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How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking Help

How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking Help

How to Get Your Devices to Play Nicely Together: Home Networking Help

Why can’t we all just get along? You’ve probably thought that before. But the sentiment is also one that goes through our heads when we’re trying to set up home networking. When cables and passwords abound, we can’t help but wish it was easier to get all our devices to play nicely together. Here’s help.

Desktop computers. Laptops. Tablets. Network printers. Routers. Modems. Smartphones. Smart speakers. Media players. Gaming systems. Homes today have many, if not all of these. Each has all sorts of features, and they’d be even more useful if they connected to one another. If only it wasn’t so challenging to get all our devices to relay information between each other reliably.

Home networking can bring so many benefits. You might enjoy:

  • accessing emails on all your devices, wherever you are;
  • surfing the Web using your voice;
  • being able to share files, photos, and other media with any other networked device;
  • viewing a baby photo album from your computer on your Smart TV during a Sweet 16 birthday party;
  • printing from your smartphone or other devices, even when not connected to the device via cable, using AirPrint or Google Cloud Print;
  • backing up all computers in the house to a centralized location via the network;
  • securing your activity on all devices at home with a protected Wi-Fi network.

Yep, all that sounds pretty great, but we’re right back where we started. How do we get our devices to do all that?

What Your Home Network Needs

First, take a moment to imagine connecting all the computers and smart devices in your home via cables. Ack! As if you want more cables snaking around your home! You don’t want to feel as if you’re rooming with Medusa.

So, you’ll be looking into a wireless home network to connect your devices to the internet and each other. That means setting up a modem and a router (we’re assuming you already have an internet service provider).

The modem is what connects your network to the internet. The router connects your devices to each other and to the internet through your modem. The router communicates the wireless signal between your devices and the modem. A gateway option combines the modem and router functions in one device.

If your home is spread out over several floors or square feet, or you have to deal with thick walls, you might have difficulties at home with Wi-Fi dead spots. Great! You’ve made all this effort, and it’s still not working! You could try a mesh network. Instead of making one device do all the signaling, a primary router and many smaller satellites (or nodes) relay the signals with equal power.

Securing Your Home Network

When you get your devices connected, you’ll want to secure your home network. Taking these simple steps helps protect your personal information and prevent cyberattacks.

First, change the default passwords on your modem and router, and choose something more complex than “123456,” “password,” or “letmein.”

You’ll also want to set up a guest network if the router supports it. This allows visitors to access the Wi-Fi without you having to share access to your main network.

Also, rename your Wi-Fi network so that it isn’t obvious that it’s your house. For example, if you live at 920 Hassell Place, you wouldn’t name it 920Hassell. Or, if you’re the Wilsons, don’t name it WilsonNetwork. Don’t make it easy for someone trying to target you to identify which network they are trying to hack.

You like using all your devices, but getting them all networked seems like a headache. Still, once you have a home network set up, you’ll wonder why you waited so long. Don’t put off the convenience any longer. We can help you get all your devices playing together nicely and securely. Contact us today at 604-885-2410!

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What Can An MSP Do to Kickstart Your Business

What Can An MSP Do to Kickstart Your Business

Business today relies on technology in a way which we have never seen before. It makes up the core of almost every firm currently in existence. Today going digital impacts small companies more than large ones; it can make new opportunities possible and accelerate your path to success.

The advantages of modern technology to small business is likely to be present already within your firm, but so too are the disadvantages. Faster transactions, quicker payment, accurate inventory, and improved customer outreach serve to boost our capabilities. While complex set-up, systems management, and ever-present security threats hold us back from our full potential.

Managed Service Providers (MSPs) can eliminate the drawbacks, sharpen up your systems, and allow your business to grow to its full capacity in the modern business landscape.

What An MSP Does For You – There are a staggering number of systems a modern business is expected to keep tabs on today. Accounting, inventory, and timekeeping; on top of customer-facing services such as maintaining a website, managing social media, and processing online orders. It’s simply impossible for every small business to keep up.

An MSP is an expert in the field, managing your IT services to give you the confidence your business is on the right track. If the core of your business relied on maintaining a fleet of vehicles, you would hire a mechanic to keep each one in top condition. Building your firm on modern technology should employ a similar strategy.

For your company, an MSP exists to keep your systems in their best shape to generate maximum mileage for your business.

Tailored to Exactly What You Need – The key to unlocking near unlimited growth in your own company is to find out precisely what you need to operate to capacity. An MSP can provide consulting services to your firm to find out how your business can improve. Simple tweaks and minor changes are often all it takes to create a more streamlined, more productive, working environment.

