Windows 10 Tips

4 Windows 10 Productivity Tips
In case you were wondering, about one billion computers today run Windows 10.
If you weren’t wondering, it’s no wonder you don’t know all the coolest ins and outs of the operating system!
A little curiosity goes a long way with Windows 10. Windows in general has been around for so long that most users don’t get too jazzed about updates, but the latest version has some tricks you’ll want to leverage.
Windows 10, they say, was built especially for productivity. Keep reading, and you’ll learn how to maximize your computer’s relationship with Windows 10 so it can work exactly the way you want it to.
Windows 10 for added productivity
You probably have the basics down in Windows. And that’s great! The following are some of our favorite tips to boost productivity even more when working on Windows 10. We guarantee you’ll learn something new.
1. Minimize interruptions

Stay focused on whatever it is you’re working on by eliminating notification interruptions. Pop-up notifications can be helpful, but at the wrong time they can kick you out of a productive headspace.

To turn these off, open the Start menu, click the Settings cog, and then click on System > Notifications and actions. There, you can turn notifications entirely off or limit which apps can send them.

2. Use (and organize) workflows

Some users feel pretty tech savvy just using the Alt-Tab combination to leaf through open programs on Windows 10. You can take the time to organize things even better, though, and make multi-tasking as smooth as can be. This is even cooler with the right multiple-monitor setup.

System tasks like automatic posting can be included in what are called “Workflows,” either preceded or followed by other tasks you perform. Just click the search icon and type in “workflow,” which will bring up the Workflow page. Create a Workflow by simply listing the steps on each individual line. Each step is set by conditions that you define.

3. Night light

Use the night light setting on Windows 10 to restrict the blue light shining out from your computer display. Blue light restricts your melatonin production at night, which makes it harder to sleep.

Go to Start > Settings > System > Display to activate the night light slider, and keep it on all day. You’ll be grateful you did.

4. Windows timeline

The Windows 10 timeline displays the history of all your activity in Microsoft apps. That includes everything from Microsoft Office files to Edge browser tabs. This makes it easy to jump back to something you were working on before, even after you’ve closed it out.
Being more productive means finishing your days sooner and with more energy, all while getting more done. These tips are more than glamorous—they’ll seriously streamline everything you do on your PC.


Compliance is Integral to Business Success

Let’s Not Be Frank
IT compliance means abiding by certain laws and legal norms that regulate the handling of data. Most of the time, it relates to handling consumer data, such as the protections HIPAA ensures for patient medical records.
Companies big and small are required to meet compliance standards with internal processes that ensure the safe storage of data. Managing these processes is part of a company’s risk management.
Compliance processes aren’t just important for meeting requirements, either. They also help prevent data loss, hacking, and even espionage and other financial risks. Compliant IT is also more efficient IT.
…If only Frank had known that.
Frank’s story
Frank was a fleet manager for a logistics company for more than 15 years. He had a good relationship with the clients he delivered for and an even better relationship with his drivers. The day came where Frank took his team and started his own firm.
Not long after Frank started his logistics firm, the pandemic hit. Business took off for Frank, because with shuttered storefronts and the sudden boom in e-commerce, there was more demand than ever for companies like his to move products.
Frank wasn’t prepared to scale that fast, though. He was barely able to hire new drivers quickly enough as demand went through the roof.
IT compliance was NOT at the top of Frank’s mind.
Frank thought, “compliance is only an issue if you get audited and fined.” His company had reasonable practices in place to protect data, but he wasn’t devoting enough resources to meet every compliance standard there was.
When Frank’s firm fell victim to industrial espionage, he lost all the company’s data. There were client addresses, employee driving records, and even bank information from payments made.
Under the weight of fines and lawsuits, Frank’s company went bankrupt in a matter of months.

Data privacy is vital to business, and the smaller the business, the more crucial it is. The cost of risks taken on can crush small and even medium-sized businesses otherwise. For a little added guidance, plus the tools you need to manage IT compliance responsibly, contact us today!


Man and woman working in technology

Is it time to upgrade your office technology?

