24 Mar 2020

Basic Troubleshooting Tips Everyone Should Know

    Troubleshooting 101

    It is inevitable that computers will eventually screw up. Maybe you are using a PC from 2008 and just riding on the hope that this ticking time bomb doesn’t self-destruct before you can hit save on that important project. Perhaps you are configuring a sleek, expensive new gaming rig when suddenly you’re stuck with a sinister blank screen. Or you are trying your luck at installing some new software and are greeted with the never-ending spinning pinwheel.

    Our natural instinct is to panic when things go wrong – and with good reason. It looks pretty bad when our entire device is stricken with screen paralysis and we have no way of conducting our normal workflow; our minds typically jump to the worst possible conclusion – did we just make a fatal misstep and somehow caused our computer to become obsolete? How much os this going to cost me?

    Often, these crashes are a lot less serious than they seem. They likely can be remedied with the standard, no-brainer hack – rebooting.

    Rebooting (or restarting) a device can cure a multitude of computer issues such as:

    Agonizingly Slow-Running Computer

    A program on your computer may be exhausting the machine’s resources and causing every other function to become sluggish. A quick restart can get everything back up to speed. Pay careful attention to editing software – anything Adobe usually requires a large amount of your CPU’s power. Web browsers like Google Chrome can also be demanding, especially if you have many extensions installed on your browser.

    The “Cannot Connect To Network” Nightmare

    Unplugging your router and then plugging it back in can resolve a network error with ease. HelpDeskGeek has a great article here that explains all the actions you can take in case unplugging and restarting did not work.

    Frozen, Blank or Chronically Loading Screens

    Whether the problem is caused by a program siphoning memory or code getting tangled in an erroneous trap – what is needed most is a system refresh. Restarting can alleviate the issue. Even if this solution is temporary and a greater issue exists within the device, users can at least carry on with daily activities until things can be investigated further.

    Don’t Panic

    If you are tired of dealing with the same IT problems or just want to rest easy knowing your personal or business IT setup is done right, Contact Us today and speak with a pro.

     

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    10 Mar 2020

    How Safe Is Your Password?

      Cybersecurity threats are getting stronger and more dangerous by the minute. The more that we fuse technology with our daily lives, the more we put ourselves at risk of a detrimental breach.

      Taking security seriously is necessary when every personal, professional and confidential detail of your life is potentially accessible to a fraudster. The obvious first step in protecting your data is creating a strong password. While passwords are not completely infallible, strong passwords stand a much better chance of defending your accounts against malicious activity.

      How To Build A Better Password

      Despite data breaches occurring at a rate never before seen in our cyber climate, a large number of people are still opting to use their wedding anniversary or street name to keep their financial information away from criminals. Passwords should never have any blatant association with your personal life or your business.

      Using a random word or phrase may seem obscure enough to ward off the attack. Yet sequential characters are among the easiest passwords to guess. Even if these letters are presented in a pattern that swaps some of the letters for symbols. For example, you could set your passcode to “raspberry” or to “raspb3rry” and experience relatively the same level of protection.

      Using numbers and symbols is most effective when they are randomized. However, this presents a problem. It can be incredibly difficult for our brains to remember long, complex strings of symbols that have no relevance to us whatsoever. Creating randomized chains of code most often leads to people keeping their passwords Post It-noted on their computer screens or trusting their web browsers to remember the pattern for them.

      You can avoid these unsafe practices with this one easy trick. Think of a story that has meaning to you. Let’s use “My Grandmother Lived In a 2 Story House At 234 Main Street in Brighton.” You could turn this memorable phrase into “Mglia2$t0ryH@234M$IB”. This creates a long, strong, multi-faceted passcode that, at first glance, is completely arbitrary. It is exactly the kind of puzzle that is indecipherable to brute force hackers.

      Passwords play a significant role in keeping your information safe. There are a number of other measures that you can take to protect yourself and your business from falling victim to a data breach. Contact our experts to learn more!

       

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      25 Feb 2020

      Which Operating System Best Suits Your Business?

