Are you just not sure if a flat fee managed it services plan would be the best option for your small business? Businesses today are faced with the tedious challenge of maintaining their network to allow for consistent availability and productivity. So here are the Top 10 reasons for using flat fee network monitoring solutions for your business. Whether you are a CEO, executive, IT manager or IT Administrator, the following information will be beneficial for you.
Network monitoring solutions have become crucial nowadays because so many companies are relying on their internal network to be productive in their line of work. Network failures and irregularities, server downtime, service or application crashes can seriously threaten the livelihood of a business, costing thousands (if not millions) of dollars in revenue and productivity. Therefore, with the use of network monitoring solutions, you can deliver a better service and cut costs by fixing issues before any of your users notice a problem.
- Keep informed
With real-time monitoring, if a failure or irregularity is detected, you can immediately be informed via methods such as SMS, pager, emails or a network message.
- Plan for change
Network monitoring solutions allow you to study a constant problem with a closer eye. For example, if a piece of hardware is constantly tripping, it may be the time to replace this hardware.
- Diagnose issues
Imagine a scenario where one of your company’s websites goes down. Without network monitoring, you may not be able to tell if the problem is with just the website, the web server or the applications which the site runs on.
- Reports issues
Network monitoring reports can help you spot trends in system performance, demonstrate the need for upgrades or replacements and prove your value, by documenting the otherwise ‘unseen’ work that keeps the IT systems you manage in top form.
- Remediate disasters
If you are immediately notified that there is an issue with one of your systems on a network, and the issue is going to take quite some time to fix, the time saved by being alerted immediately can be used to bring in a backup system to replace the current failure, thereby providing a seamless and efficient service to your users and/or customers.
- Ensure Operation of Security Systems
Although business spend a lot of money, time and resources on security software and hardware, without a network monitoring solution, they cannot be sure that the security devices are up and functioning as wanted to.
- Keep Track of Your Web Applications
Many services that your company offers to your users and customers are really just web applications running on a server. Network monitoring solutions allow you to stay on top of website problems, spot issues before your users or customers notice and remediate the issues in a timely fashion.
- Fix problems, anytime, anywhere
Network Monitoring products nowadays are shipping with Remote Access features. These offer one-click remote support for any server or workstation in your environment.
- Ensure uptime
Network Monitoring maximizes network availability by monitoring all systems on your network, including servers, workstations and network devices and applications.
- Save Your Business Money
Network Monitoring products fix issues faster with instant alerts, spot small and big issues, eliminate the need for manual checks on event logs, backup systems, antivirus systems, hard disks and other devices. Having a network monitoring solution also avoids the need of complex and expensive systems. All this in turn facilitates cost saving and revenue building.
Try to imagine the worst possible disaster that could strike your company – for example, a hurricane destroys your office and your home office. Once you’ve finished contemplating these sobering thoughts, try to imagine how you would recover from such a devastating event. Determine the types of data your business will immediately need to get back on its feet, as well as the archival information that will be useful in the years to come. This is the information you will need to back up.
There’s no getting around it— business disasters will happen. I’ve learned that while you can’t avoid unexpected emergencies, you can impact the way you work through a disaster. Regardless of industry, thriving during crises depends on how prepared and protected you are.
When a disaster strikes, 25% or more of small businesses affected will fail. Why do they fail? It’s not because of defects in the physical location, it’s mainly because they didn’t take the necessary steps to ensure that their business’s technology and related data is protected.
In my experience, the companies that most experience crises can be divided into three basic groups:
Unprepared and Unprotected – These are the businesses that called for help after they experienced a major data loss. They got lucky, and while their lack of preparation didn’t put their business under, they try and do everything possible to avoid a future incident.
Protected but Unprepared – These businesses were protecting their data; however, they didn’t have a full contingency plan in place. Although we were able to help them retrieve their data, they weren’t prepared to deal with other elements of the disaster.
Prepared and Protected – These are the business owners who sleep well at night (or at least they would if entrepreneurs ever slept!). Their company data is protected, so they know they can recover it quickly. They also know what everyone in the company will do in an emergency, how they’ll communicate, how they’ll reach their vendors and where to find the information they need.
