Windows 7 End of Life

 

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You may have heard or seen online about Windows 7 becoming “End of Life”. But what does that actually mean for your business? We have put together this article to give you a bit more information around what will happen on January 14th 2020, and what you can do to ensure your business is protected.


What Does “End of Life” Mean?

End of Life means that Microsoft are no longer providing support, updates, bug fixes or security patches for Windows 7. This allows Microsoft to focus on the newer software they have released, as Windows 7 is now over 10 years old.

Can I carry on using Windows 7?

You can. However, we strongly advise against it. Not only does this leave your business vulnerable to cyber-attacks, if you continue to use Windows 7 after January 14th 2020, you may no longer be GDPR compliant.

Can I just upgrade to Windows 10 without buying new hardware?

The short answer is yes. However, this depends on the age and spec of the machine you’re currently working on. Older systems generally can’t cope with Windows 10, therefore upgrading is sometimes the only option. Workstations usually have a life cycle of around 3-4 years, as after this point they start to become slow and unresponsive. If you’re running Windows 7, it’s more than likely that your machine is due for an upgrade.

What if my staff can’t work out the new system?

Our 24/7 UK Based Service Desk is on hand to answer any questions you or your staff may have about Windows 10. When our engineers are installing your new workstations, they will also be able to answer any questions or walk you through the basics.

Will this be a lot of hassle and downtime replacing the machines?

Not at all. Our engineers build your machines here at ITVET, ensuring all of your necessary software is installed. We then bring the machines to you and set them up in an empty office, room or clear space. Your staff can then remote into their new machine and check they are happy with how it has been set up. Our engineers then swap out the equipment, which takes about 10 minutes per person. Time for a cup of tea!

What about my files?

They will all still be there when you log back on. No disruption or data loss.

Will my 3rd party software still be compatible?

Upgrading your operating system may mean you have to update some of your 3rd party software too. There is the chance that if you stay on Windows 7, your software provider may withdraw support due to the insecurities of the operating system.

Will this cost a lot?

It depends on how many machines you have that are running Windows 7. Our prices are competitive, and we will never sell you something you don’t need. We have finance options available, so you can spread the cost evenly. If your team regularly struggle with slow or unresponsive machines, it may actually be more cost effective for your business to refresh your hardware.


If you are currently using Windows 7 and would like to discuss your options for upgrading, please get in touch. We will help you find the most suitable and budget friendly solution for your business. Give our team a call on 01279 464470 or fill out our contact form here.


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We are a Real Living Wage Employer!

 

The Living Wage Foundation is pleased to announce that ITVET has accredited as a Real Living Wage Employer. 

Their Real Living Wage commitment will see everyone working at ITVET, regardless of whether they are direct employees or third-party contracted staff; receive a minimum hourly wage of £9.00 in the UK or £10.55 in London. Both rates are significantly higher than the statutory minimum for over 25s of £7.83 per hour. The Real Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually and is calculated according to the real costs of living. Employers choose to pay the Real Living Wage on a voluntary basis. The Real Living Wage enjoys cross-party political support.

Katherine Chapman, Director, Living Wage Foundation said: “We welcome ITVET to the Real Living Wage movement as an accredited employer. Responsible businesses across the UK are voluntarily signing up to pay the Real Living Wage now. The Real Living Wage rate is annually calculated to reflect the real costs of living. We are a movement of over 3700 UK employers who together want to go further than the government minimum to make sure all their staff earn enough to live on. We have lots of small businesses as well as big household names like; IKEA, Aviva, Chelsea and Everton Football Clubs and many more. These businesses recognise that the Real Living Wage accreditation is the mark of a responsible employer and they, like ITVET join us, because they too believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay.”

About the Living Wage Foundation

The Real Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Real Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK. Employers choose to pay this wage on a voluntary basis. The Real Living Wage enjoys cross-party support. The UK Real Living Wage is currently £9.00 per hour. The London Living Wage is currently £10.55 per hour. This figure covers all boroughs in Greater London. These figures are calculated annually by the Resolution Foundation and overseen by the Living Wage Commission, based on the best available evidence on living standards in London and the UK. The Living Wage Foundation recognises and celebrates the leadership shown by Living Wage employers across the UK. There are currently over 3700 accredited employers. We are an initiative of Citizens UK. We believe that a hard day’s work deserves a fair day’s pay. We support responsible employers to voluntarily go further than the government minimum and pay the real Living Wage, to all their staff, so they can earn enough to meet the cost of living. We receive guidance and advice from the Living Wage Advisory Council. The Foundation is supported by our principal partners: Aviva; IKEA; Joseph Rowntree Foundation; KPMG; Linklaters; Nationwide; Nestle; Resolution Foundation; Oxfam; Trust for London; and Queen Mary University of London.

