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Last-Minute Spring Cleaning: Maintaining Your Business Technology - Westec Services

Last-Minute Spring Cleaning: Maintaining Your Business Technology

Summer is right around the corner. If you haven’t tackled Spring cleaning yet, now is your opportunity! Here are a few ways to clean up your system and improve its overall performance with regular maintenance:

 

Business Technology MaintenanceDust with compressed air and wipe down the monitor

Starting with the outside of your system, dust the keyboard and mouse with a can of compressed air. Compressed air is strong and will clean out any built up dust particles and other grime. You may also consider wiping down your keyboard and mouse with an antibacterial solution, to rid the surfaces of germs and bacteria. Avoid spraying the keyboard and mouse directly — instead, lightly spritz a rag and wipe. Wipe down your monitor with a microfiber cloth to remove fingerprints and anything else that may be crusted to the monitor. 

 

Clean hardware system

Once you have dusted the outside of your system, you should focus on cleaning your hardware. Before you begin, close any active programs/files, shut your computer down, and unplug the computer from the wall. Unscrew the hardware casing and use compressed air to dust all the nooks and crannies of your system. Compressed air is safe to use on hardware and should not cause any damage.

 

Turn your computer off or restart regularly 

Simply putting your computer to sleep while it is not in use will cause your system minimal damage. However, you should make a habit of restarting or shutting your system down every now and then — especially if you use an older system. Rebooting your computer will prevent overheating and will allow your system to refresh its settings and resources. Allowing your computer to reboot and refresh will improve its overall performance.

 

Business Technology MaintenanceClear up drive space

One thing that will slow your computer’s performance is a full drive. Improve your computer’s performance by clearing up drive space regularly — there’s no reason to hold on to files and downloads you no longer need! Delete any unnecessary files and consider moving files you wish to keep to an external harddrive.

 

Remove malware and viruses  

Malware can affect operability and cause data loss or theft. There are a number of ways your system can be infected by malware and other viruses. Therefore, it is important that you use antivirus software to protect your computer and remove any potential threats. This software will run diagnostics, identify viruses, and resolve these.

 

Install updates

It is important that you install program updates regularly, as to ensure all programs are running efficiently. Failing to install new updates can affect the speed and performance of your programs. Most programs have regular updates that will address security holes and minimize unnecessary features.

 

 

At WesTec Services, we believe regular maintenance is crucial for maintaining the health of your system. With regular maintenance, you can prevent the worst from happening — and prevention is key! 

Most IT consultants simply put band-aid fixes on computer network problems and react to problems instead of looking for ways to prevent them from happening in the first place. As with most things in life, prevention really is better than cure — and it’s no surprise to find that prevention is the secret of good IT support too. Interested in learning more about our IT services? Contact us today!

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Quick Fixes to Common Tech Issues - WesTec Services

Quick Fixes to Common Tech Issues

If you work on a computer all day long, you’re likely to encounter tech issues. At WesTec, we believe knowledge is power. Therefore, we have compiled a list of a few quick fixes to common tech issues:

 

Unresponsive applications

For a number of reasons, you may receive a dialogue box stating that the application you are trying to use is unresponsive. This issue will prevent you from using the application and will likely slow the performance of your system. Fortunately, there’s no need to call IT support, as this issue has an easy fix!

On PC, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete in order to access your Task Manager. From this dialogue box, you can end specific tasks. Your Task Manager will indicate which applications are unresponsive, and you can hit “End Task” to close the application.

On Mac, you can achieve the same result by pressing Command + Option + Esc. You will receive a pop-up displaying active applications. Select the unresponsive application and click “Force Quit.”

 

Slow or poor internet connection

There’s nothing more disruptive than a slow or poor internet connection. When you encounter this issue, minimize downtime with this quick fix.

Your wireless internet connection is supported by a router. Restart your router by unplugging its power source for 30 – 60 seconds. Then, plug the router back in. You will notice it may take a few minutes before you have a stable internet connection. If this does not work, try restarting your computer and checking your connection again.

You may also consider clearing your browsing history and cache. A collection of cookies and cache could be slowing specific sites. Every internet browser is different, but you can easily clear your cache in your general settings.

 

Slow computer performance  

Is your system underperforming? There could be several reasons for this! Before calling IT, there are a few things you can try in order to improve the speed of your computer.

If you have too many windows or programs open and running at once, this could be affecting your computer’s performance. Close any windows or programs you are not using. If your computer is full of downloads, try deleting any files you no longer need and empty your trash bin. This will likely improve your computer’s performance, but it also wouldn’t hurt to restart your computer.

