Hurricane Irma Update – Ocala IT Services

Hurricane Irma Update – Ocala IT Services

We wanted to provide you, our valuable client, with a quick update on the status of our team and our rebuilding efforts. First, everyone on the team is grateful for the patience our partners have displayed as we work to get back to full capacity. We still have staff members in our Florida location that are without power, internet and gas to move around.

Our office in Ocala does have partial power restored and we are looking to be fully back in business within the next day or so, according to the local utility. We were able to get a few of the team members online today to bring our capacity up to higher levels and are starting to see a decrease in the backlog of requests. We are continuing to work on getting to all of our partners. Many of our partners in the Florida area are starting to have power restored to their offices. We are focusing heavily on getting them back up and running.

We truly appreciate your help in determining priorities, you have been wonderful in helping us sort through and get to the items that are most pressing. Thank you very much for continuing to provide this additional piece of information when requests are made, it has proven invaluable in the last couple of days.

We want to thank you again for your business and look forward to getting back to full strength by the end of the week.

As always, thank you for your business and support during this devastating weather event.

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Ungeek the Speak

We get questions from our clients all the time about the “Cloud.” We answer them on this episode of Ungeek the Speak. This discussion is between Nate Breitbach our VP of IT Services and his Director of Engineering, Chance Ellis, around the Cloud.  What it is, some pointers as a business owner on how to think about the cloud, what it can be used for, and breaking down some of those Techie “As A Service” concepts like Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Desktop as a Service (DaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), IT as a Service (ITaaS).  We simplify the understanding of these things, so you can make better decisions for your business.

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Hardware: To upgrade or not to upgrade

Hardware: To upgrade or not to upgrade

Knowing what and when to upgrade your computer is always a nagging question for any business owner. Slow or outdated systems can kill a company’s efficiency and ultimate can chip away at your bottom line. At the same time, not every employee needs to have cutting edge technology or hardware powering his or her computer. The key is to striking a balance between power and need.

ITonDemand has created a service to take the guessing work out of hardware upgrades. With our Harware As A Service we know each users needs and work for you to create an upgrade plan that fits with your budget and with your individualized needs.

Here are 4 quick things we use to help decide if a hardware upgrade is right for you or your employee:

1.  Age
It seems simple but computers, like any equipment, will deteriorate over time. Just like your tire loses tread with usage, so too can a computer lose speed due to daily tasks. Simply put, sometimes parts need to be replaced and it is much cheaper to replace that harddrive before it fails on you and you have lost a month of work.

So how often do you replace your technology? Well there is no hard and fast rule but you can generally expect to replace a computer every 2-3 years. Items like servers or netowkring equipment typically can see a longer shelf life of 5-7 years.

2.  Speed
Technology makes things faster and outdated equipment slows down response time. If you notice your computer feeling sluggish, you should check with your ITonDemand representative to see if it is an issue caused by slow hardware.

3.  Loss Of Support
If you have ever clicked the upgrade button or install a new version of MS word and received the message, “hardware not supported”, it is time. Outdated hardware that is no longer supported by the latest software leaves you and your company vulnerable and is a clear sign that it is time to upgrade.

4.  Vulnerability
Are you systems constantly under attack? This is a sign that your hardware may not be up-to-date. Outdated networking hardware or personal computers are regularly targeted by hackers. Even recent Ransomware attacks were found to be a non-issue to users who had updated hardware and software.

 

Conclusion
Let’s face it, hardware upgrades can be tricky but staying up to date is more about efficiency than it is about having the latest new tech toy. If you have questions, give us a call and one of our experts will help you find a hardware upgrade plan that works for you.

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How to Manage Your Vendors – Without Losing Your Mind

How to Manage Your Vendors – Without Losing Your Mind

Vendor Management

At one point or another many businesses that contract with vendors have had a problem of one kind or another. Hours on the phone. The time and effort into researching the best products. Then there is the complicated language involved with trying to understand each vendor’s vernacular and keeping each of them straight. The list goes on. Those failures can be incredibly frustrating and have the potential to cost a large chunk of revenue.

Relationship is key

There’s so much more to the concept of vendor management than just entering into a contract for goods and services though. There’s also the research that goes into selecting vendors, ensuring payments are made, monitoring performance, evaluating performance, meeting goals and, of course, managing those relationships. For us at ITonDemand, that word relationship is key to how we conduct ourselves, for a relationship is what we establish with our clients. We point to the word relationship time and time again, but that’s where we stand apart from others. We develop a strategic relationship with our client partners and use our expertise to ensure your success – and that includes vendor management.

When a client enters into a relationship with ITonDemand, one thing the client will quickly learn is they no longer have to deal with vendors. That’s now our job. Not only will we make all the calls necessary to get our clients back to business, but we also put in the research, resources and man-hours to find our clients not just the most affordable solutions, but the most well-balanced and efficient solutions they require.

A Proactive Partner

When our clients outsource their vendor management to ITonDemand, they will get more time and money back in the long run. Why? It’s simple. Clients will not be constantly be on the telephone or at a store trying to understand what IT-related purchase is best-suited for the needs of their business. That can be frustrating, especially since someone from that business tasked with making such a decision may not be qualified to astutely interpret what is best to fit their needs. That’s where ITonDemand comes in. Let the experts decide. That’s what we’re here for.