While most businesses strive to be a part of the “prepared and protected” group, many fall short. In my experience, it all starts with data back-up. If a business is looking to maximize protection, minimize risk and make things as simple as possible, online back-up is best. There are different levels of service when it comes to online back-up, ranging from do-it-yourself to full-service options. When selecting a provider, I tell my clients to ensure they offer the following:
Pre-installation analysis of business needs
Set-up process guided by a support engineer to ensure correct configuration
Daily monitoring of back-up activity to guarantee back-ups are always running correctly
Support provided by experienced, knowledgeable engineers, as opposed to call center employees with scripts in hand
24/7 availability for emergencies
At least AES 128-bit encryption technology to protect your data during transmission and storage
An encryption key that the client creates and the provider does not know
Financial stability; i.e., they won’t go out of business any time soon (and take your data with them!)
Work with an expert. Planning for disaster is a tough thing to do well, considering all the elements to focus on and work with. To ensure a viable plan for your business, working with a recovery expert can help ensure that you get a plan that works for you while taking the stress off.
If you’re worried about your business’s disaster preparedness, please contact us. We can work with you to develop a solution, or provide you with the information and contacts to set you on the right path.
Managed Services is really like having business continuity insurance. Managed Services ensures that all your systems are functioning as efficiently as possible with little or no downtime. Critical business information and records are protected around the clock, for example, customer information, financial records and project/product plans to name a few. We protect the information that your business couldn’t survive without. In fact, only 6% of businesses that suffer a major data loss managed to survive for the long haul. Saving your data can literally save your business.
Rooney IT provides you with a range of ways to keep you informed. From Daily Health Check reports that advise you of the condition of your systems each morning, to Weekly Health Reports that provide a one-page, once-per-week health analysis, to comprehensive Monthly Client Reports that show trends and highlight issues on a wide range of systems, you’ll be able to choose the way you’d like to be kept informed.
What is the Daily Health Report?
The Daily Health Report provides a one-page summary showing the state of your:
• Backup jobs
• Anti-virus update
• Disk health
• Exchange Store size
• Disk volume growth rates
• Event logs
• Hacker attempts
Note that the Daily Health Check service is a pre-requisite for this report.
If you contract with us for support, you can rest assured that we’re attending to any problems found. If you don’t contract with us, you can attend to these problems yourself – or call us for supplementary support.
What is the Weekly Health Report?
Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. The Weekly Health Report summarises each day’s Health Checks into one easy-to-read report and delivers it once a week at a time suitable for you.
You’ll see developing issues, and you’ll be assured that we’re checking your systems each and every morning.
What is the Monthly Client Report?
Monthly Client Reports provide comprehensive detail about outages and trends experienced during the month. You’ll receive full colour graphs showing:
• Disk space trends
• Percentage good analysis for all 24×7 checks
• Outage analysis by type
• Backup complete and AV update trends
• And more
You’ll see what parts of your network are creaking and are the cause of downtime. Together, we can address these issues and further improve your systems availability.
How do I get going?
Please note that reports can only be offered in conjunction with the Daily Health and/or 24×7 Round-the-Clock Monitoring Services.
Would you like to see how your business could achieve more, save more and grow more with managed services? Call us at 352-796-6671 or email us and take control of IT and your business.
One of the most common elements of small businesses is the point of sale system. Many businesses use the traditional setup of a cash register, cash drawer, printer and inventory management system.. There’s a new app for the iPad however that’s out the change this if you’re a small, mobile business, or you’re just tired of spotting your cashless friends, mobile payment solutions, which let you accept credit cards using your cell phone. Square is one such solution, and for some circumstances it’s a perfect one: It plugs into a variety of mobile devices and uses a simple, attractive interface to allow you to accept credit card payments. Card Case, the buyer’s interface to Square, is a similarly easy and intuitive way to pay for things, making it easier than ever to buy at your most-frequented haunts. It’s free to use, but Square charges a small fee for every transaction. The fees aren’t exorbitant, though, and Square’s excellent aesthetics and ease of use on many devices make it our Editors’ Choice for mobile credit card readers.