If this issue persists, we recommend calling IT, as you may have a virus that is affecting your system.

 

 

Struggling to troubleshoot your tech issues? Minimize the downtime spent searching for solutions and outsource IT support with WesTec Services! Interested in learning more? Contact us today!

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PC vs. Mac: Which is the Right Option for Me? - WesTec Services

PC vs. Mac: Which is the Right Option for Me?

The PC vs. Mac debate has the tech world divided. Whether it’s PC or Mac, users are loyal to their system. This begs the question: which system is better? What are the pros and cons of each system? WesTec Services has created a breakdown for each computer:

PC

One of the most obvious benefits to purchasing a PC is the price. PCs not only offer a wide range of products, but these products are more affordable than Mac products. According to VoltCave, a standard PC in 2021 costs anywhere from $500-$1000. Meanwhile, a Mac starts at $1299.

PCs also offer better hardware and configuration than Mac products. Boasting superior hardware and graphics cards, a PC is the better option for someone with interests in gaming. 

PCs use Windows operating systems, which allows users more freedom to customize and modify their system’s functionality and storage. Since Windows is the most commonly used operating system, there is more compatible software available for PCs.

Mac

Apple is known for their user-friendly, intuitive systems, making Mac computers the obvious choice for beginners. Meanwhile, PCs using Windows operating systems come with a bit of learning curve.

Though superficial, Mac is the preferred choice for its sleek appearance, as Mac products are more aesthetically pleasing than most PCs. For those with iPhones, iPads, or iPods, Mac’s easy multi-device integration allows its users to seamlessly sync all their Apple products together. When integrating devices, users can place calls and send iMessages directly from their computer, and easily access/share files directly from their devices. 

Additionally, Mac systems boast clear, built-in “Retina” displays. Therefore, these systems are ideal for those who require superior visual elements, such as graphic designers and artists.

 

When choosing between PC and Mac, it’s important to understand that not one system is better than the other — you simply must consider what system meets your needs and budget! Regardless of what system your company favors, WesTec Services is here to provide superior IT support. Interested in learning more about our Managed Services or IT Consulting? Contact us today!

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3 Crucial Security Solutions to Employ as a Business Owner - WesTec Services

3 Crucial Security Solutions to Employ as a Business Owner

A security threat of any kind can disrupt productivity and impact business. What precautions are you taking to ensure your company does not fall victim to these disruptions? Here are 3 security solutions you should employ as a business owner:  

Backup Disaster/Recovery

System failure can occur for a variety of reasons, such as virus infection, human error, and natural disaster. Regardless, system failure occurs without warning and could easily put you out of business if you are not prepared. Therefore, it is crucial you implement some sort of backup and data recovery software to protect your network. If you store important or confidential files on your computers, you simply cannot afford to be without backup and data recovery.  

Access Control Systems

Another way to protect your business against security threats would be to implement an access control system. With access control systems, facility owners may install security technology such as ID key entries and finger-printing scanners in order to track who enters the building. This technology can also record the time and date guests arrive and leave.   

CCTV or IP Security System

Video surveillance is another great solution for businesses looking to increase security efforts, especially when paired with access control systems. Installing cameras at key entrances and exits will allow a facility owner to better monitor who enters the building. Unlike backup disaster/recovery, access control systems and CCTV protect against external security threats.   Why wait until you need a solution in order to implement preventative measures? Most IT consultants simply react to problems instead of looking for ways to prevent them from happening in the first place. At WesTec Services, we believe prevention is better than a cure; prevention is key to maintaining productivity and cash flow. Protect your assets – call WesTec Services and schedule a meeting with one of our IT professionals to discuss what security solutions are best suited for your business!

Upgrading to a dual monitor system

Upgrading to a dual monitor system

 August 21st, 2018
Upgrading to a dual monitor system

Small businesses are always searching for ways for their employees to be more effective computer users. But before you go out and buy bigger hard drives and faster processors, you should consider upgrading your desktops to a dual monitor system. Read on to find out about the advantages of using two monitors per desktop.

Enhanced productivity
Published studies conclude that by working with dual monitors, overall productivity increases by 20-50%. Computer programmers, for example, can use one screen for source coding and the other for programming; by using dual monitors, they no longer need to toggle back and forth between tabs. This reduces error and frees up time to complete more projects.

