IT Support


5 Tips for Avoiding Ransomware

What is Ransomware? Ransomware is a piece of malicious software that infects a computer or device and encrypts the data making it inaccessible to the user. A ransom is then demanded to regain access to the victim’s data. A time limit to pay the ransom is often imposed (usually 24-48 hours) or you risk losing access to the encrypted data forever. If a backup is unavailable or the backups were encrypted too, the victim is faced with paying the ransom to recover personal files. Payment must be paid in Bitcoin and the ransom cost can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars. Once the ransom is paid, the attacker will send a private key that will allow you to decrypt the data. Tips for Avoiding Ransomware Back up your data – This won’t prevent you from being infected with ransomware, but this is one of the most important things you can do in the fight against ransomware. Regularly backup your computer and data to an external hard drive and disconnect it from the computer. This would be considered an offline backup. Even better, backup your computer off-site with a cloud backup service so that even if you suffer a ransomware attack, you can easily restore all your data and not have to worry about paying a ransom. Keep your software updated – Make sure to regularly update your operating system and the software installed on it. Ransomware attacks can take advantage of known bugs and vulnerabilities to attack and infect devices. Watch for suspicious emails and links – Be careful clicking on any links or attachments that are emailed to you. The biggest vector for ransomware infections are emails. Even if you know the sender, be mindful the their email could be compromised and a hacker is using it to infect others. If you weren’t expecting a file or link or the wording in the email seems off, it doesn’t hurt to double check with the sender. Use a anti-spam or email security service that can help block emails before they reach your inbox. Use antivirus software – Use a reputable antivirus software and keep it updated. There are some great free antivirus softwares out there along with paid ones. If you go with a paid solution, don’t let the subscription lapse so that you stop getting security updates. DNS filtering – Using a DNS filter like OpenDNS or Cisco Umbrella can help block malicious websites, content, and ransomware. By using a large database of blacklisted sites, the filter will check against the database when resolving a DNS query and then prevent the content from loading if it is blacklisted. Dealing with a Ransomware Attack If you are dealing with a ransomware attack now, here are some tips to handle it going forward. Isolate the infected machines – Try to prevent the infection from spreading any further by isolating all infected machines. Turn off the machines and disconnect them from the network by unplugging the Ethernet cable and disabling Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and any other networking capabilities. Speed is of the essence and the longer a machine is turned on and connected to the network, the longer it has do encrypt your files and spread to other machines. Identify the type of infection – Try to identify the type of ransomware that is being used in the attack. It can help you understand how it spreads, the types of files it encrypts and possibly how it can be removed without paying a ransom to the attacker. Change login credentials – Ransomware can spread rapidly by gathering IP addresses and credentials. If the attacker manages to compromise administrative credentials they can move laterally around networks, encrypt files and wipe out backups in the process. To ensure your system is secured and to prevent attackers from thwarting your recovery efforts, you should immediately change all admin and user credentials. Assess the damages – To determine which devices have been infected, check for recently encrypted files with strange file extension names and look for reports of odd file names or users having trouble opening files. You should try to create a comprehensive list of all affected systems and data, including network storage devices, cloud storage, external hard drive storage (including USB thumb drives), laptops, etc. Notify the authorities – Once the ransomware has been contained, you will want to report the attack to the authorities. The FBI urges ransomware victims to report ransomware incidents regardless of the outcome. Victim reporting provides law enforcement with a greater understanding of the threat, provides justification for ransomware investigations, and contributes relevant information to ongoing ransomware cases. Evaluate recovery options – Ideally, you will have backups you can restore from. The quickest and easiest way to recover from a ransomware attack is to restore your systems from a clean backup. Alternatively, you may be able to remove the malware otherwise you will need to wipe all infected systems and reinstall. Performing a complete wipe of all storage devices and reinstalling everything from scratch will ensure that no remnants of the malware linger. If you need assistance dealing with a ransomware attack, Pennyrile Technologies can help! Contact us for a free consult today!

