Buying a computer for Christmas? Read this

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With Christmas around the corner – news from Industry analysts that more than half of next years computer sales will not be laptops or desktop computers

New research from digital consultancy Canalys suggests that tablet computers will make up more than 50 per cent of all computers sold in the world next year, and Android-based tablets are expected to outsell Apple iPads by a factor of two to one.

TabletGlobally, the worldwide computer market expanded by 18 per cent last year, even as sales of conventional desktop and laptop computers continued to decline. In relatively short order, tablets have grown to make up 40 per cent of all computer sales, a ratio that’s expected to tip over to the other side some time next year.

There will be around 285 million tablets sold around the world next year. That contrasts with an expected 192 million laptops and 98 million desktops. Canalys expects the tablet figure to grow even more, to 396 million by 2017, while the other two categories steady out.

Although Apple has lost its dominance in the tablet market it practically invented with the iPad, it nonetheless maintains the edge in profitability from the devices.

“Apple is one of the few companies making money from the tablet boom,” Canalys senior analyst Tim Coulling said. “Premium products attract high value consumers; for Apple, remaining highly profitable and driving revenue from its entire ecosystem is of greater importance than market share statistics.”

Outside of the big two, Canalys says Microsoft could be poised to make exponential gains from an admittedly small base. Microsoft made up about two per cent of all tablet sales in 2012. Canalys expects its sales to more than double to as much as five per cent by the end of next year.

“To improve its position it must drive app development and better utilize other relevant parts of its business to round out its mobile device ecosystem,” said Canalys research analyst Pin Chen Tang.

We are happy to maintain your Tablets too – contact Nigel at MBM for more.

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Before you use the Sledgehammer

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Have you found that your computer is running a little on the slow side recently? Been tempted to take a sledgehammer to it? Before you do that, you might want to see if we can help you!

Over time a PC will build up unwanted registry entries, unused programs and general clutter, which are the biggest contributing factors in reducing the speed at which systems run.

MBM_42Emails_Blog_smallTo help resolve these problems – and rescue you from the verge of insanity here are some tips for giving your computer a clean up to help it run more efficiently:

1. Review your programs

With so much free software available to download, it’s easy to start accumulating unwanted programs that you rarely use. We recommend that you review and uninstall any programs that you don’t use.

2. Clear out temporary files

When you visit a website, some files are saved to your computer to make it faster when visiting that site again.

3. Update anti-virus & anti-spyware software

If you’re using the internet or email we highly recommend that you have anti-virus, anti-spyware and malware software loaded onto your computer. It is important that you keep these updated and run them regularly.

4. Run Windows Update

It is important that you install the latest security updates otherwise you are open to hackers.

5. Duplication of information

If you save files to your computer to work on, plus you also have the same document saved as an attachment in an email, you’re doubling the amount of storage space taken up.

6. Add more hardware

There are many options available should you need more space.Typically you could install an external hard drive.

7. Compressing pictures

Digital pictures can take up vast amounts of storage space on your hard drive or memory card.

8. Upgrading RAM

If memory is a problem, your computer will be slow whenever you start a new application. Talk to your IT expert about installing more RAM

SOS9. Give your computer a physical clean inside and out!

lots of Products are available to do this but dust clogging cooling grills even your mouse will hinder performance.

We at MBM are happy to discuss your needs from one laptop to a hundred seats we can help you keep on top of your computer maintenance Contact MBM today.

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More staff in SMEs use cloud than their employers

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More staff in SME businesses are using cloud-based services to carry out their jobs independently of their employers’ IT department.

disksA survey of 500 SME IT professionals in the US and Europe carried out by Spiceworks found that 50% are doing so now compared to 33% in last year’s study.

File-sharing services are the least common with 24% of respondents having approved cloud-based systems, but 50% of employees are using these through their own volition.

“Web-savvy users have discovered cloud-based file storage, sharing, and synchronisation services to get around IT-owned systems. They’re accessing data, whether corporate or personal, on their own terms. IT departments are not blind to this phenomenon,” said the report.

The survey reported that 30% of companies who participated in the research plan to have a company approved cloud-based file sharing solution in the next six months.

Most staff (93%) who use unapproved cloud file sharing are running Dropbox.

When it comes to approved services, 40% of businesses will include Dropbox in their policy and 24% will include Google Apps.

