If your small business still relies on a standard copper telephone line, you may be missing out on some very important benefits. In fact, VoIP is far superior to a traditional landline in several interesting ways. Below, you can learn about five of the most important things VoIP can do for you and your business that a traditional copper telephone line cannot.
If there’s one thing that VoIP can do for your business that a standard telephone line just can’t, this is it. From setup to running cost, utilizing VoIP telephone service is far, far more affordable. Installing a single copper-line based telephone jack can cost you well over $100, but with VoIP, you can attach as many phones as you need as long as you have the right modem and router setup. What’s more, with standard phone service, you are charged a great deal for every single line you have. This simply isn’t the case with VoIP. You could save as much as 50% on your running costs by switching to VoIP.
With VoIP, you can do a lot more than just make telephone calls. You can transfer video or any other type of multimedia just as you would over the internet. This simply is not the case with traditional telephone service. Though you can sign up for DSL internet service, or internet service delivered to you via a copper telephone line, it is a completely separate service – and it isn’t cheap, either.
If you utilize things like call waiting, caller ID, call forwarding, call parking, and others with your traditional landline, then there’s a very good chance you’re paying a great deal extra for them. If you have more than one telephone line, you’re probably paying for these services for each line, too. With VoIP, these features are typically included in your package. Better still, because VoIP is delivered over the internet, you gain access to numerous other features that are incredibly easy to set up, which include automated answering and the ability to give your customers the option to press a button to connect to the right department – all without exorbitant fees.
If you work out of an office building with a single telephone line, expanding your operations to include three or four more telephone lines for separate departments as your business grows can be a complex, time-consuming, and expensive ordeal. A technician will need to come and install the jacks and wires, and you will need to pay separately for each individual line in your building. With VoIP, all you have to do is contact your service provider and tell them you need access to more phone numbers, then connect the phones. It really is that easy for your phone network to grow along with your company.
Last, but most certainly not least, switching from a standard landline to VoIP can help your employees become more productive. A survey conducted by Cisco Unified Communications found that people who used VoIP at work spent an average of 32 fewer minutes on the phone each day. That’s two and a half hours per work week! What’s more, 74% of employees use a mobile app to take business calls with VoIP service, which not only improves productivity, but also improves customer service.
In today’s high-tech day and age, there is really no good reason to continue paying exorbitant fees for traditional telephone lines – especially if you plan to expand your operations in the future. Instead, switch to VoIP so you can enjoy a great deal of savings, improved productivity, free features only VoIP can provide, and so much more.
Microsoft recently completely ended support for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008, leaving many companies scrambling to find affordable alternatives. However, there are still some companies out there unsure of what end-of-life really means. After all, they are still utilizing Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 and everything seems to be fine. Unfortunately, continuing to use either of these products puts businesses at risk. Here’s what everyone should know.
Many people believe that when a company ends support for one of its products, that product will essentially vanish into the ether, never to be seen again. That isn’t how end-of-life works, though, and it’s actually a little more complicated than that. When Microsoft ends support for software, a couple of things happen (or don’t happen):
The product no longer receives updates. When a product reaches the end of its life, Microsoft stops working on it. That’s really all it means. The company will no longer update the product. You can still use it if you choose to, but doing so could be problematic in several ways. First, because the product is no longer being updated, it isn’t receiving any further security patches, which leaves you vulnerable to the latest threats.
New products are no longer designed with the product in mind. Technologies improve every minute of every day, and some of the biggest software providers (things like CRM platforms, etc.) are constantly improving their services to work better with current technologies. When Microsoft stops supporting an operating system, the companies providing those platforms no longer work on updates specifically for those platforms. In other words, even though you may still have access to Windows Server 8, the various applications and platforms you use may simply cease to function.
If your company relies on either Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, the best possible course of action is to upgrade to the latest technologies. Windows 10 is in constant development and many people agree that it’s the best iteration of Windows yet - and it keeps getting better. Windows Server 2019 offers many benefits that Windows Server 2008 simply did not, including synchronization of files to Azure, access to System Insights, VM protection, and much, much more.
Windows 10 is superior to Windows 7 in many ways, too - it’s far better for multitasking with features like Aero Snap, driver installation, and it supports multiple desktops which makes it incredibly easy to utilize a variety of full-screen windows, even when you’re reduced to a single monitor. The best part is that you can’t forget to update Windows thanks to Windows 10, which automatically downloads and applies the latest updates in the background. It even analyzes your computer usage and chooses a time when your PC is typically asleep to restart.