With an ITonDemand partnership, our clients can avoid the hassles of dealing with vendors. While ITonDemand offers numerous services, our Core service provides 24/7 monitoring of a client’s IT infrastructure. That service also comes with remote and onsite support, antivirus software, maintenance and patching, backup and disaster recovery, network security, wireless, network switching, vendor management, spam services and more. With the Core service or, really any of our other offerings that deal with vendors, our client partners have our management and expertise at their disposal.

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Getting The Most Out Of Your IT Call

Getting The Most Out Of Your IT Call

We’ve all been there. Your computer or smart device, cable box, or what have you, isn’t functioning properly and you have to make that call, sometimes the dreaded call, to tech support. You know that when you make the call you’re likely to have to go through an automated system before you get to talk to a live person.

One key point to remember: You may be frustrated and that is understandable, but getting emotional does not help the situation. It will not resolve a problem any quicker and can actually slow the process down. Remember to remain calm and do your best to remain polite, and find peace in the thought that this will always be the returning response from the technician.

This can be a stressful time, especially if your startup or small business is dependent on the malfunctioning device. It’s also stressful if it’s your personal device, but dollars may not be on the line, just hair-pulling.

Before making the call you’ve agonized over what you’re going to say, even if you don’t know exactly what the problem is. Having as much data as possible to tell a tech support representative is the key to making the call (or online chat) as painless an experience as possible. Lifewire laid out some key points that are handy to have:

Details of the problem – is there an error message? What does it say?

When did the problem begin?

Have you taken any troubleshooting measures, such as turning your device off then back on?

But, in addition to those points, here at ITonDemand, we think there are a few other things to keep in mind when calling IT support.

Verify if there have been any changes to the device environment – a recent installation of hardware or software or if there has been an update.

Have device specifics handy. In other words, what is the make and model of the problem device? Knowing a serial number can also come in handy.

Did you reboot? (That’s usually a first stop in IT questions, but it’s good to know if you have already tried.)

Another thing to know is whether or not you have Internet access. Wi-Fi can go down. And sometimes it can happen while you’re in the middle of a project and you don’t realize it. Try to open a Web browser and see if an error appears.

If you do have Internet access, don’t be afraid to Google the problem while you’re on the line with tech support. You may come across something that helps the situation.

Repeat yourself. Did we say that already? At ITonDemand, we recommend providing information to tech support in the same manner you would leave a telephone number on an answering service – with pauses and slow, deliberate intonations.

Go into the conversation with the tech support rep armed with as much information as possible. That will make things go smoothly and, hopefully, quickly. And don’t be afraid to repeat the details. Be clear and concise when talking with tech support. The better the lines of communication, the quicker the service should be.

What was my Password Again?

What was my Password Again?

Advice on how to ensure you secure your business operation with these easy to use methods and tools.

Every day the news seems to be filled with stories about phishing scams targeting practically everyone or data breaches at a large company that compromised untold numbers of customers.

Develop a culture of security mindfulness

In this modern and digital world, it’s important for individuals and business owners
to be security conscious and pay close attention to best practices, which starts with password protection. More and more systems call for complex passwords, which includes a mix of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords alone aren’t enough. As we use more programs and software in our lives, including social media platforms, the need for additional passwords increases. Security experts will tell you that it’s unwise to use the same password over and over for multiple accounts.

Old school way of managing password – don’t do this

So, with the plethora of passwords in use daily, what’s the best way to remember them? You could use a notebook or write the passwords down on a scrap piece of paper, but that’s not the most secure of ways to store your passwords. One could opt to use simple passwords that are easy to remember, but again, that’s not secure. Hackers could easily guess those passwords or use some sort of algorithm to break it fairly quickly.

Great password management with these key tools

That’s where password managers come into play. Password managers, such as LastPassKeepPass, OneID and more, use encryption codes to safely store your passwords. Users only need to remember one password to access the entire database. In fact, many password manager programs will actually generate strong passwords for users, so you won’t be stuck with guarding all your passwords with a weak password. In January PC Mag rated a number of free and low-cost password managers, with LastPass and LogMeOnce Password Management Suite Premium 5.2 as the top two choices.

Mac users can manage their passwords through Keychain Access, Apple’s password management system. The Keychain, according to MacWorld, can store passwords for emails, websites, servers, Wi-Fi networks, and encrypted disk images. It can also store secure notes, private keys, and certificates.

Use a security proficient IT partner

Here at ITonDemand, we take Internet security very seriously. We encourage the use of long passwords that are typically more difficult to crack than some of the more simple ones people tend to use. Creating a password with 8 characters (a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols,) is a minimum we would recommend. ITonDemand also suggests regular changing of passwords to stymie any hacking attempts. We also encourage the use of two-factor authentication to double the security measures. In another blog we talked about how passphrases provide greater security over passwords. But, if you want to talk real security options, ITonDemand’s Enterprise Email Solution package offers multiple layers of security to protect end users from threats and nuisances like Spam.

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