According to security researchers, a bulk of the world’s computer processors have gaping flaws. The flaws, grouped under the term ‘Spectre,’ affect many critical systems including web browsers like Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox. Here’s a quick rundown of these major vulnerabilities and what you can do to secure them.

What is Spectre?
To understand this unprecedented vulnerability, you need to know some computer chip basics. Modern chips try to speed up their work by storing information related to predictable and repetitive processes. Whenever CPUs perform calculations ahead of time that end up being unnecessary, the data is thrown away into a supposedly secure storage cache.

Hackers can gain access to the discarded data by using malware to create digital backdoors. From there, they can simply sneak in, sift through the private information, and even trick the processor into throwing away even more sensitive information. This is known as a Spectre attack.
Though the exploit is highly technical and difficult to execute, researchers said Spectre affects all modern processors, including those developed by Intel, AMD, and ARM.

How does it affect browsers?
As mentioned, hackers would need to install malware on a device to perform a Spectre attack. One tactic experts found effective is if hackers build a malicious program and embed it on a website. Should anyone visit the rogue website, their browser will automatically run the malicious program.

Once inside, the attacker can use Spectre to gain full access to keystrokes, encryption keys, and login credentials.
So far, there is no evidence of Spectre attacks actively being used to steal data from web browsers, but they are difficult to detect. Experts also predict hackers will likely develop specialized malware now that this information is available to the public.

Is there a way to protect myself?
Fortunately, major browser developers were quick to release updates as soon as the Spectre attack was discovered.

Mozilla also has security features to prevent some Spectre attacks, but announced a full-blown solution is in the works.
As for Chrome, users can expect an update as early as January 23. But for the time being Google recommends enabling the Site Isolation feature, which limits how much access browser plugins have to your computer.

This feature can be enabled by going to your address bar and entering: chrome://flags/#enable-site-per-process.
Even though the updates may affect browser performance, it’s a small price to pay compared with having your credit card or social security number stolen.
Like it or not, Spectre is just one of the many threats targeting your web browsers. That’s why you should call us today. We offer expert advice and cutting-edge solutions to make sure your browsing experience is a pleasant and safe one.
To learn more about how to safeguard your business, or if you are looking for an expert to help you find the best solutions for your business talk to GCInfotech about a free technology assessment

Published with consideration from TechAdvisory.org SOURCE

Top 10 Things Every Business Owner Must Know About Hiring an Honest, Competent, Responsive and Fairly Priced IT Company

Choosing a computer support company isn’t easy. There are no shortages of horror stories about incompetent computer repair “gurus” bungling jobs and causing MORE problems as a result of their lack of knowledge. I’m sure if you talk to your own friends and colleagues you will get an ear-full of the unfortunate experiences they have encountered in this area.

Why is this? Because it is not regulated like many other professional service industries, which means ANYONE can claim they are a “computer repair expert.” In fact, a lot of the businesses in this industry started because the owner was fired or laid off from their job and couldn’t find work anywhere else, or they hire people who are not properly trained to support a business.

Unfortunately, they will try to take advantage of trusting business owners who simply do not have the ability to determine whether or not they know what they are doing. From misleading information, unqualified technicians, poor management and terrible customer service, we’ve seen it all.

This is why it’s so important for you to arm yourself with the information below:
Here is my list of the Top 10 things you should look for (or look out for!) when hiring an IT company…

10. They own all the IT problems.
When something goes wrong with your Internet service, phone systems, printers or other IT services, a good IT company should own the problem for its clients (versus saying “that’s not our problem to fix”). As a business owner, you shouldn’t have to try and resolve any of these issues on your own – that’s just plain old good service and something many computer guys won’t do.

9. They conduct periodic test restores of your backups.
The worst time to “test” a backup is when you desperately need it. A proactive IT company will insist on performing regular “fire drills” and perform a test restore from backup to make sure your data can be recovered in the event of an emergency.

8. They offer a TRULY all-inclusive support plan.
Many IT companies say they offer all-inclusive plans, but they are saddled with “gotchas” hidden in the fine print. An authentic all-inclusive managed services plan is just that – all inclusive.

