Archive for Business – Page 3

Windows 10 – Microsoft reveals the Data it collects

Windows 10 logo

With the forthcoming launch of the Windows 10 Creators Update, Microsoft has released more information about the amount of data it collects from your computer, and sends back to Redmond.

A lot has been much said about Privacy issues with Windows 10 since its launch, although it’s fair to say that Apple and Google similarly scoop up data from your devices too. This time, Microsoft are saying that they are cutting down on the amount of data that they collect with this latest update and the details of what they actually do collect makes interesting reading.

What data they collect now

Windows 10 Home and Professional versions currently have two levels of data collection – Basic and Full.

Basic Mode is supposed to collect data on your hardware, records of crashes, how good your internet connection is, driver software usage, what apps you have installed and how they are used, as well as other things that are diagnostic in nature.

Full Mode collects the data from Basic level as well as things like your “inking and typing data” (yes that’s right, typing data) and records of system events. In certain circumstances they can get copies of user documents that have caused software crashes and run diagnostic tools on your computer, although there is a set of rules that apply before they can do so.

What data is collected after Creators Update

In Basic Mode, a lot of diagnostic technical information is sent over (see this although it’s written in geek) which is supposed to help Microsoft identify potential malware infections and the causes of crashing, to help them make the operating system more reliable. Also collected will be details of your hardware including the serial number of the machine, data on what applications are given administrator access permissions, your battery life, what mobile phone network you are using, and some other things.

Full Mode has not been explained as fully as Basic Mode, but as well as everything in Basic it includes data relating to your browser choice, the apps that you use to edit videos and images, user settings and preferences, what apps you have installed, internet addresses (URLs) that have triggered errors, total time reading eBooks, visited webpages, the list of peripherals attached to your computer, text typed in searches, words you have spoken to Cortana and more.

There has been a third option, where telemetry data can be switched off but that has only applied to the Enterprise, Education and other specialist versions – if you are using the Home and Pro version, you’re stuck with either Basic data collection or the Full package.

Microsoft emphasises that data collected is intended to be primarily for diagnostic reasons and the Creators Update will make it more explicit what data is collected, so you will be able to make more informed decisions when setting things up after the update. Having said that they are also being more transparent on what data is collected for marketing and advertising purposes too.

The jury is out as to whether privacy continues to be a thorn in Windows 10’s side and certainly some governments are taking an active interest into what information is actually being collected from peoples’ computers and why. The unfortunate thing is that users will not have any choice – if you use Windows 10 you will have data collected, possibly on a substantial scale.

Orange Email – the End of the Road

Orange Email is closing

It has been on the cards for some time but one of the UK’s big internet companies, Orange, have announced that they are closing a number of their email accounts – so-called ‘legacy’ accounts – from 31st May 2017.

Why are they closing the accounts?

Over the years, internet companies have been bought and sold, including to competitors. Generally speaking, as the companies have been bought up, the new owners have kept the email addresses from the old company going, so as not to cause too much hassle for customers because of the changeover. After all, changing your email address is a process that no-one wants to do very often.

Unfortunately, these legacy email systems make little or no money for the new owners so the costs of running them are not recouped. Also, email technology has changed and improved over the years and few companies want to invest in upgrading their systems supporting the legacy products.

What email addresses are closing?

Here is the list of the email addresses that are closing: –

•    Orange.net
•    Orangehome.co.uk
•    Wanadoo.co.uk
•    Freeserve.co.uk
•    Fsbusiness.co.uk
•    Fslife.co.uk
•    Fsmail.net
•    Fsworld.co.uk
•    Fsnet.co.uk

What you need to do – Home users

When you decide to create an alternative email address, bear in mind that it may be preferable to open an account that is not dependant on your broadband company as this will give you flexibility later on, should you wish to change.

We recommend (as does Orange) that you consider opening a Gmail account with Google. This free service has some of the best anti-spam in the business and has much more flexibility than the service that you had before.

What you need to do – Business users

If you are using one of these addresses for your business, you need to get a new address now so that you can warn your customers and suppliers as soon as possible, as there appears to be no facility from Orange to forward your customers to your new address, after the closure date.

As mentioned in a previous Blog article, it is best to use your domain name for your business emails – and this is actually cheaper than you may think.

If you need help in creating your new email account, domain name or transferring Emails and Contacts to your new email address, give us a call on 01455 209505.

Steps to a Paperless Office

Move to a paperless office

So your desk is buried in paper, your shelves are overcrowded with stacks of documents, and you’ve carved out just enough space for your keyboard, mouse and coffee? It’s time to go paperless, not just for your own sanity, but to streamline the entire business.

It’s the one move that saves time and space while gaining flexibility for your workforce.

When you’re ready to adopt paperless processes, consider these 4 steps:

Make use of the Cloud for storage and search:

Dropbox or Google Drive are the easiest tools to begin implementing paperless storage and collaboration, though there are others such as Evernote and Microsoft OneNote. Documents can be uploaded, viewed and edited only by those with permission and as well as clearing paper clutter, Cloud storage makes everything more flexible too.

No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to easily find files using search functions, and no longer need to remember whether it was filed by name, subject or category – just enter what you need and let the system locate it for you. Then simply update, share or email the file as required.

No more filing cabinets or archive rooms, just clutter-free workspaces, room to breathe, and possibly even lower overheads now that you could fit into a smaller office space. Digital files will also allow remote access, perfect for working on the go or mobile staff. Access files at any time using your secure login, on any device, from any location.

