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February 8th, 2017

2017February8_Hardware_AIn the near future, the Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to usher in an era of connectivity and efficiency on a global scale. Many small- and medium-sized companies, however, assume IoT has no application to their business. To dispel those false assumptions, we’ve compiled a list of four ways your business can benefit from using IoT devices.

Improved logistics With IoT sensors, supply chain management and order fulfillment processes improve markedly to meet customer demand. For example, sensors on delivery containers and trucks in transit give managers real-time status updates, allowing them to track their items and ensure they reach the right location at the right time.

Streamlined inventory IoT also presents automation opportunities for businesses that need to manage and replenish their stock. When data recorded from IoT devices are tied to your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system, you can accurately monitor your inventory, analyze purchase and consumption rates of a particular product, and automatically reorder items when IoT sensors detect that supply is running low. This minimizes out-of-stock incidents and prevents excess stock build-up.

Fast payment Given how most payments are done electronically via point-of-sale systems or the internet, IoT has the potential to revolutionize the way businesses process transactions. We’re already seeing a few examples of this today as ApplePay not only allows users to purchase goods and services using smartphone applications, but through wearable technology as well.

Soon enough, IoT devices might even allow restaurants and retailers to register or charge their customers the moment they walk through the door.

Market insight Businesses that can somehow make sense of IoT-collected data will gain a competitive edge. Marketers, for example, can gather valuable insight into how their products are used and which demographic is utilizing them the most. This information can then inform future marketing efforts and give businesses more direction on how to improve their products and services for their customers.

Although businesses will certainly face many challenges in implementing the Internet of Things, those who manage to overcome them will reap all the benefits of this burgeoning technology.

Want to know if an IoT deployment is right for your business? Contact our certified IT consultants today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 23rd, 2017

img-cloud-printing-170px-op1When you picture cloud computing and printing devices, you might think of endless copies of clouds flying out of the printer. But that analogy wouldn’t quite apply for Google’s Cloud Print service, though. This cloud-computing hybrid allows you to access both regular and internet-enabled printers through the Internet. What are the benefits? Are they worth looking into? Read on for additional insight.

First things first, the printer needs to be connected to your primary computer (the one you’ll use to access the printer in the future). Once connected, the computer can be added to Cloud Print. If it isn’t already installed, you need to install Chrome for Windows or Mac. From there, type chrome://devices into the address bar to bring up devices Chrome can work with. Click “Add printer” and make sure the printer you want to link is ticked.

From the same screen, you’ll be able to configure printer settings. Click Manage next to any of the listed printers to upload new print jobs, rename or remove printers, or share a printer with someone else. This allows you to give certain people access to your printer.

If you need to print something off your mobile device, you can do so with the Cloud Print app on Android, where a print option should appear in the Sharing menu. It’s slightly trickier on iOS, but you can still cloud print from Google’s iOS apps using the Google-recommended file management, transfer and printing application PrintCentral Pro to bridge the gap. And as expected, Cloud Print works seamlessly with Chromebooks as well. Just choose Print from the main menu and voila!

If you’re interested in hearing more news on Google’s Cloud Print function or staying up-to-date on the IT world, feel free to let us know.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
January 5th, 2017

2016december26_hardware_aSo you've got the next big thing in technology sitting in your office: a program you customized for your business or a hardware you came up with on the side. When is the right time to license your product for outside sale? Read further to learn the ins and outs of licensing and why the best decisions for your business can often be contrary to common sense.

There is a fine line between successful licensing and a failed attempt. You certainly don't want to risk selling prematurely, when the software doesn't yet have enough appeal in a large market to succeed. On the other hand, you don't want to "lose" the market altogether by selling the sale rights to someone else who will “overtake” the product.

Questions to Ask Before you Commit to Licensing Anything

Before you make the decision to take your hard-earned product and send it to the masses through licensing, consider:

The value of your new product and its potential

If you believe you have a truly unique software, it may be best to keep it under wraps and exclusive to your company. However, if it is a product in a highly competitive area wherein technology changes quickly, it may be worth thinking about how best to capitalize on the changing market.

Its fit on your business market

If your software is a time management program and you run an internet security firm, there's a chance that you may have to spread yourself thin to market the new product and maintain your own business focus. In this case it might be smart to find a company to license your product that is more aligned with the product's purpose.

The levels of licensing

It is possible to allow a company to license your product on a non-exclusive basis, which will allow you to maintain control of the product in some form. The decision to pursue licensing of a software or hardware should be made carefully.

