Category Archives: Tech Tips

Migration to Windows 10

You’re prepared, at least mentally, to begin your migration to Windows 10 because you’ve read What Does Windows 7 End of Life Mean to My Business?  and Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life. Is your hardware ready, though? How you handle your IT (on your own, as needed support, or with a fully managed agreement) will change how you will have to deal with your transition.  The following items should help you decide how to prepare your hardware for the Windows 10 migration. Do It Yourself If you own all of your own equipment and deal with IT issues in-house, then you will want to get started on migrating your devices now. The good news is that Windows 10 is highly compatible withRead Full Article


Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life

With Windows 7 end of life quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done to prepare. Technically, regular Windows 7 support has been dead since 2015, however, the extended support period is over January 2020, which means no more updates or security patches. What should you be aware of for EOL? Get ready, you may have some work to do. Many are concerned that their PCs will stop working. That is not the case. Your Windows software will work, but its security will depreciate rather quickly, which could put your PC in danger of cyber-attacks and viruses. Back in 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. It affected 40% of computers worldwide. Now, years later, it is estimated that aboutRead Full Article


What does Windows 7 End of Life Mean for My Business?

You’ve all heard the panic. Windows is cutting off support for its widely popular version 7 software. January 14, 2020 will officially mark Windows 7 End of Life. Many companies have used Windows 7 since it launched in 2009 and are still actively using it today. So, what’s the big deal? Can you just stick with Windows 7 or will your computer self-destruct? The good news is that your computers will work just fine after the End of Life (EOL) date. However, just because your computer will function doesn’t mean it’s wise to hold onto outdated software. The largest concern for Windows 7 users is security. Since updates and support will no longer be available, your device will be extremely vulnerable to cyber threats. InRead Full Article


Cyber-Crime and Security for SMBs

Did you know the illicit trading of personal data was worth $3.88 billion last year? Cyber-crime is a growing industry known for its innovation. It goes far beyond the image many of us have of some hacker kid in his basement. Many who engage in this activity are professionals and work in large teams. Some may even be sponsored by governments. If you follow the news, you can find large corporations and even government agencies who have fallen prey to hackers and had massive amounts of data compromised. Unfortunately, this has led smaller firms to feel they fly below the radar. In fact, the opposite is true. Small businesses–especially those in regulated areas such as medical, financial, and legal services–need to be hyper vigilant aboutRead Full Article


Computer Hackers 101

Most people are aware of terms like phishing and malware, but do you know those are a part of a larger scheme called social engineering? This is not a new kind of fraud, in fact it’s been used for many years to manipulate a wide range of people into giving up important data about themselves or workplace. A prime example of social engineering goes back to Greek mythology with the Trojan horse. They infiltrated the city of Troy with a “peace offering” filled with soldiers, thus winning the war. With technology at the forefront of our lives, social engineering has entered a new era. Physical human interaction is not necessarily required anymore. Cyber-criminals, better known as computer hackers, can gain information through emails, pop-ups andRead Full Article


Mischievous Malware

Unfortunately, malware is not a foreign term, in fact it’s pretty well known to anyone who uses a computer. There are several types of malware, as well as mediums in which you may receive it. So, before you click on that link for the free cruise you won, think about all of the personal data you could be giving away. First, let’s take a quick tour of the types of malware you may run into. Viruses: These act very similar to the flu virus. Once it gets into a computer, it propagates by copying itself and becoming part of another program. Then just like the flu at an elementary school, it spreads from computer to computer. However, a virus must be activated, by opening orRead Full Article


Phishing 101

Phishing 101 While the number of people falling for sending personal information to the crown prince of Nigeria in hopes of receiving his promised wealth and riches seems to be dropping, phishing remains a major issue. In fact, the number of phishing campaigns pursued by hackers around the world increased 65% in the last year. What exactly is phishing? Hackers mimic the emails, forms, and websites of legitimate companies in an effort to lure people into providing their private, personal information, like credit cards numbers, social security information, account logins, and personal identifiers. The victim typically doesn’t realize they’ve been compromised until long after the event, and oftentimes only after their identify or finances are affected. In the past, an attack was carried out relatively quickly.Read Full Article


VoIP Phone Solutions

Today’s blog is about office phone systems. You have one. They are dull, necessary, and no one wants to deal with them. They need to be re-configured for new employees, they’re confusing, and the telephone lines probably cost you more money than you’d like. The solution is VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Like everything else, office phone systems began transitioning to fully online/digital well over a decade ago.  In a practical sense, VoIP means that your phone lines are no longer coming in over traditional, “plain old telephone” lines, or other standard protocols from the 1960s to the 2000s. Instead, voice signals are now being carried to your phone from via the internet, such as your broadband connection. You cut the higher landline charges, especiallyRead Full Article