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Security Cameras

License Plate Recognition Cameras

License Plate Capture Cameras, License Plate Recognition, LPR Camera What are license plate recognition cameras? License plate recognition, sometimes shortened to LPR, is a feature on some cameras that allow them to detect, read, and store video of a car’s license plate. They are used primarily for traffic monitoring in parking lots, gated security entrances, drive-throughs, parking garages, and toll roads and allow the camera to capture a license plate number which is then stored in a database. They are usually mounted on street poles, streetlights, highway overpasses, or affixed to a building’s structure. Planning your LPR Camera Installation One of the first things to consider when installing a license plate camera is where it will be mounted. LPR cameras are designed to focus on a single lane of traffic with the sole purpose of recording license plates. Because of their design, they are not good at capturing wide-angles or larger areas. We recommend having additional cameras that will be used to capture details such as passengers, make, model, and color of a vehicle. With that in mind, we recommend installing the camera in a location facing a choke point or area where cars and vehicles are forced to move through. The camera will need to be facing the rear or front of vehicles so they have a clear view of the license plates. We recommend installing the camera somewhere between 6-18 feet from the ground and no more than a 30 degree angle between the camera and the license plate you are trying to read. If the camera is not mounted properly, it will have issues providing a clear view of the plate and could prevent you from capturing the license plate. For that reason, cameras facing directly head-on to oncoming and outgoing vehicles will have the best chance at capturing license plates. Lighting should also be taken into consideration when planning the install. Well lit areas may have lower hardware requirements than lower lit areas. A good LPR camera however, will be able deal with low-light areas using infrared. License Plate Camera Hardware Recommendations IP Rating – Any LPR camera you purchase should be rated at least IP65. This means the camera will offer complete protection from dust and can withstand at least low pressure bursts of water. A higher second digit rating will provide even better water protection. For instance, IP67 will provide temporary protection against a camera fully immersed in water for 30 minutes, basically making it weatherproof. Resolution – A resolution of at least 2MP will work for most installations. A higher megapixel count will give larger and clearer images if needed. Lens – A motorized lens will allow you to control the focus and zoom of the camera without directly handling the camera. This makes it easier to adjust the field of view (FoV) and focus of the camera when trying to get the optimal view. SD Card – We recommend using an NVR instead of an SD to store images and data, but they can still be used as a backup in case of an NVR failure. Warranty – Look for cameras with at least a 3 year hardware warranty. Misc – There are many more hardware options like shutter speed, wide dynamic range, and video compression standard, but will vary depending on your needs. For instance, vehicles traveling at 5 MPH vs 60 MPH will have different exposure and shutter needs. We recommend talking with an license plate recognition camera installer to see what your specific needs are. License Plate Camera Installer If you are looking to install an LPR camera, specialized camera, or security cameras in general, call us at (931) 771-1149 to go over your needs and schedule a site survey for a quote. We routinely install cameras for big box stores and retail, restaurants, warehouses, hotels, and manufacturers in Western Kentucky & Tennessee.

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Backup and Disaster Recovery

