How To Resolve The Most Common Tech Issues For Small Businesses

Ron Cochran is Help Desk supervisor for Tech Experts.

With the ever-growing need to be connected to your clients and business information, you have to arrange your access to be quick and secure. But would you know how to set that up to keep your data safe? Relying on that one guy or employee that can set up your computer and connect it to the Internet just might not cut it.

There comes a time in the life of a business when the higher powers within need to evaluate the complexity of their technology and decide how they want to handle their tech needs.

However, hiring an internal IT employee involves paying competitively, providing benefits and vacation time, possibly extra training, and more. Do you have enough work to bring someone on full-time?

The other option is to hire a managed service provider (MSP) that can manage all technology aspects of your business.

Managed devices and software include workstations, laptops, printers, scanners, multi-function devices, fax machines, VoIP systems, and more.

Full network management includes wired and wireless networking, installation of new lines and devices, firewalls, checkpoints, switches, and servers. Basically: everything a business would use to keep things running smoothly.

A managed service provider will even manage the quality of service on your Internet or network connection or block out access to certain webpages and content as the business owner sees fit.

If the users need to restart their machines several times a day because of reliability issues or because the devices are crashing with error codes pointing toward hardware failures, it’s time to look at upgrading or replacing your machines.

Your MSP can look at your current situation, determine what should be upgraded or replaced, provide direction, and minimize the impact on your budget.

An MSP will manage all aspects of your technology department from hardware to software. They will interface with your vendors to ensure that all bundles are up-to-date, upgraded when needed.

This will not only keep your data safe, but your clients’ or patients’ data as well.

If you are working in the health care industry, you’ll need to remain HIPPA compliant. If you are in the financial industry, then you’ll need to comply with all security restrictions to be compliant there as well. MSPs can bring you up to standards and perform necessary audits.

Additionally, an MSP can give you the ability to defend and protect against viruses, malware, and intrusions. The last thing you want to have happen is for a software bug or virus to copy all of your data and send it off to some nefarious individuals who will sell or use the data for illicit activities.

By managing your anti-virus software, changing firewall settings, and monitoring machines for odd behaviors, an MSP can keep data disasters at bay by keeping it from happening, catching it early, or taking preventive measures.

Owning and running a small business isn’t just about bringing in customers and clients to further your business: it’s about operating efficiently and securely so that your business and its reputation will be around for many years to come.

If you are considering a managed service provider or considering a switch from the provider you currently have, don’t hesitate to reach out to us, Tech Experts, at (734) 457-5000.

We would be glad to sit down with you and review how you can leave the technological aspects of your business to someone else, giving you back the freedom to focus on what you do best.

Eleven Benefits Of Having Managed IT Support

Chris Myers is a field service technician for Tech Experts.

There are many perks to enlisting a managed service provider to handle all of your technology needs. Here are just a few:

Knowledge Base
You get access to a whole team of experienced professionals who spend all day every day fixing the same problems you are running into. When an issue pops up, chances are we have seen it before and know how to quickly resolve it.

Proactive Support
With our advanced monitoring software, we are immediately alerted to a variety of issues. Often, by the time you notice a problem, we’re already working to resolve it. Detecting and fixing issues early prevents them from escalating into major outages with long down times and expensive repairs. [Read more…]

Why Is A Server Important For Your Business?

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

A server is a very important asset to any small business as it provides many features that can help your business run safely and efficiently.

For instance, when lending out a new or existing computer to employees, you can prevent unnecessary access, change passwords, or unlock accounts in one location. This allows management of the computers, enabling full control at all times.

It also allows you to have a centralized location for many of your functions: the server. You can share files and applications and reduce redundancy for all files. Since servers primarily run in a RAID configuration of some sort, you will have extra protection for your most important files.

Another great thing about a server is you can set up a domain for your business, enabling automation features like backups in one place.

This also allows for profiles, including files and applications, to be accessible from any workstation connected to the server. Not to mention, a server will keep you organized and running more efficiently in general by keeping your email, contacts, calendars, and files safe.

Data transferring to and from a server is much faster than transferring from a computer due the overall design of a server. Servers are built for speed, reliability, and security purposes.

