Info Advantage Blog

Info Advantage was formed in 1992 for the purpose of specializing in Information Technology consulting, which encompasses business solution development, software development, and platform support from IBM’s midrange to a growing number of Intel based solutions.

Top Reasons To Outsource Your IT to the Pros

Top Reasons To Outsource Your IT to the Pros

How often does your technology experience trouble? If your business is constantly dealing with technical hiccups, your assets that are meant to be a boon to your organization, can quickly become a nuisance that holds you back. How can you take better care of your technology, and use it to usher in a new era of productivity?

First, we might need to explain the nature of break-fix IT services. This is what you normally get when you take your technology to traditional tech support. They’ll take a look at your technology, tell you what’s wrong, and provide their services for a hefty cost. They won’t take measures to help you mitigate your technology problems down the road. After all, their livelihood depends on your technology breaking down, so why should they have your budget’s best interests in mind?

The other type of IT service seeks to do exactly that; managed IT wants to prevent issues from becoming major problems that cause downtime. This enables your business to save money and time by not having to deal with near-constant technology troubles. The idea is to use preventative maintenance in order to detect minor issues, and resolve the overarching cause, before they can escalate into costly problems that could derail your budget.

Some examples of effective managed service offerings include:

  • Server hosting: Your server units are used for the storage and transportation of critical data, so it makes sense to take proper care of them. However, the average small or medium-sized business might not have the staff or skillset necessary to care for or accommodate the physical server component. Businesses will often outsource this responsibility to guarantee the consistent uptime of crucial systems.
  • Network security: Do you know the difference between viruses, malware, trojans, phishing scams, and other online threats? This is one of the many reasons why organizations would rather outsource their network security to cyber security professionals. Managing and maintaining a security solution that includes a firewall, antivirus, spam blocker, and content filter, can be tiring and knowledge-intensive.
  • Remote maintenance and management: Often times, business professionals might be able to effectively use technology, but don’t notice telltale signs of degradation. Many of these signs can be spotted remotely, and the patches can swiftly be administered without a costly on-site appointment.
  • Backup and disaster recovery: Small businesses need to preserve their data at all costs. It’s been proven that businesses that fail to restore their data following a loss incident are likely to go out of business within one year. This is why so many organizations turn to outsourced managed IT services to handle data backup. With Backup and Disaster Recovery (BDR), backups can be taken as often as every fifteen minutes, and data can be rapidly deployed in the event of a data loss incident.

Does your business have trouble managing and maintaining its critical technology assets? With Info Advantage, we try to make it as easy for you as possible. To learn more about any of the above services, and more, reach out to us at (585) 254-8710.

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VoIP and SMBs: Creating the Perfect Telecommunications System

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Business phones are very different today than the telecommunications systems of the past. Today, many small to mid sized businesses are using internet based technologies such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) in order to simplify their communication and seamlessly synergize with the rest of their business activities. For those who don't know about how businesses can benefit VoIP systems, we'll help by breaking it down.

Types of Phones

Hardphone

These are the phones in the 'traditional' sense; a desk phone connected directly to your business' IP network. These phones are easy to learn and can be used to call internationally, at a cheaper price than a direct phone line. Many modern hardphone systems have newer technologies such as built-in displays, touch screens, and a variety of other features that are seamlessly integrated into one complete phone system.

Softphone

Softphones are the same basic principle of a hardphone system, without the designated desk phone. With a softphone system, users can use software programs to turn almost any mobile device into a work phone. This includes laptops, PCs, tablets, and smart phones. All you have to do is set up with a headset or a mic and speakers and you will be able to make and take business calls wherever you go.

 

Which is Better?

Just like in most cases, the type of VoIP system that is best for you depends on your business' needs. There are a few questions you will have to ask yourself about your business to determine what is the best system for you.

The first question is whether or not your employees are always on the move and rely on mobile communication. If you have staff that is always on the move, you will likely benefit from a softphone system. That way, your employees can be connected to their work phone no matter where they are. However, if your employees tend to stay in the office at their desk, it may make the most sense to use a hardphone system.

