Do you have a plan for what happens when your business’ network goes down? Maybe you’re experiencing a power outage. Perhaps systems are malfunctioning, you’ve lost an access key or you’re experiencing business-wide data loss. Whatever the cause, network downtime can cause serious problems for small and medium-sized businesses.

Even if this type of thing has never happened to your business, it is crucial that you plan what to do if it ever does. The more reliant your business becomes on software and the cloud, the more devastating network outages can be. That means the likelihood of serious disruption is only going to increase.

Don’t believe us? There are a huge number of ways that businesses can experience network outages in this day and age. These include the following:

 

  • Power outages: Backouts still happen frequently across the country. Your building’s electrical wiring could short circuit. Planned engineering could shut your business down.
  • Natural disasters: Fires, floods, and storms can all take your network offline and lead to severe data loss.
  • Hacking attacks: Your business could be hacked at any time. Don’t think that because you are an SMB that hackers won’t bother with you. Thousands have SMBs have been attacked over the last few years.
  • User error: Your employees can cause your network to go down, whether it’s maliciously or by accident. It only takes them to push the wrong button for everything to be deleted in an instant.

 

Create a disaster recovery plan

Often it can’t be helped when your business experiences network downtime. But your reaction can change. You need to make sure you have a quick and reliable way to get back to business whenever downtime strikes.

This starts by having a quality backup and disaster recovery system. Getting up and running again often means accessing work that is either temporarily unavailable or lost for good. That’s why having satisfactory backups is essential. You need to be backing up all of your business’ data daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. That way you always have the latest data to hand, as well as a historic record should you need to revert to an older data set.

You then need a backup solution that allows you to restore data as quickly as possible. Traditional tape backups are not satisfactory in this regard. These can take hours to restore business data. Instead, you need high-performance backup data recovery software that restores data instantly. This keeps downtime to a minimum and ensures staff can get access to data and start work as soon as possible.

For more information on creating a satisfactory disaster recovery solution for your business, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

Everyone likes to know what something costs and how that cost is broken down before they buy it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a meal in a restaurant or the cost of getting your car serviced, we can use the price to make an informed decision if we want to go ahead with the service.

Working out how much IT small business support should cost can be tricky, however. That’s because prices can be highly tailored to individual businesses, meaning there is no industry standard to use.

 

IT support isn’t cheap

The vast majority of IT support websites will never mention their prices online. Sometimes, this can be to remain competitive but sometimes it’s because some IT firms will try and quote a low price to draw you in.

This can make it very appealing when you are quoted a cheap price compared to other IT consultants. Why should you pay so much more for what seems like the same service on the face of it.

The truth is that cheap IT support can be very expensive. Because when a price is too good, it usually is.

The service will either match the price and be nonexistent. This can lead to big problems and expensive fixes when you need to hire in proper professionals to do the work. Or there will be a host of hidden fees that make the price much, much higher than you thought it would be.

 

What should IT support actually cost?

The truth is that IT support prices vary considerably depending on your location, your business size and your needs. This makes it very difficult to give a definitive answer to the question and why so few IT companies will list out their prices on their website.

We quote projects on a business by business basis, meaning that few businesses are ever paying the same amount. This is the fairest way possible and the only way to ensure that every business gets the attention it needs.

That doesn’t mean you can’t work out if you are getting a bum deal, however. The best way to work out what IT should actually cost for a business of your size and in your area is to have a very well define brief of needs and get costs from multiple IT consultants. That way you’ll be able to see which figures most closely aline, which ones seem way too cheap and which seem way too high.

You can then use that information to question each IT consultant further on their pricing and ultimately make a decision.

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

If you’ve had your phone line for years, you may question why you need to upgrade it all of a sudden. In fact, you may even be wondering what the heck VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) actually is and why it matters all of a sudden.

If you are looking into a new phone line and want to get to the bottom of which choice is better for your business, we’re here to help.

 

How do different systems work?

When a customer calls your landline phone, electrical signals are sent through copper wire strung across telephone poles or buried in the ground, which is then converted into electricity and sent to your phone. When you speak back, the process happens in reverse.

