Mainstay Logo
6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Application to Cloud

6 Clear Reasons to Switch Your Application to Cloud

Has your business embraced the cloud yet? As we move closer to 2019, it’s estimated that approximately 83% of business traffic will involve cloud applications – a trend driven largely by smart decision making. When cloud applications first came out, nobody really understood what the cloud was or how it could help their business, but as the technology improved, so did the secure and flexible solutions available to you. Some of the most common cloud applications are accounting software such as Quickbooks, as well the Microsoft Office 365 package.

Instead of being seen as alternative options, cloud applications are now clearly viewed as the next logical step. Here’s why:

Your data is safer: While it can give you a sense of warm fuzzies to hear your storage drives whirring away, the risks are less appealing. Your servers could crash, drives become corrupted, or a breach could see your data held hostage under a ransomware attack. Of course, there’s always the standard fire/theft/flood scenario to consider too. With cloud applications, your data is safely tucked away in Fort Knox style data centers, complete with robust backup systems in case anything goes wrong. As part of their service guarantees (usually 99.9% uptime), your cloud solution will have technicians on-site whose sole job is to make sure that when you need to use the application, it works. We can help you choose the safest, most robust solution with the best performance.

You’re always updated: Gone are the days of trying to work out compatibility between versions and accidentally corrupting files. Cloud applications are updated automatically on all devices, and unlike when you run an update on a local computer, the process is almost instant. This is because the update is actually running on their end, at the data center. With this advantage, you’re always up to date with the latest features and security patches, no matter how busy you are.

You’re free to move: One of the best ways to increase efficiency is to remove restrictions around when your employees can do their job. With your new cloud application, they won’t have to wait until they get back into the office to send an invoice, follow up with a customer or even make a record-breaking sale – they can do it wherever, whenever. This flexibility opens up a world of possibility and can literally hand you a competitive edge. All your employees need is an internet enabled smart phone, tablet or laptop, so you’re even saving money on tech. You can bet we have tons of ideas on how your business can take advantage of this freedom.

Collaboration is easy: Since all the data is held in one place, your employees can collaborate with ease. Nobody gets locked out of files because someone else is using it and changes appear in real-time for multiple users. By having a single version of a file, ideas can flow faster, results become more valuable, and employees enjoy overall satisfaction with a job well done. It may sound like a simple benefit, but we know how frustrating it can be for staff to collaborate without the right tools to support them.

All you need is internet: Considering how fast modern internet speeds are, this is usually a non-issue. It simply needs to be stable and meet a standard speed. If you’re concerned, we can run checks to make sure it will be a smooth transition for you. Because it’s internet based, the cloud application works with your established network, whether it’s wired, wi-fi or cellular (or a hybrid). Some businesses also choose to have mobile 4G set up in case the internet goes down, that way the connection automatically switches over and downtime is completely avoided. Our technicians can set this up for you.

Size doesn’t matter: Cloud applications are a great option for both big AND small business. Smaller businesses only need to subscribe to single user licenses, while larger businesses enjoy the multi-user license savings. Skipping the cost of per-computer installations and choosing between per-user, per-site or per-use options. We can help you choose the application and cost-saving model that suits your business best.

Talk to us about your cloud options and lock in the advantages today! Call now at 885-2410

Contact Us

How to Survive A Hard Drive Crash: What You Can Do Today

How to Survive A Hard Drive Crash: What You Can Do Today

There’s been a massive digitization of the population, which despite keeping everyone entertained and connected, comes with one gaping flaw – a hard drive crash could wipe out your data in an instant. Nobody’s immune, even grandparents routinely rock the latest smartphones and post on Facebook. Nearly all schoolwork is done on computers or tablets, ebook sales far outstrip their paper cousins, and photo printing is a rarity. Unless there’s a physical requirement like putting a photo into a frame, all our data is staying digital. People’s entire lives, their memories, and work are on personal hard drives, yet a large majority of households have no backups.

If you’ve ever lost your data or had your computer stolen, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning the house upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB stick that maybe your data was copied to, once upon a time…before collapsing onto the couch as it sinks in: there’s nothing left.

