Posts in Services

Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Devices, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Services, Staff 0 thoughts on “Your Business Needs These 3 Types of IT Resources”

As technology becomes more essential, more versatile, and more complex, it also becomes increasingly difficult to manage. This can be especially true for SMBs as they balance the need to grow and stay competitive with limited budgets and less IT expertise. Luckily, there’s more than one way to look at IT, and how you approach it makes all the difference.

 

The Challenges

As the demands of your business reach the limit of your IT department’s ability to keep up, you may find yourself experiencing some of the following growing pains:

  • IT is spending most of their time putting out fires, which means recurring problems are becoming more common.
  • Deployment of software, apps, and initiatives is getting more complex, and you’re seeing more delays, failures, and down time.
  • Keeping up with break/fix work is keeping your IT staff from focusing on developing strategies and solutions that will benefit the business long term.
  • System down time is becoming more frequent, and it’s resulting in a loss of productivity and profit.

 

The Right Team with the Right Resources

As the role of IT expands, it’s important that you have the right team in place with the right expertise. It’s not just about having more staff; it’s about having access to expertise in cyber security, cloud migration, data mining, collaboration, etc. But, while you need access to these types of expertise and support, it doesn’t make sense for most SMBs to have these high-level experts on staff full time. Which is why many businesses are excited to discover the benefits of Managed Services.

To get the most out of your IT, both internal and through outsourced partnerships, make sure to have these three types of resources covered:

Generalists

These are your “go to” people. They’ve got the basic knowledge necessary to solve most of the day-to-day issues that your employees will encounter quickly and reliably, and they have the people-savvy necessary to provide high-quality service. This is a point of pride at Think. Our Support Desk staff is carefully selected, highly trained, and respond to most service tickets in an hour or less.

 

Specialists

With the rapid advancements in tech, IT departments are often expected to be experts in a variety of ever-changing specialties. To keep all the different aspects of your business tech running smoothly, you need access to a wide range of specialized skill sets. But, while these specialties are vital, they’re not necessarily something you’ll need forty hours a week. This is where the collective experience of a Managed Services team is key. With the right partner, you get the expertise and experience you need when you need it.

 

Advisors

IT has evolved from a convenience to a catalyst for innovation and future growth. But with each department working from their own perspective and towards their own goals, it can be difficult to see the broader picture and create a strategic place for IT in your business. An IT advisor with an outside perspective, a solid understanding of business and tech, and the ability to help you develop a plan to move your business forward is in an invaluable asset that can change the course of your entire organization for the better.

 

Bottom Line

Balancing the needs of your business with budget considerations is an ongoing challenge, and IT is no exception. But with the right combination of resources, you can ensure that your business receives all the benefits IT has to offer without sacrificing in other areas. For many organizations, this is where teaming up with a Managed Services partner gives them what they need, when they need it.

Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Community, Devices, E-Waste, Services 0 thoughts on “Help Your Business and Your Community this Earth Day”

At Think we value the beautiful area we live in, the growing community we support, and the businesses we serve. So, to celebrate this Earth Day (April 22), we want to share with you an easy way to help all three: eRecycling.

Put simply, eRecycling is the recycling of computers and other electronic equipment.

As our businesses become more reliant on technology, and as technology continues to evolve, we can easily end up with a collection of outdated printers, keyboards, monitors, phones, and other bits of tech. These usually occupy the corner of some office or closet, collecting dust and spiderwebs. While you don’t want your business hampered by outdated tech, it doesn’t have to waste space in your office either.

Various components in computers and other electronics can be recycled and used to build new machines. This reduces the need for new components, which helps us preserve and stretch our natural resources. It also means less material in our landfills and less stress on our local environment.

Recycling also helps support our local recycling center, which means supporting local jobs.

And your business benefits by clearing out the clutter and making room for equipment that supports your growth and success. (A tech replacement plan makes this process easy and simple.)

This Earth Day is a great chance for you to do something good for your community, the environment, and your business.

You can learn more about our Durango Recycling Center here.

Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business

April 10th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Devices, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Continuous Adaptation: The new role of IT in your business”

There was a time when critical business applications changed every few years at most. This gave you and your employees plenty of time to plan for major changes and adjust to them while your business continued to operate and grow. But, thanks to the power of cloud technologies, the pace of change has accelerated. While businesses are eager to take advantage of the benefits cloud computing has to offer, it’s important to ensure that your business and your employees are prepared to get the most out of the transition.

 

New pace, new approach

Growth and adaptation are essential to any business, and as a result the “set it and forget it” mode of thinking is out. This applies to both the software and hardware you’re using as well as the policies, procedures, and culture surrounding IT. It’s not enough to have the right applications and the newest hardware if your employees don’t have the motivation and support necessary to integrate these new resources into their daily routines and tasks.

 

Changing face of IT

Your company’s IT is no longer about fixing broken computers or installing software occasionally. It now plays an integral role, continuously engaging with everything from security to end user education and support. Adjusting the way you think about this vital asset to your business can improve your ability to adapt to change, respond to new opportunities, and cultivate your most valuable asset – your people.