With VoIP technology, the calls are transferred through your internet connection. Rather than converting your voice into electricity, your voice is converted into a data file which is sent back to the receiver.

 

What are the positives and negatives of each option?

Now you know how they work, we’ll next look at the positives and negatives of each solution.

 

You have to have internet for VoIP to work, but not for landlines

If you want to have an effective VoIP service, you’ll need a reliable, high-quality internet connection. If you don’t have an internet connection (or it goes down) you won’t be able to receive or make calls.

You don’t need the internet for landline phones to work meaning they can still function in power outages and deliver high-quality calls even if your internet is patchy. If you don’t have the internet at your premise, work from a remote area or absolutely have to have phone functioning at all times, landlines are the best choice.

That being said, if you are in a city and have great internet access, VoIP calls will be as good or even better quality than landline calls.

 

VoIP is cheaper

Given that VoIP uses your existing internet connection, it won’t be a surprise to know that VoIP is considerably cheaper than a landline. In many cases, it is a fraction of the cost. This means small businesses and startups often favor VoIP when they need a phone service but don’t rely on it.

 

The different services come with different features

Both types of phone service come with additional features, many of which are the same such as call recording, voice mail, extension lines and call transfer. But the price of these additional services and what they actually entail will differ between the two choices. These features are often more expensive for landlines because they rely on additional software packages called PBX systems. They are usually cheaper and easier to install for VoIP systems and can be done much faster.

If you still aren’t sure about which phone service is best for your business, seek advice from your IT consultant or IT support company today. Or get in touch with our team on 281-768-4800 today.

Finding an IT support company that you can trust is tough. It’s even harder if you’ve never worked with an IT company before and you have no idea what to expect. Pick the right company and it can transform your business and the start of a fantastic business relationship. But pick the wrong company and it can destroy your business.

Choosing a great IT support company starts and ends with the questions that you ask. If you don’t ask the right questions or understand how to comprehend the answers, you’ll never be able to successfully choose between two different companies.

We’re here to help. So you can make sure you are picking the best IT support company for you, we have created a list of the top questions to ask potential IT companies. These questions will help you identify the duds and learn more about the companies that you should actually consider.

 

General questions about your IT company

These are the following questions that you should ask any potential IT support company. These are the top level questions that can help you quickly narrow down your shortlist.

  • How long have you been operating?
  • How many companies do you currently work with? What type of industries are those companies in?
  • Have you stopped working with any companies in the past year? If so why?
  • What’s your personal background in IT?
  • How many people work in the company?
  • Can you put me in touch with a current client’?

 

Questions about IT support

Once you’ve narrowed down your potential IT support companies to three or four potential providers, you should then start to probe their offering. Getting an accurate picture of what their IT support service entails is essential if you are to choose the best company for your needs.

Here are the questions you should ask:

  • How many support tickets can I submit? Is there a daily/weekly/monthly limit?
  • How can I get in contact with your staff? What is the estimated wait or response time?
  • How much extra is priority or out-of-hours support on weekends or the holidays?
  • Do you have an SLA? What are the details of this?
  • What happens if my company grows? Do you charge per workstation or per employee?
  • What happens if my data storage solution needs increase?
  • What happens if my business comes under a cyber attack?

 

What services should you look for in a company

Questions will only get you half the answer. You also need to understand which services you need and what services are desirable. Here are some of the services that we recommend:

  • Unlimited remote and on-site support
  • Security administration
  • Managed antivirus and cybersecurity support
  • Regular data backups and recovery plan
  • Data restoration when necessary

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

Understanding how to combat cybersecurity isn’t an option for business owners and employees anymore. It is absolutely essential for the security of the company. But knowing how you can uphold cybersecurity isn’t always obvious. And even when it is, you can’t always rely on employees to care. Unfortunately, this attitude can lead to serious problems in the future when an employer or employee negligence results in a cyber or ransomware attack that puts the business at financial risk.

