Uncategorised

Short on Cash? Build an App on a Budget

Short on Cash? Build an App on a Budget 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

iphone-android-appIn case you haven’t heard, the market for mobile apps is huge and growing. There’s expected to be a 62 percent increase in mobile app sales this year over last year, which will translate into $25 billion worth of app sales.  Not only can money be made directly through app sales, but there are other methods for monetization such as in-app advertisements. In addition, apps can be a great way to increase customer interaction with your business or brand, so even if you aren’t looking to make a profit, building your own app can provide tangible benefits for your business.

However, building an app can also be very costly. In fact, building a simple app can easily cost you upwards of $10,000, and that’s without any fancy bells or whistles. For many small businesses, this cost on a product that may or may not bring profitability is simply too high to risk.

Thankfully, building a good app doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are four suggestions on how to build an app on a budget.

Consider Your App Development Choices Carefully

Before building your app, it’s important to carefully consider your options when choosing who will develop your app. By making a choice based on price alone, you’re almost bound to end up disappointed.  If you’re going with an app development company, you should be sure that they have qualities such as an extensive portfolio of app development work, good communication and commitment to deadlines. And of course, they should be willing to work within your price range, too!

Simplify Design

Choosing a simple design is a great way to build an app on a budget. Trying to make your app “shiny” will result in spending more in both design components and the time necessary to put everything together. Instead, focus on user experience and ensure that customers will enjoy using the app instead of just seeing it. By cutting out customized graphics heavy interfaces or creating your own Photoshop files, you will be able to still give the customer a good design without stressing your budget.

Only Add a Few Core Features

Resist the temptation to build an app with too many features. While a multi-use app with lots of features sounds like a great idea, it’s much better to start off with an app that only has one or two core functions. That way, you won’t have to pay for costly development work to build functionality into the different areas of your app. Not only that, but testing and debugging your app will be made much simpler, as there will be fewer areas to test and tweak, as well as fewer areas to fix in case something does go wrong. If your app is a hit, you can always add more functions to your app later down the road.

Pick One Platform

In order to build an app on a budget, it is important that you select one specific mobile platform for your app and launch it before moving onto other platforms. While it would be great to build an app for multiple platforms such as Android, iPhone, Windows and Blackberry, the costs for developing the infrastructure to suit each individual platform is simply too prohibitive for most small businesses with limited budgets. With many successful apps launching on only one platform before later branching off, there are very few drawbacks to concentrating on launching your app on one platform and assessing its viability before moving onto another.

 

Keep Your Data Secure in the Cloud with These Four Tips

Keep Your Data Secure in the Cloud with These Four Tips 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

So you’ve finally made the move and transferred your data to the cloud. No longer are you bound to USB drives, which seem to get lost exactly when you need them. No longer do you have to worry about hard drive crashes wiping out your entire customer database or other important information. And instead of having to go back and forth in collaborative projects with other co-workers, you can make an instant change on Google docs and everybody is updated instantly. Congratulations.

But there’s an important issue to consider: keeping your data safe in the cloud. With your information now stored online, this means that your data faces new security challenges posed by hackers and other unscrupulous persons. Here are four ways to work in a new paradigm and keep your data secure in the cloud:

Upgrade Your Password

One of the best ways to keep your cloud accounts safe is to have a strong password. Weak passwords set by users have been found to be the weak point in many cloud companies security chain, with many users having easily crackable passwords such as “12345” and “password”. By having a strong password that isn’t easily guessable and that contains a mixture of letters, numbers and special characters, it will be much more difficult for would be hackers to gain access to your information.

Back Up Your Data

If something does happen to your cloud data or information, it’s important to have a copy of it backed up in another location.  Backing up your data allows you a failsafe if for any reason your cloud account becomes compromised or corrupted. You could chose to manually back up a copy on a physical piece of equipment such as a hard drive or a USB key, or you could back up your information on other cloud based services as well. If you don’t want to manually back up your data, there are many other services that will do it for you on a prescheduled or arranged basis.

