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The Final Count Down! Windows XP End of Support

Mar 8th, 2014 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support
Comments Off on The Final Count Down! Windows XP End of Support

End of Support Countdown

As I am writing this post, the countdown at the Windows XP end of support page reads 30 days, 13 hours, 26 minutes, and 48 seconds.  What does that mean? It means that in one month, Microsoft will no longer be providing extended support for XP and it is highly recommended that you upgrade.

Many think, “I don’t need Microsoft support so it isn’t going to affect me.  How many times have I called Microsoft for help… Never!”

While I agree that you don’t normally need Microsoft for direct support (hopefully, you are using your friendly local computer service provider like L5 Solutions in Indianapolis) there could be some scary things as a result of the end of support.  The biggest impact of this is that as new security issues and vulnerabilities are identified, they WILL NOT BE FIXED.

What does that mean?  Well, for a supported operating system like Windows 7 or Windows 8, as bugs and security risks are identified, often found by third parties and publicized, Microsoft will find the issue and fix it.  But after April 8th, the scary thing is that when a security risk is found, everyone will know about it, but it will not be fixed.  So, all of those hacker wannabes out there will have some low hanging fruit… It is a known risk and they know it won’t be fixed!  Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to access any bank accounts from a Windows XP computer.

Working with Small Businesses for their computer and IT needs, I completely understand that there are budget constraints and you can’t always upgrade, but this is one that you will want to make a priority.  If you don’t have the capital to replace all of your old XP machines at once, there are options.  For example, we are helping one company replace a server and 15 XP desktops by rolling the hardware, software and labor into a 3 year $1 buyout lease.  This allows them to spread the cost over 3 years and become safer and more productive NOW.

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Windows 8 Features

Nov 7th, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Microsoft has officially released Windows 8 to the public. At this time, Windows 7 is a proven, stable operating system and we are still recommending that over Windows 8. That being said, there are a few nice features included with Windows 8 and they are worth mentioning at this time.

One of the most important features to focus on is the security overhaul made in Windows 8. Windows Defender is a program (some people may refer to programs as apps) that is included in the operating system. It is very similar to Microsoft Security Essentials, a reliable anti-virus and anti-malware program that Microsoft developed internally. Most home users will enjoy this feature, while business may want to use a managed anti-virus program on their network.

Most businesses will need to take advantage of the features available in Windows 8 Pro. If you have a Windows 8 computer, then the upgrade process is fairly simple. More information about price and the actual process for upgrading can be found here: .

The last feature that I would like to focus on is the Search feature. With the Start menu no longer available in Windows 8, the Search tool will become very popular. Users that interact with both Mac and PC computers will now have a search tool that is prominently used in both operating systems. Search is integrated into Windows 7, to our delight, and it is now is a convenient way to launch programs and navigate Windows 8.

Windows 8 has many more features that will help businesses and home users alike. For more information on Windows 8, please see Microsoft’s website at .

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Java – Security Updates

Oct 23rd, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Java has released major updates for both PC and Mac computers. We usually recommend these updates, as they keep computers secure and stable. Most updates are automatically downloaded to computers that already have the software installed.

Some malware is able to take advantage of vulnerabilities in software like Java. Java updates remove any known vulnerabilities and help prevent the spread of malware. The above mentioned updates are recommended for systems that do not have specific software requirements/settings for Java.

For more information on Java, please visit their official website at http://www.java.com/.

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Mac Operating Systems Upgrades

Sep 14th, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Apple has released its newest computer operating system (OS) and will be releasing a major upgrade to its mobile operating system. I will go over some new features and explain how these new features will help with all your Mac needs.

The newest Mac OS is version 10.8 and is called Mountain Lion. The user interface did not change much with this most recent update. Most of the changes are behind the scenes and incorporated into new features. Just as with Lion, Mountain Lion can be downloaded from the Mac App Store (only available on Snow Leopard and newer). This operating system has been out for long enough to where the initial bugs have been addressed and it is ready for wide-spread use.

