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September 28th, 2009

sacramento-bj

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – GNT Solutions has been named one of the Sacramento Region’s Fastest Growing Companies by the Sacramento Business Journal.

In September, the Sacramento Business Journal announced its 2008 Fastest Growing Company list makers. GNT Solutions was ranked 14th on the list with a significant growth of 163% over the past three years.

Topic News
April 25th, 2016

2016Apr25_InternetSocialNetworkingAndReputationManagement_B500+ LinkedIn connections can seem like a lofty goal. You have a business to run, and probably don’t have much time to dedicate to the platform. However, carving out the time to grow your LinkedIn network can prove invaluable as it will provide social proof to yourself or organization and presents the opportunity to connect with new clients. So how can you get to 500+? Here are some ideas to get started.

Network every day

If you’re struggling to grow your LinkedIn network, you may not be spending enough time on the platform. If you want to become a power player, you need to use the social network often. So dedicate 15-30 minutes a day to network on LinkedIn, and make it a goal to reach 500+ connections.

Join and participate in groups

Utilizing LinkedIn groups presents an opportunity to meet other professionals (and eventually add them as connections) as well as learn and share valuable advice. The point is not to just join a group, but actively participate in them. This requires a degree of focus and smart selection.

How many groups should you join? Shoot for around ten. This will ensure you have time to participate in each group and connect with its members. As for the groups you join, you’ll obviously want to join those in your industry, but you should also diversify. So choose five within your industry and five that relate to your other interests or provide you an opportunity to learn from its group members. Some suggestions to consider are an alumni group for your university, groups that represent causes/charities you care about, and groups that relate to a new skill you’re hoping to learn. Obviously, all the groups you join need to be active. If members only post in a group once a week, this is a red flag to avoid joining.

Once you’ve joined, you should spend some time each day contributing in at least five of your ten groups. You can ask questions, provide advice, or share valuable articles or original content you’ve created. Once you’ve developed a rapport with group members, you’ll have an easy, non-awkward way to connect with them.

Personalize your “Connect” request

The less you know a person, the less likely they are to connect with you if you send a generic connection request. You know the one: “I'd like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

Many people will simply ignore requests like this. This is why it’s important to include a quick note that either refreshes that person’s memory of you, mentions a common interest or connection you might share, or simply introduces yourself and your reason for connecting. The more personal your note the better.

Use keywords in your profile

Just like Google, Bing and the other search engines, keywords help you get found on LinkedIn. Plant these keywords in your professional headline, profile summary, and skill endorsement section. How do you know what keywords to use? Think about what you want yourself or your business to be endorsed for. What skills do you have to offer your clients? For example, if your business specializes in web solutions, some keywords you may think about using would include SEO or “web content”. As for your skills, be careful not to choose keywords that are too narrow. For example if your business is in the financial services and tax preparation industry, don’t use the names of niche tax solutions you specialize in like “estate taxes” or “small business taxes” as your endorsed skills. Instead, choose more general words like “tax preparation”. By doing this, your connections will be more likely to endorse you as it’s a broader category.

By following these tips and spending at least 15 minutes a day on LinkedIn, you’re sure to see the number of connections you have grow. And the more connections you make, the less work you’ll have to do to grow your network as more and more people will send you connection requests instead. This will provide more business opportunities and chances for you to meet new clients. If you’d like more ideas how to improve your social media efforts, feel free to email or give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 18th, 2016

2016Apr18_Productivity_BThere’s a lot of talk about BYOD policies these days. While most companies are more concerned with the security risks that go along with bringing your own device, far fewer business owners forget the productivity risks. Believe it or not, a poor BYOD policy (or lack thereof) can actually hurt your staff’s productivity. Here are some ideas to avoid this pitfall when utilizing mobile devices in the workplace.