If you need advice on what to do with a new software or piece of hardware created by your business, give us a call. We can help you maximize the benefits of your design.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
December 8th, 2016

2018december8_hardware_aYour employees are some of your business’s best assets. With that in mind, it is imperative that they work with high-performance computers that will unlock their full potential and contribute to your business’s profitability. If only it were that simple. Selecting a computer often involves several factors such as mobility, quality, and price – there are simply too many things to consider. Choosing the right computer requires careful thought, and this is what we’re here to discuss.

Laptop or desktop?

Laptops are highly portable, efficient, and inexpensive. If these are the most important qualities your business requires in a computer, then by all means, choose them. Clearly, desktops aren’t built for mobility, but what they lack in portability, they more than make up for in storage, processing capacity, and security. Although laptops make perfect sense for small businesses with great need for portability, they are much more prone to security threats and are not as easy to upgrade and maintain, unlike desktops.

Processor

The Central Processing Unit (CPU), or simply processor, determines the speed at which you can access your data and perform business-critical tasks. Speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz), and a processor that runs from 2 to 4 GHz should be plenty for small enterprises. Arguably the most important item on the list of a computer’s specifications, the processor plays a crucial role in your computer’s speed and efficiency.

Storage

As critical hardware components, hard drives indicate how much information you can store and use. Storage capacity typically ranges from 128 gigabytes on “light computers”, all the way up to 2+ terabytes on more critical machines. If your business doesn’t need to store large files such as videos and images and will be used mostly for email and a few applications, 250- or 500-GB storage should do the job. If processor speed is number one on your list of computer requirements, it’s followed closely by hard drive storage.

Operating System

Operating system (OS) decisions often boil down to choosing between Windows or Mac. It might help in your decision-making to know that Windows remains the most widely used OS mainly due to its high compatibility with business software, not to mention, its relatively cheaper price. Macs can perform just as brilliantly as Windows-operated systems can. And although Macs are usually more expensive, they’re well known for their own outstanding features, such as being less prone to crashes.

Other Components

Not to be confused with storage drives, a computer’s Random Access Memory (RAM) is only used to run open applications. It is responsible for keeping your computer performing at optimum speeds, especially when you’re working with several applications or programs at once. For small businesses, a 1200-2600-MHz RAM should suffice. The higher the MHz of your RAM, the higher its performance will be. To keep your basic programs running, 6-8 gigabytes of RAM is often satisfactory.

Ready to Buy a New Computer?

Deciding which computer to buy is an important business decision. While there are a handful of factors to consider, what you aim to accomplish in your business’s day-to-day operations should be your main consideration when choosing a computer. Businesses that require plenty of remote and mobile work should definitely go for laptops. Those that require regular transfers of large datasets could benefit from the increased storage capacity associated with desktops.

Do you need expert advice in choosing the best computers for your small business? We’re happy to guide you in every step of your purchase decision. Give us a call today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 23rd, 2016

2016november23_hardware_aAfter the recent Dyn attack that took Netflix and other major websites down, business owners are vigilant about ensuring the security of their network and devices connected to the “Internet of Things” (IoT). A new scanner from Bullguard promises to warn owners of potential entry points for hackers. Keep reading to learn more about Bullguard's IoT Scanner and how it can help you keep your company data secure.

The Dangers of IoT

The "Internet of Things" is a relatively new phrase that basically refers to a network of connected devices. The network might include your computer and smartphone, but could also include apps that you have downloaded, your Fitbit, a remotely monitored home security system, routers, printers and any other wireless device that needs an internet connection. Although all these devices are but convenience items, they can also be potentially dangerous considering how much personal and business information is stored on your personal computer, which is connected to the same network.

How can I protect my IoT devices?

Every device that connects to the internet must connect through your network. If you are technologically challenged and have only a laptop in your office and a couple of desktop computers scattered throughout the building, chances are you don't worry too much about the security of your connection. It's easy to install a firewall and antivirus program that will keep your network connection secure. But internet security isn't that simple for the business owner anymore.

The internet security vendor Bullguard has released a new tool that business owners can use to locate any vulnerabilities that might be found on their network. The program uses on online directory to double-check whether your device uses an "open" or unsecure port to connect to your network. If it determines that your network or any of your devices are connected with an open line, it gives you the location of the detected vulnerability.

What can the IoT Scanner Do?

While the scanner only points to places of invulnerability and does not attempt to fix anything, it provides the information you need to take that next step. Many times the real danger of a smart device is that it connects to your network without your knowledge, allowing hackers an "open door" to wreak havoc. Knowing where the hackers might enter can keep you vigilant to fix that breach.