Use Services with Encryption

Using services that encrypt your data when being transferred and while in the cloud will also boost your security. Cloud services with local encryption will make it far more difficult that anyone – even service providers or administrators – to have access to your data. This provides an extra level of protection, meaning that even if, for whatever reason, your cloud provider does become compromised, your data cannot be immediately accessed as it must first be decrypted. In addition, you will want a service that not only keeps data encrypted while in the cloud, but also while uploading and downloading to and from the cloud. At the present, one of the best standards for encryption is the AES (Advanced Encryption Standard).

Be Careful of Your Online Behaviour

Your online behaviour plays a crucial role in keeping your cloud data secure. Watching what sites you visit, what you download, or over what networks you access the cloud can mean the difference between safety and disaster. For example, using open or unencrypted wireless networks will allow others to easily see and access your information. Forgetting to log off on computers that others may use leaves your cloud accounts open to access by anyone. Opening spam emails that have viruses can also compromise your cloud accounts. Don’t store especially sensitive data in the cloud. No matter how many security measures you put in place, these measures can quickly become undone if you don’t practice smart Internet usage.

Although using the cloud comes with many benefits such as a way to access files and work globally, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. However, there are companies that will help you to navigate the new landscape of cloud computing. If you have any unanswered questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for quick assistance to all your cloud computing problems.

Windows XP Support end of life ? So…. ?

Windows XP Support end of life ? So…. ? 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

windows-xp-support-end-of-lifeThere are still about 488 million active copies of Microsoft’s Windows XP live and running. It’s a wonder what Microsoft can actually do to move people forward onto their newest desktop environments. But what have we seen so far?

I have seen a lot of scare mongering by the Microsoft PR machine. If you’re running Windows XP, it’s likely you’re getting pop-ups warning about expired support.

Microsoft have a real problem on their hands, infact they have delayed this plan to end Windows XP support twice already. The problem is that the majority of users unwilling to upgrade thier systems believe they:

  • Don’t care what Operating System they are using.
  • Can’t upgrade due to software limitations.
  • Are unhappy with Windows 8. (I agree)
  • Are not running internet connected systems.

While I can at least agree with one of their views that Windows 8.1 is a terrible OS, unfortunately I cannot agree with them all.

So many devices that we use every day run on XP operating systems.
From ATM’s , Display systems, Specialized medical equipment & POS systems. It’s scary to think what could happen if these systems were even inadvertedly connected to the internet. And don’t laugh, this can happen.

The matter at hand is more serious than you may think, as XP will no longer be a secure environment as of April.This means Microsoft will stop rolling out security patches, XP will no longer be patched for vulnerabilities. You know, the ones hackers with malicious intent find on a daily basis.

This may not be a huge concern for your regular Joe who stays glued to the web for a bit of web surfing and the occasional cat video. But imagine the ramifications for a company whose computer fleet can be taken down with one vulnerability. That this can happen due to running an outdated 13 year old operating system is beyond ludicrous.

Reports suggest hackers may be stockpiling vulnerabilities that Microsoft doesn’t even know about already!

The day the patches stop, the world is opened up to large amounts of exploits and zero day vulnerabilities. Bad stuff, which Microsoft will not assist you with or fix.

As at now, businesses should at the very least be running Windows 7. It is currently patched as per Microsoft’s twice a month patch cycle. April is definitely going to be an interesting month.

If you’re running outdated software, give us a call on (02) 8412 0000 before Windows XP Support runs out. We’d be happy to provide some advice, and ensure that your business– and your customer information– is (and remains) safe.

Designing a Marketing Strategy for Mobile Viewers

Designing a Marketing Strategy for Mobile Viewers 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

You’ve finally sensed the shifting tide. Everywhere you go, people are using their smartphones to access the Internet. Almost two out of three people in Australia have an Internet-enabled smartphone, and those numbers are set to rise steadily. As technology becomes cheaper and smartphone plans become more flexible worldwide, Gigaom estimates that 60 percent of the world will have smartphone subscription plans within the next five years.

