For any business, their reputation depends on how their customers feel about them. 

A business that routinely mistreats or takes advantage of its customers is not going to be around for very long. A business that always goes out of its way to help will see the benefits, and this is often much more than just a single satisfied customer.

In order to encourage potential customers to use an online repair service, the business has to outline the factors that make it the right route to choose. Once a potential customer sees the benefits and ease of online repair, they will feel more comfortable about using the service and, if the job satisfies, trust the business and become a regular patron.

Fostering Great Customer Relationships

Good relationships with customers mean a good reputation and word of mouth. Treating customers properly and always doing the best for them translates to more customers, more business and, ultimately, a more successful business.

Convenience

One of the core reasons that online computer repair appeals is because of the convenience that it offers. Transporting a computer, especially a desktop PC, is not an easy task. 

Instead of having to move a desk or workstation around, unplug everything and carry a monitor and tower to a car, the customer does not have to do anything except walk an online technician through the problem and hand it off for repair. This kind of convenience is something that most people treasure and will gladly share the word of such service. Even if the computer is a laptop and not a PC, the benefit of repair straight to the home or office is a real time saver. 

Larger businesses, which might require rolling maintenance on their employee’s computers to free space and keep everything running as fast as possible, also appreciate this kind of non-invasive service. A big business does not really want IT technicians moving from workstation to workstation, taking time and space away from business functions. An online service, unintrusive and convenient, is every business’s dream. 

  • Transporting a computer can be a real hassle.
  • With online maintenance, the customer stays where they are and the service comes to them.
  • Larger businesses, which do not want disruption, greatly appreciate convenient and unintrusive service.

Service Quality

Hiring off-site employees is becoming more and more popular across all businesses and industries. It allows businesses to hire the best workers from around the world, whilst keeping operations lean and competitive. 

Anyone making use of an online computer maintenance service is benefitting from this. Depending on the size and location of an office or home, there are no guarantees that there will be a computer repair service of real quality within a reasonable distance. For those working in remote locations, or those in areas that simply lack quality computer maintenance, going online is the answer. 

  • Some people in remote areas may not have access to computer repair or maintenance.
  • An online maintenance service can hire the best employees from around the world, bringing their expertise right to the customer.

Pricing

When a computer breaks, the price of repair is often one of the major worries. Unscrupulous repair shops, which may overcharge or claim fixing non-existent problems, can understandably make people wary. 

An online service, however, that has a defined price structure instantly puts customers at ease. In computer maintenance and repair, the question of price is very often vague and customers appreciate knowing what service they will receive for a set price.

Many online maintenance services have price plans to suit different levels of users. For example, a rolling maintenance contract price for a business or one off-fees for general maintenance, virus removal, and so on. A flexible and upfront service is a great way to make customers happy. 

  • Overcharging or fixing non-existent issues can often be a problem with computer repair services.
  • An online service, with defined plans and prices, puts customers at ease.
  • Customers appreciate knowing exactly what they are getting for a set price.

Keep the Customer Informed

A customer’s computer is a very personal thing. Even office machines may contain personal emails or documents. It is important that the customer feels secure and informed about the repairs to their computer.

When a customer allows an online technician access to their computer, they need to know what the technician is going to do and what parts of their computer they will be looking at. 

Keeping the customer abreast of exactly what is happening and the potential fixes the technician is applying will ensure they feel informed and avoid anxiety about having a stranger poking around inside their computer. 

This requires clear and friendly communication from the technician. Successfully ensuring that the customer feels informed and secure is a sure-fire way of making sure they will trust the business with their computer again in the future. 

A friendly, communicative demeanour is just as important in growing the business as class-leading repairs.

  • It is an uncomfortable experience for a customer having someone else use their computer.
  • Friendly, informed communication significantly helps to offset this. 
  • Making a customer feel informed and comfortable is just as important as the repair itself. 

When it comes to online computer maintenance, the main issue is trust. In order to hand over a very important part of work and personal life to a maintenance business, the customer needs to trust them implicitly. 

This trust comes from providing a well-priced and comprehensive service. Ensuring that the customer remains informed and in the loop – whether they are an individual or large business, is key. 

If a customer feels informed and receives great service, then they are very likely to spread the word. With so many sub-par online maintenance businesses out there, there is a lot of room for success using the right approach. 