Scanners like this are exactly what we hope to accomplish with our blog. We want you to provide you with useful tools that help educate you about your network and your IT, while also showcasing what we can do for you as an outsourced IT consultant. Bullguard’s IoT scanner will help you get one step closer to enterprise-level security, but we’re the partner you need to cross the finish line. Get in touch with us to start making improvements today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
November 8th, 2016

2016november8_hardware_aRunning a small business takes an intelligent, resourceful person. From day one you must make important decisions in all areas of business, from the marketing strategy chosen for a product to the brand of printer you will use to print out flyers. One of the biggest decisions you will make in the early stages of a business involves your SMB’s computer hardware, particularly whether to invest in a desktop computer or a laptop. Read on to find out how to make this decision for your company.

Portability

Modern desktop computers aren't nearly as immobile as they used to be. In many cases the screen is thin and light, and all-in-one desktops are easy to unplug, move and plug in on the road. But there are still places the desktop cannot go. Laptops allow you to go anywhere, even places without electricity. But this ability to take your work anywhere can be counterproductive by creating more stress on employees who think they must work all the time.

Memory/Speed

Desktop computers often have more memory than laptops, and they’re faster speeds due to better processors. This is now changing as a result of advancing technology, but until the cost of high-powered laptops becomes affordable to the general public, the desktop computer is going to provide businesses with more speed. If your employees’ work is limited to word processing and emailing, laptops should be enough. However, anything more will probably require a desktop machine.

Security

An SMB’s computer hardware needs to be secure to ensure that private company information doesn't end up in the wrong hands. On a desktop computer, the hardware is easier to defend against malware and adware. It’s also more physically secure because the desktop is often kept in one location and not easy to snatch. If you do choose the laptop route, make sure to have strict policies on how to protect machines that leave the office.

Price

Traditionally, the laptop has been cheaper and available to more people. This is true particularly for smaller notebook-style laptops. But desktop computers are becoming more affordable as more people have access to them through local channels. With a capable IT service provider, cost probably won’t be a deciding factor between the two options.

Quality

Although laptop computers provide the convenience of portability, over time they’re prone to problems with the battery and charging cord. They are also easily damaged. By contrast, desktops are generally more sturdy. But when they do experience a problem, it often leads to expensive repairs.

Final Recommendation

The desktop versus laptop debate is an old one, with supporters on both sides touting the advantages of their choice to all who will listen. A growing company really needs a combination of both types of computers. However, a desktop computer will be generally more reliable for the fledgling company owner to start with. Laptops should be added as budget permits to provide that extra portability and convenience.

If you have questions regarding the best choice for your company, give us a call. We'll be happy to provide you the assistance you need to improve your business.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
October 21st, 2016

2016october21_hardware_aIn today's world, WiFi has become a necessity both at work and at home. People across the world use it to learn, work online, communicate through social media, stream videos, and more. But we all know that the internet can sometimes be uncooperative. And in an increasingly interconnected world, we need reliable tech resources that help keep us online. One of the technologies dedicated to making this happen is Google and their new WiFi system.

WiFi everywhere Google WiFi is able to offer fast WiFi across your home or business. Today, people install WiFi expecting it to simultaneously support multiple devices that might even be engaged in high-bandwidth activities such as VoIP and live streaming. The problem, however, is that the WiFi signal is often affected by the thickness of internal walls and the distance from the router. Google alleviates this problem by developing a WiFi system that’s expandable.

You can add Google WiFi points in different areas of your office to spread a strong network signal throughout your entire company. Google uses WiFi mesh technology, where every Google WiFi point builds a high-powered signal where all points combined offer the ideal path for data. As a result, high-speed WiFi is built across the house as all points connect to each other to broadcast a strong, high-speed connection. This means your company can say goodbye to slow downloads, poor call quality, and service interruptions.

Automatically optimize your connection Google WiFi can also keep operating at high speeds. It employs Network Assist Technology, a feature that automatically optimizes your wireless connection, keeping it fast without any fussing or manual adjustments on your end. Just imagine taking your office laptop or your iPad from your desk to the meeting room, without experiencing internet connection problems. Google’s Network Assist feature allows your devices to seamlessly transition between Google WiFi points in real time, meaning no delays or dead spots.

Manage your network with an app Google WiFi also comes with a companion app for when you want to manage your network. Available on iOS or Android, the WiFi manager app allows you to reduce bandwidth usage for a particular website, or pause the WiFi connection on certain devices when they’re not in use. You can also prioritize bandwidth for specific devices connected to your network so that you can conduct important VoIP conference calls without any interruptions.