Capitalizing on this smartphone boom, however, is not as easy as it sounds. Making the transition from PC and laptop-based websites to those that can be optimized for mobile can cause confusion for the uninitiated. Here are a few simple marketing tips for designing your mobile site.

Responsive Design is King

Using a responsive design for your website is probably the most important step that you can take to making your website mobile friendly. A responsive design is simply one that optimizes your website for the different sizes and shapes of mobile phones and tablets. With a responsive design, you don’t have to design and maintain an entirely separate site for your mobile customers, saving you time and money. In addition, Google has even put responsive design as an industry best practice, giving an extra incentive for you to implement this mobile friendly web design.

Study Your Market before Placing Content

When creating content for your website, ihub media says it’s important to consider the type of content your viewers prefer. For example, do they prefer longer or shorter lengths? How often should you switch the length of your content? What’s the right mix of written, picture, and video content? Checking out your analytics and other data will give you a good sense of what type of content your readers prefer. After you’ve implemented your mobile friendly site, you can again look at various forms of feedback to determine whether or not your customers are enjoying your content.

Get “Appy”

Designing a useful app is a great strategy for targeting mobile users. Having your own app can have direct financial benefits for your business. You may choose to sell your app as a product or use app advertisements to make money. You app may be able to provide other benefits to your customers that a website simply can’t provide, such as easy and quick user login and account management. Apps can also improve your profit margin. According to mashable.com, customers who visit retailers through iPhone apps have 30 percent higher conversion rates than those who go straight to the website. Whatever the case, it’s best to analyse your personal niche and platform and see whether developing an app may be a good choice for your business.

Social Media

With a whopping 71 percent of people using their mobiles just to access social media sites, according to an Adobe consumer survey, it’s clear that social media can have a big part to play in your mobile marketing strategy. Integrating your mobile friendly website with social media is critical in grabbing the attention of these mobile users. The most popular social media sites have flexible advertisement packages that will allow you to not only choose your own budget, but also to send specifically targeted ads to those who will be most likely to respond positively to it. In addition, your own social media sites can serve as a free platform for advertising your products, and they are a powerful way to engage in interaction with your potential customers.

For those who were on the fence, it’s clear that you should jump on the mobile bandwagon as soon as possible. With a frighteningly quick rate of adoption by Internet users worldwide, mobile usage is quickly becoming the avenue of first choice for people to find out information on products relevant to them. By using these important tips, you too can add value to your mobile business strategy.

Antivirus Tips for Business Owners

Antivirus Tips for Business Owners 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

antivirus-tipsYou wouldn’t leave the front door of your business unlocked, would you? In fact, you probably have a security system, one that’s responsive and that you trust will take care of your office and all of the equipment stored there. Likewise, getting proper antivirus protection is necessary to have a decent level of security for your business to protect your data from theft or loss.

With 30% of malware attacks focusing on small businesses, keeping your computer systems safe is something that must be on every business owner’s mind. While most people have personal antivirus protection, there are different considerations when it comes to virus protection for businesses. Most of the free antivirus program that will probably serve just fine for you simply don’t cut it when it comes to protecting your business. Here are the antivirus tips for business owners we wish everyone took just a lot more seriously!

Low footprint

It’s important that your antivirus program doesn’t put a strain on your computer resources. One big issue with some antivirus software packages is that they slow up your computer system carrying out important functions such as virus scanning. This is so distracting that it’s estimated that up to 50% of people turn off their antivirus protection in order to get their computer to perform at decent levels. Of course, this then opens the computer up to the same security issues that they were trying to avoid. Before buying antivirus software, check the guidelines or research the minimum and recommended requirements for optimal performance. In addition, there are some cloud based solutions that will allow you powerful antivirus protection without using up precious computer resources, so it may be worth looking into these cloud based antivirus program.

Reputation

The feedback and reviews on the performance of the antivirus software will give you an idea on how well the antivirus software will work for you. The number of downloads and the comments about the various antivirus packages will often give a decent idea as to how well the software performs and any noticeable shortcomings. Also, ensure that the software you use is from a reputable source as many antivirus programs are actually malware in disguise.