Use the right tool

Some work tasks just aren’t cut out for mobile use. While using a mobile phone or tablet to send emails is an effective way to work on the go, trying to write long form reports on these same devices is a bad idea. As a general guideline, small tasks such as email, viewing documents, using search engines and project management apps are good for mobile work. Anything that is too detailed is probably better suited for a computer or laptop. Lastly, only train your employees to use and learn the mobile devices and programs that make sense for their role. If you want them to be most efficient, you don’t want to overwhelm them with every mobile tool your business uses.

Communicate face-to-face

Email is undoubtedly a valuable communication tool. But it’s also become the bane of existence for many of today’s employees and business owners. Too many emails kills your employees productivity, overwhelming them. And unfortunately, many times email is simply unnecessary. Instead of sending that email about a question concerning an upcoming meeting, simply go and ask in-person. You’ll likely get a response much quicker and you avoid adding yet another message to the email overflow.

Consider adding a face-first policy in your office. This means that every time your employees consider writing an email, they should question if it’s easier to just go talk with that person directly. If that person is located a quick walk away, then the conversation should take place in-person. This especially makes sense if your employee needs an answer within a few hours, as sometimes emails go unanswered for much longer than this. By enforcing an email policy, your employees’ inboxes are less likely to be overflowing and your communication will take place in a more timely manner.

Set boundaries

There’s no question that mobile tech can help productivity, but it can also hinder it. The problem is that many employees who utilize it have difficulty “switching off”. The lines between work and personal life begin to blur as completing work tasks is always right at their fingertips. While on the surface more work output from your employees may sound like a good thing, in reality it’s far from it. Being “always on” can quickly lead to burnout. And even if it doesn’t, if your employees don’t take time to break and recharge, their productivity will suffer. To demonstrate just how many employees fall into this trap of overworking, the 2015 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index surveyed 2,602 employees and found that a quarter of them regularly worked after standard business hours, and four out of ten worked on at least one weekend a month.

So how can you resolve this issue as an employer? Simply set boundaries. Create time frames for when work platforms and applications can be utilized and for when emails can be sent and responded to. Also, don’t encourage employees to work on off-hours by sending emails during the weekend. If your concern isn’t urgent, then by all means wait till Monday to send it out.

Be flexible

While it may sound a bit contradictory to the last point, being flexible in your work policy can be a smart decision to boost productivity. By being flexible, we mean the ability for your employees to work at hours and locations of their choosing. Most people work better and quicker at certain hours as they are more focused at specific times of the day. And some people will work better remotely than they do at an office space as there can be less distractions. The Staples survey supported this fact as 59% of the employees surveyed said that flexible schedules had a positive effect on productivity.

Cloud tools like Office 365 and Google Apps can help encourage a flexible workplace. But regardless of how flexible your office becomes, be conscious that parameters on work, mentioned in the last section, should still be in place to prevent employee burnout.

Mobile devices in the workplace can go a long way towards making your business more efficient and employees happy. If you’d like to learn more about utilizing mobile devices in the workplace or how you can leverage technology to make your business more productive, call us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
April 15th, 2016

2016Apr15_Windows_BWindows 10 is back again with more features for you to play with. With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, changes to Cortana, Microsoft Edge, and many more are coming your way. What are these changes? How will they be useful to you? While we are uncertain if Windows users will be foaming at the mouth at all of these new features, we can expect that these updates will make your devices easier to manage. Here are a few Windows 10 updates you should keep track of.

Cortana updates

One of Microsoft’s biggest announcements are the changes made to Cortana. Basically, cross-platform support for Cortana allows Android users to receive notifications on any Windows 10 devices and interact with them too. This means alerts from your phone can immediately be transmitted to your Windows 10 tablet or PC and you can send a quick text back, saving you the hassle of having to frequently pull out your phone at work. Even if you have low battery on your mobile devices, with Cortana installed, she’ll warn you on any device.

The update will also enable you to share directions across all devices. If you search up directions on your computer, Cortana will send those same directions to your phone. Additionally, if you ever lose your phone, you can locate it from your PC as long as Cortana is enabled on your phone.

