What is a Managed Service Provider?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on August 16, 2017

Today, many business that are looking for ways to cut costs while managing their websites and other technological and resource related tasks have found Managed Service Providers to be the answer to their needs. Managed Service Providers (or MSPs) provide managing, monitoring and resolutions of problems for IT systems within a business. The problem is that there are many service providers billing themselves as Managed Service Providers when all they really offer is a flat rate service package, rather than all of the necessary components found in professional Managed Service Providers. Before actually taking the plunge and hiring an MSP, it’s a good idea to understand what a Managed Service Provider should offer and how to tell if they will be an asset to your business.

What does a managed service provider do?
A managed service provider will monitor your systems (through Managed Service Software) 24/7 for any problems or potential problems and alert you to them in a timely fashion. A managed service provider will also fix most problems such as security holes, software glitches, server problems, email service problems and so on. Basically, any foreseeable problem that may cause your company substantial productivity and/or financial loss will be caught and addressed by your managed service provider in order to keep your IT infrastructure running smoothly, with little to no downtime. A good MSP should also act as a strategic partner, providing advice and recommendations for structuring the IT portion of your business to give you the best advantage and cost-efficiencies. This service is often referred to as being a Virtual CIO, or VCIO.

What should I keep in mind when hiring a managed service provider?
A few things you might want to consider when hiring a Managed Service Provider are the following:
• Do they have a proven track record?
• Do they have a comprehensive package or portfolio to address all of your business needs?
• Do they offer 24/7 support with immediate answers to concerns or questions?
• Are they focused on security and do they make your IT security their top priority?
• Are they focused on customer service and providing the best service available?
• Do they offer a reasonably priced service compared to other MSPs?

How can I tell if they are legitimate?
One thing you should do before you hire a Managed Service Provider is check with other businesses to see whether they have a good track record. You can find reviews online of many different managed service providers, which will also help you to make an informed and educated decision on who to hire. You should look for whether they provide ALL necessary managed services to keep your IT infrastructure safe and secure as well as keeping your systems running at peak performance. Some Managed Service Providers only offer one or two services, such as connectivity and data backups, and some only offer after-the-fact assistance, such as help if your database goes down, or if your network goes offline; you can call them and they will fix it. A managed service provider should offer monitoring services that monitor all of the key components in your network infrastructure and should be alert to any possible problem so that it can be immediately addressed, often before it actually breaks.

A good managed service provider will also be able to offer advice to help maximize your IT efficiency, alerting you to better software solutions, integrated database functionality, tighter security measures and other things of this nature. You should also be able to contact your MSP to ask questions, get advice on running your IT infrastructure and be provided with helpful advice to maximize your overall security and proficiency. If they don’t offer this kind of service, the best advice I can offer you is to look elsewhere for an MSP who does. There are many competing service providers and if one doesn’t offer what you need, keep looking. Don’t settle for less than what your business deserves.

How much is it going to cost?
A good managed service provider will not be cheap, but it should be affordable cost-effective. Most MSPs charge a flat monthly fee for their service, based on the level of services, number of networked devices and other infrastructure factors. Managed service providers will be able to work with you to discover exactly what services you need and set up a plan that meets your budget, while providing a proactive monitoring solution to keep your systems running at peak performance. In order to find the best pricing, you will need to check out several recommended managed service providers and get price quotes from each. You will then be able to factor in what services are provided for what costs by which MSPs and make an informed decision on which one will be the best match for your particular IT needs.

To put it succinctly, the more research you do, the greater your success will be in finding the perfect Managed Service Provider for your needs. Keep in mind the basics outlined here, and you should have no problem finding the right managed service provider for your particular business and IT needs. Once you have found the right MSP, you’ll see a dramatic difference in your IT Infrastructure with reduced downtime, increased operating proficiency, reduced operating costs and a well-running and secure IT infrastructure.

 

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Tags: Advice

5 Ways to Upcycle Your Old Computer

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on August 2, 2017

We upgrade our equipment all the time here at Circulent. But we aren't just putting our old computers into the landfill - we upcycle them. Our infographic gives you five ways to make use of your outdated technology.

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Tags: Hardware, upcycling

News Bytes: There’s A Good Chance You’re On This Hacked Passwords List

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 26, 2017

Security researchers have stumbled across a vast treasure trove of hacked user accounts residing in a completely unprotected database online. The database contains more than 560 million user names, email addresses, passwords, IP addresses, physical addresses and more.