Tech upgrades can be daunting. There are budgets and capabilities to stay on top of, not to mention how easy it is to overspend or get the wrong thing.

Business owners and management can often forget that even the newest and most cutting-edge technology will someday have to be replaced. No matter how fast or feature-rich that network or computer seems right now, there will come a time when it will need to be upgraded.

It’s best to keep in mind that you may be buying a replacement for current technology in as little as a year or two. How do you factor that into your plans? Let’s go through three factors that could affect your process.

Expected Life Cycle

Most pieces of technology have an expected life cycle that can be predicted. A phone might last a few years, while an external hard drive might make it to ten years of service. When making your plans, consult the manufacturer’s warranties. You can also talk to TimbukTech on what to expect.

You don’t want to count on a piece of technology to last any longer than it’s supposed to. At the same time, you don’t want to plan for those expensive upgrades long before they’re necessary, either.

Device Reliability

Reliability is a separate factor. While there is an anticipated life cycle, you should also be aware that some brands and manufacturers are more dependable than others. You may have Microsoft devices around your home or office that continue to work even though they are several generations old.

In many cases it’s better to buy a quality product that you can count on for a little more money than it is to deal with unexpected expenses later on.

Compatibility

Your tech devices may not stop working. They may just stop working with newer hardware and apps.

Newer and faster things are coming out all the time and you need to anticipate that you’re eventually going to start using tools that outstrip your current devices. That means that it’s better to be slightly more aggressive with your upgrade plans when you aren’t for sure. TimbukTech is ready to provide guidance and advice here, too!


Two men discussing computers

Before you fire your IT guy...

Most of us remember the stereotype where the “computer nerd” was an unsavory sort of guy. The image was always a single male decked in glasses and pocket protectors. The computer-loving “did you try restarting it” caricature seeped deep into the business psyche for years.
But then, the 21st century happened. The smart phone, social networks, and the internet of things (IoT) positively took us to places unknown.
Nowadays, IT professionals are portrayed in a far more commendable way. Though still seen as “quirky,” society has also come to respect the technical know-how that IT professionals possess. As computational systems and networks have grown exponentially more complex, the skills that the “IT guy” brings to the table have become far more conspicuous.
So, why ask if you should fire your IT guy? Simple: IT needs have grown so much that many businesses realize their IT guy or gal can’t do it all.
To learn what comes next, let’s first look at what today’s IT professionals are usually responsible for.
What does the “IT guy” do?
IT professionals are generally segmented into two very large sub-disciplines:
1. Network systems admin

Network systems administrators and IT support are the classic problem solvers. These are the IT professionals responsible for keeping whole networks up-to-date. They’re usually the IT guys on staff at most businesses, too, managing everything from networks to the apps used on local machines.

Network systems admins are also responsible for user support, installation and configuration of operation systems, and network devices.

2. Programmers

The second broad category of “IT guys” are the programmers. Generally, businesses only have programmers on staff when they, themselves, are tech companies.
Do you need a network systems admin?
Ask yourself the following questions:
• Do you need quicker access to support issues these days?
• Is your business (or your reliance on tech) growing?
• Do you need more focused expertise on specific IT skillsets?
If you answered “yes” to any one (or more) of the questions above, the case can be made that you need to outsource your IT services. Specifically, you would benefit from managed services that address your specific needs.
That does not, however, mean it’s time to start preparing the termination paperwork for your internal IT guy.
In fact, your IT professional can stay on-board as a liaison to any outsourced IT service providers. Your company’s reliance on tech will only continue to grow, and it’s probably too much for your internal IT guy to chew on. There’s still full-time work, though, managing the other service providers who come in.
To discuss your company’s specific situation, connect with us today.