How Disaster Recovery as a Service Provides Peace of Mind for Small Businesses

If you sit down and think about all the things that might cause your business harm, data loss should be at the very top of that list. Very few businesses in today’s day and age still operate on a pen-and-paper model and have instead shifted into the digital realm. Though this affords a great deal of convenience, things like cyber crime, natural disasters, and even hardware failure can mean the end of the line for your company. Disaster recovery as a service can change this. The Three Biggest Disasters Facing Small Business When it comes to unexpected data loss that could potentially close your business forever, there are three ways it could happen: Natural Disasters: The NOAA, or US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reports that there have been 10 or more natural disasters causing $1 billion or more in damage every year for the last five years. They also say these disasters are becoming more and more frequent. Hardware Failure: Servers and computers – much like cars and home appliances – can fail, and when they do, it’s like the data inside never even existed. Though it may be possible to recover some data, other data may be lost forever. Cybercrime: Small businesses are targeted by cyber criminals just as frequently as large enterprises by things like spam, phishing, and even ransomware, among others. Cyber crime can completely wipe out your data and leave your company dead in the water. Disaster Recovery vs. Backup Many small businesses currently pay for what is known as BaaS, or Backup as a Service. This essentially means that the companies’ data is backed up regularly and stored in a separate location. If a natural disaster, hardware failure, or cyber crime should occur, the data is not lost forever. This is incredibly beneficial, but it often provides business owners with a false sense of security. There’s no provisioning for network or computer needs with BaaS, which means that even though the data is safe, it cannot be accessed remotely, and this creates a significant amount of downtime. DRaaS, or Disaster Recovery as a Service, solves this issue. It does include provisioning for network and computer needs. To better understand this, imagine that your company’s headquarters – including the onsite server – burned to the ground. Your BaaS provider has your servers and data saved and backed up on a server elsewhere, but it’s just a backup, so until you put a new server into place, your data and infrastructure is effectively useless. A DRaaS provider, on the other hand, allows your business to stay up and running with very little downtime (if any at all) thanks to offsite data redundancy. For many small businesses who are still trying to build a reputation and make a name for themselves, several days or even hours of downtime can be devastating. It is important for small business owners to maintain their online presence through thick and thin, even in the midst of a natural disaster. This is exactly what disaster recovery as a service was designed to do; it provides small business owners with unprecedented peace of mind by ensuring things continue to run with minimal downtime – even in the midst of a true disaster.

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5 Awesome Benefits of Working Remotely that Everyone Needs to Consider

