Tech Talk

Welcome to Tech Talk with Array!

Tech Talk is a blog written by Array Systems President Sid Kato featuring helpful articles about common information technology challenges faced by small businesses. If you have an idea for an article, a technology issue you are currently facing, or a question you'd like answered, please contact us today and submit your questions and suggestions at the bottom of this page.

My Internet Connection is Slow, Should I Change Providers?

By : Joaquin Hernandez |August 31, 2017 |Internet, Small Business IT |Comments Off on My Internet Connection is Slow, Should I Change Providers?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#10 ? My Internet Connection is Slow, Should I Change Providers?

There are several reasons your internet connection may seem slow. Before you jump to the conclusion the problem is with your internet provider you need to do some investigation.

First, run a speed check of your internet provider. This is actually quite easy to do. A speed test program will test the speed of your computer connecting to the Internet – called the “upload” speed. It will also test the speed of copying data from the website onto your computer – called the “download” speed. There are many speed test programs available. You can search by typing “internet speed test” into your search engine. One I found on Google is http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/.

After you run the speed check and have both the upload and download speeds, compare them to the contracted speed of your internet provider. Most of the time you’ll find the internet provider is not the problem. If yours is not, continue the investigation.

The most common cause of a slowing computer is a virus or malware. Check your virus protection or malware program status. You may find your computer is infected and needs attention. Take steps to clean or quarantine the problem.

Another possibility can be a problem with a specific program or website. If one program seems slow, log in to a completely different program to determine if the problem is widespread or limited. I use Quickbooks to manage my accounting so I’d log in to Quickbooks to see if I still notice a similar response time problem. If the slowness only occurs in one program, you have probably found the culprit. If the slowness affects multiple programs, your computer may be to blame.

After investigating all of these without finding any issues, your computer itself may be the source of the problem. You will most likely need help from a local computer expert who can evaluate further. If you live near Torrance, I’d recommend PC Parlor run by Tony Musorafite. Ask for his bench rate which is very reasonable.

Hopefully, these tips will help you find the problem and get your computer back up-to-speed!

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I Have Some Old Equipment Still in Use, What is the Typical Lifecycle for This Equipment?

By : Joaquin Hernandez |August 24, 2017 |Security, Small Business IT |Comments Off on I Have Some Old Equipment Still in Use, What is the Typical Lifecycle for This Equipment?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#9 ? I Have Some Old Equipment Still In Use, What is the Typical Lifecycle for This Equipment?

The typical lifecycle of computer equipment is 3 to 5 years. Your computer becomes obsolete because the manufacturers no longer support your computer’s hardware, software, or both. Even though your computer may continue to function past its expected “life”, finding a replacement for a broken or failing component becomes difficult. Software that fails beyond its expected life is no longer supported by the manufacturer. And failures always seem to have a way of happening at the most inopportune times! In these instances, maintaining an older computer, especially if you don’t have the expertise yourself, becomes more costly than replacement.

Disposing old equipment is a subject for a later column. However, for the basics, follow your local e-Waste guidelines as computers contain toxic components and have to be disposed of properly. Also, be sure to eliminate all personal information from your computer. You certainly don’t want a hacker to find your information on a computer they found in the trash!

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What Email System Should I Be Using?

By : Joaquin Hernandez |August 17, 2017 |News, Small Business IT |Comments Off on What Email System Should I Be Using?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#8 What Email System Should I Be Using?

As a small business, you have many email options. If you have a website, your website hosting provider most likely offers at least a few free email addresses. Start by investigating this option.

AOL, Outlook, Yahoo, and Gmail are just a few companies that offer free email services. These free services work well but usually have limited storage and features. Also, using a free service means you will have the standard email suffix (such as @gmail.com, @yahoo.com, etc.) depending on the service you choose. If, like me, you prefer to use a suffix with your own company name you’ll need to use a paid service.

Most paid services are reasonably priced, ranging from $2.00 to $5.00 per user per month. Some of the more popular email service providers are Office 365 (Microsoft), Gmail (Google), Rackspace & Zoho. These are only a few of the many options available.

 

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What is the Best Method For Backup of My Data?

By : Joaquin Hernandez |August 10, 2017 |Security, Small Business IT |Comments Off on What is the Best Method For Backup of My Data?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#7 What is the Best Method for Backup of My Data?

Backing up data should be a priority for your business.  All businesses depend on documents and data to function. Even small business, like mine, need to protect their information. This is especially critical if you’re ever victimized by ransomware or viruses.

Financial records, significant documents, and communications are some of the basics a small business needs to back up. For these needs, an online backup solution will suffice. Several of the most popular options available are identified in this recent article: http://pcsupport.about.com/od/maintenance/tp/online_backup_services.htm.

Online backup services provide you a built-in capability to retrieve files or documents, without having to figure out some complicated process on your own. Also, these solutions are incremental, meaning only the changes are transmitted to the cloud. The system “knows” it does not need to back-up identical information over and over again.

To me, the best feature of online backup services is that offsite storage is already built into the solution. You no longer need to be concerned with moving portable disks or backup tapes to a secure offsite location. In my case, I no longer need to remember to take them home with me!

