Category Archives: Tech Tips

Assessing your MSP in the first appointment

Assessing your Managed Service Provider (MSP) in the first appointment Handing over your IT to a MSP is a major decision. Who do you choose and more importantly, how? While there’s no rule book that will tell you exactly how to proceed, here are a few hints that can help you decide how invested your prospective MSP is into you. How well do they know your industry vertical It is important that your MSP truly understands the industry-specific IT challenges you face so they can help you overcome those challenges effectively. For example, do you have a commonly used software program or any governmental or regulatory mandates that you must be adhering to. Is your MSP knowledgeable on that front? As for references or testimonialsRead Full Article


Tech Tips for Seasonal Staff

Hiring seasonal staff? Here are a few things to consider from the IT perspective In many industries, there are seasonal spikes in business around specific times. For example, CPAs/Accounting firms, though busy all year, generally see a spike in business around the time of tax planning, IRS return filing, etc., the retail industry sees a boom around the holiday season, and so on. During such peak times, it is common practice in the industry to employ part-time seasonal staff to meet the immediate resource needs. While this works well in terms of costs and for handling additional work/client inflow, this poses a few challenges from the IT perspective. In this blog, we explore those challenges so you know what to watch out for before bringingRead Full Article


IT Management for Law Firms

Local small and mid-sized law firms often have difficulty managing their computer IT network. Despite being as technology dependent as large, national/international firms, local firms have tighter budgets and fewer resources to devote to IT management. This can lead to a more reactive “break-fix” approach to their technology that is not at all an ideal solution. Here’s what break fix most often leads to. If the burden rests on the shoulders of hourly or salaried in-house IT support, and they’re too busy putting out fires all day, then their skills and talents are essentially wasted.  If there is no in-house tech support, and many law firms don’t have even one onsite “IT guy”, they are commonly taken for a ride by some of the moreRead Full Article


IT Managed Service for SMBs

 Understanding Managed IT Services and How They Benefit SMBs   No doubt you’ve heard, or you’ve at least read about, the benefits of managed services as it relates to maintaining your technology. Managed services refer to clearly defined outsourced IT services delivered to you at predictable costs. You know the exact IT services you’ll be getting and what you’ll pay for them. There is no surprise sky-high bill for services rendered.    How Managed Service Providers Work   Managed service providers (MSPs) use remote monitoring and management tools to keep an eye on the performance and overall health of the IT infrastructure that powers your business operations. Your MSP should provide 24/7 remote monitoring, which will alert them to any issue with your servers, devices, hardwareRead Full Article


Managed IT Services for Your Business

We understand that business owners aren’t always sure that managed IT services are right for their business. So, they rely on calling their “computer guy” only when things go wrong. We’ve provided some questions to consider so that you can better understand why managed IT services provide a much more stable and secure computer network for businesses of all sizes. Plainly put, you can save money and still get top level IT services from a managed services provider such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.    Is my business large enough to even consider managed services?   The truth is, any company, regardless of its size or the number of people employed, will run more efficiently if its technology is monitored, maintained, and managed properly. These are facets ofRead Full Article


Breaking News: Downtime Kills Small Businesses

Downtime is bad news for any business whether big or small. A recent two-hour New York Times’ downtime occurrence sent Twitter ablaze and their stock price plummeting. Google going down for one to five hours resulted in lost revenue up to $500,000 and decreased overall web traffic by 40%. While the hourly cost of downtime for a small-to-medium sized business won’t be nearly as large as that astronomical Google figure, downtime is often more detrimental to smaller companies. Smaller enterprises are more susceptible to downtime and are neither large nor profitable enough to sustain its short and long-term effects. Downtime Leads to Unhappy/Unproductive Employees   Even the happiest of employees become dissatisfied when they can’t perform basic day-to-day job functions or properly service customers or clients. While someRead Full Article


Business Continuity: What Every Business Owner Should Know

Technology is full of difficult jargon. To further complicate things, certain terms are often used in a different context between one publication or service provider and the next. An example of this is the usage of backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. These terms are commonly used interchangeably, often resulting in confusion. In an effort to alleviate some of this confusion, let’s describe each physical process. You will see an overlay among all three, although they are each different processes. Backup – In IT lingo, the most basic description of backup is the process by which your data, as in files or programs, is copied from its original location to another. The purpose of this is to ensure that the original files or programs are retrievableRead Full Article


