Still using XP – Time is running out

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You will have heard much about the demise of Windows XP As we never tire of telling you Microsoft are withdrawing support for XP on 8th April and you need to act NOW to protect your data. To put it in frank terms if you do not act and are still using either of these Microsoft products, read on, and pay careful attention! – Official line from Microsoft is:

disksAfter April 8, 2014, there will be no new security updates, non-security hotfixes, free or paid assisted support options or online technical content updates.

Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.
Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support: A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests “many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP in 2011; in 2012, it will become common.” And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: Gartner Research further notes that in 2012, most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.

Get current with Windows and Office. This option has upside well beyond keeping you supported. It offers more flexibility to empower employees to be more productive, while increasing operational efficiency through improved PC security and management. It also enables your organization to take advantage of latest technology trends such as virtualization and the cloud.

officeCertain stand alone systems that never access the internet may still be fine If you’re unsure about how an upgrade to Office would affect your company, contact us here at Micro Business Machines. We can help you to assess which option is right for your business, and guide you through the upgrade.

Micro Business Machine are the Office 365 Experts

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Three Reasons why you should use an IT Support Company

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As a small business, your resources are undoubtedly limited. Many small businesses attempt to make due with an in-house IT person, however, this arrangement rarely works out for long. There are many reasons businesses have begun opting for IT support services instead of keeping an IT person on staff.

1: Managing costs

Payroll is probably one of your biggest expenses, if not the biggest. Keeping an IT professional on staff may not be cost-effective because that person’s salary is most likely much higher than the salaries of your other employees. Even larger corporations have discovered the value of outsourcing their IT needs to save money in this area. You’ll find that you’re able to save a great deal of money in your budget by only paying for IT support when you need it, as opposed to keeping someone on staff strictly for that purpose.

2: Freeing up your resources

Once you make the switch to outsourcing, you’re going to find that a great deal of your financial resources are freed up, and able to be utilised in other areas of your business. This money can be used to expand your business, offer a new product, or even build upon your current facility. Regardless of where you redirect those funds, you can find ways of better using them to help grow your business.

3: Focus on your business

In addition to the money you’ll save by outsourcing your IT support needs, you’ll also find that you’re able to focus on your business even more. Even with an IT professional on staff, when you’re handling your own IT in-house, it takes up a great deal of your time and energy.

SOSAccording to Heidi Murphy, a blogger for the Huffington Post, “When you’re handling all of your IT support internally, your focus is often divided by a bunch of different technical priorities to keep your site, product and/or application up and running. Outsourcing IT lets you focus on what matters: growing and supporting your business – not troubleshooting software, hardware and user issues.”

Above all, managing your own IT in-house is a lot of hard work and expenses that you don’t have to have. If you’re looking for an IT solution that will allow you to save money and grow your business, we can help. Contact us for more information.

Like to take it a stage further ? Speak to Micro Business Machines without obligation

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Top SME technical trends 2014

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As we look ahead to 2014 – We are endebted to for highlighting top trends in the year to come many of which MBM have highlighted recently. Our two big tips are the big push on Windows 365 and adoption of more cloud based solutions. We are here to discuss any query you may have in these areas.

disksChange is the only constant. In the tech world, there is constant evolution as digtal technology and communication goes faster, better and smarter, all at a rapid pace. The best way to stay ahead of the curve is to anticipate what’s coming, and then to act accordingly.

Here we outline the top six technological trends that may be relevant for SMEs come 2014.

1. Digital is A Must-Have

According to Forrester, “A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.” Simply translated, SMEs will have to go digital if they are to remain competitive as customers interact more with businesses through digital engagement. This also puts emphasis on user experience (UX), focusing on the way users feel and behave as they interact with online platforms.

2. The Internet of Everything

At the recent Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2013, where analysts highlighted the top tech industry trends going forward, there was an emphasis on the Internet expanding beyond just computers and mobile devices.

Instead, the Internet is expanding to everything—cars, televisions, etc. As technology moves towards this, Gartner has identified four basic usage models (Manage, Monetise, Operate and Extend) that can be applied to things, information, places and people, therefore being dubbed the “Internet of Everything”. This is inevitable, and SMEs are in a position to remain flexible so as to learn and adapt to advances quickly and effectively in order to harness the Internet in new ways.

3. Wearable Devices Are Everywhere

Google Glass and Samsung’s Smartwatch are just the tip of the iceberg as tech companies debut an increasing number of wearable technology devices in 2014, according to Juniper Research firm.

As technology becomes more pervasive in the lives of consumers, SMEs must study how the market changes as a result, before changing their own marketing strategies. SMEs must also be on the lookout for marketing opportunities related to wearable technology and innovate for this new-found technology trend.

4. The Cloud Gets Huge

Cloud services will be huge in 2014, resulting in an increase in data storage. In fact, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC), cloud services will grow by 25% to surpass $100 billion. The reason for the huge growth is that Cloud services offers SMEs a chance to have more efficient and cost-effective ways of running your businesses. SMEs should consider moving infrastructure and/or software to the cost- and data-effective cloud. SMEs should consider Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud solutions: for example, myBusiness offers a range of cloud-hosted software apps in areas such as HR and office communications. Using a SaaS service saves on traditional outlay costs such as servers and having a dedicated IT team for software and hardware deployment.

NIgel_Mills_MBM5. Security, Trust & Identity

“Consumerisation” of technology is taking place at an increasing pace, as the internet – and the way technology is used – sees new and advanced ways of permeating our lives and changing the way we live. Internet banking is becoming the norm and there are constantly new e-commerce ventures such as using NFC for payments. Digital wallets will be more prevalent in 2014. As such there will therefore be a need for all business to rethink security, trust and identity to ensure that both business and customer data are kept safe.

6. 3D Printing Takes Off In a Big Way

3D printing is expected to see a big jump, with 3D printers expected to grow exponentially worldwide from 2014 through to 2015. As more companies look to 3D printers a tool in manufacturing design and solutions, SMEs too can leverage this opportunity by working on better product designs and rapid protoyping with the aid of 3D printing.

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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.

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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