How TimbukTech Saved My Business

How TimbukTech Saved My Business

How TimbukTech Saved My Business
If any of you were fans of the hit ABC show “Lost,” you’ll remember how the production stretched the definitions of multiple genres. It stretched the limits of script writing, too.
“Lost” was a show full of surprises, to say the least. One particularly unexpected surprise was how the show evolved over time.
For instance, the first few seasons were defined by the compelling and symbolic character-specific flashbacks, some of which took up half the airtime of an episode. Several seasons in, however, the writers started playing with flashes forward.
If you saw a flashforward of your business right now, what would that reveal? What if you saw that your brand had lost credibility with clients thanks to a major data breach? Or what if some unprecedented crisis hit (like, oh, a pandemic), and after 14 months of downtime you had to shut your business down for good?
These would be depressing things to see. At the same time, we know something equally challenging will probably happen to every business at some point. What that will be or when it will happen remains as mysterious as Hydra Island, but the power to mitigate the inevitable still rests with you.
Today, we’ll be diving into three ways that TimbukTech protects businesses for whatever comes their way.
Who knows? Maybe in that next flashforward you’ll be saying instead, “that’s how TimbukTech saved my business.”
1. Business Continuity: Business downtime is bad for everyone. Productivity plumets along with revenue and budget, employee performance comes to a screeching halt, and we’re left picking up the pieces of client relationships. TimbukTech works with your business to write out and implement strategies that reduce downtime.
2. Computer and Network Security: Your staff make up your first line of defense against cyber threats, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a robust backend that keeps everyone safer with less room for human error. We deploy multi-layered security solutions to protect the integrity of your computers and network while also educating your staff. We pay special attention to mobile device security, which has become far more important in the last year.
3. Security Vulnerability Assessments: We also provide security assessments to tell you where your vulnerabilities are so you can focus resources where it counts.
Starting with a security vulnerability assessment and then rolling out a plan will give you major operational advantages—from business continuity to greater staff confidence in the systems you have in place.
The world of tech is fast moving and threats like Malware and data hackers are always a step ahead. Take two steps forward now and you’ll protect your business now and into the future.


Backups & Syncing Solutions

Backups Versus Syncing

Backups vs. Sync
Maybe these are two terms you use synonymously. Or maybe you know that there’s a difference but wouldn’t easily come up with a winning definition on Jeopardy.
Syncing and backing files up both refer to protecting your data, but of course there are differences. In fact, it’s those differences that are critical to protect your business with the right option.
Business owners should understand the ins and outs of syncing versus backing files up. Today, we’ll give you the bite-sized lesson you need.

What is a “file backup?”
Backing files up means copying data from one location to another. For example, if you drag and drop files from your laptop into an external hard drive, you’re creating a backup.
Next to cloud-based services like file syncing (which we’ll get to in a moment), the idea of copying files to an external hard drive sounds archaic to some. However, a backup is still the most reliable way to protect assets because the copy is totally independent of the original file. If someone accidentally deletes the original, nothing happens to the copy.
Backups can be automatic, too. It’s not always a manual process of dragging and dropping. Automatic backups that occur multiple times a day can also help you keep tabs on multiple versions of digital assets.

What does it really mean to “sync files?”
Syncing files and data means that a link (of sorts) is created in the cloud, though the source content is still the original file. The synced data reflects the most recent information available from that source.
Syncing services like Google Drive, OneDrive and Dropbox have become enormously popular in recent years, and for good reason. These services allow the storage and organization of assets in a common space where the most recent version can be accessed by users in real-time.
As a product, syncing is excellent for collaborations. To secure your business continuity, however, using only synced files opens you to the risk of the original file getting altered, misplaced or deleted, which wipes the “linked” version out, too.

Backups and file syncing services both have a purpose. We like to recommend using both. The cloud has created the perfect environment for both syncing and backups to be automatic while also supporting teams working remotely.
Both these services are similar in infrastructure, but each requires its own setup by your team of trusted experts. Get in touch with us today to get started or to learn more.


