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When And Why You Should Use Remote Support

If you’ve ever had a sudden computer problem, you know it can be very stressful. So much of our day-to-day life requires having access to a working computer.remote_support

Homework, budgeting, bills, even browsing dinner recipes all have a degree of urgency that mean dealing with a broken computer isn’t comfortable for long. Hawk IT offers two options: remote repair or bring it in. Which is the best choice for you?

Benefits of Remote Support

Speed: If remote repair is a possibility, your technician can connect via the Internet and have you operational in no time. You might also choose to just leave it turned on in the morning and go to work as normal, while the tech logs in to conduct the repair, ready for your return. Without this option, you’d need to juggle time in your diary to drop the system off as most in-store techs only work 9-5.

Convenience: You get to skip the unpleasant tasks of unplugging the PC, untangling the cables and carting it to us in Bargo. Even then, once repaired, you’d still be privileged with carrying it back home and playing a game of which-plug-goes-where.

Computers may be getting smaller, but they’re still heavy and fiddly! Laptops are designed to be moved around often and it may not be a problem to drop in, but traveling with a desktop PC requires a little more effort and a lot more inconvenience.

Negatives of Remote Support

Limited repair options: A remote connection can only repair certain software problems, not hardware problems. It’s impossible for the technician to swap out a failed part remotely, and unless you’re confident in your own repair skills, guided physical repair isn’t viable either.

Occasionally the problem will also be outside the computer, perhaps a troublesome peripheral or connection. Your technician may be able to walk you through correcting some of these minor problems yourself, but most invariably require a physical call-out or taking your computer in-store.

Connection speed: A slow or unstable connection will make a remote repair take longer and increase the difficulty of the task. The extended time impacts the cost for the call, and in extreme cases, can negate any benefits of skipping the physical inspection. Your connection needs to allow the technician to see real-time responses as if they were sitting there in person.

Accessibility: If your computer won’t start or can’t connect to the Internet at all, your technician can’t log in. This includes seeing a blue screen of death, boot failure and Windows load failure. As much as they’d like to help you, being able to log in to your system is a vital step in the remote repair process.

Remote support and repair is the ideal situation, purely for speed and convenience. As a bonus, in the event the remote repair is unsuccessful, it also means your tech now has a better idea of the problem and can speed up any on-site or in-store repairs. Remote support is the best option for many repairs and gets your computer working again with minimal disruption and lowest cost.

Need a repair? Call us on 02 4602 6000 for rapid remote support.

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ALERT: Your Antivirus May Be Letting You Down

The best way to avoid a computer virus is by using common sense, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be safe from attack. Even the most careful user can find themselves infected in an instant and spreading the virus faster than a sneeze in flu season. It’s why antivirus software is still the first package we install on all systems – because you never know when you’ll be attacked. But should you choose free or paid antivirus?anti_virus

Advertising: Much like a free app making its fortune with in-app purchases, the free antivirus software will push for payment. Expect popup boxes pestering you to sign up to the paid version at least daily. Some free options will also try to change your browser home page and default search engine, an inconvenience you may be stuck with. Paid options are more respectful and largely invisible unless they’ve detected a problem.

Effectiveness: It’s fair to expect your antivirus to detect malware, and testing showed that in a head-to-head battle free and paid are about equal at catching known infections. And therein lies the kicker: generally speaking, free antivirus needs to have recorded a virus to its library before it can detect it. Paid antivirus is more likely to identify and stop a new virus. It essentially bases the detection on suspicious behavior, source and attributes, a far more effective method of detection.

Features: Free antivirus options are usually created from the paid version, taking out everything except the bare minimum. In your paid version, you can expect advanced features like spam filters, firewalls, parental controls and secure web browsing. Some paid antivirus will also update your other software packages, forming a more secure protection against attacks. For example, you might view a malicious image file that takes advantage of an exploit in your PDF software. Unfortunately, hackers have advanced beyond simple tactics and it’s not just about avoiding email attachments anymore.

Support: Free antivirus options are the most popular choice because they’re… free. Obviously. This also means there’s generally no support available. If there’s a problem or conflict with another program, you may find yourself without protection until it can be resolved. Paid antivirus options usually include telephone support, ready to help with problems ranging from installation to system diagnostics.

Ease of use: Depending on what you use your computer for, this may be an important concern. Free antivirus options are easy to install and use, but are very limited in their flexibility. They come as-is, meaning you can’t pick and choose what it monitors or how it reacts. For example, users occasionally find it necessary to disable ALL protections in order to install a network game. Paid versions are more likely to allow you to adapt the way it runs, switching features on and off as required.