If you are still running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008, now is the time to make the switch to the latest versions of these technologies. They’re much improved over previous iterations, and they will allow you to continue reaping the benefits of today’s latest security enhancements along with so much more.
Image Source: https://ia.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Windows_7_logo.svg
If you think of your company’s IT infrastructure like you’d think of the human body, the server is the brain. It’s where all the data is stored, and it enables all the various processes and computers in your business to operate effectively. If your server is not working optimally, it can negatively affect your entire business. If you aren’t sure whether your server is still right for your company’s needs, or if you think it may be time to replace it, ask yourself the following questions to find out.
One of the biggest signs that your server is giving up the goat, so to speak, is the sound it makes when it is operating in the middle of the day. On any given workday, go into your server room and listen. If the fans are noticeably loud – much louder than they were when they were new – consider this a cry for help. As servers age, they become hotter far more easily, and this makes the fans run faster more frequently. Over time, the fans wear out, and noise indicates they are reaching the end of their lifespan.
Ideally, a business server should always operate at less than 80% capacity. Though there may be times when your server surpasses this mark, such as when more computers than usual access it at the same time, for the most part, it should operate at less than 80%, even during the busiest part of the day. If your server is regularly over that 80% mark, it’s time for an upgrade. In some cases, you may be able to reduce the strain with cloud computing, too.
Microsoft is slowly phasing out many of its older operating systems (OS), and when this happens, there will be no further support for them. For example, in January 2020, Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will reach the end of their lifecycles and support will end. This essentially means that Microsoft will stop working to create things like security patches that protect your system in the wake of the newest threats, and if you continue to use a server with an unsupported OS, you will be leaving your entire IT infrastructure – your hardware, applications, databases, and more – at risk. If your server cannot support the latest OS and its current OS is nearing the end of its lifecycle, it is time to consider alternatives.
Technical hiccups in the workplace happen from time to time despite your best efforts to prevent them. However, if you find yourself suddenly dealing with unexplained server crashes, or if your server starts to crash frequently, this is a sign that it’s time to change something. You might opt to buy a new server, which can resolve the issue for a while. You might also choose to move to the cloud or go for a hardware as a service model to help save you some money.
Server warranties are absolutely critical as they help to ensure that you can get your server replaced in the event of a complete failure. Servers are not inexpensive, and for small business owners – or any size business in the midst of a slow period – replacement can be difficult. Rather than waiting for that failure to occur and then scrambling for a solution, consider a replacement right now if your server is no longer under warranty. Again, you have numerous options available to you, so choose the one that works best for you.
The business software you use is tied to a license, and that license is tied to each CPU for each server in your company. The CPU’s performance is dependent on things like memory and processing power, too. This means that if you choose to consolidate multiple older servers into fewer larger servers with better overall performance, you won’t have to pay for as many licenses. In fact, depending on the size of your company and its overall needs, sometimes downsizing your licenses is enough to pay for a new server.
If you do need to upgrade your company’s server (or servers), you may want to consider virtualization. Server virtualization is a process by which you can create partitions within a single server to create numerous instanced servers. Essentially, it turns a single server into numerous virtual environments that are capable of running independently of one another. Virtualizing your servers can save you a great deal of money in terms of hardware costs, and it can also significantly reduce your energy consumption, the cost of ongoing maintenance, and more.
If you’ve been wondering whether it’s time to replace your company’s server or move your apps to the cloud, ask yourself the five questions above. Then, determine whether you want to purchase new onsite servers outright or contact a managed IT service provider who can help you with hardware as a service or cloud computing that can save you money.
Many companies make the mistake of believing a firewall is a “set it and forget it” type of network security. In fact, a firewall requires constant maintenance and updating in order to protect your company from cyberthreats and data breaches. Below are some signs that your firewall is not properly protecting your company’s best interests or your sensitive data.
No matter the size of your company, whether you have only one computer connected to your network or you have dozens, it is critical that you have access to network traffic reports. You must be able to prioritize applications that are important to running your business while limiting those that might have a negative effect on productivity, but if you can’t see who is accessing what, this is impossible. What’s more, without this comprehensive visibility, there’s no way for you to know if you are complying with local and federal regulations.
