Things to Consider when Selecting a Good Managed Services Partner

We have been asked a few times this year already as to what are some of the things to think about when selecting a good managed services partner. Here are few points that jump to mind:

  • PROACTIVENESS – It is very important that a proactive approach is taken by your Managed Services Partner to look after every area of your IT environment. This proactive approach will help fix computer issues before they arise allowing your staff to be more productive. At iPing, we use the best tools in the industry allowing us to fix issues before they become a problem for our customers.
  • COMMUNICATION – Your managed service partner must be good at communication at all times. This is important when everything is running smoothly to keep it like this and of course crucial when you have a problem. In business, information is key and if an IT problem has arisen you need to know what the effects of this will be on your business and the action plan for resolving the issue.
  • REGULAR HEALTH CHECKS – We cannot over-emphasize how important it is to have regular system checks being run on your IT system and this goes hand in hand with a good proactive approach to IT management.
  • GET IT IN WRITING – It is important to have a contract in place that sets out what is covered in the managed service. This allows you to know exactly what is covered and it will help give you some added peace of mind.

Internet Explorer 11 Is Now End Of Life

This may have slipped past you last week but Microsoft has ceased to support Internet Explorer version 11 and all versions before this. So in effect Internet Explorer 8, 9, 10 and 11 are no longer supported now.

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Some companies are using these older versions of Internet Explorer as this is what their old programs and websites run on correctly. If this is the case you need to look into getting this software updated.

If you do not have a really good reason to use an old version of Internet Explorer or any other web browser you want to speak to a managed IT Services provider like iPing to help with keeping all your software up-to-date!

If you need some help with your Managed IT Services you can contact iPing!

Search not working after upgrading to Microsoft Office 2016 / Office 365

We have seen a few cases popping up recently where we upgraded some of our managed IT service customers to office 2016. After the upgrade our clients were not able to search their email.

Now as you all know with the volume of email we all get these if the search function is not working on email our staff will be very inefficient.

So to make your life easier here is one of the things to try so as to fix the problem of a broken search in Microsoft office 2016.

  • Open Microsoft Outlook, click on file and then click on Options.
  • In the Outlook Options window click on Search and then under sources click on the tab indexing options.
  • Now on the indexing options window click on modify.
  • A new screen will now pop up and on the top section of this screen be sure to unselect any Microsoft Outlook programs you see there.
  • Next click the OK button.
  • Now back In Microsoft Outlook options window click on search and then under sources click on the tab indexing options.
  • Now on the options window click on advance button to open this section.
  • Finally under the index settings click on rebuild.

The rebuild of the index can take up to twenty four hours so once you have kicked it off you will have a bit of time for a nice coffee and a relax!

If you would like some help with this IT Support issue please contact iPing

Your Phone Is Now Your Computer

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It looks like we are seeing the next step towards the end of the PC from Microsoft.  With this new PC experience that is being provided by the current Microsoft phone the only limiting factor is processing power of the phone.

This really shows what Microsoft thinking is being Windows 10 and getting all your devices on one platform.

Time will tell how this works for Microsoft and you can be sure that this will affect how you are consuming IT and getting computer services in the future.

 

Get Your Free Copy Of Windows 10

Over the past few days we have started seeing a notice from Microsoft in the bottom right hand corner of Windows. The notice is to let you know you can now upgrade to Windows 10. Firstly we wish to reassure our clients – this is an official message from Microsoft and it is safe to click on the message.

Win 10 Picture Arrow

Microsoft are offering customers presently using Windows 7 and upwards a free upgrade to Windows 10.  This free offer will be valid for one year from July 29th 2015.  If you avail of this free upgrade, there is no additional cost for the first year of install, after this one year period,  there will be a cost for Windows 10 and there will be a cost for installation on any new computers.

Microsoft have confirmed to us:

“Once you upgrade to Windows 10 with the free upgrade offer you will able to clean reinstall Windows 10 on same device any time.”

The free Windows 10 upgrade is a full version and can upgrade from an older version of Windows or perform a standalone install. Microsoft will also make the software downloadable as an ISO disc image, for those who want to keep it on DVD or a USB memory key.

Win 10 Free Upgrade

iPing are advising our customers only to register for the free version of Windows 10 for now. We are suggesting a ‘wait and see’ period of around six months for Microsoft to iron out the bugs before we start planning whether or not to move iPing’s customers to Windows 10.

If you have any questions on this please give us a call or an email 01 5241350 or info@iping.org www.iping.org

 

 

Windows Server 2003 Is Going End Of Life

As the old adage goes, all good things must come to an end. This was true for Windows XP and now on July 14th 2015 it will also be true for Windows Server 2003. Just like when Windows XP went end of life, Microsoft stopped supporting it and releasing patches etc for it and so the same will happen with Windows Server 2003.

If you want to see how many days are left until support ends for Windows Server 2003, you can look at the Microsoft count down timer here

So what does this mean for you and your business if you are using a 2003 server? Well the first question you have to ask yourself is what we are using our server for. If you are using your server for email, file and print sharing, you could consider either getting a new server or moving these services to the cloud. This will really depend on how much data you have for email and files and this is something iPing can advise you on.

