Ask the #Nerherd: How Do I Keep my Business Operating When My Internet Goes Down?

#Ask the Nerdherd: How Do I Keep my Business Operating When My Internet Goes Down?

We heavily depend on the internet these day, as many of us use cloud based services. If the internet going down means that business stops, this can be a very costly occurrence.

In this #askthenerdherd video, Ben tackles some ways on how to keep the business operational even when the internet goes down.

The best ways to avoid business interruption when you lose an internet connection are:

1. Find another temporary Internet Connection

For those who work alone or from home, if the internet goes down, the solution might be as simple as tethering your mobile phone to your laptop, or working from a different location where free wifi is available for as long as the primary connection is unavailable.

2. Set up a Second Internet Connection for your Business

Set up a secondary internet connection to the office that can launch into action when the first connection fails. It’s best to avoid the connection coming in via the same way (eg. if a wayward backhoe digs up your ADSL connection, having a backup is a bit pointless if the backhoe has dug up TWO ADSL connections).

4G backup internet connection is really viable as alternative connection these days. With the new 5G services coming out and other magic technology now available, this can be set up alongside your primary internet connection with a 4G fail over and it will be a sub-second switchover, so you won’t even notice you’ve been fallen over to the secondary internet connection! If you need assistance setting up a backup internet connection, let us know and we can help make it happen.

What’s your backup plan when the internet goes down at your office? It’s important to work out your strategy so you can minimise interruption to your business. Need some help? Book a time with Gary if you need assistance working out your backup plan.

 

#Ask the Nerdherd: How do I retrieve a permanently deleted email?

Have you had one of those moments when you were working in your Outlook and noticed that  something is missing, either an email or a contact, and then realized that it has ACTUALLY BEEN DELETED. Oh no! This could be a bit of a problem for you. But don’t you worry! Ben addresses this issue on this latest  #askthenerdherd video.

 

The great news is Outlook has this feature called Recovering Deleted Items.

Let’s say you’ve got an email in your inbox that you don’t need – you press the Delete key. That email then goes to your Deleted Items folder in Outlook, where you can just easily retrieve it by opening it up and dragging it back to your inbox. However, in the case you periodically empty your Deleted items (which is a good thing by the way!), that is where this Recovering Deleted Items step happens – When you have emptied the deleted items folder but you realize you actually needed something from there.

How do we do it?

1. In Outlook, go to your Deleted Items folder. Have a look at the upper left and you’ll see the button – Recover the Deleted Items from Server.

Recover Deleted Items

2. Click on the Recover Deleted Items button where a new window will pop up showing you all the emails that have gone to your Deleted Items folder but have then been emptied from the Deleted Items folder.

.Recover Deleted Items - new window
3. Select one or more items you want to retrieve. Click in the Restore Items radio button and press OK, and those items will reappear in the Deleted Items folder.

Voila! Problem solved.

#Ask the Nerdherd: Is It Better to Shut Down or Restart my Computer?

Alright, I know you probably roll your eyes when you’re having a computer problem and us nerdy types tell you to “turn it off and then turn it back on again”, but there is method in our madness, promise 😉 In our latest #askthenerdherd video, Ben talks about the difference between restarting and shutting down your computer and why it’s not such silly advice.

If you don’t want to watch the video, skip past the video for the text version.

So, rebooting a computer. It may seem like a silly thing to address in an Ask the #Nerdherd video but you’d be surprised how often this comes up.

If you have an problem with your computer, please Restart it and see if that fixes the problem. Surprisingly, most of the time restarting the computer does actually does fix the computer issue you’re experiencing.

But, how do I actually restart a computer? Or should I shut it down?

Some changes came through after Windows 8 was released where shutting down computer is no longer is the same as restarting the computer. On older Windows versions, we could shut down our computer by selecting shut down, then power off and then power it back up – and this was the same thing as a restart.