Whether you’re an employer who’s concerned that your employees might lack motivation or you’re an employee who looks forward to seeing your coworkers every day, you might be feeling some anxiety regarding working from home. Below are five awesome benefits of working remotely that everyone should consider. #1 – There’s No Commute Many people out there don’t really mind getting up and going to work in the morning (or at night). It’s the commute that they dread. Some people drive an hour or more to and from work each way, and it can be difficult staying motivated or entertained. Employees who can work remotely can avoid that commute, and it may even help them feel more productive. If they drive an hour each way, they’ve just gained two more hours a day, and that’s an extra 10 hours per five-day workweek. Remote work has a positive environmental impact by reducing commuting and its associated carbon emissions. With fewer people commuting to and from the office, remote work contributes to lower traffic congestion and air pollution. It aligns with sustainability goals and supports a greener approach to work. #2 – There’s a Bigger Applicant Pool When it comes to the best and brightest talent in all the hottest industries, workplace flexibility is a key consideration. They want the ability to work from home, and if a company doesn’t provide it, they’re likely to keep searching for a job that does. By opening your mind to the possibility of hiring remote workers – or at least giving people the option – you’ll have access to a much larger talent pool. Better still, you can hire someone across the country since commute time no longer has an effect on who you choose to fill positions. Remote work allows companies to tap into a global talent pool, as geographical barriers are no longer a constraint. Organizations can hire the best talent regardless of their location, increasing diversity and bringing in unique perspectives and expertise. #3 – People Can Work the Way They Want When people have the option to work the way they choose, whether that’s in their pajamas with a laptop on the couch or dressed in their best business casual in the home office, they are more autonomous, and that makes them more productive. Employees who work with deadlines rather than being forced to be at a desk from nine until five tend to be happier overall, too. Remote work provides the flexibility to choose where you work, allowing individuals to create a workspace that suits their preferences and needs. Whether it’s working from home, a co-working space, a coffee shop, or even while traveling, remote work offers the freedom to work from anywhere with an internet connection. #4 – Working Remotely Costs Less There’s no getting around it: providing employees with office space is incredibly expensive. In fact, for many companies, office space is one of their largest expenses. When you choose to allow employees to work remotely, you can save money on the office space, utilities, and the overhead costs associated with maintaining a physical office. Remote workers can save on commuting expenses, office attire, and dining out for lunch. Additionally, remote work may open up opportunities for individuals to live in more affordable areas, reducing housing expenses. As an employee, you’re saving money on your commute, your business wardrobe, and even lunches in the office. It’s truly a win-win situation for everyone, even if it is only temporary or only part-time. #5 – You Can Use New Technologies With everything from managed IT service to VoIP and cloud-based apps as a service, there’s truly a technology to make everything possible. When you give your employees all the right tools, they can and will succeed. It’s up to employers to choose the right technologies and the right protections. As an employee, you may find yourself learning how to use new technologies that can benefit not only your work life and your resume, but your personal life, as well. Working from home can be quite the transition, and it can cause anxiety among workers and employers alike. Nevertheless, more people are working from home now than ever before in history, and many of them are succeeding, too. Consider the five benefits above and it will be much easier to decide whether working remotely is the right choice for you. Working Remotely Challenges While there are many amazing benefits of working remotely, there are also some challenges to consider. One challenge can be the social isolation from other employees. Remote work can be isolating, especially for individuals who are used to working in a social office environment. The lack of face-to-face interaction and casual conversations with colleagues can lead to feelings of loneliness and decreased motivation. Additionally, remote workers may miss out on networking opportunities and building strong professional relationships. Another challenge for some employees are the social distractions at home. Some employees who have never worked remotely may have issues with time management or a lack of routine in their day-to-day as it can be difficult adjusting to working remotely for some. Some individuals thrive in a structured office environment, where routines and social interactions provide motivation. Remote work requires self-discipline and self-motivation, as individuals are responsible for managing their own time and maintaining focus. Without a clear routine or external accountability, productivity can be adversely affected. Finally some employers have cited issues with collaboration and team building when employees work from home. Remote workers also may face challenges in terms of career growth and visibility within their organizations. They may miss out on informal opportunities for professional development or networking that are more common in traditional office settings. Remote workers need to proactively seek out opportunities to showcase their skills and contributions to ensure career advancement. Working Remotely Conclusions We have gone over some of the benefits and challenges of working remotely today. Remote work often involves relying on virtual communication tools and platforms. This can sometimes lead to

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VoIP Phone Service

5 Things VoIP Can Do that a Traditional Copper Telephone Line Can’t

If your small business still relies on a standard copper telephone line, you may be missing out on some very important benefits. In fact, VoIP is far superior to a traditional landline in several interesting ways. Below, you can learn about five of the most important things VoIP can do for you and your business that a traditional copper telephone line cannot.  #1 – Save You Money If there’s one thing that VoIP can do for your business that a standard telephone line just can’t, this is it. From setup to running cost, utilizing VoIP telephone service is far, far more affordable. Installing a single copper-line based telephone jack can cost you well over $100, but with VoIP, you can attach as many phones as you need as long as you have the right modem and router setup. What’s more, with standard phone service, you are charged a great deal for every single line you have. This simply isn’t the case with VoIP. You could save as much as 50% on your running costs by switching to VoIP.  #2 – Transmit Multimedia With VoIP, you can do a lot more than just make telephone calls. You can transfer video or any other type of multimedia just as you would over the internet. This simply is not the case with traditional telephone service. Though you can sign up for DSL internet service, or internet service delivered to you via a copper telephone line, it is a completely separate service – and it isn’t cheap, either.  #3 – Features are Free If you utilize things like call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, call parking, and others with your traditional landline, then there’s a very good chance you’re paying a great deal extra for them. If you have more than one telephone line, you’re probably paying for these services for each line, too. With VoIP, these features are typically included in your package. Better still, because VoIP is delivered over the internet, you gain access to numerous other features that are incredibly easy to set up, which include automated answering and the ability to give your customers the option to press a button to connect to the right department – all without exorbitant fees.  #4 – Scalability If you work out of an office building with a single telephone line, expanding your operations to include three or four more telephone lines for separate departments as your business grows can be a complex, time-consuming, and expensive ordeal. A technician will need to come and install the jacks and wires, and you will need to pay separately for each individual line in your building. With VoIP, all you have to do is contact your service provider and tell them you need access to more phone numbers, then connect the phones. It really is that easy for your phone network to grow along with your company.  #5 – Improved Productivity Last, but most certainly not least, switching from a standard landline to VoIP can help your employees become more productive. A survey conducted by Cisco Unified Communications found that people who used VoIP at work spent an average of 32 fewer minutes on the phone each day. That’s two and a half hours per work week! What’s more, 74% of employees use a mobile app to take business calls with VoIP service, which not only improves productivity, but also improves customer service.  In today’s high-tech day and age, there is really no good reason to continue paying exorbitant fees for traditional telephone lines – especially if you plan to expand your operations in the future. Instead, switch to VoIP so you can enjoy a great deal of savings, improved productivity, free features only VoIP can provide, and so much more. 