What about the Government’s national living wage?

In July 2015 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the UK Government would introduce a compulsory ‘national living wage’. This new government rate is a new minimum wage rate for staff over 25 years old. It was introduced in April 2016 and the rate is £7.83 per hour. The rate is separate to the Real Living Wage rate calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.  The government rate is based on median earnings while the Living Wage Foundation rate is calculated according to the cost of living.


Our Dedicated Leased Lines are now at their lowest ever price!

From just £299/month, you can bring your business up to speed.

Ensuring your internet connection is stable, fit for purpose and secure should be of the highest priority for your business, as down time can be extremely expensive and disruptive.

A Leased Line provides a secure, dedicated and private internet connection into your business and includes Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) to guarantee you the highest possible level of service.


Features

High Bandwidth

No matter what your bandwidth requirements, there is a Leased Line to meet your connectivity needs. With speeds up to 10GB, we can provide a tailored solution perfect for your business.

 

Resilient

A dedicated and secure Leased Line is one of the most resilient forms of connectivity. An uninterrupted internet connection to your business is necessary for you to operate at full capacity.

 

Mission Critical

A Leased Line is essential for companies who operate mission critical services for their organisation, that can’t afford to lose a connection to the internet, which is also perfect for remote working too.

 

Secure

With the ever-growing amount of online threats these days, a dedicated secure Leased Line and Firewall is imperative for keeping your company safe and secure.

 

Bring your business up to speed with a dedicated Leased Line from ITVET from just £299/month.

 

Call our team on 01279 464470, email us on [email protected] or visit itvet.co.uk/contact to discuss your requirements.


disaster recovery from ITVET

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room…

 

Ensuring you have a solid disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place should be of the highest priority for your business.

Disaster can strike from anywhere at any time, so being prepared is a must. Whether it be flood, fire, or worse, it is imperative you have a tested business continuity plan in place so you have minimal down time in the event of a disaster.

If your software and services are hosted, you can access them regardless of any hardware damage and you will be able to restore your services in very little time and maintain a sense of business continuity. Alongside this, without a backup system in place, you could lose all your data entirely. If you only have paper versions of your records and data, these will almost certainly not survive smoke, fire or water damage, which could potentially lead to you being held liable for loss of records.

Another thing to plan for is remote working. Ensuring your employees can continue working either from home or a temporary location in the event of a disaster is imperative, as if your employees are not able to work this could impact your business reputation and you also run the risk of losing your employees.

If disaster does strike your business, you will need to contact your employees to warn them of the disaster. Alongside this, your clients will still need to be able to contact you, so having a phone system that can be diverted to an alternative location means that in an emergency you will be able to contact your clients, suppliers and employees.

Ensuring business continuity is important, however the most crucial element of a disaster is ensuring no one is harmed, which is why a suitable evacuation plan and being able to track where your employees are on site is essential.

Contact the ITVET team today to discuss your options and ensure you are protected, should disaster strike.


Is Your Shopping Centre IT & Data Compliant?

 

There are a variety of different IT systems and services installed at every shopping centre, including the Car Park, CCTV, BMS and Footfall, to name but a few. It would be easy to think that the respective providers of these systems would manage and maintain the networks they are installed on to make sure they are secure from hackers and other online threats, however unfortunately this is often not the case as many third-party providers will only accept liability for their own equipment and not the data network they are installed on, or the Internet connection which is used to remotely access them. This leaves a huge black hole in the IT security at each centre and could potentially lead to catastrophic failures and expensive outages if the systems go down. We have already seen several shopping centre’s car park systems unable to take payment for several days, costing the landlord thousands of pounds in lost income. Aside from this, there is the data security aspect, for which the potential fines for non-compliance are huge.

It is worth pointing out that many of these third-party systems such as the Car Park or BMS may have been installed several years ago, with the data cabling and infrastructure being even older. We have seen some cable installations dating back as far as 20 years! In many cases, they have not been maintained or checked for quality or security and are simply left untouched from the day of installation. Unlike electrical installations, which require certificated installers and regular maintenance, data networks are not afforded the same regulatory checks.

