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.


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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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]


slow machines cost you money

Infographic: how much time is wasted by slow machines?

slow machines infographic

Slow machines may be the office joke, but did you realise how much time is wasted because of slow machines?

On average 30 minutes of time is lost every day due to lagging machines and crashes. That is 15.75 days lost every year! Buying new machines may seem like an expense but the annual profit loss of aging machines outweighs the one off cost of upgrading your IT equipment. Check out our infographic with the breakdown of how much you could be losing a year.

slow machine infographic

Our competitive workstation and laptop deals are designed to replace your older machines to make sure you are working at top speed. Our devices are in-stock and ready for fast deployment. Special requirements? No problem! We also source specific machines to fit any purpose and can upgrade devices to suit custom requirements.

Call us on 01279464470 or email [email protected] to discuss the best solution to your IT needs.  

Find out more about our hardware solutions on our website.

 


Sustainability: 5 examples of how sustainable tech improves productivity

IT sustainability

We recently visited Regent Street’s annual sustainability day at the newly refurbished 7 Air Street to discuss their environmental initiatives. From waste repurposing to endorsing health and well-being amongst their staff members, the management behind the Regent Street’s buildings are conscious of how their work affects their carbon footprint and the surrounding community. Introducing measures such as rooftop allotments and bee keeping, Regent Street Management Direct are pioneering interesting ways of promoting sustainability. We were at the event to discuss how technology reduces your carbon footprint and boost the productivity of your employees.

These five changes to your IT will improve your company’s sustainability but at the same can save you money too:

 

paper free

Encourage your team to go paperless

Printing documents wastes paper, toner and energy. Going paperless cuts down on deforestation, pollution and fuel consumption; do you really need a hard copy of that Excel spreadsheet? The benefits don’t stop there though, a paperless office is more organized and secure. Instead of searching through scraps of paper and needing giant filing cabinets to store documents, going digital allows speedier file searching, secure backups and a tighter hold of document version control.

If there are essential documents that must be printed, encourage double sided printing and ensure that your printer’s toner settings are optimized to the lowest settings. This saves on resources to guarantee that your machine is not using more ink than necessary.

Night energy saving PC

switch PCs off at night or when not in use

Encourage your team to turn off machines or on to power save mode at night or when they are away from their desks. This will save money on bills but prevents power wastage, improving your sustainability. Computers also benefit from an occasional reboot as it allows updates.

sustainable technology

Replace old hardware and processes

Old hardware is less energy efficient. We can provide you with lower energy, fully recyclable hardware solutions, saving you money on your energy bills. Updated equipment prevent your employees from being held back by slow, laggy, overheating machines, alleviating frustration and boosting productivity. Replacing redundant technologies such as fax or franking machines with newer technology allows speedier working and saves money on resources.

remote working

Consider working remotely

Allowing employees to work remotely cuts down on space needed in office with fewer desks and less hardware needed. Home workers pay for their own computers, electricity and other utilities saving you money. Plus, Reducing the number of employees commuting to the office cuts down the pollution caused by traveling. Video conferencing for meetings is a further example of how remote technology improves efficiency, by saving you on travel cost and wasted time. Again, this allows resources to be used more effectively and promote greener ways of working.

data automation

Can you automate this process?

Using software to automate processes where possible, reduces the amount of labour required for potentially simple tasks. This saves on resources and improves productivity by allowing repeated tasks to work seamlessly in the background so your team can work on more important tasks rather than inconvenient menial ones. Automation reduces errors, enforces standards and ensures accountability by taking out the potential for human error and being able to track steps of processes.

Once automated, collecting data from the different aspects of your business allows you to capture key info and help pinpoint where productivity can be optimized. This gives you insight into what parts of your company works well and what can be done to improve. The ability to streamline processes and work more efficiently as a company improves sustainability reducing lost time, benefiting the whole team.

If you would like to discuss how you can improve your business’ sustainability email [email protected] or call 01279 464 470.


Supercharge you PC: 5 reasons why you need an SSD

SSD-upgrade

Is your machine slow and lagging? Does it take an eternity for programs to load?

If your machine is holding you back, then it may be time for an SSD upgrade. You may be worried that a new PC may be an excessive cost to your business. However, slow machines may be costing you more than you think!