8 Benefits of Cloud Computing

The maintenance of a local server is now considered a thing of the past. The steep cost associated with it—not to mention the susceptible security and decreased efficiency—are thrown into sharp contrast against cloud computing, which has become so ingrained in our world that now even our makers are running on the cloud.
Cloud computing is the way of the future. It’s a powerhouse of more frequent security updates, distributed costs, and increased innovation and efficiency.
The benefits of cloud computing have become real for businesses of all sizes. Here are just eight of those benefits your business could enjoy, too:
1. Cost-efficient: It stands to reason that a cloud service optimized and streamlined to serve thousands of businesses at once would be more cost-efficient than doing it yourself. That’s the case with cloud computing. It’s also more scalable, which helps you manage costs and plan ahead.
2. More collaborative: Cloud technologies are built for collaboration, especially in the “new normal” of remote work. Employees located anywhere can access “single source of truth” documents and files in the cloud without worrying about versions, can meet in virtual video conferences, and can collaborate using multi-player whiteboards, real-time document sharing, and more.
3. Secure: Cloud computing is also more secure since the providers have more rigorous security protocols. This protects the information stored on the cloud as well as the transmission of information into and out of the cloud.
4. Customer service: It’s also a lot easier to get in touch with a cloud service provider for customer service. The alternative—supporting your own server—usually means your on-site IT team is all the customer service you got.
5. More flexible: With cloud computing, your business can instantly turn capacity up or down (and your costs up or down with it). You also avoid server crashes when the data load is high.
6. Total control: Cloud computing is more secure and gives you a bird’s eye view of all the business’s data. This enables tracking of access and usability of the data based on handy user “profile types” and customizable levels of security.
7. Mobile: The cloud also enables the use of a whole network of gadgets and devices. Businesses can connect from anywhere, taking “mobile” in a second meaning, too.
8. Disaster recovery: The worst thing that could happen to most businesses is the loss of significant data. The cloud has more secure backups than any local server, which helps companies better protect themselves with business continuity in the case of a disaster.
Businesses interested in migrating completely to the cloud are after the availability, security and cost benefits. There’s so much more to gain that if a business partners with the right IT provider, the decision to migrate could mark a whole new chapter for the company. Contact us today to discuss your business needs.


Device Security

4 Tips for Device and Gadget Security

4 Tips for Device and Gadget Security
The Internet of Things (IoT) has increased business efficiencies to heights previously unimaginable. Most recently, with the “new normal” dictated by the pandemic, the IoT has also empowered us to collaborate from afar in new and incredible ways. As a result, the market of sensors and devices is expected to reach unprecedented proportions. Businesses and consumers alike have tipped the scale in new adoption.
The IoT also comes with new risks, too. How do you know if your business’s surveillance system is hackable? How do you set personal wearables up to stay secure in a business network? And what about all the business automation devices that your business now depends on?
Many businesses—particularly small businesses—feel overwhelmed in the face of protecting themselves with the growing number of devices on their networks. However, the IoT simply requires a bit of knowledge around what kinds of risks are out there and how to protect yourself.
Keep reading for exactly that.
What IoT security issues are common in business?
Since IoT devices are all connected to the internet, they each come with the risk of someone hacking them.
Whole networks, too, can be hacked. Understanding and patching network security vulnerabilities is the “catch all” that allows you to protect all the devices used on that network.
The threats your business could face otherwise include:
• Exposed sensitive data
• Botnets
• Sabotage
• Ransomware
• Other malware
How do you maintain IoT device security?
As you secure your network, devices and gadgets, follow these best practices:
1. Use stronger passwords: Having a strong password is always important. Many IoT devices come with default passwords, and you will want to change those immediately. Note that passwords you use should be strong at both the network and device level.
2. Use patches: IoT devices come with regular updates, many of which download automatically. Ensure these updates get loaded to business devices and networks as soon as they’re available. These are almost always patches covering security vulnerabilities that the manufacturers recently discovered.
3. Know which devices are necessary: So, maybe you don’t need to wear that Apple watch to work every day. Or maybe you do! Whatever devices you use on your business network, be sure you favor those that are absolutely necessary to best perform your job.
4. Monitor devices for security threats: Be proactive in monitoring for malware or other IoT threats on your network and all devices. You can install monitoring solutions or get the help of an IoT service provider to do this.
Whatever devices your business uses in its day-to-day, that list is probably growing. The relevance—nay, necessity—of devices and gadgets is climbing higher as we move into more remote work.
Keeping your company’s information and assets secure can be as simple as following these four tips. Contact us if you have additional questions.