Almost always, the smallest changes in the right places make the most significant differences. Working with technology, rather than fighting against it, provides your firm with the competitive edge to put you in control.

Technology That Helps Without Getting in The Way – An MSP can both enhance and protect your business by providing backup and recovery services that will safeguard your data and services against any disaster.

The nature of IT failures means they can appear to happen at any time. Whether hit by a natural disaster, criminal break-in, or IT outage; a severe failure at the wrong time can cost customers, money, and reputation. A high quality, effective MSP works in the background to guarantee uptime, recover from adverse events, and increase security against threats.

Technology That Keeps You in Business – A huge number of businesses, both high-profile and small owner-operated firms, have suffered massive client losses as a result of missing deadlines, losing data, or exposing their customers to unnecessary threats. Clients are often left with little choice but to choose a firm that takes their data and privacy seriously.

One of the most significant benefits to managed services is regular, predictable support costs. Making regular and fixed payments to keep your IT in good shape protects against major and unexpected blow-outs in the monthly budget.

By monitoring systems, diagnosing issues, and maintaining technology, many of the problems that cause unexpected downtime and data loss can be avoided altogether. Preventing problems before they happen saves you money, but more importantly maintains your business reputation too.

An MSP Working For You – Increasing your potential, reducing your costs, and protecting your reputation are all great reasons to incorporate a managed service provider into your business. You can effectively add a whole new department to your business without adding unnecessary management overhead.

By eliminating IT distractions that take you away from your core business, you are free to pursue activities that make your company great. Take up an MSP and return to doing what you enjoy most, the part of the firm you are great at, the reason you got into your business in the first place.

Let us do the IT we are great at, so you can build and run the business you have always wanted. Give us a call at 885-2410 to manage your IT services for you.

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Storage Struggles? How to Keep Up with the Data Explosion

Storage Struggles? How to Keep Up with the Data Explosion

Many businesses have already embraced the benefits of going fully digital. It has allowed us to do more than ever before; saving us both time and money iterating over work drafts and emails. It has saved us a ton of space too, eliminating the need for stacks of file cabinets in every office.

The digital boom presents us with brand new problems too. By moving all our files into a digital space, the amount of storage we need to maintain has grown larger and larger just to keep up.

As digital technology has improved, the resolution, clarity, and size of the digital files we create has exploded. Items such as Xrays, which used to be printed on film are now digital files transferred by computer. As a result of the increase in both the number of digital files we use and their ever-growing size, the size of the data we need to store has exploded exponentially.

There are a number of ways in which we can tackle our ever-growing storage problem.

Local server or Network Attached Storage (NAS)

A local server is a machine physically located within your own office or building. These are typically designed to serve many files to multiple clients at one time from locally held storage.

The primary advantage that a local network server has is that all your vital data is available to all users in one central location. This means that employees across the network can access all the resources made available.

These machines can serve files at the speed of the local network, transferring large projects, files, and documents from a central position within the network with ease.

A NAS has many of the same network properties, typically packaged as a smaller profile, low powered computer. A NAS is specifically designed to enable network file sharing in a more compact package. These can be available in units small enough to fit in a cupboard nook and yet still provide staggering storage capacity on only a small amount of power.

Both a local server and NAS device allow for large amounts of storage space to be added to the local network. These units are often expanded with more and more storage over time. As an organization grows over time, so do its data storage requirements.

Cloud Storage

Sometimes the best option for storage is to move your ever-expanding data outside of the business completely. Often, offloading the costs of hardware and IT management can work out to be an intelligent business decision. One that provides freedom and flexibility in your data storage needs.

The major advantage of cloud storage comes from the ability to expand and contract your services as needed without the unnecessary overhead of adding and maintaining new hardware.

By moving storage to the cloud, data can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The flexibility provided by cloud storage allows limitless expansion to any number of devices, locations, and offices. Being able to access data from many locations at a single time can often provide a valuables boost to productivity that can help to speed projects along.

Some of the drawbacks of cloud storage come from factors that may be outside of the control of the business. Not all internet connections are found to be up to the task of handling large amounts of data to and from the cloud. In some cases, the infrastructure is quite simply not in place yet to support it.

IT security regulations can prove to be a barrier to enabling storage in the cloud too. Some regulations either prohibit the feature entirely or enable only certain specific types for use.

The Right Choice for your data

Both cloud and local storage can provide further benefits to enhance your business. Audit logs, central backups, and version control can all be used to secure the way your firm handles data.

Whatever your situation, whether a small NAS can boost your office productivity, a local server can provide the connectivity missing from your firm, or cloud storage can switch on new resources, we can advise on the best choices for your business.