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Windows 7 End of Life

What Does the Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 End-of-Life Mean for You?

Microsoft recently completely ended support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, leaving many companies scrambling to find affordable alternatives. However, there are still some companies out there unsure of what end-of-life really means. After all, they are still utilizing Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 and everything seems to be fine. Unfortunately, continuing to use either of these products puts businesses at risk. Here’s what everyone should know.  What Does it Mean to “End Support” for a Software Product? Many people believe that when a company ends support for one of its products, that product will essentially vanish into the ether, never to be seen again. That isn’t how end-of-life works, though, and it’s actually a little more complicated than that. When Microsoft ends support for software, a couple of things happen (or don’t happen): The product no longer receives updates. When a product reaches the end of its life, Microsoft stops working on it. That’s really all it means. The company will no longer update the product. You can still use it if you choose to, but doing so could be problematic in several ways. First, because the product is no longer being updated, it isn’t receiving any further security patches, which leaves you vulnerable to the latest threats. New products are no longer designed with the product in mind. Technologies improve every minute of every day, and some of the biggest software providers (things like CRM platforms, etc.) are constantly improving their services to work better with current technologies. When Microsoft stops supporting an operating system, the companies providing those platforms no longer work on updates specifically for those platforms. In other words, even though you may still have access to Windows Server 8, the various applications and platforms you use may simply cease to function.  What Can You Do? If your company relies on either Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, the best possible course of action is to upgrade to the latest technologies. Windows 10 is in constant development and many people agree that it’s the best iteration of Windows yet – and it keeps getting better. Windows Server 2019 offers many benefits that Windows Server 2008 simply did not, including synchronization of files to Azure, access to System Insights, VM protection, and much, much more.  Windows 10 is superior to Windows 7 in many ways, too – it’s far better for multitasking with features like Aero Snap, driver installation, and it supports multiple desktops which makes it incredibly easy to utilize a variety of full-screen windows, even when you’re reduced to a single monitor. The best part is that you can’t forget to update Windows thanks to Windows 10, which automatically downloads and applies the latest updates in the background. It even analyzes your computer usage and chooses a time when your PC is typically asleep to restart.  If you are still running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, now is the time to make the switch to the latest versions of these technologies. They’re much improved over previous iterations, and they will allow you to continue reaping the benefits of today’s latest security enhancements along with so much more.  If you or your business need assistance upgrading from Windows 7 or upgrading to Server 2019, please contact us for a free quote!

