4 tips for maximising network speed

maximising network speed

In the modern office, fast and reliable network speeds are essential. Your managed service provider will be able to assist with a more specific and holistic plan, but here are a few quick tips you can implement yourself to improve network speed.

Restart your systems

Sometimes all technology needs is a fresh slate, and this is equally the case for your modem, router, and so on. Looking from this perspective, if you are experiencing some slowness, give a restart a try for a quick fix. Specifically to achieve this, unplug the devices, leave them off for a couple of minutes, and then plug them back in, powering them on accordingly.

Be clever about viruses

We’ve discussed what to do in the event of virus infection before [https://www.rapiditsupport.com.au/what-to-do-in-the-event-of-a-virus-infection/], but it’s important to be consistently vigilant for any possible viruses, as opposed to just taking action when a virus is detected. Infection is a key driver for performance degradation and hence is something to watch out for. The key thing is to run any virus removal processes regularly (scanning and so on), and in an automated fashion to ensure that you don’t forget.

Ensure scaling is appropriatew

With your network setup, ensure that it can manage the amount of load that you are attempting to put on it. For example, if you only have 10 devices connected to the network, then a smaller server is likely OK. Equally though, if you were to then connect 30 devices to that same smaller server, you’re going to encounter issues. Equally though, one wouldn’t want to be paying for a system that supports 30 devices, when only 10 are being used. So, ensure that a review of infrastructure is taken, in conjunction with your IT helpdesk. They are the experts and will have the know-how to advise you best.

Summary

Network speed is a key factor to your organisation’s efficiency, so it is important to ensure that it is maintained accordingly. Three tips have been given here, relating to restarting devices, ensuring security is maintained relating to viruses, as well as having infrastructure that scales appropriately. If you have a slow network and want to have that sped up, get in touch with Rapid IT today to have a conversation, on 1300 727 430.

An overview of business continuity

An overview of business continuity

Any organisation is powered by one primary thing – the ability to stay open, and it is important to have a plan to do just that. This is even more true in the modern era, when IT services underpin so much of a business’s running, and they can potentially fail at a moment’s notice. Let’s go through a few basics of what your business continuity plan should include.

Prepare for a variety of scenarios

It is important to be flexible and versatile with continuity plans. Specifically, an organisation should be looking at any scenario that has a reasonable chance of impacting them. For example, power failures, minor natural disasters (such as flooding), data breaches, data loss, a virus getting into the network, etc. Ensuring that plans cater for any scenario is absolutely critical.

Be specific about response

When considering each response, a very specific set of steps should be planned out as a baseline. Naturally, context is important and quick thinking will be required for any problem that appears, but a simple set of steps should be in place to always be followed. For example, in the event of a power outage, a basic step might be to check the fuse-box. Or if a virus is found, calling the organisation’s managed service provider (such as Rapid IT). To put it another way, whilst flexibility should be present relating to actually solving a problem, having a basic response will ensure that the process of getting back up and running is sped up.

Ensure that there is constant review

If an incident is encountered and resolved, it is important to have a ‘debrief’, and ensure that the continuity plan is reviewed. This ensures that best practice is continuously developed, speeding up recovery in future instances. Ideally, this should be done in conjunction with your managed IT service provider, like Rapid IT. As experts in the field, Rapid IT have likely seen the issue that was encountered before, and hence would have a few ideas of how to be maximally efficient.

Summary

We have outlined some ideas that you should implement in your business continuity plan today, including being flexible, having specific responses, as well as ensuring continuous development. If you don’t have a business continuity plan of your own for your technology, you should develop one immediately. For assistance with this, or any other technology-related query you might have, get in touch with Rapid IT today on 1300 727 430.

How to submit the best possible support request

If you hire an IT helpdesk such as Rapid IT, we are confident that you will reap the benefits immediately. However, it is equally important to maximise those benefits, and part of this is ensuring that requests made are done so efficiently. In this article, let’s go through a few tips for submitting the best possible request for help.