360 Security

A complete and holistic approach to security is important to have for any business antivirus security. The best antivirus packages provide more security besides scanning your computer files for viruses. For example firewall protection, scanning of emails and checking whether internet sites are safe are all important components of a great antivirus program.

Multi-user licensing

Since you’re running a business, you probably have a number of different computer systems for yourself and staff. Of course, it’s important that every single system is protected by antivirus software. While personal software usually comes with limited licensing, business packages will allow for multiuser licensing that will allow you to protect multiple computers by paying a fee for additional systems. When considering multi-user licensing, it’s important to consider which package best suits your needs both in terms of protection and finances.

Management

As a business owner, it’s important to be able to decide what settings that you’d like to put in place when it comes to antivirus security. The last thing you want happening is for an employee to turn off or remove the software for one reason or another, exposing your entire system! Ensure that your antivirus programme allows you the freedom to install and operate on multiple systems and that you can manage settings from one central location.

Protecting your computer systems from antivirus attack is as important as keeping them physically safe from theft or destruction. As a business owner, your best bet is to use a business antivirus security package that will offer more protection than a personal package. By taking into consideration the issues above, you will be able to best figure out the right antivirus software package for you, keeping your business safe and running smoothly. If you think your business may be at risk of viruses, malware, or malicious hackers, get in touch with us for a no obligation consultation.

5 Solutions to Secure Your Mobile Phone Before It’s Too Late

5 Solutions to Secure Your Mobile Phone Before It’s Too Late 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

secure-your-mobile-phoneHave you ever had your cell phone lost or stolen? If so, you’re not alone. Each year at least 100,000 Australian cell phones are reported lost or stolen – which translates into someone losing possession of their cell phone every 6 minutes.  By the time you’re finished reading this, someone else will have their cell phone lost or stolen.

These situations demonstrate the importance of cell phone security. No one wants their cell phone data in the hands of someone else. On your cell phone could be banking records, shopping information, work reports, or sentimental or personal media. If your cell phone isn’t secure, all this information can fall into the hands of someone who may use that information to your detriment.

While Australia is a world leader in instituting policies that help people whose data has been compromised with a policy to block phones within 36 hours of being reported lost or stolen, for many people this simply doesn’t go far enough. Your cell phone records and information can be compromised within minutes, meaning that by the time measures are taken to block your cell phone, it’s already too late.

However, this doesn’t have to happen to you. There are steps that you can take to ensure the security of your mobile data and protect your information from falling into the wrong hands. Here are five easy solutions to keeping your cell phone secure:

Password protect your phone and sim card

Putting a password or PIN code on your phone and sim card is the most important thing you can do to secure your mobile data. This quick and easy method will prevent most unauthorised persons who have physical access of your mobile from accessing the data within. By putting a password on both your phone and sim, you have a double layer of protection that will make it almost impossible for most unauthorised users to gain access to your sensitive information.

Install security software

Every single person with a cell phone should install trusted security software. Security software has a multitude of tools to keep your phone data safe, such as firewall and anti-trojan software. This security will make it far more difficult for those who utilize “soft” options such as wireless networks to gain access to your phone data. In addition, many mobile security software programmes come with find my phone features, making it easy to locate your phone in the event that you lose possession of it.

Be careful when using unsecure networks

When connecting to unsecure or unencrypted networks, it is important to be careful with your activity and what networks you are connecting to. On an unsecured network, your mobile device may be left exposed as other users may be able to easily access your data through the network. This is doubly dangerous if you are sending or receiving sensitive information or undertaking important tasks such as online shopping or banking, as your credit card data and other information may be easily accessed. Ignore the urge to connect to unsecured networks unless necessary and take care as to what activity you undertake when on these networks.

Delete/be careful what data is on your phone

Be careful what sensitive information is stored on your phone. Even with your best efforts and top notch security, it is always possible that someone gains access to your mobile device. As a result, you may want to reconsider keeping important or sensitive data on your cell phone. Delete banking and shopping information data such as saved passwords and auto fill information that could leave you open to identity theft. Delete sensitive pictures or information that could be embarrassing or put you in compromising situations.