While hopefully your hard drive is still in good shape, surprise failures do happen. The mechanics don’t last forever, and even brand-new drives can be blitzed by a power surge. Theft is always a risk, as is user error like deleting files accidentally, or even getting hit by a nasty virus that destroys or holds your files for ransom. That last one is tricky. Most households are using apps like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive as their backup, thinking if their hard drive crashes or gets stolen, they’ll just download the files from there. Unfortunately, those very handy apps are no help if you’ve been hit with ransomware. Almost instantly as the malware encrypts your local files until you pay up, those sync apps upload the infected versions – for your convenience. Older, safe versions of the files no longer exist, because these apps are designed to give a constant mirror of your drive, not a backup.

Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive failed. What’s on there? Household management files like tax info, warranties you’ve scanned in, photos of your children or grandchildren, videos of first steps and school plays, maybe even your wedding video? While some losses are merely inconvenient, like recreating your budget or rebuilding your recipe collection, other losses are heartbreaking. It’s not a feeling we’d wish on anyone!

How to Survive A Hard Drive Crash: What You Can Do Today

There’s been a massive digitization of the population, which despite keeping everyone entertained and connected, comes with one gaping flaw – a hard drive crash could wipe out your data in an instant. Nobody’s immune, even grandparents routinely rock the latest smartphones and post on Facebook. Nearly all schoolwork is done on computers or tablets, ebook sales far outstrip their paper cousins, and photo printing is a rarity. Unless there’s a physical requirement like putting a photo into a frame, all our data is staying digital. People’s entire lives, their memories, and work are on personal hard drives, yet a large majority of households have no backups.

If you’ve ever lost your data or had your computer stolen, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning the house upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB stick that maybe your data was copied to, once upon a time…before collapsing onto the couch as it sinks in: there’s nothing left.

While hopefully your hard drive is still in good shape, surprise failures do happen. The mechanics don’t last forever, and even brand-new drives can be blitzed by a power surge. Theft is always a risk, as is user error like deleting files accidentally, or even getting hit by a nasty virus that destroys or holds your files for ransom. That last one is tricky. Most households are using apps like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive as their backup, thinking if their hard drive crashes or gets stolen, they’ll just download the files from there. Unfortunately, those very handy apps are no help if you’ve been hit with ransomware. Almost instantly as the malware encrypts your local files until you pay up, those sync apps upload the infected versions – for your convenience. Older, safe versions of the files no longer exist, because these apps are designed to give a constant mirror of your drive, not a backup.

Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive failed. What’s on there? Household management files like tax info, warranties you’ve scanned in, photos of your children or grandchildren, videos of first steps and school plays, maybe even your wedding video? While some losses are merely inconvenient, like recreating your budget or rebuilding your recipe collection, other losses are heartbreaking. It’s not a feeling we’d wish on anyone!

What You Can Do

Backing up at home used to be something only tech geeks did, but like everything cool, it’s gone mainstream. We recommend a 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data, with 2 local at your home and 1 offsite.

Typically, this means keeping your regular hard drive where your data is now, one copy of precious files on a backup USB drive, and one that automatically uploads to the secure cloud as you add new files. That way, the USB drive protects your data if your computer dies, and the cloud copy protects you if something happens to the computer and your USB drive, like fire, flood or theft. It’s a good idea to make sure you unplug that backup USB drive afterwards and pop it into a drawer, as connected devices can easily become infected during an attack or stolen during a break-in.

Two of these methods require you to actually pay attention, which is where many households struggle. It’s a rare home where someone takes the time to sit down each week and carefully run a backup. Not that it’s tricky, but unless you’re one of those cool geeks it’s pretty boring and not a high priority after a long day! That’s why we recommend a cloud backup solution or letting us take care of it remotely.

You’ll be able to retrieve files at will, without having to roll back your entire drive, and know your solution has caught even the smallest file change without you needing to flag or mark it in any way. Even better, because it’s in the cloud, you can access your secure backup from anywhere. Left a work file at home? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup. On vacation and need to check a detail or show off a photo? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup. We’re able to get you set up with the perfect backup solution that meets your needs, both now and in case of emergency.

If you’re ready to protect your data before you lose it, give us a call at 885-2410.