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Tags: News Bytes

Four Easy Email Encryption Tips

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 25, 2017

Unencrypted emails can be compared to postcards. Anyone who gets their hands on them while in transit are able to read the content freely. If you’re sending an email that contains sensitive information, this is far from ideal.

 To ensure the content of your emails are fully protected from prying eyes, you’ll need to encrypt them. Fortunately, this is very easy to do with the following tools:

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Tags: Software

New Mobile Fingerprint Sensor Can Detect Blood Flow And Heartbeat

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 24, 2017

Qualcomm has recently announced the release of their next-generation fingerprint biometric technology for mobile devices, and on its face, it seems to be a significant improvement.

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Tags: News Bytes, Software

Girl Scouts Add Cybersecurity Badge

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 23, 2017

Hackers, watch out. 

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Tags: News Bytes, Computer Fixes, PC, Advice

App Reviews: Adobe Scan

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 21, 2017

App of the Month: Adobe Scan

This one. This one is a game changer. Read on.

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Tags: Phone Apps, Advice

5 Ways Cloud Computing Can Improve Your Business

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 20, 2017

Regardless of the size of your business, you can harness the power of the same high-tech tools used by Fortune 500 companies, thanks to cloud-based technology.

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Tags: Advice

My laptop battery does not charge fully. What could be the issue?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 18, 2017

 Question: My laptop battery does not charge fully. What could be the issue?

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Tags: News Bytes, Computer Fixes, PC, Advice

How to Choose the Best Voice Communication System for Your Business

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 10, 2017

As a business owner, it is important to make the right decision when choosing a voice communications system.  Maintaining contact with your vendors, clients and employees has never been more important than it is today. Before purchasing a new system, take into consideration these factors to ensure the lines of communication remain open.

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Tags: Advice, Hardware

Three Simple Steps to Cast Your Desktop to Your TV

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on July 1, 2017

If you want to connect your computer to a TV at home or at the office, you have several options, the most common of which is to use an HDMI cable. However, who wants to run a 6 foot or longer cable across the room? Or have to control the TV outcome from an awkward position on the floor?

Luckily, Google’s Chromecast has the solution. Chromecast is a plug in devide that allows you to wirelessly cast your desktop to your TV so that you can display the content of your device without being limited by cable lengths. (If your TV is older, without an HDMI port, don't bother reading on. Roku Express+ works with composite cables).

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Tags: Hardware

Are You One of the Majority Of Businesses That Aren’t Prepared For IT Risks?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 28, 2017

Does your IT staff include personnel who are dedicated to compliance or cybersecurity? How confident are you that your team is prepared to take today’s security threats head on? How likely are you to be able to ward off a determined attack?

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Tags: Advice, Security & Virus Protection

Recommendations that will make you a little less worried about the virus Petya

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 28, 2017

You may have heard about the newest ransomware virus (Petya) that hit companies worldwide in the past few days. This new threat will encrypt your entire system, not just the files. The threat can enter your system through email, and potentially infected websites. Here are our recommendations for protecting your company.

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Tags: Advice, Security & Virus Protection

Calculating the Cost of an Internet Outage on your business

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 27, 2017

How long can your company afford to be without an internet connection? Think about it for a minute. No access to data. No phones. A day? An hour? 

When we took a 100 person company, took an average salary, and multiplied times the amount of hours lost over a day and a week, the number was shockingly high. And that doesn't even take into account any opportunities lost, like a hot sales call. 

So we would argue that investing in a backup internet pipe is well worth it. See if you agree.

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Tags: Advice, Hardware

Chrome Discovery Gives More Reason To Cover Your Laptop Camera

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 26, 2017

An AOL developer named Ran Bar-Zik has unearthed a disturbing flaw in Chrome that may make you rethink using Google’s web browser.

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Tags: Advice

Big Fix Coming For Many Microsoft Vulnerabilities

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 26, 2017

If you don’t have your PCs set up for automatic updates, you’re definitely going to want to grab Microsoft’s latest, scheduled for release on their next “Patch Tuesday.” June’s Patch Tuesday 2017 is a bit of a departure, because it’s also going to contain updates for Windows XP and Server 2003, neither of which are officially supported by the company anymore.

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Tags: Fixes, Computer Fixes

Can Your Car Be Hacked Just With A USB Stick?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 26, 2017

Jay Turla has been a very busy man since purchasing his new Mazda vehicle. He’s been spending time researching hacks to his car’s infotainment system, and as with most other “smart” products on the market today, he’s finding the system incredibly easy to break into.