Free antivirus is fine for very basic protection, those on a budget or those with an older PC. In these cases, something is always better than nothing. But we generally recommend you go with a paid antivirus to defend you from the new attacks that are released daily, and to ensure you’ve got solid protection that will make a real difference to your digital safety.

Talk to us on 02 4602 6000 about upgrading to a paid antivirus.

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11 Reasons To Upgrade to Office 365 Today

With Office 365, it seems common sense has finally prevailed, giving business the changes they actually want. It’s still Office, and your staff will still know exactly howo365 to work it, but they’ll get so much more done.

1. The whole Mac/Windows drama is over

Office 365 brings with it a stack of benefits, but perhaps the most relieving is the in-built file compatibility across all platforms. No more converting (or corrupting) files back and forth, productivity black holes have essentially been eliminated.

2. It’s always ready to go

Microsoft are so confident in their cloud-based software and data storage; they’re giving a 99.9% uptime guarantee. You can even call a real life human for support.

Work online, offline or mobile – the choice is yours.

3. Security is built in

A large part of Microsoft’s uptime certainty comes from their extremely robust security protocols. Office 365 offers enterprise-grade admin controls at your end, as well as government-grade security at their end.

4. Generous data allowances

Each user gets 1TB of cloud space for file storage, which can be shared at folder or file level.

5. Work anywhere, anytime

Previously, staff needed to establish a VPN or manage security concerns which made working off-site difficult and cumbersome. Office 365 has solved that problem and working from anywhere is now easy.

6. Integrated across devices

Calendar, email and contacts are all synced and updated across multiple devices: Laptop, desktop & mobile.

7. Yours for no upfront costs

Once upon a time, updating your Office version meant paying a small fortune and half a day downtime. Office 365 changes that, with no upfront cost or installation delay.

8. Mailbox storage through the roof

Forget the days of ‘user mailbox is full’ – each user is given a whopping 50GB in a gorgeous, easy-to-use mailbox.

9. Built in malware and spam protection

Data security doesn’t stop at file storage: email is scanned for malware and spam, protecting your business from all manner of attacks before they happen.

10. Collaboration tools and virtual meeting

Cancel your 3rd party services and bring all your collaborations into the one platform.

11. Integrated Team planning

Schedule tasks, meetings and track allocations from a top-down level to know exactly how projects are progressing.

We can help with your Office 365 migration and setup – give us a call on 02 4602 6000 today!

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Why You Should Never Use A Free Email Address For Your Business

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The message is clear: email is king. Many clients and customers choose to communicate primarily by email and as you know, it gives a fantastic ROI in your marketing strategy…unless you’re using a free email like Hotmail, Gmail, Bigpond, or even your internet provider. If that’s the case, you’re losing business each and every day.

It looks unprofessional: Imagine if banks used free email accounts – you’d never feel comfortable giving them your personal details let alone any money. How people perceive your business is what makes your business. Without that professional touch, you’ll appear temporary and fly-by-night. It puts your credibility into question and sends the message that you’re not serious about doing business – or worse – that you’re prepared to cut corners.

It erases your experience: Newer, fledgling businesses often start out with a free email address. The address clearly communicates that they are new and have little experience, and are perhaps testing the waters in a new direction. They’re not even remotely proven yet and are firmly within the hobby-zone. Continuing to use the free address once your business moves into the professional arena means you’ll struggle to build momentum and any experience will be negated.

It’s forgettable or inappropriate: Your business success hinges on being memorable enough to gain referral custom and results from your advertising. Unfortunately, free email addresses are by default filled with hard to remember clutter, for example – joesplumbing_1985@hotmail.com or milkshakes_mybabby@gmail.com.

Neither of these roll off the tongue, is appropriate for business, or can be remembered without a high likelihood of typos and bounce back. Branded email addresses such as joe@joesplumbing.com make running a profitable, scalable business much easier.

It’s not permanent or safe: When you use a free email address you are at the mercy of the email provider. They may close down operations or cancel your account for any reason. These types of accounts are also often hacked and leaked on a global scale. When a better internet or email deal comes along, you’re still stuck using the old address because it’s printed on your business cards, car lettering and flyers.

Some will agree to keep the address open for a fee, but you’ll lose the control and flexibility you need to grow your business. With your own domain name, you own it and can move it to a new business-grade email service easily. You’ll also have complete master control over the addresses within your domain, resetting passwords and creating/closing accounts at will.

Give us a call on 02 4602 6000 to set up your branded business email.

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Quickly Become A Google Fu Master… Here’s How!

googlefu2There’s one thing all teens can do better than adults – and it’s not Snapchat. They’ve become experts at quickly locating information on the internet.