Setup and Getting Started
The easiest way to start using Square is to go to the Square Web site, or to download the Square app that’s available for iOS—iPhone, iPod touch and iPad—and Android, which supports many but not all Android devices. Signing up for an account is as simple as entering tax information—for me, an individual, it was my social security number and some other personal information. Square is very clear about protecting your data, but it’s always good to be wary of anything asking for this information. The Square app is the best thing Square has going for it—it’s a gorgeous app with an intuitive interface that is easy for both sellers and buyers to figure out.
Once you register for an account, Square sends you a free card reader. The reader is a tiny, 0.75-by-0.75-by-0.5-inch white, plastic square that plugs into the headphone jack of your device, and when connected can immediately start accepting payments. The system works over Wi-Fi or a cell phone data connection.
Selling and Getting Paid
Making money is as simple as choosing an amount and swiping a card. If you have items you sell regularly, you can also set up a virtual shelf with all the items for sale, and choose them to automatically register a total. You can swipe a credit card through the reader, or key in the card number manually. You can also accept cash and use Square for tracking and receipts, but the real value is with a credit card. The reader itself worked well, though it occasionally took two or three tries to read the card.
Once the buyer swipes their card, a receipt is prepared, which can include itemized charges, location, or your company’s logo. The customer signs the receipt using their finger on the touch screen (which works great on the iPad, and fine on smaller phone screens), adds a tip if they want to, and chooses to either have the receipt e-mailed to them or sent as a text message. Every receipt also has a unique URL.
Square takes a small fee for every transaction. If you swipe a credit card, the fee is 2.75 percent of the total transaction. If you key in the number manually, the fee is 3.5 percent. (The fee hike is because keyed-in cards are inherently less secure, since you’re not swiping an actual card.) Square recently eliminated its per-transaction fixed fee (which was 15 cents), which makes calculating charges even easier—you’ll see 97.25 cents of every dollar. The fee is comparable to services like PayPal, which charges 1.9-2.9 percent plus 30 cents, as well as Square’s main competitors, Pay Anywhere (Free, 3 stars) and the Mophie Marketplace Complete Credit Card Solution ($79.99, 3 stars). For small purchases of only a few dollars, it’s a far better deal since there’s no fixed fee.
In the app or on Square’s Web site, merchants can track their sales history, easily issue refunds, or download the transaction information as .CSV files that can be imported into Excel, Quickbooks and other software. You can easily link your bank account to your Square account, and Square will automatically deposit your earnings every 24 hours.
Square’s payment system got a new angle with an update in May, 2011. Called Card Case, the new feature allows Square users to start tabs at restaurants and shops they frequent, to make paying even easier and faster.
Here’s how the Card Case system works (it’s iPhone-only for now, with Android coming soon): You go into a Square-supporting shop (there aren’t many yet, but that should change), and the first time you pay as normal. You swipe your card through the shop’s Square reader, sign the receipt with your finger, and enter your phone number to get a text message receipt. In the receipt is a link to download the Square app and start your Card Case. Log in or create an account, and a billfold-looking screen shows up with a small card from the shop.
Next time you visit that same store, open up Square, tap on the store’s name, and select “Start Tab.” That lets Square know that you’re in the store, getting ready to buy something, and your name will show up on the merchant’s Square-running tablet. Within the card, you can also see the menu, what’s on sale, and more. When you get to the counter, you just tell cashier your order and your name. The cashier taps your name in the store’s app, and it automatically charges your credit card.
Security is an issue here, since paying with your name isn’t exactly secure. Square takes a few steps to alleviate that. If your phone’s location shows you’re too far away to be in the store, you can’t open a tab. When you’re starting out, you’ll create a 4-digit pin for large purchases, without which any major buys can’t be completed. You’re also prompted to upload a picture of yourself, so the cashier can make sure it’s really you. Your tab expires after an hour, or you can close it manually. You’ll also get an email or text message after every purchase, so any rogue purchases can be rectified quickly.
Square probably isn’t the best way to get your buddy to pay you back for coffee. It is, however, an attractive, simple and useful way for anyone from street vendors to mobile businesses to accept credit cards. It’s also, thanks to Card Case, one of the easiest and most fluid ways I’ve ever paid for something. Thanks to its support for a plethora of devices, ease of use and beautiful interface, it’s our Editors’ Choice in the mobile payment category. Regardless, always do the math before choosing a device—in this space, the best deal is the best product, and the right deal for you will vary based on what you sell, and how much.