Try to solve it yourself

Before you rush to book an appointment with your managed service provider, do try a few basic things yourself. If you can, you might be back up and running immediately. We’d recommend the following basic troubleshooting steps: Restart the device, Google the error message, and ask your colleagues as to whether the issue is unique to you, or shared. By going through these quick and simple steps, time can be saved, ensuring that IT helpdesk’s support is only used when needed.

Be clear about importance

Like any organisation, IT helpdesks have a lot of clients and responsibilities to juggle at once. If needed, they will drop everything to assist you first, but only if you are clear about the importance of the request, and why it is important. An example of this is if you were an e-commerce organisation, and all your hardware ceased working simultaneously. This is of critical importance and stops all work, and hence may cause the importance of your request to be higher. Conversely, because of having a high amount of responsibilities, IT helpdesks do not wish to prioritise requests of little impact to business operation. On this basis, communicating priority clearly is of great benefit.

Be as specific as possible

When submitting a request, be specific about what has occurred, as well as if possible, how to replicate the issue. If your outsourced IT support service has the clearest possible idea of what has gone wrong and how it has gone wrong, it will lead to the issue being easier to resolve for them, as well as faster, meaning you can get back to work sooner. That being said, there is no need to include every single detail, be concise. A technician’s time is not used most valuably reading an essay of information that isn’t relevant! Screenshots of any error messages (if applicable) can be valuable for conciseness.

Summary

A great support request can assist your business continuity by getting you back online faster. This includes attempting to solve issues personally, communicating importance clearly, as well as being specific about what assistance is needed. If you have any questions about what kind of support you can receive, contact Rapid IT today, on 1300 727 430.

IT processes that you should complete regularly

IT processes that you should complete regularly

Maintaining an IT environment is easier said than done, and even if you have a managed service provider handling the work, you should still keep an eye on things to make sure they are up to your standards. In this article, let’s have a look at a few things that you and your IT helpdesk should be regularly engaging in.

Backups

We have covered backups in more detail before [https://www.rapiditsupport.com.au/3-reasons-why-you-should-back-up-your-computer/], but they are absolutely essential to business continuity. Whilst it’s not common, things can go wrong, so preparing for the worst means you’re always one step ahead. A system outage that lasts an hour is infinitely better than one that lasts two hours in today’s environment. Every minute that you are out of commission could be costing your organisation cash, so having the right systems in place to get online again quickly, including backups, is essential.

Windows updates

Microsoft release regular updates for very good reasons. Yes, it’s true that some updates are just quality of life improvements, new features, and yet another push to advertise Microsoft Edge! But, more frequently, Microsoft is rolling out security updates which could be essential in helping you avoid viruses. In October 2020, Microsoft released two updates to Windows 10, version 2004; one was security-focused and the other quality-focused (https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/whats-new/whats-new-windows-10-version-2004). It is essential that any machines you have which are running Windows are consistently being upgraded.

Cleaning

This sounds incredibly basic, but to ensure that your hardware has the shelf life you expect, it is important to give it plenty of TLC! This includes popping open the cases once in a while and getting some of the dust bunnies out. Compressed air is usually the best option for this, but don’t use a vacuum cleaner! Be sure to keep your keyboard and mouse clean as well, since dirt can often get out of control quickly on these surfaces. To clean a keyboard properly, you may need to take the keycaps off.

Summary

IT infrastructure needs to be maintained, and we’ve covered three key things you need to do today; keep backups, acquire updates, and have a consistent cleaning schedule for your hardware. By doing this, you’ll create the best environment for your IT system. If you have any questions about ongoing PC maintenance or anything else that an IT helpdesk could offer you, be sure to give Rapid IT a call today on 1300 727 430.

Multi factor authentication and you

Multi factor authentication

IT security is a key part of any organisation’s overall network. Having a great database of customer information is pointless if it is easily breached by malicious persons looking to steal information or cause your organisation harm. On this basis, looking at everything you can do to increase your network’s security is essential, which includes Multi-Factor Authentication, or MFA. Let’s go through an overview of MFA now.

Definition

MFA is where at least two different ‘sources’ of authentication are used to log into something. The three sources (of which two or more are chosen from) are something that a person knows (e.g. a password), something that they have (e.g. a physical token or another device like a phone) and something that a person is (e.g. a fingerprint). This means that if, for example, a password is stolen by a malicious actor, they couldn’t get in because they don’t have the other piece of authentication, such as a fingerprint.

