What Type Of Workstation Is Right For Me?

The average American spends just over 1800 hours a year working. For anyone who works in an office environment, this means a lot of sitting down and typing.

That type of sedentary work can lead to a number of health and comfort issues, not to mention productivity issues.

This means that picking an effective and comfortable workstation is absolutely necessary.

Getting Started
When choosing the right device for your workstation, there are a few things you should take into consideration.

First, you should decide what you will be using your workstation for and in what kind of environment. Will you be doing a lot of work from a central station or will you be out in the field? If you will be doing most of your work from one central location, a desktop computer offers the best price vs performance ratio.

Not to mention, the lifetime of a desktop usually outlasts other types of workstation devices. This is due to replaceable components and superior cooling solutions.

Stationary workstations are not always a viable option for all people, specifically people who spend most of their time moving from place to place on the job.

Someone who spends most of their time in the field would be best suited using a laptop or professional tablet.

One of the most important factors to consider when picking a workstation is how it fits into your budget. Less is often more when it comes to workstations, so you should always be trying to achieve the goals you set out for yourself in the most cost efficient way possible.

It is important that you purchase equipment that is going to perform well enough to complete the tasks you need it to, but any other additional features should be avoided to cut costs.

As mentioned earlier, desktop computers are the most cost efficient way to get work done around the office, so long as you’ll be staying there all day.

Comfort and Health
Who doesn’t want to be comfortable at work? Most of us spend a good portion of our lives working, so it is absolutely necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The easiest place to start is where you spend most of your day, sitting in a chair. The type of chair you use at work will greatly influence posture, comfort, alertness, and general wellbeing.

How can anyone get any work done if they are miserable and in pain all day? Make sure to pick a chair that has good lumbar support. Ergonomic options are always a plus.

Avoid unnecessary neck strain by keeping your eyes level with your monitor. Small details can also make a big difference, such as having a keyboard with negative tilt.

Negative tilt keyboards are designed to reduce wrist sprain, which is a huge plus for anyone who types all day. These keyboards can also help avoid carpel tunnel issues.

Your workstation is an essential part of your career. Balancing cost, comfort, usability and performance is the key to building the perfect workstation for you, your employees or clients. Cover your needs first, and then don’t forget to shop around for the best price available.

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.

Saying Goodbye To An Old Friend… Would A New Workstation Boost Your Productivity?

Many people find it hard to let go of that old workstation that seems to be “working just fine.” But, ask yourself: Is it really?

Most people recognize that, as their machine ages, it seems to get slower and slower.

A fresh install of Windows generally makes the computer speed back up to it’s “like new” speed.

But as we rely more and more on our computers, laptops, phones, and tablets to be productive in our work, does working at that original speed still make sense?

If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it?
Why is it a bad idea to have the “if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it” mentality when it comes to your computer?

For starters, you’re wasting your money doing so. If a computer is past its normal lifecycle then it really doesn’t make any sense spending the money to continuously bring it back to a like new state as far as the software goes because the hardware is still very outdated.

In general a desktop computer’s useful life span is roughly three to five years providing you purchased a mid-range computer and not the bottom of the line model.

For laptops you get slightly less useful life span out of them due to the fact that a mid-range laptop is generally not as good of hardware as a mid-range desktop.

The other reason a laptop doesn’t tend to last as long is the fact that it is constantly being moved around.

This constant movement, shaking, vibrating, dropping, etc. causes a lot more stress on the hardware in comparison to a desktop.

Due to the different factors involved in a laptop’s life cycle, a laptop’s useful life is roughly two to three years – perhaps slightly longer if it is well cared for.

Software updates may require PC upgrades
Another reason to think about workstation replacement has to do with the software you run on your machine.

Many different software companies offer updates to their software.

Some updates offer fixes to problems or security issues, but many updates also offer new features or updates to old features.

These updates sometimes include a better graphical interface that makes a program easier to use.

Generally, these types of updates have higher computing and speed requirements. Many industry specific software companies put out these types of updates, and they’re great!

Who wouldn’t want a more attractive user interface that functions better and offers more options?

The problem: Updating/upgrading software requires more system resources almost one hundred percent of the time.

If you’re the kind of person that likes to hold on to your workstation forever and never update it, but wants those nice software updates, you might see performance problems.