        All business environments require a robust IT infrastructure. Choosing the right operating system is an important step in ensuring that your business continues to run like a well-oiled machine.

        Deciding between the two major OS options may seem rather simple. But there are more variances between Apple and Microsoft’s innovations than just their overall aesthetic. Let’s explore their key differences and how they can impact business functionality.

        Mac OS X

        Apple’s Mac OS, along with Apple computers and devices, has a reputation for being cooler than Microsoft Windows. Up until recently, Apple has attained an advantage by building sleeker machines and impressive-looking interfaces. Mac OS certainly possesses different capabilities than its rivals and can bring a range of features to your business.

        Hardware Alignment – A significant advantage that Mac presents is the fact that the same company manufactures its operating system and its hardware. When the two products align, it can minimize the chance of error. This also makes it slightly easier to update security elements.

        Simplicity – The Mac interface is often favoured for its clean appearance. The Windows design is choppier and can be more difficult for some users to navigate. Many graphic designers, architects, and photographers prefer the look and feel of Mac OS.

        Connectivity – Apple has a unique appeal in its harmonious ecosystem of devices. From the iPad to Apple Watches and HomePods, you and your employees can stay connected and work from anywhere.

        Windows 10

        Windows has upped their game in recent years – rising from the ashes of “Windows Vista” and the missteps of “Windows 8” to bring some really powerful stuff to the OS market. Beyond the new design, Windows 10 is packed with features and upgrades that shouldn’t be overlooked.

        Choices, Choices, Choices – There is a wide range of device models to support with Windows. Some of the finest Apple computers can barely stand up to the powerful PC constructions of 2020. Desktops with 25-degree tilt, pen support, 100% Adobe RGB support and enhanced touchscreen capabilities are taking center stage.

        Security – Microsoft has also improved its security profile. They have achieved AI-integrated malware detection, multi-factor authentication and has awarded users with greater control over their personal data. These features diminish the security threats that businesses face on a daily basis.

        Price Point – Despite their modernization, many PC products remain more affordable than Apple. Budget-conscious business owners can equip their offices for a fraction of the price and not necessarily miss out on any essential features.

        These systems do share many similarities. Both offer a variety of pre-installed tools such as photo editors, calendars and contact managers.

        The distinct differentiations that these companies have fashioned over years of development are beginning to blur. There are now some really great business software options out there for Mac. Meanwhile, Windows is dabbling in richer creative applications.

        Both systems have strong, insightful voice assistants that can send emails, set alarms and calculate numbers. Apple’s Siri is more accurate when it comes to understanding voice commands during periods of excessive background noise. However, Siri is unable to log out of your computer for you as you rush out the door at the end of a tiring workday – a feature that some of us may deem a necessity.

        Let us know which operating system you find to be the most beneficial to your business! Have you recently considered switching from one OS to the other?

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        05 Nov 2019

        Windows Server 2016 Vs 2019 – The Key Differences

          Windows Server 2019. Key Features

          Windows Server 2019 has successfully established itself as a reliable operating system that boasts extraordinary possibilities for businesses. This version has been on the market for nearly a year. It has seen substantial improvements from its initial debut – as all of its bugs have now been worked out.

          If you are currently using Windows Server 2016, you may be eager to make the switch to the latest OS. But before you jump right in, it is important to note the key differences between these systems. A lot has changed in just three short years! Knowing about the features of 2019 will prepare you for the transition and plan for a future with greater OS capabilities.

          Azure Hybrid Approach 

          One of Windows Server 2019 features that stand out is the approach to cloud strategy. 2019 creates effortless storage migration from your legacy infrastructure to Azure.

          It also works proactively to solve problems with the implementation of machine learning. The system insights are generated from high-value data. Analysis of this data can assuage issues before they have the chance to even become issues. This is a much smarter method of problem-solving than the standard reactive approach.

          Hyper-converged Infrastructure

          Microsoft achieved Windows Server 2019’s innovation by connecting with industry leaders. The result is a strong, scalable and secure solution. Effective monitoring, high-speed connectivity and network congestion control provide increased efficiency with no impact on resiliency.