 

 

Computers, as powerful as they are, rely on a single, relatively fragile connection to electricity. Take this away and a desktop computer becomes little more than a very expensive paperweight. The majority of office infrastructure – printers, servers, lighting and others rely on the same source. Without electricity, only phone lines remain and, depending on the type of telephone system in operation, these too could become useless in a power cut. 

Since computers and the Internet have become central pillars of everyday life, both in the office and at home. However, with placing so much reliance and importance on computers comes significant risk, unless you run UPS. Uninterruptible power supplies, as their name suggests, offer protection against power cuts and power surges. 

Interested? Read on for just how an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) works and why the risks of not making use of them. 

How Does a UPS Work?

In order to know the benefits of UPS, we first need to examine how they work and how they offset potentially problematic power problems. 

Everyone has had the experience of being in the office and the lights dim or flicker for a second. This is because, unknown to many people, electricity levels do not remain at a steady 230 volts but is actually always fluctuating. When lights dim, the fluctuation is greater than normal, causing noticeable effects. 

The same is true for a power cut. Some might assume that a power cut might mean a lack of power and, sometimes, that is true. However, the opposite is also sometimes the cause – too much electricity than the grid can accommodate can cause large surges in power, which then shuts down the entire grid. A UPS can help protect against both of these problems. 

A UPS plugs into a mains supply like any other appliance. The UPS has several sockets for whatever vital devices must remain powered – PCs, printers, VoIP telephones, which it will keep powered in the event of a brownout or blackout. 

Inside of the UPS is a battery that charges from the mains and goes into use when required. If there is a drop in voltage, the UPS will automatically register it and use the battery to compensate, keeping power supply within the right range. 

  • Power levels are always fluctuating and a UPS protects against brownouts, blackouts, dips and surges.
  • Plugs into the mains and has several sockets for vital devices. 
  • A battery inside charges and can regulate or assume the power load entirely, keeping things running until normal power resumes. 

How a UPS Helps

As seen above, electricity supply problems – whether it is too much or too little can have a big impact on any business, taking away the ability to perform vital tasks. 

A UPS can help keep a business running even in a total blackout and, if power problems go on for a long time, can help ensure that important business infrastructure and date remain safe and undamaged. 

Shutdowns

Even forcefully shutting down a single computer forcefully can do great damage, leading to an appearance by the dreaded blue screen and a call to IT. 

The impact of a sudden shutdown on an entire network – computers and servers, in a matter of seconds could prove utterly disastrous. Computers and servers have shutdown procedures for a reason and a blackout could mean a very long, hard road to get back to full capabilities.

In the event of a blackout, a UPS can make sure that sudden, brutal shutdowns do not occur. Even if the UPS does not have enough battery power to keep, say, a server running long-term, it can ensure that the server shuts down properly. Once power comes back, it is then a simple matter of turning it back on. In this simple act, the UPS has already saved countless hours of IT grind and helps the business get up and running quickly. 

  • Immediate shutdowns can be disastrous for computers and servers.
  • Even if it does not have enough battery capacity to power a device, such as a server, long-term, then a UPS can ensure smooth, loss-free shutdown. 
  • Can save hours of IT work and the business need not be offline for long.

Burnouts, Surges and Spikes

As well as electricity shortages, a surge of power on a grid can be just as, if not more, destructive. 

A surge can come from different sources. A lightning strike is perhaps what most people think of as responsible, but this is actually the least common cause of a surge. It is more likely, for example, a sudden upswing in the number of high-power devices can cause significant surges – think of summer and air conditioning units. Other causes are downed power lines or a downed transformer. 

A surge might sometimes be significant and cause immediate damage to things like computer components and plugs, but gradual surges over time can take a very real toll as well. 

Like a surge but only lasting for milliseconds, a spike is a large increase in power for a very brief amount of time. If a computer is undertaking something like writing to a hard drive then a spike can severely affect the process and lead to deeper problems. 

A UPS, by constantly regulating power and keeping it within the right ranges, burnouts, surges and spikes become virtual non-factors. 

  • Power surges can be just as bad as shortages.
  • Surges and Spikes can cause significant damage and disruption.
  • A UPS can eliminate spikes and surges and the problems that go with them. 

mobile-devices.png

BYOD (Bring-your-own-device) policies are becoming more and more widespread in businesses of every size and type.

Some companies, however, might have concerns. These could be over how to keep data secure; the possibility of viruses and malware finding their way on to business computer systems; or even worries about productivity as employees use their own devices.

Introducing personally owned devices – smartphones, laptops and tablets being the main ones, into the workplace can provide a number of positive benefits to the business and may, in time, boost productivity and save the company money. 