In 2017, a study conducted in the UK pointed out that companies spent an average of seven full workdays each month on identifying and repairing computers that had been infected with some sort of malicious software or virus. The costs associated with paying someone to spend this much time repairing computers on your network can be astronomical, and over time, it can really tap into your bottom line. For this reason, businesses of all sizes should carefully consider the benefits of outsourcing their entire IT department to trusted professionals. It costs less and provides better peace of mind.
Another good sign that your network firewall is causing more problems than it solves is a noticeable lack of performance from your network. If your network is slow despite a good internet connection, this typically indicates an overloaded firewall. In other words, there is too much traffic attempting to pass through too few ports. At this point, you can either completely overhaul your IT infrastructure to allow for more traffic, or you can change the features of your firewall so that more traffic can come and go as needed at the expense of greater risk. Neither of these is a good option for many companies, but there is an alternative: outsourcing your IT department altogether.
Finally, perhaps the most common sign that your firewall is hurting your business is a lack of effectiveness. Simply put, if computers continue to become infected or if employees continue to access websites that you thought you blocked, this is indicative of a serious issue – and one that can frustrate business owners who are not as familiar with network security as they should be. The best way to resolve this issue is to hire IT professionals to configure your firewall properly, but it can be expensive to add another person to the payroll. Outsourcing these tasks is far more cost-effective, and when you choose the right managed IT provider, you can feel confident that your configuration will always be correct.
Most companies don’t spend much time thinking about their firewalls until a serious problem arises. If you have noticed things like repeated malware or virus infections, a lack of network performance and employee productivity, or even problems with the configuration of your firewall, it is important to address them right away to protect the integrity of your company’s network.
Whether you’re just getting your business off the ground or you’re ready to make the transition to the digital world, there’s a lot that goes into building a network with the right infrastructure and security. In some cases, outsourcing your IT needs is the best course of action. Here are a few signs that you should consider outsourcing to a managed IT service provider.
It’s the digital age, and if your business is still dealing in pen and paper, it’s time to make the switch. The benefits associated with keeping your data digitally are innumerable, particularly when it comes to things like filing your taxes or even creating a marketing plan. Simply put, making the transition and giving your company an internet presence – and perhaps even utilizing the wonderful realm known as the cloud – will absolutely propel your business forward. In fact, failing to do so may leave you falling behind your competitors.
If something were to happen right now and all of your in-house records were suddenly destroyed, do you have a plan in place to keep your business running, or would your data be lost forever? In today’s day and age, this is a critical consideration and one that far too many small businesses have failed to take seriously. If you need help with data redundancy and disaster recovery, outsourcing your IT needs may be one of the best moves you could make.
Believe it or not, setting up and maintaining a network is a time consuming process and one that many business owners believe they can handle until they find themselves struggling to focus on core business competencies. Your ultimate goal should always be delivering products or services to your customers as efficiently as possible – and marketing your ability to do so, as well. If you find yourself falling behind because you are spending too much time dealing with network issues or maintenance, it’s time to consider outsourcing to a managed IT service provider.
When you ran your business by yourself from home, your IT needs weren’t very complicated. However, now that you’re starting to see the potential for growth, you should be considering the best ways to expand your network capabilities, as well. If you know that your IT needs are changing – or even if they will be changing in the future – contact a trusted managed IT service provider to find out how they can help you grow. These services are far more flexible and scalable than you might think, and the best part is that they are more affordable than ever before, too.
If you and your employees are spending more time sifting through emails and dealing with viruses than actually doing your jobs, this is a real problem. Junk email is a serious issue in business environments and opening the wrong one could have disastrous effects. Though you can absolutely install your own email filters and antivirus programs, it takes time to keep them updated, and it takes even more time to configure them properly. Fortunately, this is yet another area where managed IT service providers excel. They can help you manage your emails and your antivirus in the background so you can focus on your job.
If you are struggling to keep up with your company’s IT needs, you are falling behind with your business’s core competencies, or you simply want to make certain that your company’s future is in the hands of capable professionals, outsourcing your IT team may be your best option. You can even customize a service package that perfectly suits your company and grows right alongside it both now and in the future.
No matter the size of your company, having an appropriate IT budget is critical to your operations and ultimately your success. This involves first coming up with a budget that works for you and your company’s needs, then following that budget closely while ensuring you do everything you can to squeeze the most out of it. Below are five tips for doing just that.