If you are using your server to host applications that you use to run your business i.e. accountancy packages, stock control systems, CRM applications and the like, you will need to investigate how ready these systems are to move from Windows 2003 server.

Depending on the application you will either move them to newer cloud based offerings from the provider and off your server, move them to a newer version of windows server that is still supported by Microsoft or you will decide to take this opportunity to move to a new application provider who has a system that is now better for your business. In all of these cases iPing can help you to move your applications from Windows 2003 server to a supported alternative.

The most important thing in getting over the impending Windows 2003 end of life is actually addressing the problem. As of writing this blog there are 242 days of support left and this may seem like an eternity. The thing is though IT systems take time and planning to migrate as they are complex systems that are critical and if you want to be sure the move is seamless, now is the time to be thinking about moving off your 2003 Windows Server.

If you would like some help in planning your Windows 2003 Server upgrade be sure to contact iPing!

Fake Microsoft IT Support Call

I just received a call from someone pertaining to be from Microsoft telling me that there was a problem with my computer. The person said that he would be more than happy to help me find the problem on my computer and then they could help me fix it.

Just to further set the scene for you – the call was from a very noisy call centre with a really bad connection. It is also very important to know that we are an IT Support company based in Dublin and it is usually the iPing team who are calling people to help them with their computers and not the other way around. So it was very strange and suspicious for me to get this on spec call. I should probably also note that iPing is a Microsoft partner and this is not something they would usually call us about.

So in taking all of the above into account and being very suspicious that this was a crank call, I nonetheless went through the motions to see what it was I was asked to do so that I could let you know when you are at risk of being scammed.

  1. The first thing he asked me to do was to open up a very specific part of the windows event viewer so that he could show me that my computer was reporting some spurious and fake errors. He was doing this to build some trust.
  2. Once he thought that he had convinced me that my computer had errors and that he had my trust, he wanted to connect into my computer and fix the problems.
  3. When I asked him how he was going to connect into my computer, he said he wanted me to go to a website and enter some details and this would allow him to connect to my computer.

When we got to the above stage I just hung up the phone as I was now very happy that this person was a not the kind of IT support person you want to be dealing with. I had considered letting him connect into a virtual computer for some fun but I decided I had enough real work to do for some of my excellent customers and this person had taken up enough time.

After hanging up the phone, I got a call back again about ten minutes later from the same person, wondering what had happened. I told him that I knew he was a scammer trying to steal my credit card information, and he was going to get some serious bad karma for doing work like this. He asked me what made me think this and I told him that he was speaking to the owner of an IT support company and that we deal in ensuring people do not have IT problems.

Again I told him his karma was taking a beating and that he should find a better job. At this stage he lost the plot and started shouting down the phone at me calling me many bad names that I cannot mention in a business IT blog but I will be more than happy to share with you over a pint.

In summary if you get a call similar to the above from a very loud call centre saying that the person is calling you from Microsoft and the person says you have problems with your computer – you need to be very careful. As you can see from this link, Microsoft will never call you unless you call them first to report a problem to them.

We have spoken to quite a few companies in Dublin and the surrounding areas and these cyber criminals seem to be targeting people and companies in this area with this scam. We think they have extensive lists of phone numbers and are automatically dialling them and hoping to catch people unaware.

This is the attempt of the iPing IT Support team to help educate you on good IT Security.

Be Safe.

Did someone just hack my email?

Over the past few months we have seen a sharp increase in the number of phishing emails people are receiving from a contact that they know telling them that they have a document to download. A phishing email is one where a nasty hacker tries to get information from you without you knowing like your username, password, bank details or some other important information.

These emails are usually from a person looking to steal your username and password, get access to your emails and possibly worst of all send the scam email to all of your customers, friends and family. They are able to send emails to all of your email contacts once you click on the link they send you and enter your email address and password, as by doing this they get your email login information.

Here are some top IT support tips to let you identify one of these scam emails:

  • The subject line of these emails is usually something generic so as not to create too much suspicion so this is the first thing that should make you suspicious. Some examples the iPing IT Support team have seen recently are “Document” “Link” or even “Important Google document”.
  • You are asked to click on a link which brings you to a web page looking like Google which asks you to enter your email address and password to download the document.

So what do you do if you receive one of these emails:

  • We are advising our clients to mark these emails as phishing to help Google and the other email companies identify them.
  • If you receive one of these emails from a customer, friend or family member, you should immediately let this person know that they have been hacked and they need to change their password ASAP.
  • If you have clicked on one of these emails recently, opened the link and entered your username and password, you need to change your own password straight away. For some information on good password management see the previous blog.
  • If you need some help changing your Google Apps or Gmail password have a look here for some help.
  • The most important thing is to be very vigilant before you put in a username and password after clicking on a link in an email. If unsure, it is worth while checking with the person who sent you the email just to confirm if they really did send it.
  • If you are sending an email to a customer, it may be worth considering not using generic subject lines so as to help people know it is an email from you. This can also make the task of writing emails a bit more creative.