7. They provide you with a monthly report of your network.
A good IT company should provide you with a detailed report each month that shows an overall health score of your network that includes all updates, security patches, and status of every machine in your network so your know FOR SURE that your systems have been secured and updated.

6. They monitor your network 24-7-365.
Your IT company should continuously watch over your network to look for developing problems, security issues and other problems to address them BEFORE they turn into bigger problems.

5. They consistently (and proactively) offer new ways to improve your network’s performance instead of waiting until you have a problem to make recommendations.
A great IT company will invest in their people with training and education to understand the latest offerings that will fit into their client’s businesses. They will also conduct monthly on-site visits with their clients to look for new ways to help improve their operations, lower costs, increase efficiencies and resolve any problems that may be arising.

4. They avoid “geek-speak.”
A competent IT company should take the time to explain what they are doing and answer your questions in terms you can understand. You should never be made to feel stupid for asking questions. And they should meet with you on a regular basis to make sure you are using technology to grow your business.

3. They have a written, guaranteed response time to your calls.
Your IT company should have a technician working on your problem within 60 minutes or less of your call. A great IT company will have this written into their service agreements.

2. They answer their phone live.
When you have a computer problem that is keeping you from your work, it is especially frustrating to have to leave a voicemail and wait for a call back. A responsive IT company knows this and will answer your call live, every time 24/7.

1. They will offer to complete a FREE audit of your network.
A truly competent IT company will offer to come out to your office and conduct a complementary assessment of your entire network to help you look for any potential issues you are facing, or to at least verify that your current IT company has all your bases covered.

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. . Contact us today to learn more.

Published with consideration Joanna Sobran from HuffingtonPost.com. SOURCE

Picture this: you start your computer and wait. And wait. And wait some more. When your desktop finally shows its face, things don’t get any better. Your Internet is sluggish, your programs are taking forever to load, and your cursor is dragging 20 seconds behind your mouse. You might have tried to open too many programs at once. Or…

You might be infected.

Sometimes a malware infection is plain as day. Other times it’s a silent killer. If you want to know whether or not your machine is sick, you first need to understand the symptoms. So let’s take a look at the telltale signs.

Blatant signs of infection

You’ve got ransomware

This one’s the most obvious. Ransomware authors want to make it perfectly clear that you have a malware infection—that’s how they make their money. If you’ve got ransomware, you’ll get a pop-up that tells you your files have been encrypted and there’s a deadline to pay a ransom in order to get them back.

Browser redirects

You click on a link after doing a Google search on “my computer’s acting strange.” Link opens to a different page. You head back to your search results and try a different link. Same thing happens. Over and over you’re redirected to a different site from the one you’re trying to reach. That, my friend, is a malware infection.

Different home page

Say you set your home page to be your favorite sports news site. But for some reason, Yahoo.com keeps coming up. You also notice some new toolbars (rows of selectable icons) below your browser window that you can’t get rid of. You could either have a major case of the forgets, or, more likely, you’ve got an infection.

Bombarded with pop-ups

We’re talking: can’t escape. Close one, another one opens. Or you’re not even online, and you’re getting pop-up messages on your system. Some sites admittedly have terrible ad experiences that feel like something nefarious is going on (but really isn’t). Most of the time, if your screen is loaded with pop-ups, you’re looking at an adware or spyware infection.

Less obvious signs of infection

Computer running slow

Lots of things can contribute to a slow computer. You could be running too many programs at once, you may be running out of hard drive space, or there’s not enough free memory. If none of those are true for you and your computer is still slow, it’s possible you’re infected.

New, unfamiliar icons on desktop

Maybe your nephew Timmy jumped on without your knowledge and downloaded a photo editing program so he could swap his face with his dog’s face and share it on social media. Or perhaps you downloaded a legitimate piece of software and a Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) hitched a ride. If it’s the latter, your computer could be weighed down by PUPs, which Malwarebytes and many other security companies consider malware.