Business Continuity for SMBs

 8 Cold Hard Truths for SMBs Not Worried About Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity   The foundation of any successful business continuity solution is the ability to retrieve data from any point in time from anywhere. When the topic of data recovery and business continuity comes up, many decision makers at smaller businesses and organizations think that they cannot afford to put enterprise-level protections into place.   Further, so many people think bad things only happen to other people. Just because we hear about a fatal car accident on the morning news, doesn’t mean we fixate on that news when we ourselves get into a car and drive to work. So no matter how many times the owner or executive of a small to midsize businessRead Full Article


Data Loss Tech Tips

Small business owners are often worried about data loss. Rightly so, because data loss has the potential to wipe out a business. We have identified the most common forms of data loss so you can see how they fit into your business and assess the risks related to each of these pitfalls.   1. Human Error – Human error – by way of unintentional data deletion, modification, and overwrites – has become much more prevalent in recent years. Much of this is the result of improperly managed virtualization technology. While virtualization and cloud computing have enabled improved business continuity planning for many businesses and organizations, humans must still instruct this technology how to perform. The complexity of these systems often presents a learning curve that canRead Full Article


The Benefits of an IT Managed Service Provider

Managed Service Providers (MSPs)  are often recommended as a cost effective IT solution for small and mid-sized businesses. For a minimal monthly fee, MSPs provide a reasonably priced solution to the complex technology pains needs of businesses. Here’s a look at the various benefits an MSP can offer your business: Freed-Up Resources and a Renewed Emphasis on Core Business – Both business owners and internal IT staff would much rather focus on revenue enhancing tasks like product development or the creation of cutting-edge applications/services. This is one reason routine monitoring and maintenance tasks are often neglected by an internal IT person or team, which always proves to be detrimental much later. Often perceived as a “threat” to an internal IT person or staff, MSPs can insteadRead Full Article


Business Continuity Versus Traditional Backup

Do you know the difference between business continuity and traditional forms of data backup? How important is it to you that your business does not lose valuable downtime and is able to be back up and running as soon as possible? If this is vital to you, then you should have a very solid business continuity plan in place. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you improve your backup plan as you phase to a more solid business continuity plan. Think Quicker Recovery Time, Not Quicker Backup – While incremental backups are much faster than executing a full backup, they also prolong recovery time. In the event of data loss, a full restore will require loading the most recent full backup and then eachRead Full Article


Your Business Website

Your website represents your business and so building and maintaining it needs to be of primary concern to you as a business owner. We often find business owners struggling with their websites, saying things like: “My website looks great, but I am not able to convert” or “I invested so much into creating my website, but I don’t get many hits.” These things are very common pains faced by businesses, especially small and mid-sized business. If you aren’t sure where to start your site improvement project, this post will get you rolling in the right direction with seven key areas you need to pay attention to when it comes to your website.   1. Content – Make sure your website has a significant amount of contentRead Full Article


The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider

The benefits of partnering with a managed service provider (MSP), such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., are significant. The bottom line is that it is a cost-effective way to ensure that all of your business’s IT needs are met and kept up-to-date. Experienced MSPs have access to the newest tools that reduce costs by automating many routine in-house labor intensive processes. Break-fix is labor intensive (and a very outdated model), and labor is one of the most expensive operating costs within your IT infrastructure. The new innovative tools that can be provided by MSPs generate real productivity increases and mitigate the risk of network failure, downtime, and data loss from human error and disasters.   MSPs deliver a trusted foundation for your team and your clients. SomeRead Full Article


Cybersecurity: Is your Business Safe from Virtual Threats?

Did you know that 50% of small business owners think their businesses are too small to be targeted by the thieves of the virtual world? Thus, they do not believe that cybersecurity is a business concern. Contrary to popular belief, 72% of hacker attacks happen to smaller firms – firms with fewer than 100 employees! So how prepared is your SMB? Here’s a checklist to help you find out how vulnerable you are to these attacks.   1. Do you have Antivirus protection? An antivirus software program can help protect you from threats that originate from emails such as malware and virus attacks. However, the most striking fact is that 61% of small businesses don’t install any antivirus software. If you are one of them,Read Full Article


Is That Email a Phishing Scheme?

