Spend More for Speed and Capacity

As we demand more performance from our IT systems, our choices can come down to balancing the speed to write files and the cost of storage media. You can have the best of both worlds if you combine planning and foresight.

A number of so-called “power users” have fallen in love with SSD (solid state) drives, which are totally electronic. They contain no moving parts and they can write data to memory with lightning speed. But they have their downsides, such as cost per gigabyte of storage and the lifetime of the data in flash memory. Data recovery is a much more complicated and labor-intensive process than if you have mechanical drives.

As a result, we think they’re better suited for users with higher levels of technical knowledge and corporations that have the technical capability to support the drives and their users. Most users and small businesses can get great system performance by buying the right drives for computers and servers and planning to replace systems after five years.

We find some basics have held true over our 20 years of IT service.

For individual computers, we recommend SATA drives. They are more than adequate in terms of storage size and speed and provide good cost value. Today’s desktop and laptop computers are available with hard drives having 1 terabyte or more of storage. Some bargain hunters think they’re saving money by buying a smaller 500 GB hard drive, but file sizes are growing larger, and they can eat up free space very quickly. If you’re planning to keep your computer five years – or even longer – you’ll likely exhaust the capacity sooner than you planned, and you’ll need to replace the hard drive (and restore files) or buy a larger external hard drive. As we’ve noted before, once you approach 60% to 75% of your hard drive’s capacity, you make it more difficult for your computer to write files to the drive, and that can severely limit performance. It’s much more cost-effective to buy a large-capacity drive with the computer, which is already set up with the right RAM (random access memory) capacity and motherboard to optimize performance.In addition to size, get a hard drive with enough speed. In general, SATA drives range up to 7200 RPM. When you combine the larger size and RAM with the higher speed, you’ll get better performance for a longer time, and that will keep you happier with your investment.

If you do find you need a new hard drive for your desktop, we may be able to walk you through the process of installing your new drive and recovering your data from an online backup site or an external drive.

For a server, we’ve found SAS drives running at 10,000 to 15,000 RPM offer the best performance. Again, your needs will grow as your business grows, and you’ll want to be able to add upgraded application software, more file storage capacity and more users without sacrificing performance. Whatever you save in buying under-performing technology can be eaten up very quickly in reduced production and unnecessary, unplanned downtime.

For us, the bottom line is getting our clients to think proactively about planning for a cost-effective technology purchase today and budgeting for the next purchase. Everyone has different needs and budget constraints, but everyone has the opportunity to take a smart approach. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to discuss your hard-drive and system needs for your computers and servers. Making the right decision today can save you money and give you peace of mind.

Foiling Fouled Autofill Addresses

It’s one of those really annoying email problems. You send a message to a group of people, and you get back a message that reads: “Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:” It’s followed by: “The email address you entered couldn’t be found or is invalid.” It may be due to a bad entry in your Outlook or Outlook Web App recipient AutoComplete cache.

Use the steps below to clear the entry from the cache:

  1. Click New E-mail.
  2. In the To field, start typing the recipient’s name or email address until the recipient appears in the drop-down list.
  3. Use the DOWN ARROW and UP ARROW keys to select the recipient, and then press the DELETE key.
  4. Delete and retype the recipient’s address, then try sending it again.

Autofill is one of those conveniences that we all love when it works right. But with many people changing email servers, outdated email addresses can pile up in your cache. For example, we’ve changed our main contact email from [email protected] to [email protected]. Deleting our old address from Autofill would be a good first step in making sure you’re following the steps correctly.

If you have any questions about clearing your email address cache or any other software applications, we’re more than happy to walk you through the steps. Just call – 973-433-6676 – or email us for help.

Avoiding the Virtual-Drive Hiding Place

One of our clients knew – without a doubt – she hit “save” for a downloaded file. But, she couldn’t find it where it was supposed to be. There’s a place where those files go, and it takes some detailed knowledge to find them.