Action center updates

Tired of getting notifications from unimportant applications? With the new Microsoft update, you can now prioritize the levels of notifications you want to see in your Action Center. Simply go to Settings > System > Notifications & Actions then click on a specific app and prioritize its alerts. You can set three levels of priority for each application: Normal, High, or Priority. Now you’ll only receive notifications that are important to you.

Microsoft Edge extensions

Microsoft’s web browsers have always lagged behind more popular browsers like Chrome or Firefox. However, Microsoft is hoping to entice people to use their web browsers by giving Windows users new and updated web extensions like OneNote Clipper and Pin It Button. Add-ons like Microsoft Translator and Mouse Gestures also received new upgrades for you to try out. To access these features, click on the dotted icon on the top right of the screen and select Extensions to find out how you can customize your Microsoft Edge browser.

Pin windows to virtual desktops

A small change for those who have grown accustomed to using virtual desktops at work. Virtual desktops allow you to separate how your windows are organized by creating an entirely new desktop to work with. Many people use this feature to separate their work files from their personal desktop to avoid confusion. The updates made it so that you can pin a window across all your virtual desktops by clicking Show this window on all desktops. What can this feature be used for? Suppose you wanted to have your favorite news website open at work and at home for personal use. With the new update, you avoid having to open another web browser just to access the same site on a different desktop.

Detailed battery use

Detailed battery use will temporarily stop high powered apps from running if your battery power is low. You can have your laptop immediately go to battery saver once it’s reached a certain percentage. Just go to Settings > Battery and slide what battery percentage you consider appropriate to automatically go on battery saver mode.

Customized update settings

Automatic Windows updates can be a real pain during inconvenient times. You’ll be glad to hear that you can now change that by going to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update. From here you can prevent Windows from automatically updating during business hours.

These are just a few of the exciting changes that are coming for Windows 10 users. We don’t know how many people will utilize these changes but, if we can expect one thing from the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it definitely aims to make our lives a bit easier. Want to hear more of the latest Windows 10 news and updates? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows
April 14th, 2016

2016Apr14_Virtualization_BWhen most people think of Disaster Recovery, the idea of Virtualization is likely far from mind. However, these two IT services are more closely related than the average business owner thinks. Virtualization can actually serve as Disaster Recovery Solution. Here’s a breakdown of how it does just that, and a few pointers to keep in mind if you decide to use Virtualization to backup your systems.

As opposed to tape backups, Virtualization reduces recovery time in the event of a disaster. While tape backups can be reliable, using them to fully restore your system after a backup can be an excruciatingly long process. In fact, it can take up to two days to do just that. Think of all the business you could lose in those two days. Think of all the lost money in salaries you’ll pay out out to employees who aren’t working. Simply put, Virtualization is much quicker than tape backups when it comes to Disaster Recovery. Your entire system can be restored in four hours or less. How does this happen? Well, instead of rebuilding your servers, operating systems and applications separately, they exist safely off-site and can be brought back online via your virtual backup.

While the speed of virtualized backups might sound alluring, there are a few key points you should be aware of before moving forward. Here’s what you need to think about:

  • Critical data - where do you want your critical data to be stored? Do you want it stored on tapes? Disk technologies? Or on your virtualized servers? Perhaps it’s best to spread your risk by backing up your critical data to multiple sources because, frankly, your business depends on this data. Regardless, find out what critical data you need to operate your organization and devise a plan to back it up as you see fit.
  • Data to be backed up - Whether or not you decide to store your critical data on your virtual machines, figure out what data and assets you do want stored on them. Then designate specific virtualized servers to store these assets. In case a disaster does happen, you’ll know immediately where your backups live, and can retrieve your data quickly and get your business up and running again fast.
  • Systems to be virtualized - Just as your business has critical data, you also have critical applications. Some of these may include email, Microsoft Office, and applications or software developed in house. Whether or not these applications qualify as critical for your business, identify the ones that do and focus your disaster recovery efforts on them. Like your data and servers, applications can all be virtualized and then safely stored off-site.
If you choose Virtualization as part of your Disaster Recovery solution, make sure your backups are monitored regularly so they’re up-to-date in the event of a disaster. And besides Disaster Recovery, there are many other benefits to Virtualization. Your business can reduce the amount of servers and other hardware in your office, lower your electricity costs, and save money in the process. Consider Disaster Recovery as a nice bonus that’s included with these benefits.

