Windows 10 debuted last week leaving many excited but also a bit confused about when/if they should upgrade their devices. Most Windows 7 and 8 devices are eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 but we’re recommending that our clients wait for a few reasons.
1.You have a whole year to upgrade.
All users with eligible devices for a free Windows 10 upgrade have one year to transition to the new operating system. This means there is plenty of time to prepare and no need to rush the install. Prior to upgrading users will want to make sure they have a complete backup of their system and that they have allocated time to be away from their computer while the upgrade completes.
2. It won’t be perfect right away.
Microsoft has been testing and demoing Windows 10 for months now, but there are always unforeseen issues that rise to the surface when a new operating system is released. Windows 10.1 is expected to come out in October and by waiting for the first service pack before converting you can let others identify any initial bugs that need to be worked out. Once the operating system is more stable and less work in progress an upgrade to Windows 10 will be ideal for organizations looking to upgrade from Windows 8 and something to consider when purchasing new hardware.
3. All applications and external devices won’t be compatible.
Uptime for critical business applications is crucial for organizations large and small. Before upgrading to Windows 10 it is very important to determine that all necessary applications and programs will run on this new operating system. Databranch can work with your business to determine compatibility for key apps and prepare an upgrade path. It is also important to research and be prepared to install new drivers for external devices like printers. If you do not take this step, there is a chance your previously purchased devices like monitors and printers will no longer work causing pain and unplanned expenses to replace the faulty units.
Databranch is excited to work with our clients to plan future upgrades to Windows 10. As a longstanding Microsoft partner we are looking forward to the benefits this new operating system will bring to our clients but we are advising that for now you wait and take this software launch as an opportunity to look ahead, plan, and prepare for a smooth transition. To speak with one of our consultants, call 716-373-4467, email email@example.com, or click here to start your Windows 10 upgrade conversation.
Have you upgraded to Windows 10? Share your story in the comments!
In honor of National Small Business Week, we are sharing our top three reasons small business should consider outsourcing their IT. Databranch has been serving small to medium sized businesses throughout Western New York and Northwestern Pennsylvania with their information technology needs since 1985.
1. Worry-Free IT
Small business owners wear many hats and so do their employees. Outsourcing your IT needs allows you to focus on what you do well, running your business. One reason many small businesses don’t prioritize IT is because they don’t have a large enough need to justify hiring a full-time IT staff member. When you work with Databranch to manage your technology infrastructure, you have access to our full engineering team with over 100 years of combined experience and certifications from the leading technology industry vendors. This means that when you have a problem, we fix it and your company’s “computer expert” no longer has to spend their valuable time addressing each user’s computer issues. You also don’t have to worry about your IT guy going on vacation, calling in sick, or managing their time because we always have someone available to address your issue during business hours and our service coordinator allocates just enough time to each engineer to efficiently solve your problems.
2. Predictable Costs
Outsourcing IT allows small businesses to budget for their technology expenses. Clients who have managed service contracts with Databranch know what their monthly fixed cost is and have found that partnering with us is more affordable than hiring an internal IT staff member. When organizations take a proactive approach to IT, there are fewer financial surprises because problems are addressed before they become disasters and hardware refreshes can be budgeted for.
3. Preventative Maintenance and Future Planning
The cornerstone of our managed service plans is proactive maintenance. This includes monitoring and alerts for all covered devices, Windows patching, and monthly server maintenance to optimize performance and maximize uptime. This proactive network monitoring has prevented costly downtime for our clients by identifying imminent operating system or hardware failures and allowing the issue to be addressed before it has impacted the functionality of the production systems. When businesses take a proactive approach to IT they are able to plan for the future instead of just reacting to immediate problems. Databranch helps our managed service clients prepare for the future with Quarterly Business Reviews. During these meetings we review our monthly maintenance reports, discuss any recent services or network changes, and have strategic technology planning conversations with our clients. This is especially beneficial for small businesses who often don’t have an internal technical resource.
Interested in learning more about how Databranch Managed Technical Services can help your small business? Click here to learn more or call our office (716-373-4467) to speak with a Databranch Account Manager.
With spring fast approaching and the Windows Server 2003 end of support date right around the corner, many organizations have been looking to refresh their hardware and spruce up their network. We recommend looking at your often neglected UPS devices as potential opportunities to upgrade your technology infrastructure and APC has a great program that allows you to trade in your old devices for up to a 25% discount on new devices.
