Virtualization saved SMBs from hurricanes

One of the most brutal hurricane seasons on record is coming to a close and many small businesses are already planning for the next. Regardless of your organization’s location, you need to be prepared for any kind of disaster, natural or manmade. Virtualization is one of your best bets for staying operational through thick and thin.

Virtual desktops

In most offices, employees are still dependent on desktop computers. Their workstations grant them access to everything from customer relationship software to company databases and when these computers go down, there’s no way to get work done. Virtualized desktops allow users to access their files and even computing power from across the internet.

Instead of logging on to an operating system stored on a hard drive just a few inches away from their keyboard, employees can take advantage of server hardware to store their files across a network. With barebones computers, employees can log in to these virtual desktops either in the office or from home. Floods, fires and other disasters won’t prevent your team from working because they can continue remotely.

Virtual applications

Devoting a portion of your server’s hardware and software resources to virtual desktops requires a fair amount of computing power. If the majority of your employees’ time is spent working with just one or two pieces of software, you can virtualize just those applications.

If a hurricane destroyed your office and the hardware inside it, virtualized applications can be restored in minutes. They don’t need to be installed on the machines that use them, and as long as you have backups these applications can be streamed to employee computers just like a cloud-based application.

Virtual servers

If you use virtual desktops or applications, it makes perfect sense to use virtual servers as well. With a little help from a managed services provider, your servers can be configured to automatically create virtual backups. Beyond preventing data loss, these backups also make it possible to restore server functionality with off site restorations.

Virtualized servers are incredibly useful when clients need access to a website or database that you maintain in the office. For example, if you provide background checks on tenants to rental property owners through your website, an unexpected power outage won’t cause an interruption of service. Your virtualization solution will boot up a backup server away from the power outage and your customers will be none the wiser.

The benefits of virtualization extend far beyond disaster recovery planning. Your business can also reduce IT costs and increase hardware capacity — all it takes is some help from trained experts. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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Virtualization and disaster recovery plans

Preparing your business for every type of disaster is critical. Even if you weren’t affected by this year’s historic hurricane season, earthquakes, fires and power outages are ever-present threats to any business’s future. Virtualization might just be your ticket to surviving the next disaster.

Virtual desktops

In most offices, employees are still dependent on desktop computers. Their workstations grant them access to everything from customer relationship software to company databases and when these computers go down, there’s no way to get work done. Virtualized desktops allow users to access their files and even computing power from across the internet.

Instead of logging on to an operating system stored on a hard drive just a few inches away from their keyboard, employees can take advantage of server hardware to store their files across a network. With barebones computers, employees can log in to these virtual desktops either in the office or from home. Floods, fires and other disasters won’t prevent your team from working because they can continue remotely.

Virtual applications

Devoting a portion of your server’s hardware and software resources to virtual desktops requires a fair amount of computing power. If the majority of your employees’ time is spent working with just one or two pieces of software, you can virtualize just those applications.

If a hurricane destroyed your office and the hardware inside it, virtualized applications can be restored in minutes. They don’t need to be installed on the machines that use them, and as long as you have backups these applications can be streamed to employee computers just like a cloud-based application.

Virtual servers

If you use virtual desktops or applications, it makes perfect sense to use virtual servers as well. With a little help from a managed services provider, your servers can be configured to automatically create virtual backups. Beyond preventing data loss, these backups also make it possible to restore server functionality with off site restorations.

Virtualized servers are incredibly useful when clients need access to a website or database that you maintain in the office. For example, if you provide background checks on tenants to rental property owners through your website, an unexpected power outage won’t cause an interruption of service. Your virtualization solution will boot up a backup server away from the power outage and your customers will be none the wiser.

The benefits of virtualization extend far beyond disaster recovery planning. Your business can also reduce IT costs and increase hardware capacity — all it takes is some help from trained experts. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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SMBs survive disasters with virtualization

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma caused millions of dollars in damages. Some of that damage was unavoidable, but hundreds of businesses managed to stay open thanks to innovative virtualization solutions. If you’re not already taking advantage of this technology, it’s time to find out what you’re missing.

Virtual desktops

In most offices, employees are still dependent on desktop computers. Their workstations grant them access to everything from customer relationship software to company databases and when these computers go down, there’s no way to get work done. Virtualized desktops allow users to access their files and even computing power from across the internet.

