Should You Upgrade To A Solid State Drive?

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

Solid state drives (SSD) are a relatively recent piece of technology that is slowly becoming more standard in the computer market, replacing hard disk drives.

SSDs are a very fast piece of technology that changes what we can do with computers, especially with mobile devices like tablets and laptops.

To understand the significance of an SSD, it’s important to understand the older hard disk drives (HDD) that most computers still use today.

HDDs are inexpensive and provide a large amount of space in a single drive. The speed of an HDD varies, but is very slow when compared to an SSD.

Since HDDs are cheaper, it is more reasonable to have large RAID of drives connecting to one another for backup purposes.

HDD are mechanical in nature in that it is a rotating disk spinning very fast with a single needle reading the information off of the disk.

Anything mechanical like this breaks down over time with wear and tear. If a laptop with an HDD gets hit or tilted at the wrong time, this can cause the HDD to break. For more portable and on the go devices, SSDs will not break nearly as easily as HDDs.

The biggest “pro” for SSD over HDD is the speed of an SSD in reading information.

For most computers, loading up Windows will take about a minute or much longer. With an SSD installed, Windows can load up in seconds. SSDs are about 10X faster than HDDs, possibly more depending on your set-up.

Having programs like Word and Excel open up instantly can drastically change your workflow and productivity. Having a faster drive means nearly everything you load from your computer will run faster as an SSD does not need to search for information like an HDD.

SSDs are still expensive when compared to HDDs, but are becoming cheaper with time. Currently, I can find a 500GB SSD for about $230 while a good HDD for the same space is about $100, so SSDs are little over twice as expensive as HDDs. Additionally, most HDDs will not fit into a laptop while all SSDs can fit into laptops.

If you wanted to upgrade to an SSD from an HDD, there is a cloning process where you can directly copy your drive information over to the new SSD as though nothing was ever changed other than the drive. This process would keep all of your programs and information and gain all the speed that comes with having a SSD.

If you want faster load times on your computer, have a laptop that moves around often, or you want Windows and Windows programs to start up almost instantly, then you want to upgrade your device to an SSD.

If you want a lot of storage with less expense but you can handle having slower speeds, keep your HDD. If you are interested in upgrading your computer but aren’t too sure yet, give us a call at Tech Experts and we can help.

Why Technology Is Important For Your Small Business

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

In modern computing, it is very important that you have a technological solution in place to allow smooth function at your small business. Here are 5 reasons why it’s important to do so.

Business Growth
As your business grows, you’re going to need a plan for expansion if you expect to grow. Technology changes every day and it’s important to stay up to speed with the latest and greatest tech in order to move forward in the growth direction. In today’s tech, there are even data growth solutions that will grow with your business automatically.

This not only saves time with expansion, but allows your business to save money in the long run. Technology is very important and should not be taken for granted in order for your business to thrive effectively.

On-The-Move Tech
As your business grows and you begin to move forward, you will need to be able to run your business from several locations. Technology allows you to do this from one central location. Utilizing tech makes certain that you’re not only monitoring your business at all locations, but that it’s more secure than ever.

From mobile devices to laptops to networking equipment, an IT professional will provide you with the best care needed to keep your business with you at all times.

Fewer Headaches With A Managed Plan
With a managed plan (such as the ones Tech Experts offer), your computer problems are monitored and are taken care of by a tech professional.

This cleans your hands of computer problems and allows you to run your business more effectively — minus the technology headache — and keeps your business running much more efficiently.

All workstations will be managed and up-to-date, along with programs that normally would fall behind due to user awareness.

Our tech team can and will make sure that your workstations servers and network equipment will have the latest firmware and software updates available.

Automate Computation
In today’s tech there are many ways to automate normally manual tasks. Such as automated password or online form completion.

Technology is designed to complete tasks for you while you sit back and save time and save money. Take advantage of a solution that is going to improve your everyday small business life on a colossal scale. Automation is domination in the computer world and should not be taken lightly.

Reduce Redundancy
Your data is a vital component to your business and it is very important that your data does not get overlooked.

When functioning in a business environment, the best practice is to not only have a backup of your data but prevent your data from being lost to begin with. This is when redundancy comes in.