Constant crashing

There are a couple reasons why your applications or system might crash, including potential incompatibility between programs or software and hardware that needs updating. However, some forms of malware, such as rootkits, dig deep into the Windows kernel and latch on, creating instability.

Web browser freezes or is unresponsive

Slow Internet could be just that—check your wifi signal or your download speeds with your Internet provider to be sure. But if everything checks out and your browser grinds to a halt, it could be a sign of infection.

Lots of bounced email

We’ve all mistakenly typed in the wrong email address and hit “send.” But if you’re getting a suspiciously high number of bounces, or emails that return to your inbox undelivered, something else is going on.

First, your email address could have been hacked and is now being used to spam the crap out of your contacts list. Or malware could be the culprit. How? An infected computer sends out emails using the addresses it found in your computer. If the “To” address doesn’t work, the message bounces back to the “From” address, which is often yours.

Mobile infections

Battery life drains quickly

Oh yes, your cell phone is not immune to malware. If you notice your battery life draining quickly, it could be that you’ve got some hefty programs open, such as games or music streaming services. It could also be that your battery is on its last leg. Unfortunately, the third possibility is mobile malware.

Unusually large bill

This one’s pretty clear-cut. Pay close attention to your cell phone bill. Are you being charged for messages you didn’t send? Is your data plan getting busted? Are you getting texts from your provider saying you owe money for something you didn’t purchase? Mobile malware is to blame.

You can protect against mobile threats using anti-malware software designed specifically for smartphones and tablets. For example, Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Mobile safeguards Android devices from malware, infected applications, and unauthorized surveillance.

Stealth infections

No sign at all

Is your computer running like a smooth criminal? No issues whatsoever? You still might be infected. Many forms of malware, including botnets and others designed to steal your data, are nearly impossible to detect unless you run a scan.

In fact, whether it’s plainly obviously or there’s no real sign of malware, you should be regularly scanning your computer with security programs like Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

Should your files be attacked and encrypted by any type of malware, then the first thing you should do is to contact us. We can work with you to help find a solution that will not end up in you having to pay the ransom to recover your files.

If you are looking to learn more about malware and how to boost your security and protect your data and systems, then let GCInfotech be your first line of tech defense.

Published with consideration from Malwarebytes Labs. SOURCE

You just got back from lunch and are settling down into your office chair. You open up your planner to check your schedule, and then wake your PC from sleep. Time to check emails. But wait, something’s wrong. You’re…waiting. Your computer is moving as slow as a brontosaurus and the problem appears to go deeper than internet speed. What happened? When a PC slowdown strikes, there can be a number of culprits. Here are a few ideas to alleviate the problem, so you can get back to business in no time.

slowPCRestart

The most obvious but often overlooked fix is to simply restart your PC. Many people get into the habit of leaving their PC on 24/7 and, instead of turning it off, just leave it in sleep mode when they’re not using it. However, restarting it is like vacuuming a carpet or mopping a floor. If you let either of them sit for a while, a lot of temporary gunk builds up. A simple restart can help clean your computer up but, unlike with household chores, you won’t get dirty in the process.

Uninstall new stuff

Did you recently install new hardware or software? If you did, this could be causing your slowdown and, if you don’t need it, it’s worth uninstalling it. Here’s how:

  1. Go to your Control Panel’s Programs and Features section.
  2. If you think a driver is slowing you down, open Device Manager and double click the new driver.
  3. A dialog box will open. Click the Driver tab followed by the Roll Back Driver button.
  4. If that button is grayed out, it means the problem isn’t with that driver. If not, you can continue with uninstalling.

Using the Device Manager, you can also uninstall new hardware.

Free up hard drive space

A lack of hard drive space can slow your PC down as well. To run your system smoothly, it’s recommended you have 15% hard drive space free. Having this extra space gives room for temporary files and swapping.

If you don’t have the space, you may need to purchase a new hard drive or transfer some of your files and programs over to an external one.

Search for the bloated program that’s eating your memory

Another potential problem could be a dysfunctional program that is using up too much of your PC’s memory. To see if this is the source of your problem, go to Windows Task Manager and click the Processes tab. Then look in the CPU or memory column. Either of these will show you if there’s one program that’s eating all your memory.