Instead of logging on to an operating system stored on a hard drive just a few inches away from their keyboard, employees can take advantage of server hardware to store their files across a network. With barebones computers, employees can log in to these virtual desktops either in the office or from home. Floods, fires and other disasters won’t prevent your team from working because they can continue remotely.

Virtual applications

Devoting a portion of your server’s hardware and software resources to virtual desktops requires a fair amount of computing power. If the majority of your employees’ time is spent working with just one or two pieces of software, you can virtualize just those applications.

If a hurricane destroyed your office and the hardware inside it, virtualized applications can be restored in minutes. They don’t need to be installed on the machines that use them, and as long as you have backups these applications can be streamed to employee computers just like a cloud-based application.

Virtual servers

If you use virtual desktops or applications, it makes perfect sense to use virtual servers as well. With a little help from a managed services provider, your servers can be configured to automatically create virtual backups. Beyond preventing data loss, these backups also make it possible to restore server functionality with off site restorations.

Virtualized servers are incredibly useful when clients need access to a website or database that you maintain in the office. For example, if you provide background checks on tenants to rental property owners through your website, an unexpected power outage won’t cause an interruption of service. Your virtualization solution will boot up a backup server away from the power outage and your customers will be none the wiser.

The benefits of virtualization extend far beyond disaster recovery planning. Your business can also reduce IT costs and increase hardware capacity — all it takes is some help from trained experts. Call us today to learn more about what we can do for you.

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Five steps to ensure VoIP service continuity

Telecommunications systems are extremely valuable, especially for businesses focused on sales and customer service. One day without these services can prove fatal for any business, which is why a well-crafted disaster recovery plan that protects Voice over IP (VoIP) networks is crucial. If your business relies on VoIP phone systems, here’s what you can do to minimize downtime.

Invest in VoIP monitoring services
Before implementing any disaster recovery solutions, it’s a good idea to install third-party VoIP monitoring services to check on the status of your phone systems. This identifies whether there are any network issues disrupting your phone systems, so you can resolve them quickly.

Choose your VoIP provider wisely
When evaluating VoIP systems, you must verify your provider’s service-level agreements. Ask them about their security and availability guarantees, and how they’re able to achieve them.

Whomever you partner with, be sure they’re hosting your VoIP systems in facilities that are safe from local disasters and use advanced network security services to protect your calls.

Have a backup broadband line
Because VoIP solutions are dependent on the internet, you should have a backup or alternate internet service in case one network goes down.

Ideally, one internet service provider (ISP) will be dedicated to your VoIP service, while another supports your main computer network. Once you’ve installed both networks, you can then program them to automatically transfer services to each other should one network fail.

In other words, if your main phone network goes down, you can simply switch your VoIP solution to the other network so you can keep working.

Of course, subscribing to two separate ISPs will increase your internet expenses, but the cost to maintain both is far less than the cost of significant downtime.

Route calls to mobile devices
The beauty of hosted VoIP is you can choose where to receive your calls with call forwarding — a feature that automatically reroutes incoming calls to other company-registered devices. This means if your main office ever went down due to a local disaster or network outage, your employees can keep working from their mobile devices as if nothing happened.

To benefit from this feature, make sure to register all employee mobile devices to your VoIP system and configure which devices calls will be routed to.

Also, don’t forget to set policies for remote working. For example, you should have rules that forbid staff from connecting to public WiFi networks, as this can put them at risk of VoIP eavesdropping.

Test your plan
There’s little value in a VoIP continuity plan if it isn’t tested on a regular basis. Test your VoIP service and check whether contact details are up to date, call forwarding features are routing calls to the right devices, and your backup internet service works. Ultimately, your goal is to find flaws in your VoIP recovery strategy and make necessary adjustments to avoid them from occurring in the future.

If managing VoIP is too time-consuming and complex, call our professionals today. We design, implement, and test a powerful, disaster-proof VoIP phone system to ensure your communications are always online.

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Is VoIP part of your disaster recovery plan?

Disasters can strike at any time, and can put you out of business if you’re unprepared. One way they can do the most damage is by disrupting your Voice over IP (VoIP) systems. If they’re offline, you lose customers, productivity, and money by the minute. To avoid this, follow these simple disaster recovery procedures.