BYOD Offers Flexibility

With the seemingly unstoppable rise of smart phones and tablets has come the ability to perform any number of tasks right from the user’s device.

Connectivity across a number of platforms – text, email, voice, and video enables the user massive amounts of connectivity and flexibility, no matter where they are or what time it is. The relatively small size of tablets, able to fit inside a satchel or briefcase and consuming no more space than a book, makes for great portability when on the move. 

However, in spite of all of the benefits of tablets and smartphones, there are still certain tasks in which they do not excel.

For example, creating and typing a large word document is not easy on tablet, with a smart phone providing an even bigger challenge. Tasks involving large amounts of data input or management are simply better suited to a PC.

This is the key to a BYOD policy – there will always be a mixture between worker’s own devices and laptops or PCs. Success comes from recognising that it is not a case of ‘one or the other’, and offering flexibility to workers so that they can use the tools they need in any given circumstance.

·       BYOD offers connectivity across a number of platforms whilst on the move

·       Personal devices offer convenience and flexibility

·       The best BYOD policies understand that workers need the best tools for the task at hand

·       BYOD is not a case of ‘One or the other’ – work and personal devices can happily co-exist

A Clear Policy Helps

A BYOD policy can vary greatly from business to business, as there are any number of factors that inform policy.

What is essential is that the rules around BYOD are clear and informative. There should not be any doubts about which devices are acceptable to use and which are not. Similarly, if certain members of the business use their own devices, then there should be clear guidelines about why. 

Something that every business should do to create a good, concise policy is consult various areas of the business. This should obviously include IT and including Human Resources and Finance is a good idea. Talking to various departments and understanding the impact on every part of the business will lead to a tailored, thought-out policy, rather than a policy that ends up costing the business more than it gains. 

·       There are many factors to creating a good, workable BYOD policy

·       Guidelines about usage need clear definition and reasoning

·       Consulting every part of the business will mean a cohesive, sensible policy

Controlling BYOD Is Not Hard

Many IT departments worry that instituting a BYOD policy will lead to anarchy. They might have legitimate concerns about how to manage and secure rafts of different devices, without even going into protecting business and customer data. 

However, by laying out a clear strategy of implementation and management, do’s and do not’s, there is no reason that an IT department cannot manage worker’s devices and keep them safe. By using a few different measures, a business can gain all the benefits of BYOD and offset the majority of the worrisome drawbacks. What’s more, IT departments can feel the benefits of BYOD in a number of ways.

Enterprise mobility management, for example, enables the business to secure mobile devices – be they smart phones or tablets and the information they access.

For instance, control the security and management of applications for users, which could involve passwords or encryption when users deal with sensitive business data. Another possibility is remote wipe technology, which puts the power to delete data on a remote device in the hands of the business. This is ideal if a user has taken or lost important data. 

Middleware can also put the ability to communicate and perform administration on multiple devices wherever they may be. With this kind of software, an IT department does not have to communicate with each device individually and can manage devices in batches, as they would a computer network.

In addition, if a business does not feel secure with third-party apps potentially having access to their servers, mobile web apps are the answer. These are applications stored on the business’s secure servers that users access via robust security measures.

·       Securing multiple devices is not the huge task that many businesses think it is.

·       Enterprise mobility management gives the business the power to secure devices that deal with business data

·       Middleware allow the business to communicate with multiple devices at once, rather than dealing with each one individually

·       Mobile web apps, hosted on the business servers, ensure secure, controlled access

 

*

Increased popularity and power is only going to lead to more and more BYOD work, and will continue to change how people and businesses work together. 


The best policies will ensure the security of data, but also that employees have the flexibility and opportunity to use the right tools for the job at hand. 

 

Data is important. Whether it is personal – this could mean photographs, family records, or business which could cover tax paperwork, invoices and records of customer details, it can be hard to know how to store data as safely as possible, and how long to keep certain back-ups for.

Retaining data does not just mean keeping it safe, but ensuring that it is accessible at a future point, when needed.  Whilst there are many different back-up options available, it is true that there is no such thing as a storage solution that will last forever.

Today, we look in-depth at the best ways to keep backed-up data secure and available, and how to create a simple and workable model for determining the lifespan of back-ups. 

Spread out the Data

It is never a wise move to keep all of your eggs in one basket, and this is especially true with data retention and back-ups.