Research has revealed that over half of all users end up opening fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances (or your business and its finances). The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader. Here are a few tips that help you identify whether that email really came from your bank or is another attempt at defrauding you via a phishing email. 1. They are asking for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personalRead Full Article


The Cost of IT Downtime on Your Business

Many small and mid-sized business owners think IT downtime only cost them a few productive hours, but there’s a lot more at stake when your systems go down. Customer satisfaction and loss of brand integrity are just two of the key losses apart from more evident costs, such as lost productivity and what often adds up to a high tally of lost profits from sales, billable hours, and/or however else your business earns an income.  Here’s a few other ways downtime can hurt your business: 1. Customer Loss – Today’s buyer lacks patience; they are used to getting everything at the click of a mouse, at the tap of a finger. Suppose they are looking for the kind of products/services that you offer and your siteRead Full Article


Has Your Website Been Optimized for Mobile Users?

Did you know that this year there will be more mobile web surfers than stationary ones? That means more prospects are accessing your business website more through their smart phones, tablets or other mobile devices than with a laptop or PC. If you thought you had time to make the switch this year, you may want to reconsider in light of new research. A recent study revealed that around 40% of prospects move on to a competitor if they have a poor mobile experience. How prepared is your business for this change? Well, if you are just starting out, the following checklist will help you optimize your business website for these users:   1. Make sure your mobile site is different from your regular businessRead Full Article


Five Ways Your Business Can Improve Its Search Engine Rankings through SEO

In an age where most business happens online, not showing up in Google search results can really hurt you. While there’s no real shortcut to showing up consistently on web searches, there are a few quick fixes to get your site to show up on your potential customer’s search results. In other words, improve your rankings through Search Engine Optimization or SEO, for short. 1. HTML tags – Important HTML tags include the title tag, meta description and meta keywords. Make sure each page of your website has appropriate HTML tags. The title tag of each page should be unique and relevant to that particular page.   2. Alternative text images – Ensure that most of the images on your website have alternative text tags. Alt tagsRead Full Article


Computer Network Management and Maintenance

Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.’s co-owners, Charlotte and Darrin Piotrowski, published an article, “Don’t Wait Until It’s Broken,” in the September 2015 issue of Biz New Orleans (and also included in email blast and the Biz New Orleans online issue). In it, they discussed the many reasons why every business should have a computer network management and maintenance contract with a local IT firm, rather than simply calling their computer repair company every time something breaks or isn’t working properly. Here’s the link to the full article. Below is the top ten list of reasons, taken from the article, for contracting with Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. for your business’s computer network management and maintenance. Top 10 benefits of network/computer management and maintenance: 1 – You can truly think of your IT serviceRead Full Article


Prepare Your Business in Case of Disaster

You probably have a plan for your home in the case of a disaster, but what about your business? According to the Insurance Information Institute, as many as 40% of businesses fail after a disaster. There are a number of things that you can do in order to prepare your business in case of disaster (man-made or natural). And, since we are in the midst of hurricane season, now is as good a time as any to do so! You should begin by assessing what types of disasters are most likely to occur to your specific business. This can include fire, flooding, a hurricane, and even criminal activity, depending upon your location, type of business, and other factors. You should select point people who are trained toRead Full Article


Computer Recycle in NOLA

Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. has always been happy to accept our customers’ old computers–the picture above is of our former computer graveyard. After removing their memory, we’d send them off to be recycled, give them to students for projects, and recently we donated some to members of the Krewe du Who (they removed some really spectacular parts to use on their Dr. Who-themed contraptions). However, now that we’ve moved to our fabulous new space on the corner of Tulane Avenue and Galvez, we are no longer able to sustain this computer graveyard. Therefore, we have provided this list of computer recycle places in NOLA. The Department of Sanitation 2829 Elysian Fields Avenue New Orleans, LA 70122 Offers monthly recycling drop-off at the Recycling Drop-Off Center at 2829Read Full Article


Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 is AMAZING

Disclaimer: I am not a techie and I don’t get overly excited when new devices come out. But I’m married to a techie and he does. We rotate through a lot of smartphones, tablets, and computers so that we can offer the best advice to our customers, and so I end up with hand-me-downs frequently. However, when Darrin told me about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2, well, I didn’t want to wait until he had moved on to the next great device; I wanted it as soon as possible! I won’t bore you with all of the specs, though they can be found on this link. For me, the most important qualities are these: It’s a Samsung, which means the screen is gorgeous, with brightRead Full Article


Windows 10 Upgrade

Windows 10 was globally launched on July 29, 2015 and consumers with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 starting to receive free upgrade notifications. These free upgrades will be available only within the first year of the Windows 10 release. But many are asking whether they should upgrade or not. Here are a few things to consider before upgrading to Windows 10. First, the pros. Windows 10 fixes so many of the issues with Windows 8 that people have been griping about. The start button (it’s actually a “start menu” but we all just really care about having our start button back on the bottom left of our screen) has finally returned! That’s probably the number one complaint with the prior version, so the most popularRead Full Article