Backup data

Backing up valuable data is also an important security tactic. Mobile data being compromised by others is only one part of the security issue – it’s important that you have reliable access to important information as well. A compromised phone may need to be reset, meaning that all your data could be lost. Set your phone to sync important information, or use cloud based services to ensure that important documents or information won’t be lost in case of malfunctioning equipment.

With the rise in popularity of mobile technology within the last few decades, a mobile phone is one of the most important pieces of technology you may own. It can serve as an office on the go, an impromptu photographer, or your online shopping centre. With all of these uses, it’s important to keep the information stored within safe. Follow these tips and you too will be able to sleep soundly knowing you’ve done all you can to secure your mobile phone.

The New Developments in Mobile Speech Recognition

The New Developments in Mobile Speech Recognition 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Mobile-Speech-RecognitionNo matter how hard my mother tries, she simply cannot seem to master the QWERTY keyboard on her phone. Her face wracks with concentration as she takes the time to position her fingers in the exact position to meticulously hit each correct key, the frustration visible whenever she makes a mistake. Thankfully, with the rise of mobile voice recognition technology, the need for touch based input may become a thing of the past.

As the technology behind the mobile speech recognition gets more advanced, companies are finding new ways to integrate speech recognition technology into mobile devices, making it easier and more intuitive to navigate everyday life. Here are the some of the latest trends that show that mobile voice recognition is about to change the world:

Mobile Banking

A big step being made by the mobile voice recognition system is within the banking and finance sector. Companies such as Wells Fargo are seeking to develop technology that would allow customers to check their account balances, transfer money, or conduct other types of transactions through voice commands. Not only will this raise customer satisfaction by making the online banking process easier and more efficient, it also helps the companies as they save money by reducing the amount of people who would need to contact call centres for help as the new smart technology could provide the necessary answers to their questions.

Gaming

Gaming is another frontier that mobile voice recognition is quickly integrating with. Instead of having to deal with pesky buttons to play your game, some games like the Reach for the Top trivia game allow players to  use voice commands in order play the game, interpreting your answer and getting rid of those pesky spelling mistakes that may cause you to lose points. Microsoft is currently hoping to transfer the speech recognition features on its Xbox gaming console to its Windows phones in a bid to allow users to more easily play their games on mobile devices. Other gaming companies are also joining the bandwagon in incorporating speech into their gameplay.

Transcription

Possibly one of the brightest areas for mobile voice recognition technology is transcription. Even with the advances of voice recognition capabilities, the ability to accurately translate speech into text still faces many hurdles. However, the software that has worked so well in PCs and laptops is soon coming to the mobile arena. Users will see Dragon software on their mobiles to assist with voice transcription. Dragon is the leading software for PCs and has a much more advanced ability to adapt to user’s speech patterns to produce legible text.

Moving away from the cloud

In the near future, more cell phones will stop needing to rely on the cloud to provide voice recognition processing. While popular mobile voice recognition systems such as Apple’s Siri and Google Now are getting better at understanding speech, the problem is that they rely on the cloud to do their processing. This is necessary because speech recognition requires a lot of processing power, which is limited due to the small size of most mobile devices. Of course, this brings with it the drawback that unless you are actually connected to the internet, you cannot access speech recognition features. For many people in areas with limited or non-existent internet infrastructure, this renders the voice recognition useless. However, Intel is among the first to produce a mobile chip that powers speech recognition locally, meaning that you can conduct important activities such as dictating a message without being connected to the internet. The localised chip also provides much quicker and more responsive speech processing due to the fact that they do not have to connect to the internet and wait to receive a result

Mobile speech recognition is happening. It may seem like a very foreign concept to us now, but it’s exciting to imagine how much more efficient it will be to do away with so much typing.

The Green IT Revolution

The Green IT Revolution 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

Nokia does it. So does Apple. And Microsoft jumped on that bandwagon in 2005.