Living in Florida makes it imperative that you have an operational plan in place in the event of a hurricane. One of the major aspects of this is where you should backup your business’s data. Having a backup of your data is like an insurance plan for your company, with it, you’ll be able to keep operating during adverse conditions.
Here are the three main types of backup you can utilize in your company.
1. On-site backup. On-site storage is the practice of keeping a backup of your data in the same location that the original data is stored. If you have an external hard drive that you back your computer onto and it stays in the office, this is a form of on site storage. The main advantage to this is that if you need to restore a system, the data is right there and the backup can be started immediately. The main disadvantage is that if there’s a disaster, your backup data will most likely be gone.
2. Off-site backup. Off-site storage is similar to on-site storage, typically using the same form of hard drive to backup your data. The main difference is that drives are stored in a remote location, away from your business. The upside to this method is that if something happens at your physical location, your data is safe. The downside to this is that it takes time to travel to the storage location, retrieve the data, backup your system and take it back.
3. Online backup. Online backup utilizes the Internet to allow you to backup your data. The backups are kept on hosted servers (the cloud) and can be accessed through an application. The main pro of this method is that you can quickly and easily recover your data from any location, as long as you have access to the Internet. The downside is that if you have a lot of data, backups will use a lot of bandwidth, thus slowing your Internet speed down.
Regardless of the method, if you’d like to start backing up your data, or would like to know more about the different methods, please contact us.
Whether you just happen to be surfing the web, reading a news article, or viewing a document on your new iPad and you want to print out, or you’re doing actual work, for work, and need a hard copy, AirPrint makes is easy to print just about anything right from your iPad — as long as your printer is compatible.
How to see if your printer is AirPrint compatible
To be able to print from your iPad you’ll need a Wi-Fi enabled printer that supports AirPrint. To see if your wireless printer is supported, you can view the following list on Apple’s website -
Apple adds new printers to this list regularly. If your printer shows it’s compatible but your iPad doesn’t find it, make sure your printer is running the newest firmware version. In order to upgrade your printer, you’ll need to check your manufacturer’s specifications. Most of the time it’s as easy as checking for an update straight from settings and letting it update.
How to print from your iPad using AirPrint
Once you’ve got your printer configured to support AirPrint, you can print straight from your iPad.
- Navigate to the document you’d like to print.
- From the navigation menu, choose the additional options menu which looks like a box with an arrow coming out of it. It may be located in different positions based on what app you’re trying to print from.
- Choose Print.
- Now you’ll need to choose the printer you’d like to print to.
- Adjust the number of copies you’d like to print and then tap Print.
That’s all there is to it. Your content should print directly to the printer with no computer required.
If you run into issues printing something from your iPad, try performing the following steps and see if they resolve your problems:
- Make sure your printer is updated to the latest firmware and supports AirPrint (you can refer to the list above provided by Apple or ask your manufacturer).
- Check to ensure that your printer is connected to the same network as your iPad is. Your iPad won’t recognize your printer if it isn’t wirelessly connected and on the same network.
- Make sure you are selecting the correct printer name. If you have more than one printer in your home by the same manufacturer it can be hard to tell which is which so check the exact model numbers.
Once you’ve got your new iPad and printer paired up you’ll be able to wirelessly print documents without ever touching a computer. It’s a great feature to utilize when you aren’t in a position to hop on a computer or don’t want to boot one up just to print something. . What have your experiences been with AirPrint?
A new computer virus is spreading via the chat window on Facebook. The pop-up window, used for person-to-person chat, pops up with a message from a ‘friend’ which links to an innnocent looking website. Clicking the link instantly infects your PC with the virus, labelled Steckt.Evl by discoverers Trend Micro.
The virus instantly disables and removes anti-virus software, then spreads itself by opening chat windows on the Facebook friends of the user. ‘The worm propagates via instant messaging applications and social networking sites,’ says security experts Trend Micro which uncovered the new threat. ‘The instant message it sends is a link that downloads a copy of itself.’
Like many other new internet threats, the first thing the worm does is disable programs that might detect and destroy it. It then actually deletes them, before going on to download further software which compromises the infected machine further. ‘It terminates processes or services that are mostly related to anti-malware programs,’ says Trend Micro. ‘It also deletes the files that are related to the processes or services it terminates. It does the said routine to keep itself running on the affected system.’