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new business server

Does Your Business Really Need a New Server? Ask Yourself These Questions

If you think of your company’s IT infrastructure like you’d think of the human body, the server is the brain. It’s where all the data is stored, and it enables all the various processes and computers in your business to operate effectively. If your server is not working optimally, it can negatively affect your entire business. If you aren’t sure whether your server is still right for your company’s needs, or if you think it may be time to replace it, ask yourself the following questions to find out if you need a new server. Has My Server Gotten Louder Over Time? One of the biggest signs that your server is giving up the goat, so to speak, is the sound it makes when it is operating in the middle of the day. On any given workday, go into your server room and listen. If the fans are noticeably loud – much louder than they were when they were new – consider this a cry for help. As servers age, they become hotter far more easily, and this makes the fans run faster more frequently. Over time, the fans wear out, and noise indicates they are reaching the end of their lifespan. Is My Server Operating at Max Capacity? Ideally, a business server should always operate at less than 80% capacity. Though there may be times when your server surpasses this mark, for the most part it should operate at less than 80% even during the busiest parts of the day. If your server is regularly over that 80% mark, it’s time for an upgrade or replacement. In some cases, you may be able to reduce the strain with cloud computing, too. Is the Server Operating System Still Supported? Microsoft is slowly phasing out many of its older operating systems (OS), and when this happens, there will be no further support for them. For example, in January 2020, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will reach the end of their life cycles and support will end. This essentially means that Microsoft will stop working to create things like security patches that protect your system in the wake of the newest threats, and if you continue to use a server with an unsupported OS, you will be leaving your entire IT infrastructure – your hardware, applications, databases, and more at risk. If your server cannot support the latest OS and its current OS is nearing the end of its lifecycle, it is time to consider alternatives. Malware and viruses are often created to target operating systems that are no longer supported or not fully patched with the latest security updates. Is the Business Experiencing More IT-Related Issues Lately? Technical hiccups in the workplace happen from time to time despite your best efforts to prevent them. However, if you find yourself suddenly dealing with unexplained server crashes, or if your server starts to crash frequently, this is a sign that it’s time to change something.  A slow network, files taking a long time to copy or open, and slow login times can also be a sign it’s time for a new server. You might opt to buy a new server, which can resolve the issue for a while. You might also choose to move to the cloud or go for the hardware-as-a-service (HaaS) model to help save you some money. Is My Server Still Under Warranty? Server warranties are absolutely critical as they help to ensure that you can get your server replaced in the event of a complete failure. Servers are not inexpensive, and for small business owners, or any size business in the midst of a busy period, replacement can be difficult. Having to wait days for replacement parts to arrive causes downtime for your employees and business and would be costly in lost revenue and productivity. Rather than waiting for that failure to occur and then scrambling for a solution, consider a replacement right now if your server is no longer under warranty. Again, you have numerous options available to you, so choose the one that works best for you. Am I Spending too Much on Software Licenses? The business software you use is tied to a license, and that license is tied to each CPU for each server in your company. The CPU’s performance is dependent on things like memory and processing power, too. This means that if you choose to consolidate multiple older servers into fewer larger servers with better overall performance, you won’t have to pay for as many licenses. In fact, depending on the size of your company and its overall needs, sometimes downsizing your licenses is enough to pay for a new server. Bonus Question: Could You Save Money with Virtualization? If you do need to upgrade your company’s server (or servers), you may want to consider virtualization. Server virtualization is a process by which you can create partitions within a single server to create numerous instanced servers. Essentially, it turns a single server into numerous virtual environments that are capable of running independently of one another. Virtualizing your servers can save you a great deal of money in terms of hardware costs, and it can also significantly reduce your energy consumption, the cost of ongoing maintenance, and more. If you’ve been wondering whether it’s time to replace your company’s server or move your apps to the cloud, ask yourself the five questions above. Then, determine whether you want to purchase new onsite servers outright or contact a managed IT service provider who can help you with hardware as a service or cloud computing that can save you money. Need Assistance Replacing Your Server? If you need assistance replacing or upgrading your current server, contact Pennyrile Technologies for a free analysis and quote.