          Cluster-Wide Monitoring

          Cluster-Wide Monitoring keeps the system’s pulse with live CPU, latency and throughput surveillance.

          Latency-Optimized Background Transport

          Latency-Optimized Background Transport stops bandwidth from being drained. It detects and ends any superfluous use by notorious network hogs – particularly applications that secretly siphon bandwidth.

          Encryption for Linux

          Windows Server 2016 presented the capacity to encrypt Windows OS-based VMs. 2019 expands to shield Linux as well. Linux users should be aware that delaying the switch to 2019 might leave their system vulnerable to attack.

          The technology present in 2019 is staggeringly advanced when compared to the proficiencies of its 2016 ancestor. This intelligent new OS perfectly aligns with the needs of today. A thinking OS that provides proactive solutions and hefty security measures? We’re ready for it!

          Are you ready, too? Response IT can help you make the switch safely and simply! Contact our team to find out more.

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          25 Sep 2019

          Using Windows 7? Time to Upgrade to Windows 10

            Currently At Windows 7? Time Upgrade To Windows 10

            Windows 7 has been the sweetheart among Microsoft users for many years. It swooped in to rescue users from Windows Vista and offered a fast, ease of use and hassle-free platform. As 2019 comes to an end, so will the era of Windows 7 security – unless you’re willing to pay.

            In a recent post, we discussed how Microsoft is halting security support for Windows 7 as of January 14, 2020. This will leave users with three options:

            1. Upgrade
            2. Pay an ever-increasing fee for support, or
            3. Leave their operating system vulnerable to breach.

            The safest option is to upgrade. And yet, the hesitancy to adopt Windows 10 is prevalent. Going from the decade-old Windows 7 to the next OS – Windows 8 – seems like the easiest and more logical approach. Implementing the “modern desktop” (as Microsoft refers to it) may sound like a voyage into the unknown. Users will be pleased to discover that it can be a walk in the park!

            What Are The Benefits of Upgrading Directly to Windows 10?

            Microsoft Windows 10 is the OS of now. It understands and complies with 2019 tech. The Windows 8 OS is still stuck in a time when everyone was using their iPhone 4 to watch video loops on Vine. Windows 10 provides smartphone synchronicity, increased sharing capacity, and a faster start-up.

            Windows 10 knows what the security landscape looks like right now. It can address issues that didn’t exist when Windows 8 was launched. Businesses are compelled to take every precaution when it comes to data. Windows 10 offers Device Guard, along with comprehensive ransomware protection that fortifies data from the threat of attack. Upgrading forces security updates which are vital to the overall wellness of your network.

            For businesses that house large amounts of customer data, the all-encompassing Search function that Windows 10 offers can drastically reduce the time spent looking through files. This function can easily boost productivity by simplifying this routine task.

            Leaping from Windows 7 to Windows 10 doesn’t have to be complicated! It is the safest and most user-friendly approach for all organizations.

            We highly recommend making the switch before security support comes to an end. If you have questions or concerns about upgrading, we encourage you to contact our experts.

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            06 Aug 2019

            Every Website Needs an SSL Certificate

              If you’re operating a business, chances are very high that you have a website that regularly accumulates customer information. As soon as a customer inputs a credit card number or creates an account, this data becomes your legal responsibility. The best way to keep your customers safe from compromise is to maintain a valid Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificate.

              How do you know if your site is encrypted? Look for the “s” at the end of your HyperText Transfer Protocol or “http”. This is located at the beginning of your website’s address. If you don’t possess this certificate, your website is at risk of being identified by major web browsers such as Google Chrome as “unsafe” for users to visit.

              Having your website flagged as a hazard is certainly perturbing for customers! This can quickly weaken web traffic and degrade your companies branding.

              If a malicious attack occurs, it can severely damage the reputation of your business. While your intentions are not malevolent, a data leak can instantly peg you as untrustworthy. Re-building your business after an incident can be expensive and time-consuming.

              If you suspect this to be the case, contact a trusted provider like Response I.T. who can install a Comodo SSL certificate within hours. This instantaneous safeguarding means that all data transferred from and to your website will be encrypted at both ends.