Microsoft enjoys a monopoly on Office suites for desktop computers, although where it’s lacking presence is in the smartphone and tablet markets. Because of this, many businesses are stuck without an office suite that allows them to open, create and edit documents on their Android tablets. App developers have realized this and have answered the call.
Here are five apps that have stepped up as alternatives for Microsoft Office on your Android Tablet.
Kingsoft Office – FREE – Kingsoft free Office for Android is an efficient mobile office application made exclusively for cell phones and tablet devices running the Android OS (2.1 or later versions). Kingsoft free Office for Android allows you to CREATE, VIEW and EDIT all documents used by Microsoft. It is integrated with an Email application that allows you to send documents
as attachments and to download and edit attachments. Furthermore, you can access Box.net by default and any other cloud storage which supports The WebDAV protocol.
Quickoffice Pro HD – USD 14.99 This app is quick, hence the name. With it you can use your tablet to create, edit and share Microsoft Office documents, spreadsheets, presentations and PDF files. You can also access and upload documents to major cloud services like Dropbox and Google Drive. Beyond that, you can send files to other users via SMS, email, Bluetooth and social media. Note that there are two versions of this program on the Google Play store. The HD version is for tablets only.
Google Drive – FREE with 5GB storage Google Drive is Google’s cloud storage/collaboration tool. When it was released, Google Docs was rolled into this service. While this app can read Office documents, it does have problems with Office related formatting. If your company uses Google Apps, then Google Drive is the app you should be using. If you’re expecting a full featured document editor, it’s a better idea to look at the other options.
Onlive Desktop brings not just Microsoft Office to the iPad, but the entire Windows 7 desktop as well. You get the familiar Start menu with Office apps like Word, Excel and PowerPoint, along with old standbys like Paint, Calculator, Notepad and more. The desktop responds to standard Windows 7 touch gestures, as well. Note that it isn’t your own, customizable desktop; you can’t install new apps in Windows, and any documents you leave there will be gone the next time you log in. But it really is the Windows 7 desktop, and interacting with it via touch on an iPad is a real treat.
Documents To Go – FREE to USD 14.99 Documents To Go is an all-in-one application with support for Microsoft® Word, Excel & PowerPoint, PDF, Apple iWork and other files and attachments. If you download the Full Version, you can create and edit Office files and PDFs. You’ll also be able to download and save Google Drive documents. There are two features that set this app apart. The first is that you can sync files from and to your Windows PC, and the second is that it has a layout that’s simple to use.
These five apps each offer something different, and between them they should meet your needs. If you need help choosing one that’s a perfect fit for you, please get in touch with us.
Move over, tech-savvy moms — digital dads are hitting the scene, finding new ways to connect with kids and turning newfound “geek” abilities into cool cred with the kiddies.
Most people guess moms are hipper with technology than dads, but a recent survey indicates dads are gaining ground and even surpassing their female counterparts. The array of tools, from social networking and blogging to remote communications like Skype, are striking a chord with growing number of fathers and helping them cement their personal relationships.
Fathers Unite With Social Media, Blogs
Fathers are making the most of the social element of social networking, counting more than 26 more online friends than mothers on average, according OnlineSchools.com. Surprising, they were even 7 percent more likely to friend their kids on a social network and spend more time interacting with children in the digital realm than the moms.
In addition to connecting with their children, dads are increasingly using social media to connect with each other, sharing links to sports stories and reading bloggers who write about hobbies they enjoy, from tinkering with cars to the latest electronic gadgets. Men are making the most of online communities and, as a result, there is a growing attention to the male parenting perspective in many child-centric online communities.
For example, DadLabs.com is an online resource for parents from a father’s point of view. Visitors can take a look at over 800 videos, covering a huge range of subjects like the “dadchelor party” — a get-together for dads-to-be that involves guests bringing diapers, host dispensing beer and everyone watching a movie or sporting event — to a “babymoon,” where dads take the mom-to-be on a relaxing weekend of pampering.
The site lets parents share ideas and experiences in forums like “photography,” where they can share tips on the best ways to take pictures of newborns and shoot their pregnant wife’s belly, and “cars, trucks and mini-vans” where they can debate the best family vehicles.