However, this is not the case anymore. From Windows 8-10, there is a feature called Fast Boot/Start Up. This means that when you shut down your computer, it goes into a sleep state and not actually clearing out all messy memory and the bugs we are trying to get rid of. So when you need to restart the computer (either to solve a problem or apply updates), you need to actually restart it (by going to the start menu and selecting Restart), as shutting it down will no longer do the trick.

So, next time you’re experiencing some computer issues, first try to resolve them by Restarting your computer and hopefully that will be the fix you need.

Ask the #Nerdherd: How Fast Is My Internet?

Questions about internet speed have to be up there in the list of most common queries that we get at the Helpdesk, so it seemed like a perfect topic for Ben to address in ‘Ask the #Nerdherd‘.

Have a watch of this video for more details, or read below for a summary:

So, the first thing to understand is how fast your internet is meant to be running?

  • If you are on a business grade internet connection, such as a 10MB ethernet connection, then there is a hard speed that your internet is supposed to be running at (eg. 10MB) and it should be approximately the same for both uploads and downloads.

Go to Google and type in ”Speed test”, and you’ll see a screen that looks something like this:

Run the speed test, and it will test both the download speed and upload speed and then spit you out a result, similar to this:

The numbers you get aren’t ever going to correspond exactly with the internet plan you’re on (eg. 10MB), but they should be pretty close.

  • If you are on an ADSL connection, which many homes and some small businesses are, the A in ADSL stands for “asynchronous” which means the there will be different speeds for uploads vs downloads.

Download speed will be quicker, but usually at a maximum speed of 24MB per second. The upload speed generally won’t go over 1MB per second.

However, with ADSL, it rarely actually goes this fast, and no service provider is going to guarantee these speeds as there are many variables when it comes to ADSL speeds.

As per the business grade connection above, open Google in an internet browser and type in ”Speed test” and see what speeds you’re achieving.

What happens when you run the test and speeds are much slower than they should be?

The first thing to try is to power cycle the router/modem.

(Before you do this, just remember that you are going to take your entire business network offline for about 5 minutes.)

Turn the router off, wait 10 seconds and turn it back on again. Then just wait a bit to let everything reconnect to the internet.

Go to Google and run the speed test again. If the speeds are still slow, the next thing to try is an Isolation test.

Turn off every single device that’s connected to the internet (including the wifi), and just have one single computer or laptop connected. Other devices may be using up the bandwidth and we’re not aware.

Run the speed test again.

As the next step in testing internet speeds and resolving the problem, you may need to look at replacing the router or modem.

This might be a bit more complicated, as you may not have a spare router or know how to configure it.

If you need some extra guidance, call your IT helpdesk or internet service provider (ISP) for further help. Your ISP may also be able to run some line tests, but they will want you to have run through the above checks first before they proceed so it’s good to get them all out of the way before you make the call.

Hopefully this gives you a few handy tips to try the next time you’re feeling frustrated with your internet speeds.

Ask the #Nerdherd: How do I remember and manage all my passwords?

I’m not sure about you, but I feel like I have about a gazillion logins for online accounts these days. Okay, that may be a slightly made up number, but there are a LOT. And we are warned not to make them too obvious, and to make sure we’re changing them regularly.

So, how on earth do we keep track of all those passwords?

Ben has recorded a handy ‘Ask the #Nerdherd’ video to answer this eternal question. Here are three solutions he’s identified to making password management a little more manageable:

1. Use a pass-phrase instead of a password.

Instead of using a single word, in many cases you can use a pass phrase – sequence of random words and characters strung together to create a password. This can be more memorable for you, but also more complex and therefore harder to hack into. Just be sure to use something nonsensical (eg. “my horses cats brothers teeth are green”), rather than a quote or a phrase that is easily guessed.

2. Use multi factor authentication where possible.

Multi-factor (MFA) or two factor authentication (2FA) has an enhanced level of security because it requires more than one method of authentication from independent categories to verify the user’s identity for a login or transaction. Generally the system works by requiring you to do an initial login (eg. enter your username and password), and then once you’ve successfully logged on to the system, you’ll have to enter a secondary random code which is generated and sent to your mobile phone or appears on a security device, like this key tag from ANZ. If the code you enter (and you’ll only have a brief window of time to do this) is correct, you will gain access to the system you’re logging into.