This means you are going to get through the day with your time and resources spent more wisely, allowing you to continue with what matters in your business.

This efficiency and organization will increase customer relationships and help build retention with new and potential customers.

Best of all, you can set up a server to curve toward your needs. You can use a server for hosting your own websites, as a backup server, fileserver, or even run your database. You can also upgrade (to an extent) if your needs grow.

Keep in mind, these are only some of the many server configurations available for your server.

File or Backup Server
This server is for file-sharing, active directory, and domain services. It’s primarily used for backups and storage of user files.

This is the best option if you are going to need safe storage services for your business since a server is going to have redundancy storage to keep data safe.

Database Server
This server configuration is for database storage and management of SQL, Oracle, etc. This is a necessary option if you are utilizing a database for your business.

Again, utilizing a server is going to allow safe keeping of your files – this includes your critical files such as your database files.

Web Server
This configuration is for webhosting services and will allow hosting and management of a website from your office.

This is a great option for running web-based applications through your server. This option can also be done off-site by a website host if you prefer to go that route for faster access or security.

Utilizing a server is important for your business and choosing a server can be tough, let alone installing one yourself. Let Tech Experts help you decide and make sure you get the best option possible for your small business.

The Benefits Of Managed IT

Michael Menor is Vice President of Support Services for Tech Experts.

It can’t be denied that cost drives business. When the technology your business relies on fails, you have to get it repaired or replaced quickly in order to keep the resulting downtime from damaging your business.

The traditional method of computer repair is much like when your car is in disrepair: when your technology isn’t working properly, your organization reacts to the problem by calling your friendly, neighborhood computer repair guy.

The technician will come to your office and try to fix the technology that is broken. When they figure out they can’t fix the problem on the spot, they will give you a quote.

The time and materials of summoning these technicians to the office will cost you money, so will the replacement technology, and most notably, the downtime you accrue.

Add that to the variable cost of fixing the malfunctioning technology… and your business has a real problem.

At Tech Experts, we offer a proactive IT support platform that utilizes remote monitoring and management software to ensure that the technology that’s attached to your network – and your network itself – is up and working properly. Additionally, our whole IT services platform is billed in one monthly payment.

If you add it up, you are saving money in every aspect of your business.

You not only remove the variable costs of keeping your IT running smoothly, but you also get proactive support that, in many cases, gives you the time to replace hardware before it fails, saving you from the doldrums of companywide downtime.

The fact is that small and medium-sized businesses (SMB) need to cut their technology support costs if they want to compete with larger organizations.

There are a myriad of benefits that come from a managed services provider like Tech Experts handling the administration and support of your technology. Besides the obvious cost savings, four other huge benefits include:

Comprehensive Support
A major speedbump SMBs have when shopping for any service that claims to help their business is the quality of that service.

For those that worry that our managed services are too good to be true, we employ certified and trustworthy technicians that are proficient in finding solutions for today’s most challenging business technology problems.

Single Point of Contact
As an alternative from having to manage several vendors, our IT service provides you with a single point of contact for all of your technology needs. Since we understand the intricacies of your network, we can get issues resolved faster.

Faster Support
Through the use of remote support that we offer to all managed clients, we can more quickly address issues you might be having.

Many problems can be solved without an on-site visit. Additionally, annoying obstacles like forgotten passwords and account lock-outs can be resolved in a few minutes when we already have account configurations on file.

HIPAA Compliance
While it may not apply to all businesses, doctors’ offices and other related medical facilities can maintain HIPAA compliance when using our services. By collaborating with us on your organization’s policies, you can avoid costly government fines in the event of a medical breach or network inspection.

Managed IT services can provide you with many other benefits. For more information about how our managed IT services can benefit your organization, call us at (734) 457-5000 today.

IT Consultations: Trust In Those That Know

Scott Blake is a Senior Network Engineer with Tech Experts.

It seems that these days anyone can read an article or watch a video online and consider themselves an expert in one way or another, but when it comes to upgrading or making changes to your business infrastructure, is it wise to take and follow the advice of someone that has no hands-on or working knowledge of the IT industry or your business?

Ask yourself this: if your car needed repairs, would you take it to a lawyer or a mechanic?