Rather than replacing your PC or laptop entirely, you should think about replacing your hard drive and the best thing you can replace this with is a SSD. A solid state drive (or SSD) will bring your slow machine back to life – these are the top five ways that an upgrade will getting you working at top speed.

 

SSD infographic draft two

For more information email [email protected] or call us on 01279 464 470.

Find out more about our hardware solutions on our website

 


Review: The iPad Pro, is bigger always better?

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The biggest debate since the Pro’s release is whether the iPad pro will replace the laptop and what is the functionality of an oversized tablet. We have been road testing Apple’s latest product in the ITVET offices to see if we have any answers.

Size – How big is too big?
Our first reviewer, ITVET Director, Richard Fountain, did have some initial misgivings about whether the size of the new tablet will affect the durability: “The first thing that hits you when you open the box is how big the iPad Pro is. In the hand it feels awkward due to the size, plus the thinness makes it feel like it is fragile and easy to drop. So a robust case might be required depending on the intended use. Don’t get me wrong it is very thin which keeps the weight down, but from a handling perspective it makes it difficult to grip in some respect.” The size seems to be the most commented upon feature in the first reviews. Although it may be uncomfortable to hold, the size of the screen is perfect for sharing. Whether sharing a trailer with friends for an upcoming movie or a sales presentation to your client, the high quality and scale of the screen allows for crystal clear viewing. As our director discovered, this latest edition to the iPad family is a perfect companion when working out of the office as it fits perfectly in an A4 portfolio case that was used before ITVET became paperless. “It was a perfect size for making presentations being fractionally smaller than an A4 piece of paper. Also making it a perfect replacement for A4 notepads for those paper bound diehards”.
So perhaps the question how big is too big, really depends on what you are looking to use the iPad for…

Purpose – Business or pleasure?

Business
So the question everyone is asking – can the iPad Pro ever replace a laptop? While it may seem heavier and bulkier than all previous tablet versions, it is much less heavy than carrying a laptop. If your work takes you out of the office regularly it would be ideal to have a slick device that is ‘nearly, but not quite a laptop’ – although I’m not totally convinced how a bigger screen makes this any more of a laptop rival than the previous iPad versions. As Richard found whilst visiting a client, “the Pro was perfect for my presentation but that is only one use and one would not think this a big enough market to make it a success for Apple.” While the Pro is great for on the move it is not ideal for large word processing – trying to type large amounts of text is quite a task. Apple has developed a smart keyboard that would counteract this problem but equally this racks up the price on an already expensive device. The price of the iPad plus the smart keyboard is not that different to the price of a laptop.

pro pencil

Testing the Apple Pencil

With palm touch rejection and the introduction of the Apple Pencil, many of the new features seem to be design orientated. I did find drawing on the Pro a very enjoyable experience especially with the Apple Pencil. The pencil is very intuitive giving the affect and feeling of drawing on paper. Plus, from the perspective of a left-hander, I found the palm rejection great. Although there is nothing that can replicate the joy of drawing on paper, for practicality the iPad Pro probably wins. The Apple Pencil recognises different pressures so instinctively that sketching and shading feels and looks no different to anything in my sketchbooks. The size does make it uncomfortable and awkward to hold with one hand which would be an inconvenience if drawing on location. However, being able to instantly upload creations to social media or email is beyond useful and I imagine, in a business sense, how valuable it would be have the ability to share ideas so easily.

According to a lot of reviewers the surface Pro has already had many of these features, but as it seems to be the case with Apple, they have arrived late to the party but wearing a very slick outfit that has grabbed everyone’s attention. As it has been with their first smartwatch and adopting force touch in the latest iPhone, Apple grabs technology that already exists, brings it to a mass audience and gets everyone talking about how this is the beginning of the future. It is only since the Pro’s introduction that the laptop’s status is considered threatened – but even with further development could the iPad really ever cause the laptop’s demise?

Entertainment
For entertainment or home use the Pro’s hefty price tag may not be justifiable. Admittedly, the excellent quality of the speakers and screen image do make for great Netflix viewing. However, the size and weight makes it uncomfortable to sit or relax with, plus the screen feels too big and bright to sit that close to. I did find it effective to watch catch up tv whilst cooking – the speakers were loud enough to fill a room and the screen big enough to see from the other side of the kitchen.