Cyber Crime Tips for Local Businesses

Did you know the illicit trading of personal data was worth $3.88 billion last year? Cyber Crime is a growing industry known for its innovation. It goes far beyond the image many of us have of some hacker kid in his basement. Many who engage in this activity are professionals and work in large teams. Some may even be sponsored by governments. If you follow the news, you can find large corporations and even government agencies that have fallen prey to hackers and had massive amounts of data compromised. Unfortunately, this has led smaller firms to feel they fly below the radar. In fact, the opposite is true. Small businesses–especially those in regulated areas such as medical, financial, and legal services–need to be hyper vigilantRead Full Article


Data Security and Government Regulations

  Any business that stores customer payment information must comply with a number of state and federal regulations. The legal, healthcare, and financial sectors have a number of laws tailored specifically for them (such as HIPAA or CISPA). If you run almost any kind of professional practice or agency you probably have very specific data security requirements. Running afoul of these regulations puts you at risk for legal action and probably means that you have bad security in place. As a professional, your focus needs to be on your clients and running your firm. Regulatory requirements to ensure data security can be complex and include rigorous testing requirements. Ensuring compliance with the regulations can be a serious distraction for you and take you into territoryRead Full Article


VoIP: A New Dimension in Communication

Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP is about a decade old technology that is gaining popularity among individual subscribers and businesses. In conventional systems, phone calls are made using telephones or handsets that are connected by phone cables. These calls are routed using the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) carrying a signal from one telephone to the other. But instead of connecting telephones to the phone cables through phone jacks in the walls, VoIP uses the internet where phones can be connected to broadband devices, adapters or PCs using broadband. With this system, voice is converted into a digital signal and carried over the Internet. Let’s take a look at all the options that are available to make calls using VoIP. Make Calls from aRead Full Article


Passwords: Basics People Still Ignore

You can have all the locks on your data center and have all the network security available, but nothing will keep your data safe if your employees are careless with passwords. Here are some tips to help you and your employees, since human error is one of the top reasons for IT disaster recovery. Change Passwords – Most security experts recommend that companies change out all passwords every 30 to 90 days. Require passwords that mix upper and lowercase, and include a number and a symbol. Teach employees NOT to use standard dictionary words ( in any language), or personal data that can be known, or can be stolen: addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, birthdays, etc. Emphasize that employees should not access anything usingRead Full Article


Creating a Strong Password

How strong is your password? Did you know that having a weak password is one of the biggest security risks you face? This blog focuses on the best practices related that you can follow to ensure passwords are not your weakest link. A recent article states that 81% of data breaches are caused by poor passwords! Avoid sequences and repetitions: How many times have you used passwords like dollar12345 or $$$BobMckinley. Passwords containing sequences and repetitions are just easier to hack. Avoid using your personal data: Do not make your birth date, bank account number, or address a part of your password. It puts your data at stake if your personal information is stolen. Don’t repeat passwords: Make sure you pick unique passwords every time.Read Full Article


VoIP Technology

The Benefits of Using VoIP Technology You may not realize that Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. is a full service technology company, and that means that we offer VoIP (click here for specifics about our services). More and more businesses are implementing Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP technology because of its versatility, flexibility and cost-effectiveness. With new developments in this technology, the scope of its applications is widening. It is becoming more than just voice communications technology. That is why businesses of all sizes are migrating at an increasing rate. Here is a short list of some of the benefits. Versatility/Flexibility: All modes of communication such as voice, fax, video, web conferencing and emails can be utilized, using a single software application. The ability of this applicationRead Full Article


IT Disaster Recovery: Human Error

Human error accounts for the highest percentage of  IT disruptions and emergencies requiring disaster recovery. That’s right, “Hurricane Human,” should be your top concern when considering the proper disaster recovery plan for your business. Did you know that your employees often unwittingly ‘help’ cybercriminals gain access to your system? Often, employees play a part in compromising the security of your IT infrastructure, even without them realizing it. For example- When your employees use their own devices for work purposes such as to access emails, to connect to work servers, or to work on office files. In the event their device gets infected by a malware or hacked, the virus or the hacker gets access to your data as well. Your employees may put your networkRead Full Article


Don’t make these IT mistakes as you grow!

Don’t make these IT mistakes as you grow! During the course of IT consultancy, we come across a lot of clients who are not happy with the way their IT shaped up over the years. They feel their IT investments never really yielded the kind of returns they expected and come to us looking to change the trend. When analyzing the reasons for the failure of their IT investment, here’s what we come across most often. Not prioritizing IT This is the #1 mistake Small-Midsize Businesses (SMBs) make. When focusing on growing their business, most SMBs think marketing, sales, and inventory, but very few consider allocating resources–monetary or otherwise towards IT. IT is seen as a cost-center, rarely prioritized and any investment in IT isRead Full Article


Tech Tips for Small Business Owners

As someone running a small business, you probably have a lot on your plate. You are the core decision maker, responsible for growing your business, keeping your clients happy, and frequently even getting a lot of the work done. Often, when you have so much going on, one area that gets overlooked is IT. When you are so busy looking into other things, the start of IT issues may slip your watchful eyes. In this blog, we discuss the IT red flags that you need to watch out for. Of course, if your business’s IT is managed by Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., we are able to prevent most issues and are alerted to any before they become a problem, so that we can quickly address them. ReadRead 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