Instantly, you answer “the mechanic” because the mechanic works on cars.

So in comparison, should you follow the advice of a visiting client, sales rep, or friend of an employee?

No, because none of these people know the intricacies of your business IT needs and functionality.

Will they know to check with your software vendors to verify compatibility with a new operating system?

If the plan calls for upgrading workstations and/or servers that are running outdated, unsupported operating systems, you need to check and make sure your existing software is supported on the new operating system.

Usually, accounting and office productivity software are the types most affected by changes in operating system platforms.

In some cases, a business may have spent large amounts of money to have specialized software written years ago, but unfortunately, it may not install or run on a modern operating system.

Will they know how to check and see if your internal network wiring needs to be upgraded?

If the plan calls to move your business phone system to a VOIP system, you need to make sure your existing network cabling will support it.

Cabling has categories and certain categories are more applicable to your needs than others.

Whoever is handling your IT needs to recognize what would be best and what wouldn’t work in your situation.

Keep in mind that when upgrading, you’re also future-proofing. It’s best to spend a little more on higher-quality equipment to extend the life of your upgrade.

Will they know how to calculate the amount of disk and cloud storage your business will require?

Electronic storage for your business is key. Knowing what needs to stay local and what needs to be stored in the cloud is paramount to your business’ success (and recovery, should there be a disaster).

The cost of secure cloud storage needs to be weighed against the cost of maintaining on-site local data storage. Localized storage will allow for faster access while in the building.

However, if your business has remote employees, cloud storage would be the optimal way to allow access to documents, applications, and software without having to support RDP or VPN connections into your network. This reduces the risk of outside intrusion.

Are they able to suggest the correct security devices and software for your business?

The security needs for every business are different. What works for Bob’s Golf Land may not be the best solution for your business.

A proper evaluation of your business network needs to be performed. Certain questions need to be asked and answered, such as “is a software-based firewall best for your business?” or “will you need dual WAN routers to allow for multiple ISP connections?”

If you have any doubt after considering these questions, you’ve got the wrong person for the job.

Seek out an experience and established IT professional and before making any changes, consult with them. Trust their advice. They will evaluate your business infrastructure and build a plan of action for successfully upgrading your business network and equipment.

Interested in a network evaluation or an infrastructure upgrade consultation? We can do those too… and we do it right! Contact us at Tech Experts — (734) 457-5000, or

Seven Smart Tips To Secure Your Business Network

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Hackers are constantly on the lookout for digital data they can use to make a profit, either by stealing money electronically or by selling the information to third parties.

Therefore, it is important to protect your precious data; here are seven tips to get you started:

Your staff is the front line of defense against hackers. Human error is one of the leading causes of data security breaches, so you need to have policies in place to ensure your employees are promoting the security of your network while working.

Strong passwords
People generally opt for simple easy-to-remember passwords that hackers can easily crack.

A simple “dictionary attack” (using an automated tool that uses a combination of dictionary words and numbers to crack passwords), is sufficient to uncover many passwords.

On the other hand, coming up with a complicated password and saving it to your computer as opposed to writing it down is a simple but very effective way to prevent hacks.

Multi-factor authentication
It is highly advisable to establish multiple layers of technology dedicated to security that you would apply to all your devices, including desktops, mobile devices, file servers, mail servers and network end points.

Multiple security blocks hacking attacks and alerts you to any problems beforehand so you can take the appropriate measures.

Data encryption
Encryption is yet another great security tool that you can use to protect your data. For instance, if your hard disk is stolen or your USB drive is lost, anyone trying to access your data would be unable to read it if it is encrypted.

Backupicon with gold lock
Security makes up half of your data protection, while a proper backup strategy makes up for the other half.
Even with great security, you need to be able to recover your data if you have a failure. Back up often, and remember to test the backup regularly.

You need to identify the vulnerable areas of your network or which data needs to be protected.

Your entire IT infrastructure, including your computers, mobile devices and network should be audited by a professional IT specialist to determine the appropriate steps to prevent hackers from accessing your data.

Managed services
Managed services are an alternative and highly-effective approach for achieving the best possible security, including backup and recovery.

