When is enough, ENOUGH? Is it time to just buy a new computer?

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When is enough, enough? There are many scenarios in life where this question could apply, but I want to talk about computers. Like a majority of us, you are probably a thrifty person, or at least try to be. Whether is it buying your printer paper from a company that is cheaper than your previous vendor or buying product licenses in volume, there are plenty of opportunities to save money. That said, if you have that “troublesome” computer in your company (and we all know what it feels like to have “that” machine), how much money are you going to put into fixing it until you finally give into a purchasing a new computer?

Let’s take a brief moment to put some rough numbers to it and hopefully shed light on some things. If you were to pay a technician an hourly rate of $50/hour (yes, this is a low number, but will help solidify my point) to be onsite and troubleshooting/repairing a computer you purchased 4-5 years ago, it more than likely will take anywhere from 1-3 hours for a “normal” problem. Once troubleshooting is done, there could be the additional cost of hardware, as well. So let’s say it is determined, after 2 hours of troubleshooting, that you have a bad NIC (network interface card). That would cost $100 for the onsite rate and let’s say $50 for a new NIC. That’s $150. With this being an older machine, 4 months later you start having more issues. This time the tech is out for another 2 hours and determines that your video card is bad — that’s another $150. (Those numbers don’t even reflect your employee’s lost productivity due to a slow or non-working machine.) I am guessing you are catching on. 

Computers are not that expensive anymore. You can pick up a rather good desktop for $400 and they can last 4-5 years. So why would you spend $300 (just in those 2 examples) on a computer that is old, slowing down, and, frankly, out-of-date? I understand the sticker shock of spending $400+ on a new machine. But as time goes on, more issues will arise, and that $300 you spent on repairs will turn into $500+.

In closing, I would just like to say, for the sake of your time, money, and headaches: if it is going to cost more to fix something, just buy new! And please keep in mind that we, here at Everon, are always here to help you on the purchase of your new machines. Call us at 888-244-1748. Your Account Manager can advise you on the perfect replacement to keep you and your company up and running smoothly and quickly. And saving you money in the long-term!

 

Mac Tips for Techs: Carbon Copy Cloner

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apple logoAs I’ve been getting into my blog-writing career here with Everon, I have been writing a lot of posts about Macs. My love of Macs started before I got into IT. Now that I am in IT I realize that, although I know a lot about the Windows OS, I am not as familiar with Macs, despite owning a few. In all reality, anything you do with a PC can be done on a Mac. (And there are many really cool tools that help you achieve your goals.)

In previous blogs, I have discussed a great cleanup tool called Onyx. I also discussed using the Network Utility tool for a Mac. In my latest blog, I want to discuss a tool that, before we were aware of the tool, we had tried for DAYS to get this working. This tool took our days of work and finished the job in 30 minutes. (I know: anyone who is more Mac-savvy probably could get the job done quicker, but for a Windows engineer, this was a tough task). The tool is called Carbon Copy Cloner.

Carbon Copy Cloner effectively and easily clones a drive in its entirety, so you can put a new drive in and change out hard drives. This is extremely important for many reasons. First off, if your drive is showing SMART errors, and you know the drive might fail soon (which you can find out by using Onyx), you will want to get a new drive in there ASAP. Also, in our case, the client wanted to go from a 240 GB drive to 1 TB in order to increase his disk space. I would also recommend using this if you want to use a solid state drive, as that is becoming the go-to for fast, reliable hard drives.

You can purchase a copy of Carbon Copy Cloner here: https://bombich.com/. However, you can also demo a 30-day trial, which works great for cloning one drive onto another. When starting up CCC, you simply choose your source drive and destination drive (also really great for complete backups), and allow it to copy.

carbon-copy-cloner-image-copy-your-hard-drive_2Once done, if you were copying your bootable drive, you could then put the new drive in and boot off of it.  If you are using it for backup, you could then mount the image and grab whatever you need. It is literally a one-for-one copy of your drive.

This product has a ton of other features, but I am not going to get into the details about those, as you can go to the site and review yourself. However this is my go-to every single time now for closing and replacing hard drives for a Mac. I would strongly urge you to review this product as well.

Up next for my Mac Tips for Techs: NetSpot. Your go-to tool for reviewing wireless networks.

 

Microsoft Announces Windows 10!

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The new Windows 10 Start Menu, with customizable panel

Windows 10 is on its way for a release before the end of 2015! Microsoft announced earlier this week that they are releasing their latest operating system on all platforms before the end of 2015, which includes Xbox, smartphones, tablets, PCs and laptops.

This is very exciting news, however, the first question anyone who’s following Microsoft might ask is: “What happened to Windows 9?”

Microsoft has been talking about its imminent Windows 9 OS, pretty much ever since the backlash over a missing Start Menu in Windows 8. So why are they abandoning 9? They chose to move forward from 9 to create a unified theme between all platforms. Here is the direct response from Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft:

“This product, when you see [it in its], fullness, I think you’ll agree with us that it’s a more appropriate name. That fullness applies to Windows Phone, too, which will see Windows 10 as its next major upgrade. Windows 10 is built for “screens from 4 to 80 inches.”

