Articles

Slow Computer?
Sean Command
Aug 14, 2018

Do you feel like half your day is spent watching your status bar load? Is the frustration starting to take over your daily life? It’s a common problem to have a “slow computer,” but not always easy to pinpoint.  Here are some tips to help you eliminate some of these issues and work more efficiently. Hopefully you use some of these tips before physically harming your machine…. I’m semi-kidding.

Your computer could be infected with a virus – Usually, the presence of a computer virus makes itself known through the encryption of files, a demand for ransom, or other nefarious pop-ups. But some viruses run unknowingly in the background, bogging down your machine and creating unpredictable service delays.

Fix It! – Run numerous scans. Try all the all the heavy hitters like Malwarebytes, Kaspersky, Norton, and our favorite, Bitdefender. If none of these scans seem to solve the problem, it’s best to backup the files on your computer and reinstall Windows. That method is usually the best, but unfortunately it is more time consuming.

Too many programs and/or browser tabs are open – Yes, it is possible to do a million things at once. But at some point, your computer’s memory and processing speed will not allow for the seamless switching from one open program to another. Some websites have a constant loop of video or audio going on in the background, which causes your machine to prioritize its resources and slow down everything. In addition, popular Internet-connected music apps like Spotify can store a large cache of data that will similarly slow you down.

Fix It! – Shut down or quit any programs you aren’t actively using, and stick with just one browser window. Want to save multiple tabs or links for future reading? Use bookmarks in Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome for fast, easy browsing.

Too many automatic startups – Some applications are preset to install updates without warning, and many are programmed to automatically load upon startup. This can prove to be a massive drag on your computer’s processing speed, both when you fire it up in the morning, and throughout the day if you are not aware of them.

Fix It! – Consult with your IT expert to alter your startup log. They can disable those applications that aren’t necessary during startup while devoting precious operating speed to those that are important. You can also right-click on the icons in the bottom-right of your screen, and close out all these apps.

Hopefully these tips will get you through some of the frustrations. Best of luck!

Laptops Overheating
Sean Command
Aug 14, 2018

With summer starting I wanted to write about the effects overheating has on hardware, specifically laptops. As you may know, Birds on a Cable has moved offices, and I’ve experienced a spell of my laptop overheating at our new location. Yes, I know, I’m supposed to be an expert and not allow such things to happen, but even us gurus are fools at times. For that very reason, I thought this would be important subject for all of us. With laptops being so convenient and hassle-free, it’s easy to forget that they need regular maintenance. We take them into any (and every) environment without hesitation, and rarely think of the damage these elements might cause.

What makes laptops overheat?
Laptops create heat during normal operation, which is why they’re equipped with internal fans. One of the most common causes of overheating is when the fan doesn’t operate normally. Sometimes this is due to dust and grime clogging up the fan, and preventing it from rotating properly. It’s also possible that the air vents are blocked, preventing air from flowing into the laptop. Something else to consider, which I didn’t know until I started researching for this blog, is the age of your laptop’s battery. Laptop batteries rely on lithium to store electricity. This chemical naturally decays over time, no matter how carefully you use it. The older the battery, the less efficient it is and the more heat it generates. Lastly, close those apps that you aren’t using because software use can also contribute to overheating.

What to do when they overheat
The first thing you should check is your hardware. Turn your laptop off and inspect the vents and your fan for any dirt, dust, or other possible causes of blockage. Also, check whether the fan itself is physically damaged, which can slow down its rotation. Sometimes overheating is caused by (*raises hand*) bad habits. Do you use your laptops in bed or on the carpet? Do you use pillows as padding? Uneven or soft surfaces often block the air vents, which leads to overheating. Always place your laptop on a hard, even surface. Turn off apps and programs that start automatically when you switch on your laptop. More often than not, you don’t need them open anyway.

What’s the best practice for keeping laptops cool?
To prevent your laptop from overheating, always make sure that there’s adequate airflow for your laptop. Better yet, invest in a cooling pad. These pads lift your laptop and add more fans to facilitate better airflow. Change your settings to “power save.” Moreover, shut down your laptop whenever you’re not using it. It’s easy to take laptops for granted because they’re billed as plug-and-play devices. However, with some extra care and attention, your devices will last much longer.