That’s Google Fu, the ability to use search engines to whip up answers and research faster than a contestant on a radio quiz.

Level 1 Mastery: Tell It What You Need

Google is smart and can understand “conversational searches”. Let’s say you came across a great recipe online, but the measurements were imperial. Google has you covered.

Simply tell it what you want to convert, and what into.

[number] [unit] into [unit]

Enter “6 ounces into cups”…and hit enter. Google presents the answer, already calculated – AND it includes a handy drop down to change those measurements for your next ingredient.

  • Release dates: [movie/game] release date
  • Fast facts: [name of person] deathDurable – No moving parts to wear out
  • Stats: [city] population

Level 2 Mastery: Limiting Result Type

With one additional click, you can tell Google that you only want images. Or videos. Or News, maps, shopping, books or apps. Your initial results are presented as a combination of all types – you can see the ALL tab highlighted up the top. Just click the tab to indicate which result type you’re looking for.

Level 3 Mastery: Using Drop Downs.

One of the most popular Google Fu moves is to limit results to sites from a particular country. This is great for locating bargains or local businesses. Click SEARCH TOOLS to drop down a second menu. You’ll see the option to limit Country and even Time. 2 extra clicks and my search is now limited to my home country and items from the past 7 days only.

Level 3 Mastery: Mastery: Using Operators.

Your final level of mastery, often used as a last resort when you’re just beginning to doubt whether the internet has the answer you’re seeking.

Finally, enclosing your search terms in “quotation marks” binds the term together so Google can’t break it up. E.G. “Project Management”

Your Google Fu will soon be very strong!

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How To Spot A Tech Scam Before You Get Stung

techscamIf your computer had a virus, you’d want to know about it ASAP, right?

Before your important files become corrupted, you lose your photos and your digital life is essentially destroyed. Even thinking about it is terrifying.

Tech scammers know we’d be lost without our computers, and that we don’t always know what’s going on behind the screen – which is why they’ve been able to swindle millions from every day people across the world.

The scam goes like this:

You receive a random phone call from someone with a heavy accent (usually Indian) saying they’re from Microsoft, or an alarming pop-up appears on the screen, saying it looks like your system has been infected with a virus.

To fix the problem, they need to you to download some support software, which they’ll give you a special link for.

A technician then uses that software to gain access to your system and make it appear your system is riddled with viruses. Flashing screens, mysterious diagnostics whizzing by, fabricated errors…they’ll do or say anything to make you panic. They’ll even go as far as claiming your system has been infected with illegal content and if not corrected, you’ll face criminal charges.

Demands for credit card information follow immediately after. Once paid, they simply stop fiddling with your system to make it seem the problem is fixed. To continue the scam, they’ll soon access your system to recreate the problem, this time offering a subscription for ongoing protection.

What To Do If You’re Targeted By A Tech Scam

1. Don’t taunt them. Just hang up. Right now you’re only a phone number in their system and they’ll move onto the next – if you give them cause to target you personally, you may find yourself in a dangerous situation.

The real Microsoft will never randomly call people like this. Ever.

2. If a pop-up appears, immediately run an anti-virus scan. Don’t click the pop-up or call the number.

What To Do If You’ve Already Been Scammed

It’s okay. It feels horrible, but you’re not alone and the situation can be corrected.

Call your financial institution and have the charges reversed and your card reissued. It’s easier than you might think and helps the authorities locate the scammers.

Then give us a call and we’ll make sure they no longer have access to your computer.

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Why Businesses Sign Up For Complete IT Management

There are many reasons why businesses opt for complete IT management. In this blog we’ll identify a few of them and explain why business owners find them so important:

Spend less money on IT

It may seem counter-intuitive, but signing up for complete IT management is one of the best ways to reduce IT costs. There are a couple of reasons for this. 

First of all, outsourcing IT management saves you from having to hire full-time IT workers. Secondly, by taking care of your technology and taking several preventative measures, you lessen the risk of more serious problems developing. 

Focus more time in your business

Many business owners have a passion for their product or service, but not necessarily for the other things that come with running a business. The mere thought of accounting probably isn’t enough to inspire someone to start a company. 

It’s the same with IT. You don’t want to have to deal with network security, but you still need to protect your business’ data. That’s where complete IT management comes into play. The less time you allocate to IT, the more you have to focus on your business. 

Get support for the rare IT problem

With complete IT management, you’ll avoid most of the typical IT problems that plague small businesses. We believe that the best way to deal with technological problems is to prevent them beforehand. 

But technology isn’t perfect. We understand that and are ready to offer support to our clients when they need it. All you have to do is send us an email or call us and we’ll send someone over to fix the problem. 

