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Now you can follow ComputerSpot on Twitter

We have recently added a Twitter account for ComputerSpot, so now you can follow ComputerSpot on Twitter and stay up to date with the latest ComputerSpot posts.
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Do you want a fast Internet connection?

Fast Internet ConnectionHow Fast is a Fast Internet Connection?

Part of the BT 21st Century Network (21CN) roll-out is a service known as Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC). Delivered across BT’s Next Generation Network this service provides a really Fast Internet Connection of up to 40Mbit/s download speed and a choice of either 2Mbit/s or 10Mbit/s upload speed.

How is the Fast Internet Connection Achieved?

Read the rest of this entry »

Why did Intel buy McAfee for $7.68 Billion?

Intel have announced today that they are buying McAfee, the Anti Virus software company. The full details and Press Release are available on the Press section of the Intel Website.

Why did Intel buy McAfee?

Why would Intel, the company who produce the processor chips inside most PCs, buy a software company who specialise in Anti-Virus and security software? 

Intel are looking to make security an integral part of the future of hardware devices that use their technology. When Intel buy McAfee, one of the most well known and respected security companies around, they also acquire a huge amount of technology, knowledge and research.

Intel buy McAfee – what does it mean us?

It shows that Intel are serious about security and that they want to steal a march on competitors like AMD.

Intel InsideIf Intel can embed security technology into their chips it will, ultimately, mean a more secure computing experience for all of us.

Imagine your laptop with a ‘Intel Inside, Secured by McAfee’ sticker on it. If the combined strengths of Intel and McAfee mean that you are more likely to buy a PC with an Intel Processor in it, because it is inherently more secure, then Intel have done their job. If McAfee security software can make better use of the technology of Intel processors then you are more likely to use McAfee.

So at the end of the day it make good commercial sense for Intel to buy McAfee and, if they get it right we benefit with a more secure computing experience.  

It will also mean that it will be much simpler for McAfee to build out an appliance based technology for the Enterprise.

How to Select a Remote Support Service Provider?

If you are looking for Cost Effective Systems Management for a Small Business, to support your computer systems, how do you select the best Systems Management Company for your business? What are the keys things that you should look for?

Most Remote Support Service Providers provide very similar core services, so you need to look at the items that they use to differentiate themselves from the crowd. At the core all of the RSSPs will provide:-

  • Patch Management
  • HelpDesk
  • Monitoring
  • Reporting

Remote Support Service – Will it fix the problem?

Will the Remote Support Service Provider simply tell you that a problem has occurred, or will they actually fix the problem for you? If all they are going to do is tell you that a problem has occurred then they are of limited use.

Remote Support Service – Application Expertise

Find a Remote Support Service Provider (RSSP) who understands how to look after the key services that your business relies on. In addition to the obvious things like do they support your mail system, Exchange, Lotus Domino etc. you may want to find out about specific Line of Business application support.

If your business is growing, make sure that they understand what you are planning for the future. e.g. If you are looking to have home workers or multiple offices in the future, then an RSSP who can also provide VoIP might be helpful, as would the ability to provided hosted services – like Microsoft Office 365, BPOS, Hosted Exchange etc.

In addition to fixing things for you do they also provide advice and guidance, which could help reduce your IT costs, around future technologies and trends? Ideally you want a company who will act as your IT department providing advice and guidance as and when required.

Remote Support Service – Experience

Find a Remote Support Service Provider (RSSP) who is experienced in providing software support, rather than a hardware support provider who is dabbling in Services.

  • Are they used to supporting customers of your size or will you be their largest customer?
  • Are they experienced in Systems Management processes?

Understand how they Charge for their Remote Support Service

Do they charge, Monthly, Quarterly or Annually?  Monthly in advance is the best option for customers, unless you particularly want to pay quarterly. If you pay annually in advance the MSP (Managed Service Provider) doesn’t have much of an incentive to provide you with good service, as they already have your money.

How long is the Remote Support Service Contract?

Is the Remote Support Service Provider trying to tie you into a multi-year contract.  A lot of IT providers will get you to sign a 3 year contract, the most you should sign up for is a single year, and in a lot of cases you can get monthly rolling subscriptions. Monthly Rolling is ideal as the Remote Support Service Provider is only as good as the service they provided you last month, if they mess up you can easily change to a different Remote Support Service Provider. i.e. They will always be interested in making sure that you are provided with a good service.

What is included in your Remote Support Service?

Do I need to buy any Software to use the Remote Support Service?

Typically most Remote Support Service Provider’s include all of the software required to perform the tasks they are managing. You don’t own the software, it is provided as part of your subscription service. In most cases this will include things like:-

  • Anti-Virus Software
  • Anti-Spam Software
  • Backup Software
  • Software Delivery System
  • Audit & Inventory Software

What do they charge extra for?

A lot of Remote Support Service Providers offer a fixed Fee service. i.e. It doesn’t matter how much support work they do the charge is always the same. Some companies will want to charge extra for fixing problems, adding new users, restoring files from backup etc. Make sure that you know what is included as part of your contract and what they want to charge extra for.