You may be wondering, “What is a UPS?” and “How does it benefit my network?” A UPS or uninterruptable power supply is a battery backup that plugs into your network devices like your servers and provides power long enough to smoothly shut-down any equipment during a power failure. When equipment is not shut-down properly, you leave your organization open to hardware failure, data loss, and costly downtime.
We have had many clients experience power emergencies this winter who were saved because they had UPS devices in place. The APC Trade-UPS program is a great opportunity for clients to upgrade their devices at a discounted rate. If you decide to participate in the program, the device you upgrade to can be up to four times the VA rating of the device you are trading in and it must be of at least equal size to your old device. Once the new device has been purchased, you have thirty days to return your old device to APC. If you can’t remember the last time you purchased a UPS or you know it’s been five years or more, reach out to a Databranch Account Manager to see if you can take advantage of this program today!
Over the past few months we have had a few clients come to us with the same problem, their computer is locked and they can no longer access their important files or applications. Databranch has been able to help all but one recover their systems. The difference between the clients we could help and the one we could not is backup. This is why we emphasize the move to business continuity and our preferred solution, Datto, to all customers and prospects. It’s that important. When we have succeeded against this newest strain of malware, the victims have all had a recent, comprehensive backup to restore from.Below I will breakdown what ransomware is, ways to prevent it, and how to take back your computer if you happen to be hit.
What is Ransomware?
- Malicious software (Malware) that infects your computer and restricts access until you pay a ransom to unlock it.
- Common strains are CryptoLocker and CryptoWall
Signs That Your System has Been Infected
- Any prompt asking you to pay money to decrypt your files. One common reason the attackers give for locking your machine is that you have done an illegal activity on your PC and are being fined by your local police force or the federal government. Always remember that these are false claims attempting to scare you into paying the ransom and that reputable organizations would never work in this manner.
- Increase in pop-ups especially concerning your anti-virus or memory usage.
- Sudden changes in your computer speed. If you turn on your computer one morning and it’s running much slower than the day before you should investigate what’s causing the changes.
Should I Pay the Ransom?
- NO – There is no guarantee that paying the ransom will make the criminals hand over the key to your files and by paying you may be allowing them to gain greater access to your system and strengthen their attack.
How Can I Prevent Ransomware?
- Have a business-class anti-virus installed and performing regular updates on your server and computers. We recommend Symantec Endpoint Protection Cloud Edition.
- Keep all software up to date. Applying updates as soon as they become available is imperative to keeping the bad guys out. When you wait because you’re too busy or don’t want to deal with possible changes or a computer restart, you leave your network exposed because the most common reason patches are released is to fix security flaws in your programs.
- Make sure your business has a firewall installed on your network and that it is turned on at all times. Having a firewall defending your network is a great first step to block out hackers and viruses. (Want Databranch to manage your anti-virus, Windows updates, and firewall? Click here to learn about our managed service offerings!)
- Avoid clicking on any links or attachments from unknown senders. If you receive an email from someone you know and regularly communicate with and it looks suspicious, trust your gut and reach out to the sender before opening anything from them.
- Be wary about what websites you visit and what software you download. Recently, ransomware has been found in advertisements on popular sites like Yahoo and oftentimes the “free” software you find online is riddled with malware.
- Prepare for the worst and implement a backup solution that stores your data off-site and is not directly attached to your device. Click here to learn more about Databranch’s recommended backup solution.
My System has Been Infected! What Should I Do?
- Turn off your computer
- Disconnect your computer from the network.
- Contact Databranch or your IT service provider. Ransomware is continually evolving and becoming more destructive. Databranch can help remove the malware from your system and restore your data from your most recent backup.
Have you experienced a ransomware attack? Share your story or ask any questions in the comments below!
If you are still using Symantec Backup Exec.cloud for your company’s backup it’s time to move to a new solution. January 6, 2015 is the last day services will be available and it could be sooner for those whose current service ends before that date.
What does this mean?
- You will no longer have access to any of your data stored in the cloud. Symantec has made it clear that there will be no exceptions.
What should I do?
- Determine when your subscription ends. You can do this by logging into your Symantec portal and clicking on the Subscription link.
- Restore your stored data prior to the end of your subscription. If you need assistance, please contact us.
- Choose a replacement backup solution and migrate prior to your subscription ending. Our Databranch Account Managers have been working with current clients and helping them transition to either a new cloud backup solution or a full-fledged business continuity solution and we can do the same for you.
Don’t get caught with an expired subscription and no way to retrieve your precious business data! We want everyone to feel confident that their data is protected and easy to access at all times, even during times of disaster. If you have any question or need assistance with your transition, please contact us at 716-373-4467, firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to Get Started.