Curious to learn how else Virtualization can benefit your business? Interested in a dedicated Disaster Recovery solution? Call us today and discover how our experts can protect your organization and save you money.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

April 13th, 2016

2016Apr13_Security_BTaking work home, or practically anywhere else, has never been easier. With personal mobile devices, your employees can access company files wherever they are. Bringing your own device (BYOD) has become a popular strategy for many businesses to conduct work more efficiently and flexibly. But this strategy is not without its problems. BYOD, if not implemented correctly, can make your system susceptible to a number of risks. So what security risks do you have to account for? Here are a few security implications you should keep a close eye on.

Data leakage

The biggest reason why businesses are weary of implementing a BYOD strategy is because it can potentially leave the company’s system vulnerable to data breaches. Personal devices are not part of your business’s IT infrastructure, which means that these devices are not protected by company firewalls and systems. There is also a chance that an employee will take work with them, where they are not using the same encrypted servers that your company is using, leaving your system vulnerable to inherent security risks.

Lost devices

Another risk your company has to deal with, is the possibility of your employees losing their personal devices. When devices with sensitive business information are lost, there is a chance that this could end up falling into the wrong hands. Additionally, if an employee forgets to use a four digit PIN code to lock their smartphone or tablet, anyone can gain unauthorized access to valuable company data stored on that particular device. Therefore, your company should consider countermeasures for lost devices like completely wiping the device of information as soon as an employee reports a missing or stolen phone.

Hackers can infiltrate your system

Personal devices tend to lack adequate data encryption to keep people from snooping. This along with the fact that your employees might not have updated their devices can allow hackers to infiltrate your IT infrastructure.

Connecting to open Wifi spots makes your company more susceptible to hackers. Open wireless points in public places can put device owners at risk because there is a chance that hackers may have created that hotspot to trick people into connecting. Once the device owner has connected, attackers can simply surveil web activity and gain access to your company’s accounts.

Vulnerable to malware

Viruses are also a big problem when implementing BYOD strategies into your business. Using personal devices means your employees can access whatever sites or download any mobile apps that your business would normally restrict to protect your system.

Jailbreaking or rooting a device also puts your systems at risk because it removes limitations imposed by the manufacturer to keep the mobile software updated and protected against external threats. It’s best to understand that as your employees have the freedom to choose whatever device they want to work with, the process of keeping track of vulnerabilities and updates is considerably harder. So if you’re thinking about implementing BYOD strategies to your business, prepare your IT department for an array of potential malware attacks on different devices.

So you might be thinking that it would probably be best to just avoid implementing a BYOD strategy in the first place. However, BYOD will help your business grow and adapt to the modern workplace, and should not be dismissed as a legitimate IT solution. It’s just important to educate your company about these risks so that problems won’t occur for your business down the line.

If you need some help implementing IT security solutions for your company, or if you have any concerns regarding IT, give us a call.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
April 5th, 2016

2016Apr5_Facebook_BLove, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry. If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you’ve probably noticed that Facebook has finally added five more ways for you to react to a particular post. Many businesses will find this feature important since these new emoticons now provide a way for you to know what users feel about your service instantly. Here are some more ways your social media page can make the most out of Facebook reactions.