Many small businesses are unable to adequately meet the daunting and expensive task of securing their data.

With a managed-service provider specialized in data security, you get the benefit of professional services and skills without having to hire an in-house security expert, thus cutting on costs. In addition, you get access to the latest security technology and support professionals.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Why Third-Party Monitoring And Managed Services?

As technology advance and organizations face increasing demands for efficiency in their business, their IT infrastructures have become increasingly complex. Applications are far more interdependent than ever before, and their business tools, whether hardware or software, are making up a diverse web of systems from a wide range of vendors.

The challenges of dealing with this complexity are something that businesses have to deal with on a daily basis. In a recent study, nearly 50% of global business leaders have called “increased reliance on technology” the No. 1 risk to their organizations. Another 37% said the “business complexity of the organization” is their top risk.

All the same, businesses need to deliver high performance and high availability, typically without accompanying increase in budgets
to accomplish these goals.

So how can companies cope with the dual challenges of managing an increasingly complex infrastructure, while remaining focused on achieving business goals and delivering high quality products and services to their clients?

Organizations are increasingly turning to third party providers that delivers advanced monitoring and resolution services for your IT assets.

If you work with a knowledgeable vendor —one that is familiar with your infrastructure — there are big advantages to taking this approach, including:

  • Lower total cost of ownership
  • Higher availability of applications
  • Reduced downtime, (planned or unplanned)
  • Reduced workload on your own people to deal with IT issues
  • Improved application performance
  • Ability to proactively monitor and thereby mitigating issues as they arise, as opposed to after it’s too late

An advanced monitoring and resolution service should consist of 24/7 secure remote monitoring and resolution delivered by skilled engineers using proven practices.

The service should offer rigorous security certifications to ensure remote experts safely deliver proactive monitoring and administration of internal applications and hardware systems.

Don’t think of it simply as an outsourcing solution. Rather, think of it as a team of experts supplementing your own team, providing a number of products and solutions that it would be next to impossible to maintain in-house.

Because of the complexity of today’s systems, it is often difficult to identify exactly where and why systems fail. This can result in dissatisfied customers and less productive workers.

These problems can be severe enough to put the organization at risk. With proactive monitoring and advanced support, however, the organization will be made aware when (and why) vulnerabilities occur.

An advanced monitoring service means looking after performance or availability of all your critical systems and applications. This monitoring can extend through your entire infrastructure — applications, databases, servers, storage, networks and backup. Problems, can be addressed using best practices for incident, change and problem management.

As a client, you can choose to deploy the services according to your own needs, from full remote services to full onsite solutions or some combination.

The process of monitoring and remediating problems within your IT, you will learn a lot about your risks and vulnerabilities. Are there peak usage times that are impacting application slowing down the performance of mission-critical applications? The key is to continuously improve performance and availability.

You should meet regularly with your professional services team to review processes and set strategies for continual performance improvement. You should also have a plan that includes regular hardware and software health checks.

Your company gets the revenue as well as interacts with your customers through your applications. When performance slows down, the entire business suffers and is put at risk for lost revenues, lost profits, lost customers and general damage to your brand.

Advanced monitoring and resolution services lets you keep track of application performance at all times. Monitoring agents create alerts when systems or applications are under-performing, so you can fix issues before they impact the company further.

End-user monitoring takes the service a step further, whereby you can collect, process and present details — even going so far as to track user requests and follow them through to resolutions.

You can collect information on the length of time it takes to complete a business transaction and the length of time it takes to search, select and pay for a specific product. You can easily see how you can improve revenue and profits.

Predictive incident management diagnostics lets your vendor partner identify issues with configurations and performance before they become full-scale problems.

For example, advanced monitoring lets a service provider leverage complex algorithmic models and thereby identify potential issues with individual transactions within the database.

Advanced monitoring and resolution delivers significant improvements in IT support. You can measure the performance in meeting service requests, including trends on how long it takes for repairs to be performed, response by incident type, and reporting and measure performance against standards on all systems, including backup, emergency storage and system uptime.

A third-party supplier will have access to tools, methodologies and best practices your organization may not even be aware of.