Hackers and online scammers are becoming more and more sophisticated and we are seeing an increase in third party systems being hacked into as these criminals broaden their target area. One of the highest profile cases was the hacking of the display screens in Cardiff Town Centre, where inappropriate political messages were displayed on them. Sadly, this was not an isolated incident, as there are far more hacks like this that happen but do not get publicised.

So, what can be done to firstly protect your centre’s IT systems but also make sure they are compliant? In the first instance, we advise contacting the third-party provider and check if the system is installed on a data network, and if it is, whether they support and maintain it. If the answer is no, then the next step would be to contact your IT support provider and ask them to carry out an audit of the various third party systems. They will most likely need to liaise directly with the system provider, so that they have all of the information they require to access the system.

ITVET have been providing Managed IT and Communication Services to the shopping centre industry for over 10 years. If you would like us to carry out an in-depth IT audit of your centre, please contact our network security team on 01279 464470.


Important HP Battery Recall Notice

Important Update: Safety Announcement, 2017

Expansion of the HP Notebook Computer Battery Safety Recall and Replacement Program of June 2016 – Additional Batteries Affected

HP urges customers to recheck all potentially affected products

In cooperation with various government regulatory agencies HP has announced an expansion of its ongoing worldwide voluntary safety recall and replacement program for certain notebook batteries, which was announced in June 2016. The program has been expanded to include additional batteries that were shipped with the same notebook products.

The affected batteries were shipped with specific HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario, and HP Pavilion Notebook Computers, sold worldwide from March 2013 through October 2016, and/or were sold as accessories or spares, or provided as replacements through Support.

The batteries have the potential to overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to customers. HP’s primary concern is for your safety. Because affected batteries pose a fire and burn hazard, it is extremely important to check whether your battery is affected.

It is essential to recheck your battery, even if you did so previously and were informed that it was not affected. Note: if you have already received a replacement battery, you are not affected by this expansion.

Please go immediately to the HP Battery Recall website to check if your battery is affected by this expanded recall program. If the validation process indicates that your battery is affected, cease use of the battery immediately and remove it from the notebook. HP will provide a replacement battery for each verified, affected battery at no cost. You may continue to use your notebook without the battery installed by connecting the notebook to external power. To order a free replacement battery if eligible, go to the HP Battery Recall website.

Note: Not all batteries in all HP, Compaq, HP ProBook, HP ENVY, Compaq Presario, and HP Pavilion Notebook Computers are affected. The validation process may show that your battery is not affected by this expanded recall program, in which case you may continue to use the battery in your possession, and a replacement is not necessary.

If you have questions on the HP Notebook Battery Safety Recall and Replacement program please see their website for more information. Alternatively, for more information, contact the ITVET Service Desk team on 01279 464 470 or email [email protected]


5 companies using technology to change the face of retail

 

Technology is booming in retail. With the high street under threat, tech companies are developing ways to optimize the retail experience. The physical store has not changed over the last century but the shopper has. With the vast changes in technology over the last 20 years, the retail sector is lagging behind. These five tech startups are examples of how adapting the retail environment and analyzing data can revolutionise the shopping experience.

Retail technology data

Retail Report allows big data to be harnessed to improve sales and customer experience

1. Retail Report

Data isn’t just online, it’s everywhere and growing fast. Data is invaluable for analysing the performance of any business, but it is a powerful tool for monitoring the standards of a retail store or centre.

Retail Report allows this data to be harnessed – it automatically collects data from around a centre and uploads it to a secure cloud portal. It then uses algorithm technology to turn this information into manageable and insightful reports, allowing management to develop and improve their centres. The sentirating feature, for example, monitors social media feeds and immediately alerts management to any sudden negative downturns in sentiment – often notifying of complaints such as long queues or broken lifts etc.

2. Augment

Augment uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology to increase conversion rates by creating an omnichannel retail experience to drive engagement and sales. Their service allows customers to try products in lifelike AR through their own device at home. This real-time augmented reality experience for retail removes the guesswork when shopping online and facilitates the path to purchase. Connecting offline and online shopping platforms not only drives sales but also makes the purchasing process easier and more convenient.

AR technology is currently fresh and exciting, making it a valuable marketing tool with the power to engage potential customers on a new level. However, while novel, AR also improves the buying process. By engaging with a product, a customer is more likely to feel comfortable making a purchase – especially on high ticket items such as furniture.

Retail technology robot

Robots are being used to complete manual and repetitive tasks

3. Simbe robotics

Robots and robotics are being used in customer service roles and retail is no exception. Many businesses are finding robots can be used to complete manual and perhaps mundane work. Simbe robotics’ autonomous shelf auditing and analytics robot, Tally performs tasks such as auditing shelves for out of stock items and pricing errors.