One of the oldest companies, used by many of my customers, is Carbonite. It is ranked third in the report evaluation above. Its ease-of-use makes it a popular choice. However, if your backup requirements are more extensive, Consumer Reports wrote a nice report which identifies several options available for backing up your data: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/computer-backup-systems/buying-guide.htm.

Don’t forget to test your backup solution as part of your annual maintenance plan. Once your information is backed-up and secure, make sure you know the steps to recover you company’s information and that you actually “practice” how to do it!

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Do We Need A Website?

By : Joaquin Hernandez |August 03, 2017 |Small Business IT |Comments Off on Do We Need A Website?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#6 Do we need a website?

Yes. If you own a business, you need a website.

Most people use a company’s website to learn basic information about that company. If you don’t have a website you are portraying your company as very small or living behind the times. Neither one makes a good impression on today’s customers.

Most websites are informational, letting your potential customers know about you, your team, and your philosophy. Twenty years ago, people learned about your company by your business card and company brochure or tri-fold. Today, people expect to find this information on your company’s website.

Some companies make their websites interactive, allowing their customers to log in to access or receive information. Our CPA’s website is an example of an interactive website. After completing our tax returns, our CPA posts them as PDF documents on their website. Using a secured login, we can then access both business and personal tax returns throughout the year.

Your marketing plan should also incorporate your website, especially if you’re using social media like Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or others. All of these tools work together to write the story of you and your company for potential customers.

Make sure you have a website so it can tell your story!

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What is the best way to protect against viruses?

By : Array Systems, Inc. |February 09, 2015 |Security, Small Business IT |Comments Off on What is the best way to protect against viruses?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#5 What is the best way to protect against viruses?

Viruses are computer programs written by malicious programmers to infect your computers. Most people aren’t aware their computer has contracted a virus because a virus can come from an email (usually at attachment), website, social media site like Facebook, or even your phone.

The best way to protect your computer against viruses is by using anti-virus software. There are several software companies providing good solutions. I did a search for the “Best antivirus software” and the top three on the website www.top10antivirussoftware.com are:

  1. McAfee
  2. Kaspersky
  3. Bullguard

I currently use the free version of AVG on my computer but there are higher rated software companies available. I did another search on “Best free antivirus software” and the top three on the website www.pcmag.com are:

  1. Malwarebytes
  2. Panda free antivirus
  3. Bitdefender antivirus free version

Virus Alert

UPDATE 12/17/2015: Consumer Affairs (www.consumeraffairs.com) lists their top 10 Antivirus Software products:

  1. MyCleanPC
  2. Norton Security
  3. McAffee
  4. Trend Micro
  5. AVG
  6. BullGuard
  7. Avira
  8. Webroot
  9. ESET Antivirus
  10. Kaspersky

Anti-virus software works by scanning your computer for viruses and can run in either an active or passive mode, based on settings you control. When the setting is passive, you need to schedule the scan or manually click the scan. The scan could take several minutes to complete. Using the active setting means your computer is constantly scanning for viruses. I recommend the active setting, which will slow down your computer, but provides the best defense against viruses.

Good antivirus software will detect the virus and then ask you to delete or quarantine the virus. Sometimes, the virus can’t be deleted without impacting the operations of your computer. For these types of viruses, the anti-virus software will isolate the virus into a separate “quarantine area” of your computer where it cannot cause harm.

Antivirus software is critical to maintaining the health of your computer, so make sure to do your part to defend your computer from attack.

I wish you the best of luck and remember to always use protection!

Array can help ensure your company’s computer systems are protected.

 

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How do I protect myself from hackers?

By : Array Systems, Inc. |February 02, 2015 |Security, Small Business IT |Comments Off on How do I protect myself from hackers?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#4 How do I protect myself from hackers?

Hackers are people that want to get access to your computer network and access your data from your servers and computers.Hacker

A few year ago, hackers would most often gain access through your wireless network. Hopefully, we’ve all secured our wireless networks and have these access points protected with hard-to-break passwords.

Today, hackers may get access by stealing equipment. Laptops, desktop computers, servers, USB drives, and phones can be a “jackpot” for hackers. Most small businesses don’t secure their equipment with cables and physical locks. Additionally, when equipment is stolen if your data is not encrypted, your storage device is easily accessible and can be moved right onto the hacker’s computer.

Believe it or not, the most common way hackers access your information is by invitation. An employee invites a hacker into the system without their knowledge. This may happen when opening an email attachment that looks like an electronic birthday card from a friend. Once the file is opened (by clicking on it) a program is installed onto your computer and notification is sent to the hacker that it has successfully infiltrated your system. Another common way a hacker gains access is by an employee accessing a website on the internet that contains a hackers program. If you don’t have updated anti-virus or anti-malware software installed software on your computer you will not even know it has happened.

One of the most frustrating attacks, sadly, is also becoming more common. Crypto Locking programs encrypt your files so you can’t use your computer. The only way to eliminate this program is to completely wipe out your hard drive and restore from a backup. If you don’t have a backup then you are held ransom. Typically the hackers demand “ransom money”, usually about $500, to “release” your data. The payment is made in bitcoin – the new online currency that is hard to trace.

