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Microsoft Windows 10: We’re Here To Help

As of July 29, 2015, Microsoft launched Windows 10 for PCs and tablets, which is a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users.  According to Microsoft, Windows 10’s features include:

 

  • Cortana: A personal digital assistant tool that learns individual preferences to provide users with recommendations and access to information. In addition to voice commands, you can use Cortana to set reminders and add calendar events.

 

  • Microsoft Edge: A new, customized browser that offers content and results based on individual interests and preferences. It features a text-only reader mode, annotation tool, and Cortana integration.

 

  • Windows Hello, Microsoft Passport, and Windows Defender for anti-malware and spyware protection.

 

So how can we help with all of this?  Partnering with an MSP can maximize usage, and smooth out your transition to Windows 10.  The most important benefit is to make sure the network and operating system is ready for Windows 10.  The personal touch and customer service of a Managed Service Provider can facilitate that transition and give you peace of mind when it comes to not only transitioning your operating systems, but also your employees.

 

What We Can Do:

 

  • MSPs can help you stay organized and ahead of the game by letting us, the experts, control the computer and network aspects of your business.

 

  • System compatibility. Are the PCs in your office ready for Windows 10? Having an MSP proactively monitor and maintain the network will aid in making sure your system is ready to be upgraded.  Regular network assessments will also prepare you for not only Windows 10, but other technological transitions you may have.

 

  • Questions or Concerns. MSPs can showcase their Windows expertise, and customer service, by answering customers’ questions and concerns about Windows 10.

 

In conclusion, having an MSP on your side during this transition is beneficial for your business as it allows you to focus on your business critical functions that help you grow.  Let us, the experts, help you get organized and prepared to prevent downtime and confusion for you or your fellow employees.

New Breakthrough in fiber optic creating opportunity for faster, more affordable Internet Speeds

New Breakthrough in fiber optic creating opportunity for faster, more affordable Internet Speeds

This article points to a study done recently that could drastically change the way we use the internet.  This should allow for a more balanced approach between Cloud and on premise solutions.  Right now the 5 year cost of a server replacement & maintenance are about half the cost of moving your server environment to an IaaS solution (Virtual Cloud based Servers).  Usually these solutions require an expensive Internet solution and even with the upgraded Internet, the performance is slower.  With faster, cheaper Internet, more people will start using the option.  When more people start using the Cloud Solution, providers will lower their pricing.  I suspect the pricing with start to noticeably drop, making the solution a more viable option.

 

Check it out <a href=”http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/28/fiber_bandwidth_breakthrough/”>Here</a>

Ubiquiti Networks Receives $31.67 Average Target Price from Analysts

Midwest IT has been using Ubiquiti Networks hardware recently for things such as Wireless Access Points, Security Cameras, Point to Point Wireless, and POE Switches.  Their pricing to this point has been great and the equipment has held up to the standards that we expect.  The Security Cameras that they offer have been very nice.  The camera equipment is affordable and the interface is easy to manage and very powerful.  Look for future writings on their products soon!

 

Here is the article…

Ubiquiti Stock Analsys

Keep your focus!!

Running a business is a 365 day a year job. While you focus on running your business let Midwest IT Solutions focus on keeping you up to date on the latest developments in information technology. In the 4th quarter of 2015 Microsoft launched Exchange Server 2016 and implemented updates to its Office 365 service and software suite. While both feature improved security, there are several key differences, which is crucial to understand when making the appropriate choice for your business.

Office 365 is Microsoft’s cloud based subscription service and therefore is no need to purchase any additional hardware. The low monthly subscription structure makes it a cost effective option for many small to mid-sized businesses in industries who need to comply with all current privacy and regulatory guidelines. Many business owners do not realize that free email services, such as Gmail, yahoo, and AOL are not compliant with certain security and privacy regulations. Any company that is found to be non-compliant in regulated industries may face a government fine, as well as have to pay a service to get them back in industry compliance.