What am I talking about?

These companies are all green IT companies.

More than just a buzzword, green IT is becoming more important. Green IT companies represent a new breed of business – companies that care about the preservation, restoration and improvement of the natural environment; companies that make meaningful steps to ensure their business practices are environmentally friendly and sustainable.

The growing importance of going green cannot be overlooked, with a full 72 percent of consumers reporting that they are more likely to recommend a brand that supports a good cause such as environmental sustainability over a brand that doesn’t.

Benefits of Green IT

Far from being a drawback, companies that decide to adopt environmentally friendly policies stand to reap a wide range of benefits. These include:

1. Increased Sales

It has been clearly demonstrated that the goodwill generated by companies going green has a net positive impact on sales. For example, it has been found that 50 percent of global consumers are willing to pay more for goods produced by a company that has implemented programs such as those that are environmentally friendly, with a full 43 percent of consumers actually reported to having done so. These figures give a clear indication that companies stand to make more money by going green and letting potential customers know about it.

2. Cost Reduction

Going green can also lead to massive savings in operating costs. For example, energy conservation programs such as those by Duke University’s IT Department not only made reductions of greenhouse gas emissions, but are also estimated to save the division $330,000 if the guidelines are followed. For Southern Utah’s IT department, it has been estimated that their new energy saving technology will cut their energy costs by 60 percent, allowing vital funding to be channelled into areas that need it the most.

3. Positive Contribution to the Environment

Of course, the most important beneficiary of going green is the environment. Green IT companies have been making huge strides in helping the environment. It’s estimated that AT&T will cut their carbon dioxide emissions by 20,000 metric tons through their environmentally friendly policies, striking a major blow in the fight against human influenced climate change. Motorola is not far behind, having cut their carbon footprint by 35 percent through their own mix of green policies. With more companies coming on board the green train each and every day, a bigger impact is being made in protecting and preserving the environment.

How to Go Green

Even if you aren’t a huge IT company, going green may be easier than you think. In fact, here are a few simple ways in which even the smallest of IT firms can join the green revolution:

1. Reduce Fossil Fuel Consumption

One of the best and easiest ways to go green is through reducing the amount of fossil fuels that you use. By adopting energy conscious behaviours such as switching off lights when leaving the room or unplugging electronic items when not in use, you can make a significant impact on your fossil fuel consumption. Also, buying energy saving equipment can also result in significant reductions in energy usage, as well as help you save money on energy costs. Some companies such as Apple go even further, creating renewable energy sources such as wind power to cut down on fossil fuel consumption and toxic output.

2. Reduce Consumption of Physical Products

Limiting the amount of physical products you use within your company or business is another hallmark of a green company. For example, reducing the amount of paper being used by sharing business documents electronically and reducing or eliminating unnecessary printing is one way in which companies can quickly and easily make a positive contribution to the environment.

3. Recycle

Another great way to go green is to recycle your products. Through recycling, you’re reducing the amount of physical waste that is produced. This is important because waste can easily cause pollution when chemicals from those products leach into the water table, rivers or streams, or are eaten by animals. One great example of recycling is Dell’s “no computer should go to waste” program. Customers are encouraged to bring back their old computers to be recycled, and even non-Dell customers can bring their computer products for recycling and disposal.

When going green, all options must be considered in order to achieve the best results both for your business and the environment. Care must be taken to ensure that you don’t end up instituting policies that actually hurt, not help, the environment. However, with proper policies in place, your business, customers, and the environment can all benefit with your IT business adopting green policies.

Some free tools to speed up your pc and save you time

Some free tools to speed up your pc and save you time 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

If you’ve ever bought a brand new PC or laptop, you probably know how annoying it can be to install your normal software all over again. You and I both know the old adage ‘time is money’.

