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Jack of all trades; Master of nothing and staying away from the Pre-madona IT guy

Everyday I’m faced with new tasks that require me to keep on my toes. The technology world is constantly moving and constantly changing. It’s hard to keep up some times. I’ve discovered over the years that you don’t always have to be the best at something. Asking others for help is a complement to the other person and it tells your clients that you care to get the problem resolved; then keep your prideful attitude that you know everything.

The truth is there is WAAAY too much information out ther. For someone in the IT world to claim they know everything is just a flat out lie. If your IT guy claims he knows everything or puts off the persona that he’s the end all be all – move on.

At Acts Technology we’re not paid to know everything there is about the Information Technology. We’re paid to find solutions. Sure we have over 20 years of IT industry experience. We’ve seen a lot, done a lot and can pass this info along to you. We are excellent at what we do and we love to help people.

Give us a call and mention this post and we’ll give you a FREE BUSINESS TECHNOLOGY ASSESSMENT and knock off 25% OFF YOUR FIRST CONSULTING INVOICE.

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Snow Day – No Problem

Today I woke up to about 5 inches of snow on the ground. Here in the Portland Metro area people have no clue how to drive in the snow and the city shuts down. I love snow days because the world seems to shut down and I get a day to get caught up on Business things (mostly cleaning my office).

I did have a few clients call me today asking for some help. For those on our Management and Monitoring program I was able to remote in and fix thing for them.

If you’re not on a Management and Monitoring program for your devices (computer, laptop, smart phone, etc) Give us a call. We can get you fixed up; so snow days are no problem to you too.

Gonna go play in the snow.

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Windows 10

Should I go with Windows 10?

Short Answer – Not yet.

Long Answer – Keep reading.

While Windows 8 frustrated many people; it was a more stable operating system than windows 7.  Microsoft in an attempt to move everything technology to a single operating system came back to bite them.  Bite maybe too strong of a word.  Nibble.

With tablets, smart phones, servers, desktops and laptops Microsoft had good intentions to merge everything into one Operating system.  What they didn’t expect was the frustration of the too much too soon with Windows 8.  While Windows 8 looked like a tablet or smart phone with tiles that were actually “App-like”; most people like their computers to be computers and have a start button. And their smart phones and tablets using apps.

Windows 10 kind of rolls this idea back a notch.  Windows 10 has a start button that looks similar to the familiar windows start button we’ve all come to know and love.  The start button has integrated a few “tiles” into the start button.  This is a good move for Microsoft.  It will relieve some of the stress of updating for those who refused to go to 8 and held out with windows 7.

 

I’m advising my clients to NOT upgrade the day Windows 10 is released, but rather to wait a few weeks until all the real bugs can be weeded out.

Good Computing and if you need any help please contact me.

 

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Do I replace my server or go to the cloud?

With the retirement of Windows server 2003 this year, I have a lot of clients looking at their technology replacement options. Here’s a couple for you to think about.

Replace the server option

While it would be nice to have a server that lasts for ever the truth to the matter is a server has lots of moving parts (spinning hard drives & fans). Moving parts fail. It’s not a matter of “IF” they’ll fail, but rather “WHEN” they will fail. A server’s life depends on its workload and how well you maintain it. So, buying a new server to replace what you have is a good idea, but only if it makes sense to your budget. For an average small business with less than 50 employees you’re going to spend around $5000 for a new server. Then you’re looking at another 20-30 hours setting up the new server and migrating the data over.

When replacing a server with a new server you should be thinking about future expansion of the server as your small company grows. Items to think about include adding more RAM or Hard Drive Space. You can keep your up front costs lower by purchasing an upgradeable server. There’s no sense in spending money on MAXing out your hard drive space on your server when you may never fill it.

Move to the cloud

Replacing your old server and moving to the cloud is truly the wave of the future. Actually, the wave has been here for quite some time. Retiring your old email server and moving to a product such as Google Apps or Microsoft Office 365 take a lot of pressure off your IT person. These companies handle the SPAM and mail retention. Your IT person has to set the accounts up and make sure you know how to get connected to these services.

You might even think that you may not be able to replace your server because you have an antiquated database thats running in it. Most companies out there that are running server/client databases (think: financial, specialized) have updated versions or even cloud based versions. The updated version may even bring in some new bells and whistles that your older version didn’t have. It will most likely be faster too. The cloud based versions are great because you can access your database info regardless of location. You could be sitting on a beach checking in on your patient database. Just as long as you have an internet connection.