The most common IT service to run in the cloud with company approval is email. The survey reported that 46% of the SMEs interviewed had approved the use of cloud-based email. This compared to 42% in last year’s study. Another 5% expect to move to a cloud-based service in the next six months.

According to the research, 67% of respondents said the main reason for using a cloud email system was to reduce the burden on IT staff. Just over half (52%) said cost savings was a reason.

NIgel_Mills_MBMCloud-based productivity suites such as Office 365 and Google Apps were used by 35% of the SME respondents compared to 14% last year. Over half (52%) said they will use these in the next six months.

When it comes to approved apps, 60% of businesses said employees are using Office 365 compared to 59% for Google Apps. But for unapproved usage 78% of businesses said employees are using Google Apps compared to 41% using Office 365.

Are you missing out ? Talk to us at Micro Business Maintenance

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How Legal is your Software?

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More than half of small businesses in the UK have either bought or downloaded illegal software – according to research conducted by the leading global advocate for the software industry.

According to Business Matters Website and Magazine – The BSA research, carried out by Vanson Bourne, polled decision makers with responsibility for purchasing software in 250 small businesses in the UK.

NIgel_Mills_MBMFor a sizeable proportion of these businesses, the way they bought or downloaded illegal software appeared to be pre-meditated. More than one in five admitted to using a software key generator for business purposes – a small programme that will generate an unauthorised but working registration key or serial number for a piece of software. It is typically used to create an illegal version of a software application.

And 70 per cent of those who have purchased OEM software not accompanied by the hardware did so more than once. The same applies to repeat downloads of normally-paid-for-software for free from torrent sites and warez sites, as well as normally paid-for software for free from other sites.

For others, the buying and downloading of illegal software appeared to be accidental. A significant amount took action to remedy the situation once they discovered they’d been duped into buying fraudulent software.

More than half of small businesses replaced the software with a legitimate copy whilst 10 per cent uninstalled the software and did not replace it. However, these actions suggest that in many cases these businesses had to pay twice; making illegal software a false economy; particularly for those downloading illegal software multiple times.

Michala Wardell, UK committee chair of BSA | The Software Alliance, comments: “The practice of downloading illegal software amongst small businesses is clearly widespread. The research suggests that a large number of UK businesses have an unclear understanding of what constitutes illegal software use, at best; and a blatant disrespect for copyright law and business ethics, at worse. It’s encouraging to see that many of these businesses have taken action to address the error, often at their own expense. But to avoid undue costs and security risks, businesses need to be more vigilant about where they buy their software from in the future. As things stand, too many small businesses are exposing themselves to unnecessary hazards.”

The study reveals an irresponsible attitude to software management. Fifty four per cent of small businesses don’t have procurement records for all of the software their organisation uses. And yet the average cost for software is approximately £17,000 per business, to perform vital tasks.

disksHandley Brustad, Trading Standards Institute Joint Lead Officer Intellectual Property said: “The BSA research confirms our suspicions that while some small businesses are knowingly and opportunistically downloading illegal goods, a significant proportion of companies are being fooled into buying illegal software. It’s easy to assume that if a website is easily searchable online, the software is genuine. In many cases, it might seem easier to just press download, than ask too many questions. Unfortunately, the opposite is the case. Small businesses are leaving themselves open to security threats, liability claims and more. While we strive to bring down dishonest traders, we rely upon businesses to take proper precautions when purchasing their software. “

Can you afford to be using unlicenced or illegal software?  Talk to us about a software audit – it could just save your business in more ways than one. Why not consider Cloud computing and ensure all your software is legitimate?

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Numbers of 3D Printers will double in the next Two Years

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Sales of 3D printers are set to double in the next two years, according to Gartner. Computer weekly reports.

Gartner has released a report claiming shipments of the consumer and enterprise level products – valued at up to $100,000 – would grow by 49% in 2013 to over 56,000.
3Dprinting_2.jpg

disksHowever, this figure would be dwarfed by a 75% growth in 2014 – with unit shipments just shy of 100,000 – and a doubling of sales by 2015.

“The 3D printer market has reached its inflection point,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.

“While still a nascent market, with hype outpacing the technical realities, the speed of development and rise in buyer interest are pressing hardware, software and service providers to offer easier-to-use tools and materials that produce consistently high-quality results.”