Business Tips to Start off the “School Year”

Students are back in school, looking forward to a new year, fresh uniforms, probably a new lunchbox, even some nice new school supplies. Now is also a great time to give your office that sort of fresh start and we’re here to offer you some business tips so that you can do just that. Take a walk around your own personal work space and then venture out into your entire business’s space. As you’re looking around, make a list of those areas that are problematic and those that are working well. What are the differences between these two lists? It’s just as important to focus on what is working, since you can learn from success and apply the same concepts to your deficiencies. Below is a listRead Full Article


Two-Factor Authentication: Security for Your Valuable Data

Two-factor authentication is an extra step that one takes when logging in to various sites and programs. It happens after the username and password have been entered. I know what you’re thinking, passwords are difficult enough. However, many times. in order to make it convenient to remember, we use the same password for nearly all websites (which I would never recommend) or we make simple passwords that are easily guessed, i.e. password, password 123. What two-factor authentication does is add an extra layer of security on top of those passwords, no matter how simple or complex they are, in order to further protect your information online. A quick and easy way to describe two-factor authentication is to think of when you call your bank’s customerRead Full Article


The Right Business Email Address

No matter if your business is fewer than ten employees or more than a 1,000, email is key in your communications with clients, vendors, staff, and other businesses. Often I find that a business’s emails are hosted by its Internet Service Provider or ISP, such as ATT, Cox, Comcast, etc. Without a better understanding of the benefits of a custom domain-hosted email, clients can potentially get lost. Therefore, it is so important that you have the right business email address. Business cards are exchanged on daily basis. A very basic card may include name, address, phone number, and email. An email address such as johndoe@cox.net or @att.com projects a different level of professionalism than a card reading johndoe@XYZcompany.com. Do you want your email to say, “We areRead Full Article


Top Ten Tech Tips

Here are my top ten tech tips (for today!): 1)      When in doubt, REBOOT.   Rebooting, not only computers, but a number of electronic devices, fixes numerous issues. For example: Windows is “running slowly” possibly means that a program may be misbehaving and hogging vital system resources; rebooting the computer can often times resolve that issue.  Another common example is when your “Internet is down;” rebooting your networking equipment (modem and router) can sometimes resolve this issue.  Unplugging your modem/router from power and plugging it back in is a common solution for a number of networking issues. 2)      If you don’t know the sender of an email DO NOT CLICK THE LINKS OR DOWNLOAD ANY ATTACHMENTS!   Bogus emails are one of the number one waysRead Full Article


Your New Computer: Do Not Get Too Attached

Remember those Maytag commercials where the guy sat there doing nothing because their washing machines worked forever?  Computers aren’t like that.  Computers break.  This can be frustrating, especially considering that computers are changing very quickly.  What was true a decade ago is not always true today in the computer world. You simply can’t get too attached to your new computer, because soon it will be outdated. So how long do computers last and stay relevant these days?  With constant upgrades and advances in technology, including programming, computers become outdated very quickly.  Desktop computers tend to be worth repairing for about five to six years.  After that you should use it until it either dies or becomes so problematic that it’s not worth using anymore. LaptopsRead Full Article


How did I get this computer virus??

“How’d I get this computer virus?” I think the question I get asked more often than any other is “how did that virus get on my computer?”  And most of the time I have to answer that I don’t know.  This is because tracing the source of an infection is often a very time consuming process.  Sometimes it is obvious, but most of the time it isn’t and can easily take me an hour or more to locate the source.  Most people don’t want to spend the money having me search in vain for the chance that I may figure out what caused the exact infection when I can just get rid of them all and be done with it. That being said, there areRead Full Article


Five Reasons You Should Retire Your Windows XP ASAP!

Here are five reasons why you should retire your Windows XP computer as soon as possible: 1. Updates & Bug Fixes: Since Microsoft decided to end support for Windows XP back in April 14, 2014, there have been no more security updates or technical support. Without any patches, updates, and hotfixes, your computer is more vulnerable to viruses, spywares, and hackers. Your identity could be more easily compromised. 2.  Software & Drivers: Now that Microsoft has ended the support for XP, all software developers and manufactures will ultimately follow suit. Newly purchased hardware, such as printers, scanners, webcams, etc., will no longer have supporting software for Windows XP. Programmers will stop develop compatible applications and programs for an outdated operating system. With limited software andRead Full Article