If you’re looking to upgrade your server or move your old environment to the cloud; please give Acts Technology a call. We do this stuff all the time. We can sit down with you and work with you and budgets of all sizes.

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What’s a cloud based backup

One of the things that our company offers is online, cloud based backups. I get a lot of confused looks as to what exactly a cloud based backup is.

Simply put a cloud based backup takes your data offsite and stores it on another computer somewhere across the internet. It differs from traditional (onsite) backups in that it is using the internet to move your data to a safe location instead of to a local tape or hard drive that has to be taken offsite. The problem with traditional backups is that it relies on a human factor. The human has to remember to take the backup media (tape or hard drive) off site. In all my years of dealing with small and medium sized businesses; the biggest problem was remembering to “swap out the tape” or “take the drive offsite”. On more than one occasion I have walked into a clients office and asked, “Have you been taking the tapes offsite?” And 9 times out of 10 the owner of the company would hang their head in shame and say, “no.”

Backups that are online are great and almost flawless. Most of the backup software out there is smart enough to restart if it loses it’s connection with the cloud server, restart if there is a power outage and also send you a monthly, weekly or daily report. The can email you when a job has started, finished or failed along with a ton of other things.

Bottom line is you should have a backup of any file you want to keep or think you’ll need. If you have any questions feel free to contact me.

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Are PC’s better than Mac’s?

I laugh when I hear this question. My answer? “Nope and Mac’s aren’t better than PC’s either”.

They’re both computers. Computers do what you want them to. Computers are tools. They do different jobs for different people. There used to be a saying that if you were in graphic design you had to have a Mac. That’s just flat out wrong. I can do graphic design work on a PC just as efficiently as I can on a Mac. It comes down to what software is available for what YOU want to do. The computer is just processing what you’re doing. Doing what you tell it to do. Similarly, I’ve heard if you were going to work in business, then you needed a PC. Not true either. Mac’s have business productivity software just like PCs.

The truth is PC’s have about 80% of the market share out there with Macs having about 12%. If you include tablet PC’s, Macs come up to about 20% – 25% depending on what study you’ve read and what new piece of fancy hardware has just been released. Mac’s have a lower market share, but in my opinion they have better, hipper, marketing than PC’s. Mac’s are the underdog and everyone likes the underdog.

If a client of mine is looking to buy a new computer; sometime they’ll ask me if they should go with a PC or a Mac. I usually reply with, “what are you used to using?” or “what are you using now?” If they reply with “I use a Mac”, then I ask, “Is it doing what you want it to do?”. If they say, “Yes.”, then I usually tell them to stick with what they know. If they say, “No”, then we look at different options in both the PC and Mac worlds. And vise versa with PC’s. Unless you have a good reason to switch operating systems (Windows, Mac OS) I would suggest you stay with what you know. Although both PC’s and Macs are pretty easy to figure out for the curious folks out there; its not a good idea to try to learn a new operating system when you are pressed for time.

“yea, but PC’s get more viruses than macs” True. But, remember PC’s have 80% of the market share. If you were writing a virus and wanted to take out computers; would you target 80% of the market or 20%? Regardless, if you have a Mac or a PC you should have good virus protection, installed, updated and that scans regularly. Macs can get viruses too, but it is rare. Ultimately, computers do what their humans tell them to do. And, if you don’t regularly tell your computer to update its virus protection and scan for viruses, then its really your fault, not the Mac or the PC’s fault. Computers don’t just invite viruses in. Humans do.

Also, Macs don’t have anti-phishing filters. This can get your identity stolen pretty quick. Check out this website for help on keeping your Mac protected.

So, don’t waste your breath arguing if Macs are better than PC’s. Just pick what you want to use and use it.

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Should I go with Windows 8

I’ve been asked by quite a few folks lately if they should go to windows 8.

In the past with new Operating System releases I would tell clients to wait until the first service pack comes out. Windows 2000 had 4, XP had 3, Vista had 2 and Windows 7 currently has 1. My initial thought remains the same – wait. However, if you just can’t take it anylonger and you have to have the latest and greatest.. go for it.

Windows 8 is “fun”. The new start screen takes a little getting used to, but for most users you can figure it out pretty quickly and most if not all programs that ran in Windows 7 should work with Windows 8.

Now here’s a freebie for other IT folks… Windows 8 needs some tweaking to get it on a domain. I found out earlier this week that Small Business Server 2011 has to have Rollout Update 3 installed AND you have to run a special command on Windows 8 Pro workstation. It looks like this.

dism.exe /online /enable-feature /featurename:NetFX3 /All /Source:c:\temp\sxs /LimitAccess

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