To solve this problem, click on the program in Windows Task Manager; and then hit End Process. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary fix. You’ll have to uninstall this program and replace it with something that will run more efficiently.

Scan for viruses

Both viruses and malware can also slow down your computer. To check if you’ve been infected, run a system scan. If you do have malicious software on your PC, and your antivirus software hasn’t effectively detected or removed it, contact a local IT Services Provider who will be able to clean your computer and free it of potentially harmful malware. They can also advise you to a reputable solution to avoid future issues.

Want more tips on how to resolve PC slowness and other computer issues? Worried you may have been infected by a virus? Get in touch with us today for help and advice.

Your old PC may be costing you more than you think

In today‘s era of notebooks, tablets, and smartphones, mobility is a high priority-making small businesses more dynamic and responsive in an on-the-go world.

That reality, however, should not detract from the important role desktop PCs still play in today‘s business environment, delivering more power, more robust upgrade options, and more functionality compared to their portable counterparts.

While large enterprises typically refresh their desktop PCs once every three years, small businesses tend to hold on to their PCs for five to seven years [1]. Older hardware, however, often slows operations and sparks hidden costs. In fact, PCs more than four-and-a-half years old are estimated to cost 50 percent more to support and take 50 percent longer to perform many tasks [2].

So while retaining those still-functioning workhorse PCs purchased during the early-2000s might seem a prudent move, their continued use could be costing you more than you think. Here’s how:

slow-pc-solutionsRevealed Hidden Cost #1: Slow performance

As a PC ages, it slows and struggles to keep pace with current technology and business needs. Applications take longer to load, heat buildup causes Windows, the mouse, or keyboard to be unresponsive. Compatibility issues between older PCs and new software and printers all drain time, frustrate the user, and undermine productivity.

Modern desktops respond to today‘s multitasking, collaborative, and fast-paced business environment with productivity-driving features that allow workers to create rather than wait. New features include: touchscreens, fast-charging USB ports, and solid-state drives that reduce wait times when opening files or switching applications.

Revealed Hidden Cost #2: More maintenance

On average, 42 productive work hours are lost each year while an older computer is being repaired-two times that of a newer model. Annual maintenance costs for an older PC, meanwhile, sit at $561, about the cost of a new, mid-range desktop [3].

New desktops deliver a greater value in the present and the future. Their longer lifespan, platform stability, and increased durability stretch your budget further, and reduce the burden on your IT department.

Revealed Hidden Cost #3: Lower efficiency

Today‘s desktop PCs reflect the modern age with space- and energy-saving features unmatched by their older, bulkier peers, some of which have limited ports or require adapters to accommodate modern needs.

New form factors, such as All-in-Ones and mini desktops, embrace sleek, streamlined construction, reduce wire clutter with integrated components, and adapt to the task at hand. In addition to more efficient use of space, modern desktops also require less energy, as the power needed to perform a task requiring a fixed number of computations continues to fall in half every 18 months [4].

Revealed Hidden Cost #4: Security vulnerabilities

Hackers continue to view small businesses as easy targets, even more so following Microsoft’s end-of-support for Windows XP in 2014. According to Microsoft, existing XP users are “five times more vulnerable to security risks and viruses,” which makes moving to a new PC that can support a current operating system like Windows 8.1 the safest play [5].

Some new PC designs include built-in hardware and software security to help protect your devices, identity, and data. Most new PCs come with bundled tools that offer security from the start, with enhanced protection against virus attacks and other security threats, and is designed to help prevent data loss, and reduce downtime.

Doing the math

While those existing desktops had their time and place, the older hardware may now be hampering your team’s performance. Running a quick cost-benefit analysis addressing issues such as maintenance and lost productivity against the cost of new desktops might prove eye opening and inspire action.

With modern business-oriented desktop PCs, your small business can reap the benefits of technology’s rapid innovation with improved productivity, reduced costs, heightened efficiencies, and stronger security to keep the business running at an optimal level.