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Is Your Firewall Hurting Your Business? Here Are Some Ways to Tell

Many companies make the mistake of believing a firewall is a “set it and forget it” type of network security. In fact, a firewall requires constant maintenance and updating in order to protect your company from cyber threats and data breaches. Below are some signs that your firewall is not properly protecting your company’s best interests or your sensitive data.  You Don’t Have Any Traffic Visibility No matter the size of your company, whether you have only one computer connected to your network or you have dozens, it is critical that you have access to network traffic reports. You must be able to prioritize applications that are important to running your business while limiting those that might have a negative effect on productivity, but if you can’t see who is accessing what, this is impossible. What’s more, without this comprehensive visibility, there’s no way for you to know if you are complying with local and federal regulations.  You’re Spending Too Much Money on Infected Computers  In 2017, a study conducted in the UK pointed out that companies spent an average of seven full workdays each month on identifying and repairing computers that had been infected with some sort of malicious software or virus. The costs associated with paying someone to spend this much time repairing computers on your network can be astronomical, and over time, it can really tap into your bottom line. For this reason, businesses of all sizes should carefully consider the benefits of outsourcing their entire IT department to trusted professionals. It costs less and provides better peace of mind.  Performance and Productivity are Lacking Another good sign that your network firewall is causing more problems than it solves is a noticeable lack of performance from your network. If your network is slow despite a good internet connection, this typically indicates an overloaded firewall. In other words, there is too much traffic attempting to pass through the device or the firewall isn’t rated high enough for the traffic you have. If you have a lot of remote workers, your firewall may not be capcable of handling all of the VPN connections. At this point, you can either completely overhaul your IT infrastructure to allow for more traffic, or you can change the features of your firewall so that more traffic can come and go as needed at the expense of greater risk. Neither of these is a good option for many companies, but there is an alternative: outsourcing your IT department altogether.  The Firewall Isn’t as Effective as it Should Be  Finally, perhaps the most common sign that your firewall is hurting your business is a lack of effectiveness. Simply put, if computers continue to become infected or if employees continue to access websites that you thought you blocked, this is indicative of a serious issue – and one that can frustrate business owners who are not as familiar with network security as they should be. The best way to resolve this issue is to hire IT professionals to configure your firewall properly, but it can be expensive to add another person to the payroll. Outsourcing these tasks is far more cost-effective, and when you choose the right managed IT provider, you can feel confident that your configuration will always be correct.  Most companies don’t spend much time thinking about their firewalls until a serious problem arises. If you have noticed things like repeated malware or virus infections, a lack of network performance and employee productivity, or even problems with the configuration of your firewall, it is important to address them right away to protect the integrity of your company’s network. 

