Cloud Services

Office 365 Licensing Change | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Computer Consulting Experts

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Later this month, Microsoft are rolling out changes to the way it manages your Office 365 license. According to their official update notification “These changes will help simplify activation management and streamline the Office activation experience for users.” Most people will probably not notice a difference, but if you happen to run your 365 on multiple devices, you may see the change.

Subscribers can use their Office 365 account on up to 5 computers, 5 tablets and 5 smartphones. Currently, if you reach the device limit, you are asked to deactivate one of your installations before activating Office on a new device. Once the change comes into affect, you won’t have to anymore! Office will simply log you out of your least-recently used device when you reach your login limit.

As before, you will still sign-in to activate Office on your devices, and Office will automatically pick up the credentials and activate Office, if single sign-on is enabled.

For subscribers on the Monthly Channel, this is expected to start in late August, (although no specific date has been announced yet), and like all other updates, will just happen automatically.  

Picking a Backup Solution For You | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support

Backup, backup, backup! We say it all the time. We mention it frequently in our articles. Backing your files up can be, probably, the most important thing you can do to protect your business against a whole range of natural or security disasters.

Online Backup vs Online Storage

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When looking at your online backup options, you may be wondering what the difference is between online backups over online storage. (And it is an important difference to understand, as it can affect which service you choose to fit your business needs.)

Put simply Online Storage is just like it says on the tin – storage for your files online! It acts like an additional hard drive, where you can store your files separately to your physical computer, and also share them with others. Some services sync files as your store or alter them. So, if you delete the file from the computer, the file is also deleted from the online storage. Other storage services will only have the version you uploaded in the first place.

Examples of storage services are DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive (included with Office365 Business Plans), Sync.com and iDrive.

In contrast, an Online Backup takes a copy of your files and stores them online in a secure repository. This allows the service to keep copies of files for days… weeks… even years after they have been deleted from the computer.

Some more premium backup systems take things to the next level and take a snapshot of your hard-drive and replicate everything on it – allowing you to recover your entire computer or server. These services are concentrating more on securely protecting your data and giving you the chance to restore everything in the case of a theft or computer failure.

Examples are BackBlaze, Carbonite, CrashPlan and SOS Online Backup For Business.

So, which is right for you?

Well, there are lot of factors to consider on this one. Every business is unique, so you need to look at how your business operates to decide. Questions to take into consideration are:

  • What kind of files are you dealing with?

  • How many machines do you need to backup?

  • How much data do you need to backup?

  • How often is your data updated?

  • What is your budget?

  • Do you have an industry compliance to consider? (Financial, medical, country-specific etc)

If you are having difficulty deciding on which option is better for you and your business, our team can certainly help! Just give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com

Top 6 Tips to Protect Your Business Technology & Data From Theft | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Consultants

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We have talked a fair bit, before, about protecting your business against online threats – with all sorts of scammers constantly trying to steal passwords, identities, data or money. But what about the good old-fashioned real-world threats of theft? No matter how safe you think your location is, break-ins and property theft are also still a concern that you should take into consideration for your business.

Here are our top 6 tips to help you protect your data, and keep the impact to a minimum, if your business is broken into…

1. Anchor or tether equipment to immovable objects

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A laptop is stolen every 53 seconds (according to tech research firm, Gartner). Stats suggest that the vast majority of these are actually stolen from public places, but they are still a quick payday from an office-interloper too. Did you know there is a way that you can lock up your laptop to protect it from light-fingered visitors? Almost all laptops, for quite a while now, have a small opening on them where you can attach a locking cable. (Like this one , available at Staples) So, you can use this to lock your laptop to an immovable object! You can also do something similar with desktop units in the office.

2. Lock computer cases to prevent removal of hard disks.

For the smart thief, yanking out hard drives makes a quicker & lighter getaway. To thwart them, locking a computer case completely shuts them out – and adding that to a machine already tethered, your data is far safer!

3. Back-up data to online storage

Our favourite phrase does seem to be back-up, back-up, back-up… but we just can’t stress this one enough! Back-ups can save so much time and money in cases of data loss, whether it is from a theft or natural disaster. Using online server storage will also protect precious data in the event of a hardware theft, since that precious data was never on the machine to begin with!

4. Encrypt your hard disk

If you do have to keep important data or files on your PC/laptop, then encrypting your hard disk is a great way of keeping non-authorized eyes away from the goods! (Particularly if you are on the road a lot and not always able to tether your machine). If you are using Windows 7, 8 or 10, then this is actually a really easy thing to do yourself. You can see how, by checking out our quick tip video…

5. Keep servers & network storage devices locked away.

If you do use physical storage devices in your business, make sure they are kept in a locked room or cabinet. Key/combination holders should be kept to a minimum, with access given to only those people who really need it.

6. Install tracking software

If you are the kind of business that is on the move a lot, you may want to consider installing tracking software or services to your mobile devices. Sadly, the chances of retrieving a stolen device are slim, but this could give you a fighting chance… and many will, at least, give you the opportunity to wipe the data from the wandering device! Prey and LockItTight are 2 such services who can help you to track your devices and secure or delete data, or even see what the thief is up to.