Digital Dads Rule!
In many ways, dads are surpassing their female counterparts with their tech know-how and reaping the rewards.
A generation ago, the inability of parents, fathers in particular, to even set the clock on the VCR was fodder for laughs, but today’s dad is a virtual maestro of mobile devices — programming his own smartphone, setting up the kids’ tablet and monitoring the home Wi-Fi. The ubiquity of workplace technology is blurring the line between office and home communication, and tech-savvy dads are finding themselves in-demand.
In their “Confessions of a Geek Dad Survey,” Cisco Systems found fathers who responded they were capable of setting up technology in their home also felt more effective and confidence with their parenting skills.
About 70 percent of these dads say their kids think they are cool because of their tech know-how, turning the “geek” moniker into a compliment, at least according to the whopping 87 percent of fathers who reported taking pride in the name.
The smart home may extend dads’ domain, in a home where the fridge generates a shopping list, the smartphone controls the door locks and home thermostatand the countertops become a giant touch-centric tablet.
Today’s dads are picking up on the home-tech trend, underscored by the Cisco survey finding that 75 percent of fathers attribute their coolness factor to creating the home where their kids’ friends love to hang out. Somehow, the ability of fathers from earlier generations to keep the hot water heater going, change the oil in the car, or mow the grass never inspired the same youthful awe.
Austin, Tex.-based DadLabs’ co-founder and chief creative officer Clay Nichols agrees that dads who understand their kids’ language have a natural edge because they can more naturally engage and interact with their children using their medium of choice. “Fathers that play with the kids have always been cool,” Nichols said, but the author warned that as the kids age, the luster of this knowledge can wear off.
“Tech savvy or geeky dads also tend to be much more involved and more likely to supervise kids’ digital lives,” Nichols, a father of three, says. “This kind of watchfulness, while extremely healthy, may or may not be judged as ‘cool,’ especially by teens.”
Many fathers use tech to up their cool factor with their children. But others are also using tech tools to deepen personal connections with their children and strengthen the ties that bind. For these dads, especially those in active military service, technology is serving as sometimes a more direct link to the home front.
Skype is Next Best Thing to Being There
New dads in the military can witness their baby’s first precious cries and support their wives during labor through the Defense Department’s Skype birthing rooms for troops in Afghanistan.
The government’s program uses portable iPods, smartphones, and cooperating hospitals to bring military families together for the miracle of childbirth.
For some time, individual soldiers as well as fathers who traveled for work, managed to get use Skype accounts to “be there” for momentous events, like their children’s births. The technology benefits entire families as the traveling father feels like a participant, the laboring mom feels supported, and the children feel more connected during these important milestones.
Whether Dad is one of the growing number of fathers whose gadget geekiness is suddenly cool or he’s still trying to get the hang of social networks and mobile technology, there is little doubt dads are uncovering some powerful ways to connect with their families in the digital era.
If you are in the habit of using passwords like ‘password’, ‘qwerty’ or ’123456′, you may be helping hackers and online thieves steal your data. Security experts have compiled a list of the 25 most common passwords – passwords that you should avoid.
If you think using ‘password’ as your password is no big deal, then it’s time to rethink.
Security experts have recently compiled a list of the worst passwords users can choose, and ‘password’ is at the very top of the list. Weak passwords make your information more vulnerable simply because hackers can guess them. It may be easier to pick a password that you don’t have to think about, but it’s a choice that you may come to regret.
To help you avoid common password choice mistakes that users make, we have compiled a list of the 25 worst passwords to use:
Make a smart password choice. Experts advise using a combination of letters and numbers when creating your passwords, and to avoid things that anyone might be able to guess, such as birthdays and anniversary dates. Passwords with eight characters or more are safer and it’s best to use different passwords for different accounts and websites. Use a password manager to help you keep track of all of your passwords if you’re finding it difficult to remember them all..
No matter how sophisticated your security system is, a weak password gives hackers and online thieves an advantage. Helping all the users in your organization understand the importance of password strength will help you secure the IT systems in your organization.
If you’re interested in learning more, please contact us so we can develop a comprehensive and custom security blueprint that meets your specific needs.