Keeping it simple is the best way to ensure that key cybersecurity principles are upheld. That’s why we’ve distilled down the leading advice into the following tips.

 

Key cybersecurity tips all employers and employees need to know

Only use a backed-up network or the cloud to store files

All files should be stored on the business’ backed-up server or in a cloud storage solution such as Dropbox or Google Drive. This ensures that they are automatically backed up and easy to recover should the business fall victim to ransomware or another form of a cyber attack. Saving files to machine desktops is okay during the day when they are being worked on, but everything should be saved back on the server or into the cloud at the end of the day.

 

Don’t connect unknown devices to the network

No one at the business should connect unknown hardware devices such as USB sticks to any computer that is hooked up to the business’ network. Malicious software can be downloaded and installed as soon as the device is attached, even without the user clicking a button.

 

Don’t download third-party applications without approval

It can be very tempting for employees to download their favorite third-party applications to their business machines. But even if they perceive that this is for the benefit of the business, they shouldn’t download anything without approval from the business’ IT department or from an IT support company. Employees never know what malicious software could be downloaded alongside their favorite applications.

 

Never respond to unsolicited emails or click links

Phishing, the process of sending unsolicited emails with attachments or links, is one of the main ways that hackers install ransomware on business computers. Just clicking on a link in an email can be enough to automatically download malicious software. It is crucial to educate your employees and tell them that they should never respond to, click a link or download an attachment from an email that wasn’t solicited or is from an email address that they don’t recognize.

 

Never accept IT support from an unexpected caller

Your IT contractor or support company will almost never call you out of the blue offering support. You’ll almost certainly have to call them first. As a result, you should never respond to or accept help from anyone calling you out of the blue offering IT support. Regardless of what they say or where they say they are calling from, hang up.

 

For more information on cybersecurity and how to protect your business in the future, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

Finding a great IT consultant that you can trust is the bane of many a company director. Just how can you know whether you’ve found the perfect fit for your organization. It’s not simply a case of choosing the nearest IT consultant to your business or trusting the first IT consultant that you find. IT is becoming more important and more crucial to the effective running of a business. That means these people will play a critical role in the ongoing success of your business. You don’t want to trust that responsibility to someone who isn’t up to the task. Choosing the wrong consultant means putting your business, your livelihood and the livelihoods of your employees at risk.

If you want to find the best IT consultant for your company here’s what you should and shouldn’t do.

 

What to do when looking for an IT consultant

 

Have a clear brief

It’s hard for IT consultants to provide an accurate quote or give your business an accurate appraisal if you aren’t sure why you need an IT consultant or what you want them to do. Make sure your IT budget is clear, your goals are laid out and that every stakeholder is in agreement on the direction you want to take.

 

Search far and wide for the best fit

It may sound like common sense but you’d be amazed how many people stop looking for IT consultants after they’ve spoken to a couple. There are hundreds of IT consultant near you, so don’t stop until you’ve found several that you think you could be happy with.

 

Don’t pin everything on your IT guy

Some businesses have a tendency to pin everything that goes wrong on the IT guy. This is a bad mindset to have and one that can see you run through several great IT consultants. The truth is that sometimes things go wrong for no reason. The important thing is that your IT consultant has a backup and recovery plan for when things do go awry.

 

Make sure you cover your lack of skills

There is no point hiring a yes man IT consultant who is going to agree with everything you say. Instead, look for someone who has a complementary set of skills to your own so that they can add serious value to your business. You want them to offer advice, not to do what you say.

 

What not to do when hiring an IT consultant

Don’t think that your IT consultant will do it all

When some companies hire an IT consultant, they think they can absolve themselves of all IT-related responsibilities. This isn’t the case and it can quickly lead to a breakdown in the relationship if you aren’t willing to take charge of certain matters.

 

Go for the cheapest option

Yes, IT can be expensive. But it is one of the most critical parts of your business. It’s worth paying for quality professionals. Picking the cheapest option is almost certain to end in failure.