Benefits

The security benefits gained through implementing MFA into your network are huge. Passwords are easily stolen in these modern days when malicious actors have become extremely competent. But, stealing something like a physical token or fingerprint is much harder; in an MFA scenario, a password is totally worthless without that second piece of authentication. Costs can also be very low if a simple second piece of authentication is used, like a mobile app or SMS “one-time pin”.

Reasons to not use MFA

There are very few reasons in the modern era to not use this method of security. However, with there being costs associated, some may choose to forego the system in some circumstances. An example of this would be if the login being secured doesn’t have any personal information or sensitive access, and hence even if a malicious actor were to gain access, they would gain nothing and you would lose nothing. Another could be costs associated with setup (especially if done through a managed service provider), however, we would suggest that this should not dissuade people. Security of personal information such as customer lists or anything like that is of absolutely critical importance to stay secure. So, security should be something that finance is spent on.

Summary

MFA has significant advantages for IT security and IT services in general. Avoiding a situation where you need virus removal services is going to save money in the long run, and avoid the embarrassment of needing to report a breach! MFA is even recommended by the government, see [INSERT LINK https://www.cyber.gov.au/acsc/view-all-content/publications/implementing-multi-factor-authentication] for example. On this basis, if you don’t already have MFA set up, then you should contact Rapid IT today to get it sorted on 1300 727 430.

4 essential Windows utilities for IT accessibility

Windows utilities for IT accessibility

When push comes to shove, anyone can operate IT services, even those who have been impacted by disability. In the modern world, there are plenty of tools that come with Windows itself which can assist anyone to be their best self in an office environment. Here are 4 key ones to always keep in mind that you may want your IT helpdesk to implement today.

Narrator

At its core, Narrator is a screen reader, which assists those with vision-based issues. As one types, Narrator will read out the text that has been written, as well as read websites for you, give audio notifications when applications open, and much more. Combined with the next tool, it is an essential part of enhancing a visually impaired person’s experience within the office.

Magnifier

Similar to the previous tool which assists those with vision impairments, Magnifier does exactly what it sounds like on the tin, magnifies. Most notably, the tool can either zoom your entire screen, or only follow your mouse cursor through a lens. This tool is also handy for general presentations within the office environment, through highlighting parts of the screen.

Speech recognition

For those where speaking may be easier than typing or using a mouse, this utility comes into play. Whether it is navigating a menu or opening another application, speech recognition can do the trick. As suggested before, this utility can also type for you, as opposed to needing to use a keyboard. For those with, for example, RSI, this utility can make using a computer a joy once again, as opposed to a painful chore.

Colour filtering

For the colour-blind among us, sometimes looking at a computer monitor can be a confusing mess as opposed to clear. For this, there is an easy utility that can be set up in Windows through the colour filters. The filters available, range from a simple grayscale all the way to the more complex filters for those with deuteranopia or tritanopia, with more available as well.

Summary

This has been a brief summary of 4 tools that could assist members of your organisation who need an extra hand to use their PC, these being Narrator, Magnifier, Speech Recognition and Colour Filters. A managed service provider could set these up today for you, such as Rapid IT, so get in touch today at 1300 727 430

How much should you spend on IT?

IT services

Computers and IT services are becoming a bigger part of society every year, as technology advances in complexity and versatility. It also places a lot of pressure on organisations, even newer ones with less capital, to spend huge amounts of cash to get themselves up to speed. Having a conversation about your IT needs is going to be best done with IT professionals such as Rapid IT, but let’s get you thinking about the ideas with a few questions to ask yourself.

What business am I running?

Your business’ activities are going to directly correlate with the amount of IT you will need, and how complex that should be. For example, any business with a strong online component, such as a retail online store, is likely going to need more advanced technology than a purely in-person tailor. That’s not to say that the tailor will not benefit from having a potent online presence and technology mix in their organisation, but it is going to be different and less involved than an organisation working directly with an online environment.

How many employees?