 

Tally undertakes the repetitive and laborious tasks and operates safely during normal store hours alongside shoppers and employees. Tally is equipped with a charging dock that it can autonomously navigate for continuous operation. The robot includes a suite of sensors enabling it to operate reliably and safely in retail environments while capturing information on the state of merchandise in the store. The data captured by the robot is sent securely to the cloud for processing and analysis. The data is then exposed through both an API and front-end application alongside specific recommendations to improve store performance to key stakeholders.

 4. Oak Labs

Oak Labs aims to bridge the gap between the online and offline world and create intuitive customer experiences. Their feature product, The Oak Mirror, is an interactive, touch-screen mirror creating an interactive fitting room experience. It allows shoppers to customize their fitting room’s ambiance, explore product recommendations and digitally seek assistance from store associates.  Shoppers who use dressing rooms are seven times more likely to make a purchase than those who just browse the sales floor.

Some technologies may be great for marketing, but technologies such as Oak Lab aim to take away the painful or inconvenient aspects of shopping. Driving sales in physical stores is essential considering the dramatic takeover of online shopping and retail stores must adapt.

Retail technology

 Making visiting stores an experience is key to combating online sales

5. Brickwork

Brickwork also aims to change the shopping experience by merging the online and offline experience. Brickwork gives retailers the tools to turn online traffic into physical footfall. With Brickwork, retailers can activate web & mobile browsers to deliver more customers into their local stores. Up to 80% of all customers who buy in brick & mortar initially look at products or retail websites. Brickwork allows retailers to engage with these customers and draw them in store.

The physical and digital worlds are no longer separate entities and the borders between the two are beginning to merge. Technology is allowing the best features of online shopping to feature in brick-and-mortar stores to create an omni-channel experience.

Connecting with a shopper’s smartphone opens up a myriad of possibilities of how to reach shoppers in new ways. Digital displays can show items that a shopper may have recently looked at online, but not purchased. Plus, if the shopper touches the item on screen an assistant will be notified to bring the item over. Alternatively, if the item is out of stock, the assistant is able to suggest alternatives based on the shopper’s past purchasing behavior. Such technologies allow for a more personal experience, especially as mobile detection beacons can notify store assistants of your arrival, allowing them to greet you.

Automation and data analysis is the future and our partners at RetailReport can unlock the power that data holds for your organisation. For your free demo, contact us on 01279 215 915 or email [email protected].


Infographic: Is Your Business Prepared For Disaster?

 

Imagine the worst case scenario – Late Sunday evening you are alerted that an electrical fault has caused a fire at your office. The first floor has been completely destroyed and the remaining floors have suffered smoke and water damage. Your computers, servers and other hardware are unusable. Could your business continue?

Property damage, repairs, furniture and hardware aren’t the only costs to your business. The time your business is out of action affects not only your profits but also your reputation. The longer your downtime, the greater the damage to the future of your business. Up to 40% of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen.

A business continuity plan could be the difference between the survival of your company and permanent closure. IT can allow your employees to continue working and supplying your customers with the best service possible.

business continuity infographic

Hosted services vs on premises services

Does your company rely on services that are location specific? If your software and services are hosted, then you are able to access them regardless of hardware damage. You will be able to restore your services in very little time and maintain a sense of business continuity.

Offsite Data Backup Vs desktop saving/Paper archives

Without an onsite backup you could lose all of your data entirely. By losing your property and data, a disaster could be fatal. If you have only paper versions of your data without any kind of digital backup these will almost certainly not survive. Client records destroyed? Will you be liable for any loss of records? With smoke, fire and water damage any paper in your office is unlikely to survive. Of companies that suffer total data loss: 43% never reopen and 51% close within two years

Remote working

Could your employees continue working as normal? If your business has remote working prepared, your employees are able to work from home or an alternative temporary location. If your employees are unable to work your business reputation would undoubtedly suffer and you could risk losing your employees too.

Phone system and contact plans

How will you contact your clients to warn them of the disaster? How will you contact your employees to notify them? And will your clients still be able to contact you? You may overlook your phone system, but in a disaster communication will be an important factor in restoring business continuity. Ensure your phone system can be diverted to an alternative location and that in an emergency you will be able to contact your clients, suppliers and employees.

