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11 Reasons To Upgrade to Office 365 Today

Posted & filed under Software.

With Office 365, it seems common sense has finally prevailed, giving business the changes they actually want. It’s still Office, and your staff will still know exactly how to work it, but they’ll get so much more done.

1. The whole Mac/Windows drama is over

Office 365 brings with it a stack of benefits, but perhaps the most relieving is the in-built file compatibility across all platforms. No more converting (or corrupting) files back and forth, productivity black holes have essentially been eliminated.

2. It’s always ready to go

Microsoft are so confident in their cloud-based software and data storage; they’re giving a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You can even call a real life human for support.

Work online, offline or mobile – the choice is yours.

3. Security is built in

A large part of Microsoft’s uptime certainty comes from their extremely robust security protocols. Office 365 offers enterprise-grade admin controls at your end, as well as government-grade security at their end.

4. Generous data allowances

Each user gets 1TB of cloud space for file storage, which can be shared at folder or file level.

5. Work anywhere, anytime

Previously, staff needed to establish a VPN or manage security concerns which made working off-site difficult and cumbersome. Office 365 has solved that problem and working from anywhere is now easy.

6. Integrated organization

Calendar, email and contacts are all synced and updated across multiple devices: Laptop, desktop & mobile.

7. Yours for no upfront costs

Once upon a time, updating your Office version meant paying a small fortune and half a day downtime. Office 365 changes that, with no upfront cost or installation delay.

8. Mailbox storage through the roof

Forget the days of ‘user mailbox is full’ – each user is given a whopping 50GB in a gorgeous, easy-to-use mailbox.

9. Built in malware and spam protection

Data security doesn’t stop at file storage: email is scanned for malware and spam, protecting your organization from all manner of attacks before they happen.

10. Collaboration tools and virtual meeting

Cancel your 3rd party services and bring all your collaborations into the one platform.

11. Integrated Team planning

Schedule tasks, meetings and track allocations from a top-down level to know exactly how projects are progressing.

If you need help with your Office 365 migration and setup, give PGP Computers a call at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

What is the Best Way to Backup?

Posted & filed under IT Security.

“That will never happen to me.” We get through our lives telling ourselves the worst won’t happen to us. It’s the same with business: “We won’t need this data backup.” Yet, whatever your industry, secure, reliable backup ensures business as usual. So, what’s the best way to backup? Here’s help.

Why You Need to Backup

  1. Business disruptions of any kind can be costly. The disaster might take one of several shapes:
  2. Natural (e.g. wildfires, floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes)
  3. On-site (e.g. hardware/software failure, power outage, inability to access building)
  4. Employee driven (e.g. damaging mistakes or intentional sabotage by a disgruntled employee)
  5. Cyber-attack (e.g. data breach, ransomware, or distributed denial of service attack).  

Regardless, the best backup solution can help reduce downtime and damage. 

Data Backup

Approaches to Backup

There are several off-the-shelf backup options your business can use. Let’s consider the pros and cons of the most popular ones.  

USB Thumb Drives — Also known as “flash drives,” “pen drives,” or “memory sticks,” these thumb-sized devices are compact and portable. But, they have size limitations compared to hard drives. Also, the mobility makes them easy to lose (which can actually set the disaster scenario in motion).  

Additionally, a USB thumb drive is robust when not plugged in, but more vulnerable when attached. If someone inadvertently snaps the drive or employs too much force, they can put the data on that backup at risk.

The cheap ones also tend to be slow, which can make backing up sluggish. 

USB Hard Drives — Portable hard drives increase the data storage available, often at a decent price. They are designed to be compact and mobile. You can prioritize durability, processing speed, storage volumes and more. 

Hard drives are less likely to get damaged than a thumb drive. If knocked or jostled, the cables are flexible. Still, a hard drive can be prone to physical failure. Selecting an external solid slate drive (SSD) can help since it has no moving parts. Information is stored instead in microchips. 

Cloud Storage — Backing up to the cloud stores data on an external, secure server. If thieves take your computers and USB backup, you can still access your data on the cloud. Cloud storage providers build in redundancy to ensure your backup remains safe.  

Most cloud storage services back up to secure centers with thousands of servers storing data. Oh, and they’ll have their own server backups too, just in case they’re the ones hit by a disaster. The providers also encrypt data during transit to further ensure compliance and security. 

Migrating to a third-party cloud storage service also cuts the clutter at your premises. You can count on expert help to ensure security and compliance. Plus, you can cut operational costs by offloading in-house storage or external hard drive expenses. 

OK, What’s the Best Answer? 

Don’t think disaster won’t strike your business. Research has found data loss and downtime are most often caused by:

  • Hardware failures (45% of total unplanned downtime)
  • Loss of power (35%)
  • Software failure (34%)
  • Data corruption (24%)
  • External security breaches (23%)
  • Accidental user error (20%). 

