Software

An Update on the latest Updates! (Critical Software Updates, that is...) | Fraser Valley IT Support

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Have you got your machine running updates automatically? If the answer is yes, you can breathe a sigh of relief and carry on with your day. If not, stop what you are doing, and get on to it straight away! Updates are way more than being about adding cool new functions and tools. Their primary purpose is to protect you against the ever-changing malware landscape and its constant onslaught of attacks. Brand new attacks are being developed daily, so software developers have to be equally proactive with patches to block them.

It is patching time at Microsoft, and the latest release contain advisories and updates to take care of 94 vulnerabilities for Windows and various other products, like Explorer, Edge, Visual Studio, Active Directory and Microsoft Dynamics. 26 of these updates are being rated as critical.

2 of these are to protect against 2 new ‘wormable’, critical, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) vulnerabilities and affect all versions of Windows, including 10 and Windows Server. If left unfixed, cybercriminals could use the vulnerabilities to remotely access an unprotected computer and install malware… so this one is a bit of a get-it-patched-now kind of job!

To follow suit, Adobe has also released a group of patch updates. Theirs will take care of 119 vulnerabilities, including patches in Creative Cloud, and the very popular Acrobat and Reader. The most critical of which should block up the chance of data leakage from an arbitrary code execution.

If you have a business in Chillwack, Abbotsford, Langley, Hope or surrounding areas, and are not sure if your software is updating like it should be, our team of friendly, local I.T. experts are happy to help. Give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email help@wildfrogsystems.com.

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

How to Switch Off Unwanted Background Apps in Windows | Fraser Valley Tech Support

If you’ve ever had to open your Task Manager to close a program, you’ll notice that there a lot more programs & processes running than the ones you may be using on the screen. There is nothing unusual or bad about background apps running in Windows 10. After all, many of them are making Windows work for you the way it does. However, to get the best performance out of your machine, there may be a few that you can actually turn off. (Please note… be very carefully when picking which to close!)

Here is how you do it…

1.      Click on the Start button (Windows icon in bottom left-hand corner)

2.      Click the Settings icon (the cog)

3.      Click Privacy to open up the settings window

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4.      In left-hand list, find and click the Background apps option.

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5.      Now you should see a list of applications running in the background of Windows 10!

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Now, many of these you will want to keep on, depending on how you use your computer. E.G. If you use Skype, leave that on so people can call you! If not, turn it off.

On my PC, I was surprised to see some games running that I had no idea I even had on my computer – they had just been installed at the factory level and left there, or came as part of an update.

When you are done, you can just close the window. You may want to re-check it though, after any updates… just in case!

Improve Your Work-Flow by Using Virtual Desktops in Windows 10 | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support

Photo by   energepic.com   from   Pexels

Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Have you ever had a time when you are working on a project, that required multiple apps/windows to be open on your desktop at once, when you needed to do something else completely different… but this is going to make your desktop even more cluttered and confusing? You really don’t want to shut down all the windows you have open, but you need a clean work-space.

This is where the virtual desktop function, on Windows 10, comes to the rescue. For Mac users, this is not something new, but now PC users can take advantage of having multiple desktops to work on as well… and it’s not hard to use either.

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To start a new desktop, simply press the Windows, Ctrl + D keys, on your computer keyboard. (Control + Up on Macs) Voila! You now have a fresh, clean desktop to start your new project on!

To navigate back and forth between your desktops, simply press the Windows + Tab keys on your keyboard to open up your navigation options. (An alternative is Windows + Ctrl and then the left or right arrows to switch between screens).

You can also see a demo of how it works on our YouTube channel…



Windows 7 End of Support Announced - What To Do Next! | Chilliwack & Abbotsford Tech Support Experts

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Windows 7 may be close to hitting it’s 10th birthday (that’s about 72 in tech years!), but it still remains a fairly popular operating system. Well, we have some sad news for you, if you own 1 of the almost 40% of PCs still running Windows 7, – its End-of-Life has been announced. January 14, 2020 is the day that Microsoft will cease to update or support Windows 7, and it is now on the “extended support” phase.

So, since the date has been announced and rapidly approaches, now is time to start thinking about upgrading to Windows 10. (And just in case you forget, Microsoft is releasing a Windows 7 update which will give notifications to tell users to upgrade before January!)

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What happens if I don’t upgrade?

Your Windows 7 will carry on working BUT you will no longer receive any security or feature updates, meaning you are VERY vulnerable to attack from new viruses or hacks.

What do I do to upgrade?

Upgrading is easy. If you want to stick with the comfort and ease of staying on a Microsoft platform and upgrading to Windows 10, you just need to buy a copy of Windows 10, download the installation file and run it. If you are an Office 365 Business subscriber, though, the news is even better – you can upgrade all of your licensed devices for free!

 A cheaper option is Windows 8, but that’s not really a smart option when you are going to just run into the same End-of-Life problem in a short while anyway… plus Windows 10 is simply better!

There are other options:

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Linux – Free but does work quite differently, so will come with a bit of a learning curve, plus it will not run your favourite Windows Office apps, like Word. There are Linux alternatives though.

Mac – Apple machines do typically age better than PCs but it is the most expensive way to go. Many of your favourite apps/programs are also available for Macs, but you will have to purchase them again too, thereby upping your budget again.

Whatever route you choose, we STRONGLY recommend backing up all of your files first… even though the Windows 10 upgrade asks if you want to keep your files.  

Will my old computer run Windows 10?

That depends on what is in your computer, of course… and there is a chance that it may not have the spec, in which you case you may need to look at upgrading your machine. According to Microsoft, the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or System on a Chip (SoC)

  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit.