If you are looking to learn more about the replacement options that are available today, then let GCInfotech be your first call.

[1] Intel, How much is it costing your business to run old PCs?, 2013
[2] The Legislative Budget Board, Review of Replacement Schedules for Information Technology EquipmentJanuary 2013
[3] Techaisle.com, The Ageing PC Effect–Exposing Financial Impact for Small Businesses
[4] MIT Technology Review, The Computing Trend that Will Change Everything, 2012
[5] Microsoft, Windows XP support has ended

Published with permission from HP.com. SOURCE

FirewallCartoonWith the ever growing number of security threats faced by businesses around the world, the vast majority of business owners have adopted some form of security measures in an effort to keep their organizations secure. But, how do you know the measures you’ve implemented are actually keeping your systems safe? Here are five ways you can tell if your security measures aren’t sufficient.

1. Open wireless networks

Wireless networks are one of the most common ways businesses allow their employees to get online. With one main Internet line and a couple of wireless routers, you can theoretically have the whole office online. This method of connecting does save money, but there is an inherent security risk with this and that is an unsecure network.

Contrary to popular belief, simply plugging in a wireless router and creating a basic network won’t mean you are secure. If you don’t set a password on your routers, then anyone within range can connect. Hackers and criminal organizations are known to look for, and then target these networks. With fairly simple tools and a bit of know-how, they can start capturing data that goes in and out of the network, and even attacking the network and computers attached. In other words, unprotected networks are basically open invitations to hackers.

Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that all wireless networks in the office are secured with passwords that are not easy to guess. For example, many Internet Service Providers who install hardware when setting up networks will often just use the company’s main phone number as the password to the router. This is too easy to work out, so changing to a password that is a lot more difficult to guess is makes sense.

2. Email is not secure

Admittedly, most companies who have implemented a new email system in the past couple of years will likely be fairly secure. This is especially true if they use cloud-based options, or well-known email systems like Exchange which offer enhanced security and scanning, while using modern email transition methods.

The businesses at risk are those using older systems like POP, or systems that don’t encrypt passwords (what are known as ‘clear passwords’). If your system doesn’t encrypt information like this, anyone with the right tools and a bit of knowledge can capture login information and potentially compromise your systems and data.

If you are using older email systems, it is advisable to upgrade to newer ones, especially if they don’t encrypt important information.

3. Mobile devices that aren’t secure enough

Mobile devices, like tablets and smartphones, are being used more than ever before in business, and do offer a great way to stay connected and productive while out of the office. The issue with this however is that if you use your tablet or phone to connect to office systems, and don’t have security measures in place, you could find networks compromised.

For example, if you have linked your work email to your tablet, but don’t have a screen lock enabled and you lose your device anyone who picks it up will have access to your email and potentially sensitive information.

The same goes if you accidentally install a fake app with malware on it. You could find your systems infected. Therefore, you should take steps to ensure that your device is locked with at least a passcode, and you have anti-virus and malware scanners installed and running on a regular basis.

4. Anti-virus scanners that aren’t maintained

These days, it is essential that you have anti-virus, malware, and spyware scanners installed on all machines and devices in your company and that you take the time to configure these properly. It could be that scans are scheduled during business hours, or they just aren’t updated. If you install these solutions onto your systems, and they start to scan during work time, most employees will just turn the scanner off thus leaving systems wide-open.

The same goes for not properly ensuring that these systems are updated. Updates are important for scanners, because they implement new virus databases that contain newly discovered malware and viruses, and fixes for them.

Therefore, scanners need to be properly installed and maintained if they are going to even stand a chance of keeping systems secure.

5. Lack of firewalls

A firewall is a networking security tool that can be configured to block certain types of network access and data from leaving the network or being accessed from outside of the network. A properly configured firewall is necessary for network security, and while many modems include this, it’s often not robust enough for business use.

What you need instead is a firewall that covers the whole network at the point where data enters and exits (usually before the routers). These are business-centric tools that should be installed by an IT partner like us, in order for them to be most effective.

How do I ensure proper business security?