Many people already use this system for banking (especially on business accounts), but it is becoming more widely used.

3. Use a program like Last pass to keep them all in one place.

A system like LastPass can be a handy tool to store all your passwords in one place, so that you only need one secure master passphrase to access them all. You can download an app so that LastPass can enter all the login details for your accounts on your devices as you need them. They use encryption and multi factor authentication to ensure your password data is kept safe.

With our ability to run our whole lives from a smart phone, it’s inevitable that our list of accounts to access and passwords to remember also increases. But we also need to make sure we’re keeping all those accounts as secure as possible. Hopefully these three handy tips making the ever-growing list of passwords both secure and manageable.

Two things you should consider before switching from PC to Mac

I admit that I’m pretty much in love with my Apple MacBook Pro laptop.

As the marketing component of the Grassroots IT team, however, I must write a disclaimer saying that this a purely personal opinion from my creative, hippy perspective, and is not necessarily based on any technical knowledge and expertise of the Mac system.

I do know that a Mac isn’t right for everyone, and the decision to move from a Windows based laptop to a Mac has to be given careful consideration. So, what do you need to think about before you switch operating systems?

Here’s Ben’s take on what to consider before making the switch:

So, in summary, there are two main things that need to be considered before moving to a Mac:

1. Does the software you need run on a Mac?

While generic software suites, such as Office, are generally compatible across both Windows and Mac platforms these days, there is still a lot of software that will only run in a Windows environment. Cloud based services (such as Xero cloud accounting, Office 365) are usually fine because they are internet based and run in a browser. However, if your business runs software that is tailored for your industry, you should check with the software designer whether you will be able to use the software in the same way, or even run the software, on a Mac. Perhaps you could make a list of all the software/applications you use on your existing computer and check each one to make sure it will run well on a Mac.

Also, if your company has a network that primarily runs Windows based machines, have a chat to your IT provider to ensure that joining a Mac to your network is possible and can easily be supported.

2. Do you know how to use a Mac? Does your team know how to use a Mac?

While using a Mac isn’t necessarily difficult, there are definite differences between the two platforms, so just because you know how to use a Windows machine, it doesn’t mean you know how to use a Mac. And just because your team members know how to use a Windows machine, it doesn’t mean they know how to use a Mac.

Before I made the switch to Mac, I had been using a PC most of my life. Despite being an avid computer user, there was definitely a period of transition as I worked out new ways to do simple tasks on the Mac that I was very familiar with in Windows. I spent a fair bit of time Googling and watching videos to get up to speed. Now using a Mac is second nature (and I would probably find it just as hard to go back to Windows!), but it definitely took some time to become familiar with the Mac environment and processes.

In my personal opinion, Macs are awesome, but just factor in a dip in productivity while you come up to speed with new platform. If you are going to make the switch, I wouldn’t suggesting doing it when you know you have a busy period approaching. Make the change when you’re in a quieter phase on the work front so you have time to become familiar with your new Mac without the added stress.

Here are a couple of other things to factor in before you make your final decision: 

  • Will you need to buy any new licenses or applications so that you can use your software on a Mac environment? If so, you’ll need to factor this into the budget.
  • If you’re planning on moving your data from your older Windows machine to your new Mac, ensure this is given significant forethought so that it is done properly. It may take a considerable amount of time.

Before you rush out and purchase a new Mac laptop or computer, go into an Apple store and have a play with the Operating system and specific Mac machine you are looking to buy. Take a list of questions you have about the Mac and ask the staff at the Apple store (they are called Geniuses for a reason!).

Of course, there are pros and cons to both Mac and Windows based machines, so it’s important to make a carefully considered decision on whether a Mac is right for YOU and your business