Ask your audience for reactions

Sometimes, audiences won’t know how to react to your posts. You can point them in the right direction by giving call to ‘reaction’ phrases like “Did you learn something new? Give us a ‘wow’ by hovering over that like button”.

As Facebook reactions are a relatively new feature, you can increase the total engagement of your posts by simply asking your fans to use one of the six available expressions on your post. This will not only increase your overall engagement and reach but will also give your fans the opportunity to learn about the new Facebook reactions.

Soften the blow of negative reviews

If your service ever experiences any technical difficulties, reactions can be a lifesaver. Back when there were no Facebook expressions, people would often resort to negative comments or trolling when they are unhappy with a particular post. This could lead to a toxic page environment and may encourage others to do the same or even unfollow your page entirely. With Facebook reactions, you can minimize the effect of negative reviews with a more innocent ‘angered’ or ‘saddened’ emoji. Overall, this looks better on your page rather than lines of nonsensical text in all caps.

Gain more visibility with your page

Commenting and reacting to other local pages on your business’s Facebook account increases your chances of being discovered by potential customers. And, as an added benefit, engaging with other local pages can encourage them to return the favor.

Use reactions as constructive feedback

Facebook reactions add an extra level of depth to measuring how well your posts are doing. Before, more likes would mean more engagement. But now, reactions show that people are invested in your content.

What’s more, you can now measure what people feel about your content. This allows you to tailor your next post so that it gets the most engagement. For instance, if you notice that people are leaving more ‘Haha’ reactions to your posts, then this could suggest that your audience engages with your posts if they see more humor included in your content.

Check out your competition

You should note that page posts are public and can be see by anyone, even those who haven’t liked your page yet. This also means you can review your competitor’s posts and find out how people are reacting to their posts. This is valuable information to gauge what type of content, announcements, or status updates work for your target audience. Or if you find that your competitor is only getting likes rather than reactions, you can try experimenting with creative posts to get people to engage with your content instead.

Facebook reactions create a new and exciting way for people to express how they feel about certain posts. While some social media marketers would not pay too much attention to this feature, focusing on reactions can give you an edge when it comes to measuring how your target audience feels about your service. So the next time you’re going to make a new post, consider some or all of these tips to make the most out of those Facebook emojis.

Need more advice on managing your Facebook page? Contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Social Media
April 4th, 2016

2016Apr4_BusinessValue_BFor many business owners, calculating the return on investment of a new technology purchase can be tricky. Some may not even see the value of calculating it, and therefore skip this step. This, however, can be a costly mistake to your business because if your technology isn’t saving you money, it’s costing you. Here are some tips to help you understand technology ROI and how to calculate it.

ROI basics

What does it mean to have a positive return on investment? It’s pretty simple. A positive ROI means the results a technology produces are greater than or equal to the amount of time and money invested. Obviously you want a positive ROI, but when is the right time to consider it? Should it be before or after you make a technology purchase? The answer is both. Before purchasing, you want to carefully consider whether a technology service or product is worth your money. Then months after you’ve implemented it, you should analyze whether or not you made a good investment. Doing this enables you to learn from your mistakes (if you made one) and make a wiser technology purchase next time.

Also, don’t forget to look at your technology currently in use. Ask yourself, is your technology simply keeping the lights on? Or is it providing a solid foundation for your business to grow? If the answer is the former, there are likely better options out there worth trying.

How to calculate ROI

When calculating ROI, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Here is a simple formula to get you started.

ROI = net gain/cost Example: You spend $100 and make $150. Your net gain is $50 ROI = 50/100 = 50%

If you’ve yet to purchase a service or new equipment, you obviously don’t know how much profit it will generate. So you’ll have to do a bit of guesswork and estimation. It’s also important to consider some intangibles. Think about the productivity costs of staff time, disruption, and frustration (because most of us don’t work effectively when frustrated). Let’s take staff time for example. How much time will your staff save if you implement a Managed Services solution? With your employees no longer having to put out IT fires daily, what if your entire staff saves 50 hours a week because of it? How much does that add up to in saved salary expense? It’s important here not just to think about the savings in time, but also what your staff could be doing with those extra 50 hours. They could put those hours towards marketing or growing your business. And that alone could make up for the costs of the technology investment itself.