Contact Us

How Refurbished Computers Save You a Bunch (and Get You a Better System)

How Refurbished Computers Save You a Bunch (and Get You a Better System)

Refurbished computers are almost like an insider secret – you can get great system specs for a fraction of the price. It’s how many families are meeting their back to school needs and upgrading their old systems, complete with warranty.

There’s one hot tip these people know: a refurb is NOT the same as used. You’re right to avoid those 2nd hand computers you see on Craigslist or Gumtree because there’s a reason that person is selling it! It’s probably slowed to a crawl, making weird noises or flat out broken in a way you’d never discover until too late. Refurbished computers are the complete opposite. They’re computers that have been given a new life, usually with a comprehensive repair, or sometimes they’re brand-new computers that were returned with a small problem like a hard drive failure, so we swap it out and sell it at bargain prices. Occasionally, the computer was even returned simply because the buyer changed their mind, but it’s still essentially brand-new (it might still be in the box!).

Quite often, refurbished computers start their life as business machines, built to the latest specs with business-grade components. When the budget or lease says ‘replace the computers’, that’s what the business does, whether the computers need it or not. There’s nothing wrong with them and they’ve likely been babysat by a corporate IT department who kept them in perfect condition every day. These are great machines that are still plenty fast for home use, both desktops and laptops. Plus, because business-grade components are more durable than the consumer ones, the entire system has been built to last longer and perform better, often up to several years without a problem. Rather than send these impressive machines to landfill, we check and replace necessary components and re-install a clean operating system. Next, we put them through a stack of verification tests, then pack them up ready for their new home. When you talk to us about buying one, we’ll always make sure you get a system that not only keeps up with your needs now, but gives you breathing space for the next few years too.

What are the benefits?

  • You save a LOT of money: You get yourself a great computer that’s been set up and checked over by an expert technician, for significantly less than the cost of buying new. Add in the fact that when you score a refurbished business computer you’re also getting more durable, higher-quality components that will last you for years longer than the off-the-shelf consumer model, it’s a clear win. We always recommend that when you see a refurbished deal that’s got you smiling, you act fast – it won’t sit around waiting for you!
  • Covered by warranty: A warranty is always included with our refurbished computers, giving you value plus peace of mind. It’s your guarantee that buying refurbished was a great decision. Problems are extremely rare since your computer has been through stringent checks, but if anything pops up that’s giving you trouble, we’ll fix it fast. Forget the delays and hoop jumping you might get with your other warranties, we stand by ours with rapid action.
  • You’re saving the environment: Fewer machines end up in landfill and fewer resources are used for unnecessary manufacturing. When you consider each computer requires a certain amount of precious metals to be mined, plastics to be created, packaging created from multiple materials and all the associated flow on effects of shipping, refurbishment is the right choice for the future. While you might not personally see the environmental impact of your decision to buy refurbished, rest assured the planet appreciates it!

Are they reliable?

Some people think that refurbished computers are more likely to break, when in truth, in some cases they’re actually more reliable than brand new. Manufacturers have an expected failure rate, a percentage of computers that go straight from the factory to buyers who discover their expensive new system is dead-on-arrival or breaks within weeks. A refurbished computer has already stood the test of time and it performed without missing a beat. By the time it’s gone through our checks and repairs (both required and pre-emptive), a refurbished computer is better than new.

If you need a better computer on a tight budget, give us a call at 885-2410.

Contact Us

4 Advantages of Managed IT over In-House IT

4 Advantages of Managed IT over In-House IT

It’s tempting to hire an in-house IT technician to take care of your network and set them up with a cozy office just down the hall, but is it the right decision for your business? If you’re like most businesses, you’re always on the lookout for ways to save money while improving results. Sometimes this means expanding your staff to include a team of tech specialists at your beck and call, but this can often be an unnecessary expense that leaves you with highly paid employees twiddling their thumbs all day. For SMEs who are looking for the best of both worlds, we recommend Managed IT services.