As we’ve seen recently it’s getting more and more difficult to keep hackers out. Like most criminals, they look for the easiest prey. So please, don’t make it easier by inviting them in.

Array can help ensure your company’s computer systems are protected.

 

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I’m concerned about identity theft, how do I protect myself?

By : Array Systems, Inc. |January 20, 2015 |Security, Small Business IT |Comments Off on I’m concerned about identity theft, how do I protect myself?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#3 I’m concerned about identity theft, how do I protect myself?

Identity theft for your business is different than identity theft for an individual. Rules governing your business are stricter which could result in greater exposure. Here are a few tips to follow to protect your business:

  • Review your banking agreements. There are shorter timelines for fraudulent activity on business accounts. In some instances, if you don’t notice fraud until you reconcile your checking account at month end, it will be too late. Other activity like wire transfers require reporting almost immediately!Thief Through the Internet, Business Identity Theft
  • Implement two-factor authentication (two people) for any outgoing wire transfers. Even better, implement multi-factor authentication, using different people and different facilities (email, fax, telephone or special tokens).
  • Utilize online banking and increase your reconciliation frequency, especially if your transaction volume is high. Along with online banking, implement an electronic alerting system, i.e. email alerts that will notify you of potential fraudulent activity.
  • Use a different computer, than the one you use for email, when accessing your account online. The best set-up is to use one computer only for financial transactions and connect it to your network when you need to access online banking. Make sure that this computer has all the latest security patches and virus upgrades.
  • Enroll in Positive Pay with your financial institution. Positive Pay requires a financial institution to process transactions only if information regarding the payee and amount has been provided by the account holder in advance of each transaction.
  • Use high security checks and always keep your check stock, deposit slips, and authorization materials in a secured location.

It’s better to be safe than sorry in today’s world. If you would like to better educate yourself on Identity Theft, access the website: www.businessidtheft.org.

Want to know how Array can help protect your business identity and secure your computer systems?

 

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Using Social Media to find your customers.

How can Social Media help me find potential customers?

By : Array Systems, Inc. |December 15, 2014 |Small Business IT |Comments Off on How can Social Media help me find potential customers?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#2 How can Social Media help me find potential customers?

Let’s look at Social Media in the context of Marketing. The focus of any good Marketing plan is to understand your customers – where are they located and how can you create a message that resonates with them. Let’s assume as a small business you don’t have the big budget that some of your competitors have. Your best strategy may be a focused rather than shotgun approach. And Social Media may be just what you need to do it!

There are several social media platforms used today, the most popular being Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, with Pinterest coming up fast. Each platform has a unique customer demographic. Here’s how I would categorize them. Over the past 5 years, Facebook has transitioned from a younger audience to an older audience with a focus mainly on social connections. LinkedIn has many professional contacts and is good for Business to Business connections. For a younger audience, Twitter is your best bet, attracting mostly those in the Millennial age group. Finally, Pinterest is used primarily by a female population of various ages. So, for example, if you’re selling your product or service to another business then your focus should be on LinkedIn. Always start by seeking out the best social media match to your customer base.

internet marketing via social mediaNow that you’ve focused on the platform, think next in terms of extending your messaging to reach a vast audience. This is the great advantage of social media over traditional networking. Through traditional networking you can make contact with 25+ people at an event. Through social media you can reach hundreds, thousands and sometime many, many more.

The messaging in social media is quite different than in traditional networking. Previously, your business card, 30-second commercial, and trifold were often the most common components to convey your message. With social media it’s all about content and how that content resonates with your customer. You’ve seen this when a YouTube video goes viral or your website receives 24,000 hits overnight. With this type of reach, you need to think differently. No longer is your goal to reach the 25 people you met at an event last week but instead, to reach the 24,000 people who saw the message you posted last night.

Want to learn how Social Media can help you find more customers?

 

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What is the Cloud?

What is the Cloud?

By : Array Systems, Inc. |December 03, 2014 |Small Business IT |Comments Off on What is the Cloud?

Top 10 Small Business IT Questions

#1 What is the Cloud?

The name Cloud sounds mysterious and difficult to grasp. It really isn’t. In its simplest form anything outside of your physical location, i.e. your house or office, is the Cloud. The way most of us access things outside of our physical location is through the public information highway known as the Internet. The Cloud has become synonymous with the Internet.

If you travel back in time when the dinosaurs walked the earth (25+ years ago) before the Internet, everything was self-contained in your office. The software, hardware and data you needed to perform your daily duties were all located in one location – usually on a PC or server sitting under a desk. If you were connected to another office location, your company owned and managed the connection of these “self-contained” locations. Dinosaur in a cave using the InternetToday our world is ubiquitous because of the Internet. Not only are you connecting to other offices through the Internet but you are also accessing software and hardware through the Internet. You can even store your data on the Internet.

The Cloud, then, is all that stuff outside of your current physical location or, if you’re a dinosaur like me, outside of your cave!

Want to learn how migrating some of your IT services to the Cloud can help your business improve efficiency, accessibility, and flexibility?

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