              Response I.T. selected Comodo because it is the world leader in cyber-security platforms. A premiere security tool like this ensures that every detail gathered by your website is protected. Being confident in the products that power your website is essential to building trust with customers. No aspect should be overlooked – especially when it comes to security!

              Remember that providing guaranteed safety for your valued customers comes down to one single letter – “s”.

              Contact Us to get a SSL certificate installed on your business website today, it can be done in a few hours!

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              15 Jul 2019

              Response I.T. 20th Anniversary

                Response I.T. Anniversary 1999-2019

                It is definitely an accomplishment to reach 20 years in business, especially in the technology sector. Since 1999, Response I.T. has been assisting Kingston-area customers with their computer repairs, hosting and digital needs.

                What began as a modest on-site computer repair company quickly evolved into a trusted local resource for everything technology related. Whether it’s hardware, managed services, corporate I.T. support, on-site repairs or development, we have the experts to get it done.

                Fast-forward to 2019 and Response I.T. has spawned its own web development agency, Website Design Kingston. What started as a growing web department has, within one year, become one of the top development and marketing studios in South-Eastern Ontario.

                Offering in-demand services has been the key to Response I.T.’s success for the last twenty years. What will the next twenty years hold? Only time will tell. Rest assured, by focusing on life-long learning and paying close attention to technology trends, we are confident we will still be Kingston’s favourite choice in 2039.

                To Celebrate 20 years in business…

                We are holding a contest! If you have been following us on Social Media you are, no doubt familiar with our frequent contests. For our 20th anniversary, we wanted to offer something truly fun and exciting, something most people could enjoy.

                We are giving away 2 Tickets to the Blue Jays Vs New York Yankees MLB game at Rogers Center on Saturday, August 10th. And to put you up in style we have also included a 1-night stay (the night of the game, Aug 10th) at the 4.5 Star One King West Hotel just a short walk away from the Rogers Center. Enjoy a Baseball Game right on the field level on the 1st baseline. Then unwind in one of downtown Toronto’s most luxurious hotels, equipped with a top-tier bar, rooftop terrace, and all modern amenities you would come to expect.

                So how do I enter?

                Just follow this link to our Facebook page. There you can see the rules for entry and officially enter the contest. Draw will be held on Aug 2nd. Good Luck!!!

                Response I.T. 20th Anniversary Contest
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                25 Jun 2019

                Smart Devices: Are They Putting You At Risk?

                  How Smart is Smart?

                  Smart devices are so prevalent in our homes and workplaces that many people are unaware of how digitally-entangled we are. Beyond cell phones and computers, many spaces now contain smart speakers, remote controlled blinds, video doorbells with facial recognition and ‘thinking’ thermostats.

                  All of this technology is undoubtedly cool. It is also unbelievably hazardous when unsupported. Whether you use the Internet of Things (IoT) at home or at the office, you are routinely submitting large amounts of valuable data to these devices. A mildly savvy hacker can compromise the entire network faster than you can say “Hey Google”.

                  How to Secure Smart Devices:

                  Smart devices are as vulnerable as computers when it comes to cyber attacks. They are at risk of every security concern that a computer is. Therefore, the IoT needs to be protected as diligently as a computer would be. Here are a few suggestions for keeping your devices free from attack, viruses, and manipulation.

                  • Ensure software is up-to-date: Ensuring that software on each device is regularly updated can help patch weaknesses and increase fortification.
                  • Change default passwords: Make it a priority to replace default passwords with strong, alpha-numeric chains of code that are not easy to guess.
                  • Disable unessential features: Smart devices often come with fancy features that provide little benefit other than siphoning your bandwidth. Turning off features that you don’t need will save energy and harden security at the same time.
                  • Focus on the big picture: The devices you use are just one component in the grander issue of security. In order for your IoT to be protected, you must consider multiple factors such as network encryption. You must also remember your role in the safety of your own information. Security is an ongoing process and every person plays a part in building a successful IoT environment.
                  • Work with security experts: The novelty of smart devices can wear off when the gravity of security threats becomes a reality. A trusted and knowledgeable team, like our experts at Response I.T., can fully safeguard your network. They can keep your personal information out of the hands of cybercriminals by certifying that it is always fully protected.