Of course, when it comes to WiFi, security and privacy are top priority. With that in mind, the Google WiFi manager app comes with enhanced security and privacy settings that enable easy management of cloud content, user access control, wireless encryption systems, and automatic updates to keep your business safe at all times.

There’s no telling how well Google WiFi will perform in the market, but if your company values advanced security systems, fast internet speeds, and an easy-to-manage network, then Google WiFi is definitely hardware you should have.

Want to stay on top of the latest hardware trends and developments? Simply give us a call today to find out more.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
October 6th, 2016

2016october6_hardware_aStarting a business is a big step for entrepreneurs in the IT industry. However, this comes with a myriad of challenges, most of which relate to capital and resources. Among them is the availability of proper equipment. The equipment used in a company determines how smoothly the business will run and must be up to date to ensure success. Because acquiring the proper equipment is expensive, companies often resort to what is called ‘Hardware-as-a-Service’ (HaaS). It’s important to consider all of the advantages of this solution before making a decision, and we’ve compiled such a list here.

Upfront Capital

The main benefit of HaaS is that it enables businesses to conserve on upfront capital expenditures. By replacing these high costs with a lease structure and low monthly payments, resources can be redirected toward other budget items. As a result, the business will have more resources that it could have otherwise used to purchase the computers.

More modern hardware

For businesses with outdated equipment, HaaS is an easy workaround for them to upgrade their IT hardware. A service provider can supply the latest equipment at a lower monthly cost, and when their client’s machines age, upgrades can be provided without fear of incurring additional costs. By choosing this route, SMBs won't have to deal with disposing their old equipment. The service provider will take full responsibility for that.

Taxes and accounting

When it comes to tax payments, businesses that opt for HaaS are also at an advantage. Equipment will be listed as a service from a vendor rather than a capital expense -- thereby decreasing their tax liability. SMBs will enjoy all the benefits of cutting-edge equipment, without the taxes that usually accompany it. HaaS allows companies to get the equipment they need without running the risk of incurring more debt. Having a balance sheet with less debt is beneficial to the business, as it provides the business with secure financial services to expand.

However, when it comes to HaaS, it is important to consider what sort of technology the business needs. For example, if there is a substantial need for equipment, the best option is to choose HaaS rather than incur debt from purchases. For more information on managed IT solutions and outsourcing your technology difficulties to the experts, contact us today.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 20th, 2016

2016september20_hardware_aAmong all the new-fangled gizmos and whatchamacallits that pop up daily, hard drives remain a vital component for all types of computers. It’s completely normal to get a new one every couple of years, but with the overwhelming amount of choices available, a simple purchase becomes a difficult ordeal. Because we don’t have a tech fairy that can conjure up what we need, we’ve compiled four things you need to know before purchasing your next hardware.

Hard Disk Drive VS. Solid State Drive

Firstly, you have to know which type of data storage you plan to use: Hard Disk Drive (HDD) or Solid State Drive (SSD).Capabilities of HDDs are on par with SSDs -- but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any pros and cons. An SSD is a type of drive that uses flash memory for storing data, as opposed to spinning metal disks found in the traditional HDD -- think of it like an extra large USB thumb drive.

On the upside, SSDs are faster at reading and writing data. They require less energy, are silent, and generally have longer lifespans. Downsides include small data capacities and a heftier price tag. It all boils down to what you're going to your needs. Go for HDDs if you have budget restrictions or are looking for a backup/external drive; go for SSDs if the drive will run frequently-accessed files and programs.

Physical size and interface

After deciding between an HDD or SSD, you now have to choose a form factor. Luckily there are only two choices: the 3.5-inch drive and the 2.5-inch drive. The right one will likely depend on your current setup. With traditional HDDS, data is stored on spinning metal disks, meaning that more disks will be needed to expand data capacity. Because of this, desktop HDDs tend to be 3.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 4 TB, whereas laptops are 2.5 inches with a maximum capacity of 2 TB. SSDs are made smaller since they don’t require any removable parts, meaning they’ll fit easily into the 2.5-inch form factor. Adapters are available if you need to use the SSD in a 3.5-inch connector.