Your server for your business should be monitored, verified, and managed by an IT professional. This will allow you to function throughout the day without worrying about your data being safe and secure, keep an increased outlook on productivity, and allow for a guaranteed solution for data retrieval.

Five Signs That You Need A New Work Computer

Luke Gruden is a help desk technician for Tech Experts.

A work computer is one of your greatest tools in the modern era. Like any other tool, you want to make sure you have the right one for the job – and that your tools are maintained and replaced if necessary.

Computers evolve and change faster than anything else and the demands of security and new software require that your computer be somewhat recent, not a museum piece.

The fastest way to tell if you need a new computer is if your computer boots up into Windows XP or to a Windows system older than 2000.

Windows XP is such old technology that Microsoft no longer provides security updates for it. This leaves XP computers vulnerable to security loopholes and hacking attempts. Even the most high-end computer from XP times would run very slow for modern programs, which often won’t even load properly.

Google Chrome, the web browser, doesn’t even run on an XP. If you boot up to a Windows XP, it is time to replace the computer. Windows Vista is your second sign that you might need to replace your computer soon.

The operating system is still receiving security updates from Microsoft, but not for much longer: April 11, 2017 is the last day of support for Vista. Windows Vista will be over 10 years old, which is about 90 years old in computer years.

In the computer world, we have Moore’s Law, which means that roughly about every 2 years we’re able to double processing power for about the same cost. After 10 years, a computer that would have cost $300 will not run at even a tenth of the speed of a modern computer of the same cost. It is about time to replace that Vista computer; if not this year, then definitely next year.

You might have noticed on different versions of Windows that it says 32-bit or 64-bit at the end of its title. This is important. A 32-bit OS cannot properly utilize newer computers. Without getting too technical: if your computer cannot support a 64-bit operating system, this is a good sign that you might need to replace your computer soon. Having a 32-bit OS is your third sign that you might need to replace your computer.

The fourth sign is if your computer came with a CRT monitor when it was new. A CRT monitor is an older monitor that is big and bulky with a square display instead of a widescreen display like all modern TVs and monitors.

If your computer came with a CRT monitor, replace this computer immediately. This computer will not run many modern applications. It may not even run basic websites that are out there today, let alone modern computer programs.

The last sign is that you’re asking this question about your current computer. Chances are, if your computer is 4 to 6 years old, it could be time to replace your computer if you need to run modern applications. If 10 years is 90 in computer years, then 6 years old is getting up there in age.

If you are still questioning if it’s a good idea to replace your computer, give Tech Experts a call. Once learn more about your particular situation, we can help you figure out if your current computer suits your work needs or if you should take the plunge to upgrade.

Five Common Causes For Business Computer Slowdowns And How To Fix Them

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

All computers inevitably slow down at some point. The more we use them to download programs, install extensions, and fill up the hard drive with files, movies, and photographs, the slower they get.

Fortunately, keeping your computer running at a rapid pace is relatively straightforward, providing you develop some basic electronic housekeeping habits.

Here are the top five reasons computers slow down and how you can fix them.

Your hard drive is failing
Hard drives fail eventually, so make sure you backup your files on a regular basis. Some users claim that solid state drives (SSDs) are more reliable than hard drives because they don’t incorporate moving parts. However, that’s nothing more than a myth and the data stored on them can still be corrupted. [Read more…]

Four Tips For Next Year’s IT Budget

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

As the year winds down, you’re undoubtedly working out plans for 2016, and preparing your IT budget is top on that list. Every year presents unique network, server, and technology challenges that need to be addressed.

The increasing ubiquity of cloud services is something small business owners need to consider, but working out the basic budget items should take priority. Here are four tips to give your business a little bit of breathing room when it comes to planning next year’s IT expenses.

Think in the long term
When planning your IT budget, it’s important to consider both short-term and long-term investments that you’ll be making for the sake of your business.

[Read more…]

A Few Reasons Why Desktops Are Better

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

With all this talk about mobile devices like tablets, smart phones, and ultra-portable laptops, you’d begin to think that traditional desktop PCs are going to seem archaic.

Depending on your needs, that can be the case, but desktops aren’t going away anytime soon – and for good reason.

