There are those days when malware, viruses, aging hardware, data back up problems and other glitches conspire to prevent you from finishing that report, closing the transaction, or just getting any work done.
Problems such as these may exasperate the average consumer — but they could spell disaster for a business.
Companies large and small could end up spending thousands of dollars repairing poorly performing computer systems – and that that doesn’t include the less tangible costs of diminished employee productivity.
Lost productivity – from issues such as malware, viruses and identity theft – costs organizations at least $50 billion each year, according to a senior executive of a global computer service franchise.
And associated IT expenditures to deal with these problems have skyrocketed from $20 billion to $198 billion in the last five years, said Chip Reaves, national director for Computer Troubleshooters Ltd. (CTS) headquartered in Coquitlam, B.C.
“More than 80 per cent of all computer issues resulting in downtime can be traced to malware, viruses, identity theft and spyware,” he said.
More than 72 per cent of businesses in Canada cited “generic external threats” such as targeted malware attacks as their number one concern, according to a recent survey by Info-Tech research Group, an analyst firm based in London, Ont.
More than 56 per cent of the respondents identified so-called random external threats, such as viruses spread by e-mail, as the second most serious security concern.
These issues could also lead to a deterioration in PC performance and life.
Many computing calamaties can be avoided by adopting a few basic and inexpensive preventive measures, Reaves said.
“While the mere thought of trying to fix a computer can cause some people to break into a cold sweat, in fact it doesn’t take a technophile to prevent these problems.”
Here are seven tested steps he suggests to keep your PC healthy.
1. Follow a hardware replacement program
Studies show that the likelihood of physical problems with computer equipment rise significantly after 24 to 36 months, said Reaves.
He urges users to consider replacing computer systems every three years. “Considering how inexpensive computers have become, a major repair bill could easily cost more than purchasing an entirely new system.”
For most businesses it might also make more sense to buy high-end PC units at the onset says Ronald Miller, IT technical and operations manager for IT@Intel, a resource site for IT professionals hosted by the Santa Clara, Calif-based chip maker.
“We started out buying low-end PC units to cut cost,” he recalled. “We ended up taking a capital hit of about $40 million.”
Buying low-end shortened the useful life of their assets and reduced return of investment (ROI), Miller said.
From 1995 to 1998, Intel’s PC client policy was based on a four-year depreciation cycle and lower cost units for general use.
By the year 2000, when Microsoft released its Windows 2000 operating system (OS) and a new MS Office suite, Intel was stuck with 20,000 PCs that couldn’t run the new software effectively.
2. Get power protection
Power surges and drops can wreak havoc on equipment and precipitate data loss, says Reaves.
It seems like a no-brainer, but many users purchase a top of the line computer but neglect to invest on a good surge protector unit, he said. “Many people do not realize that surge protection wears off over time.”
He suggests that users replace surge protection units every two to three years.
3. Skip illegal software and update licenses
They may be cheap or even free, but pirated software products often do not come with the online support and ready access to security updates that legitimate software does.
Using unlicensed software products also expose individuals and businesses to potential fines and legal action, Reaves warned. He also said many software programs automatically report to the product’s makers via Internet instances of breach of license agreements.
“Users do not actually own the software they purchase they just have a license to use the product on a specific number of PC.”
To eliminate complications, Reaves advices users to stick with legitimate software products and be mindful of updating licenses.
For businesses and larger organizations, numerous asset management software products are available in the market, according to Michelle Warren, a senior analyst at Info-Tech Research Group.
“Apart from monitoring and automatically alerting IT teams about server bottlenecks and PC problems, these tools also report on impending software license maturity,” said Warren.
4. Invest in training
In most workplaces, it is often assumed that employees know how to use the machines and applications they work with.
In reality, only a small percentage of users are highly knowledgeable about the software and hardware packages they operate, said Reaves. “Most employees understand less than 20 per cent of the software packages they use.”
By investing in the appropriate role-based training for workers, many companies can increase the productivity of its personnel, maximize the potential of workers and software products and minimize the risk of technical problems.
5. Regularly maintain firewalls and security
Business must ensure that all computers in the firm contain the latest security patches and that firewalls are installed an operating properly.
“The Internet is full of hackers. If they get (either directly of through malware and viruses) the list of problems they can cause is pretty big,” said Reaves.
Reaves said organizations should designate a person or team to monitor and maintain security patches and firewalls.