Evacuation plan

While business continuity is important; the most crucial element of a disaster is ensuring no one is harmed. Do you have a suitable evacuation plan and are you able to track where your employees are on site? Property is repairable, but losing your employees or colleagues would be a greater disaster.

If you would like to discuss your business continuity or disaster recovery plans please contact us on 01279 464 470 or email [email protected]

 


5 hardware upgrades for an efficient 2017

 

Purchasing new hardware may feel like an excessive cost to your business, especially if your machines seem to be working. However, by investing in your IT systems you will see the benefits dramatically outweigh initial purchase costs. A faster network and more efficient hardware will boost productivity allowing you to focus on growing your business. These are the top five pieces of hardware you should consider updating or upgrading in 2017.

PC icon

 

 

1. PCs and laptops

Have you been avoiding purchasing a new PC? Old machines are prone to faults and slow machines mean wasted time. For each PC or laptop older than 3 years your business is losing around £4,805 a year. See our recent blog post for the full breakdown.

Older machines are also less compatible with new software, making them even slower as they try to run the latest operating systems. It also means that once your hardware is unsupportable, your machines and network are vulnerable to viruses.

Server icon

2. Server

If your business doesn’t already have a server…
Are you using an old PC as a server? PCs are not designed to be running constantly and have the potential to stop working. This leaves you vulnerable to losing all your data and the costly downtime whilst your makeshift server is being replaced. A server is more reliable, it is designed to manage, store and process data 24/7, 365 days a year. By implementing a network in your company, you will benefit from:

  • Increased security and data recovery
  • Ability to update all machines from central point
  • Virtual working
  • Shared resources
  • Larger capacity on faster workstations

Why not consider moving to the cloud…
By moving your network to a virtual server you will no longer need physical hardware that needs to be maintained or updated. Instead, for a monthly subscription your network, files, and data will be hosted online. The benefits are:

  • Flexibility – easily scale your business up or down when needed
  • Higher level of security
  • Less risk of downtime
  • Efficient data recovery
  • Business continuity in case of disaster

SSD icon

3. SSD (Solid State Drive)

If you do not want to upgrade your hardware, installing an SSD is a good alternative. You can see a detailed list of the benefits in our previous post Supercharge your PC: 5 reasons why you need an SSD. Some of these include:

  • Breathe new life into an old machine
  • Energy efficiency – a longer battery life on your laptop and less energy needed to power your PC
  • Durability

Switch icon

4. Switches

Network switches are a critical part of the connectivity structure between your end-user devices (PCs, Laptops & Phones etc) and your servers and internet connection. Outdated switches could be reducing your potential network speed by 10%. 100Mb switches are a common cause of a slow network and internet access, disrupting your employees from loading files, running database software, viewing websites and downloading emails. Replacing outdated switches with standard 1Gb versions will deliver the best end-user experience and speed up your working potential.

UPS icon

5. UPS

A UPS (Uninterruptible power supply) is installed between the electrical mains and your IT equipment to protect your hardware from power surges and failures. This gives you enough time to save documents and to let systems shut down correctly, avoiding hardware damage from unexpected power surges and data loss.

At ITVET we design a perfect solution for your requirements. To discuss your hardware or your company’s IT efficiency contact us on 01279 464 470 or email [email protected]


Microsoft Office 2007 No Longer Supported From Oct 2017

 

As a part of a process to increase security and help users to keep up to date with the latest software editions, Microsoft have announced that on October 31st 2017, Office 365 users will no longer have support for the Microsoft Office 2007 application. If you currently use Office 2007, and more specifically Outlook 2007, then you will no longer be able to continue to use this software to access your email from this date.

Why is this happening?

Microsoft, as with all software vendors, are under increasing pressure to combat cyber security threats. As a result, Microsoft is keen to ensure users are working from the most up to date software. As software products reach 10 years old they are now retired from support and will no longer receive patches/updates and will become more vulnerable to security threats. The same process was recently undertaken with Windows XP and Server 2003.

What happens on this date?

Users with Office 2007 will no longer be able to use their Office 365 email accounts in Outlook 2007. Users may also suffer incompatibility and synchronisation issues if they use Microsoft SharePoint Online or Microsoft OneDrive with Office 365.

How can I get up to date and avoid this issue?

Please speak to us to look at the upgrade path available to you. There are a number of options available to upgrade to the latest Office platforms, via one-off purchase, recurring annual, or monthly licensing.

Read the full Microsoft’s full announcement here.

If you would like to discuss your IT, please contact us at [email protected] or call 01279 464 470. You can find out more about our IT solutions here