More Powerful Hardware
This has been the case from the very beginning – desktop PCs are capable of more powerful hardware.

Desktops don’t need to worry about electricity consumption the same way portable devices do and components don’t need to be shrunk down into a tiny lap-sized chassis.

This also allows better heat dispersion. All three factors give desktops the flexibility to utilize the most complex, cutting edge components that aren’t designed for mobility (yet).

In other words, computer hardware manufacturers build new components, then work on shrinking those components into mobile sizes.

This reason alone will keep the desktop alive – PC gamers, graphic artists, and multimedia buffs will always want high-end desktops.

Cost Effectiveness
Of course, you don’t need the newest, cutting edge components to have a blazing-fast PC. You can easily get by with cheaper, previous generation components.

Remember a decade ago when a desktop PC could cost thousands of dollars? It’s still possible (and easy for some) to spec out a high-end PC with that kind of price tag, but each additional dollar spent isn’t worth it unless you have VERY specific needs.

Also, comparable hardware for a PC is significantly cheaper than similar laptop hardware. If you don’t need the mobility, you can save a pretty decent chunk of money just by sticking with a desktop.

Desktops are Easier to Fix and Maintain
Let’s share a real-world tech scenario. Replacing a part on a desktop is a pretty simple task for a technician. In fact, with a little hand-holding, almost anybody could figure it out. Replacing the motherboard on a laptop, however, is an extremely cumbersome process. Depending on the model, it can involve over two dozen screws and a lot of time.

Replacement parts aren’t as affordable as they are for desktops either. For smart phones and tablets, expect to ship those out to the manufacturer.

You Probably Won’t Leave your Desktop at the Airport/Coffee Shop/Hotel
It’s true! If you are lugging around a big PC case, a monitor or two, a keyboard, mouse, and power cables, it’s pretty likely you won’t accidentally forget it when you realize how light your luggage has become.

All joking aside, because your desktop lives a pretty uneventful life without much movement, it doesn’t endure the little bumps, drops, and spills that laptops, tablets and other mobile devices take.

It’s harder to steal too, so there is a little essence of security knowing your data is locked inside a great big aluminum box tethered to your desk with a web of cables.

Have you moved on from the desktop PC completely or are you still holding on? Do you even want to go strictly mobile? Let us know and let us answer any questions you have.

Strategically Upgrading Your Computer Systems

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

With technology growing faster than most businesses can keep up with, organizations have to continuously upgrade their solutions in order to maintain a semblance of modernity. The only issue with this is that many businesses can’t keep up, simply because they don’t have a team that’s dedicated to this important task.

What technology upgrades should be made a top priority and why?

Naturally, the first thing you need to know about workstation and technology updates is that you need to integrate them periodically in order to ensure optimal security for your organization.

Most viruses and malware will attempt to take advantage of weaknesses in your infrastructure in order to infiltrate it.

These weaknesses in your software and operating systems’ source code will ultimately allow these threats to force their way into your network, putting any contained information at risk.

These flaws are often addressed in software patches and system updates issued by the software developer, but tackling the updates in a timely fashion is a whole other monster.

Managing all software updates is easier said than done, especially without a dedicated IT department watching over your technology. Regular maintenance is often pushed to the back burner and dangerously close to being forgotten about.

Therefore, the best way to make sure that your systems are prepared to handle the threats that are found in today’s computing environment is to make upgrading your technology a priority for your organization.

Software Updates
There are several programs that your organization needs in order to stay functional, so your software updates aren’t limited to just your workstations’ operating systems.

The fewer unnecessary security flaws that can be found in your IT infrastructure, the safer your information will be.

Furthermore, users who are working with top-notch, optimized technology will be far more productive than they would be if they were using sluggish, bogged down computers.

It doesn’t make any sense to let your employees use machines that hold them back from achieving their maximum productivity.

In fact, sometimes you might encounter a situation where using a different software will be better for your business strategy.

It’s always recommended that you consult with a professional technician before making drastic changes to your business’s software infrastructure.

Antivirus Updates
Your antivirus solution is often a software solution, but virus and malware definitions are continuously being updated.