In the end, businesses sign up for complete IT management because it improves their operations and increases their productivity. 

To talk more about complete IT management, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks.

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How Scalability Links Voice Over IP and Cloud Computing

Voice Over IP and cloud computing are linked together by scalability. In addition to scalability being a defining characteristic of both services, it’s also enhanced when the two are used in accordance with each other. 

When applied to VoIP, scalability means the ability to add and drop new lines easily. If your business has a busy period in December, then you can scale up with the increase in activity and scale back down alongside it. 

In terms of cloud computing, scalability means changing the number of users who have access to your files as well as increasing and decreasing your storage needs. The idea is that you don’t have to pay for extra storage capacity that you don’t need, but you can always upgrade if that changes. 

Now when you put the two together, you get even more options. A recent Cloud Wedge article explains why VoIP is most flexible when it’s hosted on the cloud: 

“Cloud and VoIP work well together because of the rapid scalability needed in deploying a VoIP solution. Imagine if you were renting hardware by the server at your local data center and you needed to rapidly add in an additional 100 users onto your existing call platform. You might have to order server hardware, you may have to acquire licenses, you might be required to configure the servers if you don’t already have an image ready.”

You don’t have to worry about all this with a hosted VoIP solution. Scaling up or down is easy, and all you have to do is contact your service provider. Moreover, there are also options available to rent equipment if you’re not looking to make a new investment. 

VoIP on the cloud provides businesses with even more options in terms of scalability. You’re free to modify your plan based on your changing needs. 

To talk more about VoIP, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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Cloud Computing Has Revolutionized Business Operations

The effect of cloud computing on business operations has been so big that experts are referring to it as a revolution. We’re now seeing more businesses than ever switch to cloud computing to optimize their operations. 

A recent LinkedIn article talks about the impact of cloud computing and its level of priority in businesses:

“As modern SaaS application suites for HCM and marketing have generated huge new levels of business value via their enhanced capabilities and social/mobile optimization, CEOs are reclassifying marketing and HCM as mission-critical because of their specific and quantifiable links to revenue, customer engagement, and strategic execution.”

Translation: Because software as a service helps businesses quantify human capital management and marketing, CEOs now prioritize the two practices more.

This is a perfect representation of the nature of cloud computing. Cloud computing on its own won’t improve your business operations. You have to already have other components in place like marketing, human capital management, data and analytics, and customer loyalty. 

Cloud computing then helps you be more effective in each of these practices. It can help improve collaboration in marketing teams by organizing various components into one project. If several members of the marketing team are mobile or remote employees, for example, they can still work on the same project with cloud computing. 

And once businesses realize that their marketing efforts are more effective with cloud computing, they start to pay more attention to it. It’s easier to set new goals and look for improvement when you can quantify your efforts and success. Cloud computing helps you do just that. 

With the number of businesses migrating to the cloud, it’s clear that cloud computing has revolutionized business operations. If you’re looking to increase productivity in your company, then you should consider cloud computing.  

To talk more about cloud computing, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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How Office 365 and Exchange Online Reduced the Division Between Windows Computers on Macs

The division of Mac and Window computers has always caused complexities among businesses. With Office 365, the barrier between the two operating systems isn’t as divisive, and businesses are finding it easier to communicate with employees. 

First of all, there are several reasons businesses may use both Mac and Windows computers. If you have a bring your own device (BYOD) policy, then some employees will bring in MacBooks. Plus, there are some programs that users need to have a Mac for.

This used to cause problems in businesses, but Office 365 makes things simpler. According to Tech Republic, it’s now easier than even for users to access hosted Exchange with Macs:

“In my experience, clients have been well served using OS 10.6 and iOS 6 and newer with hosted Exchange. Connecting new tablets, smartphones, and Macs to hosted Exchange services typically proves to be a simple task that requires less than five minutes, assuming the user knows the correct server name, username, and password for the account. And when Apple shops add Windows machines, it’s very easy to connect Outlook to the hosted Exchange platform.”

In addition, Office 365 makes the transition to mobile easier. With Exchange Online, employees can access their company email accounts and files from any device they’d like. This is especially important for remote employees that are rarely in the office. 

Moreover, Microsoft has made the transition to Exchange Online simple and painless. It’s easy to integrate your accounts and the user-interface is straight-forward. As long as employees have been using Outlook for a while, they’ll adjust to Exchange Online in no time. 

Microsoft emphasized collaboration and mobility with Office 365 and Exchange Online. As a result, employees can work more productively since they’re not tied down to the office. We expect several businesses to start using hosted services this year. 

To talk more about Office 365, or anything else, please contact us. Thanks. 

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