Intangibles don’t just apply to saving time, frustration and disruptions, but also the costs of implementing the new technology. For example, how much time will be required to train your staff on the new technology? What’s the cost of that? Also, how much time will it take to migrate from your old system to the new one? You should consider all of these when estimating your ROI.

Lastly, don’t forget to consider the unique circumstance of subscription purchases. Since you are usually paying these on a monthly basis, it can be a bit tricky to add up real costs. That’s why it’s important to use a timeline for these. For example, if you subscribe to software as a service, what’s the cost of that plan over the course of one year or five? How much money will you save over that time span?

What’s the benefit?

Besides the staffing example mentioned above, consider how a technology investment can create new revenue streams. For example, an investment in VoIP opens up an opportunity to offer video consulting to clients in parts of the country (or even world) that would normally be out of reach. This obviously leads to a new revenue stream and increased profits. So ask yourself, can the technology you’re considering create new revenue streams?

Next steps

Before making a technology purchase, it’s wise to talk with both management and end users about your decision. If you fail to consult your end users before implementation, they may disagree with your decision and therefore take longer to adapt or even rebel against it. Checking with them beforehand gives them a chance to offer valuable feedback on how it will be used in the trenches, and will get them onboard with the technology if you implement it. As for your management team, they can be a valuable resource to bounce ideas off of and gain insights about the technology you may have overlooked.

Lastly, ROI does not need to be calculated for every purchase. If you need to buy something small, like a new keyboard, just go and buy it. Save your ROI calculations for much larger investments that can have a dramatic impact on your business.

If you need help determining the ROI of a potential technology investment, feel free to give us a call for a chat. Our experts can help you determine the true benefits of a given technology and help you make a wise investment.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic business
March 31st, 2016

2016Mar31_Virtualization_BVirtualization security is a topic that often goes undiscussed on the Internet, and you may even think it’s a non-issue because of this. However, like the rest of your technology, a virtualized infrastructure must be secured. To help keep yours protected, here are some of the security risks involved with virtualization and how you can go about mitigating them.

Security risks of virtualization

Complex infrastructure - much like the topic of virtualization itself, the infrastructure of a virtualization solution can oftentimes be confusing to small businesses. The extra layers of infrastructure complexity added by virtualization can make it more difficult to spot anomalies and unusual events happening in your virtual machines and network.

Dynamic design - the design of a virtualized environment is dynamic by nature and constantly changing. Unlike adding physical equipment, which is a bit of an event as you make room for it in your office and install it, the addition of virtual machines can go almost completely unnoticed as they’re created in a matter of minutes and aren’t visible in your workspace. The danger here is the age old adage, “out of sight out of mind.” And if you add too many, they can easily become difficult to manage and secure, creating security holes in the process.

Quick moving workloads - as your virtualized infrastructure grows, there will come a time when you need to move workloads from one machine to another. While this may sound harmless enough, the real issue is that your virtual machines will likely require different levels of security. And when you’re juggling multiple workloads over multiple virtual machines, you may accidentally move mission critical workloads to a machine with a low level security, creating a security hole in the process.

