Safety and the Cloud

In today’s digital world your small- or medium-sized company is like a castle that needs to be defended from attacks by hackers, viruses, and cyber criminals. Like the moats and turrets of castles from the middle ages, your castle probably also has various lines of defense. While you may engage password, protections, firewalls, backups, and the latest cybersecurity, one defense that you still may want to consider is “the cloud.”

 

For many companies keeping data “in the cloud” has become a fact of life, but others still have yet to recognize the benefits of lower costs, operational agility, and adaptability that can come with a professional IT group managing your data in the cloud. The idea behind having a company manage your cloud data is that instead of overwhelming your IT Department with fending off cyber attacks daily, that security is managed through the cloud.  For example cloud security means that you have employed the security experts who are following best practices to keep your sensitive data safe.

 

Here are some questions to consider when choosing the security of a cloud company.

  • Does your company have a dedicated team focused on security? How many will be able to access your data?
  • Is data encrypted by default?
  • How is data secured when in transit across the public internet?
  • How are the physical data centers secured? What layers of security are operational?
  • What is the process for preventing, detecting, and countering network intrusions?
  • How are users authenticated? Get specifics on types of authentication.
  • Which security certifications have been done, if any?

 

Do you have questions about your IT security and need help tightening up your SMB? Call M&H Consulting today at 1-(866)-964-8324 or visit our website M&H Consults

Sending your College Student off with the Right Technology

The moment has arrived when your teenager is heading off to college and you have to say goodbye. You bought all the books, dorm room necessities, and supplies. But what about the technology that your student needs to succeed in the academic aspect of the college experience? Are you confused by the multitude of options out there and need some help navigating the laptop world? Here are some things to consider when choosing a laptop. (Keep in mind, these considerations remain the same if you are choosing for employees at your work too!)

  • Usage – Ask yourself what you plan to use the laptop for. What type of programs to your plan to use: business applications, engineering programs or maybe graphic design apps? Do some research to find out what will run optimally on the type of laptop you are looking to buy.

 

  • Battery Life – Laptops are meant to travel, so consider how long your battery will last. Be skeptical of the length that the manufacturer claims it will last as they are estimating under optimal conditions.

 

  • Storage/Memory – If you store your data via the cloud, storage may not be a huge concern for you, but be sure to check out how much you store in case you want to add movies, videos, or presentations.

 

  • Security – With more and more users putting sensitive information on their laptops, security is a critical consideration. Look for encryption abilities and password protections.

 

  • Size – Consider the size and sleekness that you are looking for in a laptop before purchasing. No one wants to be lugging around a heavy piece of machinery that takes up too much desk space.

 

  • Processor – Once you know what you will be using the device for it will be easier to decide on the power of the processor. For example, if you know you want to watch videos then you will need a processor with speed.

 

  • Price Tag – As always consider the price of the laptop. Is it within your budget? Are you going to need add-ons or upgrades?

 

Data Backup Failures

Data is the lifeblood of most companies, whether it is files kept on clients, financial data for revenue analysis or documentation of current/past projects. As we have discussed before, data should be backed up on a regular basis using multiple methods. But what happens if those plans fail? What causes back ups to terminate or fail to execute at all?  Let’s take a closer look at the process of back ups and why they fail.

 

  • Human Error – Honestly we all mess up from time to time and backing up data is no exception. It is very possible that an employee forgot to begin the nightly backup or and IT leader changed the data and information was lost. It happens more often than you would think.
  • Data Corruption – For companies that use tapes for this process, you may want to periodically test them because after years of use they can become corrupt.
  • Incomplete Backup – Depending upon the amount of information being backed up, the process can take an extensive amount of time and use up critical features that you may need for daily operations. Unfortunately, many companies have incomplete data backup because they stopped the process too early.
  • Only One Copy – It may seem incredibly redundant, but some files are so critical that they need to be made twice. One copy may be lost, damaged or corrupt so be sure not to take for granted the one copy you do have.

 

If you are looking for solutions to your data management problems call M&H Consulting to find solutions to your backup issues.

 

Keeping Your Personal Information Secure

 

Today’s modern employee carries their work with them everywhere they go via smartphones, tablets or laptops. Mainly this can be seen as a convenience, but for employees that carry around not only their work files on their mobile devices, but also personal information this may be a dangerous practice. Here are a few suggestions to keep your personal information secure especially if you keep personal files, data, photos or financial information on your work devices.  