Remote Support Service

SystemAssure ~ Remote Support Service for Smart BusinessesIf you are looking for a Remote Support Service in the UK then take a look at SystemAssure from AKCSL and see how the Remote Support Service that we provide maps onto your business requirements.

Microsoft Hosted Services

There is now a cost effective range of Microsoft Hosted Services, for both the business and home user. Some of the services are completely free and the others are available as a monthly subscription service.

Free – Microsoft Hosted Services

Currently the Free Microsoft Hosted Services include:-

  • Microsoft SkyDrive
  • Windows Live Office

Microsoft Hosted Services – SkyDrive

Microsoft SkyDrive is 25Gb of Free Online Storage, accessible over the web. You can save files securely, or share them with other users.

Microsoft Hosted Services – Windows Live Office

Windows Live Office provides you with Free access to the Microsoft Office Suite of tools. Used in conjunction with your SkyDrive account you have complete access to your Office Documents, along with the tools to edit them from any PC with an Internet connection.

Windows Live Office, or Office Web as it is sometimes called provides you with free access to:-

  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft OneNote

Subscription – Microsoft Hosted Services

Business Productivity Online (BPOS) – Microsoft Hosted Services

Currently the Microsoft Hosted Services, available as part of a subscription include:-

  • Hosted Exchange
  • Hosted SharePoint
  • Hosted OCS
  • Hosted LiveMeeting

These services can be purchased either individually, or together as the Microsoft BPOS (Business Productivity Online Services) package. The BPOS Suite is available, in the UK for, £6.71 per user per month – with a minimum subscription of 5 users. You can either purchase BPOS online from the Microsoft website, or through your Microsoft Partner. The price is exactly the same whichever route you take. Generally you should purchase BPOS through your Microsoft Partner as they will provide advice, guidance and assistance on setting up and configuring your Microsoft Hosted Services.

Additional Options for Exchange – Microsoft Hosted Services

The optional Microsoft Hosted Services include:-

  • Email Spam & Virus Filtering
  • Email Archive
  • Email Encryption

These optional Microsoft Hosted Services for Exchange are designed so that they work with both hosted versions of Exchange and your local on-premise version of Exchange or Small Business Server (SBS). So if you have a local Exchange server you can start using Microsoft Hosted Services today to provide your business with a fully searchable email Archive and Spam protection.

Email Archive starts at only £3.00 per user per month and email Spam filtering and Virus protection starts at only £1.03 per user per month.

How can I get Microsoft Hosted Services?

Microsoft Hosted Services – Free

If you want to use the Free Microsoft Hosted Services of SkyDrive and Live Office, you can simply create yourself an account on the Microsoft Live website and start using them today.

Microsoft Hosted Services – BPOS

If you are interested in the subscription based Microsoft Hosted Services the best way to get a Free 30 day trail is to contact your Microsoft Partner, who can help you setup an account for your business.

If you don’t have a Microsoft Partner, and are located in the UK, then Contact us, via the SystemAssure website and  we can get you setup with a Free 30 day trail of any of the  Microsoft Hosted Services.

Computer Support Surrey

If you have an office in Surrey and are searching Google for Computer Support companies, the chances are that you will seach for ‘Computer Support Surrey’. If you have employees, or offices, in Surrey, Hampshire and Edinburgh do you need to engage a local IT support in each location to manage your computers, or is a centralised Remote Support, or Managed Service Provider (MSP) a better option? Do you really need ‘Computer Support Surrey’, do you want to find small local companies in multiple locations, all of whom will use different tools and processes to manage your IT Systems? All will want ‘Administrative’ access to you systems etc. By taking the multiple local provider route you actually create an administrative nightmare and dramatically increase complexity and reduce the security of your IT Systems.

The Best Computer Support for your Business

If you have multiple locations and it makes sense to have one Support Provider, rather than several local companies looking after your systems, then why, when you are looking for the best IT support for your company, would you restrict yourself to just local companies? Surely the important thing, for your business, is the expertise and service delivery rather than where the company is located.

Is ‘Computer Support Surrey’ the Best IT Support or merely the most convenient?

In most cases you don’t need people to be close by, so that they can visit your offices at the drop of a hat. Using proactive monitoring and automation computer systems can be more effectively managed and administered remotely. In this case we are talking about what is variously called:

  • Outsourced IT
  • Hosted Management
  • Managed Service
  • Remote Support
  • Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

Don’t Search for Computer Support Surrey

If you are looking for the best Computer Support for your business, then don’t simply search for ‘Computer Support Surrey’ if your offices are in Surrey. Look at what what is essential for your business and then search for that. i.e. Search for ‘Small Business Outsourced IT’ or ‘Remote Exchange Support’. i.e. You should be describing the service that you need  rather than telling Google what you think the answer to the problem is.

Do I need Computer Support Surrey?

SystemAssure ~ Managed IT Services for Smart BusinessesNo more searching for Computer Support Surrey or Computer Support Hampshire in Google. Search for the service that your company needs, not for the answer you think you want, or if you just want the best computer support for your systems take a look at SystemAssure from AKCSL.

Where has my disk space gone?