How to mitigate risks

While these three risks may sound alarming, they can all be mitigated. The key behind effectively securing your virtual machines all comes down to process. Put some thought into your security processes and then implement them. Here are a few areas to cover:
  • Organization - decide how and where to separate your test, development and production virtual machines.
  • Audit - develop a system to regularly audit your virtual machine security. Whenever possible, use tools to automate your security checks, balances and processes.
  • Patches - Perform regular security patch maintenance, and create a schedule to ensure your patches are up-to-date for all virtual machines.
  • Overflow management - When you have so many virtual machines they’re hard to track, you need a system in place to monitor them. So be aware of what each virtual machine is used for, and manage it accordingly. While doing this, find ways to consolidate machines whenever possible and get rid of the ones under utilized.
  • Responsibility - to ensure the security of your virtual machines doesn’t slip through the cracks, designate one IT technician or manager to be responsible for it.
If you prioritize security of your virtual machines and properly manage them, security can truly be a non-issue. If you’d like additional assistance with your virtualized infrastructure or would like to implement a new virtualization solution, give us a call today.
Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

March 29th, 2016

2016Mar29_Security_BHas your computer been running slow lately? Are you getting a bunch of unwanted pop-ups? Then it’s possible your system’s security has been breached. Being able to identify whether or not your computer is infected with malware will allow you to quickly come up with antivirus solutions to protect your system. This means you’ll be saving time and money from doing a fresh reinstall of your operating system. Here is a list of possible symptoms you may encounter if your computer has a malware infection.

Slow computer

The most common symptom of a malware infection is a slow running computer. Are your operating systems and programs taking a while to start up? Is your data bandwidth suspiciously slow? If so, your computer may potentially have a virus.

However, before you immediately assume your computer has a virus, you should check if there are other causes to your computer slowing down. Check if you’re running out of RAM. For Windows, open task manager (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) and go to the Performance tab and check how many gigabytes of RAM you are using under the Memory section. For Mac OS users, you can open the Activity Monitor app and under System Memory you should be able to find out your RAM usage.

Other causes of a slow system include a lack of space on your hard drive and damaged hardware. Once you’ve ruled out the other potential causes, then a virus may have infected your device.

Blue screen of death (BSOD)

If your PC crashes regularly, it’s usually either a technical problem with your system or a malware infection. You might not have installed the latest drivers for your device or the programs you’re running could possibly be incompatible with your hardware. If none of these problems are apparent in your PC then the virus could be conflicting with other programs causing your crashes. To check what caused your last BSOD go to Control Panel> System and Security> Administrative Tools> Event Viewer and select Windows Logs. Those marked with an “error” are your recorded crashes. For troubleshooting solutions, consult forums or your IT department to figure out what to do next.

Programs opening and closing automatically

Malware can also be present when your programs are opening and closing automatically. However, do check if some programs are meant to behave this way or if they are simply incompatible to run with your hardware first before coming to the conclusion that your computer has a virus.

Lack of storage space

There are several types of malware that can manipulate the files saved on your computer. Most tend to fill up your hard drive with suspicious files. If you find any unknown programs that you have never installed before, don’t open the application, search up the program’s name over the Internet and use antivirus protections once you’re certain that it’s malware.

Suspicious modem and hard drive activity

Combined with the other warning signs, if your hard disk is working excessively while no programs are currently running or if you notice that your external modem is always lit then you should scan your computer for viruses.

Pop-ups, websites, toolbars and other unwanted programs

These are irritating signs that your computer has a virus. Pop-ups come from clicking on suspicious pages, answering survey questions to access a website’s service or installing free applications. Don’t click on ads where Jane says she earned $8000 a month staying at home. When you get pop-ups appearing out of the blue, refrain from clicking anywhere on the pop-up page and just close out of the window and use your anti-malware tool immediately.

Equally, free applications allow you to download their service for free but the installation process can be riddled with malware. When you’re installing a program from the Internet it’s easy to just skim over the terms and conditions page and repeatedly press next. This is where they get you. In the process of skipping over certain installation steps, you might have agreed to accepting a new default browser, opening unwanted websites and other programs filled with viruses. Just be cautious the next time you download something for free. It’s best to try avoiding any of these practices when you can in order to protect your computer.

You’re sending out spam

If your friends are telling you that you’ve been offering them suspicious messages and links over social media or email, you might be a victim of spyware. These may be caused from setting weak passwords to your accounts or forgetting to logout of them.