While your software is updating it needs more RAM, more CPU power, and in some cases, more graphical capacity to run to the new software properly. A lot of times, users don’t realize that with new features come new requirements.

In short, if your computer is over five years old, consider replacing it, particularly if it’s a laptop. A faster workstation will help you with updated software, and keep up with your busy workload.

Feature article written by: Tech Experts

Industry Standard Security Best Practices

Network security is a must in any network, but when it comes to a business network, there are a number of security standards and best practices that ensure you have control over your network.

Businesses in certain industries secure. Many different companies require different security standards; one organization for instance is the PCI (Payment Card Industry). The payment card industry has very a strict network security standard.

The below practices are fairly strict and will offer you a great deal of control and protection against data theft and network intrusion.

We will start from the outside edge of your connection of your network and work our way in from your modem on into client workstations.

The modem is probably the simplest device on the network – you can’t really secure it (beyond performing regular updates), but some ISP’s feature a built in firewall in the modem. This can be turned on or off to work in conjunction with your company’s firewall.

The next item to take a look at is your router/firewall. Generally you would have a router that offers several ports you can connect to via a direct Ethernet connection as well as WiFi access.

This firewall will add another layer of protection for when your network connects to the Internet. When configured properly, you would block all unauthorized network connections. As far as protecting the WiFi goes you are best to enable MAC filtering.

Each piece of network hardware has a unique identifying numerical code, called a MAC address. Filtering by MAC lets you set up WiFi so that only devices you explicitly define are allowed to connect to your network.

Once you have MAC filtering in place, you can also encrypt network traffic and use a long secure password. Since the clients on the network will not need to type this password in all the time, it is best to make a complex password containing both capital and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

Another option to further increase security when it comes to WiFi connections is to set the access point to not broadcast it’s SSID. This will make it look to the normal person as if there is no wireless connection available.

There are a lot of features that can be enabled at the server to further improve network security. The first item to review is the group policy. Group policy is part of the server operating systems that allows you to centrally manage what your client workstations have access to and how.

Group policies can be created to allow or deny access to various locations on your users’ desktops. You can get as granular as defining a group policy that sets standards on user passwords.

By default, Windows Server 2008’s password policy requires users to have passwords with a minimum of 6 characters and meet certain complexity requirements.

While these settings are the defaults, generally 8-10 characters is recommended as well as mixing upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special symbols. An example of a complex password might be @fF1n!ty (Affinity). This password would meet all complexity requirements and is fairly easy to remember. Passwords should also be forced to reset every so many days. A good time period is roughly 30 days.

One other possible option is to have firewall software installed on the server itself to regulate traffic in and out of the server.

The nice thing about having a firewall on the server itself is that you have the ability to log failed connections to the server itself as well as what that connections is and where it was coming from.

This feature alone gives you a lot more control over the network. For example if you noticed in the firewall logs on the server that a connection you didn’t want getting through was making it to the server you can go back and edit policies on the router/firewall to attempt to further lock down your network from that point as well as blocking it at the server.

One final quick thought on server security is physical security.

Generally it is a good practice to have the server physically locked in a room that only specific people have access to. If you really wanted more control as well you can have the server locked using a system that logs who comes in and out of a room via a digital keypad and their own passwords.

When it comes to your workstations, employees should only be logging into the workstation via their domain login and not using the local admin login.

This will allow you to centrally control via group policy what they can access like stated above. You can also configure roaming profiles so that if someone was to steal a physical workstation they would not have access to any company information as it would all be stored on the server and not that workstation – which is another great reason to have your server locked up.

Employee logins to workstations should also have account lockout policies in place so that if a user attempts to login too many times with an incorrect password, the server would lock them out on that workstation for a time period set by the administrator. One other item you could have in place for various employees is specific time periods their credentials will allow them to log into the systems.

One final step in network security is having good antivirus software installed on your workstations and your server. A compromised machine can be giving your passwords and information away to hackers making it possible for them to waltz right into your network undetected.

You are best protected by having as many of the above security steps configured and working properly on your network.

Determine what your network needs, evaluate the practice after it has been in place for a month and make the proper adjustments to ensure your network is safe. You should also preform regular security audits.

If you would like to see how secure or unsecure your network is give us a call and we can perform a network security audit for you and let you know where you stand!

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Tech Experts