5 Steps for Better Privacy on Your Smartphone

Your smartphone is your best friend, but it can also be your worst enemy. If it falls into the wrong hands (or even if it doesn’t), it can expose you as well as your contacts. Think about all the location and banking history along with the photos you store there, and it’s enough to make anyone sweat.

The good news is that smartphones continue to evolve with the times, including not just new apps but added security features. The number of business people not using all the security features available to them, however, is surprising.

Keep reading to learn what essential security steps you can take for better privacy on your smartphone.
1. Set lockscreen security

The number-one security setting for basic privacy on your phone is to set your lockscreen with a password or fingerprint reader. Otherwise, leaving your phone unattended for just a couple minutes could result in someone seeing something they shouldn’t.

2. Turn off Bluetooth and location services when not in use

Whenever you’re not using location services or Bluetooth, keep these settings turned off. Hackers can use these networks to get access to your device and all its contents. As an added benefit, keeping these switched off also saves battery.

3. Don’t download questionable apps

Not all apps are trustworthy. When downloading any new app, check the developer information to be sure it comes from the company you think it does. This is true for simple app updates, too.

4. Update your operating system

Don’t let that last OS update go forgotten! Most of these updates come with valuable privacy and security improvements, so update and update often.

5. Don’t lose your phone

This one might be obvious, but not losing your smartphone is the central tenet to protecting your privacy. Do update the settings on your phone for the case where it were lost, such as “find my phone” or the configuration to wipe data clean.
Concerns of privacy can plague someone’s life, especially when using a smartphone in business. Staying ahead of device security is the best way to protect your privacy and ensure your smartphone stays your best friend forever, without any falling outs to speak of.


5 Steps to a Business Continuity Plan

5 Steps to a Business Continuity Plan
Disasters don’t often give us an advanced notice of arrival. Even in cases where we do have some lead time, moving quickly enough to ensure business continuity can be anywhere from tough to impossible. In today’s age (where just about all business practices are tied to essential software and technologies), if the power so much as goes out, whole businesses screech to a halt.
Business practices—and, later, whole businesses—can be undone by utility outages, natural disasters, cybersecurity compromises, and even pandemics. This is where a business continuity plan comes in.
To give your business the best shot at rowing together through each storm, dive into the five steps to create your own business continuity plan.
First: What Is a Business Continuity Plan?
A business continuity plan is the official outline of how your business will continue to operate during unplanned disruptions or disasters. It contains information about processes as well as assets and human resources, plus any other aspect of the business that could be affected.
Some of the best business continuity plans use checklists of supplies and processes. They also identify plan administrators and contact information for key personnel and backup sites.
Steps to Create a Business Continuity Plan
We break down business continuity planning into five steps:
1. Outline the scope

A business continuity plan is like a disaster recovery plan with operations stacked on top of it. If you already have a disaster recovery plan, use that as the base for your business continuity planning and add the following areas of scope.

2. Identify key business areas

Identify the key business areas—client facing and internal operations—that have to keep running to keep your organization’s head above water in the case of a major disruption.

3. Plan for critical functions

Now answer the question: how will you deliver on those key business areas? Critical functions are outlined in your plan, spelling out how each will be managed without your regular business processes in place.

4. Determine acceptable downtime

Business continuity plans help stopper gushing losses at the onset of a disaster, but they should do more than that. They also need to identify how much downtime for each critical function is sustainable, and then establish priorities if your organization is forced to pick and choose.

5. Get staff feedback and buy-in

Few will see opportunities to keep your operations running as clearly as the staff responsible for critical functions, so share your plan early and get feedback. This will also create greater buy-in for the solutions the plan spells out.
Every business continuity plan must be supported by the whole staff. For complete buy-in, regular review and testing is recommended.
Have questions about your own business continuity plan? Contact us and we’ll be happy to help!