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Tags: Security & Virus Protection

News Bytes: IBM Finds Malware on Some Thumb Drives

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 26, 2017

Does your company use IBM Storewize?

If you’re not sure what that is, then you probably don’t. It’s the company’s Big Data storage system, and when you purchase it, you get USB flash drives with initialization tools and installation files.

Unfortunately, IBM has recently discovered that some of the flash drives they’ve been shipping out are infected with malware. Below, you’ll find the Storwize version numbers and flash drive model numbers that have been impacted:

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Tags: Advice

News Bytes: Amazon Prime will be on Apple TV

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on June 16, 2017

Will Amazon Prime be Available on Apple TV?

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Tags: News Bytes

Why we recommend Webroot as the best anti-virus program out there.

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 31, 2017

Ask a room full of CEO's what is at the top of their minds, and chances are they'll answer "security and protection against ransomware". We agree. It should be top of mind. We've seen the impact and loss of productivity for companies who are hit with viruses. As a managed services provider, it's our job to make sure that our clients have the latest and best tools out there to protect them against hackers and cryptoviruses.

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Tags: Security & Virus Protection

App Reviews: Life360

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 22, 2017

App of the Month: Life360

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Tags: Phone Apps, Advice

Preventing cyber attacks with two factor authentication (2FA)

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 17, 2017

Today’s hackers are getting increasingly sophisticated and, frustratingly, better and better at what they do. They have extended their methods beyond the use of phishing attacks to the direct installations of Trojans or ransomware on your operating network. More and more businesses are installing two factor authentication on individual apps or devices, to deter hackers at the point of vulnerability.

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Tags: Advice

Why Ransomware Victims Are Paying the Ransom

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 16, 2017

The landscape of ransomware attacks is changing. When the malicious software first hit the internet a couple years back, it did so in a big way, primarily targeting large hospitals, insurance companies or other health-related businesses. These high-profile attacks temporarily paralyzed a number of companies, many of whom opted to simply pay the ransom to get their files back instead of wrestling with backup systems.

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Tags: News Bytes

4 Website Backup Recommendations

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 15, 2017

It's a fact that websites crash. No big deal, most of the time. Your web host should be backing it up for you on a regular basis, so that restoring is just a matter of contacting them. 

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Tags: Advice

The Environmental Impact of Your Old Office Equipment

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 13, 2017

Some businesses keep their office equipment around until it becomes out of date. Keen to avoid the cost of upgrading to more contemporary technology, they continue to operate peripherals, computers, and server rooms to the point of failure before investing in new technologies.

There are a few reasons why that's not a good idea. It's more expensive in some cases to run old equipment. And you may not realize the environmental impact of old equipment. Here are three areas of the office where you may wish to reconsider updating.

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Tags: Advice

A Number Of Linksys Routers Are Vulnerable To Attack

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 12, 2017

It’s not an overstatement to say that Linksys, to a large degree, powers the web. The company makes a broad range of routers that lie at the heart of everything from small home networks to keeping small and medium sized businesses interconnected.

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Tags: News Bytes

The 6 Best Security Camera Placement Tips

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 11, 2017

You want to protect what is yours. Will installing a security camera be enough? In a recent study done by a researcher at UNC Charlotte, they found that "nearly 60 percent of the burglars [surveyed] said they would consider the presence of cameras or other video equipment when selecting a target, and more than 40 percent said that would be a factor in prompting them to choose another target." 

However, simply purchasing the latest surveillance equipment is not enough. You need to be savvy when positioning security cameras so that you get the most out of them.

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Tags: Advice

Nightmare scenario. Disgruntled employee takes down network. What reprocussions are there?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on May 4, 2017

No matter how good your digital security system is, and no matter how much you’ve spent on it, your weakest link is and always will be your employees themselves.

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Tags: Advice

Still Using Google Talk? Google To Turn Service Off

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 28, 2017
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Google made a valiant effort to unify the world of internet chat with the release of Google Talk. Unfortunately, the other companies operating in that space were not interested in playing nice.

Had Google been successful in the realization of their vision, then virtually all chat software in use today would be cross-compatible. You would have been able to talk to your friends using Yahoo Messenger or FaceBook Chat from your Google Talk console.

Sadly, Google found almost no other company that wanted to collaborate to create the standards by which such a system could flourish. The result has been the utter fragmentation of the market, with each chat software being an island unto itself, with little to no contact with anyone outside of it.

It was a good vision, but Google has formally given up on it, recently announcing that support for Google Talk will end on June 26, 2017. At that point, the servers supporting it go offline, and for all intents and purposes, it ceases to exist.