 

The pace of change will only continue to increase, and it’s important that you have the support and expertise you need to help your business navigate and thrive. If you’re ready to see what IT can really do for your business, contact our engineers today.

The Inevitable eMail Scam

February 25th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, Communication, Data, Desktop, Disaster, Hackers, Security, Services 0 thoughts on “The Inevitable eMail Scam”

Some things in life are guaranteed to happen, like death, taxes, and email scams. The email scams get more creative as time goes by.

One of the latest email scams going around has a particularly devious set up.

Targets of this scam receive an email from what looks like their own email address, as if you’d sent an email to yourself. This is strange enough to ring alarm bells, but it gets more alarming when you read the content of the email. The scammer claims to have installed programs on your computer that tracked all your information (including accounts, passwords, and contact lists) as well as recording you via your own webcam. Then the inevitable threat: pay $1,000 in bitcoin to the scammer within 48 hours, or everyone on your contact list will receive compromising personal information and video of you.

The language in the email is much coarser than that, but you get the idea. And it is a scam. This person didn’t send the email from your account, no matter what it looks like. And they don’t have access to your personal information or your webcam. There’s nothing to ransom; they’re just hoping to scare you badly enough to get you to pay them.

What You Can Do

Getting a good filter will help keep a lot of the junk from ever reaching your inbox.

Staying aware of the latest types of scams will help you be aware of what could come your way.

And always, always take a minute to think through and, if necessary, research anything that looks suspicious. A quick Google search can show you if others have encountered a similar situation.

If you want to do more to protect your email but aren’t sure where to start, our engineers would be happy to help. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and your business.

Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out

February 14th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, collaboration, Communication, Data, Desktop, Devices, Disaster, Hackers, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services, Windows 7 0 thoughts on “Windows 7 & Windows Server 2008 r2 Are On Their Way Out”

All good things come to an end, and that includes operating systems. This time around it’s Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 r2. As of January 14, 2020, Microsoft will no longer be providing security updates for these systems. This means that any devices running on these operating systems will become vulnerable to security threats after January 14, 2020.

What You Can Do

We encourage you to begin planning for the upgrade of these devices to a newer, more secure operating system. The sooner you start this process, the easier it will be to ensure that you can:

  1. Have time to determine the most beneficial IT solutions for your business.
  2. Work in the transition period during a more convenient time for you and your staff.
  3. Plan for the expense of the upgrade.

What You Don’t Want to Do

Put it off until the last minute. Something this vital to your business operations and security isn’t something you want to rush or push to the side.

We’re Happy to Help

Here at Think our engineers are ready to help you find the best IT solutions for your business. And with their extensive experience and knowledge, they can help make the transition as smooth and convenient as possible for your business and your staff. To schedule a consultation with a Think engineer, contact us today.

For more information from Microsoft, you can read their information page here.

blog header image engineer's week

Celebrating Engineer’s Week

February 12th, 2019 Posted by Best Practices, byod, collaboration, Communication, Community, Managed Service Provider, Services 0 thoughts on “Celebrating Engineer’s Week”

Engineer’s Week is February 17th – 23rd, and here at Think we’re pretty excited. In part, because engineering is a huge part of what we do and who we are, but also because engineering is amazing. This is the perfect chance to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful things engineering has helped us accomplish as well as recognize the dedicated engineers who’ve made them possible, throughout the world and here at Think.

When most people think of engineering, their minds go to fantastic bridges and skyscrapers, which makes sense. Structural engineering makes a splash, because we get to see and use bridges and buildings.

But we have some pretty amazing engineering feats happening right here at Think as well, and some pretty amazing engineers making them happen.

Dan Palmer, Network Engineer, recently received Cisco Certification CICD-Implementing Cisco Collaboration Devices.  By obtaining this certification he has demonstrated knowledge of administrator and end-user interfaces, telephony and mobility features, and Cisco UC solutions maintenance.  This means that he’s ready to help businesses take advantage of systems that facilitate unified communication in offices large and small, from VoIP voice services, visual voicemail, instant messaging, chat, and presence.  Dan sought out this certification because it’s important to him (and to all of us at Think) to provide the best possible support for our customers in all the services we offer. He’s currently working with a new client to set up the communication services that will support their business’s needs and help make communication easy and efficient. Dan is dedicated to doing what it takes to provide the experience our customers are looking for, and we’re happy to celebrate him and all he does.

Some of Dan’s favorite engineering marvels are The Hubble Telescope and NASA’s Voyager. Honestly, it doesn’t get much cooler than seeing galaxies that are billions of light years away and visiting distant parts of our solar system.

Darrell Brooks, Director of Network Infrastructure, recently earned his certification as an Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP). This is one of the most highly regarded certifications in this area, and it allows Darrell to help businesses take care of their security from a business perspective as well as a technological perspective. This is a vital step in information security, because even the most advanced technological security solutions can be undermined by inefficient or incomplete policies and procedures. And all the best intentions in the world can’t compete with well-trained and educated employees.