Give us a call at 555-5555 to allow us to use our expertise to make the right chose for your data.

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What’s That Weird Noise Coming from Your Computer?

What’s That Weird Noise Coming from Your Computer?

New computers are whisper quiet, seeming to run on pure magic, but after a while computers can start making some pretty weird noises. Clicks, clunks, and about-to-take-off jet noises are the most common, but when should you worry? Your computer has a number of moving parts and even some stationary parts that can make noises. If you’re listening, your computer might be telling you about its current health and how you can help it run smoother, for longer.

When you hear a clicking noise: This could be normal if it’s more like a soft tick. Mechanical hard drives work a bit like a record player with a needle and platter, so you might simply be hearing it spin up and move the needle around. When it starts sounding like a loud click it’s usually the needle hitting the platter too hard or bouncing around. If your hard drive has started making alarming noises, you should bring it in as soon as possible. Just like a record player, scratches that ruin your data are possible, and if ignored for long enough, it doesn’t just skip and have trouble reading the drive, the whole thing can become unusable.

Our technicians can copy the files onto a new drive before it gets to that point, but retrieving data from a destroyed hard drive is rarely achieved without CSI-level expenses. It’s easier and much cheaper to replace the hard drive at the first sign of failure.

When you hear a clunking noise: Unsurprisingly, this one causes certain alarm. Computers aren’t meant to go clunk! It may be a simple matter of a cable having shifted into the path of a fan and getting clipped during the spin. Remember when you pegged a card between your bicycle spokes? It might sound a little like that, skipping every now and then as it’s pushed away and drops back again. If that’s the case, our technicians will quickly secure the cable back where it belongs.

When you hear a jet-engine noise: Most computers and laptops have fans to keep them cool. The fans have to spin to move the air around, and the faster they’re spinning, the more noise they make. We start to worry when the jet-engine noise gets out of hand and it’s not just while you’re playing a resource-intensive game or doing some video editing. Constant jet-engine noise indicates your computer is struggling to cool itself down, perhaps because the fan vents are clogged with dust, your computer is in a poorly ventilated space, or the fan itself is worn. Each fan has ball bearings inside that wear out over time, making extra noise while it does the best it can. Our technicians can replace individual fans quickly and give your system a checkup to make sure nothing else has been affected.

When it’s beep city: Your computer’s friendly beep as you switch it on actually has multiple meanings. It’s not just saying hello. The single beep you normally hear indicates that it’s run a self-test and everything is fine. When your computer is very unwell, you might hear more beeps than usual. This is because each beep combination is a code to technicians, letting us know what’s gone wrong.

Certain beep combinations mean the memory is loose or damaged, others that the video adapter has a problem, etc. If your computer has started beeping differently, let our technicians know so we can decode it and repair the problem for you.

Some noises your computer makes will be normal, others a sign of deeper issues. Even if your computer seems to be operating correctly, a sudden onset of weird noises could mean failure is just around the corner. Taking early action ensures problems don’t escalate, costs are kept low, and your files remain where they belong.

Got some weird noises coming from your computer? Give us a call today at 885-2410

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Why Do Computers Break?

Why Do Computers Break?

We know computers always break at the worst possible time, but what exactly prompts that failure? It’s easy to think it was something you did since you were using it at the time, but while your online gaming frenzy might cause a temporary crash, normal user actions are rarely the cause of a broken computer.

Physical Damage

Accidents happen, but they don’t always mean you need to buy a new computer. As an electrical item, liquid spills are a big problem. This could be anywhere from a spill on the keyboard, going overboard with the screen cleaning spray or even a flood that reaches the computer. Laptop users need to be especially careful when choosing their work surface, as cafes and kitchen tables often have small puddles left behind. If you’re lucky and the liquid didn’t fry the circuits, ongoing corrosion is still likely, as is stickiness to gum up the internal parts. Similarly, a dropped computer isn’t going to be happy, nor is one that’s been knocked around. Even a light thump of frustration can cause loose cables, disconnections and internal damage.

Age

Computer parts have an expected lifetime, especially moving parts like fans or mechanical hard drives. Some computers can run 24/7 for up to a decade, while others can be barely used but fail within warranty. When age is the issue there are usually early warning signs like extra noise or slowing down, but the actual ‘break’ generally happens when you go to turn the computer on, perhaps after a crash or overnight – either it makes a valiant effort before giving up, or nothing happens at all. Sometimes lasting age is the luck of the draw with how it was manufactured, and quality does play a big part in how long it can keep churning.