If your antivirus and other security software solutions aren’t properly maintained, it’s like you’re “leaving your keys in the front door,” so to speak.

Your antivirus solution needs to be managed on all workstations – or, better yet, centrally controlled from the server to ensure that all users are protected and up to date at all times.

Hardware Updates
Older hardware that’s been around the block a time or two might have proven reliable, but it will eventually start to show signs of its old age. Hardware failure becomes more likely and you run the risk of losing information due to the degradation of your technology.

This is why monitoring your systems for faulty tech and periodically upgrading to more recent models is preferable, if not necessary.

Granted, all of these software and hardware upgrades may feel overwhelming. This is why Tech Experts offers a remote monitoring and maintenance solution that’s designed to administer patches to your mission-critical systems remotely.

This helps your organization ensure that your systems are always up-to-date. We can also monitor your infrastructure for any irregularities that might be caused by hardware malfunctions, hackers, and much more. Call us at (734) 457-5000, or email info@mytechexperts.com to learn more.

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 info@mytechexperts.com.

The Real Risks Of Running Outdated Software

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

Are you still holding onto your trusty old server that’s aging towards uselessness?

Or perhaps you are still running important applications on older servers with old operating systems because they’re “good enough” or “doing the job just fine.”

In many ways, your old server is like a trusty old car. You know where the kinks are and it gets you where you need to go.

But lurking below the surface of that trusty old car, and your old server, can be hidden risks that can result in very big problems, even dangers. Usually, when least expected.

Security risks are the number one danger of older technology. The older your operating system or application, the longer the bad guys have to find and exploit vulnerabilities.

This is especially true when the manufacturer is no longer actively maintaining support. Dangers can lurk across the entire aging application platform.

Your older versions of SQL Server are at risk. Perhaps you are still using an old FTP server that’s innocently sitting in the corner. Or you have some older network equipment and appliances.

The bottom line is anything that listens on the network is a potential threat to the server, and therefore your business.

If that software or firmware isn’t up to date, you’re doubly at risk of a major security incident.

Here are the top 5 risks you’re taking with running outdated software:

Crashes and system downtimec505825_m
Aging systems are more vulnerable to failure, crashes and corruption causing significant downtime.

Targeted technology upgrades can reduce total annual outage risk and reduce downtime.

Increased costs
Outdated software is more expensive to maintain than newer versions. Failing software increases costs by overloading IT personnel. The process of applying patches is also costly and time consuming.

Updated software portfolios not only decrease maintenance costs but also free up IT budgets for more strategic and innovative programs.

Decreased productivity
Aging software applications that crash or require maintenance result in reduced employee productivity.

Modernizing software increases productivity by improving the efficiency and quality of work.

Security holes
Mission critical software is more vulnerable to security breaches as it ages. A security breach can compromise sensitive customer and employee information, and proprietary company data.

Legal and regulatory compliance risks
Updated software ensures compliance to governance, regulation and policy as regulatory bodies continue to mandate new global requirements.

This is especially important for healthcare professionals that need to comply with new HIPAA regulations.

With older technology, any of the above risks can strike you at any time. The consequences can be loss of productivity, or worse, loss of critical data that negatively impacts your business.

Perhaps “good enough” isn’t really good enough after all.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Consider These Great PC Upgrades

If you are in the market for a new PC, check out these tips on how to upgrade your PC and get more value for your dollars before you pull out your credit card.

A solid state drive
Nothing like an SSD to give you a more practical and noticeable performance increase. With more capacity and more chips and channels, you are guaranteed faster performance.

A faster CPU
You may want to add a new CPU if your computer is old and if the before-mentioned SSD does not entirely fulfill your needs.

Get more memory
With more memory, your operating system will spend less time moving data to disk and you will be able work with more open apps and large files.

Choose a larger display
While a touch screen might blow up your budget, you can opt for a 23-, 24-, 27-inch 1080p model for an affordable price and it will offer you a much better and productive computing experience.

Better gear: keyboard and mouse
Explore the world of wireless, wired, touch and ergonomic keyboard and mouse models and choose one that makes sitting at your computer a breeze.

After all, all our work is done with a keyboard and a mouse, and they need to be as much comfortable as possible.