The next questions you need to answer are if you need connectivity to your business line at all times. Since hardphones are a part of the work desk, once you leave the office you will have no access to the business line. However, with a softphone system you can have connectivity 24/7, even when you're not at work.

The final question deals with your total IT budget. If you are a brand new company, or are looking to completely upgrade an antiquated system, then it may be more beneficial to impliment a softphone system. This will allow you to start up your business line right away, without forcing you to dip into your budget to buy all new deskphones. However, many modern work phones have the ability to seamlessly switch over to a VoIP line. In that case, it may make sense for you to use the phones you already have and switch to a hardphone VoIP system.

 Interested in learning more about VoIP? Unsure of which VoIP system will benefit you the most? Contact Info Advantage today at (585) 254-8710 to speak with a telecommunications expert who can help answer any questions you may have about VoIP services.

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Weak Wi-Fi? Try These Four Steps to Boost your Signal

Weak Wi-Fi? Try These Four Steps to Boost your Signal

Your wireless router is critical to your business’ online infrastructure and provides your team with precious wireless Internet connections throughout the office. You need to ensure that the signal can reach your entire office. Here are some tips to help you figure out where to put your router, and to ensure that its signal is as strong as possible throughout your office.

Put Your Router Out in the Open
Some people don’t like the appearance of routers. They fashion them an eyesore and try to hide them away in cabinets or elsewhere, away from where people can see them. This is often both counterproductive and dangerous, as the device can potentially overheat in a place with poor air circulation. If you store your router in a cabinet, you’re also weakening the signal, which can make it spotty and difficult to use.

Instead, we recommend that you keep your router out in the open, where it can get plenty of air and keep the signal as strong as possible. This is a best practice for your technology, including workstations and servers that generate a lot of heat naturally by functioning properly.

Use a Central Location
While it might be tempting to just put your router in a far corner of your office and forget that it exists, chances are that the other half of your office won’t be receiving a very strong wireless signal. To avoid this, you need to set your router up in a central location where it can broadcast its signal to the entire office. Depending on your office’s setup, you might even need multiple access points to allow each of your employees to access the Internet.

Also of note, you should elevate your router slightly to ensure that the signal isn’t being blocked by furniture that sits on the floor. File cabinets, desks, and other objects, could all get in the way of the wireless signal.

Review Your Bandwidth and Internet Service Agreement
Sometimes the placement of a router won’t have anything to do with your problem, and the issue is with your network connection instead. In this case, the problem would be with your modem or your Internet service agreement limiting your bandwidth and the flow of data. If you’re having wireless problems, and you’re sure it’s not your router, it’s worth looking into the problem on the ISP’s side of things.

Upgrade Your Router
Are you using the same old router that you picked up when you first started your business? If so, there’s a strong chance that your router’s hardware or firmware is outdated. Since you actually have control over your router, you’d do well to investigate the issue before you purchase a new one. It’s recommended that you go with a router that’s capable of supporting both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz bands. This will help you keep your network strong and healthy. Plus, sometimes all it takes to resolve connectivity issues is to upgrade your system’s firmware.

For help optimizing your business’s wireless network, reach out to Info Advantage at (585) 254-8710.

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Email Security: Is Your Email Safe?

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Email is (and has been) a prime method of communication for businesses of all sizes. With email comes a whole slew of issues that are essentially synonymous with the technology; spam, information overload, phishing, and information privacy. Even Rochester small businesses that only do business locally are at risk of these issues. Personal email accounts are equally at risk. Employing proper precautions and practices whenever communicating via email is very important to prevent the risk of security compromises, monetary loss, and even legality issues.

Spam Inundation

If you've been using email for a while either professionally or personally you have almost certainly gotten email from people you don't know. Most of these emails are blatantly unwanted while others can look 'almost' legit, as if a real person is trying to contact you. Often (and unfortunately) spammers can get your email address when you put it online or use it to register for accounts on sites on the internet. The good news is standard spam protection is getting better these days, and more advanced spam protection is cost effective for businesses that need the extra layer of protection. Spam can cause a lot of harm for a business network if it isn't kept under control - spam can bog down email servers and eat up network bandwidth and plus it drastically slows down employee productivity because they need to sift through it all just to find their real email. If you and your staff are getting more than a few spam emails a day, contact us at (585) 254-8710 and ask about our anti-spam solutions.