The revenue from the sales is expected to reach $412m in 2013 – up from $288m 2012 – with most coming from the enterprise sector ($325m).

This spending will increase to $669m in 2014 but will remain primarily a target of businesses, with $536m coming from enterprise and $133m from consumers.

“As the products rapidly mature, organisations will increasingly exploit 3D printing’s potential in their laboratory, product development and manufacturing operations,” added Basiliere.

“In the next 18 months, we foresee consumers moving from being curious about the technology to finding reasons to justify purchases as price points, applications and functionality become more attractive.”

Gartner claimed 3D printing would have a major effect on consumer products and manufacturing. However, it also believed industries such as construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities would feel some impact from the technology.

“Most businesses are only now beginning to fully comprehend all of the ways in which a 3D printer can be cost-effectively used in their organisations, from prototyping and product development to fixtures and moulds that are used to manufacture or assemble an item to drive finished goods,” said Basiliere.

“Now that many people in the organisation, not only the engineering and manufacturing department managers but also senior corporate management, marketing management and others, have heard the hype, they want to know when the business will have a 3D printer.”

As the popularity of 3D printers increases, Gartner predicts the price will drop and at least seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will be selling them by 2015.

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Why you should work in the Cloud

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You may have heard about using cloud technology but why should you use it ? – The main advantage is flexibility and cost. A cloud service is pay as you go so you don’t have to make capital investments into your own IT set-up. For example, rather than pay NIgel_Mills_MBMthousands of pounds  purchasing the hardware, software and expertise to set up your own Exchange Server you can pay a per user per month fee to purchase it as a cloud service. There is also flexibility to increase and decrease the number of users when required.

There are drawbacks – Sure Cloud computing is an option for your IT but certainly not the be all and end all. Firstly, if you have a cloud service then you are very reliant of your internet connection. If you lose internet connection you lose access to your service. Secondly, cost needs to be closely monitored. You are effectively renting someone else’s IT infrastructure and it isn’t always cheaper in the long run. Make sure you do the maths. We are happy to work with you on that.

In summary – Cloud computing is a welcome addition to the IT landscape. It gives another option with a “pay as you go” payment plan. Its quick to implement, flexible and can lower IT costs but make sure you do your homework We at MBM are happy to help and can put a cost-effective solution in place. Give us a call for a no Obligation chat.

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Busy time as local company upgrades and when did you last back-up?

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Its been a busy week or so at Micro Business Machines but we wouldn’t have it any other way !

Microsoft as ever moves on and a local company has taken the step to upgrade 33 machines to Windows 7 from Windows XP Pro. This has involved our engineers being on site at every stage of the process. Migration from XP pro was vital to our client as support for the product ends in April 2014. That date will soon come around – if you are still running XP please contact us to discuss the options available to you. Don’t leave it too late to plan your IT future!

MBM_42Emails_Blog_smallOn the other end of the scale we have cleaned up two Laptops  heavily infected  with viruses and successfully restored the data on those machines. The biggest issue that these problems highlighted was the lack of data backup. Had we not have been able to save the data then much of the work if not all would have been lost.

So what options do you have on Data back-up ?

The very least you should have in place is a copy of you files on some separate source – typically a hard drive stored separately from your laptop but that relies on you remembering to adhere to a strict back-up routine and removing the back-up source to a safe place. There are many options when it comes to cloud options – storing your work securely on the internet. A back-up solution can be put in place to automatically so no need to remember ! This solution will work from one to hundreds of machines and is available now.

And if you do nothing ?

So, please take a minute to think about how long your backup would take to restore and then consider if you can afford to be down for that long.

If you want an IT continuity solution that will get you working again in hours rather than days, please call us on 01902 324494 to discuss your requirements.

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Windows 8 Tip of the Month – File History

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File History

A personal favourite of ours, File History in Windows 8 can automatically back up older versions of your files so that you can restore them on demand. The feature isn’t enabled by default, so you’ll need to open up the System and Security screen in Control Panel to turn it on.

Windows 8 File History control panel

To get started, you’ll need a second hard drive—internal, external, or networked—to save your file version history. Then, proceed into Advanced settings, to set up how often you would like the system to back up your files and how long the system should keep those files.

Windows 8 File History Advanced settings control panel

Once set up, File History works automatically and can prove to be a lifesaver if you accidentally “misplace” an important personal or business file. File History will also sit quietly until it is connected to the drive you selected. Finally, recovery is easy. Just choose the desired restore point from a large list of saved options.