Put simply, Managed IT is our solution which gives you that team of specialist technicians and network experts, without the ‘quick, look busy’ element – and at a fraction of the cost. Naturally, you’d rather see your IT budget working to support your growth and kept as low as possible. That’s our focus too, and why we don’t simply maintain and repair your systems, we proactively monitor to avoid downtime and work with you to ensure your IT increases productivity and efficiency. Whether you already have in-house IT and are auditing the value, or are curious about what having IT support might be like for your business, we’ve put together a few factors to consider before making your choice:

Availability: Most employees work 9-5, but what happens if something goes wrong with your systems outside these hours? Your in-house technician won’t appreciate being woken at 1am and called in for emergency repairs. It’s more likely that they simply won’t answer the call (or hear it), or if they do, expect some hefty contract renegotiation come 9am. Managed IT is very different as we expect problems after hours and have support technicians ready. We know that every minute of downtime is affecting your revenue, plus your business reputation, so we prioritize getting your systems up and running asap. As a bonus, with our Managed IT these types of disasters are rarer as we’re constantly monitoring and correcting problems before they occur.

Total cost: One of the things that may have attracted you to having an in-house technician is the cost. But while you may be able to pay them a lower hourly rate, there are extra costs like hiring, training, ongoing training, healthcare and retirement. Once you start adding up the cost of an in-house technician, you might find it’s eating up your IT budget and leaving you scrambling to fill gaps you didn’t expect. Upgrades get delayed, opportunities missed, and IT expenses become a sore point. In comparison, Managed IT is one fixed monthly rate delivering enormous value, including access to specialists across all software applications and technology.

Ongoing Training: Putting aside the fact your technician will often spend entire weeks away upgrading their skills and leaving you scrambling for support while they’re gone, those training costs quickly add up. With a salaried technician, you’ll have to pay all ongoing training and certification costs, plus travel costs for industry conferences. We know how important it is to remain current, certified and skilled in new technologies, so we spend the money to invest in ourselves so we can serve you better. We’re part of industry related communities and attend multiple conferences each year, all at our own expense.

Different goals: For most employees, a higher wage is the goal and many will job-hop to achieve that. A salaried tech may be looking for the first opportunity to leave and get paid more, often leveraging all the training you’ve just provided. In these modern times, switching jobs regularly is expected, with an average of only 3 years in each position. Considering how much it cost your business to acquire, train and upskill your technician, 3 years is an unreasonable ROI. Our goals couldn’t be more different – we only aim to keep you a happy customer for as long as we can!

In the end, your business needs to find the right balance between profit and expertise. When you partner with our Managed IT, you’re securing availability, ever-increasing expertise and commitment to your success. We work closely with you to provide the very best support and protect you costly disasters, taking preemptive action to keep you safe and operational. There’s no doubt Managed IT is a better decision than hiring an in-house technician, and we’d be delighted to prove it to you.

Talk to us about Managed IT for your business. Call us at 885-2410

Contact Us

3 Internet Habits To Keep Kids Smart and Safe

3 Internet Habits To Keep Kids Smart and Safe

How can you make the internet a safer place for your children? It’s a common concern as all parents want their kids to be protected and happy whenever they go online. It’s relatively easy to supervise and monitor the very young ones as they stare delightedly at the Disney Jnr site, but the risks increase greatly as kids get older and more independent.

You’ve probably heard the term ‘cyber safety’ before, but safe internet usage goes beyond reminding them not to talk to strangers. With the evolution of the internet and the way it’s now woven seamlessly into our lives, the focus needs to be on ingrained habits. That means ensuring your children have the tools and predefined responses to online events so that no matter what happens, they’re not placing themselves (or your family) at risk. Setting up these habits is easy, and begins with three basic understandings:

Downloads are a no-go

Most kids can’t tell the difference between a legitimate download and a scam/malicious link. It’s not their fault, the online world is full of things that will trick even the most savvy adult. The difference is that kids tend not to take that extra moment to check exactly where that link is pointing, question whether it’s too good to be true, or even read what they’re agreeing to. They want to get back to what they were doing, and if something pops up, their first instinct is to click ‘yes’ – purely so it goes away. Unfortunately, that single ‘yes’ may have just opened the doors to malware and viruses that will ruin their computer. Set a family rule that they need to ask permission for all downloads (and an adult will check it first), and to never click a popup. When you’re called over to give download permission or check a popup, talk through exactly what you’re checking and why. As your child matures, get them involved in this process so their safe habits extend outside the home.

