Is your current Technology supporting the goals of your Business?

As a business owner, how often do you use the phrase “time is money”?

It’s certainly an accurate description of how we live and work today, yet this phrase should actually be attributed to Benjamin Franklin’s 1748 essay titled “Advice to a Young Tradesman.” Centuries have passed and this maxim is still true, although the young tradesman is now a small business owner empowered by the efficiencies of technology.

Does Your Technology Support the “Time is Money” Viewpoint?

 Advances in technology have enabled small and local businesses to participate in the global marketplace by maximizing productivity; delivering enhanced communication capabilities; providing affordable e-marketing; and offering efficient customer service. It’s becoming increasingly common for small businesses to have user-friendly websites; online catalogs; call centers; customer relationship management tools (CRM); and streamlined inventory management systems. Technology is now primed to wring every ounce of efficiency and productivity out of a business to keep it one step ahead of the competition.

Do You Have an IT Strategy That Delivers Efficiency and Accountability?

 When it comes to efficiency, how does your business really operate on a day-to-day basis? Do you have employees manually performing the same tasks over and over again? Are you still using accounting procedures that aren’t entirely efficient? Is someone still manually sending “welcome” e-mails to new clients? Can your staff access a shared calendar and project files? If you answered with a “not exactly” response to any of the above questions, then it’s time for your business to catch-up with technology by implementing some of these new IT strategies:

  • Remote access is one of the greatest enhancements to increased productivity and efficiency. No more briefcases filled with papers or going into the office on the weekend. Employees have the flexibility to access information from home, on the go or on business travel. Working with clients and co-workers has never been easier with information stored on the cloud and available via remote access.
  • Flexibility access is another cornerstone of efficiency. Free up your financial resources and stay flexible by accessing technology solutions via the cloud. You no longer have to buy expensive software licenses, because you can simply pay for these technology solutions on an “as needed” basis through hosted solutions.
  • Automate repetitive tasks through technology solutions that will save time and keep critical business information up to date. A few clicks can locate information in a database that can also connect you to clients; enable you to check on the status of current projects; review inventory counts; and check schedules. By improving some core tasks with enhanced efficiency, your business can save time and resources while becoming more competitive in the marketplace.
  • Streamline your accounting and billing system today and forget about spending time with spreadsheets, deciphering handwritten documents and using a calculator. Wouldn’t you prefer to handle payroll, expense tracking, financial

Let Us Help You Focus on Your Business So You Can Stay Ahead of the Competition

 One of the many benefits of increasing your business’ efficiency and productivity is that you will regain control of lost time. By recapturing this lost time, you will be able to focus on the actual goals of your business, not just day-to-day survival. As a business owner, if you were able to remove the frustrations of accounting inaccuracies, scheduling issues and inventory problems, what would you focus on? You would have the opportunity to develop new products and services. You could devote more time to effectively marketing your business to a wider audience. Don’t let your business get bogged down with today’s paperwork when you could be planning for the future.

Computer Troubleshooters can recommend and implement technology solutions that will streamline your business practices, so give your local Computer Troubleshooters a call today. We want to help your business become more efficient, productive, and most importantly, more successful!

Is Your IT Professional Also a Trusted Business Advisor?

As a business owner, one of the best moves you can make is to outsource your IT services to a professional provider. When it comes to outsourcing your IT service needs, there are a wide range of service options that involve varying levels of management responsibilities and costs. An IT professional can provide service for a single specific task such as help desk support or managing network security. At the other end of the service spectrum, an IT professional can assume management responsibilities for a client’s entire IT infrastructure. The advantages of outsourced services are improved operational efficiencies, cost savings and predictable service for a nearly-fixed monthly fee.

Increase Efficiency and Effectiveness with Mobility

An increasing number of businesses have switched to the outsourced IT service model. If you are already working with a contracted IT professional, then you have given your business the advantage of a head-start on the competition. The next big question is whether your business is actually making the best use of your contracted IT professional? It is likely that your IT professional is responsible for repairs, fixes and upgrades for your business’ computers and network problems. Computer repairs might be a key part of the contracted job, but there are probably some value-added IT skills that your business might not be fully

Do You Need a Trusted Business Advisor or a Computer Repair Service?

  • Trusted advisor is an important role that an IT professional can fill by understanding the business owner’s goals and long range plans for the business. By understanding the “big picture,” an IT professional can share expert technical information while understanding various solutions, costs and the latest technology trends. Functioning as a trusted advisor, an IT professional can make experienced recommendations that are in the best interests of the business’ long term goals as opposed to implementing quick fix, computer repairs.
  • Decisions about new technologies might not be in the comfort zone of most business owners. How can a business owner be fully versed in technology and able to identify the difference between the latest hype and a proven strategy? Which technology is going to provide the best return on investment? Is it the best strategy to implement a new technology now or wait until next year? Is your business currently compliant with network security requirements? Is your data safe? If your business needs to update its operating system, is now the time to purchase new computers? If your IT professional is acting as a trusted advisor, these larger issues can be explored together with the shared goal being the long term sustainability and success of your business.
  • Technology coach is another important element of the trusted advisor’s role. As a member of the client’s “inner circle,” the IT professional needs to bring a variety of skills to the table including the ability to carefully explain technology solutions. The ability to really listen to the business owner is also critical. One size does not fit all – especially when it comes to technology decisions. A knowledgeable IT professional must be able to not only recommend the best technology solutions, but also make the best recommendations for a business’s particular needs in the context of their industry, finances and long range goals. A proactive IT professional will be constantly evaluating new technology products, solutions and reliable vendors that will best serve the needs of the client’s business.

