Improve IT efficiency – Why better equipment matters

Improve IT efficiency – Why better equipment matters

You may have heard of Moore’s Law which is an observation of the speed in the advancement of computing power. The most simplistic way to describe this is that computing power doubles roughly every year to year and a half. This prediction has pretty much held up fairly well over the last thirty years. Now, with computing power doubling every year and a half over thirty years, it means that today’s computers are roughly a million times faster than the first personal computers.

In recent years and with the innovation of “Cloud” the need for a higher specification workstation is even greater, but is often overlooked. The role of business workstations has rapidly changed from a local client/server relationship to a client to Internet relationship. Users data and indeed large email data would have been stored on a physical on-premise server are now more often stored in cloud repositories and replicated locally to users machines. Effectively, the workstations are directly communicating across the Internet to retrieve and process the data. Previously with the client/server approach the operating systems were architected such that the server handled more of the processing and the local machine focused on retrieval with a lower performance overhead. However, with the changed approach we are finding users machines physical hardware is a missed consideration, and is sometimes insufficient.

At Urban Network, both internally and with some of our client base, we have changed the strategic approach to computer hardware and what really fits the user’s needs. For users with a large mail footprint, running multiple applications accessed frequently, we are recommending machines with a high-end processor, greater levels of memory – significantly above minimum requirements of operating systems, and a Solid State Drive that processes transactions faster than a typical workstation hard disk. The resulting increase in performance, and in turn productivity vastly outweighs the higher purchase price, performing tasks faster and increasing the useful life of the machine and investment.

We would strongly suggest that businesses and individuals consider the huge benefits of spending a bit more at the point of purchase, to get a machine that will deliver the performance to improve the experience of using technology.

You can also check out our blog on “9 free tools to up your computer performance” to help keep your computer performance at its best.

60 years of downsizing & upgrading
(Credit: ZDnet)

10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business

10 Hidden IT Risks That Might Threaten Your Business

Today’s big IT advantages come with major risks. Your networks and systems serve as your silent partner in operations. Should they fail – and when they do, it’s usually without warning – you’re exposed not just to an IT problem, but to a potentially large business problem.
This blog exposes 10 silent threats that might be quietly undermining your operations now – and proposes one quick, easy and FREE way to bring these threats under control, fast.

Risk #10: Wrong keys in wrong hands

It’s just common sense: you restrict crucial information, such
as bank accounts and inventory access, to carefully designated employees. Yet many businesses have lost control of their network’s user level access privileges, exposing vital company and client data to people without authorization. One of the first steps toward security is to be sure the right people have the right level of access to appropriate applications and data.

Risk #9: Bring your own headache

On the one hand, new devices such as smartphones and tablets can increase employee productivity – and when employees use their own devices, save the company money. But this new “bring your own device” (BYOD) environment brings new headaches, too. These devices are easily lost and stolen. When they are, any information available to the device – including confidential practice and client data – may be vulnerable to illicit access. Yet fewer than 50% of businesses report the ability to use data encryption and/or remote data wiping to protect their assets. Take stock of your data inventory: you need to share permissions reports that reveal which devices and users have access to which files and applications.

Risk #8: Who’s knocking at your backdoor?

Your business isn’t limited to your own systems. Thanks to access to outside servers and systems, you can leverage potent tools like Gmail and Dropbox to communicate with customers, share files and more. While these cloud services increase your capabilities without busting your IT budget, it’s important to remember that every connection that reaches out from your network may open an opportunity for someone else to reach in. Protect your portals: run an external vulnerability scan that reveals every “backdoor” through which an intruder might break into your network.

Risk #7: Weak passwords

Your password protections are only as strong as the passwords themselves. Having no passwords – or using obvious passwords such as “12345” – undermines the very protection you seek. Yet employees often fail to establish passwords or, when they do, frequently use ineffective ones. Review your passwords’ strength to identify weak spots any unauthorised user could punch through.

Risk #6: Whoa, back up

If you lost a significant chunk of your data right now, how much business would you lose as well? Too many businesses run without sufficient policies, plans and procedures for backing up critical data essential to their ability to operate. If your business depends on manual procedures that are executed inconsistently, you’re exposed to unnecessary losses; it’s time to look for automated backup solutions that are always at work – even when employees might be forgetful.