6. Deploy a good data back up system
For many organizations data is the lifeblood of the company. Unfortunately not all businesses take propers precaution to secure this vital asset.
“One critical data loss incident can potentially put a company out of business on the spot,” Reaves said.
Data back-up essentially entails having a duplicate copy of essential information stored in a secure location and readily available should disaster strike and your originals are destroyed.
Data that requires backup typically includes: client information, financials, inventory records, human resources records, e-mail and data for compliance and legal purposes and applications needed for employees to do their work.
Companies can either invest in a system automatically backs up data to a physically separate location or hire a third party that hosts a software-as-a-service package.
Info-Tech’s Warren said backing up to a separate location is essential to ensure that data is isolated from power outages or other issues that might affect the head office.
Users must consider a system flexible enough to scale to the company’s needs, helps administrators classify data and specifies information life cycle and capable of providing fast data retrieval.
7. Deploy good virus, spam and spyware protection
People seeking help in dealing with spam, virus and spyware attacks make 80 per cent of the calls that CTS receives.
Such attacks are likely to have a greater impact on SMBs or businesses run by a single person because these organizations often do not have an IT team to back them up, said Reaves.
Tell-tale signs that a PC has been compromised include irregular performance and slowness. “Very often this could mean that the machine has been infected by hundreds of spyware.”
Malware are constantly evolving. By keeping virus and anti-spyware tool up-to-date businesses can at least reduce the problems caused by malicious software products.
Today 10 per cent of Canada’s labour force – or 2.5 million people – work outside the office at least one day a week, says Roberta Fox, a board member of the Canadian Telework Association. Fox is also president and senior partner at Fox Group Consulting, a Toronto-based telecommunications analyst firm.
One example is Canadian telecom firm Telus Corp. that has experienced dramatic results from its Workstyles initiative launched a year and a half ago.Its purpose is to help employees work when and where they are most effective.
The program is available to everyone in the company if their job allows it, says Mark Lang, HR business partner at Telus.
He said 18,500 of his company’s 30,000 employees are remote-work enabled and 15,500 of those do work remotely once a week.
On any given day there will be at least 6,500 people telecommuting, Lang says.
The Workstyles program seeks to enhance employee flexibility, contribute to the environment, and reduce real-estate costs.
Since its launch the program has produced many tangible benefits.
For instance, according to Lang, staff satisfaction and engagement is now greater, and this has reduced employee turnover. Attendance has also improved.
“I don’t think telework is making employees more engaged, but it’s allowing them to choose where they can be most effective.”
Lang notes that the program did encounter initial resistance from some managers — mostly from the baby boomers.
He said much of the resistance was caused by “perception” issues. Managers were concerned they couldn’t see if their report was working all day.
“But the issue should be performance. If employees are getting their work done and meeting all goals, who cares if they take a break to walk the dog?”
Lang compares the virtual office to being in university. In high school, attendance mattered, but once you get to university – all that matters is performance. This type of thinking needs to be applied to the workforce, he says.
“The millennials probably wouldn’t work for us if they couldn’t work from home. They demand flexibility.” Now, however, telecommuting is constant across generations.”
With the cost of fuel hitting the headlines again this morning, along with warnings about how rising costs are savaging small businesses, we thought it appropriate to include a few tips on how to save reduce costs.
- Is your journey essential?
Most of us would love to do without a car – if we had 48 hours in each day and just a couple of miles to cover in our daily lives – but when you’re juggling a business and usually a family as well, it’s not practical to do without. But are there any journeys you can cut out, or combine with other tasks?
- Buy a fuel-efficient car
I’m not going down the SUV / Chelsea tractor argument; and in snowy (picking Leeds, Newcastle and Edinburgh as random examples) or rural areas, an SUV might be considered essential. But if you’re using an SUV for short, urban journeys a fuel-efficient car will save a lot of money.
- Share journeys
We can’t compete with the USA yet when it comes to dedicated fast lanes for pool cars, but it can work for some. For commuting or long distance travelling, always think if you could share the journey with other people.
- Sharp accelerating and speeding
A car has the greatest fuel efficiency at about 60mph. If you accelerate hard from 60 to 80, there will be a big % increase in fuel consumption. I’m not advocating sticking to 60mph on the motorway, but anything over 80mph will see your fuel levels drop pretty quickly.