If you are an Apple consumer, you have the Find My Mac or iPhone options in the iCloud settings, which also allow you to lock or wipe the devices. Make sure the setting is on.

If you are in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Langley or the surrounding areas of the BC Fraser Valley, and would like more advice on how you can protect your business technology both online and in the real world, our team will be happy to help! Call us to book a consultation at 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com.

Switching Phone Systems to VoIP | Fraser Valley Technology Consultants

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Is VoIP for you and your business?

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The traditional business telephone solution is showing its age. With the Internet and online technologies powering more and more business functions, organizations are finding it difficult to justify keeping the good ‘ole traditional phone line for their communications solutions. When you add to that the consideration of the initial cost of implementation and how difficult it is to scale a traditional PBX phone system to accommodate for growth, more and more businesses are looking for a more dynamic, and more flexible, solution that’s in line with their needs.

This is where cloud VoIP solutions are coming to the rescue. VoIP stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol, and is a type of phone that uses the internet to make a call! It can either connect to someone else who is also on an internet-capable system or switches to the conventional phone line at one end if needed.

A More Flexible Option

VoIP systems are, cheaper to implement and to manage, often allowing rapid changes to your phone system configuration on-the-fly. With all your staff on the same system, they can work from anywhere and still take advantage of the VoIP phone System.

Plenty of Features… if you need them!

Telephone service providers may often bundle services together in an attempt to offer consumers the opportunity to get more for their money, but these “cost savings” may not actually be worth it if you do not fully use all the services the package provides. With cloud VoIP, you get exactly what you pay for - no more, no less. This helps you build a solution to best align with the specific needs of your business. Plus VoIP systems still have an abundance of fancy features for you to choose from, if you need them!

Adjustable for Growth

The traditional PBX phone system is often difficult to work with, especially if your organization is constantly growing. For each new user, new phone lines and extensions have to be added to your telephony infrastructure. With a cloud VoIP solution, the phone infrastructure is much more dynamic and new users can be added easily. You don’t have to lay new phone lines or remodel your office every time you add users!

To add to that, it is very portable - meaning you can still answer your phones from wherever you have a good Internet connection. (And many VoIP providers also allow you access through mobile apps!)

Some Cons

There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution and not everything in life is perfect. There is almost always the odd con with most systems, and VoIP is no different. VoIP systems are completely reliant on your internet bandwidth (even though they are smart enough to work out when you are not speaking and not use bandwidth in those moments) - so a good internet connection is vital. Our team have become experts in properly assessing your connectivity and working with your ISP to get the best connection.

Along with an Internet connection, the system is also completely reliant on a power source, so power outages can cause a problem. We implement batter backups to reduce this issue.

Also, if you dial 911, emergency services may not automatically be able to locate where your call is coming from, so they can divert you to the nearest dispatcher, like they can with traditional phone calls. You can, however, register an address with your number to aid this.

Fully-hosted and Maintained

Managing and maintaining a telephone system can be complex, especially if you already have other priorities, like managing your day-to-day business operations. Implementing a new system can also be daunting… however, that is why we are here! Wild Frog Systems can advise you on the best system for you and provide the care needed to ensure that you get the most out of your telephone system.

To learn more about how cloud-hosted VoIP can benefit your business, give us a call at 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com.

The Top 3 Digital Storage Solutions | Chilliwack Business Technology Consultants

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Hands up all those people who love clean spaces! There’s something very zen-like and peaceful when you work in a minimalist environment. You see the photos in trendy magazines, of the clean white desk, with just a computer, a book and a trendy looking succulent… but the reality is that the clutter-free work environment is more productive and becoming more common, thanks to the wonderful digital age we work in.

In the good ‘ole days, a cluttered work desk was a familiar sight – a pile of files or paper in the “IN tray”, another (smaller) pile in the “OUT tray”, pens, diaries, reference books, filing cabinets, sticky notes… I could go on! Now, almost everything has gone online, and hard copies are becoming a thing of the past. Your diary is on your device (synced to your computer), business is done on websites, records are scanned, interactions are made via email and you can even digitally sign contracts online.

We may be saving some forests, and filing-cabinet floor space, but everything still needs to be stored somewhere, and that’s where a different challenge comes. As the digital revolution has boomed, so has storage needs. Thankfully, technology has evolved to keep up…so, what are your options?

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Local Servers

These machines are a common solution for larger businesses and have been for some time now. Like all storage devices, servers have adapted and grown, as technology has advanced. They are powerful, adaptable devices that can do a lot more than just storing files. They allow employees access to whatever they need, from anywhere in the building, whenever they need it, and working with large documents is only restricted by the speed of the network, so less waiting for things to load or save.