Invest in VoIP monitoring services
Before implementing any disaster recovery solutions, it’s a good idea to install third-party VoIP monitoring services to check on the status of your phone systems. This identifies whether there are any network issues disrupting your phone systems, so you can resolve them quickly.

Choose your VoIP provider wisely
When evaluating VoIP systems, you must verify your provider’s service-level agreements. Ask them about their security and availability guarantees, and how they’re able to achieve them.

Whomever you partner with, be sure they’re hosting your VoIP systems in facilities that are safe from local disasters and use advanced network security services to protect your calls.

Have a backup broadband line
Because VoIP solutions are dependent on the internet, you should have a backup or alternate internet service in case one network goes down.

Ideally, one internet service provider (ISP) will be dedicated to your VoIP service, while another supports your main computer network. Once you’ve installed both networks, you can then program them to automatically transfer services to each other should one network fail.

In other words, if your main phone network goes down, you can simply switch your VoIP solution to the other network so you can keep working.

Of course, subscribing to two separate ISPs will increase your internet expenses, but the cost to maintain both is far less than the cost of significant downtime.

Route calls to mobile devices
The beauty of hosted VoIP is you can choose where to receive your calls with call forwarding — a feature that automatically reroutes incoming calls to other company-registered devices. This means if your main office ever went down due to a local disaster or network outage, your employees can keep working from their mobile devices as if nothing happened.

To benefit from this feature, make sure to register all employee mobile devices to your VoIP system and configure which devices calls will be routed to.

Also, don’t forget to set policies for remote working. For example, you should have rules that forbid staff from connecting to public WiFi networks, as this can put them at risk of VoIP eavesdropping.

Test your plan
There’s little value in a VoIP continuity plan if it isn’t tested on a regular basis. Test your VoIP service and check whether contact details are up to date, call forwarding features are routing calls to the right devices, and your backup internet service works. Ultimately, your goal is to find flaws in your VoIP recovery strategy and make necessary adjustments to avoid them from occurring in the future.

If managing VoIP is too time-consuming and complex, call our professionals today. We design, implement, and test a powerful, disaster-proof VoIP phone system to ensure your communications are always online.

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Stay on the line with a VoIP continuity plan

Voice over IP (VoIP) phone systems offer far superior mobility, functionality, and cost-efficiency than traditional landlines. But like any computer system, it can be vulnerable to service disruptions, equipment failure, and cyberattacks. With proper preparation, however, your phone systems can weather any disaster.

Invest in VoIP monitoring services
Before implementing any disaster recovery solutions, it’s a good idea to install third-party VoIP monitoring services to check on the status of your phone systems. This identifies whether there are any network issues disrupting your phone systems, so you can resolve them quickly.

Choose your VoIP provider wisely
When evaluating VoIP systems, you must verify your provider’s service-level agreements. Ask them about their security and availability guarantees, and how they’re able to achieve them.

Whomever you partner with, be sure they’re hosting your VoIP systems in facilities that are safe from local disasters and use advanced network security services to protect your calls.

Have a backup broadband line
Because VoIP solutions are dependent on the internet, you should have a backup or alternate internet service in case one network goes down.

Ideally, one internet service provider (ISP) will be dedicated to your VoIP service, while another supports your main computer network. Once you’ve installed both networks, you can then program them to automatically transfer services to each other should one network fail.

In other words, if your main phone network goes down, you can simply switch your VoIP solution to the other network so you can keep working.

Of course, subscribing to two separate ISPs will increase your internet expenses, but the cost to maintain both is far less than the cost of significant downtime.

Route calls to mobile devices
The beauty of hosted VoIP is you can choose where to receive your calls with call forwarding — a feature that automatically reroutes incoming calls to other company-registered devices. This means if your main office ever went down due to a local disaster or network outage, your employees can keep working from their mobile devices as if nothing happened.

To benefit from this feature, make sure to register all employee mobile devices to your VoIP system and configure which devices calls will be routed to.

Also, don’t forget to set policies for remote working. For example, you should have rules that forbid staff from connecting to public WiFi networks, as this can put them at risk of VoIP eavesdropping.