- Work from home – and help your staff to work at home too
We’re fortunate here at Microsoft to have the technology and the permission to work at home a fair bit. This not only significantly reduces travel costs but goes a long way to increasing loyalty and job satisfaction. The technology is easily available and need not be expensive. At a basic level it could simply be paying for telephone costs and/or broadband costs. Or even having a couple of ‘company’ smartphones for general use. If you have 5+ PCs you could consider subscribing to Microsoft Online Services – did you know for example, that you subscribe to web conferencing (Office Live Meeting), from £3.02 per user per month? This will not only save you time and travel costs it will also boost your green credentials. You can get a free 30-day trial of a web service too.
- Spot the cheapest petrol stations
The price of petrol varies widely from town to town but we’re creatures of habit and generally fill up at the same garage. It’s worth noting prices on your journeys to see if you can buy cheaper elsewhere. And always avoid filling up on motorways if you can.
- Maximise car efficiency and reduce weight
Dieting is one option of course, but have you checked what other excess weight you may be carrying? What’s in your boot?
Improve aerodynamics by taking off empty roof-racks.
Incorrect tyre pressures won’t help your fuel consumption either – make sure your tyres are at the recommended levels.
- Buy online
Depending on delivery charges it may be cheaper to buy groceries /ink cartridges / office stationery online. Some supermarkets have ‘free’ periods when you don’t have to pay delivery. It’s worth weighing up delivery charges against the petrol and the time you would spend by getting in the car to go to the supermarket / retail centre.
1.Powerpoint 2010 Broadcast
2.Remote Web Workplace/Remote Web Access
Welcome to Multi Vertical Technologies new word press blog we offer infrastructure and collaboration solutions to small and medium enterprises in the Niagara region and Toronto. This is just a quick post expect more to come.
This demonstration will show you how to configure and use the Encrypting File System (EFS) in Windows 7 from encrypting a file and to providing user access to the file. You’ll also learn how to back up the user certificate to ensure that the files can be used even if the machine needs to be rebuilt.
With Windows Server 2008, you can eliminate the cost of lost and stolen data by taking advantage of a centralized, automated server to protect and backup your business data as well as share files, printers, mail and internet access. Save money with a centralized data strategy and Windows Server solutions.
Handy Andy’s Disaster Recovery Corollary
Awhile back I mentioned my frustration over a client who “couldn’t afford” a real backup solution. Grrr.
My good friend Handy Andy made a comment:
“Handy Andy’s corollary, if they can’t afford the Disaster Recovery Solution now, where are they going to get the money after the crisis?”An excellent point! Have you ever noticed how wide the wallet opens the day after the disaster? When the firemen are rolling up their hoses and the police have taken their report, it doesn’t matter what it costs.
“I’m sorry Mr. Cheapskate, but you wanted to have your 14 year old niece burn backups to DVD every Friday night, so we didn’t put in a real backup system.”How’s that working out for you?
“You said you didn’t need tape because you got this cool thing from Cousin Larry’s Pretty Good USB Backup Solutions for only $49.95.”But the forty-nine dollar 1/2 TB drive failed? Wow. Who could’ve seen that coming?
“Oh you’re backing up to the cloud. You’re not sure how often. Or what gets backed up. Or whether there’s versioning. But you’re sure it’s good because you heard it on a national radio program, right after the segment about setting up your AOL email account.”GRRRRReat. So you don’t really need to test, right? Cuz it should just work. Uh Huh.
Everyone — By which I mean everyone — knows that sh*t happens. Electrical spikes. Fires. Floods, Hazmat spills, divorces, employee lawsuits, and practical jokes gone bad. Stuff happens. Everyone — by which I mean everyone — either has lost a hard drive suddenly or WILL lose a hard drive suddenly.
We had a client closed out of his own offices due to a lawsuit. We have a client who had every piece of equipment in his office stolen. We’ve experienced multi-week power outages. We’ve seen “the guy next door” start a fire that burned down the building. This stuff happens every single day.
There are a million great excuses why you don’t really have to take care of your data. Cuz nothing bad has ever happened so far.
For whatever reason, people pay about as much attention to their business backups as they do to their personal health. Yeah, we’re all going to die someday. Pass the pork rinds. But on the day when someone actually has a heart attack – or drive failure – then the attitude changes.
Many people never take the time to prepare for disaster. But when it hits they’ll put out any amount of effort to recover.
We want to find clients who are committed to uptime because they’re going to see us as being on their team when stuff happens. And we’ll have them up a lot faster because they spent a few extra pennies up front.