Thinking Beyond Computer Repair Services

As a business owner, you know that we all need to think “outside the box” more often. Computer Troubleshooters encourages you think outside of the “computer repair” box and see that your IT professional is a valuable asset that you might be able to utilize to even greater advantage. Computer Troubleshooters values your business and we want to be your trusted advisor when it comes to technology solutions! Give your local Computer Troubleshooters office a call today. We are ready to listen.

Be Sure You Are Protected Against Computer Viruses

By the late 1980’s, computers were becoming increasingly popular and almost immediately computer viruses arrived on the scene like a plague of destructive locusts. No one is celebrating the fact that computer viruses have now been around for over 28 years. Especially considering that over this time there have been a number of viruses that have wreaked havoc worldwide. The key to combating the ongoing threat of malicious computer viruses is a combination of vigilance and protection. Since computer viruses aren’t going away anytime soon, Computer Troubleshooters wants to help you stay safe by providing information about how these viruses spread and how to protect your computer.

What is a Computer Virus?

The defining characteristic of a virus is that it’s a self-replicating program that has become installed on a computer without the user’s knowledge or consent. It’s a secret program that is typically hidden within the code of another known program. Once that program is activated, the virus begins infecting the computer by inserting its own replicating code within files. The bad news is that viruses spread quickly. The symptoms of a virus can range from a completely non-responsive computer to spontaneous crashing and corrupted data. A virus can also delete everything on the hard drive, use the email program to spread itself to other computers and display annoying messages on the screen.

How Does a Computer Become Infected with a Virus?

Computer viruses spread across the Internet through online downloads of infected audio and video files. Frequently, viruses are contained within illicit software that is downloaded from the Internet. Viruses also come disguised within e-mail attachments, via instant messaging messages, and are contained within images and digital greeting cards. This is why computer users should never open an email attachment unless it comes from a known source. Even then, be on guard. Recently, Computer Troubleshooters warned our clients to be aware of CryptoLocker, a virus that hijacks computers with a demand for $300 in ransom. This virus was delivered via e-mails that appeared to be from a reputable companies, versions include organizations such as UPS, FedEx, Australian Banks, the Australian Tax Office, & the Australian Federal Police. Even if you get a message that seems legitimate, proceed with caution.

What is the Cost of Computer Viruses?

Worldwide computer viruses cost billions of dollars’ worth of economic damage each year due to systems failure; wasted computer resources; identity theft; lost, stolen and corrupted data; increased labor and maintenance costs; in addition to untold amounts of anxiety, frustration and lost hours trying to remediate the damage. Internet usage continues to grow at a rapid rate, so a virus can start spreading globally within minutes. Plus with the advent of Smartphones, viruses now have more portals and can travel even further and faster.

What’s Your Protection Plan for Computer Viruses?

At home and at the office, continue to be vigilant about Internet downloads. Remember to be cautious about opening unknown e-mail attachments and always “Stop. Think. Connect.” Stay alert and be proactive by educating your employees and family members about appropriate security precautions. Additionally, keep your computer current with the latest updates and antivirus tools. Even with those safeguards, don’t be lulled into a false sense of security that you are totally protected because there is no existing software that is able to catch every new viruses that pops us.

Computer Troubleshooters Can Help with Anti-Virus Protection

If you believe that your computer is infected with a virus, contact Computer Troubleshooters for assistance. Additionally, we strongly recommend an annual anti-virus protection assessment for your business and home computers. Computer Troubleshooters is happy to offer security recommendations and help you develop an anti-virus protection plan.

End of Life Issues for Windows XP

Who plans a funeral years and years in advance? Microsoft – that’s who!

This year on April 8th, Microsoft officially ends Windows XP operating system’s life cycle. Even with over 600 million worldwide users, Microsoft will no longer sell or support Windows XP and Office 2003. There will be no automatic fixes, updates, free assisted online technical support and security updates. Unfortunately, many of the 600 million users either don’t know or have forgotten about the funeral. If you like it or not, it’s time to accept the death of XP and make a plan for the future.

“When XP goes out of support, it’ll be a lot like driving a car that you can’t buy parts for anymore,” said Jay Paulus, Microsoft’s Director of Windows Small Business Marketing.

If you are feeling like you missed the memo, apparently you are not alone. Microsoft’s customer surveys indicate that for enterprises with 5-250 employees, only 55% of them know about the end of XP and 70% have no idea what the change will entail or how it will impact their business!

Are you part of this group?