Some key new features in Mountain Lion are Notifications, Notes, Reminders, and iCloud integration. These new features allow Mac users to sync all of their cloud-based files with their mobile devices. Notifications, Reminders and Notes allow users to stay organized and not forget important tasks/dates. To learn more about Mountain Lion and it’s new features, please see http://www.apple.com/osx/.

The upcoming iOS mobile operating system will be version 6. To get most of the new features and performance upgrades, users will need to purchase the next generation iPhone (should be announced on 9/12/2012). iPhone 4S and newer iPad users will the most out of the iOS upgrade, while using existing hardware. Older hardware will still receive the upgrade, but some features will be limited/not available. For more information on iOS 6, please see http://www.apple.com/ios/ios6/.

Windows 8 is right around the corner and Windows Phone will be making strides as well. Look for future entries covering these products.

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Windows 8 Release

Jun 7th, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Later this year, Microsoft will likely release Windows 8 as its new operating system for personal computers. When Windows 8 arrives, it will have been 12 years since XP began its run as the most used Microsoft operating system. This run will be coming to an end, as Microsoft will no longer extensively support XP (starting April of next year).

New operating systems equal new features. There are several changes from XP and plenty of changes from the current operating system, Windows 7. I will briefly explain a few, new features in Windows 8.

  • Metro Interface: This is a brand new feature in Windows 8. Instead of the normal Desktop and Start menu, users will immediately see tiles that represent programs and tasks. Users will be able to select a tile and go to Internet Explorer, Email, or other programs. At this time, this feature is optional and doesn’t seem like it will fully replace the Desktop and Start Menu.
    Opening full screen programs will be one Metro feature that will be used more than any other aspect of Metro. Metro may prove useful in touch computing and mobile technologies, but look for most of the features to be initially absent from everyday use.
  • Internet Explorer 10: Internet Explorer 9 is the current web browser provided by Microsoft. IE 10 will be introduced in Windows 8. There may be several website compatibility issues at first, but look for IE 10 to be the best web browser Microsoft has yet to offer.
  • Windows Defender: This will be the default anti-virus program for Windows 8. Microsoft Security Essentials is currently set as Microsoft’s solution and its features will be merged with Windows Defender for the Windows 8 release.

These are only a few of the new features that will be included in Windows 8. New operating systems can be buggy at first, but they still offer several benefits and enhancements that will help businesses of all sizes. Not all businesses will immediately switch to Windows 8, but look for this release to change the way computers are used in the workplace.

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Restoring of Data and Systems

May 21st, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

We have already touched on the importance of keeping a backup of your data. What do you do if you need the data that has been backed-up? The process for copying backed-up data to computer system(s) is called restoring . In this post, I will focus on PC and Mac workstation restores and how the restore process works. (*Please note: servers and other devices may require more advanced solutions.)

There are several situations when data/software will need to be restored. Here are a few, typical scenarios:

  • Hardware failure can force users to restore their data to new hardware or the same hardware (after repair)
  • Accidentally deleting a file
  • Restoring back to a previous version of a file
  • Restoring to a system state that was more stable

PC users can use the built-in System Restore, along with their backup solution, to restore data and system states.  The built-in System Restore functionality allows admin users to create and use System Restore points. Not all workstations have this enabled, so it is not safe to assume this functionality is active. System Restore, along with a backup solution (onsite and/or offsite), allows admin users to restore back to a time when the computer was stable/configured in a way that is desired. If necessary, data can be restored directly from the configured backup solution.

Mac users can use the built-in Time Machine feature that backs-up data and system states to an external device. A single file or entire operating system can be restored using this feature. This is not the only solution for restoring data and the proper restore process is determined by how the data was backed-up.

Some restores only require a simple process of finding a file in a backup and then restoring that file. Other restores require a migration/restoration after re-building a computer system. More advanced restores are handled through software/hardware solutions. For more information on backups and restore systems that may be appropriate for you and your business, please see http://www.l5solutions.com/backup-data-disaster-recovery.html.