Test your plan
There’s little value in a VoIP continuity plan if it isn’t tested on a regular basis. Test your VoIP service and check whether contact details are up to date, call forwarding features are routing calls to the right devices, and your backup internet service works. Ultimately, your goal is to find flaws in your VoIP recovery strategy and make necessary adjustments to avoid them from occurring in the future.

If managing VoIP is too time-consuming and complex, call our professionals today. We design, implement, and test a powerful, disaster-proof VoIP phone system to ensure your communications are always online.

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My Workspace: Office 365 tool for Mac users

Mac users can now access their Office 365 apps and files with My Workspace, Microsoft’s handy new tool for macOS. Although in its early stages, My Workspace brings significant benefits to users who want all their Office tools in one place.

Office workspace for Mac

My Workspace sits in the Menu bar along the top of the screen and provides macOS users of Office 365 with a quick and easy access to pinned documents, recently accessed files, OneDrive files, Skype calls, and iCloud Calendars. It also makes their lives easier by offering quick buttons to Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and OneNote. You can download the app for free at myworkspace.ms.

The app is the brainchild of four interns at the Vancouver offices of Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s Washington-based experimental projects division. It was created when the interns were tasked with developing a tool to “add value to a person’s day.”

Benefits to macOS users

For those who use several Office apps at once, My Workspace’s unobtrusive placement and long list of accessibility features will make their Office experience far more efficient.

By clicking the icon located at the right-hand corner of the screen, you can get a quick overview of your day, respond to event invitations in your calendar, and join Skype calls. The intuitive tool determines recently opened files and displays them on the Recent tab, which gives you quick access to your most important documents.

Under the Pinned column, you’ll find a full list of recently opened files along with shareable links, making collaboration easier.

Account management and customization features

With My Workspace, you can easily access your Office 365 account settings, making account management a breeze. From this window you can manage Subscriptions, Security & privacy, App permissions, Install status, and other general settings.

What’s more, My Workspace allows you to customize your App Settings, where you can set the number of events and recent documents you can see, and decide which apps you would like displayed in the launcher.

Small yet substantial improvements such as My Workspace make Office 365 a thoroughly convenient business tool. There’s plenty of productivity-boosting functionalities within Office 365 regardless of device, and if you want to explore its useful features, call us today for tips and recommendations.

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New Office 365 tool for macOS users

Microsoft has launched a new tool for Office on Mac called My Workspace. Business users who frequently interact with apps and documents will find this small yet useful tool highly beneficial. Let’s take a closer look at this brand new app.

Office workspace for Mac

My Workspace sits in the Menu bar along the top of the screen and provides macOS users of Office 365 with a quick and easy access to pinned documents, recently accessed files, OneDrive files, Skype calls, and iCloud Calendars. It also makes their lives easier by offering quick buttons to Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and OneNote. You can download the app for free at myworkspace.ms.

The app is the brainchild of four interns at the Vancouver offices of Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s Washington-based experimental projects division. It was created when the interns were tasked with developing a tool to “add value to a person’s day.”

Benefits to macOS users

For those who use several Office apps at once, My Workspace’s unobtrusive placement and long list of accessibility features will make their Office experience far more efficient.

By clicking the icon located at the right-hand corner of the screen, you can get a quick overview of your day, respond to event invitations in your calendar, and join Skype calls. The intuitive tool determines recently opened files and displays them on the Recent tab, which gives you quick access to your most important documents.

Under the Pinned column, you’ll find a full list of recently opened files along with shareable links, making collaboration easier.

Account management and customization features

With My Workspace, you can easily access your Office 365 account settings, making account management a breeze. From this window you can manage Subscriptions, Security & privacy, App permissions, Install status, and other general settings.

What’s more, My Workspace allows you to customize your App Settings, where you can set the number of events and recent documents you can see, and decide which apps you would like displayed in the launcher.

Small yet substantial improvements such as My Workspace make Office 365 a thoroughly convenient business tool. There’s plenty of productivity-boosting functionalities within Office 365 regardless of device, and if you want to explore its useful features, call us today for tips and recommendations.

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Microsoft launches My Workspace for macOS

If you’re using Office 365 on a Mac computer, here’s some good news: Microsoft has introduced a new tool that will help you manage your Office 365 apps much more easily. My Workspace is a productivity-enhancing application that offers quick access to frequently used apps and files.

