Did You Know Utilizing Outsourced IT Support Can Benefit Your Business?

A business owner can contract for outsourced IT support services with a provider in the neighbourhood, across town or on the other side of the country. Some IT service providers even come to the client’s site. Computer Troubleshooters already offers this type of skilled IT service to many of our clients. Whatever the particulars of the chosen outsourced IT arrangement might be, the practice is increasingly popular because there are many advantages to this service. Here’s a list of the top four benefits you can take advantage of by outsourcing your IT support services:

  • Benefit 1: Control costs by eliminating full time staff to manage IT functions. By outsourcing IT support responsibilities, you pay only for the specific tasks you need accomplished. You can also control your initial capital outlay for IT infrastructure
  • Benefit 2: Expertise and efficiency is immediately available by outsourcing your IT functions. IT service providers have a wide range of technical expertise and are focused on delivering efficient strategies and outcomes to their clients. As a business owner, you won’t need to worry about a full-time employee being trained, skilled and experienced for each new IT project. Simply call your IT service provider and a skilled professional is available to help.
  • Benefit 3: Stay competitive even if you don’t have a big budget for IT expenses. Large companies may have in-house tech professionals and cutting-edge technology, but smaller businesses generally don’t have the financial resources to support these
  • Benefit 4: Focus on your business by not wasting time worrying about IT headaches. Business owners can save both time and money by working with a skilled IT service provider who is an expert in the field. By outsourcing IT responsibilities, you can streamline business practices and focus on your core responsibility – running your business.

We are based in Christchurch and aiming to be your Trusted IT Advisor.

Outsourcing Your IT Services

The term “IT outsourcing” is generally defined as the use of a third-party service provider to deliver IT- enabled business processes. Outsourced IT support services typically involve sub-contracting responsibility for some of the following processes:

  • application and software development;
  • data storage via cloud services; web development and hosting;
  • application support and management;
  • database development and management;
  • security;
  • telecommunications;
  • social media management;
  • technical support and help desk services.

Outsourced IT support enables both large corporations and small businesses to benefit from experienced IT guidance; remain up to date on technology; and have access to knowledgeable best practices. It’s simply not possible for a business owner to be an expert at everything. It’s a smart strategy to know when to hire an expert for certain functions that will enable you to keep your focus on moving your business forward.

We are based in Christchurch and aiming to be your Trusted IT Advisor.

Business Continuity Planning – Surviving a Disaster

If your technology stopped working, would your business stop functioning too?  Is your business totally reliant on the information stored on your computer systems or could you continue to deliver 95% of your products and services and catch up on the computer work later?  No matter which end of this scale your business is at, you will fare much better during a major technology outage if you plan in advance, before it happens.  This month we take some of the mystery out of Business Continuity Planning.

Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is the process of working out how your business will continue to function during a disaster.  These threats to your business could include:

  • Fire
  • Burst water pipes
  • Burglary
  • Flooding (severe rainfall)
  • Earthquake
  • Influenza outbreak
  • Hardware failure
  • Software Failure
  • Internet outage
  • Tornado/Hurricane/Cyclone
  • Severed phone cabling
  • Security breach
  • Damage by disgruntled employee
  • Employee error
  • … And many more!

BCP begins with identifying the possible risks and the impact they would have on your business.  What functions would be affected if your main administration PC crashed?  How long could you be without internet access?  It’s important to evaluate the probability of these incidents occurring and the severity of their impact.  This will help you to determine which incidents are the highest priorities to be addressed.

Next, you look at how these risks can be prevented, or the impact of them lessened.  This could include copying data to a different site or having a laptop that has the same business-critical software applications as your administration PC.

Finally, you plan the actions that would be needed to help you respond when this incident occurs.  Do you need to go to another site to get a copy of your data or bring the laptop in from home?  Do you need to temporarily relocate to another site that does have internet access?  Can you run a paper-based system until you can access your computers again?  Think about who will be responsible for doing what and what resources they will need.  This also needs to include any third-party suppliers of your business, like your local Computer Troubleshooter.

Your Business Continuity Plan should be examined, tested and maintained on a regular basis.  This is to ensure it still reflects the changing needs of your business and also to make sure that the key parties within your business understand their roles in the process.

Whilst it may seem a little daunting, some forethought and planning will save you a lot of time, stress and money when things do go wrong.  Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about the best way to keep your business running smoothly if you’re suddenly without your technology.

Windows XP-Less Than A Year Left!

Windows XP has been a robust Microsoft Operating system since it was launched 12 years ago. Amazingly almost 39% of Microsoft users are still on Window XP. So when Microsoft ceases support for Windows XP on April 8th 2014 what is likely to happen?

After this date Microsoft will stop releasing patches and updates to the operating system which will increasingly make it venerable to hackers and viruses. So the Windows XP environment will slowly decline and become more susceptible to failure the longer you stay on it. It is also likely that new applications and hardware will not be made compatible with XP, so networking will become increasingly difficult and new peripherals impossible to connect.

The good news is that the upgrade path is proven for most non enterprise sized customers with Windows 7 now with 45% of the market, which means most common applications and hardware are firmly supported. Windows 7 is also highly regarded as a faster more efficient processing system which means when you upgrade you should notice a performance increase, some say up to 15 times faster!

Windows 8 is still in its infancy with a much smaller installed base. The different look and feel of Windows 8 has spooked many users to stay with the proven & traditional look of Windows 7. Unless you plan to synchronize on multiple devices it is difficult to see a compelling need to change.

The reality is that Windows XP users will need to upgrade their operating system over the next 12 months to ensure that they will remain on a supported Microsoft platform , however business should check networking, applications, and hardware compatibility before switching.

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters about how we can help you upgrade from XP and maintain your business continuity.

Backup Solutions

While a lot of people often have a backup solution in place at the time of data loss, this does not always prevent data loss due to the backup not always being current or operating properly. It is important to diligently monitor and verify that a backup is successfully operating and capturing a current, accurate snapshot.

External hard drive backup are still the most used and sought after approach to backing up both business and personal data. Cloud and tape solutions are also often used. Yet, regardless of the solution, several common scenarios can lead to the surprise of data loss:

  • External drive only connected on an occasional basis; backup not automated and instead performed on demand
  • Computer not on during scheduled backup and not configured to perform at a different time
  • Backup software failed
  • Backup ran out of destination space
  • Backup profile did not cover all of the device requiring backup
  • File lost before scheduled backup

“Leveraging a data backup solution is critical for any business or individual protecting against data loss,” said Adrian Briscoe, general manager – APAC, Kroll Ontrack.  “However, even a reputable cloud or external media solution does not always provide predictable results. An effective backup solution hinges on the user or IT administrator attentively validating that the solution is functioning as expected and verifying that the backup is complete.”

After experiencing data loss, the importance of implementing a backup solution becomes apparent. Yet it is the time and expense associated with research and administration to then be able to implement this which is the major barrier.

Tips for Backup Success

  • Take the time to invest in a backup solution and set up a backup schedule
  • Ensure backups are running regularly in accordance with the determined schedule
  • Check backup reports for error indications or failure
  • Test backups on a regular basis to ensure data has been accurately captured and files are intact

Computer Troubleshooters can help. We offer managed plans for your computer which include backup monitoring and administration where your backup is managed and monitored on a daily basis.