Risk #5: Show me the compliance

Sensitive data demands special attention. In many businesses, the law obliges you to preserve client confidentiality – and demonstrate that you have processes in place to ensure compliance. The best way to prepare for a regulatory audit is to run regular compliance audits of your own that allow you to take corrective actions before your operation is called into account.

Risk #4: Printing (lost) money

Despite high hopes for the “paperless” office, the reality is that businesses spend lots of money printing, faxing, copying and scanning paper documents. Consider the math: paper plus toner plus maintenance plus employee time, etc. It’s possible to bring these printing costs under control, but the first step is to discover who prints what, how often, and why. By monitoring your multi-function printers, you can limit access to authorised users, discourage unnecessary or wasteful usage, and encourage less-expensive options – such as scan to email or scan to file directories – that save time and money

Risk #3: “Ghosts” in the machines

There may be “ghosts” haunting your networks – inactive users or inactive computers that remain part of your system, even if they are no longer contributing to your productivity. While the threat may not be immediately obvious, defunct computers represent an expense you don’t need to carry. Worse, inactive users may reflect open accounts (perhaps of people who are no longer employed by your business) that could present security holes for unauthorised access. Run audits that show you what’s active or not, then clean house – and close security loopholes – by burying the “dead” devices and accounts.

Risk #2: When IT can’t keep up, your business goes down

Smart businesses and wise managers protect their critical networks with redundancy: backup servers and routers that are designed to kick in should the main system go down. But the contingency plan is only as good as the processes and practices behind them; should these be inoperative, your business will not maintain continuity in an emergency. To safeguard your business, analyse your network before disaster strikes to be sure that your contingency technologies – such as your backup designated router or alternate domain control – are online and ready for action.

Risk #1: Hiding in the dark

You want to run your businesses, not an IT department. While IT may not be top of mind, it should never be out of sight. Lack of vision into the true status of your technology, and the quality of your defences against attack or failure, may leave your business vulnerable to disruption, legal consequences and loss of revenue. By implementing regular monitoring and review procedures, however, you can anticipate challenges before they become problems, and take adequate measures to ensure the smooth conduct of your firm.

Is your IT a sure thing?

We all depend on IT. Given the stakes, it’s important our confidence is well placed. Are you sure the technology you rely upon is adequately protected? Take a moment to complete this quick self-analysis. If you
 cannot answer YES to every question, request our FREE network assessment to give yourself – and your business – the confidence you deserve.

– Have you assigned appropriate access levels and authority to restrict data and applications to the right people?

– Can you create and review permission reports that tell you which devices and personnel have access to which data and applications?

– Are the connections you use to access online services protected against backdoor invasions by unauthorised intruders?

– Are your data and applications password protected, and are your employees using sufficiently strong passwords to ensure security?

– Do you use automated backup programs for data protection, rather than random and irregular manual backups?

– If the regulators arrived at your door, are you confident you comply with legal and regulatory mandates for your data?

– Can you monitor and control printing, faxing, scanning and copying to lower costs?

– Is your system cleared of ghosts users and computers that waste resources and expose your network to unauthorised access?

– Can you verify that your data recovery and network restoration plans are operative and ready to work in an emergency?

– Do you have timely and actionable visibility into your IT status, so that you can intercept problems before they interrupt your business?

Give yourself, and your business, a “yes” vote of confidence by requesting our FREE network assessment! Your network assessment will give you insight into the true status of your IT system, and point the way to appropriate corrective actions you can make to secure your business effectively and efficiently.

To get your FREE network assessment, visit our Network Health Check service

Introducing Desktop Assistant 2.0

Introducing Desktop Assistant 2.0

Our Desktop Assistant, Monitoring & Automation tool – Sentinel is getting an upgrade, new code that allows us to make use of available technology, improving the services we deliver to our clients.

Along with the new Sentinel code comes a new icon for the System Tray on each workstation. It is more identifiable with the Urban Network initials and offers additional resources to the original Desktop Assistant.