Advanced monitoring and resolution is what they do every day, so your organization is always taking advantage of the experience the vendor has gained from working with other businesses, as well as the latest in diagnostic and recovery tools.

They often employ thorough diagnostic tool sets that cover all your systems. By using these tools, they are able to identify and qualify new incidents, automatically compare new incidents with a knowledge base of past incidents, and use the past experiences as the basis to quickly and effectively resolve issues.

Clearly you will want advanced monitoring and resolution to deliver 24/7 support for all your systems, databases and mission-critical applications. But some vendors can also offer more specialized services, such as end-user monitoring; firewall and VPN management; continuous risk assessment application management; and intrusion detection systems to mention but a few.

Because IT has grown in complexity, it is difficult and costly to hire and retain all the in-house expertise required to manage everything.

The other problem comes with internal politics, often resulting in finger-pointing than actual problem solving. An outside vendor gives you not only access to a team of service professionals with deep expertise. They are focused on fixing your problems, and not assigning blame.

The Advantages Of Managed Services Over Traditional IT Services

By Tech Experts Staff
Of all the important aspects to a successful business, your company’s IT systems are arguably the most important since these systems can impact all aspects of a business.

Many companies handle their IT resources in different ways, from having an in-house IT employee, to not having anyone, to managed services.

What exactly are all of these ways of taking care of your IT systems? With all the different approaches to taking care of your business what’s the best option?

Some businesses choose not to have in-house IT staff as it’s too expensive and instead go without IT support and try to fix problems on their own or ignore the issues all together.

The biggest problem with this approach, also known as a “Break Fix” approach, is that you generally always have downtime and issues with your IT systems since they are not properly cared for.

In addition to the high costs of downtime, when businesses finally break down and call for help the support can be very expensive since they are not on a support contract.

While many larger companies choose to have an in-house IT employee, or several for very large companies, this is not always the best option either.

One of the biggest problems with in-house IT staff is that they tend to have a knowledge base that is centered on one business’s network so when problems arise it can be difficult for them to figure out what the issue is.

When you use a service provider like Tech Experts, you are getting an IT tech that has a broad base of knowledge and can very quickly adapt to your network and use knowledge of similar issues other organizations have had to correct your problem much faster.

For small to medium size businesses the cost of having an in-house IT employee is simply too expensive so they tend to go with the first option.

It is possible for small to medium sized businesses to get the same level of service or higher than having one in-house IT employee at a fraction of the cost as well.

The third option and the best option is called Managed Services. Managed Services give the IT provider the ability to proactively monitor the important aspects of your business’s workstations and servers to prevent major issues before they cause costly downtime.

With our Managed Services platform, we offer a large number of software and hardware checks to keep your servers and workstations secure from hackers and running great for years.

We also offer several other benefits when combined in an all-inclusive, unlimited support, service contract. Our Managed Services platform offers the ability for us to connect to your computer and work with you remotely.

In most cases, we can solve your problem quickly so you don’t have to wait for a tech to travel to your location.

We also offer offsite backups as an option to protect your business from a catastrophic data loss that can cause a company to go under in a few months after such an event.

Managed services are simply the best option for small to medium sized businesses due to the flexibility they offer and the high amount of protection offered.

If you would like to see what Managed Services can do for your company give us a call and we can setup a meeting to take a look at your current systems and get you a quote on what this would cost your business today!

Got Compliance? Simplifying HIPAA And PCI Requirements

By Tech Experts Staff
Many of our clients from health care providers to any business that accepts credit cards via in house applications have compliance standards they must meet.

The health care industry in particular has to be compliant with HIPAA and possibly PCI as well. So, with compliance being such an important issue what are some ways businesses can be sure they are in compliance?

At Tech Experts we offer many different services that are designed to help your business be more compliant with the strict standards in place by HIPAA and PCI.

HIPAA was established in 1996 at a time when the health care industry was starting to move away from paper and rely on computerized documentation for day to day operations. With this new technology being used brought more security risks that needed to be addressed as a whole; this is what brought about HIPAA.

While new technology is great in improving productivity businesses have to learn to adapt to the new security risks that come into play when using these production increasing technologies.