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Managed IT

5 Ways to Tell if You Should Outsource Your IT Needs to Managed IT Service Providers

Whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or you’re ready to make the transition to the digital world, there’s a lot that goes into building a network with the right infrastructure and security. In some cases, outsourcing your IT needs is the best course of action. Here are a few signs that you should consider outsourcing to a managed IT service provider.  #1 – It Will Propel Your Business Forward  It’s the digital age, and if your business is still dealing in pen and paper, it’s time to make the switch. The benefits associated with keeping your data digitally are innumerable, particularly when it comes to things like filing your taxes or even creating a marketing plan. Simply put, making the transition and giving your company an internet presence – and perhaps even utilizing the wonderful realm known as the cloud – will absolutely propel your business forward. In fact, failing to do so may leave you falling behind your competitors.  #2 – You Don’t Have a Plan in Place for Disaster Recovery If something were to happen right now and all of your in-house records were suddenly destroyed, do you have a plan in place to keep your business running, or would your data be lost forever? In today’s day and age, this is a critical consideration and one that far too many small businesses have failed to take seriously. If you need help with data redundancy and disaster recovery, outsourcing your IT needs may be one of the best moves you could make.  #3 – You’re Struggling to Find Time to Run Your Business Believe it or not, setting up and maintaining a network is a time consuming process and one that many business owners believe they can handle until they find themselves struggling to focus on core business competencies. Your ultimate goal should always be delivering products or services to your customers as efficiently as possible – and marketing your ability to do so, as well. If you find yourself falling behind because you are spending too much time dealing with network issues or maintenance, it’s time to consider outsourcing to a managed IT service provider.  #4 – Your IT Needs are Changing When you ran your business by yourself from home, your IT needs weren’t very complicated. However, now that you’re starting to see the potential for growth, you should be considering the best ways to expand your network capabilities, as well. If you know that your IT needs are changing – or even if they will be changing in the future – contact a trusted managed IT service provider to find out how they can help you grow. These services are far more flexible and scalable than you might think, and the best part is that they are more affordable than ever before, too.  #5 – Your Email and Antivirus is More than You Can Handle  If you and your employees are spending more time sifting through emails and dealing with viruses than actually doing your jobs, this is a real problem. Junk email is a serious issue in business environments and opening the wrong one could have disastrous effects. Though you can absolutely install your own email filters and antivirus programs, it takes time to keep them updated, and it takes even more time to configure them properly. Fortunately, this is yet another area where managed IT service providers excel. They can help you manage your emails and your antivirus in the background so you can focus on your job.  If you are struggling to keep up with your company’s IT needs, you are falling behind with your business’s core competencies, or you simply want to make certain that your company’s future is in the hands of capable professionals, outsourcing your IT team may be your best option. You can even customize a service package that perfectly suits your company and grows right alongside it both now and in the future.

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IT Budget

5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your IT Budget

No matter the size of your company, having an appropriate IT budget is critical to your operations and ultimately your success. This involves first coming up with a budget that works for you and your company’s needs, then following that budget closely while ensuring you do everything you can to squeeze the most out of it. Below are five tips for doing just that.  #1 – Get Your Priorities in Order Those new technologies you saw in a magazine or in an ad may look tempting, but it’s important to turn your focus back to the basics and take the time to understand what you really need. Sit down and make a list of your company’s priorities. Determine what you absolutely must have in terms of your infrastructure as opposed to what you would like to have at some point. Be sure to consider things like buying hardware, upgrading things as necessary, and keeping up with maintenance.  #2 – Get a Network Assessment If you’ve never had your business network assessed for potential security issues, now is the perfect time to do it – and the sooner, the better. Network assessments are designed in such a way to figure out where your network is strong as well as where it is lacking. This can go a long way toward helping you prioritize what you absolutely have to have to keep your company’s data safe.  #3 – Manage Your Resources Appropriately If you will be undertaking an IT project of any kind in order to get your network up to par, see if you can move funds around from one area to pay for a little extra IT help. What’s more, consider outsourcing your IT projects and consulting in order to save even more. Outsourcing may seem a little scary, but when you pick the right local company, it’s just like having your own employee on the payroll. They work with you very closely and truly get to know your business.  #4 – Look for the Most Cost-Effective Solutions Don’t look for the cheapest solutions because like anything else, when it comes to IT, you often get exactly what you pay for. Instead, look for cost-effective solutions that provide you with the absolute best value for every dollar you spend. Outsourcing is often cost-effective, as is utilizing VoIP phone service as opposed to traditional landlines or even choosing hardware as a service rather than buying all your own equipment. These things can really give you the best bang for your buck in many situations.   #5 – Use Your Money to Make More Money Though it may seem impossible to spend money to make money when it comes to your company’s IT, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. As an example, if you invested in cloud-based software that you really love, consider offering that same solution to your client. Though you may not make a lot of money, it could help you get more for what you’re already spending, and ultimately, this stretches your IT budget even more.  Getting the most out of your IT budget doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about understanding what your company’s priorities are, then finding ways to get the most value out of the budget that you have. To do this, manage your resources appropriately, schedule a network assessment so you can better understand your network issues, and then find the best and most cost-effective solutions to address those issues. 

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