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Third-Party Product (TPPs) Updates

May 4th, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Microsoft provides updates to keep your PC(s) secure and give your Windows products the latest features. That is only half of the updates necessary on most computers. Most computers have third-party software installed alongside the Windows products. It is important to keep these third party products (TPPs) updated to keep computers stable and secure.

Some common TPPs are Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash, and Java. When installing these TPPs, it is usually best to avoid the opt-in downloads. The opt-in downloads are rarely malicious, but they may be unnecessary and may eventually lead to issues.

Many forms of malware find their way on to PCs through TPPs that have not been updated. Even Mac OS computers are affected in this way. Most TPPs can be set to automatically update and that is usually the best way for most users to stay protected and stable.

It is generally a best practice to keep any TPPs updated. Updated programs work better and provide better security. Keep data safe and enable new features by keeping your computers updated.

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Helpful Hints: Malware and Virus Prevention

Mar 21st, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

Malware and viruses are a hindrance to computers, but most infections can be avoided with a combination of good anti-malware/anti-virus software and preventative measures. Here a few preventative measures to aid in maintaining clean and secure computers.

Uninstall Old Programs
Uninstalling old, unused programs keeps computers clean and reduces the number of attack points on the computer. Removing the old software will strengthen your defense and can also free up valuable hard drive space.

Avoid Using Browser Toolbars
Search toolbars are very popular browser toolbars. Many Internet browsers have built-in, customizable search features that make the search toolbars unnecessary (see image below). Browser toolbars may seem convenient at first, but they rarely provide benefits that are worth the security risk. These toolbars, especially poorly designed toolbars, can be a major weakness in your defense against malicious software.
 

 


Remove Local Administrator Permissions
In typical scenarios, users will not need to be local administrators. Using standard user profiles can help eliminate malicious software installs and prevent users from making detrimental changes to the computer.

Email
Several types of malware infect computers via emails. Software can be used to prevent malicious emails from infecting computers, but the best way to avoid issues is to handle email with care. Unknown senders and spam emails should be monitored and deleted. Strange emails should be reported to the sender and they can re-send the email, if necessary.

Safe Internet Browsing
Safe Internet browsing is the most important hint I can provide. Avoiding unknown websites and links can really help with malware prevention.

Using preventative measures, alongside updated and active malware detecting software, will help keep computers safe and in good working condition. Malware is out there and the best offense against these threats is a good defense.

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Staying Organized

Feb 26th, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more organized. It has been nearly 2 full months and things are looking up. One way I have stayed organized is through managing my note-taking. I used to have paper notes everywhere. Now, I use a few different products to make sure I keep my notes organized.

OneNote 2010

Microsoft’s OneNote 2010 allows me to create notes on my computer and/or my smartphone. This allows for mobility and consistency across the different technologies. If there is a change on my smartphone, it syncs to my computer. Also, there is added security so only I have access to my notes

Notepad++

This product is more for technical note taking. It offers simplicity for quick notes, but also has some advanced features that allow for changes to code and other tasks. This may not be for everyone, but is definitely a step up from Notepad.

TextWrangler and Evernote (Mac)

For all the Mac users, I have found there are a few options similar to OneNote. I briefly used Evernote and that has the mobile sync feature included in OneNote. TextWrangler is more basic, but it allows me to take quick notes and offers a few features missing in basic text editors.

Staying organized is important and manging your notes can help you stay on track.

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Backup and Recovery of Data

Feb 23rd, 2012 | Posted by | Filed under Indianapolis IT support

The weather is changing and we will soon have more storms. Storms can produce lightning that may lead to power outages, surges, and other malicious aftermath. Problematic weather can wreak havoc on your computers/devices and we want you to be protected from data loss.

One way to protect your business’ data, during poor weather, is to have a stable backup. Backups allow you to keep your data safe, even if your computer/device gets damaged. Offsite backups provide yet another level of protection by keeping your backup in another location that may not be affected by power issues, flooding, and other disasters.

Inclement weather is just one example of a time when data backups are necessary. Backups are also good for restoring a file that was accidentally deleted, restoring previous versions of a file, or just having piece of mind knowing that your data is safe. Bad weather or not, having a solid backup solution can save you both time and money.

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