(Thanks to Microsoft for the information.)

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FLOOD DOESN’T STOP PRINT PRESSES THANKS TO MBM

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A local printing company had a shock when their roof caved in following last years heavy downpour that hit the Midlands. But lion-logothanks to their IT Disaster Recovery plan with Micro-Business Maintenance, operations were able to continue practically unaffected.

The Four Ashes office of The Lion FPG Ltd suffered when their roof couldn’t cope with the torrential rain that occurred over a very short period of time. Water came through the ceiling affecting their design studio, sales office and parts of their printing factory. Some of their IT equipment such as PCs and printers were damaged with water and wet plaster.

Ian Gillespie, managing director at The Lion FPG Ltd, explained: “It all happened so quickly. One minute we were working away, and the next the ceiling started to come down. We evacuated the design studio and sales office and when we saw the extent of the damage to our IT systems immediately called MBM.”

MBM was on-site in 30 minutes to assess the damage and provide spare IT equipment so the company could carry on working.

The Lion FPG Ltd has three offices across the Midlands and MBM provides them with computer support, a hosted service – allowing staff to access IT systems from anywhere via an internet connection – and IT Disaster Recovery.

NIgel_Mills_MBMNigel Mills, managing director at MBM, said: “Lion FPG was lucky. They had the right IT support in place to cope with an event like this. But we know there are many businesses,
of all shapes and sizes, who don’t have this back up in place.”

If you’re interested in:

Computer support (link to http://www.mbmltd.co.uk/Computer-Maintenance.aspx)

Hosted services (link to http://www.mbmltd.co.uk/Network-Management.aspx)

IT Disaster Recovery (link to http://www.mbmltd.co.uk/IT-Continuity.aspx)

 

Call us on 01902 32 44 94 or visit www.mbmltd.co.uk for more information.

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We all grumble about email, but what if you couldn’t access it for 4 days?

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‘Great, I could get on with some work’ a lot of business leaders might say. Most business people receive on average 42 emails in MBM_42Emails_Blog_smalltheir inbox everyday, and for many it can run into hundreds.

And while many of these admittedly can be junk mail it’s likely that unless you run a totally automated online business, email is the vital conduit that ensures your business runs smoothly.

Imagine then the chaos that would ensue if you and your team/s were with out access to business emails, not for just one day but for up to four working days. This would impact every part of the organisation, from new business, scheduling, order processing, delivery – everything. To make matters worse most businesses using Microsoft Outlook would also suffer the knock on effect of using integrated calendars, a problem exacerbated once networks of staff all sharing calendars are involved.

The four horsemen of the I.T. apocalypse

That is likely to be the real outcome of any one of a number of disasters that can befall an organisation –

  • Flooding is more common than ever before with 2012 now the second wettest year on record
  • Theft is on the increase due to a tougher economic climate
  • Hardware crashes can occur, even to relatively new equipment
  • Fire can never be ruled out
  • Virus attacks are on the increase due to the rise of mobile and tablet technology

Jason Timmins, Micro-Business Maintenance technical director, said:

Too many business owners think IT disasters won’t happen to them. If their computers or server gets stolen or damaged they’ll just quickly replace them. But they fail to appreciate how long it can actually take to install the operating system and the software onto new hardware, install a new data server with all the patches and security updates, and restore data from any backups. And during that period how many enquiries may be lost, sales unable to be fulfilled, or staff unable to access files and use email? But with the right Disaster Recovery / I.T. Continuity solution in place this process can take a few hours. If you’ve ever had a computer problem at home and tried to fix it, imagine it ten-fold at work!”

So as we plan the year ahead, cast an eye across your email inbox, then consider that the average daily cost of Disaster Recovery Support* equates to the same amount spent on typical daily business costs such as a pack of printer paper or a Skinny Latte and Ham Panini for lunch!.

Free Disaster Recovery ‘second opinion’

Why not put us to the test and book a free ‘Disaster Recovery second opinion’ from MBM for us to review the security of your I.T. ? For more information email Jason Timmins, Technical Director at jason@mbmltd.co.uk, visit www.mbmltd.co.uk/DisasterRecovery or contact us on 01902 324494

*Based on supporting one server

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