This is an area of the IT service industry that is changing at a frightening speed and as we become more and more reliant on technology, there are bad elements of society looking to profit from our reliance on computers.

If you wish to have a discussion with an IT expert on any aspect of your business IT services, we would be more than delighted to sit down and have a coffee and a chat with you. You can contact a member of the team through the website.

Selecting Phone System / PABX For Your Company

A business phone system or a PABX is critical to the running of your business and we recommend that a business should aim to have the best one that it can afford.  With this in mind it is worth spending some time on selecting the best phone system for your business as it is one of the more important decisions you will make.

If you have been in business for a few years you will be more than aware of the mammoth phone systems that filled large parts of rooms of office buildings.  These big phone systems are full of cards, wires and make clicking noises as calls go through them. If your office had a big system and you were in the same room as it, you will remember it from the distinct noise it makes.

Over the past ten years, phone systems have been getting smaller and smaller and it is now the case that a phone system that would have taken up one or two racks in your office can now fit onto the equivalent size of an office computer. With this massive reduction in size, we have also achieved an exponential increase of the available voice services which would have previously only been available to multinational companies but are now available to small and medium sized companies at an affordable price.

In this article we are going to have a look at some of these voice services and what value they bring to you and your business.

Voicemail to email

It is now possible to have your voicemails recorded in sound files and then sent to you via email. If you are out on the road you can open these sound files on your smart phone or on your laptop. This means that you are getting those important messages days and hours before you would have in the past and you are able to now react to potentially critical issues before they become critical.

Conference Calls

A conference call is a call where three or more people are on the same call having a meeting. Conference calls have been around for a number of years now but with the advancements in technology, they are now more widely available and fit the price bracket of all companies. If you are a financial company by law, you may be required to have your conference hardware based in Ireland so as to make sure that any decisions taken on the call are governed by Irish law. One of the major advantages of conference calls is that they can bring people together from locations all over the world to make decisions and discuss items. When you use conference calls with VoIP you get a powerful service that is now truly cost effective. Love them or hate them, conference calls are here to stay and when they are used correctly, they are an asset to your business.

VoIP

VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is the glue that now binds all the New Age telephone systems together. I could talk for weeks on this topic alone. It is suffice to say that VoIP sends your voice over the internet when you are making a call and not over the old telephone lines. This means that wherever we have an internet connection we can connect back to our phone system and it also means cheap phone calls to other international destinations that were expensive in the past.

Call Recording

It is now easy to have all the calls that are made to your office recorded for future use should you require this. This can be very useful for training sales and support staff or helping with proof of authorisation if you are a financial company who takes orders over the phone.

CRM Integration

It is now very possible to have your phone system integrated into your customer database or CRM software. This mean that, for example, as you receive a call from a customer, the phone system will be able to fetch the customer details from your CRM and present the customer information to you on your computer screen. This all happens as your phone is ringing and the customer information will be presented to you in your CRM. The benefit of this is of course the superior customer service you can provide to your customers and more targeted marketing practice and sales options.

If your company has one of the old phone systems that you are using just for making phone calls and receiving phone calls, now may just be the time to take advantage of some serious advancements in phone system technology.

If you would like to update or purchase a new phone system please contact iPing.

Google Apps V Microsoft Office 365

The battle ground has been well and truly defined now and the first shots have been fired in the war between Google and Microsoft for top spot in cloud word processing and apps that will help your business to thrive. Google are designing their offering from the ground up and this is offering them great flexibility whereas Microsoft has over twenty years of experience and a customer base that has their products in their DNA and this is something that Google will be hard pushed to match.

From the research that we have done here at iPing, we have found that collaboration is and will be king in this war and this is something that Google is currently winning at. For example if a company has a number of people working on a Google Apps spread sheet, each user can see in real time what the other user is doing whereas this is not the case in the Microsoft offering. Each user in the Google offering is given a different colour and the cell they are typing in is highlighted and this is a handy feature that stops two or more people typing in the same cell.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is going to be massive in this war and for the two companies it is imperative that they get this right. This is now the first time in history that people in their personal lives are ahead of companies in their adoption of technology. In the past it was always companies that had the cutting edge technology. Some companies now expect their employees to be able to access their company technology on personal devices whereas other companies want to keep this all on company hardware. This is something that will need to be addressed and the two companies will need to make provisions for each access method.

Another thing that Microsoft and Google have marked as important in this battle is the ability for you to make video calls. Microsoft bought Skype and they are currently working frantically to improve its integration into their products to give voice and video capabilities. Google has developed Hangout that lets you make voice calls and also video calls to people that you are working with. This is something that will continue to grow over the next few years and will soon be as accepted as email.

At the moment it looks like Google is currently winning the early encounters on this war but there are many more battles remaining. Microsoft has shown time and again that once they decide they will become the best at something, they usually succeed. In the past they showed this with server operating systems, email servers and more recently the battle with Xbox and Sony PlayStation.