In addition to meeting confidentiality requirements, the email service in Office 365 has an added feature called “Clutter.” Clutter utilizes smart technology to learn patterns in users email. If it sees that emails from a specific sender are consistently never opened or immediately delated it will send those messages to the Clutter folder rather than the inbox.

Unlike Office 365, Exchange Server 2016 is Microsoft’s most up to date and secure email software for on premise options. Some business owners prefer to keep their email server on premises rather than Office 365 due to a higher level of internal control. Depending on your particular business’ needs, it can offer higher performance than Microsoft’s cloud based service. There are some cases where an on premises server is the best, such as businesses that require large capacity file shares (50GB in size or more) or operations that would be bandwidth-prohibitive in a cloud scenario. Offices that have less infrastructure access to the internet would be wise to take this into account during their decision making process.

Exchange 2016 offers all of the same security features as Office 365 and is fully compliant with all privacy guidelines. However, it does not have the Clutter feature that Office 365 users are able to utilize. If you are currently using a now unsupported, or soon to be unsupported version of Exchange, it is past time to upgrade; preparing to move to Exchange 2016 is a must. Any business currently running a version of Exchange Server earlier than 2010 will need to perform an additional step as they upgrade. Files must be moved to Exchange Server 2010 as an interim step as newer versions cannot co-exist with any framework developed prior to 2010. It is important to remember that Microsoft will be terminating all support of any version of Exchange prior to 2010 on April 11, 2017. If your internal IT department has their hands full managing your day to day operations or if you do not have an internal IT department, Midwest can help you ensure a smooth transition as you migrate to the Exchange 2016 environment.

How do you know which option is the right choice for your business? Midwest can help you navigate the confusing world of information technology. You focus on what you do best and let Midwest handle the IT. Contact Us…

 

Hackers Attack Small Businesses Too

Most small business owners believe cyber attacks are the concern of large corporations, however nothing could be further from the truth.  According to Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 71% of cyber attacks occur at businesses with less than 100 employees.[1]

Unfortunately, many “SMBs suffer from ‘It can’t happen to us’ syndrome,” notes Robert Siciliano, security expert for McAfee. “They also typically don’t have the resources to secure their networks to the degree a large enterprise would. But the information on their networks – and access to their bank accounts – still makes them a big target.”  Even though it turns out SMB’s have a larger target on their backs than they realize, two thirds of SMBs surveyed by Symantec say they’re not concerned about cyber threats; and more than 80 percent have no formal cyber security plan.

“Smaller companies are easier to hack,” said Clay Calvert, director of security at MetroStar Systems, a Virginia-based firm. “They don’t have the resources to set up protective barriers.” Big companies, which have the financial resources to upgrade their security, have become less vulnerable.  But this needs to change!  The average cyberattack costs a business $188,000!  You can no longer wait for hackers to target you.  The rise of organized cyber hackers is definitely a scary trend but it doesn’t have to be the end of the world.  There are some things that a SMB owner can do to help:

  • The first step you need to take is to think like the hackers. Ask yourself: Who are my adversaries?  Are they after my intellectual property and trade secrets?  Do they want my customers’ credit-card information?  Or do they view my business as the weak link in some larger application?  This exercise can help you see where your vulnerabilities lie and also help you understand which measures you can take to protect your software.
  • Make sure your code is clean. Many commercial applications use open-source code as components.  The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s National Vulnerability Database discloses more than 4,000 vulnerabilities in these components.  Security software companies, can help you identify and fix any problems with your applications’ source code.
  • Outsource your security operation. While most small organizations can’t afford to build sophisticated IT security systems, Midwest IT Solutions has the scale and know-how to protect your operations and sensitive data.

At Midwest we have the knowledge base and the commitment to service to ensure that your IT security is up to date.  We offer best in class cybersecurity protection.  Unlike other managed service providers who rely on point of service solutions; we employ Unified Threat Management, an all in one security solution.  UTM is a fully integrated, multifaceted approach to protect against network threats. Your IT infrastructure is too important to settle for a less than optimal cybersecurity plan.  Contact us today to get started on your cyber security audit.  Don’t take a chance and go it alone, get Midwest on your side.