Specifications and performance

Now that you know what kind of drive to buy, it’s time to narrow down the candidates and find the best one that suits your needs. Here are some factors you need to consider:
  • Storage capacity - HDDs come in various sizes, but due to physical limitations, they cap off at 4 TB. Whereas SSDs are much smaller and doesn’t exceed the 1 TB mark - some consumer-level SSDs rarely exceed 512GB.
  • Transfer speed - Performance of consumer-level HDDs are determined by multiple factors, and revolutions per minute (RPM) is an important one. Higher RPM means faster data transfer between drives.
  • Cache space - If a hard disk needs to transfer data from one section to another, a special area of embedded memory known as the cache is utilized. Larger cache enables data to be transferred faster (because more information can be stored at one time). Modern HDDs have cache sizes ranging from 8-12 MB.
  • Access times - HDDs have a couple of factors that impact their performance. One is the time it takes for the reader to start reading or writing data from the drive. For SSDs, you want to look for sequential read and write speeds (also known as sustained reading and writing speeds). Just as long as the speeds are within the SATA connector’s max speed, you'll be fine.
  • Failure rate - Though all things mechanical gradually wear and tear over time, not all HDDs are the same. Some models last six months where others make it past six years. You must do adequate research on a per-model basis before making a purchase.

External VS. Internal

The final step is to decide whether you want the hard drive to reside within of if it will get its own compartment outside. External drives are ideal for storage and backup purposes; they generally connect with a USB 2.0 that caps out at 480Mb/s -- newer models that support USB 3.0 boasts a max of 5.0Gb/s. Unless the model you get is USB 3.0 compatible, the speed will likely be insufficient when it comes to running an operating system.

Speed issues aside, they’re portable and can be shared with multiple computers. They can even be plugged into TVs and media centers for direct playback. If portability falls second to speed, or if your current system lacks a working data drive, internal is the best choice.

Now that you’re armed with the necessary information, buying your next hardware should be a pleasant experience, like a walk in the park. If you have further questions or would like to know more, feel free to contact us by phone or email; we’re more than happy to help.

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware
September 1st, 2016

2016September1_Hardware_ALove them or hate them, projectors are the modern day soapbox. They give you the platform to present your case to a wider audience without compromising your content. Like most hardware purchases, however, they’re accompanied by a list of measurements and specifications you likely have little experience with. If you’re in the market for some new projection hardware at your business, take a minute to brush up on the essentials here.

Brightness

If you haven’t had any hands-on experience with projectors yet, brightness will undoubtedly be the first thing you notice. Although no projector will ever match the brightness of an LED or LCD television, with some informed shopping you can easily mitigate this unfortunate drawback. A ‘lumen’ is a measure of brightness listed under the specifications of any new projector. Anything over 2,000 lumens should be appropriate for small-group presentations in a low-light room. For larger meetings with more ambient light, 3,000 lumens should be able to negate any added burdens. No need to go any higher than that unless you expect to host more than 100 viewers and let a little light into the room.

Resolution

While brightness may be the first thing you notice, resolution is probably the first thing you think of. Before deciding on a resolution, give some honest consideration to how essential it is for the projector’s intended use. If the plan is to set it up in the conference room for Excel budget presentations, WXGA (or 1280x800) should be plenty clear. This resolution is the most widely compatible with the dimensions of modern laptop screens and will making swapping the content source a piece of cake. However, if you have an existing projector and/or screen, you may want to stick with your existing XGA (or 1024x768) resolution. Of course, there is always the option for the gold standard. Whether it’s an overinflated budget or true necessity, HD (1920x1080) will provide you with the best possible resolution for your projections.

Portability

Behind their bolted-in conference room companions, portable projectors are some of the most popular for business professionals. In addition to brightness and resolution comparisons, make sure to examine how valuable portability is to you. Increased portability often brings a significant reduction in image quality and may not ultimately be worth it. If you’re forging ahead with a mobile option, some of which are small enough to comfortably fit inside your pocket, make sure whatever you choose has the ability to read data from a USB or SD storage device. There’s no reason to buy a model compact enough to leave the backpack at home unless you’re utilizing all its added bonuses. This means you might have the option to purchase a mini-projector with a battery integrated into the device; just remember that it's unlikely you’ll have the picture quality or features to truly enjoy video and multimedia presentations.

Extra Features

What would any piece of hardware be without a few cool extra features? Top of the line projectors have a myriad of specialized add-ons that might be just what you need to make your final decision. We’ve already talked about USB and SD storage, but what about an iPhone or Android dock incorporated directly into the unit? And if that doesn’t tickle your fancy, cut the cords entirely with wireless-enabled projectors. Regardless of whether it’s one of these options, or something like internal storage capacity, always thoroughly test any special features before letting them factor into your final choice. There’s nothing worse than basing a decision on a total misnomer.

Our customers often forget to utilize one of our most useful service options: hardware consulting. If you’re ever in the market for new equipment at your organization, or need advice on how to get the most of what you currently have, don’t hesitate to ask. We’re an office full of gadget geeks who love the opportunity to talk about the latest and greatest the industry has to offer. Contact us today!

Published with permission from TechAdvisory.org. Source.

Topic Hardware