing: Why You Need It

December 19th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Desktop, Internet, Managed Service Provider, Services, video 0 thoughts on “Videoconferencing: Why You Need It”

Cut Cost and Increase Productivity

Save time and money, boost collaboration and cut emissions – these are just a few of the reasons behind the growing popularity of videoconferencing. Here’s a look at the many business benefits and why your business needs to utilize videoconferencing.

Benefits of Videoconferencing

While your travel points may take a hit, videoconferencing can lead to a huge reduction in business travel time and cost while increasing productivity. A study by the Carbon Disclosure Project found that businesses could achieve a return on investment in as little as 15 months, while also curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Other videoconferencing benefits include a faster decision-making process, maximizing the input of key employees and lowering stress on staff, resulting in improved morale and better work practices, such as allowing for telecommuting.

Strategically, videoconferencing can help businesses get to market faster and improve customer responsiveness, while speeding response time to crisis events.

Gigoam Research found that 87 percent of remote users “feel more connected to their team and process when using videoconferencing.” When your colleague in another city is suddenly right on your screen, staff discussions become a lot more engaging – although telecommuters will need to ditch those pajamas for office clothes.

What System Should I Use?

There are lots of software and hardware options to facilitate videoconferencing.

Common bundles allow you to conduct interactive videoconference calls while collaborating on individual projects. Depending on the bundle, these services may include new telecommunication devices or computer workstations which operate in unison with advanced software.

These systems allow businesses to converse with their colleagues in rural locations or overseas while working on the same report or file, allowing for document sharing and storage.

How Can These Systems Cust Costs?

Business travel is a thing of the past with videoconferencing, since the only travel required is moving to the conference facility in the office, or to your desktop computer or smartphone.

In addition to the savings in business travel time and cost, the high quality of collaboration allows businesses to avoid project double-ups and the time-consuming process of back-and-forth file exchanges.

Videoconferencing can unlock considerable cost savings for any organization while delivering productivity gains through enhanced collaboration, along with improved morale and environmental benefits. For businesses that embrace the trend, global communication is just a screen away.

Get in Touch

Think offers technology solutions for businesses including state-of-the-art video and audio conferencing, instant messaging and more. Our solutions allow communication in any workspace and on any media, device or operating system.

Think’s highly certified engineers will work with you to identify and implement the most efficient and reliable collaboration solutions for your business. Contact us to learn more!

Speed Up Your Browser

Speed Up Your Browser with 5 Simple Steps

December 11th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Internet, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Speed Up Your Browser with 5 Simple Steps”

Is Your Browser Running Slow?

There’s nothing worse than a website that won’t load. Over time, high volumes of content can cause your Internet browser to slow down. However, with a bit of maintenance, it’s easy to ensure your browser stays speedy for longer.

The following tips apply across all major Internet browsers, including but not limited to Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer.

5 Tips to Speed Up Your Browser

1. Remove unused extensions – Too many plug-ins and extensions can slow down your browser. They take up system resources and can even cause bugs and crashes. Extensions can add useful features to your browser, but it’s a good idea to occasionally remove the ones you no longer use or need.

For extensions you need, make sure they’re regularly updated. Your browser should automatically handle updates this, but it’s worth double-checking. Just like keeping the browser itself updated, ensuring you’re running the latest versions of your add-ons keeps them bug-free and running smoothly.

2. Clear your cache and cookies – As you surf the web, your browser keeps records of your files in its cache to speed up your experience. The next time you visit a site, the cached files are already present, so your browser only needs to download the new bits from the web. This means less time waiting, and in general, a faster browsing experience.

However, it is recommended to occasionally cear out your cache and start again. Your browser should automatically manage the cache, but it can get unwieldy and cause the occasional bug or glitch. If you want to keep your browsing speed as good as new, then wipe the slate clean every few months or so. Afterwards, you might notice a slight slowdown to begin with, as your browser rebuilds the cache, but it should quickly go back to normal.

At the same time you clear your cache, you should clear your cookies as well. Cookies are bits of data that websites record on your machine to identify who you are, where you’re from, your website preferences, etc. Usually these cookies are harmless and useful, but a regular purge will quickly get rid of any corrupt or unnecessary ones.