The added bonus of course, is that the Cloud storage also acts as an offsite backup for you and many have value added services such as unlimited ‘undelete’ – where deleted items are retrievable at any time, so you don’t have to worry if you’ve deleted the wrong thing!

Provide training:

Make sure that there is training or information to ensure that all workers are up to speed with the new system and the way you’d like things done. This is the time to set standards for file and folder names, new collaboration and security rules. Long-term adoption will require cooperation from workers at all levels of the business, and training for everyone will go a long way towards success.

Scan necessary papers:

The move towards digital files often requires a step back to scan necessary files into the system. Many of the office grade multifunction printers offer double-sided feed scanning, so you can quickly scan papers into the system and then dispose of the paper.

If there are practical or legal reasons for you to keep the paperwork, secure storage offsite is available whilst you use the digital copies for day to day work.

Alternatively, you can obtain special scanning hardware (like Fujitsu Scansnaps) which scan and digitise documents or there are companies that provide bulk documentation scanning for you.

Each file will digitise to quite a small size, so running out of hard drive space shouldn’t be a concern.

Prioritise backups:

The best way to prevent file and document loss is to have a robust backup system, including a regular off-site backup. Treat your backups as a vital insurance policy, so that your files are readily available and intact if required.

Ready to go paperless? We can help. Call us today at 01455 209505.

Why you should not use a free email address for your business

Don't use a free email address for your business

The message is clear: email is king. Many companies, clients and customers choose to communicate primarily by email and it is a fundamental part of marketing strategy…unless you’re using a free email like Hotmail, Gmail, or even your internet provider. If that’s the case, then you’re losing business each and every day.

Does it look professional? Probably not.

How people perceive your business is what makes your business. Imagine if banks used free email accounts – you’d never feel comfortable giving them your personal details let alone any money. Without that professional touch, you’ll appear temporary and maybe less permanent. It puts your credibility into question and sends the message that you’re not serious about doing business – or worse – that you’re prepared to cut corners.

It may misrepresent your experience

Newer businesses often start out with a free email address. The address tends to communicate that they may be new and have less experience, and are perhaps even testing the waters in a new direction. They may not be proven yet and are firmly within the hobby-zone.  Continuing to use the free address once your business moves into the professional arena means you’ll struggle to build momentum and any experience will be negated.

It’s forgettable or inappropriate

Your business success hinges on being memorable enough to gain referral custom and results from your advertising. Unfortunately, free email addresses are by default filled with hard to remember clutter, for example – joesplumbing_1985@hotmail.com or milkshakes1559@gmail.com.
Neither of these roll off the tongue, is appropriate for business, or can be remembered without a high likelihood of typing mistakes and bounce back.

Branded email addresses such as joe@joesplumbing.co.uk make running a profitable, scalable business much easier.

It’s not permanent or safe

When you use a free email address you are at the mercy of the email provider. They may close down operations or cancel your account for any reason – and there’s little that you can do. These types of accounts are also often hacked and leaked, as well as having poorly performing spam filters, if any. When a better internet or email deal comes along, you’re still stuck using the old address because it’s printed on your business cards, car lettering and flyers.

With your own domain name, you own it and can move it to a new business-grade email service easily. You’ll also have complete control over the addresses within your domain, resetting passwords and creating/closing accounts at will.

Most importantly, it costs less than you think to have branded email.

Give us a call at 01455 209505 to set up your own branded business email service.

Should businesses buy a Business or Consumer grade computer?

consumer or business grade computers

Businesses – should you buy a Consumer or Business PC? Before buying a computer for work, it’s important to consider whether your best bet is to get a consumer model or one built specifically for business use.

You’ve probably seen business computers with the same brand name that you have at home, but that’s where the similarities end. Investing in the right system now will pay off long term, saving you time, money and a lot of frustration. Here’s what you need to know to make the best choice for your business and budget.

Business-class Features

The operating system that comes pre-installed on a business-class computer will have features the consumer options don’t, including the ability to join corporate networks. Computers designed for home use come with Windows Home or Starter editions, which may require hours of expert assistance to link into a secure business network.

When you invest in a business computer, you may want certain inclusions built-in and ready to go – those include features that will make your network more secure and staff more productive. For example, fingerprint readers, remote desktop software and data encryption tools are available.

Usage Requirements

Work out how often you’ll be using the computer for business. If the computer is mostly for home use and only occasionally for work, then a consumer PC with the appropriate work software and settings may be fine. On the other hand, a computer that is mostly for business use should be a business-class computer, not just for security but also build quality reasons.

Build quality and Reliability

It’s probably no surprise that consumer PCs don’t have the same build quality as business ones. In fact, consumer models have a lower expected lifespan – they just aren’t built to last. Business-class computers are built to last longer, with higher quality components and rigorous testing at every level. Most parts (if not all) are name-brand with an emphasis on reliability and long term durability.

Warranty and Service

Unfortunately when a consumer PC fails, the burden is on the owner to send it away for repairs, unless you have a special deal or have bought an extension to the normal warranty. The terms of the warranty will usually state that any other attempt to repair it will void that warranty.  Repairs can then take weeks and often involve a frustrating process of paperwork and following up.

Contrast that with what happens when a business computer needs service – on a business warranty it is common for the manufacturer’s technicians to come to you and fix it – if not same day then next business day. If it has to go back to the manufacturer, the time away from you is much shorter than for a consumer warranty repair. Business users enjoy a professional experience with priority status and a dedicated support line, all designed to reduce down-time and get you operational, faster.

Talk to us today on 01455 209505 about choosing the right computer for your needs.