I’d like to close this with a very important tip: DO NOT BRING YOUR LAPTOP TO THE BEACH!

Why The Cloud is Good for Small Business
Sean Command
Aug 14, 2018

Let’s talk about THE CLOUD. I won’t bore you with details about security risks or pros v. cons. Those types of details muddy the real value of The Cloud, which is keeping up with cutting-edge IT without a huge IT budget. This is especially significant for small businesses.

Maybe you’ve already been wondering, should we move our business to The Cloud? and what type of Cloud? Cloud data storage or Cloud computing? What’s the difference? Or, maybe you’re asking, What is The Cloud anyway? Isn’t it something for large companies?

In a previous post, we explained what cloud computing is. Simply put, it is the offsite storage of physical servers and their data (and the software applications that run on them). The primary benefit is pretty straight forward: A company or service pays for all the hardware and support costs needed to store your digital footprint. And once you move to The Cloud, you can pack up and recycle servers, networking hardware, wiring, and old blinkers from that room everyone is scared to walk into (the server room!)

“But I purchased this hardware for a reason, so why get rid of it?” Because someone told you to buy a server, and you purchased a server. In reality, as a small business, you need to work more efficiently and cost-effectively. Historically, the technology used by big business has been out of reach for SMBs to contend with. Most SMBs have neither the hardware budget nor internal resources to own network infrastructure. The cloud ends all of that. It allows businesses to become competitive with Big Players in any industry.

In simple terms, The Cloud lets your business rent as little infrastructure as needed, and then provides growth incrementally, paying only for what is used. Essentially, The Cloud has become the great equalizer. You can get ahead by implementing the latest software, which is usually an expensive, slow and troublesome undertaking.

Certainly this doesn’t apply to every business or situation – onsite storage is still relevant for some envirnoments. The reason for this blog is to get businesses to ask themselves, are we working as smart as we can? What do we need; where do we need it? Figuring out The Cloud is one way to start to answer that question.

IT Industry Rant
Sean Command
Aug 14, 2018

Hello, faithful readers! You know that I usually approach blogs with a common sense, easy-to-follow format that allows you to educate yourselves on some relevant tech trend. I’m easy-going and an easy read. Well, this post is going to be a little different because I need to get this off my chest.

Bad IT service providers will say, “trust us.” They lead you to believe that they provide every benefit imaginable with whatever low price attached. The truth is, low prices come with low value. And these providers can’t run their own business profitably while giving you optimal time AND attention to your platforms and systems. They will set up your infrastructure in the simplest way possible – regardless of efficiencies or advantages – and then hammer you with costs when the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. We’ve made relationships with a number of new clients who came to us after being burned by low-cost IT support individuals or organizations. All of them experienced significant downtime, data loss and frustration. This isn’t what a business owner should experience with an IT partner who is supposed to help them grow.

And, frankly, I’m sick of hearing horror stories about bad IT service providers. Allowing these stories to become commonplace in our industry hurts all of us, and it gives the industry an awful name. Shame on these “businesses” that trick customers into contracts. Shame on these “businesses” that sell unneeded services. Shame on these “businesses” that deny access to assets their customers own. I can go on and on about the appalling tactics people are using to gain a quick buck. Don’t get me started on how often we hear about unanswered phone calls and support tickets. It’s ridiculous and unacceptable! Do better!

This isn’t every IT service provider and there are plenty of good ones, but it sure seems like lots of Bad Apples are hurting our reputation. And I’m not OK with that, nor am I OK with businesses allowing these Bad Apples to negatively impact their bottom line because they don’t know what to do.

You can probably tell, this fraudulent practice is infuriating to support providers like me, and the company I work for. We take pride in our relationships with our customers. We challenge ourselves to help customers grow. We service customers with the greatest level of support and integrity. This is how our industry is built to operate, and it’s why I love my job so much.

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