It’s a Matter of Trust – and Reassurance

Choosing the right technology is a balance between investing your money wisely and getting enough system capability and capacity to do a little more than you might envision at the time of purchase. The planning stage is the time to ask questions and get advice from your IT provider and trusted friends.

Most people are not that tech savvy, but they buy what they’re told because they trust an advisor or more knowledgeable friend. To paraphrase a PSA (public service announcement) from a few years ago, friends don’t let friends buy the wrong technology. Our friendly and professional advice is: Don’t skimp on technology today because it will cost you more money in less time than you think.

The story of a client with a two-year-old computer illustrates the point. He’s rapidly running out of space on his hard drive – which has only 80 GB of storage. Not only is the storage space too small, the rest of the computer’s tech specs are just not up to date for today’s world. A computer should last three to five years. So, spending $100 or $200 more would have avoided spending $500 to $600 or so now.

In 25 years in the IT business, one of the things we’ve learned is that we always ask our technology systems to do more than we planned. Today, a hard drive with 250 GB of space is relatively small, 500 GB can be acceptable, and 1 TB (terabyte) or more is ideal. Besides needing more storage space for bigger files – at work or at home – we need more RAM (random access memory) and faster processors to work with larger more complex files or handle streaming video over the Internet. Disk speeds are faster, too, also improving performance.

As for cost, we haven’t raised our prices on computers for the past two years, but you still get more. That’s because technology continues to improve and prices actually come down. In a sense, you get more power for the same money every time you make a purchase.

In addition to giving you more power, we don’t partition hard drives. This gives you the flexibility to add more programs and the space to store files and access them. When you change computers or hard drives, it’s easier to transfer your data and programs.

Rapidly changing technology makes it imperative to have a professional assessment for your business and a consultation for home computers. Good planning will help you get the best value for your money and give you better performance with fewer worries about your system’s ability to handle more tasks. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to start your assessment or just to ask our opinion. And check with your knowledgeable friends, too. As we see it, the only way you can go wrong is by not going far enough.

Avoid Big Surprises from Summertime Cellphone Bills

It’s so tempting to watch streaming video – movies or ballgames, for example – on a mobile device when you’re out of town. It’s also tempting to tap into that Internet radio station or music website to hear your favorite music on a long road trip. But there could be a big bill you didn’t expect. Here’s what you can do to control your cost.

The first thing you should do is determine what you need to stream and what type of network can deliver the content for you. Video especially eats up bandwidth, so you may need to be judicious about what you watch if you’re cost-conscious.

Some people stream Netflix videos over the Internet. Others like to stay up on their local sports teams and other programming from their cable-TV by streaming through devices such as Slingbox. Both eat up a lot of bandwidth, which translates to using more data. So, think about whether you really need to watch that movie or TV program.

If you’re streaming on a mobile device, you should take care to watch while connected to a Wi-Fi network. You may need to lower the resolution to lower the data being streamed, but that can be OK when watching on an iPad instead of your huge flat-screen TV. If you’re watching over a cellular network, the data files can add up rapidly and so can your cost.

Some people have portable hotspots that enable them to use Wi-Fi-only iPads, for example, through a cellular connection. Don’t forget that because your device is on a Wi-Fi network, it will do all the things it normally does while on a network, such as download apps, back up to iCloud and any other things you’ve set it up to do. It’s good for getting access, but you need to remember that your device doesn’t know it’s really using a cellular network; it thinks it’s on a Wi-Fi network.

Cellular contracts charge you for the number of gigabytes of data you can access during a month. Your charge is based on an agreed-upon limit, and you pay more if you go over the limit. The amount of data and charges vary from one carrier to another. So, once you have an idea of how much cellular data you’ll need to access, talk to your carrier.

If you need to increase your data plan, it’s good to do it before you go over your limits because it can ultimately cost you much less. Conversely, you may already be paying for more data than you actually use. One of our clients had a plan for 5 GB of data per month but was barely topping out at 1 GB. We had the plan lowered to 2 GB per month, saving our client $30 per month.

You should also be careful to avoid roaming charges, especially if you are traveling internationally with a smart phone or device with cellular connectivity. You should turn off the cellular capability. That capability uses a cellular network to find Wi-Fi hotspots, and you don’t want to be on a network with heavy roaming charges.

We’re more than happy to answer your questions about managing your cellular roaming and video streaming charges. Give us a call at 973-433-6676 or email us with your questions or to set up an appointment.

We’ll Back Up Your Everything to the Cloud

Did you know that not all data back-up services back up all of your data? While you may not be surprised to read that, you could have an unwelcome surprise if you need to restore files lost from your hard drive.

When we do audits for new and existing customers, we’re always amazed – and dismayed – that few business owners and home users know how their files are backed up. Of course, that assumes that the files are, indeed, backed up.

Even with a back-up program in use, you still may come up short.

One of the limitations many computer users – business and home – ignore or don’t regard is the limit on data storage. Free services, as most you know, have a cap, and paid services have them as well, depending on how much you want to pay.

Carbonite, for example, won’t back up a file larger than 4 GB. What kinds of files can be larger than 4 GB? One is a .pst file, which can hold your Outlook contact and email files. What would happen if you couldn’t retrieve your contact list after a hard-drive or server crash? What would happen if you couldn’t retrieve a customized dictionary or some other file with data you’ve collected over a long time?

How many videos do you save? Many of them can exceed 4 GB, and let’s face it, a family video can be as valuable as some of your business files. One of our clients was very lucky with videos. He had sent them to someone, so he was able to retrieve them after his computer crashed.

One other problem with many back-up services is that they don’t care which files are important to you. They allot you space, and when you run out, that’s it. You can’t set up any rules to determine which files or types of files get backed up.

We can help in a number of ways. We can set up rules to make sure that certain types of files are backed up. We also monitor your backup activity, and if we don’t see any activity for 72 hours, we contact you to make sure everything is OK – unless you’ve told us you’ll be away and not online. That’s how we put service into your backup.

Contact us by email or phone – 973-422-6676 – to discuss your needs. We’ll meet your storage and budget needs and – most important – meet your retrieval needs.

New Service to Manage Your Virus Protection

We’re responding to that nasty world out there by launching a new service to manage your virus protection. By taking a proactive approach, we can help you stay ahead of the nasties – insidious virus codes and the people who spread them. Here are the details.

We will now install and manage anti-virus software on your computer or computer system for as little as $4.25 per month. While we have avoided recurring, on-going fees, we believe this makes a lot of sense for you. In many ways, its’ an extension of services we already offer.

Many of our customers rely on us to monitor their systems remotely so that we can fix certain problems when they appear, and our customers give us access to their systems so that we can keep them running at peak performance.

We get alerts when a virus or malware is detected, and if something looks like it’s getting out of control, we get continuous messages. In one case, we got a message on a client’s machine that didn’t seem out of the ordinary. During lunch, which happened to be right near our client’s office, the messages escalated. We went there immediately to help out and resolved the issue. Our client’s boss saw us there and asked what we were doing. The client explained how we jumped in and said: “That’s why we have Norman.”

That’s what we do.

Now, we can monitor your system for viruses and reach out to fix problems, including making “house calls” if needed. As with everything else we do, we’ll make it a point to fix your problem as soon as possible.

Unlike some other anti-virus products or services, we don’t require annual renewals. Stay with us for as long as you like and cancel your service at any time. For companies with four or more computers, we can bill you quarterly. Make your life less worrisome. Contact us by phone – 973-433-6676 – or email for more information or to sign up for our anti-virus protection management.