Heck, a big part of the reason we exist is that businesses outsource their computer and infrastructure support to us in order to be more efficient and save time. That’s why I’ve written this short article that covers two great ways to save you even MORE time by:

  • Installing your regular software quickly and easily
  • Removing the ‘bloatware‘ that slows your computer down

Install software quickly and easily

Every time you buy a new computer, it’s the same old story. Java, Flash, Chrome, Firefox, a zip application and so-on. It can easily take a few hours to set up all the different bits of software you need to be able to get your work (or play) done. Before I forget, another essential is the VLC Media Player which in our opinion is easily the best free video player available. Anyway, let’s keep going…

Do what the IT-pro’s do and take a shortcut with the free software Ninite. Used by companies like NASA, Harvard Medical School, and Tupperware, it has some serious street cred. The great thing about Ninite is that it will allow you to select all the software you need with just a few clicks of your mouse, and the handy little app will install everything for you without all the annoying popup windows and toolbars.

Ninite allows you to update your software all at once rather than individually. Our Melbourne IT Support team were recently asked asked about Java update pop-ups, and we’ve have found Ninite to be a great solution. The only downside (if you could call it that) is that Ninite may not have ALL the software you want. However it will cover most of the basics and save you a lot of time.

Getting rid of ‘Bloatware’

When you buy a new computer, it often comes with a gamut of pre-installed software. Some of it is necessary, some is useful, and some is a complete waste of space. Worse still, it can even slow down your computer. Well, sorry for the cliche, but there’s an app for that.

It’s called…Erm… “PC Decrapifier”, and it certainly lives up to its rather colourful name. It will remove some of the bloatware, depending on your computer type. Then you will have a nice fresh system with everything setup in no time.

Windows XP End of Life in April: What to do if you have legacy systems.

Windows XP End of Life in April: What to do if you have legacy systems. 150 150 Greenlight Managed IT Support Services | Sydney | Melbourne

End-of-the-road-signOn 8 April 2014, Microsoft is ceasing support for Windows XP.  So what does this mean to small businesses that have legacy software, or devices that rely on XP for their business?

It could easily be argued that Windows XP has to be one of Microsoft’s most successful products ever.  After 12 twelve years, 30% of PCs in the world still run Windows XP.  This is pretty much unheard of in the IT industry. Home users who have never bothered to upgrade, as well as large corporations (including but not limited to most Australian banks) are still tied to this operating system. It has proved to be secure, stable, and met the basic needs of households and corporations alike.

When Microsoft stops support for the XP operating system, there will be no more security updates or bug fixes.  This probably won’t be of concern to the majority of SME customers, as we can assume that most of the issues have already been fixed.  What should concern business owners though is what happens when that old PC dies?  We all know that old computer hardware will eventually fail or need repairs, but once it is obsolete getting parts can certainly be a challenge, so it is best to have a plan well in advance.

Surprisingly quite a few of our customers have old applications, and even hardware accessories that will only work with Windows XP, and/or the older hardware platforms.  So the small business owner now needs to decide, do I replace this very expensive piece of manufacturing or medical equipment with something that supports a newer version of Windows, or are other options available to keep the old systems running?  When such equipment costs tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, the need becomes even greater.  Fortunately all is not lost.  Any good Managed IT Service provider should be able come up with creative solutions to keep you running.

One option is to stockpile spares of whatever components you may need.  Old computer parts can also be sourced from specialist providers if you know where to look.  Even if you need to pay a premium price for 10 year old technology, it still may be cheaper than replacing an entire system.  The key here is to plan ahead, because in the worst case, parts may need to be sourced from overseas, and can take days if not weeks to get here.

If it is just an application that needs to be kept running, the solution is likely to be simpler.  We would suggest using a technology called ‘virtualisation’.  This involves taking an image of the operating system and its application on the physical XP machine, and then run this machine within a virtual environment on a new, more powerful desktop or server.  Tools like VMware Converter and ShadowProtect make the process quite painless, but it always best to consult your local IT support provider to ensure this is a viable option.

So if there is a business case to keep those older machines running, it’s a good idea to include these machines in your Business Continuity and Disaster recovery plan. Call us on (02) 8412 0000 if you’d like more information on this or any other aspect of your IT infrastructure!