Frequently Asked Questions

We don't just want to fix your systems when they break... we want to empower you and your staff to work smarter. Our goal when working with our customers is to find more efficient ways to go about the same everyday tasks; to save you time and money. As part of that training effort, we've compiled a list of the questions we get asked most frequently about.

HOW DO I KEEP MY PASSWORDS SECURE?

We use passwords for just about everything these days. The problem is, that fact alone causes us to become lazy and use the same passwords for multiple sites and logins, and then leaving them the same for long periods of time. Hackers, or people who want to gain access to a system usin gyour identity, rely on these practices and strike whenever they get an opportunity. The following are some best practive guidelines to follow regarding password security.
* Rotate passwords frequently. Once per month is a good rule of thumb. The reason is, believe it or not, there are programs out on the internet trying to crack your password every day. They use "brute-force" and go through a list of word/number combos constantly. The general rule of thumb is, if you stay in one place too long, you'll eventually get caught.
* Don't write them down in plain sight. Under your keyboard is also not a great idea as that's the first place most people look for a password.
* If you must write them down, write down something slightly different that only you'll know. For example, if you have two kids (Stacey & Peter) and your password is stacey123, write down peter123. Only you will know!
* Don't just add a number to the end when it's time to change it. Why? Well, if somebody else ever does get your password, even if it's completely innocent like you had to give it to them on a day off so they could find a file... if you just add a new number every month, they'll be able to figure out the password easily.
* Don't use the same password for all systems. If somebody does manage to get your password for the network, do you really want them to also be able to access your bank account, Facebook account, store accounts, etc. Use variations, not exact matches.

ARE WINDOWS UPDATES IMPORTANT?

Very! We are amazed at how often we go into a company and see the little gold shield on the bottom right of the screen, near the time, and it's waiting for somebody to approve an installation or a reboot of a computer.

On a regular basis, Microsoft releases updates for it's software. It may be for the operating system itself or for one of the Microsoft Office packages (Word, Excel, Outlook, Powerpoint, etc.) While some of these updates are not critical or needed immediately, most are actually very important, and vital that they be installed.

Are your systems up-to-date? Is the Windows Update service even turned on and set up properly? Let us help you figure it all out. One short visit or call literally save you thousands of dollars down the road

IS IT TIME TO REPLACE OUR COMPUTERS?

On average, companies will get anywhere from 2 to 5 years from an average desktop computer. This will of course vary greatly depending on the type of system you purchased and it's included hardware, as well as how your office needs have changed during that time.

The first signs of aging are generally sluggishness from the PC. Sometimes this can be easily remedied by adding memory, which has substantially come down in price over the past several years.

The reason this is often a viable option is that most PCs are shipped with memory that is sufficient for the time, but as you add software, virus scanning software gets more complex, and in general software uses more resources, the system will slow down. But depending greatly on the type of system and it's maximum upgrade potential, this may not even be an option.

Let us work with you to determine if your computers can simply be upgraded or if it's time to replace some of them.

HOW DO I SORT AND FILTER MY EMAIL?

Did you know that you can have Outlook (or most other email software) sort your incoming mail into separate, very specific folders as it arrives? It can be sorted based on who it's coming from, if it contains attachments, who it was sent to (just you versus you and another employee)... or you can even filter email based on if it contains specific words in the subject or body.

When we go in and start spending time with customers at their sites, we often find that many do not know this can be done. It's actually fairly simple once you understand the basic principles. Give us a ring and we can help you out.

WHICH ANTIVIRUS PROGRAM IS BEST?

There are many antivirus and antimalware options available these days. So, how do you know you're purchasing the right one? Or how do you even know if you should purchase one versus using a free product?

The answer to this question is actually not that easy. The first thing to make sure of is that you're using one designed for the types of systems you have. If you have a mail server in your building, you should be using one capable of scanning email folders, as one example. Also, many of the free virus scanning solutions are not meant for "business licensing" so you may be violating the terms if you use it for a business. Also, some *just* scan for viruses, while others also do malware/spyware/adware scanning as well.

Make sure you are getting protection for everything you need, and make sure you are getting EVERY MACHINE IN YOUR ENVIRONMENT protected. Some companies make the mistake of not paying for a license for a couple less critical machines that they don't care as much about. But if that computer is on the same network, and it gets a virus, it can more easily infect the rest of the machines, or cripple the network in other ways.

Please contact us for more information. We can walk you through the proper steps to securing your network and protecting your data.

WHAT EXACTLY IS SPYWARE?

Most people are familiar with viruses and the need for virus protection software, but when you start talking about spyware, adware, malware, trojans... it all starts to get very confusing.

In short, Malware is any program or file that is harmful to a computer user. But there are various kinds of malware; the most common are spyware and adware. Adware is designed to infiltrate your computer and throw advertisements at you, hoping to get you to purchase something... just like any other ad you would see at a website you're visiting, except that it "came to you" versus just being out on the web somewhere.

Spyware is much more dangerous. Spyware is designed to gather information from your computer and report it back to a host computer somewhere out on the internet. It might be sending back your passwords that you use to log into stuff like shopping sites or your bank, or it may be more direct... searching for files on your computer that contain personal or financial information.

And some malware is even designed to install viruses, and vice versa. There are a mariad of programs available to detect all of this bad stuff. Some is more expensive than others. Some only scan "on-demand" while others scan "all the time" - some work in conjunction with others, while some prefer to work alone.

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR PUBLIC-AREA COMPUTING?

* NEVER SAVE YOUR LOGON INFORMATION - When logging in, make sure the box is NOT checked that asks if you want to save your login info for next time. And when you log out, do not simply hit the X in the top-right corner of the browser, but rather use the LOG OFF feature of the site you are in.

* DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER IF YOU HAVE SENSITIVE INFORMATION VISIBLE - It is completely understandable that if you're in a restaurant to work for an hour, you're probably hungry. And when they call your number, all you want to do is go grab your food. But it's just not a good idea.

* WATCH FOR OVER-THE-SHOULDER SNOOPS - Believe it or not, other people may be in the same facility for malicious intent. Be aware of your surroundings.

* DO NOT ENTER SENSITIVE INFORMATION INTO UNFAMILIAR COMPUTERS - It's one thing to browse the internet or check email from a public terminal or connection. It's a completely different story to log onto your bank, make purchases or access stock accounts. Can it be done safely? Sure! But if you limit your exposure, you limit your risk.

* ERASE YOUR TRACKS - Most newer browsers have "privacy" settings or features that allow you to erase your history, cookies and other information. Learn about the systems you are using and take these easy steps to protect yourself.

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