Upgrade or Your Business Might Face the Consequences of Security and Compliance Issues

You should take this situation seriously and find out immediately if any of your computers are still running XP. If the answer is yes, your business can be negatively impacted with some significant consequences. You should consider the following information as you make your Windows XP migration plan.

  • Security Risks: The biggest problem is the security threat to your business. Without the security provided by an updated operating system, all of your business data and personal information are vulnerable to harmful viruses and spyware. There is a strong likelihood that malicious viruses will be unleashed on XP’s “zero day”, leaving undefended computers immobilized and viruses spreading quickly over the net to PCs still operating on XP. No business owner wants to think about a virus spreading through all of the computers that keep your business functioning.
  • Compliance Issues: For many businesses, continuing to operate XP can result in compliance issues leading to the suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to securely maintain its systems and customer information. Compliance problems can place your business in legal peril and seriously damage your business’ reputation. 
  • Upgrade Expenses: As a business owner trying to control costs, do you think an upgrade will be too expensive? Think again. Some experts view a business that continues to run XP as a liability bordering on irresponsibility. The problems that are likely to arise can cost your business significantly more than the upgrade. 
  • Custom Support Available for a Price: For businesses in denial about the end of XP, support will actually remain available after April 8, 2014 but at the annual cost of $200 per device. Depending on the number of computers your business is using, it’s not much of a bargain. In reality, this is only a temporary, contingency plan.

Security and compliance are perhaps the two most critical issues facing the business community in regards to the end of the XP life cycle. Tim Rains, Microsoft’s Director of Trustworthy Computing, stated in Microsoft’s Security Blog, “After April 8, attackers will likely have more information about vulnerabilities in Windows XP than defenders.”

Do You Have an XP Migration Plan in Place?

Windows-7-or-Windows-8Microsoft is fully invested in ending XP’s life cycle, so this is not a situation you can simply ignore. It’s happening on April 8, 2014, so mark your calendar. Most large organizations have been working on their migration plans for years. For small-medium sized business owners, the hour is getting late so we strongly encourage you to take action today!

Windows 7 and Windows 8 offer greater efficiency for enhanced productivity; more fully integrated WiFi and Bluetooth; improved user-interface; less down time and decreased labor costs for repairs. Again, Computer Troubleshooters encourages you to take this situation seriously and develop a migration plan immediately. Our experts can help you understand your XP migration options and work with you to develop an upgrade strategy for your business. Call your local Computer Troubleshooters office today before it’s too late.

Combating Computer Fatigue: How to Protect Yourself

If your job has you sitting at a desk or computer all day, you’re probably beginning to feel the effects. And while some may say sitting isn’t strenuous at all, there are certainly pains and aches that a lot of us acquire from our daily desk jobs.

How do you avoid the fatigue, aches, and strains your desk job may be causing you? We have a few useful tips that should have you feeling better.

Eyestrain: If you look at a computer eight hours a day, you need to take care of your eyes. New research shows that people who sit in front of a computer for as little as two hours per day are at risk for Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).

So what do you do? Here’s a good rule of thumb: The 20/20/20 rule. Every 20 minutes, look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This relieves your eyes. When we’re reading or working at a computer, we tend not to blink as often. This can result in dry eyes. Make a conscious effort to blink more often.

Neck strain: Neck pain, stiffness, tight shoulder pain and upper shoulder tension – call it what you want. It all can be caused by your desk job. So how do you combat it? Become aware of how you’re sitting. Your elbows should be at 90-degree angles to your keyboard. If your shoulders are drooped to reach a low keyboard or they’re raised to reach a high desk, that constant tension could be causing your shoulder pain. Look for a keyboard tray or adjust your seat height to achieve the 90 degrees.

If neck stiffness or pain is the culprit, examine where your screen monitor is. It should be at eye level (or a tad lower) and straight ahead of you. If you’re working at looking at a monitor to the side, you’re going to feel it. Likewise, if you’re constantly tilting your neck up or down to see your screen, those movements add up. Adjust it properly.

Back Aches: A stiff back can ruin anyone’s workday, especially if you have a desk job. As more and more people use laptops over desktops, back pain is becoming especially common. Laptops weren’t initially designed for long-term use, and due to their design, people are often hunched over or seated in improper seating for such long-term work.

So what can you do if you’re suffering from back pain? Make sure that your seat is adjusted properly. You should be seated upright, and your feet should be planted flat on the floor. If they aren’t, look into buying a footstep for yourself.

Also, be sure that your lumbar is supported. Look into an ergonomic chair – especially ones made for computer work with adjustable armrests. You can even opt to sit on a stability ball, which naturally encourages you to sit upright. They’re also great for strengthening your abs while you sit and balance, which will help to strengthen your back muscles.

Lastly, get up and stretch your back every hour. A good rule of thumb is to stretch in the opposite direction of your slouch. So if you’re hunched over, arch your back to stretch those muscles in the opposite direction. Also, stand against a wall and push your shoulder blades back, again stretching those muscles in a new direction.

With these few tips, we hope that your eyes, neck, and back will feel better. No desk job should be painful, so keep these tips in mind and use them in your n