3. Uninstall and reinstall your browser – Removing unused extensions and clearing the cache/cookies are great tips for stopping browser slowdowns – sort of like returning your car to its original state by erasing all the issues and problems that have built up. Uninstalling and reinstalling your browser is a quick shortcut to do the same job.

Once the old version of your browser is uninstalled, you can reinstall the latest update from the Internet. As well as eliminating any corrupted data caches and unneeded extensions, this will make sure that you’re running the most up-to-date version of the software, an important factor in keeping your browser running smoothly. Staying up to date is vital in fixing bugs and blocking security threats and most modern browsers download updates automatically.

4. Manage your tabs – Managing your open tabs more efficiently will help you browse faster. The more tabs you have open, the slower your browser will run. For faster browsing, keep the number of open tabs to a minimum and resist the urge to have a dozen tabs open at once. If you need to keep track of several sites to return to later, you can bookmark the pages for later. Pro tip: Set up a “Temporary” folder within your bookmarks for this scenario.

5. Install a cleanup tool – Some add-ons and apps can help you keep your browser running at top speed. Most of these tools handle the cleaning jobs we covered above, like tidying up cached files that you don’t need any more. It’s worth researching and testing a couple to see if you notice any speed increases. There are also desktop programs to clean up browser clutter.

Still Need Help?

If your browser is still slow after completing the above steps, there might be another issue lurking behind the scenes. Think’s engineers are highly trained and certified to assist with all of your technology needs. Contact us for additional support!

Source: Popular Science

Technology News - September 2018

Technology News – September 2018

September 19th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Internet, Newsletters, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – September 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

The right to be forgotten allows individuals to have their data erased from certain sources, including search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. The GDPR enforces this law for EU citizens, but the right to be forgotten could be enforced worldwide in the future. Google and its supporters argue that “European data regulators should not be allowed to decide what internet users around the world find when they use a search engine.” Read more here.

Apple iOS 12 was released, adding new features to existing phones and gearing up for the release of the new iPhone Xs and Xr phones. The new operating system includes new features and improvements, Group Facetime, allowing Facetime for up to 32 people, among the most notable and anticipated. Read more here.

The Samsung Galaxy Note 9 is here. Changes from the Note 8 include Samsung’s biggest screen ever, better color accuracy, S Pen upgrades, and improved storage and battery life. Read more here.

A recent Forbes article examines the “missing link in developing a cyber security strategy”. The author, CTO at a technology company, says that communication between the IT team and executives is often overlooked in strategy design, resulting in oversight of potential risks and lack of understanding for solutions to avert them. Read more here.

Facebook announced its initiative to build its first Asian data center. The facility, located in Singapore, is expected to open in 2022 and will support hundreds of new jobs. As mobile growth, e-commerce and cloud computing demand rise, the investment is crucial. Read more here.

Phishing

How to Avoid a Phishing Attack

July 10th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 2 thoughts on “How to Avoid a Phishing Attack”

90% of Data Breaches Involve a Phishing Attack

First things first – what is phishing? Phishing is an email technique used to fraudulently obtain sensitive information. Phishing emails are designed to look like they’re from a brand or institution you trust. They typically prompt you to download malware (malicious software), click on a link that redirects you to a malicious website or enter personal information. This can enable hackers to steal your identity, breach your employer’s systems, and more. The best way to defend yourself against phishing attacks is to identify phony emails before you click on them.

5 Tips for Identifying Phishing Emails

  1. Who’s the real sender? – Make sure the organization’s name in the “From” field matches the address between the brackets. Watch out for addresses that contain typos in the organization name (think amaz0n.com).
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  2. Check the salutation – If you do business with an organization, the first line of the email should contain your name. Don’t trust impersonal introductions like “Dear Customer.”
    Phishing - Check the salutation
  3. Use your mouse hover – Hover over an email link to see the full URL it will direct you to. Do not click the link – just hover. If the address isn’t where you’d expect it to go, don’t click it. Check all the links – if the URLs are all the same, it’s likely a phishing email.
    Phishing - Who's the real sender?
  4. What’s in the footer? – The footer of any legitimate email should contain, at minimum, a physical address for the brand or institution and an unsubscribe button. If either of these items are missing, it’s probably fake.
    Phishing - What's in the footer?
  5. Look for other content clues – Does the content have spelling and grammar errors, ask for personal or sensitive information, convey a high sense of urgency and/or privacy, offer incentives through threat or reward, or contain links or attachments? These are all clues pointing toward a phishing email.