Network Attached Storage (NAS)

These are similar to, but less powerful than, servers. They have many of the same advantages, but are cheaper, smaller and just built primarily for file storage. These are a great solution for smaller companies that need a file server without any bells or whistles. However, backing up these devices can be trickier.

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Cloud Storage

Storing on the cloud is a newer, popular choice for companies with people in multiple locations, or anyone who wants more flexibility without the hardware headaches. Of course, the major advantage to cloud storage is the ability to access it from anywhere at any time – the world has now just become your office!

At the end of the day, all 3 methods have their pros and cons… and like many things, the perfect solution for your business depends on your individual needs. If you are thinking of changing or upgrading your data storage, our team would be happy to point you in the direction of the best plan for you.

Alternatively, if you are still working in that paper mountain, and would like advice on how technology can simplify your workflow and free your desk space, you can ask us that too! Send an email to info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.

Is Flash dead? (The Adobe one... not the super-speedy DC Comics one!) | Chilliwack Computer Support

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Whilst you may occasionally still come across a website using Flash to dazzle you, the only real time you see it, these days, is when you get to a site that uses it to run video... and too it often tells you can’t view the video unless you update your version. Of course, if you have surfed there on an Apple device, you will have seen the even bigger brick wall of “This device does not support Flash”! So, is Flash dead then? Not quite yet, but it is living on borrowed time now, so I think we can safely say that it is NOT something to consider if you are building your business a shiny new website.

Flash always had a number of drawbacks to start with, like its many security issues, the need for your viewer to have a player installed to see the content, and its ability to eat up your device’s power and memory. It was also starting to get on the nerves of prospective consumers. One expert in an interview with Marketing Sherpa compared it to taking a performer to your local supermarket and, when a customer tries to enter, having your performer stage a 2 minute show all about the shopping experience they are about to have. In today’s busy world, how many customers would stop and watch the show, compared to the ones trying to push past him as quick as possible. (How many times, when watching YouTube, do you hastily click on the Skip Ad button? Same thing!)

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A few years ago, spurred by the power issues on mobile devices, Steve Jobs announced that Apple products would not support Flash at all… and so the first massive blow was given to this Piñata. The beating continued from other directions like Chrome and Safari, and last year, Adobe finally announced that it would finally pull the plug on Flash at the end of 2020.

The end of Flash may be coming, but that doesn’t mean the end of flashy websites. There are other ways to make your site look slick – whether it is just picking a great, straight-to-the-point design, or by using HTML5, which has replaced a good deal of flash functionality but without most of the cons (particularly the power issue). Your customers will definitely appreciate your site’s ease on their device batteries!

When Your Email Feels Like Snail-mail... | Chilliwack & Abbotsford IT Support

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Most of us have had “that” moment . You know the one. That moment when someone says to you “yeh, I’ll email it straight over to you”, and then you sit there … and wait… and a couple of minutes pass…which feel like an ETERNITY… and nothing pops up in your inbox. In those dreadfully, long, painful 2 minutes (well… it usually starts after a mere 20 seconds of waiting), a million thoughts pass through your head…

"Is there something wrong with my computer?"

“Did they actually send it?”

“Could it be a problem with my router?”

“Maybe I have a virus!!?!”

"Has the zombie apocalypse started and no-one has told me??!!!" 

Well, before you run off to bug your IT department with a frantic request to test your internet speed and perform a full computer diagnostic scan with a tracking program sent off to find where your rogue email has been intercepted (because… you know… you saw it on that movie once, so you think  they can do that!), first consider this. Whilst we do live in this high-tech world of faster communication, and most emails arrive at super speed without you thinking about it, there could be a heap of reasons as to why your one important email may be delayed.

In most cases, it is simply down to the route that your email has taken to get to you. Your email has had to travel a complicated journey. It has to leave the sender’s computer and email server, and then take a route that makes it pass through several other servers on the way. Each server receives the email, and then passes it onto the next. Who knows what else these servers are also trying to pass on at the same time as your email! Some work faster than others. Some are busier than others. And your email is competing for delivery space with millions of others, including the vast quantities of Nigerian princes trying to offer their wealth to those unsuspecting, lonely victims. (Yes… I am talking about those phishing schemes, not real actual Nigerian princes!)

In truth, email is one of the original, and therefore oldest, services used on the internet. When email was designed, we didn’t keep our computers connected to the internet 24/7. So, it is pretty resilient. If it hits a legitimate blockage, like a full mailbox, it’ll typically keep trying or just bounce it back to the sender.

However, if you REALLY have been a patient person, and your expected email has definitely not shown signs of arriving after a sensible amount of waiting time (actual, real, measured time and not the mysterious void of slowed-down time you can experience while waiting for a kettle to boil, when you are desperate for a coffee on a Monday morning!), we advise that you...

  1. Check your junk folder. The simplest term or word can make a filter think it is spam, and redirect it.

  2. Ask the sender to try again, checking the email address (a VERY common error, and it only takes 1 wrong character to mess up completely!)

  3. Check your internet connection.

  4. Try using a different provider/browser or an instant messaging service instead.