Power Surges

We like to think electricity is a constant stream that never varies, but computers are particularly sensitive to both surges (too much electricity) and brownouts (not enough electricity). You might notice the lights dimming or flickering during a brownout, or glowing just a tad too strong during a surge. These variations never last long, and they’re not something you can control unless it’s just your house (it’s worth checking with your neighbors), but they can easily break your computer. A surge protector can guard against mild increases in voltage, but brownouts and strong surges will still cause damage.

Heat

Overheating is a big contributor to premature computer death. Some computer parts run hot and need plenty of cooling to keep them working. You might not feel it from the outside, but internal components can rapidly build up heat that needs to go somewhere. When your airflow vents get blocked with dust or pet hair, the temperature continues to increase until components literally bake themselves to failure. At set temperatures, the computer will automatically switch off to try and cool down, however the more often this happens and the higher the temps, the more likely your computer is to die.

Hard Drive Failure

Your data is stored on a hard drive, and if you’ve got a mechanical hard drive (most people do), it works a bit like a record player with a spinning ‘platter’ and a needle that reads it. Small bumps, liquid, age, surges and overheating can all trigger hard drive failure. Along with making your computer unusable, hard drive failure means your data is also lost. While sudden breakage might leave you surprised, take note of any strange noises or repeated crashes and back up your data in advance.

Like a car, your computer needs to be serviced. We can check your computer both physically and its software to make its running right and will keep on working for you. Give us a call at 555-5555.

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Desktop vs Laptop: Which is Right for You?

Desktop vs Laptop: Which is Right for You?

Desktop vs Laptop: Which is Right for You?

Laptops have become the go-to choice for most people in the market for a new computer. They’re sleek, portable and heavily advertised. But are they the best choice for your needs? Before you buy your next computer, take a look at these considerations – you may discover you’ve been dreaming of a desktop all along!

How portable do you need it to be?

Hands down, laptops are easier to move around than a desktop. You can pick them up, pop them into a backpack and away you go. That doesn’t mean desktops are bolted to the floor, just that they’re not designed to take on holidays or go with you to the local cafe. With that portability though, comes a trade-off: thin and light means your computer performance takes a hit. The more powerful your laptop, the bigger and heavier it is, and you won’t enjoy lugging that weight around all day. If that’s got you leaning towards an ultra-portable, consider this: The smaller and lighter your laptop is, the weaker it is. In fact, some laptops struggle to run the most basic apps. Fortunately, when you do choose a desktop, cloud technology means your data is mobile, even if your main computer isn’t.

What balance of power and price do you need?

The bottom line here is that a desktop will always give you more power for less money. Their larger cases allow for bigger and better components, with more effective systems to avoid overheating. Even the most powerful laptop is going to be hotter than its desktop equivalent, and much noisier too. If you’re using power-hungry software like games or video editing, we recommend choosing a desktop. The heat control alone is worth it as frequently overheated laptops don’t survive long.

Desired screen size

As laptops are designed to be portable, screen sizes are usually small, around 11-15”. Larger, more powerful laptops often go up to 17”. Desktop monitors however, start at 17” and average at 22”. These larger sizes give you more space to work in, options to tile your applications and multi-task, and even sit back and watch an HD (or even 4K) movie. They also allow for nice big text and images, with a better ability to choose the visual experience that suits your needs. If you’re after a large screen size without the actual desktop computer, all-in-one PCs are a great option with many offering impressive screen quality.

Your working comfort

Many people buy a laptop only to get home and find it’s a pain in the neck – literally! The traditional laptop design means you’re always looking down at the screen which can put a strain on your neck. You can try to raise the screen by placing the laptop on a stand, but then the keyboard is out of easy reach. The smaller keyboards and touchpad designs may also leave you more prone to repetitive strain injuries. Many people end up connecting their laptops to external monitors, keyboards and mice, simply so they can work in comfort. Desktop computers on the other hand, allow you to create the perfect working environment for your needs and even cater for other family members. Monitors are usually height adjustable, keyboards and mice are wireless, and you’re able to place the desktop on the floor out of the way. If you’re on your computer for more than short bursts, your body will appreciate you choosing a desktop.

Are you looking for flexibility?

When you choose a laptop computer, it’s like ordering from a set menu. You get this brand, in this design, with these specifications. Changing out parts for repair or upgrade can be difficult and expensive as there’s not a spare inch of space. Some parts are extremely hard to get to, which can turn a simple swap into a dealbreaker. The extra space inside a desktop gives infinite flexibility for upgrades over time and fast repairs. This means you’re able to easily pop in more powerful components for a fraction of the price and extend the life of your computer by years.

Come talk to us about your next computer and we’ll find the right one for you. Call us now at 604-885-2410

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