When in Doubt, Delete

If something seems off, delete the email. If it’s not fake, the sender will contact you another way or send the message again.

We Can Help…

Think Network Technologies offers IT Consulting services to can help your organization keep systems and information secure. For more information about this topic and how we can support your business, contact us.

Source: Webroot Inc.

Server

Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats

June 13th, 2018 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Communication, Devices, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Rising Temperatures, Rising Server Threats”

Why is it important to monitor server room temperatures?

With temperatures on the rise, server threats also increase. When servers overheat they can shut down. Whether you’re running a huge data center or a server room with just a few servers it is important to monitor room temperature to prevent downtime, loss of productivity and ultimately loss of revenue for your business.

Monitoring your servers’ temperature information is a starting point. However, monitoring the room temperature is a more proactive approach and will add another layer of security to ensure your server never reaches high temperatures. Monitoring the room temperature will provide an early indication if something is wrong, so you have enough time to react early and avoid serious problems.

5 benefits of monitoring server room temperature

  1. Prevent downtime – Temperature monitoring sensors and software will allow you to configure alerts that notify key personnel via email or text message if and when temperatures reach predefined thresholds so that someone can take action. Excessive temperature is one of the leading causes for having to replace hardware, and in most cases, it is easily prevented.
  2. Ensure efficient airflow inlet and exhaust – Placing temperature sensors on the front and back of your server racks will allow you to measure the temperature of the air going in and coming out of your servers. This is important to know to make sure cold airflow is not being mixed with hot air circulating in the room, as well as to ensure hot air exhaust from your servers is within the proper ranges. Airflow sensors can monitor the presence of airflow into your server room and will alert you if it stops.
  3. Reduce power consumption and increase energy efficiency – If you are actively monitoring the temperature in your server room, you should be able to identify trends and baselines. This data should indicate if your AC unit is able to keep up with the load and if there are cost savings to be had. Many times, room temperature will be set lower than necessary to compensate for not knowing exactly how effectively your servers are being cooled.
  4. Server room planning and scaling – Using the data collected from your temperature monitoring sensors, you will have insight into the cooling loads and airflow distribution of your current layout. You can use these insights to plan for the additional heat load of adding new equipment and how to maintain a proper layout for best airflow.
  5. Extend the life of your equipment – Last but not least, maintaining the proper server room temperature range will help extend the lifespan of your equipment by preventing excessive temperatures going unnoticed and causing unnecessary wear on your equipment. Short spikes of excessive temperatures can reduce reliability and can lead to hardware failure months later.

How do you monitor your server room temperature?

There are many vendors that offer physical sensors for measuring not only temperature, but also humidity, power, flooding and more. Think Network Technologies can help your business implement a server temperature monitoring solution. Contact us today to learn more.

Sources: enviromon.net, Paessler Blog

Technology News - April 2018

Technology News – April 2018

April 9th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Internet, Newsletters, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – April 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

Dell’s Director of Virtual and Augmented reality talks about the future of virtual reality, and how VR headsets will change the way we approach training and education. Read more here.

Big retailers are increasing their adoption of robots. Retail giants Walmart, Amazon and Target are testing robots in stores to reduce labor costs and improve efficiency. Read more here.

How to protect your data on social media. The New York Times’ tips on how protect yourself from data-harvesting apps and programs on Facebook can also be used as security measures on other social media platforms. Read more here.

SpaceX is officially approved to provide internet service. SpaceX internet service is officially approved – bringing new competition to the internet provider industry and coverage to areas where internet was not previously available. Read more here and here.

Technology News - March 2018

Technology News – March 2018

February 27th, 2018 Posted by Hackers, Internet, Security 0 thoughts on “Technology News – March 2018”

Your Guide to the Most Relevant Technology News

Here’s what we’re reading this month:

Everything you need to know about blockchain, a new technology used for sharing information, and how it will change the business world. Read more here.