Darrell chose to pursue this certification because it was important to him to have a more complete skill set that allows him to support our clients on multiple levels. Every business, no matter the size, needs information security. And every business has the opportunity to create policies and procedures that will keep the core of their business secure, stable, and successful regardless of the ways technology and technological threats evolve.

One of Darrell’s favorite engineering marvels is the Internet, because it allows us to access knowledge that wouldn’t have been available in the past. Want to see the pyramids? You can do it from your living room. Need to do a home repair project, but don’t know how? There are videos for that.

To Dan, Darrell, and all of the engineers of the world, we want to extend our thanks. You’ve made the world a better place for so many people and in so many different ways. It doesn’t get any more worthy of celebration than that.

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

Secure Shopping

Stay Secure When Shopping Online

November 14th, 2018 Posted by Cloud, Data, Desktop, Hackers, Hosted Services, Managed Service Provider, Security, Services 2 thoughts on “Stay Secure When Shopping Online”

9 Tips for Secure Shopping Online

As we approach the holiday season, we encourage extra mindfulness when it comes to online shopping.

There are some simple precautions that will make your online purchases more secure, including using reputable third-party pay services (like PayPal) whenever possible, always logging out of sites after you’ve completed a purchase and selecting one credit card for all online purchases to limit exposure.

Here are 9 tips for staying safe online, so you can start checking off items on that holiday shopping list:

1. Use familiar/trusted websites – Start at a trusted site rather than shopping with a search engine. Search results lead you astray, especially when you drift past the first few pages of links. If you know the site, chances are it’s less likely to be a rip off. Beware of misspellings or sites using a different top-level domain (.net instead of .com, for example).

2. Look for the padlock icon – Never buy anything from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed. You’ll know if the site has SSL because the URL for the site will start with “HTTPS” instead of just “HTTP”. An icon of a locked padlock will appear, typically in the status bar at the bottom of your web browser, or right next to the URL in the address bar, depending on your browser. Never give anyone your credit card over email.

3. Don’t provide all of your info– No online shopping store needs your social security number or your birthday to do business. However, combined with your credit card number, your social security number and other identification numbers can do a lot of damage. When possible, default to giving the least amount of information.

4. Check your bank statements – Don’t wait for your bill to come at the end of the month. Go online regularly during the holiday season to review statements for your credit card, debit card, and checking accounts. Make sure you don’t see any fraudulent charges. If you do see something wrong, pick up the phone to address the matter quickly. In the case of credit cards, pay the bill only once you know all your charges are accurate.

5. Protect your devices – You can protect against malware with regular updates to your operating system, browsers and software. Software companies add security updates along with every upgrade released. Installing updates as soon as they are released can help you better protect your devices against malware. You should also run a reputable, anti-virus product on your home PC or laptop. This will help prevent your device from becoming infected with malware.

6. Use strong passwords – It’s always important to utilize strong passwords, but it’s never more important than when banking and shopping online. Make sure your passwords are unique for each website, contain a healthy mix of letters, numbers and symbols when allowed. Passwords should not be easy to guess (like your last name or birthday). Use a password protected spreadsheet or secure app to store your passwords. When possible, set up multi-factor authentication for additional security.

7. Avoid shopping on public devices – It should go without saying that it’s a bad idea to use a public computer to make purchases. If you must, remember to log out every time you use a public computer, even if you were just checking email. Avoid entering your credit card and expiration date on websites in public, even if you’re using your own devices. By doing so you’re giving onlookers the chance to steal your information. At the very least, double check no one is looking and be as discreet as possible.

Additionally, don’t use publicly available charging cords or USB ports to charge your devices. Publicly available power outlets are generally fine, but the cords or ports could be used to deliver malware to your phone.

8. Avoid shopping via public Wi-Fi – Avoid using public Wi-Fi hotspots – like the ones at coffee shops, airports, hotels, etc., for online shopping. If you do use a public Wi-Fi hotspot, be sure to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) so others cannot intercept your communications. As an alternative, stick to the mobile network and create a personal Wi-Fi hotspot with your phone.

9. Keep an eye out for obvious scams – Stick to the source when you buy gift cards; scammers like to auction off gift cards on sites like eBay with little or no funds on them. Some scams offer of a free product with purchase, like an iPad or even holiday job offers. Many of these “offers” will surface on social media or phishing emails. Be wary if you get a message from friend claiming he or she has been robbed, especially a friend overseas looking for money to be wire transferred, unless you absolutely can confirm it by talking to him or her personally. Skepticism in most cases can go a long way toward saving you from a stolen card number.

Trust Your Judgement

If you’re shopping online and something seems fishy, it probably is. Trust your judgement or ask for a second opinion before submitting your credit card or other personally identifying information online. No purchase, no matter how great of a deal, is worth the risk of identity theft.

While following these guidelines won’t completely eliminate the chance of becoming a victim of cybercrime, they can help you avoid risky situations and protect yourself against identity theft.

Happy Shopping!

 

Sources: PC Mag & ColoradoBiz

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