Critical thinking is a must

Most youngsters think the internet is a magical place and can’t imagine their life without it. To them, the internet is on the same level as oxygen! With that acceptance though, comes unwavering trust that the internet would never lie to them, never trick them and never hurt them. While we adults know better, it’s only because we already view the internet with a certain level of distrust. The best way to keep kids safe is to teach them to approach every aspect of the internet with critical thinking. That includes teaching them to question the motives of other people online. Is that person really a kid? What do they really want? Unfortunately, all kids do need to be aware that predators use the internet to target and lure children. Ensure your children tell you immediately if a stranger makes contact. Along with this stranger danger, teach them to identify what marks something as suspicious, and what they should avoid. If they come across anything inappropriate, they should shut down the computer and come straight to you.

The internet is forever

Kids have an overwhelming drive to contribute to the internet, they don’t think twice about recording a video, jumping in a chat room or onto social media. The world really is their playground! But what they don’t understand until they’ve been burned, is that anything they upload, write or say is on the internet forever. Even if they delete it or use a platform where content self-erases, someone can still screenshot and send it right back out. Many cyber-bullying cases are based around this exact type of blow-back. Once your kids know that everything they post is permanent, they’ll be more likely to pause and think.

We can secure your computer and help keep your family safe – give us a call at 604-885-2410.

Contact Us

Why Spam is a Small Business Nightmare

Why Spam is a Small Business Nightmare

15 years after the world united to crack down on spam emails, we’re still struggling with overloaded inboxes. All that unwanted email continues to flood the internet, much of it targeted towards small businesses, and the impact goes wider than you might think. Here’s the full breakdown of how modern spam works and how it’s hurting your business.

What is spam? Generally speaking, spam is any unwanted message that lands in your email, comes via text, social media messaging, or other communication platform. It might be sent to your main business account, eg your ‘contact us’ email, or direct to your employees. Most of the time, spam is annoying but relatively innocent messages from another business inviting you to buy/do/see something. They’re newsletters, reminders, invitations, sales pitches, etc. You may know the sender and have a previous relationship with them, or they might be a complete stranger. Occasionally, spam may even be part of a cyber attack.

Why you’re getting spammed. Maybe you or your employee signed up for a newsletter or bought a $1 raffle ticket to win a car. Perhaps you got onto the mailing list accidentally after enquiring about a product, not knowing that simply getting a brochure sent through would trigger a spam-avalanche. Often there’s fine print that says they’ll not only use your details to send you their marketing, but they’ll share your details with 3rd parties so they can send you messages too. That single email address can be passed around the internet like wildfire, and before you know it, you’re buried under spam. Sometimes, and more than we’d like to think, your details are found illicitly, perhaps through a hacked website for example, like the recent LinkedIn leak. More often though, your email is simply collected by a computer ‘scraping’ the internet – scouring forums and websites for plain text or linked emails and selling them as prime spam targets. It’s easy to see how individual office employees receive an average of 120 emails daily, over half of which are spam!

More than annoying. We all know spam is annoying, but did you know it’s also resource hungry? Your employees are spending hours each week sorting their email, assessing each one for relevance and deleting the spam. Too often, legitimate emails from clients and customers get caught up and are accidentally deleted. Add in the temptation to read the more interesting spam emails and productivity drops to zero. On the other side of the business, your email server might be dedicating storage and processing power to spam emails, occasionally to the point where inboxes get full and real mail is bouncing out. While most spam is simply an unwanted newsletter or sale notice, there’s also the risk that any links may be a cyber-attack in disguise. After all, one click is all it takes to open the door to viruses, ransomware, phishing or other security emergencies.

How to stop the spam. The 2003 Can Spam Act (a global set of anti-spam laws) requires all marketers to follow certain rules, like not adding people to mailing lists without permission, and always including an ‘unsubscribe’ link. So firstly, make sure you’re not accidentally giving people permission to email you – check the fine print or privacy policy. Next, look for the unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email. Unfortunately, not all of them include the link, or they hide it somewhere impossible to see. The worst spammers take that ‘unsubscribe’ click to confirm that your email address is valid/active and then sell it on.

Talk to us about your anti-spam protections. Call us at 885-2410

Contact Us