The absolute best way a business can ensure that their systems and networks are secure is to work with an IT partner like us. Our managed services can help ensure that you have proper security measures in place and the systems are set up and managed properly. Tech peace of mind means the focus can be on creating a successful company instead. Contact us today to learn more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. SOURCE

Your small to medium-sized business is just as dependent on IT as a large company is. You need the right technology, to have it work, to have it fixed quickly when a problem arises, and to know what that will cost. At some point, all small-to mid-size business owners face this dilemma: form their own in-house IT support group or hire an outside IT consulting firm.

IT has become the lifeblood of any business, large or small. That being said, it is essential for businesses to have their computer systems up and running 24 hours a day 7 days a week and 365 days a year – reliability, securely and efficiently. Whether you have 10 employees or 1000, any business owner has no time to deal with daily IT issues or unreliable IT support personnel. In the event of a disaster, you need to get your business back on track ‘now’.

Full-Time In-House IT

Having a dedicated, full-time staff person in-house seems like a sensible and secure option. The person knows your systems and technologies, understands the nuances of your business and staff preferences, and in many cases has been a part of the legacy of technical development within your organization so he “knows where the bodies are buried”.  Additionally, the in-house solution only has one client, you. This provides business owners with a great deal of comfort – knowing that “my guy” is always here, in-house, and at the ready to respond to the little annoyances and huge disasters that are commonplace.

While on the surface this solution seems to be a good choice, there are a number of negatives associated with in-house IT staffing solutions that make it a risky proposition:

  • Cost: In house requires a constant budget item for IT staff in salaries and benefits
  • Most IT departments in small-to medium size firms are 1-2 people, so when key IT person “leaves with the keys” – business can come to a halt.
  • Not scalable and costly when expanded – getting more IT staff becomes costly – and under-capacitated
  • In House IT need to be trained on newer technology -they don’t always do it on their own or want the company to pay for the certifications – which are costly.
  • Transitioning off and on is a very cumbersome process.

 

IT Consulting Firms

What if we told you that you could receive better IT support for a fraction of the cost that it would take to hire an onsite IT department?  Hiring an outside IT services firm is a wise decision for most small to medium sized businesses.

The two main benefits in hiring an outside firm are costs and expertise/knowledge.

We see too often smaller firms who come to us after having had one dedicated IT person on staff.  This person typically was responsible for selecting and setting up all of the basic IT functions and system choices.  Invariably we find that many of these choices were poorly vetted, require tweaking, fixing and/or replacing. This is mainly due to the fact that inside IT do what they know or are familiar with. “This is the solution that I use for all of my clients”. This comfort and fluency can easily be mistaken for expertise.  Outside firms are constantly upgrading their system offerings, training their tech staff on the most cutting edge solutions and have the resources to provide all of the proper certifications.  As a result, there is a greater likelihood that you will be getting the best possible range of solutions – that are built for the current state of technology. This is critical.  Swapping out old dead tech is a massive and costly disruption.

Second, and probably most important is cost.  With in-house staff, there are salaries and benefits. With an outside firm, you only pay either a fixed retained fee, or an hourly rate, so the costs are more manageable.  Plus, the outside firm is incentivized to do a better job in the hours allotted then someone who knows can rely on a salary and benefits.

Whether you’re looking for a preventative maintenance solution to keep IT costs predictable and avoid expensive computer problems, or a disaster recovery plan to get you back online quickly after an emergency, our technical support experts will meet with you to understand your business, and your IT needs, so that we can find the solution that’s right for you.

Proactive IT Services – Flat-rate, round-the-clock maintenance and monitoring to prevent problems before they turn into downtime

Remote Backup & Disaster Recovery – GCInfotech provides not only reliable automatic backups and archiving, but also a rock-solid plan of action for recovery in the event of a disaster.

Cloud Solutions – Anytime, anywhere access to your data and business applications including cloud online data backup.