The problem usually results when you download a file from an email or a website. Unless you specify a path – a specific folder in your Documents or Pictures libraries, for example – the file is stored in a protected temporary location. It’s located in another Documents file that’s accessed through your C:\Users series of directories and files. It’s a protected area designed to protect your computer against malware invasions, and it’s not well documented.

The location leads to an additional problem. When you run any automatic or manual backup program, files in that location are not backed up. If your hard drive fails or you change computers and don’t know where to find them, you could lose them.

When our client told us of the problem, we knew where to look, and we found lots of files. She was very happy, to say the least.

But it’s easier to avoid the problem.

If you’re downloading files from an email, make sure you file them in the appropriate folder when you save them. Sometimes, it just takes that extra second thought when you’re really busy, but if you make it a habit, you’ll save a lot of time and probably a lot more aggravation.

If you’re downloading from the Internet, do the same thing. Store it in an appropriate file folder right away, and make it a habit. If you regularly download files from specific websites, you can add them to your Trusted Files, and that will help you download them to your designated directories.

You can browse the protected temporary location, and we can show you how to do it without losing files that are critical to your computer’s operation. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us to set up an appointment. We’ll be able to guide you through the process and provide you with instructions for finding files in the future.

Software: A Cost of Doing Business

A common question from a number of our smaller clients is:” Does that computer price include (Microsoft) Office?” Our answer is always “no,” and it’s followed by the comment: “Well, our previous guy included Office.” That inclusion may have been questionable at best and didn’t do the client any favors.

The issue typically arises when we go to set up a computer system we ordered for a client. They may have been running a copy of Office but have no master disks or a product key, which indicates they don’t have a licensed copy. That makes it impossible to install the software.

We are not the software police, and we’re not making any accusations. It’s entirely possible you had a legal copy to use if the person who installed the software had a license to do so. Our tipoff is when we see a small business running the enterprise version of Office. No small business would ever buy this version of Office, and Microsoft doesn’t sell single copies. If you happen to be running it, only the person who installed it would be able to reinstall it – if he still has the license.

But as with everything else in life, nothing is really free. If you have “free” use or reduced-cost use of software such as Office but can’t reinstall it and continue your operations seamlessly, what have you saved?

What other costs might you incur? The cheaper cost is simply buying the software. The more expensive cost is any business interruption that results from losing your application software unexpectedly.

What are your options?

First, you can buy a single copy for one-time use on one computer. Shop online. The cost should be somewhere around $220.

If you have more than one computer, you can buy a subscription to Office 365, which provides your Microsoft Office suite and Outlook. It costs $150 per year to cover up to five computers, and you can find plans to cover more computers if needed. With Office 365, you will access your application and data files over the Internet – through the cloud – and you can store a data file, such as a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, on your computer’s hard drive.

You can also buy multiple-computer licenses from Microsoft, and that might be beneficial for small businesses still using Office 2007 or 2010. You’ll need to buy Office 2013, but you’ll have “downgrade” rights to license the software and get the media and product keys you’ll need for reinstallations.

We can help you select the right software purchase plan for your business or home based on the number of computers you have and the versions that make sense for continuity and consistency. Give us a call – 973-433-6676 – or send us an email to set up an appointment. Software has a cost, but not having licensed software usually carries a higher cost.

Steps to Take – Mitigate Fallout from Russian Hacking Incident

If you haven’t seen or heard the news, a Russian group has hacked user names and passwords for some 1.2 Billion accounts worldwide.

We urge you to run a virus scan and malware scan as quickly as possible on all of your computers to determine if your system has been infected. This post from The New York Times, which first reported the incident, covers some basic steps you can take. We’ve discussed them before, and they are now very much worth repeating. If you want to learn more, you can read reports from PC Magazine and The New York Times.


As always, if you have any questions or concerns, contact us immediately by phone (973-433-6676) or email.