24/7 alerting & remediation, with the new Sentinel, our Network Operation Center (NOC) team will respond to an alert or threshold being reached on any managed server and address the issue immediately. This is a brand new multi-vendor software patching engine that is integrated into our ERP system and our NOC team and will allow for all security patches to run through a 2-week pre-approval process prior to being installed onto any device. Any server requiring a restart to complete the installation task will be restarted as per the agreed “Server Reboot Schedule” already in place by a member of the team. Unless there is a separate agreement in place, Urban Network will reboot any server that requires it between the hours of 3.00am – 5.00am, 7 days a week to ensure that all servers are patched to the vendor minimum levels. This will allow our NOC team to ensure that all servers are protected against the latest software vulnerabilities.

i

Resources

l

Contact Details: Displays Urban Network contact information

System Information: Displays system details for Windows desktops using MSInfo.exe

Common Fixes

  • Network Reset: This script releases and renews the IP address using IP Release and IP Renew

  • Slow PC – Quick (Select if your PC is running slowly and you do not have time for a full scan): Delete Temp Files / Delete Temp Internet Files / Run CCleaner (using the default configuration) / Run Malwarebytes Quick Scan

  • Slow PC – Full (Select if your PC is running slowly, run a full scan): Full Defrag of the Windows system drive (Note: the defrag script will only run if the user is a local Administrator due to UAC limitations) / Delete Temp Files, Delete Temp Internet Files / Run CCleaner (using the default configuration) / Run chkdsk for the Windows system drive / Run Malwarebytes Full Scan

Maintenance

  • Defrag Windows Drives: Runs Disk Defragmenter on Windows drives. If the disk is already in exclusive use by another program or is formatted using a file system other than NTFS file system, FAT, or FAT32, it can’t be defragmented.

  • Check for Disk Errors: Runs chkdsk.exe on Windows drives.

5 ways to maximise your employees mobile productivity

5 ways to maximise your employees mobile productivity

Virtually every employee today has a smartphone. Many also have tablets, such as iPads and Android devices. Most businesses are underutilising these devices, because they belong to the employee in most cases. Ignoring these Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) devices is a mistake. Your hyper-connected employees are glued to their mobile devices, and savvy business owners and executives have realised the secret to higher employee productivity is embracing mobility and the BYOD trend.

Find ways to help your staff work more, work smarter, and serve your clients better. The key is to empower the mobile experience of your staff, without compromising security and control of your corporate data. Business-class file sync services can give you the best of both worlds: you can allow your corporate data to be synced to employee mobile devices, without giving up control of your corporate data. Here’s how:

1. Sync to smartphones

Business-class cloud file sync services allow employees to sync their critical work files between their desktops, laptops, smartphones, tablets, and the cloud. Your staff becomes more nimble and productive when they have their files at their fingertips, no matter where they go. Whether it is iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, business-class sync keeps users connected on the go.

2. Empower them with tablets

Tablet users today are usually your cutting edge staffers. More and more, everyday computing tasks once performed on laptops are now being done on iPads and Android tablets. Tablets are great for field-based staff, often sales professionals. Whether your staff is visiting a client or working a tradeshows, tablets are fantastic for demos, show and tell, and visual content to share with prospects and clients. Growth-oriented companies should encourage tablet use and help users leverage all of their files and corporate data, securely from their tablets.

3. Sync your file server

Mobile devices are the lifeline for remote employees. But it is easy to feel cut off from HQ if all the content, files, and data you need is stuck back on the corporate file server. Business-grade sync services allow you to cloud connect your file server and in turn sync the content to mobile users and other remote computers. On-the-go professionals are in sync with HQ and better able to serve clients and prospects in the field.

4. Don’t lose control

Leveraging employee mobile devices is not without risks. Data privacy and security has always been a balancing act. With BYOD resources, it is no different. But with business-grade sync services, you can connect employees with your corporate data without losing control of that information. Business-class services allow you to implement fine-grained controls on employee sync and share behavior. For instance, you could allow employees to sync to their iPhone and iPad, but not a remote Windows or Mac device. You may also evolve your security policy over time, either loosening or strengthening your policies depending on the circumstances. The choice is yours.

5. Be ready when disaster strikes

No matter which security policies you implement, you need to be ready for when disasters strike. Everyday disasters are all too common, such as lost or stolen smartphones. With business-grade file sync, you can remotely wipe corporate data off of a lost device. In more serious situations, such as an employee termination, you are also ready. Remote wipe actions can be taken on a whole user account and across devices that were previously synced, eliminating corporate data from smartphones, tablets, and remote computers.

Balancing security and convenience is a necessary choice in today’s workplace. Fortunately, business-class file sync helps business owners and executives ride the mobility wave, while safeguarding corporate data.

Learn more how to boost employee productivity in 8 steps