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

As a small and medium-sized business, you are just as much at risk of a ransomware attack as large enterprises. In fact, you may be even more susceptible. That’s because hackers know you have limited resources with which to defend the attack, making your business a much easier target.

Don’t be an easy target. Here’s how you can protect your business from ransomware.

 

What is ransomware?

Ransomware is a computer virus that will threaten to delete your files unless you a fee (the ransom). Hackers download software onto your device without you or your employees knowing about it, which will automatically start encrypting files. This is usually achieved through a phishing email.

 

How you can protect your business

Here are several steps that you can use to make sure your business is protected against ransomware attacks.

Back up your files

The entire threat of ransomware is that businesses are unable to access their files. But this isn’t a problem for businesses who have backed up their files in the cloud or on separate devices. Either way, these files won’t be affected by the attack meaning you can wipe your machines and download the backed up data.

 

Update everything

Yes, updating every piece of software you use can be a huge pain, but there is a good reason for it. A lot of updates are patches to security issues that make them vulnerable to attacks. It can be tempting to leave updates until the program stops working, but you should always update as soon as one is available.  

 

Use an antivirus software

Antivirus software is essential for any business. A robust antivirus solution will automatically block some malware or ransomware downloads. The better the solution, the more ransomware attacks it will block. Of course, you’ll need to keep this updated, too.

 

Keep your staff informed

Small and medium-sized businesses often make easy targets for ransomware attacks because they don’t train staff on the dangers of opening unsolicited emails or visiting unsecured websites. Regular training is essential to avoid your employees accidentally downloading ransomware onto their computers.

 

Don’t pay the ransom

Do you know what paying the ransom does to hackers? It encourages them to target your business again and to target other businesses like yours. Besides, if you have followed the advice above they’ll be no need to pay the ransom as all of your files will have been backed up.

If you’re at all concerned about ransomware, the most important thing is to seek professional advice. For expert information on protecting your business from a ransomware attack, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

 

It’s not unusual for business owners to think that managed IT support isn’t necessary for them. In some cases, such as small local mom and pop stores, they are absolutely correct. Managed IT support isn’t essential. But for larger businesses, ones that rely on computers and networks to generate revenue, managed IT support can offer essential help and guidance.

The need for managed IT is getting more important for SMBs by the day. The more businesses rely on technology for day-to-day business operations, the more crucial having IT support to hand is. What happens if your network goes down? What happens if a natural disaster results in your business losing all of its data? What happens if your business comes under a cyber attack?

All of these problems can be planned for and resolved by working with a company that provides managed IT support. By working behind the scenes, a company like ours can make sure that all of your business’ critical digital assets are protected so that you can focus on the work that matters.


Here are three ways we can help your business.

 

A proactive approach to IT maintenance

When it comes to IT issues, nine out of ten SMBs take a reactive approach rather than a proactive approach. When something goes wrong, they ring up an IT company to help. It gets fixed and they don’t think about IT again until something else goes wrong. This is completely the wrong attitude to take. An IT support company will take a proactive approach to IT monitoring and maintenance This means that a company like us will keep a close eye on all of your systems, update those systems where necessary and ensure that you are much less likely to suffer an IT problem than if you had continued to bury your head in the sound.

 

Threat reduction and management

Your business is at high risk of suffering a cyber attack. Yes, even if your business is relatively small, it is at risk. In fact, smaller businesses are more at risk than corporate entities because you have fewer resources to tackle these attacks. But not if you trust a managed IT support company watching your back. We can ensure you are protected by enterprise level software like firewalls and antivirus programs, as well as educating your team on how they can reduce the threat of cyber attacks.

 

Data backup and recovery

Data backup is essential for small and medium-sized businesses. Yet so many SMBs have no backup system in place. One reason is that developing and implementing such a system is incredibly time consuming and requires a significant amount of skill. Luckily, a managed IT support team can take care of this for you and create a comprehensive backup system that ensures your data is protected and recoverable should you ever need to access it.