[1] Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report 2012. 2012 Accessed April 20, 2016. URL:www. http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/threatlevel/2012/03/Verizon-Data-Breach-Report-2012.pdf.

The Value of Outsourced IT

Your days are filled with making decisions that will guide your business into the future.  It is easy to put your IT needs on the back burner, but that will lead to days spent fighting IT fires rather than focusing on your growth.  In the 21st century, technology is at the center of any business.  Your entire operation can grind to a halt due to one computer snag; costing you lost productivity and the potential for lost clients.  According to recent research by CompTIA, the proactive monitoring that a managed service provider offers reduces your costs by 50% per downtime incident.  Outsourcing your IT needs to Midwest IT is the best way to ensure that your business is running smoothly.  We leverage enterprise-level applications to support your business and provide a team of friendly, knowledgeable IT professionals for you and your staff.

Gone are the days when your only concerns were a slow internet connection or a finicky printer.  The information technology environment of today is increasingly complex; a major firewall breach that threatens your data, your VPN failing, or your VOIP not allowing calls are just three problems your business could face.  The costs for keeping a modern office running efficiently on your own can be endless as well.  You need to be confident that all of your hardware and software will continue to work for you – not against you.  This is a job too challenging for just one computer expert to handle.  It is no longer practical, nor preferable, to be a jack of all trades.   At the very least, a help desk employee and a systems administrator are required.  The average combined salary of these positions is $90,000-$120,000 annually, plus the costs of keeping their training and certifications up to date.  These employees would still not be able to handle every computer glitch you are likely to face. In addition to the peace of mind that Midwest IT provides, there are many less obvious financial benefits such as leaner overhead, bulk purchasing and leasing options for hardware and software, as well as compliance with government regulations.

Outsourcing lets you focus on your core competencies while Midwest IT focuses on ours. Instead of just the experience of one person, you gain the knowledge of our full team of IT professionals.  By working with Midwest IT, you benefit from our experience of working with hundreds of clients.  We have already seen most of the IT issues you will face and know exactly what is necessary to avoid or fix them in a timely manner.  IT is Midwest’s core focus, and we can offer solutions to you at a fraction of the cost of an internal department.

Light Saber

Light Sabers could be real!!!

Take heart Star Wars fans, scientists have proven that lightsaber weapons are theoretically possible.  The weapons have been used to devastating effect by the likes of Yoda, Luke Skywalker, and Darth Vader.  Perhaps one day they can also be wielded by your friendly IT service professional, to help defend against Trade Federation loving Cryptolocker viruses or Sith Serving Identity Hackers!  Scientists at Harvard and MIT have identified a way to bind photons together in a manner that would cause them to behave like the elegant weapons developed for a more civilized age from George Lucas’ Star Wars movies.

 

These next few sentences are going to be a heavy lift, but stick with us, it will be worth it.  Writing in the journal Nature scientists explained that while their experiment results regarding the achievable nonlinear phase of the photons are limited by the linewidth of the laser used; these technical limitations can be overcome by using stronger control lasers with improved frequency stability.   At Midwest IT we help turn nerd speak into regular language; so what that means is lightsabers are possible!!!  Nerds rule!

 

Ok get ready we are about to get all physics geek again; speaking in the Guardian, Harvard University physics Professor Mikhail Lukin stated, “Most of the properties of light we know about originate from the fact that photons are massless and do not interact.  What we have done is create a special type of medium in which photons interact with each other so strongly that they act as though they have mass, and bind together to form molecules.  It’s not an in-apt analogy to compare this to lightsabers.  When these photons interact with each other, they’re pushing against and deflect each other.  The physics of what’s happening in these molecules is similar to what we see in the movies.”

 

We always knew that our practice fighting with lightsabers was going to pay off one day, it looks like that day is drawing closer.  At Midwest IT we are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of technology.  We do not know how utilizing light saber technology will help you grow your business, but rest assured we will be ready to deploy it when the time comes.