Don't Open Attachments from Unsolicited Emails

This has been a golden rule for general email usage for a very long time. If you received an email from a stranger and there is an attachment, don't touch it. If you receive an email from a contact and there is an attachment, but anything is suspicious, don't touch it. This goes the same for links - if the email was unexpected and just seems fishy, it is possible your contact's email may have been compromised. Use your judgment on this, but remember it isn't your contact trying to trick you, they are merely the victim of a similar hoax from one of their contacts. If you have any doubt, simply reply or pick up the phone and ask them about it before continuing.

Keep your Computer Safe

Be sure to keep antivirus definitions up to date, and run scans regularly. Running adware and spyware removal software at regular intervals is important too. Be sure your Windows Updates are up to date as well. For businesses, you'll want to invest in network protection to keep external threats from leaking in. Even for small Rochester businesses, security and threat management is important to keep operations running smoothly and to prevent expensive downtime and data theft.

Don't Rely on Email for Storage

Everyone has done this at least once; you are working on a report or document on one computer and you email it to yourself in order to pull it up on another computer. That's fine as long as you mind your inbox capacity, but you shouldn't rely on email for storing files, not even as a reliable backup. Imagine having to painstakingly pick through all of your email to restore your most important files. It doesn't sound like a good idea now, does it? On top of that, email isn't any less prone to data corruption or loss than any typical storage solution, and unless the server hosting your email is backed up with a reliable solution, it could be here today and gone the next.

Encrypt Sensitive Data

If you send sensitive data to other recipients, you will want to consider email encryption. Some industries require this. Email encryption simply scrambles the message while it is being sent, and depending on what type of encryption, will descramble itself or allow your recipient to log in to a secure location to view the data. Although email encryption services vary, most of them are very cost effected especially when put beside the risks of sensitive data getting leaked and stolen. Give us a call at (585) 254-8710 to learn more about email encryption and what solution is right for your business needs.

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5 Different Ways to Store and Save Files

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Storing physical files has been an important part of the office infrastructure for a very long time, and for good reason: every organization has some information they have to store. Traditionally, files were stuffed into folders and catalogued in a file cabinet for “easy” access. This is how many offices still look like, but when it was time to move files, it took a lot of work. Now, since many files are stored electronically, there are many shortcuts that you can take to improve the way you move your files.

Click and Drag
If you have your files placed in one location, like on your desktop, you can click and drag your mouse to create an boxed area of effect. Any files within this box can be moved through a simple click and drag function. Select the files you want to move, then drag any one of them to the location to move all that are selected.

Select the Checkboxes
In Windows 10, you have little checkboxes that you can click to select the individual file. If you have several files that you need to move you can click the checkboxes for all of them, then move just one to move them all. This can save you considerable time and effort.

The Click-Shift
You can select files that are horizontal and adjacent to each other by using the Click-Shift method. Basically, you select the file that you want to move, and then hold down the Shift key while selecting the last one you want to move. Anything in between will be selected. All you have to do is click and drag the files to their new location.

Hold Ctrl
When you hold down the Ctrl key, you can click on files that you want to move. Once they’re selected, all you have to do is move them to the appropriate folder.

Select All Files
If you decide that your desktop is much too cluttered, and you need to move everything on it to a new location, the same Select All keyboard shortcut that works in most word processors can be used to select all of your files at once. Just hit Ctrl+A to select all files in your current window, or desktop. Just click and drag them, and you’re all set.

Just remember that some of these keyboard shortcuts also work with Mac OS X. All you have to do is substitute the Ctrl key for the Command key, and they should work in generally the same way.

Fun Fact: You know how Windows is bundled with Solitaire? No, we aren’t assuming that you are playing it at work. Microsoft decided to bundle their OS with Solitaire as a way to get users more accustomed to dragging and double clicking objects with their mouse.

For more great tips and tricks, subscribe to Info Advantage’s blog.

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