In the end, it’s best to know how malicious software affects your computer so you can take steps to rectify the situation as soon as possible. Regardless of whether or not your system has experienced these symptoms, it’s always smart to perform regular malware scans to ensure your business is safe. To find out more about malware and IT security, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Security
March 25th, 2016

2016Mar25_MicrosoftWindowsNewsAndTips_BThe new Windows 10 interface looks pretty good and quite intuitive but something is missing - your signature style. The cool thing about Windows 10 is that it gives you the ability to customize your device any way you like. So if you’re tired of seeing a blue color theme or if you’re the sort of person that absolutely hates that notification sound, there are a couple of ways to customize your desktop. Stamp your identity into your PC by doing these.

Change your themes

Probably the most obvious way to personalize your Windows 10 is by changing your background and lock images by right-clicking on your desktop and going to the Personalization settings. Fiddle around with the different themes you want to see every time you minimize your windows or even add new themes by selecting your own or by clicking on the Get more themes online option.

Use dark mode

Want to give your Windows 10 an edgier feel? Replace those white backgrounds with dark mode. It does take a bit of effort to get to though. Open the run menu (Windows key + R) and type regedit to open the Registry. Then go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER> SOFTWARE> Microsoft> Windows> CurrentVersion> Themes> Personalize. On the right, you’ll notice an option called AppsUseLightTheme. Open up the box, and change Value Data from a 1 to 0.

Changing the value to 0 switches off the light theme and takes you to dark mode. To make sure the changes are made you need to logout of your PC and log back in. To switch the themes back to the Light theme just take the same steps but instead you need to switch the Data Value back to 1.

Virtual desktops

If you’re having trouble separating your work files from your personal files, try creating a virtual desktop. Press the Windows key + TAB to show all your open windows. At the bottom right corner of your screen you’ll notice an option to add a new desktop. Simply click on it to create a new desktop and immediately enjoy looking up your hobbies on one desktop while strictly doing business on the other.

To quickly switch between your desktops you can use the CTRL + Windows key + left/right arrow shortcut to maneuver between screens.

App snapping

App snapping is not exactly a new feature for experienced Windows users but with Windows 10, you can now snap any app in place. For people who like to multitask, this feature can be just for you. Snap any app window into one side or corner of your screen by simply dragging it into the desired area. You can have a maximum of 4 separate windows open in your monitor at the same time for when you want to browse the internet while you’re filling out spreadsheets.

Reorganize your Start Menu

To add a little more “you” into your Windows PC you can do a few things to customize how your apps are readied on your Start Menu. To begin with, you can resize the Start Menu by simply dragging the top or right side of the menu to resize.

You can choose to resize the live tiles by right-clicking on them and selecting the Resize option. You can also rearrange application tiles by dragging them anywhere around the Start Menu. Or if you don’t see yourself using a particular application simply right click the tile and select Unpin from Start. On the other hand, you can pin applications into the Start Menu by going to the All Apps tab, right-clicking and choosing Pin to Start. For even faster access to the apps that you like to go to, simply pin the program to the task bar.

Change color themes

Is plain black Start Menu color not doing it for you anymore? Just right-click on your desktop, choose Personalize> Color and select any accent color that suits you. Switch on the Show color on Start, taskbar, action center, and title option if you want this color applied to the entire menu. There are also various other options you can choose to display the Start Menu by going to the Start section of the Personalization settings.

Disable notifications

We don’t know where you stand on app notifications but if you absolutely hate it and wish to never hear that notification sound ever again, simply click Start> Setting> System> Notifications>Actions and switch off whatever app notifications you don’t want. Goodbye annoying reminders.

Switch up and personalize your Windows 10 how ever you like by using some or all of these options and hopefully you get the settings that’s just right for you. If you would like to know about more ways you can personalize your desktop or need information on anything Windows 10 related, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic windows