  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS or 20 GB for 64-bit OS. (And the upcoming new version - 1903 - actually requires this to go up to 32 GB)

  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.

  • Display: 800x600.

Realistically though, if your computer does need a hefty hardware upgrade, by the time you add up the parts and effort, you may want to just consider investing in a new PC.

This sounds scary… I have a whole office of computers that need to upgrade!

Don’t panic… that’s what we are here for! Our skilled IT Support Team can take a look at your current machines, and let you know what options are best for you, along with how much they will cost and how long it will take. Then you can just leave the rest to the pros! Give us a call on 778-771-0184 or email info@wildfrogsystems.com and we will be happy to help.

What are Password Managers and Why You Need One! | Fraser Valley Tech Consultants

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Passwords, passwords, passwords. They are everywhere! With more and more software and platforms transferring to the ease and expanse of the cloud, the number of passwords we need on a daily basis has increased exponentially in the last few years.

Now, if you are following the golden rules of passwords (as you should be!), you should..

  • Never use the same password twice.

  • Use a password at least 8-12 characters long.

  • Use a mix of letters, numbers, uppercase/lowercase and symbols.

  • Do not store the password in your browsers or somewhere obvious like a sticky note.

This is where the average (busy!) human brain can run into some trouble. Bearing in mind that virtually everything we do requires a password – banking, office suite, social media, email, online shopping and so on - AND with the need for every single password to be unique, unpredictable and complicated, keeping track of them can be a bind for even the best memorising geniuses.

This is where having a password manager can be a lifesaver. Then you only need to remember 1 complicated password!

1 password to keep them all? That doesn’t sound safe!

Well, these programs are all about security, so they have to be! They employ techniques like multifactor authentication (meaning you need a password and a random code that it sends to a device of yours when logging in), and all data is encrypted at a local level.

So, what are your options?

There are a number of password managers out there, and you need to pick the one that best suits your needs and budget, but here are a few to get you going…

LASTPASS

LastPass is a great manager and has a number of package options for both business and personal clients, starting with a free version. It works on multiple devices, multiple browsers and has a variety of features such as strong password generators, digital file storage and auto form completing for online shopping.

KEEPER

Keeper is another leading password storage solution. Offers a wide variety of tailored package & feature options for personal (starting at $2.50/mo), family, business (starting at $2.50 per user/mo) or enterprise use. Again, works on multiple browsers and platforms.

DASHLANE

Dashlane also offers a free (but limited) version, as well as more feature-laden packages for business or personal use. This manager also comes with VPN protection and alerts you when a site’s security has been reported as compromised.

1PASSWORD

Popular manager, 1Password, has been protecting passwords for 13 years. No free version, but multiple options again, starting at $2.99/mo for personal or $3.99/mo for teams. Offers applications and extensions across a broad range of platforms and devices, with the usual menu of features on offer, plus a “watchtower” which keeps track of breaches and security issues.

Photo by  bruce mars  from  Pexels

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

There are more password managers out there, but this is a list of the most popular to start you shopping around. With companies and websites reporting data breaches every single day, the important thing is to get your passwords protected as soon as you can, as best you can… and this step will take you a long way towards a better night’s sleep!

Office 2019 is Almost Here! | Fraser Valley IT & Tech Support

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The countdown is ticking ever closer to Microsoft’s launch of its new version of Office for fans of the perpetual license model. Office 2019 is rumored to be released on October 1st of this year, although commercial users have been able to play with a BETA version for a few months now. So, what’s the difference between Office 2019 and Office 365?

Put simply, Office 2019 is perpetual license version – ie you pay a one-time license fee and that’s it! In contrast, Office 365 is a monthly subscription version and run online. So, the latter benefits from more regular updates and better features than it’s offline counterpart.

The cloud subscription version (Office 365) is still the way Microsoft really want you to go – at least that’s how the marketing seems. They seem to be pushing the online version way more, with more support available for subscribers, along with regular updates and more features.

But, there are still many who either don’t like the growing trend of the subscription model or are unable to switch short term, and Microsoft acknowledges that, hence why this perpetual license option being available. However, many experts are speculating that this will probably be the last perpetual license version that Microsoft will develop.

What’s new in Office 2019?

According to Microsoft’s website, the features will include:

In Word – a new black theme & new sounds, learning tools captions & audio descriptions, text to speech, improved inking functionality and improvements to accessibility.

In Excel – funnel charts & 2D maps, new functions & connectors, publishing capability to PowerBI, enhancements to PowerPivot & PowerQuery.

In PowerPoint – zoom capabilities for ordering of slides within presentations, a morph transition feature, inserting/managing Icons, SVG & 3D models, improved roaming pencil case.

In Outlook – Updated contact cards, @mentions, focused inbox, travel & delivery summary cards, and (with an Exchange online account) Office 365 Groups.

What else do I need to know about Office 2019?

The most important thing to consider, if you are planning to upgrade, is what operating system you are running on your computer. Office 2019 will not (easily) run on any system older than Windows 10, Windows Server 2016 or macOS Sierra. This new suite will also only receive 5 years of mainstream support followed by roughly 2 years extended (compared to the 5 and 5 of previous versions) – meaning that support of Office 2016 and 2019 will finish on the same day – and further evidence of Microsoft’s possible plan to ditch perpetual licenses in the future.

If you are looking to upgrade and have questions on which version is better for you, drop an email to the Wild Frog Systems IT Support Team at info@wildfrogsystems.com or call 778-771-0184.