Things have been trending in that direction for quite some time. In fact, in February 2015, Google shut down the majority of its desktop and mobile client, recommending that its user base migrate to the new Google Hangouts service. Hangouts is built around a proprietary framework, which was the direction most of Google’s rivals went in shortly after Google Talk was launched.

If you use Google Talk, you may have already gotten a formal communication about it. If you haven’t, you’ll be getting one soon.

If you take no action, you will automatically be transitioned to Google Hangouts unless there is some contractual obligation to keep you on Talk, in which case, you’ll get a communication from Google to that effect, discussing next steps.

Either way, though, Google Talk is soon to be a thing of the past.

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Tags: News Bytes

Is the Google ChromeCast Ultra Really Worth the Price Tag?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 28, 2017
Question: Is the Google ChromeCast Ultra Really Worth the Price Tag?

Answer: Google recently announced the launch of Chromecast Ultra, the next in line after Chromecast 2 in its range of media streaming dongles. But is it worth the price tag?

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Tags: Advice

What is FWaaS (FaaS)? The Essential FAQ Page on Firewall As A Service.

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 26, 2017

What is a firewall? A firewall is a physical device or software that allows content to go in or out of a network. Firewalls are configured or programmed with specific criteria to prevent unauthorized access. A firewall lets businesses take advantage of high-speed broadband, while keeping the protection needed to stop cyberattacks. In most cases, if you have a company network, you need and should have, a firewall, otherwise a virus can affect all the computers in your network.

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Tags: Advice

Will Your Laptop Battery Last As Long As They Say?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 24, 2017

If you have a laptop, you’ve probably noticed that your laptop’s battery doesn’t seem to last as long as the manufacturer says it will. Maybe you just figured you were a power user, or maybe you thought it was just your imagination. It isn’t.

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Tags: PC

Mac to Surface Transfer Made Easy

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 24, 2017

Mac to Surface Transfer Set to Make Migration Easier

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Tags: Advice

IT Staffers Tell How to Handle Angry Users

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 17, 2017

Dealing with angry or upset users. It’s simply a part of life in IT management. As such, we've developed a number of techniques for dealing with frustrated clients without losing our cool ourselves. Here are a few of our methods you can use to help calm the situation so you can get to the business of getting the issues resolved for the users.

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Tags: Advice

IRS warns of last minute tax scam

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 14, 2017

IRS Warns of Tax Preparer’s Scam

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Tags: News Bytes

Keeping Your Kids Safe on Devices

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on April 14, 2017

Keeping your kids safe while they are on devices just got easier. Now that Google has officially lifted the ban on children under the age of 13 opening accounts, they have introduced a new tool called Family Link, which allows parents to have full control over the information their children access via their Android tablets and phones.  

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Tags: Advice

How to save money on your company's security

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 20, 2017

We know that as an SMB, you have a budget – and you have to stretch that budget each and every month to ensure you can keep conducting business. Sometimes this means not upgrading something when you would otherwise do so. Sometimes it means foregoing that business trip you wanted to take and sometimes it means eliminating or severely shrinking the budget you have for security purposes. With limited funds and limited resources, it can feel impossible to get everything you need. So where do you start? How do you stretch those funds?

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Tags: Advice

App of the Month: Microsoft's Staffhub

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 17, 2017

APP of the Month: Microsoft's Staffhub

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Tags: Phone Apps, Advice

News Bytes March 2017

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 16, 2017

Forget Click and Collect, You Can Now Shop With Your Voice

In a bid to catch up with Amazon’s Alexa, Google has now added voice shopping to the Google Home arsenal, allowing users to shop for everyday items under the value of $100 by simply asking. Once customers have set up the address and payment method, they can shop at over 50 participating retailers by simply speaking their requirements aloud. For example, utter the words “Google, buy milk,” and the Google Assistant will talk you through the options available before asking you to confirm the order or search for alternatives.

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Tags: News Bytes

How (and Why) to Secure Your Business Emails

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 15, 2017

This blog post was published in SmallBizDaily, a website that writes articles specifically for entrepreneurs. 

Email is one of the most widely used forms of communication on the planet. In fact, approximately 205 billion emails are sent every day – almost thirty emails for every person.

But despite email’s ubiquity, few small business owners take the time to ensure that their system is up to scratch. Unfortunately, email comes with its own unique set of disadvantages, from the 300 million new pieces of malware each year to the 87% of senior managers who are using personal emails for professional purposes.