At some point or another all of us have asked this question, or a variant of it. We all buy computers with lots of disk space, but the files seem to expand to occupy the available space. It doesnt seem to matter how large the disk is when you buy your computer, you quickly run out of space.

So how can you find out where your disk space has gone?

You may have struggled with file-manager and searched to try and find large files, but as they say ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ .

Visualise disk space usage with WinDirStat

Use WinDirStat to find out where your disk space has goneWell now you can see a picture of how your disk space is being used. The big ‘blobs’ are the files that are taking up the space, so on my laptop the largest files are my Outlook PST file and my local email Archive.

The treemap represents each file as a colored rectangle, the area of which is proportional to the file’s size. The rectangles are arranged in such a way, that directories again make up rectangles, which contain all their files and sub-directories. So their area is proportional to the size of the sub-trees. The color of a rectangle indicates the type of the file, as shown in the extension list. The cushion shading additionally brings out the directory structure. The information is nicely colour coded so all of the files of the same type are the same colour. In my case the purple blobs in the middle of the screenshot are a collection of photos from my holiday last year.

WinDirStat will quickly show you where your disk space has gone, which applications are using the space,which file types are using most of your disk space. So you could see if the space is being used by graphics, MP3 file etc.

Where to get WinDirStat

WinDirStat is a tool released under the GNU General Public License, you can download a copy of it from http://windirstat.info/index.php.

If you want to find out where your disk space has gone get hold of a copy of WinDirStat today and see what the space hogs are.

What is Malware?

The term Malware is generally accepted to be a short form of the words Malicious software. This typically encompasses multiple categories of software such as viruses, trojans, worms, spyware, etc. The goal of malware is to install software that can destroy your data, effect your computer’s performance, cause a crash or allow spammers to send email through your account. Typically the authors of Malware want to use your computer to send spam or phishing emails that will ultimately generate money for them.

How do I know if my PC is infected with Malware?

“My Anti-Virus software doesn’t show any problems, so how do I know if I have any Malware installed?” Unfortunately most antivirus software doesn’t recognise malware, or if it does then it doesn’t do a good job of cleaning up the malware.

What is the best way to get rid of malware?

malware removal with malwarebytesThere are several good products available to identify and remove Malware from your computer. The best and most effective Anti Malware software that I am aware of is Malwarebytes which is available in 2 versions. Both versions of Malwarebytes are fully functional, the two versions are:-

  1. Malwarebytes Free edition
  2. Malwarebytes Full version (approx £16.00)

Both versions perform full scans and will remove malware from your computer, so you get to try the full capabilities of the product without having to hand over your credit card information. The main difference is that activating the full version unlocks real-time protection, scheduled scanning, and scheduled updating.

Note: Anti-Malware software isn’t intended to replace your anti-virus software, it should be used in conjunction with a traditional anti-virus product – like Microsoft Security Essentials.

Can I Automate Anti Malware Software?

The short answer is yes, you can automate anti malware scans and clean up. You can buy a full copy of Malwarebytes, so that you can schedule the scans and updates.

Another option is to use a Systems Management solution, like SystemAssure, which provides full automation for anti-virus and anti-malware scans and cleanup, alongside monitoring and management.

Windows Live Office

If you have a Windows Live Skydrive account then you now also get access to the applications included in Windows Live – Office, or Office Web. Windows Live Office allows you to create and update Microsoft Office documents on the web, without you having to have a copy of Microsoft Office installed on your PC, great for those last minute updates to your Word document or PowerPoint presentation.

What applications are included in Windows Live Office?

Windows Live Office comprises web based versions of:- 

  • Word
  • Excel
  • PowerPoint
  • OneNote

Windows Live OfficeYou can create and save Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents to your SkyDrive and then upload or download them to your PC.

There is even an option to directly open your document using your local copy of Office if you want.

Creating a Word document in Windows Live

Windows Live - Save Document

When you click on the Word icon you are prompted for a name for your blank document, this saves a copy of your empty Word document to your SkyDrive, in Word 2007 (.docx) format.

Once the empty document has been saved then you are presented with the ‘standard’ Word interface within your web browser. This then allows you to work, pretty much, as you would with a local version of Word on your PC.

Using Word in Windows Live Office

Windows Live - Word User Interface

As you can see the Windows Live version of Word looks and acts very similar to a ‘real’ version of Microsoft Word.

The other applications in the Windows Live Office Suite function in a very similar fashion to Word. You can use normal Microsoft functions like ‘cut and paste’, Image insert, spell check and Clip Art.

So if you get sent a Microsoft Office document and don’t have a copy of Office installed you can now open the document and view, update. The one thing that you can’t do directly from the Windows Live version of Word is to print the document.

Windows Live Office, or Office Web

Depending on where you look the suite is referred to as both Office Web and Windows Live Office. I have even seen people referring to the suite as Office Web Applications (OWA), but this just confuses things with the original Microsoft OWA (Outlook Web Access). Personally I think that Office Web will stick as a short form for the suite as its just simpler than Windows Live Office.

You can use any of the Office Web applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote for free and store your documents in your Windows Live SkyDrive. At the moment your SkyDrive account gives you 25GB of free online storage.