 

This development cannot come soon enough for the fans of the Star Wars universe.  With the holidays right around the corner and the newest edition of the movies set to hit theaters on the 18th kids of all ages are ready with our Jedi and Sith sounds effects.  Come on physicists we are ready THHHHWWWWWWWAAAAAAA!!!!

 

1st Test Drive : Windows 10

So I spent some time last night researching the new Windows 10 beta that Microsoft released to the public.  The reviews overall seemed good, although people mentioned that for some, it did completely crash their system and they were required to re-install.  (I guess it is the same risk as any other Windows Update then!)  Most people are recommending that you do not do this on your primary computer.  Since I am primarily functioning on my Surface Pro 3 now, and all of my files sync with our awesome Stratoshare program, I figured I could risk it on my home PC.  I decided to attempt the install via the Windows Update to try and keep all of my stuff!

First Impressions

I really like the overall look and feel.  I think it looks like a perfect mesh between Windows 7 and Windows 8.  My start menu did not initially work until I rebooted, but when it did finally show up I was impressed.  It is a mixture of the original start menu, but then has the tile look next to it.  The tiles are shrinkable and the area for them is able to expand to full screen.  The background of the menu is also partially transparent, which is a nice look.

Next to the start button, there is a Search the web and Windows box.  I have only dabbled with this a bit, but so far it seems pretty powerful.  I tested it by just typing Google in it.  My Chrome browser immediately opened up.  I also like the taskbar icons.  They put a lighter shade of the icon when it is open and a little line underneath.  The look is very clean.

The settings & other functions seem to be clean and easy to navigate as well.  The right click on the start menu also seems to give you about every option you would want, which is great for us tech guys that do not really need ease of use, but are looking for more speed and function.  So far, every application I have attempted to use has worked normal without any patching or upgrades.

windows 10

Install

So for the installation, I went to https://insider.windows.com/ and clicked Get Started.  From there the rest of the steps were very easy and explained well.  The beta wanted me to link my Live ID, and the download was about 2.4GB total.

Since I have only had it installed a few hours, I will post a follow up in a week or two.

Delta IT Disaster!!!

Angry customers, negative media coverage, frustrated employees, untold revenue lost, lingering anger from customers: that’s the status for Delta Airlines this week.  Of course this is not news to anyone; unless you have been living under a rock you have heard the numerous news reports detailing the Delta computer disaster.  Whether caused by a minor power outage at Delta headquarters or an internal computer hiccup, the airline was forced to cancel over 500 flights causing gridlock across America’s airports at the height of vacation season.

You may not be running an international transportation corporation, but imagine what would happen to your clients if you had an unexpected IT failure. Think something like this can’t happen to you; think again.  The problem that Delta airlines faced was not the power outage at their headquarters, it was an inadequate IT Disaster Recovery Plan.  As a business owner you don’t want to be caught off guard in the middle of an IT nightmare.  While an IT Disaster Recovery Plan may sound like a great idea you might not even know what one looks like, let alone where to start.  Here at Midwest IT Solutions we are your IT partner and are ready to put together a comprehensive IT Disaster Recovery Plan.  The goal of any good plan is fivefold, it should:

  • Minimize the disruption of business operations
  • Minimize risk of delays with High Availability options
  • Ensure a level of security
  • Assure reliable backup systems
  • Aid in restoring operations with speed

At Midwest IT Solutions, we are your information technology partner.  We will work with you to ensure that your unique IT Disaster Recovery Plan focuses on prevention, anticipation, and mitigation.  Before any plan is deployed we will: perform a comprehensive risk assessment, prioritize your processes and operations, inventory all equipment and technology resources.  Once these steps have been completed we will create a step-by-step IT Disaster Recovery Plan unique to you and your specific IT environment.  Don’t get caught off guard.  Disaster could strike at any time and, if you are not properly prepared, you too could experience the pain and disruption we now see for Delta.  Contact us today to discuss a customized IT Disaster Recovery Plan.