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

The cloud has completely changed the way that many businesses operate. Offering a cheaper, easier and more effective solution to onsite servers, more and more businesses are deciding to switch to a cloud solution. If your business isn’t leveraging the cloud, you should definitely consider it. Here are three major ways that cloud computing can transform and enhance your business.

 

The cloud is much more cost-effective

The cloud can cut costs significantly for your business. On-site servers are incredibly expensive to set up and run. And they aren’t scalable, either. So when you need a tiny bit more storage space, you have to pay for significantly more than you need. Cloud storage, on the other hand, is incredibly cheap and it’s scalable. You can add or remove storage facilities instantly whenever you need. There’s no paying for storage that you don’t need or continuing to pay for storage when your business no longer needs it.

 

The cloud is incredibly diverse

Data storage is probably the first thing that businesses think about when you ask them about the cloud. But that’s just one facet of a cloud solution. There are several other ways that businesses can leverage the cloud such as through Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications such as Google Docs and Slack. These digital services don’t require a significant amount of space on your machine and they aren’t locked to single machines either. That enables your employees to take these apps with them wherever they are and whatever machine they are using.

This also makes it much easier to backup, recover and access your files, work and apps remotely. It doesn’t matter what happens on-site. Even if your building burns down and all of your computers are destroyed, you’ll still be able to access your work on another machine.

Finally, it also facilitates collaboration within companies and between businesses. The cloud makes it easy for employees and businesses to quickly and securely share files without having to rely on email or USBs.

 

The cloud can offer greater security

The cloud isn’t perfect and it won’t make your data and files completely secure — it can even open you up to more security issues — but it is almost certainly more secure than the current IT setup of most SMBs. With cloud computing, everything is kept securely offsite, normally in an encrypted format. That means you can limit access to the data and ensure that people can’t download it or access it without permission. Employees, clients and competitors can’t steal data without you being alerted to it first.

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.

Business owners have more than enough on their plate without having to worry about keeping their business’ IT network in shape. Yet this is the responsibility that tens of thousands of small business owners across the country take on when they choose not to hire an IT support company to manage their network.

When you outsource your IT to a managed service provider, tasks such as updating software, implementing firewalls and backing up data are taken off your plate for good. Even better, you don’t have to have IT staff in your office. IT support can be carried out remotely so you get the peace and quiet you need to work.

If you’re considering a managed IT service provider, here are three ways we can help manage your business network.

 

Constant up-to-date and secure systems

It can seem like a system or a piece of software has to be updated every single day. That’s why many business owners simply ignore these messages whenever they appear. Doing so is putting the business at risk, however. When you don’t apply updates promptly, you put your systems at risk of exploitation or failure. Patches are created whenever a fault with a piece of software is identified. So the longer you leave your systems unpatched, the greater the likelihood of your business suffering an attack.

When you hire an IT support company, you don’t have to worry about keeping your systems and software up-to-date. Your service provider will do everything remotely and as soon as possible. This doesn’t just make your business more secure, it also gets rid of the annoying warning messages that appear every time you start your machine.

 

No annoying site visits

Having IT teams buzzing around the office can be a big distraction to staff. Distractions cost money, which is why managed IT services will always be carried out remotely where possible. Thanks to the technology of today, there isn’t much that can’t be completed remotely, meaning you will rarely have to see your IT team at all.

Some IT management providers will charge extra for on-site fees and do everything they can to ensure on-site visits are necessary. But with a respectable and reliable IT service provider, this issue isn’t a problem. In fact, the reverse is true. These companies will want to keep on-site visits to a minimum in order to ensure expenses are as low as possible.

Of course, no on-site visits whatsoever isn’t a good thing either. Some things have to be taken care of in person. That’s why when site visits are necessary an effective IT support company will make sure they are there to do the job properly.

 

Remote monitoring and threat detection

While having up-to-date systems will keep threats to a minimum, it won’t remove them completely. That’s why managed service providers will also provide a remote monitoring service that can track, identify and eliminate threats as soon as they appear.

For more information on managed IT support and we can help protect your business’ digital assets, get in touch with our team. Call our sales and support team on 281-768-4800 today.