Terry Myerson, MS Executive Vice President also states:

“Windows 9 name wouldn’t be right, given the new One Microsoft internal strategy. Hence the move to Windows 10.”

This move to Windows 10 is going to be a huge test for Microsoft, as it is increasingly becoming whispered that Windows 8 is considered a failure, along the lines of the Windows Vista OS.

From early previews of this new OS, however, great things have been said. (For anyone who would like to try the early preview of the Windows 10 OS, you can sign up and download the OS for free here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=510225 (64-bit preview).)

From the early preview, Microsoft has stated it is interested in taking the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8 to combine into creating the best operating system yet. Going to a unified operating system for all of Microsoft’s platforms will present a nice solution to integration of the various platforms into a small business environment, making the transition from smartphone, to laptop, to tablet a much easier process for even the most basic user.

Here at our Everon office we have downloaded and installed the tech preview for Windows 10. Just from the past few hours of reviewing it we can report that Microsoft has included a ton of features that are going to help technicians troubleshoot the OS quicker and more efficiently. Stay tuned for future blogs on the various features and find out what you can expect from Microsoft, with regard to this OS. If you have any questions about it, feel free to call our technicians at 1-888-244-1748. We are pretty excited about the changes they have made and would be happy to share our excitement with anyone willing to listen. :)

What Does HIPAA Compliance Mean To You?

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For the small business owner, compliances can sometimes be complicated and overwhelming to figure out. You may be asking if there is even any compliance your company needs to meet. If you work in the health care industry, chances are you must adhere to HIPAA — especially if you are transmitting or storing protected health information (PHI). PHI, in a nutshell, is any health information regarding individuals.

Here are a few examples (but not the full scope) of what your business should be able to answer yes to, to help ensure HIPAA compliance:

  • Do all your workstations and servers have up-to-date antivirus?
  • Are you using encryption when emailing PHI?
  • For phones/tablets accessing email, do you have a policy in place to enforce a screen lock password?
  • If you have a server, is it in a locked room or closet?
  • Has your company fully migrated off of Windows XP?

You are also required to have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) in place with any partners who have access to this sensitive data. This would apply if you use a Managed Service Provider (MSP), such as Everon*, to help handle your IT support. In this case, you would want to contact your Account Manager to provide you with a copy of our BAA. HIPAA violations can result in up to $1.5 million in fines for those who are willfully negligent. It is not something to be taken lightly.

If you have any questions about meeting compliance, I highly recommend you consult with your compliance officer, company auditor, etc. There are many other items outside of what your IT provider would typically cover that need to be addressed, as well. Some examples would be employee training for privacy policies and procedures, what happens when an employee leaves, and having a business continuity plan in the event of an emergency.

Everon can assist you in implementing changes, or we can get you in touch with one of our partners who specializes in compliance consulting. We also have tools available to help ensure your computers remain updated and that you proactively get alerts for issues, including antivirus. Just give us a call (888-244-1748), or email us (info@everonit.com), if you would like more information.

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*  Everon is a HIPAA compliant Managed Service Provider.

Turning Off the Technology: How a tech unplugs

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Being a tech is hard on the mind and the body.  A majority of the job keeps you connected the computer for a large portion of your day. Whether it is working issues or researching more about an industry that is ever-changing and evolving every week, being so connected is a blessing and a curse. Keeping up with technology is like trying to win a marathon on a treadmill.  You are definitely making progress on improving yourself, but it is a race that has no end.  Living in world full of social media websites, blogs from all your favorite personalities, or just finding that next cat video to share with your office, it can easily turn from a way to pass the time into a routine that you don’t even know you have.

Until you miss a few days.

I often find it beneficial to “disconnect,” a term I mean to be synonymous with turning off your gadgets, disconnecting from the internet, and looking out a window instead of a pc monitor.  Otherwise, eventually, you will get burned out.

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I enjoy hiking, camping, and just working up a sweat in the mountains.  My personal disconnect is going backpacking.  Backpacking is essentially just planning a hike that will take days, weeks, or even months to finish.  I am still very new to it, but it is quickly turning into a well-looked-forward-to event every year.

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James, standing – third from left, with fellow hikers on a 4-day/25-mile/tech-free hike in July 2014. The only electronics they bring on these trips are a gps and walkie talkie for emergencies and a flashlight.

Ironically, the guys I plan the trip with are also in tech fields. They are just as eager to wander around in the woods as I am. There is just something about staring at the stars from the tops of mountains that can really re-align you. Looking around at the world (instead of at your mobile every minute to check your emails, text, and notification) is jarring and strange at first for the tech junkie, but a few days into it you could care less.

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That is just my way of disconnecting.  Yours doesn’t have to be as drastic, by any means.  Small things count, too. Plan to take a walk or run around a lake once a week, maybe even  twice a month have a “No Power” family day where you turn off the mobiles, televisions, computer and play board games.  Reclaim your imagination!

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