The reason for backing-up important data, whether it is personal or professional, is to ensure access in the event of a worst-case scenario, usually a computer or network meltdown. As the backed-up data is so important, it is key to ensure that there are back-ups to the back-up. If something can go wrong with the original data, then it can go wrong with the back-up. Having access to multiple copies is the key, then. 

When data is precious, spread it across a number of platforms.

Use the Cloud

The Cloud is growing every day, with individuals and businesses alike flocking to make use of the storage and accessibility options of a service that does not consume on-site resources.

Dropbox and Amazon S3 are probably the best-known cloud services, but they are just two amongst many. When storing important back-ups, it is the best idea to go with a service that is reputable and has a decent history behind it. Some services may establish and fold in a very short amount of time, disappearing with whatever data they hold.

Dropbox and Amazon S3 both have basic, free accounts. Dropbox gives the user 2 GB of free space to use as they choose; whilst the Amazon S3 free account allows the user up to 5 GB of space. Both services have different paid-for tiers, which differ in their inward and outward data transfer allowances. 

External Hard-Drives

An external USB hard-drive is the ideal solution for a contained, portable back-up. 

Depending on the size of the backed-up data, a decent size hard-drive could accommodate a large amount of data. Moreover, once the back-up is done, put the drive somewhere safe and it has on it a perfect snapshot of what data was uploaded and when. 

The drawback with hard-drive storage is that it is static. Once done, the data is only accessible by attaching it to a computer and opening it up. Unlike Cloud storage where, barring a large network failure, the back-up is always within reach.

Back-Up to Another Computer

Specialised Cloud back-up services such as IDrive, justcloud, and many others enable the back-up of data from one user to another, via the synching of multiple computers to a single account. 

This ensures that other, trusted parties have access to the back-up data, with the ability to copy it in pieces or entirely if they need.

This is a good solution to ensure that not all backed-up data relies on the access of a single user. In the event of an emergency, and that person is unavailable or unable to access the back-ups, then it is the same as not having it. For those looking to preserve or share family photographs and videos, this is a great solution. For those backing-up business data, an addition trusted user or two with access is always advisable.

At a Glance:

·       Spread back-ups across as many platforms as possible. This does much to eliminate the risk of losing data

·       The Cloud – services such as Dropbox and Amazon S3, offer free, off-site storage. This means there is always a remote source for important back-ups.

·       USB hard-drives offer a static, contained way to store back-ups. However, hard-drives do not offer quick access and could become lost

·       Services like IDrive and justcloud offer specialised cloud back-up services. Multiple users can access an account for important data and back-ups.

How Long to Keep a Back-up for

Knowing how long to retain backed-up data for varies and depends on a few different things. 

Firstly, business data dealing with projects or internal matters have no prescribed time limit on them. The business must decide for itself on a policy of data movement and retention. The best approach is to determine and implement a plan for the flow of data through the business, with different processes for different kinds of data. A simple flow might go like this:

·       The Computer: The origin point of the data

·       Once it has served its purpose, it moves on to to its primary back-up location – a folder on the cloud or local server. Data only rests here for one month before deletion. This ensures that the primary back-up location does not become overly full

·       At the same time as creating a back- up for the primary location, a copy of the data goes to the second back-up location – this could be a mobile hard-drive.

This simple example illustrates how a business can keep the flow of data and back-ups efficient and regulated.

When it comes to retaining personal data – details of customer names, addresses and other personal details, the Information Commissioner’s Office has detailed guidance on the different factors that affect keeping this data.

When it comes to tax information and resources, the HMRC recommends keeping data for a year from the time of filing tax returns. Some businesses, however, might keep this in formation for much longer, as it provides important information and once gone, is gone forever.

We’re aware that we’d been posting a lot about help for Mac users but what about Windows?  Today, we’re looking into helping Windows users with 4 DIY repairs you CAN do yourself, what’s ok to do and more importantly when to leave it alone and call in the professionals!

DIY Computer Repairs

Some problems, whilst appearing catastrophic, are treatable with a little research and a few minutes of work. Others, however, can be well beyond the capabilities of most computer users. So it pays to know when to do a little DIY. Have a look at some of the commonly occurring problems that a computer user can take care of, and which ones really need an expert’s touch.

Back-Up Before Doing Anything

If a computer is displaying odd or glitch behaviour, the first thing to do is find your important data and back it up.

This safeguards vital files against the worst possible scenario – the computer dies and takes all of your data with it. This could mean precious photographs, work documents, and any other number of important files. In the modern world, a good portion of a person’s life resides on their computer, so it is very important to make it safe.