 

  • Beware of Impersonators Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the Internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service.
  • Encrypt Your Data – Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.
  • Use Security Software – Install antivirus software, antispyware software, and a firewall. Set your preference to update these protections often. Have your IT Department or Consultants like M&H update your security regularly.
  • Lock your Device – Your laptop, phone or table should be locked when you are not using it. Do not use automatic sign ins instead use personal identification protocols.
  • Be Wise About Wi-Fi – Before you send personal information over your laptop or smartphone on a public wireless network in a coffee shop, library, airport, hotel, or other public place, see if your information will be protected. If you use an encrypted website, it protects only the information you send to and from that site. If you use a secure wireless network, all the information you send on that network is protected.

 

Call M&H Consulting if you have questions about your personal or business data and security.

 

 

Can Virtual Reality Help Your Company?

Virtual Reality seems more like the plot of a sci-fi movie that anything that could help you in the business world. Well, more and more businesses are coming up with new and different ways to integrate virtual reality into their businesses in ways that could benefit their customers, clients or even employees. Virtual Reality may be able to help your clients access content in a way that is not always possible in a two dimensional setting. The year 2017 may be the time that VR explodes in the business world. Let’s take a look at just a few of the ways that virtual reality may benefit your company.

  • Prototypes – For many businesses that have products that are in development, VR could allow clients or employees to create, use or rework a virtual model of your product and make necessary changes before actually paying for production.
  • Designing – If part of your service or product requires designing, VR may help save time and energy in engineering plans or designs. Replications of structures can make this work easy and allow a better viewpoint that can troubleshoot any design flaws.
  • Tours – For businesses that want to show off their showroom or workshop VR can allow for virtual tours even from a remote location. For example, in real estate, a buyer from another state could easily see a property hundreds of miles from home without leaving their home.
  • Training – Many businesses require training on equipment that may mean hiring a specialist. VR can allow employees to get their hands on equipment in the virtual world where there is no fear of breaking equipment.

Wondering how VR could be useful to your business? Give M&H a call.

What you Need to know about Servers

Not many people know the use and function of servers, and for those who are not tech savvy or experts in IT, it is important to know the use and function of your computers server.

A server is a computer, or computer program, that is setup to run one or multiple server applications such as mail, network, applications, print and web servers among many others. Basically, it is the main component of a network, since it manages access to the resources, files, programs used by all other computers. Many believe they have to be custom-built, but that isn’t the case. Servers simply have to be able to run server applications when you need them to. Older and less expensive computers can also be setup as servers.

There are different types of servers, such as:

  • Dedicated servers – A dedicated server is a single computer within a network that is used for only one single purpose. They are mainly used when talking about web hosting, which allows you to make a website that is accessible to the internet.
  • Virtual Private servers – Instead of having one physical computer used for one business’ needs, a virtual private server (VPS) is used on a single server computer but services multiple customers.
  • Cloud servers – A cloud server is created, hosted and delivered through a cloud platform. A cloud server is made up of remote servers that are all hosted online. When using a cloud server, you are renting virtual server space and accessing it remotely through a cloud provider.

Servers are essentially the spine and life blood of your business. If it crashes, then your business crashes. As a result, you want to take reasonable precaution to get rid off any single points of failure in your server’s architecture. Many ‘server-class’ computer has multiple levels of redundancies and typically has hot-plug capabilities.
Now you can know the importance of servers without being an IT expert.

What If . . . things go wrong with your computer?

Accidents happen especially when we are stressed and overworked. Accidents on and around technology can be a whole lot more than a “whoops” moment. They can be downright damaging to the hardware and potentially files that are on the hard drive. We have compiled a few “What If. . . “ moments in case you are wondering what will happen to your technology if  (insert horrible event here) happens.  Here’s hoping you don’t have one of these events any time soon.

  • What if you spill a drink on your keyboard? The answer according to Guardian Online is fairly straightforward. “If you‘ve only spilled a small amount of clean water on it, you may well get away with it. You can remove and clean a sticky keyboard using a damp cloth or soft toothbrush and distilled water before drying it thoroughly, and in extreme cases, people try methylated spirits (ethanol) or solvents (isopropyl alcohol).”
  • What if your hard drive gets physically damaged? The answer really depends on the extent of the damage and if data can be recovered. If the damage is minimal try to get the data off the drive and take it in for a check up. If the drive is seriously damaged now is not the time to find out that your data recovery strategy is not up-to-date. Contact your IT department or the consultants working with your department who may be able to find backed up data or recover the data on that drive.
  • What if I accidentally open suspicious email? Obviously don’t click on emails that look suspicious in the first place but if your mouse gets moved or something unforeseen happens, disconnect your device, backup your files, and then call your IT department or IT consulting company to check your machine for malware or other suspicious content.
  • What if I get ransomware? According to PC World, “Don’t negotiate with e-terrorists. Instead, remove many ransomware viruses without losing your files. The process varies and depends on the type of invader. Some procedures involve a simple virus scan, while others require offline scans and advanced recovery of your files.” For specifics read here.