If your emails are unsecured, your business could face real world consequences. One high-stakes example is the controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s leaked emails during her presidential bid. But you don’t have to be famous to become a victim – in fact, small businesses are being targeted more and more frequently by hackers and malicious software.

Introducing Administrators

Many small businesses run their own computer systems, but many more work with a third-party. Either way, whether you’re augmenting your own team or whether you’re hiring the services of someone else’s, you’ll find yourself working with an administrator. An administrator’s role is to ensure the smooth running of your systems, including your emails and any internal servers and software. You’ll want to make sure that your administrator is capable of installing and maintaining dependable security software, such as firewalls and monitoring tools.

How to Stay Secure

Email security can seem low priority to a business owner, but it’s important to take the time to put the work in. Luckily, we’ve done the hard work for you by gathering five top tips to get you started.

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5 Extremely Effective Lead Generation Strategies for 2017

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 14, 2017

Looking to grab new leads? Forget the more traditional marketing approaches. The majority of them are no longer as effective as they once were. Instead, try something new.

Here are five extremely effective lead-generation strategies for 2017.

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Tags: Advice

Ways Small Businesses Can Leverage the Cloud

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 9, 2017


The cloud has changed the way we do business. It allows contemporary small enterprises to connect better with customers, innovate more rapidly, and access customers all over the world. Organizations are moving more and more of their business operations to cloud-based platforms in a bid to take advantage of the speed, flexibility, and engagement opportunities these applications offer. 

But what exactly do you stand to gain from embracing the cloud? And what is the cloud anyway? To put it simply, cloud computing is where you access files, programs or data through the internet instead of a physical server or software loaded onto your computer.

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Tags: Advice

The Truth About Data Privacy: Are Your Devices Tracking More Than You Know?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on March 2, 2017

Companies are legally obliged to protect your data and privacy, right? Read the small print that comes with the products and services you subscribe to, and you may just find yourself in for a shock.

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Tags: Insider

Take This Quiz to Find Out if Your Current Computer Support Stacks Up.

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on February 22, 2017

How can you tell if you are receiving poor or substandard service? How do you know if your computer guy is doing everything possible to secure your network from downtime, viruses, data loss, or other frustrating and expensive disasters? Could your current technician actually be jeopardizing your network? Take this quiz and find out.

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Tags: Advice

Unable to Connect to the Internet (again)?

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on February 14, 2017

Question: Why does my wireless connection keep dropping?

Answer: There’s nothing worse than attempting to work on a wireless network that has an unstable signal. Of the various issues that can explain why a wireless connection keeps dropping, three in particular stand out, and should be your first port of call when troubleshooting issues with your Wi-Fi.

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Tags: Fixes

News Bytes February 2017

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on February 9, 2017

Cortana Hits the Android Lock Screen

In a bid to further enhance the user experience of Cortana on Android, Microsoft has announced plans to introduce new methods of accessing the personal assistant from the Android lock screen via a quick and simple swipe. The new feature, which is clearly intended to replace the quick access functionality and persuade users to choose Cortana, allows users to activate Cortana by simply swiping left or right on the logo. The new functionality is currently in the test phase, but interested users can choose to beta-test the feature by opting in to the trial at the Google Play Store.

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Tags: News Bytes

Tips for Organizing Your Gmail Inbox

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on February 9, 2017

 

It’s really easy to find yourself with an out-of-control inbox that is full to the brim of unread messages. Here are some top tips for keeping your Gmail inbox seamlessly organized.

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Tags: Advice

5 Uses for Old Computers

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on February 7, 2017

As you unpack your brand spanking new PC, spare a thought for the old faithful desktop that has served you well all those years. We applaud the folks who have upcycled their PCs so creatively (see more by searching #UpcyclePC on Pinterest). However, if your computer still works, there are plenty of alternatives to putting it into a landfill.  

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Tags: PC, Advice

5 Simple Tricks to Secure Your Email Almost Instantly

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on January 16, 2017


We all know the importance of ensuring we browse the Internet with a full suite of security measures in place, but far too many of us think that Internet-based hacking and virus attacks will never really affect us. The harsh reality is that you are only ever one click away from a major security catastrophe that could be costly. If you want to ensure your data and identity are protected online and that your computer remains free of viruses and malicious intent, you should start with your inbox. 

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Tags: Advice

App of the Month: Just Press Record

Posted by Ashley Victoria Cannon on January 12, 2017

APP of the Month: Just Press Record

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Tags: Phone Apps

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