We recommend the 3-2-1 backup strategy. This means having 3 copies of your data. Two (2) of these would be located on different devices (e.g. on your computer and on a backup drive). The other remaining backup copy (1) would be secured offsite, in the cloud.

If you need advice or assistance on how to backup data for your business, give PGP Computers a call at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

What’s Causing Your Bandwidth Woes?

Posted & filed under Networking Solutions.

Every time employees send or receive data online they need bandwidth. Like time and money, bandwidth is a scarce resource in many offices. After all, computers and digital devices rely on bandwidth to complete tasks online.

Bandwidth is the amount of information that can be sent or received per second. This might be measured in Kbps (thousands of bits per second) or Mbps (millions of bits per second). Many people think having a higher bandwidth will mean a faster user experience. In fact, it’s only one factor that affects response time. Bandwidth is actually about capacity more than speed.

Eight bits of information is one byte. A byte is the amount of memory it takes to store one character, such as the letter “Q.”

You can’t drive fast on a one-lane road when there’s a lot of traffic. You also can’t navigate the information highway as quickly in online congestion. If you’re the only one in the office late at night, you’ll have no trouble trying to stream an online webinar, but you might struggle to stream the same webinar when sales are on a video conference call and advertising are sending a graphic-heavy email.

Handling Bandwidth Issues

What Is Using Bandwidth?

There is greater demand on bandwidth every day. Your business migrated to cloud services for greater mobility and online consistency, but sharing information in real time requires bandwidth usage to synchronize data.

Backing up to the cloud provides businesses with greater peace of mind, yet it can be a headache if that backup is happening right when you want to get on a video chat with a client – your connection can suffer. You’ll be that person who keeps dropping in and out of that important meeting!

When you’re using an online meeting tool (audio or video), you can also slow things down for others.

Even email needs bandwidth to send and receive data. The bigger the files (e.g. images or spreadsheets), the more bandwidth activity. Uploading a few PDFs can take up 20–40Mb of the total, which can choke a network with limited upload capacity.

All those personal devices your people are bringing to work can make a difference, too. Smartphones will often start backing up to the cloud when they are on a Wi-Fi network.

Bandwidth Usage Solutions

Often, there is no option for greater bandwidth because the infrastructure where you’re located won’t support greater bandwidth. You’re already getting the most capacity your provider can offer.

Still, there are ways to better manage bandwidth:

  • Switch to a business-grade router or a Unified Threat Management (UTM) appliance. These allow you to identify and manage bandwidth usage better. They also add security (firewalls, filtering) to your network connection.
  • Set up Quality of Service (QoS) to rank the activities your business values more (e.g. configuring video conferencing to take data preference ahead of file downloads).
  • Block some devices entirely, such as employee phones backing up to the cloud.
  • Schedule some activities for a more convenient time (e.g. set your system backups to happen in the middle of the night, fewer people are likely to be trying to do things online).

Want to regain control of your internet capacity? A managed services provider can monitor traffic and usage, and help you set up a solution for smarter bandwidth usage.

Improve productivity and give employees something to smile about (other than a cat riding a vacuum cleaner on Facebook) with better bandwidth management.

If you need assistance managing bandwidth for your business, give PGP Computers a call at 763-691-1957 or contact us.

Java – a broad look

Posted & filed under Software.

This is our final round up before a summer break and what a topic to finish with.  Java is just about everywhere, so many places you don’t even know!  This month we took a look for articles discussing this enormous topic and hope you find the value we did.

Java

Java  is all around you in almost every app and is one of the most common programming languages. Here is a good overview to start us out with

Java has some fellow programming languages that do the ‘same job’ so here is a comparison article for your review.

There happened to be a feature this month on the future of Java written by CIO. Happy 20th year Java!

Sharepoint Focus

Posted & filed under Software.

In the month of May we used our social media sites to ‘share’ information, history, and forecast on Sharepoint. Just in case you are not following us (yet) or need to refer back to one of our curated articles, here is the collection of what we posted throughout the month.

What is Sharepoint?

A Brief History of Sharepoint brought to you by their developers.  Not exactly exciting reading but you can’t beat the source.

Why Sharepoint?

You do have options but here are 10 reasons supporting Sharepoint

Future of Sharepoint;

A look at what is to come with Sharepoint in regard to 365

And multiple advancements announced for Sharepoint in 2016

We also keep track of some tech news that we thought was too good to keep to ourselves

Hot news for April was Good for smartphone users; you are now more likely to get an mobile optimized site since Google added ‘mobile friendliness‘ to its search criteria cocktail. Business owners; time to optimize (we can help you with that!)

We always love a good Facebook v Google article and this one is on who has the better workplace.  Has Google been dethroned?

Speaking of Google, there is a good ap advancement coming soon; Designed for Families designation on apps from the Google Ap store.

Malware, always on our mind (and hopefully not on your computer).  Looks like Spam and Malware are getting together to make more trouble…

 

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