Those new technologies you saw in a magazine or in an ad may look tempting, but it’s important to turn your focus back to the basics and take the time to understand what you really need. Sit down and make a list of your company’s priorities. Determine what you absolutely must have in terms of your infrastructure as opposed to what you would like to have at some point. Be sure to consider things like buying hardware, upgrading things as necessary, and keeping up with maintenance.
If you’ve never had your business network assessed for potential security issues, now is the perfect time to do it – and the sooner, the better. Network assessments are designed in such a way to figure out where your network is strong as well as where it is lacking. This can go a long way toward helping you prioritize what you absolutely have to have to keep your company’s data safe.
If you will be undertaking an IT project of any kind in order to get your network up to par, see if you can move funds around from one area to pay for a little extra IT help. What’s more, consider outsourcing your IT projects and consulting in order to save even more. Outsourcing may seem a little scary, but when you pick the right local company, it’s just like having your own employee on the payroll. They work with you very closely and truly get to know your business.
Don’t look for the cheapest solutions because like anything else, when it comes to IT, you often get exactly what you pay for. Instead, look for cost-effective solutions that provide you with the absolute best value for every dollar you spend. Outsourcing is often cost-effective, as is utilizing VoIP phone service as opposed to traditional landlines or even choosing hardware as a service rather than buying all your own equipment. These things can really give you the best bang for your buck in many situations.
Though it may seem impossible to spend money to make money when it comes to your company’s IT, there are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind. As an example, if you invested in cloud-based software that you really love, consider offering that same solution to your client. Though you may not make a lot of money, it could help you get more for what you’re already spending, and ultimately, this stretches your IT budget even more.
Getting the most out of your IT budget doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s all about understanding what your company’s priorities are, then finding ways to get the most value out of the budget that you have. To do this, manage your resources appropriately, schedule a network assessment so you can better understand your network issues, and then find the best and most cost-effective solutions to address those issues.
As a business owner, you’ve probably heard the term “managed IT” more times than you can count, but there’s still a good chance that you don’t know what it really means or even how expert managed IT can help your business succeed. Below, you can learn more about what managed IT really means – and what it could mean for your business, too.
By its very definition, the term “managed services” refers to a business offloading many of its operations to an outside provider. Instead of the business owner constantly monitoring and managing his or her network and the other IT systems driving his or her business, the managed service provider handles it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For small business owners without the ability to hire a dedicated IT team, or for those who have a need to maintain an IT infrastructure but who only have a few employees, managed IT services can be a huge boon.
Today’s businesses choose managed IT services for a wide variety of reasons, but ultimately, it has to do with a company’s need to have access to the latest technology in order to operate with any degree of efficiency. What’s more, companies that do not have access to the latest technology tend to fall behind their competitors; without modern IT, they simply cannot connect, collect data, and process data in such a way that allows them to maintain relevant in any industry at all.
Business owners also find themselves busy – incredibly busy – and unable to keep up with the routine maintenance that goes into IT. They forget to run backups as frequently as they should, and they may forget about downloading the latest security fixes and patches designed to keep their data (and their customers’ data) safe. As a result, these businesses are at risk of losing access to things like financial applications, email servers, and other things that are critical for everyday operations.
Finally, it is important for all business owners to remember that managed IT is not a classic “break-fix” service. This means that it is not a service you employ when something goes wrong; rather, it is a service you employ to prevent something from going wrong in the first place. In today’s connected world, losing your connection for even a few hours can lead to unrecoverable business issues. Rather than waiting for something to happen, then calling an IT professional to resolve it while your business suffers significant downtime, managed IT support is always there, always watching, and always protecting your data and your network.
With managed IT support, business owners can stop worrying about things like backups, security patches, and even the latest antivirus definitions. By offloading these operations to an outside company that specializes in IT infrastructure and security management, business owners can spend less time with these simple but time-consuming tasks and more time running their businesses the way they originally intended.
Network security in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. This means that every employee who has access to your company’s network must be well-versed in cybersecurity and understand all the risks out there on the world wide web. One of the absolute best ways to make sure your network is secure involves hosting short weekly meetings with your employees to discuss any problems, concerns, or tips you might have.