Generally speaking, an organisation with more employees is going to need a more powerful IT setup. This is primarily because of internal networking being valuable, and that infrastructure needs to be scaled for the amount of employees that you have. An easy and simple example of this is your organisation’s setup of backup solutions. An organisation with 10 employees is going to need less storage space for backups than an organisation with 100 employees, and backups are of absolutely critical importance, so should not be skipped out on. To this end, ensuring that your solution scales to your organisation size is vital.

Should I have a uniform IT solution?

Having a uniform technology setup throughout your office can be beneficial for the purposes of getting IT helpdesk support. It will mean that if an issue is found, it will be equally found on all machines, but also have the same solution, making troubleshooting easy. However, do not feel compelled to keep 100% uniformity across the office, if a particular employee has specialised needs. To use an example, let’s say you have 10 employees. 9 of them just do word processing all day, but the last is your marketing person who does photo editing, video editing, and similar. In this scenario, having 9 weaker PCs and 1 stronger PC for the person doing things that need more computing power is entirely reasonable as a technology mix. Just because uniformity can provide benefits, doesn’t mean you need 10 powerful PCs and overspend, or 10 weaker PCs leaving the person who needs more power at a disadvantage!

Summary

Everyone’s technology needs are going to differ, and understanding those needs is essential. You should absolutely invest in a potent IT solution, but that doesn’t mean you need to spend too much, in a way that doesn’t meet your precise needs. This is why consulting a professionally managed service provider, like Rapid IT, who can understand your needs and meet them for you, is essential to avoid an overspend, as well as the opposite problem of not being able to optimally complete day to day activities. If you are considering changes to your IT solution, or have any other questions, get in touch with Rapid IT today at 1300 727 430.

The best free software to boost your office performance

best free software

There are plenty of powerful options out there to boost your organisation’s productivity and efficiency, but these often come with a large cost. In today’s COVID environment, saving a buck is always going to be fantastic. On this basis, let’s look at some software that might just help you out in a big way, that won’t cost a cent.

What is already installed with Windows

We wrote about this topic in more detail before [https://www.rapiditsupport.com.au/5-pre-installed-windows-applications-to-make-your-business-life-easier/], but Windows has plenty of pre-installed applications that are fantastic. Sticky Notes is a brilliant tool to help organise your day. The Snipping Tool is excellent for sharing a snapshot of your screen to a colleague or customer. There is more though; one that wasn’t listed in the previous article is the Steps Recorder, which allows you to record a screenshot of every click you complete over a period of time. This is great for getting helpdesk support or PC troubleshooting generally, and much more. With so many options there already, the point is, don’t neglect what you already have!

join.me

Video conferencing is now a part of the Office 365 package, through Teams. However, obviously that comes with a lot of cost, especially for smaller businesses who may not be able to afford that kind of outlay. join.me offers for free, 10 video participants in a call at a given time, which for a smaller business is often all that is needed. Being high quality as well will mean that your internal meetings, or meetings with one or two clients, go through without a hitch.

Mailchimp

For sending bulk emails, Mailchimp has been a staple of the market for a long time. On a per month basis for absolutely free, Mailchimp will allow you to send 12,000 emails to under 2,000 people. It also features a powerful template designer to really give your newsletters a polish.

Wave

Accounting software can be a huge expense to manage, so what if we told you that there was a piece of software out there that was completely free? Whilst unsuited for larger organisations, for any smaller organisation just looking to make sure the books are in order, it’s hard to beat the price tag of $0. With this package, there are no limits to invoices, estimates, contacts and a basic inventory system. There are even apps that you can use to complete your accounting on the go. So, if you are a smaller business that is shopping around for accounting software, definitely consider Wave.

Summary

When looking to equip your office with the best in IT services, the price tag still has to be considered. We’ve today given suggestions for entirely free options for personal organisation, video conferencing, bulk emailing and accounting. If you need assistance with these products or anything else, be sure to give Rapid IT a call today, on 1300 727 430.