Better multitasking
Efficient multitasking requires adequate screen space to keep multiple applications simultaneously visible — a view that single monitors alone simply cannot accommodate. Workers who require computers, like customer service reps and web designers, would no longer waste time switching between tabs and resizing windows to fit the limited space; they could now focus on completing their tasks accurately and efficiently.

Easier cutting and pasting
This reason resonates with jobs that call for creating newsletters or PowerPoint presentations. Dual monitors would eliminate the need for alternating between tabs and scrolling up and down as you work. Also, the enhanced visibility reduces chances of making mistakes and thus losing more time fixing them.

Image and video editing
With dual monitors, the days of stacking numerous editing tools on top of the image or video you’re working on are long gone. Instead of your screen looking like a game of Mahjong, you can put the editing tools on one screen and leave the image on the other. With better visibility, you’re less likely to commit errors and more likely to be finessed, and you’re not sacrificing valuable working time in the process.

Product comparison
You want to buy a camera, and you have two models in mind. It’s time to make a decision, so you have to compare their specs. If you had only one monitor, you’d need to go back and forth from one tab to another. But if you had two monitors, you could view the models side-by-side to help you clearly see their differences and make an informed purchase.

Dual monitors benefit almost every industry because of the enhanced visibility, larger screen space, and how you can briefly nap behind them without getting caught Using dual monitors can enhance even your leisure time activities as well.

Broaden your horizons by getting in touch with us. We’ll answer any questions you have.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Server Administration 101: Temperature

Server Administration 101: Temperature

August 2nd, 2018
Server Administration 101: Temperature

Servers are the heart of most modern SMBs.  And with the strain that most businesses put on their servers, one of the most important maintenance variables is temperature management. Understanding why keeping your servers cool is vitally important and could save you from an expensive crash, troubling data loss, or reduced hardware reliability.

How does temperature affect my servers?

High temperatures in server hardware can result in different types of damage. A server that completely crashes for any reason results in costly data loss and service interruptions, but the unbiased advisory organization Uptime Institute warns that overheating that doesn’t always result in total failure. Every 18 degrees higher than 70 degrees Fahrenheit, hardware reliability decreases by 50%. This decrease in reliability can be just as, if not more, expensive for your hardware budget in the long run.

Cooling methods can’t just be implemented and forgotten; they must be closely monitored to ensure the health of your server hardware in the short and long term. Options for temperature management range from simple low-budget solutions to expensive outsourced alternatives. Determining your server management budget will greatly depend on what types of methods you intend to implement at your SMB.

Cooling methods

Which system you use to cool your server largely depends on how much power your hardware is using. The more watts a computer needs to operate, the harder it’s working. This number will determine the scope of your temperature management needs.

For example, PCWorld says passive temperature control is adequate for any equipment operating at less than 400 watts. This includes simple solutions like positioning your server away from walls, low ceilings, cable clusters, and anything else that can block hot air from dissipating naturally.

For computers using between 400 and 2,000 watts, strategic ventilation becomes a necessity. Adding passive ventilation is viable up to 700 watts, but fan-assisted ventilation will be required above that and up to 2,000 watts. With the increased power consumption, temperatures will rise, and air movement needs to be more closely managed. At this stage, simple vent and oscillating fans will suffice.

Anything higher than 2,000 watts needs dedicated cooling solutions. This means air-cooled units to actively reduce server room temperature. Depending on the size and arrangement of the space, a simple self-contained unit may be enough to reduce temperatures to acceptable ranges. But if you’re not sure, you should schedule a consultation with a vendor to consider more drastic cooling and monitoring methods.

Keeping your servers running at ideal temperatures means smoother data operations, lower hardware budgets, and one less thing to worry about at your SMB. As your business continues to grow and develop, keep close tabs on increasing server loads — it could save you from devastating data loss. If you need more detailed advice about server management, or have any other questions about your hardware setup, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

5 tips for buying a new computer

5 tips for buying a new computer

July 19th, 2018
5 tips for buying a new computer

There are so many different types of computers out there, each with varying specifications and capabilities – how do you find the best one for your needs? Whether you’re purchasing a computer for yourself or for your family, here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you make the right decision.

Desktop or Laptop?

This depends on your working style and environment. The rule is quite simple: if you rarely work out of the office, get a desktop PC. If you need to work at home, on the go, or at client meetings, then go for a laptop. It’s worth noting that desktops are generally cheaper than laptops at similar specifications, have a longer usage life, and make for easier changing or upgrading of components. Laptops, on the other hand, are very portable due to their compact size, they consume less energy, and they offer a more flexible user experience.