Anti-Spam Solutions – Say goodbye to spam and hello to dramatically increased productivity

Help Desk Software – A turn-key, hosted service desk and ticketing system for assessing, assigning, and resolving service issues related to your small business

Outsourced IT Support – Focus on running your business instead of troubleshooting your network with GCInfotech custom IT services designed to fit your business and your needs. GCInfotech is proud to provide local businesses with professional IT Solutions in CT, New York City and beyond.

Contact us now to schedule your FREE Business Technology and Security Assessment

As 21st century companies, we’ve all settled into the information age quite nicely. We save all of our important company data on our file servers. We send and receive our corporate communications through email.  We even source vendors and do our banking online. With all of this data going back and forth, it’s no wonder available storage space on our hard drives gets pretty tight.

Most of us would rather give up an arm, than give up our computers but we don’t really give them the TLC they need.  Getting rid of outdated or useless files and programs, or just learning the best way to organize all our stuff can make a big difference to the storage space as well as the processing time of the computer.  Simple things like keeping a clean desktop on your Mac, can really make a difference.

Has your file server become the digital equivalent of that drawer in your kitchen where you put all the stuff you don’t have a place for?

Even if you were forward thinking when you installed your server and you have plenty of space, don’t pat yourself on the back yet because that extra data may cost you in the long run. If you are including that data in your backup, it may end up costing you. And if you need to upgrade your server, it’s going to cost you for the additional storage space and time required migrating all that data to the new server.

So now you are wondering what to do. Just remember that data is only as good as its relevance. Information related to any of your important clients is always relevant. Let’s focus on the information for those clients that you haven’t done work with in years, or might not exist anymore. Here are some tips for getting a handle on your data:

  • Clean up or delete draft copies.
  • Clean up old, out of date information. Chances are you will Google something for the latest information anyway.
  • Clean up your email. Junk mail is just that, junk. Delete it.
  • Organize your files. By creating yearly sub-folders, you will be able to clearly see the age of some of your data.
  • Uninstall unused programs. When a program is installed, it creates connections between the program and the operating system. Even if you don’t use these programs, they can slow down your system.

In the case of data on your computer, more is not always better. Organize, prioritize, and then purge.

As always, GCInfotech can walk you through the process, ensure your business has the least amount of disruption and set up a structure that will keep you organized in the future. We can help you with data backup and protection, as well as moving your data to the cloud.

Contact GCInfotech IT Professionals today to talk about your data organization and protection. Call us 203 327 5700

Information Technology Services

An I.T. Manager’s New Year’s Resolution

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to review your systems maintenance program, tweak your plans and processes and optimize your overall I.T. strategy.

Review, Evaluate and Optimize.
More than likely, your business could live or die based on your IT strategy. We have all become dependent on our technology both in our personal and professional lives, so be sure to give it the TLC it needs. Review your key procedures and plans such as network failure testing, disaster recovery, business continuity, virus protection and data backup (for an integrated, online backup, storage and sharing application, click here). For those of you with an on-site backup solution, now is the perfect time to run those backups with a test recovery. With erratic weather on the rise and winter around the corner, taking the time to be sure you have a tight, foolproof strategy in place to keep both your systems and your information protected from loss or damage.

Be Smart About Your Data.
Inadequate protection or spotty management of critical data can have a profound effect on sustainability. Regularly scheduled testing of your backup strategy and implementing a daily backup routine will help prevent the disasters that prove fatal for many companies.

  • 31% of PC users have lost all of their files due to events beyond their control.
  • 34% of companies fail to test their onsite backup solution, and of those that do, 77% have found back-up failures.
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the disaster.
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States.
  • Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed.

We recommend assessing your existing data protection strategy and learn what data repository and storage medium options are available. It’s important to understand traditional backup methods as well as the benefits of developing an enhanced protection solution that meets the needs of your particular business.