Office workspace for Mac

My Workspace sits in the Menu bar along the top of the screen and provides macOS users of Office 365 with a quick and easy access to pinned documents, recently accessed files, OneDrive files, Skype calls, and iCloud Calendars. It also makes their lives easier by offering quick buttons to Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Excel, and OneNote. You can download the app for free at myworkspace.ms.

The app is the brainchild of four interns at the Vancouver offices of Microsoft Garage, Microsoft’s Washington-based experimental projects division. It was created when the interns were tasked with developing a tool to “add value to a person’s day.”

Benefits to macOS users

For those who use several Office apps at once, My Workspace’s unobtrusive placement and long list of accessibility features will make their Office experience far more efficient.

By clicking the icon located at the right-hand corner of the screen, you can get a quick overview of your day, respond to event invitations in your calendar, and join Skype calls. The intuitive tool determines recently opened files and displays them on the Recent tab, which gives you quick access to your most important documents.

Under the Pinned column, you’ll find a full list of recently opened files along with shareable links, making collaboration easier.

Account management and customization features

With My Workspace, you can easily access your Office 365 account settings, making account management a breeze. From this window you can manage Subscriptions, Security & privacy, App permissions, Install status, and other general settings.

What’s more, My Workspace allows you to customize your App Settings, where you can set the number of events and recent documents you can see, and decide which apps you would like displayed in the launcher.

Small yet substantial improvements such as My Workspace make Office 365 a thoroughly convenient business tool. There’s plenty of productivity-boosting functionalities within Office 365 regardless of device, and if you want to explore its useful features, call us today for tips and recommendations.

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5 types of clutter that slow down Windows

If you’ve noticed that your Windows 10 operating system has been running slow, yet no virus has been found and everything seems to be running okay otherwise, your PC might have too much clutter. Clutter can impede its performance and eat away its memory. To help your computer perform at its peak once again, you need to know five types of clutter and how to remove them.

5 types of clutter you need to know

  1. Pre-installed software: This unwanted OEM software, referred to as “bloatware,” poses security risks and takes up tons of CPU, RAM, and disk space. To get rid of it, Refresh Windows.
  2. Windows Updates: All too often, Microsoft launches updates that fail to download correctly, leaving you with corrupted and unusable files. Some of them will be deleted by Windows, while some will hang around forever. To remove them, Reset Windows.
  3. Registry Bloat: Every action performed in Windows gets recorded in your computer’s registry, including files and applications you’ve deleted. And gradually, Windows becomes bogged down by thousands of redundant entries. The solution? Reset Windows.
  4. Error files: Whenever software in your system encounters errors in processing or crashes altogether, Windows will keep a log file of it. And, as with Registry Bloat, these log files accumulate. To remove all these space-eating files, Reset Windows.
  5. User Bloat: This means a large number of your own files, especially if it’s unorganized. Solution: Refresh Windows.

How to declutter Windows

To rid your computer of all this clutter, you have two choices: Reset or Refresh. When you Reset, a brand new copy of Windows 10 is installed and “resets” your system to its original state. When you Refresh, your PC reinstalls Windows 10 free of any bloatware.

Both tools will delete Windows 10 apps and your customized settings, and will give you choices of keeping your old files or deleting them.

To get started, go to Start > Setting > Update and Recovery > Recovery

If you want to Reset Windows, choose Reset This PC > Get Started and then follow the on-screen instructions.

If you want to Refresh Windows, you need to know whether your Windows update version is Windows 10 1607 or Windows 10 1703 since the processes are a bit different.

  • For Windows 10 1607, choose More Recovery Options > Learn How to Start Afresh With a Clean Copy of Windows 10, at which point you’ll see a new screen in your browser. Click Download Tool Now at the bottom of the page, and when the download is finished, follow the on-screen instructions.
  • For Windows 10 1703, click Settings > Update & Recovery > Recovery > More recovery options > Start Afresh to launch Windows Defender. Then click Get Started to start the Refresh process. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key + R, enter systemreset -cleanpc and click Enter. When you see the Fresh Start menu, click next to start the process.

There are innumerable ways to make your computer perform faster and more efficiently, and our Windows experts are equipped with all the tricks of the trade. Give us a call today.

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