Processor

If you want a computer that loads programs in a flash, completes tasks almost instantly, and runs smoothly at all times, then we recommend you invest in the strongest processors available. The performance of a processor is determined by its number of cores and speed, so the bigger the number, the better. These days, most users go for the latest octa-core processors, specifically if your tasks involve rendering high-definition images, animations, graphics, and analysis. For optimum results, get a processor with the higher number of cores.

RAM

Random Access Memory (RAM) allows your computer to perform multiple tasks at once without a hitch. Just like processors, the amount of RAM your computer has will determine how fast it will run when you work on several programs simultaneously. Nowadays, standard computers come with at least of 4GB of RAM, with 8GB being ideal for most users — to navigate smoothly between tasks such as email browsing, Internet surfing, and working on word processing documents and spreadsheets.

Hard Drive

The bigger the hard drive, the more space you have to store files. If you plan on using your computer with no peripherals, you’ll want to choose a computer that offers the biggest hard drive. But remember that you can always purchase an external hard drive to transfer or store files if your current hard drive is running out of space. Another thing to consider in a hard drive is its spin speed. The average speed for a desktop hard drive is 7200rpm. The faster your hard drive disk spins, the quicker the transfer of data to and from it. And one of the fastest these days are solid-state hybrid drives (SSHDs), which combines solid-state drives and HDDs for seamless data access.

Operating Systems

Picking an operating system is a big decision when it comes to choosing a new computer. You’ll probably want to stick with an operating system you’re already familiar with, since it can take some time to adapt yourself to a new OS. Here are some of the popular options available on the market:

  • Windows 10
  • Mac OS X
  • Linux
  • Ubuntu

Most people will just go for either Windows or Mac OS, because the complexity of Linux and Ubuntu mean they are are not popular among everyday users.

Want more hardware tips and tricks? Get in touch with our technology experts today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

How to reduce your PC power consumption

How to reduce your PC power consumption

July 3rd, 2018
How to reduce your PC power consumption

Every home or office has a computer. In one year, a typical desktop that’s on 24/7 releases carbon dioxide that’s equal to driving 820 miles in an average car. To save energy, you don’t need drastic changes; you can start with making small adjustments that will ultimately accumulate to significant savings.

1. Disconnect your external devices

Devices that connect to your PC like printers, sound systems, and webcams consume power, too. That’s why you should disconnect or remove these devices from your PC as soon as you’re done using them.

2. Use a smart strip, especially for computers you cannot turn off

A smart strip is a series of several electrical outlets in one strip, with circuits to monitor and maximize your gadgets’ power consumption. By connecting your PC and its peripherals (printer, speakers, scanners, etc.) to the smart strip, you don’t need to unplug your equipment when you’re not using them.

3. Adjust your computer’s energy settings

You can also consume less energy by adjusting your PC’s power settings. For example, you can make sure your hard drive and monitor go into “sleep” mode when they’re left idle for a few minutes. Lowering the screen brightness will also help you save electricity.

4. Shutdown and unplug your computer when not in use

If you are not yet using a smart strip, then it’s best to shut down the computer when you’re not using it. Also, make sure to unplug it, as leaving it plugged consumes standby power.

5. Use a charger only when charging your laptop

When we charge our laptops, it’s easy to just leave them there and forget about them. This results in the eventual degrading of the battery. Leaving the charger plugged on the wall also consumes standby power. So either use a wall outlet with a timer, or plug your charger on a smart strip instead.

6. And should you be in the market for a new PC, choose one that’s Energy Star compliant

Energy Star is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s symbol for energy efficiency. Every product that earns the Energy Star symbol is guaranteed to deliver quality performance and energy savings. Studies have shown that a single Energy Star compliant computer and monitor can save from $7 to $52 per year in electricity bills.

Saving energy is a combination of smart choices in hardware plus developing good energy-conservation habits. These tips should help you achieve that. If you need assistance in choosing the best hardware for your needs, call us and we’ll be glad to help you out.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

“Black Dot” crashes iOS messaging app

“Black Dot” crashes iOS messaging app

May 31st, 2018
“Black Dot” crashes iOS messaging app

An emoji encrypted with a series of hidden codes has been reported to disable and crash the messaging apps of Apple Macs, iPads, and iPhones. Read on to discover how you can address this problem before it does severe damage to your device.

What is going on?
A bug, known as “Black Dot,” is locking the messaging app on Apple devices running iOS 11.3 and 11.4 beta with Apple TVs and Apple Watches also at risk.