So is bigger better? Sometimes – it really depends on how you use your tablet and what you are looking for. Personally, I found the features and the overall quality perfect and it was the first time I ever realised how inferior my old school iPad 2 really is. For me though, I may consider upgrading but the Pro is slightly too big for what I would use it for.

Features

Dual Screen:
Because of the extreme size, split screens are where the Pro really takes off. The side bar is great for taking notes or quickly checking a second app. Dual screen allows two apps to be used at once, which is great for referencing websites while using the word processing or sketching apps, especially as each screen is about the size of a standard iPad Air.

Keyboard:
Again, thanks to the size of the screen a full sized QWERTY keyboard is available on screen. This is particularly useful when typing email addresses where in the past I have had to switch between the letters, numbers, and symbols options multiple times. However, for word processing I think it would be tiresome to type long documents on a touch screen, even with the additional keys. This may be why Apple released the smart keyboard to run alongside the iPad, as otherwise it would never be a contender to replace the laptop.

dual screen

Dual screen feature

Battery life:
The battery life lasted well – although charging takes some time, even when on aeroplane mode. With regards to the Apple Pencil, it did seem strange needing to charge a pencil – although the battery life seems to be very good. It also felt peculiar that it has to be plugged into the charging socket on the iPad itself although the pencil does come with an adaptor so that a standard lightening cable can be used instead. With the pencil jutting out of the end of the iPad this doesn’t seem the safest method of charging but destruction test videos have proven that it is harder to break than it looks. Even, so it just appears awkward and you would have thought that with Apple’s design capabilities, they would have thought of a more inventive way.

Conclusions:
Overall, I would say that practicality is key with the iPad Pro – in some ways it would be the Clarkes’ shoes of the fashion world. While David Attenborough documentaries do look quite spectacular on the Pro, the hefty price tag may be slightly too big to swallow for just Netflix, Facebook and Candy crush. The bigger scale allows for the Pro to be more functional for word processing or creating artwork – but it is less chic or slick as some of the smaller models. It may not be cute but it is much lighter than lugging around a laptop all day, if that is something that you do. In some ways I believe that the Pro is all about sharing – the ease of producing notes or sketches combined with the ability to send ideas back and forth would make discussion (particularly design based) faster and easier. I would say for the ability to present documents, designs and proposals, bigger may be better. Or possibly, bigger means more to share.


 

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions, email [email protected] or call us on 01279 464 470.


5 Tips To Prepare Yourself For A Ransomware Attack

We are seeing an increasing number of cases of Ransomware attacks.

Paying ransoms to hackers does not guarantee the safe return of your files so it is best to take preventative actions you should take to protect your machine. The best defense against viruses such as Cryptolocker is to be aware of how your machine can become infected. Even if you are cautious with the websites you visit and the attachments you open, the disguises hackers use are often very deceptive and it is easier than you may think to be tricked into opening a malicious link. It is most important that you regularly back up your files to ensure that if you are caught out you won’t lose your most important documents. It is not just corporations and companies that are targeted – make sure you have copies of your photos saved to an alternative device, don’t lose your precious memories.

These are our top tips on how to stay safe from Ransomware and information on how you may become infected. If you would like any information on back up solutions or if you have any enquiries email us at [email protected] or call on 01279 464 470.

Ransomware draft two

 


Google Business View comes to ITVET

Google Business view allows you to go beyond Streetview and step inside to take a 360˚ tour of your business. It is an interactive way for your clients to navigate their way through your business on a new level. 

At ITVET, we recently organised for our head office in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, to be photographed. It really was as straight forward and as fast a process as Google advertises. Nearly all of the work is completed by a Google Trusted Photographer – once scheduled, they visit your business and take the photographs. It is also the photographer who then turns these into a virtual tour and uploads it to Google – after the shoot our tour was uploaded in less than a week. While this is great for SEO, it really allows you to showcase your working space and introduce your environment to your clients.

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Take a look inside ITVET House – our head office, where you will see our team hard at work. It’s not all work though – if you take a peek inside our kitchen you will see there are plenty of treats to reward our efforts at the end of the day!

If you would like to see inside more Businesses you can visit this online gallery that shares panoramic tours from around the world. This is great if you are planning and adventure and are looking for places to visit along the way.

For any enquiries email us at [email protected] or call us on 01279 464 470.