The order overturning net neutrality rules was officially published. The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) order hands internet service providers the power to control the content consumers can access. Many technology companies are supporting the congressional bid to reverse the net neutrality repeal and protect an open internet. Read more here and here.

Two experimental SpaceX satellites successfully deployed into space at the end of February. The satellites are designed to help lay the foundation for Starlink, a huge network of SpaceX satellites that aims to provide 100% global internet coverage within five years, a crucial leap forward for the billions of people currently without internet access. Read more here.

The latest cyber security tips from Forbes on how you can protect yourself in a world where almost everything has a computer and every computer has the potential to be hacked. Read more here.

Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?

July 19th, 2017 Posted by Best Practices, Cloud, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Internet, Networks, Newsletters, Security 2 thoughts on “Ask the Engineer – Online or Desktop?”

In our last newsletter, we asked our readers about what topics they had the most questions about and we shared those questions with our technical team.  This month is about online bookkeeping programs.

Reader Question:  Online bookkeeping programs – how secure are they? What is the probability of someone hacking into your personal or business information through them vs. the probability of a desktop bookkeeping solution? Are there minimum security requirements across the board for online bookkeeping providers and, if so, are they realistic and effective at protecting information?

Ask the Engineer Response:

Software that you run online or through your desktop is vulnerable to security threats, so the real question is, “Is online software more secure than desktop software”?

For most SMBs, the answer is yes.  To understand why, we’ve compiled some information about all the vulnerabilities of using software.

 

Desktop Software:

Desktop software vulnerabilities are all located in one place, on your desktop or laptop. This is your point of access for everything; the point of storage for your accounting software, your data files, and your point of connection to the internet.

Sadly, many businesses don’t realize the importance of security. From technical measures such as anti-virus and firewalls to physical means such as locked doors and anti-theft cable solutions. Businesses also spend little or no time/money on educating their staff about best security practices.

Your office computer is faced with a greater range of internet-based attacks than online software would. Keep in mind that it is also much more susceptible to physical dangers such as fire, flood or theft.

If an emergency does happen, do you have a game plan to restore your software? Probably not, according to most SMBs. Backup is treated as an afterthought for many businesses, but this process could save you many hours or days when you need to return to full operation. Check out our other article to read more about backups, disaster recovery, and business continuity – Fire is a Real Threat.

 

Online Software:

Online software points of vulnerability are shared between the vendor and the user. It is still the user’s responsibility to secure the point of access while viewing the software though.

The good news is that the storage of the accounting software and the data file is not the user’s responsibility, but the vendor’s. These software companies have enterprise grade data centers with highly advanced defenses that run your online software.

Behind the scenes at one of these data centers would make any SMB server room look like a kid’s playroom.  The facility would be protected by guards while access would be regulated by key cards, fingerprint recognition, and iris scanners. There would also be a physical protection system that would include firefighting defenses, generators in case of blackouts, and flood resistant areas.

These data centers would have numerous, lightning fast high-speed internet connections. Their networks would be protected around the clock by current security technologies with a team of IT security specialists.

Online software companies store your data on the same server as hundreds of other businesses, so there is also security in anonymity.  If a server fails it can automatically push your data onto another server. You can imagine the detailed backup procedures that these companies have in case a software bug causes a crash. The best known online software programs only have several hours of downtime in a whole year.

No matter what the threat is, going with online software is usually a safer bet than a desktop program. Hackers are intelligent and have sophisticated methods for penetrating files.  They have two main ways of hacking into online software from the user’s computer. One is a password guessing program that cycles through billions of sequences until they get a match. Otherwise, they nose around on a network until they can grab a password that passes between the desktop and the data center.  The most successful forms of hacking have nothing to do with online software itself. The weakest link in the chain is usually the user.

But, these advanced attacks are practically impossible against online accounting software that’s distributed by mainstream vendors.

You can minimize the risk of a breach by:

  • Using a complicated password and keeping it somewhere secure.
  • A password manager is great for storing difficult passwords.
  • You should never, ever reveal your password. If someone asks, there’s a good chance they don’t have the best intentions.
  • Don’t use public computers, stick with your own laptop or computer.
  • As tempting as it is, don’t use public wifi networks. These public wifi networks can be compromised.

For more information, please contact our engineers at 888-98-THINK.

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