Black Dot is activated when an iOS user sends another user an iMessage (this is not an SMS) with an emoji of a black dot with a finger pointing at it. Loaded with plenty of invisible Unicode characters, this emoji will overwhelm the CPU and memory, forcing the messaging app to stop functioning and possibly lock up the device.

The affected user may be lucky enough to close the app, but the bug will remain when the program is opened again, causing everything to crash.

How do I squash this bug?
Apple’s development team is still working on a patch to address the issue, but you can apply a temporary remedy to keep your device going.

For devices that have Siri installed:

  • Force close the program.
  • Tell Siri to reply to the sender of the bugged message.
  • Make Siri send replies until you do not see the black dot on the screen.
  • Run the messaging app, tap Back, and remove the message that has the black dot from the list.

If your iPhone has 3D Touch installed:

  • Force close the messaging app.
  • Run 3D Touch on the program. Choose the new message option.
  • When you see the new message window, tap Cancel to see the conversations list.
  • Delete the message with the black dot from the list.

If your Apple device does not have 3D Touch or Siri installed:

  • Try using a different Apple product that is synced to your iCloud account to run and log in to iMessage.
  • Remove the message with the black dot from the conversation list in the former device. Make sure that you do not accidentally open the message in that app.

While this bug is a major issue, it has not infected many Apple products yet. Once the final version of iOS 11.4 is released, the problem should be resolved. If you need more information on properly maintaining your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, feel free to give us a call today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

What to tweak when setting up Windows 10

What to tweak when setting up Windows 10

May 30th, 2018
What to tweak when setting up Windows 10

There are things that need to be done after unboxing a new laptop. After installing Microsoft’s Windows 10, you need to unlock its full potential by tweaking some important settings. The best thing to do is get help from a technician, but there are a few things you can do without assistance.

#1 Check for updates

Your new laptop should check for updates automatically, but you can also check manually. Just click the gear icon above the Start button to go to the Settings, choose Update & Security > Windows Update and then click the Check for updates button. (Or, just type “updates” into the search box and click Check for updates.)

#2 System restore

If something goes wrong with your laptop, you can save a lot of time and hassle if you have a “restore point,” which is like a backup of your entire operating system. To set up a restore point, search for “restore” from the taskbar and click Create a restore point. You’ll be taken to the System Protection tab of the System Properties window.

From there you can choose what you want to be included in the back and then click the Configure button. Select the radio dial to Turn on system protection if it’s not already on. And then you can choose how much disk space to reserve, usually nomore than 2 or 3 percent.

#3 Power plan

If you want to prolong your laptop’s battery life, one of the best things you can do is switch the Power Saver, High Performance, and Balanced power plans based on your needs. To choose a plan, right click the battery icon in the lower-right corner of your screen and click Power settings. Next, click Additional power settings to select a power plan.

#4 App installation tolerance level

To restrict which apps can be installed on your laptop, you can disallow anything that isn’t in the Windows Store. Go to Settings > Apps > Apps & features and you can choose whether to permit installations from only the Windows Store, any app installations (with a warning), or unrestricted app installations.

#5 Remove bloatware

Vendors package new laptops with lots of trial apps, which are mostly unnecessary and unwanted software called bloatware.

Windows 10 offers an easy way to see which apps are installed on your new laptop and a quick way to uninstall those you don’t want. Head to Settings > Apps > Apps & features and peruse the list. If you don’t want an app and are 100% certain your computer doesn’t need it, click the Uninstall button.

#6 Anti-ransomware

Ransomware is a form of malicious software (or malware) that makes all your data inaccessible until you pay a fee to hackers.

To combat it, type ‘Windows Defender Security Center’ into the search bar at the bottom of your screen, click it and go to Virus & threat protection > Virus & threat protection settings. Here, you’ll be able to enable a new option called Controlled folder access, which protects you against ransomware attacks. By default, the Desktop, Documents, Music, Pictures, and Videos folders are protected, but you can add others too.

Do you know what settings to change and update to optimize your laptop? This article barely scratches the surface of Window 10’s security and efficiency settings. Call us today for quick chat with one of our Microsoft experts about taking yours to the next level.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Mission: WesTec will be a “turn-key” solution for all of its clients’ business connectivity needs. It will offer efficient and effective solutions, directly and with strategic partners, that create tangible value for its clients at every point of contact. Westec will serve all people and entities with a servant’s heart.

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