Healthy Habits for Computer Use

We spend a lot of our time on this blog talking about how to keep your computer systems free of spyware, malware and all sorts of viruses. Most of our time here at M&H Consulting is spent dealing with new software installations, data backups, cloud storage, IT support and pretty much anything pertaining to keeping our clients computer systems running in a healthy way.

Unfortunately that doesn’t leave us a lot of time to talk about the health of the most important part of your computer system – the user!  As people who spend a large chunk of our time in front of a monitor we know there are certain steps to use a computer in a healthy way. Here are a few examples.

  • Avoid Eyestrain – Sitting in front of a monitor all day means that your eyes need a break. Follow a 20/20/20 Rule. Every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away. If you find yourself getting chronic headaches talk to your doctor and look into getting a screen for your computer that can cut back on glare and eyestrain.
  • Practice Good Posture – Start by setting up your computer work station in an ergonomic fashion. Your monitor should be at eye level, so that you’re not always looking down. The display should be at arm’s length from your head. It should also be angled up slightly. Be sure you have a solid chair that supports your back. And finally, do as your mom always said, “Don’t slouch!”
  • Move Regularly – Take a few minutes every hour to get up and move whether it is a quick trip to the lounge or just up and down the office to get your blood flowing and keep your muscles limber. There is nothing worse than standing up and the end of the day and having to “unfold” yourself because you haven’t moved in too many hours. If you find it hard to do this you may want to invest in a yoga ball to sit on or some offices are switching to standing desks to keep employees healthy.
  • Avoid Wrist Strain and Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – The Mayo Clinic suggest the following steps to avoid carpal tunnel: relax your grip, take breaks, don’t bend your wrist all the way down during keyboarding, keep your hands warm, and practice stretching exercises geared to prevent wrist stiffness and carpal tunnel.

Why You Need M&H Computer Support Online or in Person

Small and medium sized business owners are constantly hustling, juggling and competing with companies that are larger in both size and resources. Struggling with a smaller budget doesn’t mean you can’t compete with the “big boys.” It just means you have to get creative in how you organize your resources.  We want you to consider using M&H Consultants for your Computer Support either online, via phone or in person. Here’s why:

 

  • We are a smart choice for affordability when considering what an in-house tech department would cost.
  • We have an entire team of IT professionals with years of knowledge to handle your specific industry IT needs. This is what we do.
  • Save time and energy when something goes wrong with your computer system but contacting our technicians. Better yet have M&H maintain your systems so if they do go down, we have everything backed up and can get you back up and running in no time.
  • Stay focused on your company’s goal. Leave the technology to us so you can focus on the ultimate mission of your company.
  • Avoid downtime by having us by your side through any big projects and installments. We can troubleshoot and keep you on course.
  • When you choose M&H Consultant you have chosen not only experts in the field of IT but a company that has training and access to the most advanced technologies and solutions. We stay up on the industry research and growing evolution of technology so you don’t have to.

Call M&H Consultants to arrange for your IT support today or check us out online.

Pop Up Problems

It can happen suddenly and take up a chunk of your computer screen – the dreaded pop up!  These pop-ups can be initiated by a single or double mouse click or rollover (sometimes called a mouseover), and also possibly by voice command or can simply be timed to occur. These windows are almost never requested by the user, so how exactly can you get rid of them?  The answer is different depending upon your computer system.

If you have Windows 10 they suggest the following dierctions:

  • Open Internet Explorer.
  • Click the Tools button, and then click Internet options.
  • On the Privacy tab, under Pop-up Blocker, click Settings.
  • In the Pop-up Blocker settings dialog box, set the blocking level to High: Block all pop-ups (Ctrl + Alt to override).
  • Click Close, and then click OK.

On Google Chrome you can try to block pop ups in the following manner:

Turn pop-ups on or off

  • Open Chrome.
  • In the top-right corner, click the icon you see: Menu or More .
  • Click Settings.
  • Click Show advanced settings.
  • Under “Privacy,” click Content settings.
  • Under “Pop-ups,” select Do not allow any site to show pop-ups (recommended) or Allow all sites to show pop-ups.

While pop ups are meant to be a form of marketing, they can be insidious and annoying. The trouble is that a malicious pop-ups can be confused with a legitimate pop-up ad. Therefore be careful when confronted with a pop-up. You never know if you can trust the source or if it could contain spyware, malware or other viruses. Talk to the professionals at M&H Consults to learn more about blocking pop ups and preventing the problems they tend to bring.