Think of it as a Flu Shot for your Systems.
There are lots of people out there determined to infect your computers with viruses. Optimize your security with new or updated anti-virus, Spyware and Malware software. Be wary of free anti-virus software that sounds too good to be true because it often is.  You get what you pay for, and software that protects your computer needs regular and consistent updating to stay useful because viruses are constantly being generated. This is especially important if you use a networked computer system. Do your homework,  invest in effective software and keep it updated. (For an easy-to-use, simple, and effective anti-malware application, try Malwarebytes)
Give your Computer a Tune Up.
Straight out of the box, computers have often been loaded with unnecessary programs at the factory.  So, from day 1, your computer is accumulating software programs, update reminders, “bonus” software, and random files that you don’t need and over time it will become increasingly sluggish. By taking a few important steps, you can get it running efficiently again, for a lot longer. The first thing you should do is disable the programs that start up when your computer boots.  While there are many places this can occur, the easiest one to check is the Startup menu in your Programs menu. Additionally, simple tasks such as clean out your Windows Registry, remove unneeded files and programs, empty your recycling bin or trash, and perform a disc defragmentation can make a huge difference.  Even if your computer has been performing slowly for some time, beginning this regimen is sure to produce results.

Email – a Blessing or a Burden?

Most of us are guilty of being slaves to our inbox, whether we like to admit it or not. We keep every thing that has ever been sent to us out of some sort of unfounded fear of not having it should we ever need it. And the “reply all” function makes it exponentially worse. Well, each of those emails, particularly the ones with large attachments, take up space on your computer  – and space in your head when you are actually trying to find something. Email is the third largest culprit of workplace interruptions and email mismanagement costs you money.   Take charge and clean up that clutter by creating folders and subfolders to organize your communications. Save the attachments that you will need later onto your hard drive in a logical place, then delete the email if its unnecessary. Set your computer to delete your Trash after 30 days. Anything you can think of to reduce the number of emails in your actual inbox will save you time and money down the road.

GCInfotech can get you started on the path to a leaner, more efficient IT strategy. If you don’t have an IT Manager to make a New Year’s Resolution for you, then give us a call. 

GCInfotech is your total business IT solutions resource for Cloud Computing

Everybody’s talking about “the cloud.” But what does it all mean?

Cloud computing is nothing new. But boy does everyone love a new and exciting buzzword. The key, really, is knowing if sending your data into the cloud is a sound business decision for you. GCInfotech can help you avoid the pitfalls and find the clearest path to the cloud, while weighing the risk vs. reward and the value vs. cost of moving your vital business processes into a cloud-based, hosted environment.

So, what is the cloud anyway? It’s really nothing more than third party management of your data, allowing for easy access from any portal or device that’s connected to the internet. Sounds simple enough, but this in and of itself doesn’t necessarily mean you should make the leap into a cloud-based system.

Ask yourself a few questions first:

Do you have a good way to protect and back up your data regardless of where and when you access it?

Do you have sufficient bandwidth to access the cloud efficiently?

Are your emails kept confidential?

Will the cloud provider stick around if you have a financial meltdown?

Do you have ballooning technical infrastructure costs that you’d like to address?

What are the benefits?

1. Reduced space. Physical hardware can take up a lot of space. Take for example your servers. If you virtualize these, you can probably fit all of them onto one or two units. This will reduce the space your hardware takes up, freeing up extra storage capacity or possibly another desk.

2. Reduced overhead. Having hardware and servers in an office can be expensive to maintain. Cloud computing will often reduce overhead costs and save you money.

3. Quicker backup and recovery.  This means that your vital data is always backed up and protected. Beyond that, the backups ‘are in the cloud’, meaning that if there is a disaster, you can recover lost data quickly and easily.

4. Longer hardware replacement cycles. Virtualized solutions and platforms often require lower computing resources because they are hosted on the provider’s servers. This means that you won’t have to replace existing tech hardware.

5. The cloud is scalable. If your company is growing, you will eventually have to add new systems. In an already cramped office this means finding the space for hardware or servers needed to support your growth, not to mention investing in systems that are compatible with existing hardware. Virtualization is highly scalable, and can grow with your company, often without the need for extra services.

We assure you, the cloud is nothing new and nothing to feel overwhelmed about, but there are indeed a variety of links in the chain of services that can often lead to a cloud-based solution that’s just plain cloudy.

Let GCInfotech help  you clear the fog and find a solution that makes sense for you and your business.