One of the first services we offer to clients is our Email Hosting services. We have various offerings with email based off of POP email and Exchange email. For compliance we offer archiving services with both one year and ten year retention policies.

We also offer solutions that are encrypted so the traffic cannot be easily captured and read which protects the information you send by email.

The second service we offer to clients needing to meet compliance standards is our offsite backup system.

Our offsite backups send your important data over encrypted connections just like the email system protecting your data from theft as it travels from your location to the safety of our datacenters.

Depending on your ability to function in the event of a disaster/outage we also offer disaster recovery options to help your business continue to function should your primary server go down.

The third service we offer is managed services. With managed services you can be sure that your computer always has an up to date, high end, antivirus installed. We monitor the antivirus that is installed on all of our managed service clients workstations and servers to ensure they are safe and secure.

While an antivirus does not guarantee you will not get an infection (because no antivirus can guarantee this) having a good one does ensure that the likelihood of being infected is greatly reduced.

With our managed services offering, we also monitor failed login attempts to see if there are any brute force attacks targeting your network. This lets us quickly address a problem before it becomes a network breach. Patch management is another feature of managed services that helps with compliance.

Patch Management ensures that your computers are kept up to date with the latest security patches.

Our managed services plans also include remote service and support. We offer a robust remote support feature that allows us to troubleshoot and correct almost any issue remotely.

The ability to offer such a comprehensive remote support tool means that we can more quickly address issues you run into without having to actually come out to your location.

Another component we offer to make your business more compliant is our server and workstation packages. Any server we offer can be programmed to make your business more compliant.

From enforcing regular password changes, account lockout policies, to hardware or software restriction policies, our servers are sure to improve your current network configuration.

With all of our services bundled a business can vastly improve their security and become more compliant than they were previously.

If your curious how compliant your business is, give us a call. We can setup a security evaluation based on the requirements for your industry. We can then offer some suggestions to improve your network’s security and compliance.

Why Make The Move To Managed Services?

If you are one of our clients, chances are you’ve heard us talk about “managed services.” However, you might not know what the term means.

In a nutshell, a managed services plan provides you with unlimited, comprehensive technical support and network management for a low, fixed monthly fee.

It gets the most out of the IT services you pay for, and eliminates the “Oh my gosh, we’re down” problems and costs for a small business.

A managed services plan lets you get a handle on your IT costs, usually at a fixed monthly fee, and also provides you with a much more comprehensive and up-to-date IT system.

Managed services delivers a network and computer system that’s dependable, stable and allows you to comply with regulatory compliances.

Control costs
In any business, it’s important to be as cost-effective as possible. IT costs are especially important, since poorly managed systems cost way more than they’re worth.

It’s essential to have a system that works with your budget, but doesn’t compromise on quality.

Managed services is the most feasible and practical way to accomplish that, especially in the long term.

Manage complexity
The constant evolution of hardware and software used in your business can really impact your bottom line. Companies with limited resources may very well find themselves left behind as technology moves ahead.

With Managed Services, you are able to enjoy the advantages of the latest IT solutions at a fraction of the cost – enabling you to provide the best possible service to your clients.

More dependable infrastructure
For a small business, maintaining an in house IT system can be tedius and time consuming.

With limited staff, the business owner or owners typically get stuck being the “computer guy” for the company – robbing the business of the owner’s talents for sales, marketing and customer service.

Companies run the risk of stretching resources too thinly, which can compromise the quality of your service or products.

Managed services provides you with a stable and dependable computing infratructure that’s dedicated to meeting your specific needs in a cost-effective manner.

Maintaining compliance
With the marketplace becoming more and more competitive, meeting different regulatory compliances has become a fundamental need.

From Sarbanes-Oxley to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), smaller companies can often find themselves lost. It’s managed services that helps these companies not only fully understand the requirements of these regulations, but also comply with them.

Small companies typically don’t have the resources to research what their requirements are for email archiving, for example. Under a managed services plan, services such as email filtering and archiving are included in the monthly cost.

If you want to know more about how managed services can directly benefit your day to day operations, please do not hesitate to give us a call – we’d be happy to sit down and discuss a custom solution that works for you.
Feature article by: Tech Experts