Last week one of our customers was contacted by “Microsoft”. He was told that a virus had been discovered on his computer and that the “tech” needed access to his machine. By the end of the call his perfectly good computer was so infected with malware his best option was to wipe the device and start fresh, losing his personal data.
The worst part of the story is he thought he was talking to a Databranch engineer.
This scam has been around for a few years now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Here are a few tips to help you recognize the situation and avoid becoming their next victim.
- Unless you are expecting a call from Microsoft or Databranch, it is relatively safe to assume the call is not legitimate. If you are concerned, please hang-up and reach out to Microsoft or our office (716-373-4467) directly. Our business hours are Monday-Friday, 8am-5pm, so if you get called outside of that time or at your home, please hang-up!
- DO NOT download any software, go to any links, or provide any personal or credit information. These scammers are looking to install malicious software on your machine to steal your passwords, online banking info, etc., trying to get you to click on links that give them remote access to your machine, or get you to provide them credit card information to pay them for their services. In the end, it’s all about the money and how much they can get from you!
- Common organizations the scammers pretend to be from:
- Windows Helpdesk
- Windows Service Center
- Microsoft Tech Support
- Microsoft Support
- Windows Technical Department Support Group
- Microsoft Research and Development Team
If you have been victim of a telephone scam please take the following steps:
- Change your passwords
- Scan your computer for malware. One free program we recommend is called Malwarebytes.
- Install/Update Anti-Virus Software
- Report the call to the FTC – 1-877-FTC-HELP
When your system is compromised, the best thing you can have is a good back-up of your data. If your system is recoverable, the consequences of an attack are less severe. Click here to learn more about are favorite back-up/disaster recovery solution.
For another take on this scam check out this article from Forbes Tech: http://onforb.es/VOG9FI
Have you been a victim of a telephone scam? Share your story or ask any questions in the comments below!
Last week it was announced that financial institution, J.P. Morgan had suffered from a security breach. This cyber-attack has affected 76 million households and 7 million small businesses, the exact number of individuals who have been exposed is unknown and has not been released.
- The attack is under control and has been stopped.
- The hackers were unable to obtain any credit or debit card information, social security numbers, passwords, or date of birth information.
- If you use Chase.com, JPMorganOnline, Chase Mobile, or JPMorgan Mobile your name, phone number, address, and email have been compromised.
What Should I Do?
- Be prepared for an increase in phishing emails, especially emails that appear to be coming from JP Morgan. A reputable company will never ask for your personal information through an email. If you believe an email is legitimate, take the time to reach out to a company representative at an established phone number. The primary goal of a phishing email is to steal your personal information or money.
Please comment below with any questions or concerns you may have about this recent security breach.
Our Databranch account managers can help you develop a security solution that fits your business’s needs. We offer a comprehensive network security assessment and our engineers have the security expertise to keep your network safe. You can reach us at 716-373-4467, email@example.com, or click here to get started.
Over the past year the tech world has been flooded with talk about Windows XP, which went out of support this past April. Recently, Microsoft has announced Windows Server 2003 will experience the same fate as XP and on July 14th, 2015 this highly used server operating system will no longer be supported.
The primary concern when a software product becomes end of life is security. Microsoft will no longer be creating or releasing updates for Server 2003 leaving your business vulnerable to security threats. In 2013 thirty-seven critical updates were released for Server 2003, without these patches you leave your network and company data exposed. If you’ve been watching the news lately you know hackers have been having some success, think Home Depot or Target. It is predicted these attacks will become even more prevalent as companies fail to upgrade outdated technology. As a business, you also need to be concerned about staying in compliance with your industries standards and regulations. Many times software that is no longer supported will not measure up.
The time to start planning your migration from Windows Server 2003 to Windows Server 2012 is now. The first thing to do is determine how many, if any, instances of Server 2003 are being utilized in your current network set-up. Next, assess the upgrade path for all applications that are currently running on the Server 2003 operating system. We often find that business specific applications that are currently running on this older operating system will also need to be upgraded or replaced to be compatible on newer systems. Finally, allocate resources and budget for any necessary hardware upgrades that may need to be completed prior to transitioning to Windows Server 2012. It is likely that your business will need to upgrade your server infrastructure for the new operating system to run at its most effective levels.
The good news is we are still almost a year away from the end of support date but it’s important to start preparing soon. At Databranch, we have successfully migrated numerous customers from Windows Server 2003 to newer, supported operating systems. Our account managers are excited to work with you to create a migration plan for your business and are available to talk now. You can reach us at 716-373-4467, firstname.lastname@example.org, or click here to get started.