                  When safeguarded, IoT networks can be enormously convenient. Using smart devices to power our spaces provides constant connectivity that keeps our businesses and our families safe. Pairing extraordinary technology with professional security delivers an innovative reality that everyone can benefit from.

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                  13 Jun 2019

                  Security First Mindset: Why It’s Essential To Managed Services

                    Data Protection is the name of the game.

                    Society is becoming more and more demanding of tech. Consequently, our daily activities are cyber-centric and require a security first approach. We need smart devices to work, shop, communicate, bank and control the thermostat. What happens when we rely almost explicitly on devices to power our lives? We become targets for criminals.

                    The wake of sophisticated cyber attacks has brought a push for ‘security-first’ thinking. Some managed services have been quick to apply solutions that fortify their customers against the rapidly growing list of threats.

                    Security First Approach

                    It is vital for trusted Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to act accordingly. They must make room for tools that provide continued protection for their customers. This can involve new products and tools that deliver an advanced level of security.

                    The biggest cyber threats aimed at businesses are eye-opening. Attacks get more sophisticated every day and show no signs of stopping. With mass amounts of sensitive data accumulating on the web every day, businesses are becoming increasingly more vulnerable.

                    Social Engineering Attacks

                    Social engineering attacks are a new, intelligent strain of cybercrime. These attacks are like spam email 2.0. Often using thoroughly-researched, cleverly-crafted emails to trick employees into taking the wrong actions.

                    DDos + IoT

                    Other forms of attack are aimed at The Internet of Things (IoT). This system of interconnected smart devices makes daily tasks easier but when unprotected, are a gateway to exploitation. IoT-based DDoS attacks and malicious manipulation are becoming very common.

                    Security first thinking MSPs like Response IT play pivotal roles in helping businesses navigate this new and, at times, treacherous world of cybercrime. Having a security-focused mindset can clearly benefit your company. If you are passionate about rigorous security routines – from interviewing to onboarding and product development to product deployment – it makes sense to work with a provider that shares your standard of excellence.

                    If you’re serious about security, then working with a security-first provider is the final component to fully safeguarding your enterprise! Contact Us today for more information.

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                    22 May 2019

                    Microsoft Ends “Useless” Password Practice

                      Counter-Intuitive Practices

                      A password is essential for unlocking your online world and protecting the information you store within it.

                      Microsoft has recently made headlines with its new and unexpected policy change. The Windows 10 May update will entirely eliminate the operating system’s customary ‘password expiration’.

                      Science and the Weak Password

                      Complex units of text have been used throughout history as a meaningful form of defense for military and government agencies. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when computer use exploded among the general population, as did the emergence of the unexceptional password.

                      This easy-to-remember selections basically negates the use of a password at all. Many users are guilty of creating these easy-to-hack passwords without even realizing it.

                      While a select few admins out there may still be signing on with the digits “123456”, (yikes!) some users that originally utilized a more intricate password are getting stuck in a cycle of simplification. This happens when users change their password every few months in an effort to maintain strong security. They often make each password less complicated than the last or add a “1” at the end of their pre-existing code.

                      Extensive scientific analysis has proven this phenomenon within work environments. These minor changes have little to no impact on security, and could potentially open gateways to cybercrime.

                      Re-Thinking Passwords

                      In light of this change, companies should be working to permanently alter the way that users view password creation. No dictionary words, phrases, anniversary dates or recognizable sequences of numbers should ever be used. The most secure choice is a string of alpha-numeric code.

                      Issuing an office bulletin that outlines the rules of password formation (including a list of banned words) is a great way to ensure that everyone is constructing complicated ciphers.

                      Keeping employees informed of all security best practices is an important step to protecting your company’s critical data. Managed Services, such as those offered by Response I.T., also play a crucial role in developing a secure digital future. Not only can a trusted provider aid in the management of these elements, but they can also implement successful safety strategies to alleviate the stresses of office security.

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