Archive for Software

Is it Time to Retire That Program? Here’s How to Tell

Is it Time to Retire That Program?

Most businesses have been using the same set of applications for some time, sometimes since the business started. This also applies to most Homes too, although with businesses the need to upgrade can be essential to business efficiency.

While you’ve been replacing computers and devices regularly to maintain your advantage, the standard installation has remained largely the same. The programs do the job and everyone knows how to use them, so why upgrade? In some cases, it’s completely fine to keep that legacy program.

However, all users of older programs should consider these aspects:

Support Available

Occasionally, and more frequently with software from smaller developers, the author has moved on from supporting the program, such as what happened with an old DOS program used by a Fleckney business. Their very old program was vital but the author of the program was no longer involved with it and it was running on an old, failing Windows XP machine. It needed to be transferred to a new computer.

Luckily we were able to get the old program running on a new PC, inside a ‘Virtual Machine’ (a computer running in software within another computer), which extended the programs life and also gave that business a bit longer to find a replacement program. The point is that it could have gone the other way and the author was not there to help.

Perhaps the author has closed the business, sold it, or changed directions completely. Either way, they’re no longer interested in helping you get the best from the program. Every time your employees come up against a problem they have nowhere to turn and productivity takes a hit as they try and come up with a workaround.

Meanwhile, you run the risk that an older program could suddenly stop working after a Windows update, begin clashing with other essential software, or even create gaping holes in your security. As you are aware, even the bigger companies like Microsoft stop supporting software after a while, as they have with earlier versions of Windows. Having support available to both assist and protect is a huge asset to your business.

Hardware Compatibility

Imagine picking up a brand-new computer and trying to insert a 5 ¼ floppy disk – that’s the 1980s retro square ones bigger than your hand – it doesn’t matter how effective that program will be, modern technology simply has no idea what to do with it. Thanks to the rapid advancement of computer hardware, you may find a simple component refresh leaves your legacy program completely incompatible or inaccessible.

The latest CPU (computer processor) that’s supposed to speed things up, suddenly brings an entire business to a standstill, purely because it’s too advanced. Many owners work around this by keeping some older systems running exclusively for that program, but as the classic hardware fails, you may find yourself struggling to find replacement parts or technicians able to install them.

Security Vulnerabilities

Broadly speaking, the longer a program has been around, the longer hackers have had to discover its weaknesses. It could be a flaw in the program itself, or in the operating system that runs it. For example, the application may only run on Windows XP, but Windows XP is one of the earlier versions that Microsoft has stopped supporting. As the older operating systems and programs aren’t being patched, cyber criminals pour more energy into finding flaws they can exploit.

It’s how hospitals across the UK found themselves infected with ransomware last year, simply because they were running programs with known weaknesses.

As it’s not always feasible to replace a program immediately, we can help you run it on a virtual machine as explained earlier. You’ll have increased security, an element of support and a strong backup system while you work to find a replacement program.

These types of solutions are very specialized and resource hungry though, so let us know if you need help.

The other option is to migrate to a new program that does what you want, and is supported, hardware compatible and secure. If you’ve been running the old program for some time, this may feel quite daunting at first. Before you rule it out, keep in mind you’ll also be gaining the benefits of faster software, more integrated processes and a highly flexible system.

Need to talk through your options? Give us a call on 01455 209505.

A Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

A Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

When buying a new computer or even reinstalling Windows on an existing computer, many people do not realise that there is no way to reliably transfer a program from one computer to another. That is fine so long as you don’t need to reinstall a program, but there are no guarantees that you will never need to replace your hard drive, or have to reinstall Windows due to a virus infection or some other cause of data corruption, so you may have to reinstall software.

In the past week alone we have had to repair a local PC in Broughton Astley due to a power surge that corrupted the computer file system and also had to reinstall Windows on a local laptop in Hinckley that had a failed hard drive that needed replacing.

Also when we deliver a new computer, we often see a frown on customer’s faces when they try to remember where they put those program installation disks from years ago.

Many times you can just download new device driver software, but when it comes to something like Microsoft Office, it’s a whole new ballgame. All those documents, spreadsheets, etc. need a program to open them and if you don’t have one, you can have a real problem.

If you have found the installation disk, great. If you just have a card with an activation code, you may be able to download the Office software again, depending on the version of Office that you have. Similarly if you bought a download installation package, you may be able to download it again.

But if you do not have the original Office installation disk or installation package, what are your options? Microsoft no longer supply CDs of their software and similarly you can no longer buy individual Office programs such as Outlook or Word. Essentially you have two choices – you either buy an expensive download or rent the Office software on an annual basis.

The Free Office Alternative

There is however a free alternative to Microsoft Office, called Libre Office.

This is an alternative Office suite that is compatible with Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Powerpoint files and more, and it is free because it is Open Source software. So you can carry on using the files that you already have, without having to buy another copy of Office.

Libre Office is not just for use in the Home, we know of small businesses that choose to use it for general office tasks too. It is reliable and is compatible to a high degree.

Unfortunately, this free software does not provide an alternative to the Outlook email program.

Be careful what you download

If you want to get the Libre Office download, you can get the software from their website at https://www.libreoffice.org/.

If not going straight to the website to get the download, be very careful where you download it from as there are websites out there that try to get you to download it from them, but it is not the genuine article and may even contain malware.

Why not try it out? You may find that you can save yourself some money!

If you need help in transferring your data or installing software, give us a call on 01455 209505.