Hosting a weekly security meeting should accomplish one primary goal – ensuring that your employees understand today’s threats and that they have the tools they need to protect themselves and the company from attacks. Meetings should be short and to the point, and they should allow you to address any concerns you might have about email and/or network security with the people who access the network every day.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology, or NIST, has created a simple framework that businesses should use in order to facilitate network security. You can utilize this same framework during your short weekly meetings to ensure that everyone’s concerns are being address and your network is being protected. The steps include:
Weekly meetings are also ideal for discussing the implementation and efficacy of email security programs, which include managed anti-spam and more. You can use this time to gauge whether the actions you have taken to protect your employees and your business are effective by talking with the people who are affected the most – the employees themselves. These meetings are crucial for truly understanding the sort of problems your company faces every day, and they also give you ample opportunity to help your employees better understand the basics of cybersecurity and the impact their actions can have on the company as a whole.
In the long run, weekly internet security meetings can go a long way to help reduce your operating costs, boost productivity, decrease risk and potential downtime, and ultimately protect your most important assets from the criminals who work hard to access them. By incorporating these meetings alongside managed internet security support systems, it is possible to protect your company from spam, phishing, viruses, and ransomware.
Information technology is a huge industry these days. In fact, almost every single company in existence – from one with only one or two employees to one with thousands spread across the globe – relies on accurate information and a secure network in order to thrive. Before you hire an IT professional for your company, look for the following qualities and skills to ensure the perfect match.
Information technology is fraught with problems. Things simply stop working, networks go offline, and hardware decides to simply stop functioning properly. However, an IT professional should be able to not only remain calm when these types of failures occur, but he or she should also be able to preemptively plan for such things to prevent any disruption to your business. Any IT professional you hire should demonstrate outstanding problem-solving skills for this reason. Otherwise, you may find yourself dealing with far more downtime than you anticipated.
Keep in mind that IT professionals must be able to communicate issues with other departments, and failure to do so appropriately could lead to trouble. Maintenance is just a part of information technology, and that means rebooting servers, checking network health, and more. These things should always be done outside of peak hours, but it is still important for other people or departments to be aware of when they will happen. It is also crucial that your chosen IT professional can explain complex networking issues in such a way that people in other departments can understand them.
Some people have a love-hate relationship with technology, but for an IT professional, technology is life. These individuals not only appreciate everything technology has brought to the table over the last several decades, but they are also passionate about keeping up with new trends and technologies that could help your company thrive. Sometimes, a simple new technology is all it takes to help your company get a leg up on the competition, and this is far more likely when you choose an IT professional who is passionate about technology.
For the most part, when you hire an IT professional (whether in-house or remotely) you will not be able to supervise around the clock. For this reason, choose an IT professional who is a self-starter and who can work on projects alone without supervision. This is the very definition of “dependable”; someone you can rely on to get the job done even if you are unable to answer questions or provide guidance. When combined with all the other qualities above, this individual should be perfectly capable of making decisions in the best interest of your company, as well.
Hiring an IT professional can seem like a daunting task, and this is especially true if your own knowledge of IT is limited. However, whether you choose to hire someone in-house or outsource your IT needs to a company you can trust, these are all important qualities that you should look for. Ultimately, they can have a tremendous impact on your company’s success.
The effects of spam on small businesses are evident, and in some cases, they can be devastating. Fortunately, there are people on your side who want to help you avoid spam and all its risks. This is done through a service called “managed antispam,” which greatly reduces the risk of clicking a malicious link, propagating a virus, and more.
These days, the criminals developing and placing things like ransomware and other types of malicious code are not just targeting big business. In fact, they increasingly go after the smaller business owners who are much less prepared to deal with these threats and who are far more likely to pay a ransom out of desperation to access their data. Spam email is a very common source for ransomware, and with every passing year, the criminals developing it seem to get smarter and smarter. They make these emails look exactly like an invoice from a client or a bill from a service provider.
Managed antispam is designed to filter out many of the tens of trillions of spam mails sent out around the world every single year. It goes far beyond the “junk mail” filter built into most email clients and instead prevents the potentially malicious email from ever even reaching your company’s network. The goal is to prevent unwanted spam, viruses, code, and other unwanted emails from reaching a place where it can do harm – your network.
The benefits associated with managed antispam are many.
Aside from this, managed antispam indirectly protects your company’s most critical assets and information. Once some of this gets out into the world, there’s simply no recovering. By protecting yourself from spam before it ever reaches your network, you can better protect your company and help facilitate its success.
Most managed anti-spam is cloud based, and the good news is that it can be tailored specifically to your industry and company needs. No matter how small your company, and no matter how long it has been operating, it is absolutely critical that you take the time to protect your email accounts today.