Top 3 advantages of Office 365

Top 3 advantages of Office

The Office package is one of the world’s most well-known pieces of software, and is a pivotal one to be included in any enterprise system. When discussing your network with a managed service provider, the 365 subscription may be a topic that comes up. So, let’s cover the 3 biggest advantages to Office 365 in case you were considering an Office 365 migration.

Teams

We covered Teams in more detail previously [https://www.rapiditsupport.com.au/software-to-improve-internal-organisation/], but this is a key piece of the 365 package that adds a huge amount of value. Teams is a communication program at its heart, with a ton of additional features such as a calendar that synchronises with other parts of the software, video chat/meeting functionality, and much more. If you don’t already have an internal communication/organisation method, then Teams is going to be a huge reason to consider 365 as a product.

Sharepoint

Microsoft Sharepoint is a file sharing service that integrates with the 365 package. This allows a sharing of resources, both internally within your organisation, and externally to assist with supplying information to customers and suppliers , as well as communicating more easily with your IT help desk. This includes integration with OneDrive, so that you can easily access your files on your PC. OneDrive is a mobile app as well, allowing you to hypothetically access your organisation’s files from anywhere in the world. This could also include when visiting customer sites; you could for example have your plan for this customer on your Sharepoint, and quickly load it up on your phone when you arrive.

MyAnalytics

Productivity is something that every individual aspires towards, and MyAnalytics can be a valuable piece of software to have so that anyone can achieve it. Essentially, it is a log of what you do at work, such as time working after hours, booking in when you are ‘focusing’ specifically on a task, and so on. The main advantage to this is the manner in which this data is displayed; in daily emails as well as ‘activity cards’ which can be integrated with Outlook. This data is therefore easy to distil, and set goals with accordingly, which in many cases can also be done with MyAnalytics.

Summary

Teams, Sharepoint and MyAnalytics are 3 things that are outside the ‘main’ 365 package (such as Word, Excel, etc.), which are great reasons to have your IT support helpdesk set up Office 365 for you. Combined, their ability to enhance internal communication, share resources, and deliver productivity data, could prove essential to your business. If you are looking at an Office 365 migration and want to know more, get in touch with Rapid IT today at 1300 727 430.

What to do in the event of a virus infection

virus infection

If your network becomes infected with a virus, the average response is going to be to panic, and with good reason. IT security is a significant matter, and when breached, could cause large business continuity issues. So, here are a few things you should do in the event that you do detect a virus on your system.

Don’t panic

The first thing to do is to not panic and do anything rash. This situation is more common than you think; according to the UK government, over 75% of all businesses experienced a security breach in 2014-2015 [https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/information-security-breaches-survey-2015]. With this in mind, your organisation likely has a plan in place, so start enacting that plan, which might involve alerting an external managed service provider, like Rapid IT. The first step, for example, is almost always to isolate the virus by disconnecting any hardware that is infected from the rest of the network.

Understand it

The next step is to consult with relevant experts, and identify what the virus is, and what it does. In doing this, your next steps will become a lot easier to figure out. For example, if you can identify that the virus’s intention is to crash systems, your data is possibly safe. Conversely, you may need to engage in an investigation of what data has been breached if there has been any activity in that regard.

Come up with a solution

Ultimately, the goal is going to be to destroy the virus through virus removal techniques. Your options may be varied, and coming up with the best solution is going to be important. For example, if you have robust backup solutions in place, restoring a backup of your entire network to before the infection occurred may be an option. More commonly though, antivirus software is going to be employed by your entire department or helpdesk support service to remove the virus.

Keep notes

Finally, be sure to have detailed notes about the incident, to both have an understanding of what happened if you need to report on it, as well as so you can be better prepared in future. If you engaged any tech support, such as Rapid IT, be sure that they provide you with a report of what actions they took, and what happened. This will ensure that the picture you have of the situation is complete.

Summary

With a good IT security system in place, you will be able to mitigate almost all malicious attacks on your network. But no system is infallible, and you should be prepared for when you do encounter a breach. Follow the in place plan, understand the breach, resolve it, and then keep full documentation; by completing these steps you will handle the situation in the best way possible. If you have questions about this process, or IT security generally, be sure to give the best in the business, Rapid IT, a call today on 1300 727 430.