The second reason for backing-up is to protect against the possibility that attempted repair might make the problem worse. Even those with a good knowledge of computers and repairs can make mistakes.

It is always a good idea to assume the worst and plan accordingly.

Malware and Viruses

Viruses are something that gets a lot of attention in the media. They are something that most people are aware of, but may not fully understand. They are a quick and easy way to illustrate the potential dangers of the internet and make for a provocative story.

When in the middle of casually browsing the internet, a virus or malware warning – red, maybe accompanied with a scary alarm, if you are lucky, however usually it sneaks in and gets to work silently, and you are none the wiser until things start going wrong.

Keeping an anti virus program up to date and scanning regularly should take care of these and there are many measures to cleanse a computer of an infection, with many freely available.

Three FREE solutions

Microsoft Security Essentials is the software that Windows provides free of charge. Other great free programs includeAvast and Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. Malwarebytes, for example, enables the user to select the ‘depth’ of the scan. It will do a quick scan or a deep scan. For a suspected virus or malware infection, it is ideal to go with a deep scan, which can reveal most infections and will automatically quarantine them.

Some viruses may burrow deep into the computer and are more troublesome to remove. A good plan of attack in this case is to start the computer in Safe Mode. This prevents Windows from booting any third-party software on start-up, and this includes a virus or malware.

To start in safe mode, follow these simple steps:  

  • Whilst the computer is booting, press F8.
  • This will bring up the Boot Menu.
  • Select Safe Mode and press Enter
  • Once in the Safe Mode, run the Virus scanner
  • Re-installing Windows

If your computer has gone very awry, reinstalling the operating system may be the only solution. Whilst this is a big step, it is not a very difficult process.

Depending on the severity of the problem and what the computer’s owner wants, there are varying levels of a Windows re-install. Some will keep programs and data remain in place, but the operating system gets a ‘spring clean’. The other option is a total clean slate – no programs, no files, just a shiny new install.

A repair installation is the former. It will install a fresh copy of windows over the old copy and, hopefully, remove any problems there were. It only takes around an hour, maybe less, and keep all programs and data in place. Needless to say, the advice to back everything up especially applies when re-installing an operating system. Most computers have a reinstall partition and your vendor will show you the way to reinstall your operating system from the manual, you’ve made a set of discs for disaster recovery when prompted when you bought it, right?

or old school with a USB or disc

  • Start up Windows, log into an Administrator Account
  • Disable firewalls or other security software. This may interfere with a repair installation if still active.
  • Click on Install Now. Windows will check for available updates
  • Accept the license agreement and click on Upgrade. The installation should begin shortly after
  • Enter the Windows Product Key. Install using Recommended Settings
  • On the Set Up Windows tab, select a Network
  • Windows will start up the home screen. From here run a Disk Clean up
  • Once completed. Activate Windows and be sure to restart anti-virus software and firewalls.

New Drivers

Sometimes, videos or audio just stop working. This can be a massive annoyance and a real problem, but is very easy to solve in the majority of cases.

A simple visit to Google can usually do wonders. Simply find the computer’s manufacturer and most will have a dedicated page, which contains all of the newer and older versions of drivers for specific models. It is then a simple matter of finding the right drivers, installing them, and that they should be the end of the problem.

When to See a Professional

Whilst a big number of computer problems appear much worse than they are, some simply need the attention of an expert.

          You’re not sure if you have backed up your data
          You can’t locate the drivers for your computer
          You’re not the administrator

When Files Disappear

Most users would agree that computers have become the household filing system for all kinds of important information and data. When that data starts disappearing of its own accord, it is time to seek a professional.

Randomly appearing and disappearing data is, clearly, a sign that something is drastically wrong. It could be a clue to a malfunctioning hard drive or a warning of a total system failure. Whilst the user cannot be sure of what it means, they can be sure that disappearing data is something to be worried about. If files are vanishing, seek professional help before everything that is important goes the same way.

A Total Crash

If a computer has gone dark and refuses to start, or starts but then suddenly crashes, the odds are a visit to the local computer expert is in order.

Computer behaviour such as this could be the sign of a faulty or loose connection, or it could be an of a much more serious problem. A computer that crashes without warning is obviously behaving outside of its normal function and could lead to total data loss or the death of the computer itself.

 

Many computer problems that appear major are within the capabilities of most users to solve. This, however, has its limits. If a computer is behaving strangely in its core functions – its memory or start up, then it is time for outside help.