Benefits of Managed Cloud Services

managed cloud services

What are Managed Services?

Managed Services provide your technical resources and employees with the care and support that an internal IT team would typically handle. From hardware and software up keep, specific server complications, to end user support, they take care of the back end hassle, which, in turn, helps your organization run more smoothly.


Add the cloud to bring you up to speed.

The cloud has been around long enough that its concept is pretty much understood. You basically can access all of your documents, anywhere, at any time, on any device. While the thought of cloud computing sounds simple and intriguing, managing the cloud of any organization isn’t an easy job to do. It requires ample expertise and skill sets to manage it efficiently. With this being said, tech companies nationwide have emerged into selling cloud as a service rather than a product. Introducing: Managed Cloud Services.

What are Managed Cloud Services?

Managed cloud services takes all the components from the regular services offered and brings it to the cloud. By hiring out for your cloud services, you can rest assured that your data is secured. Our experts would safely transfer all of your information to the cloud and protect it on a 24/7 basis. Think about it this way, you would be basically hiring a personal bodyguard for your business. While Superman business leaders do exist, they don’t necessarily have to. Code and computer errors are basically a second language that you don’t need to learn. Focus on building your business and let Kincaid Network Solutions take care of the back end.

Why should you consider Managed Cloud Services?

Think about it this way. If your Email server, customer relationship management system, financial application or network goes down, while you are in an important sales meeting or on vacation… that would be bad.  The time it takes you to fix the problem could cause headaches and make you lose out on productivity and revenue. Not only do Managed Cloud Services afford your business the robustness and performance of a true datacenter, they provide you with security and monitoring to ensure issues are quickly acknowledged and resolved by a professional, to keep you up and running.

Interested in more information?
Contact a specialist at Kincaid Network Solutions to get set up.
The time is now to start working conveniently, efficiently, and securely.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in MSP | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Closer Look at Microsoft 365

microsoft 365

Microsoft office has been a staple in creating documents for as long as I can remember. I used it all through out school, for every school paper, and continue to use it as I write up this very blog. Every few years Microsoft would release an update with new features and my old version would become less cool and outdated. I always dreaded the thought of buying a new computer and having to reinstall and re-purchase the software.

Microsoft 365 was created to solve these frustrations. Between the perks, savings, and features available it might make sense to for you to consider switching up your options. Lets take a closer look. You can make the decision for yourself.

What is it: Microsoft 365

Microsoft Office 365 is a subscription based software service that works in the cloud. It allows you to access and edit your Word, Excel, and Powerpoint documents from virtually anywhere. It’s convenient on any device. We live in a multi-device world where it is expected to be productive on multiple PC’s, tablets, and smart phones. With every one Microsoft Office 365 subscription, you can connect up to five devices. Pick up right where you left off. For example, you can start your presentation at work and you can finish it in the comfort of your home without the hassle of saving to a zip drive and reloading when you get home.

What else?

New releases are readily available for download. Along with security updates, bug features, new features, and new versions. While this might seem overwhelming to some people, for tech-lovers it is nice knowing you are constantly working on the most recent version.

What’s the catch?

Instead of paying a flat-fee, you pay a yearly subscription fee. When looking at the two side by side, it is clear that Microsoft is favoring 365, and loading it up with features.

Heres the break down:

Microsoft Office 2013
If you only need the core applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote) you can get Office 2013 Home & Student for $140. If you need Outlook, you get Office 2013 Home & Business for $220. Add Access and Publisher and your looking at $400. These fees only apply to one license for one computer.

Microsoft Office 365
You have two versions to choose from.
Office 365 Home Premium for $100 per year
Office 365 Small Business Premium for $150 per year.

Both versions come with the full Office 2013 Pro software for your PC, and you can connect your subscription for up to five devices. As an added bonus, Microsoft has thrown in an additional 20GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes per month of international Skype calls

Decision:
How much are you willing to pay for convenience? If you have multiple devices, it’s worth considering. Contact a specialist at Kincaid Network Solutions to see if the great program is right for your business.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Computers, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Are Software Updates Important

windows update screen

Software Updates. Those annoying little pop up bubbles letting you know that a “new version” is available for download. Most people click out of the notification immediately. Ignoring any possible signs their computer could be telling them. They often think to themselves: ‘My computer is working fine’,  ‘I don’t have time to reboot’, ‘Do I really need to be installing this update?’ Have you found yourself falling victim to these sayings. Well, as it turns out, software updates are one of the most important things you can do with your computer. Chances are, if you don’t update, your system is more likely to get hijacked or spammed with malware. Think of it this way, it’s similar to a recall to replace a defective part in your car. If you ignore the recall, your car will not work properly.

Why are they important?
Software updates are important because they protect you from security concerns and also enhance your user experience.

Security Vulnerabilities:

Security is a complex topic. Criminals and hackers are constantly prodding and testing codes. They look for flaws that would enable them to steal information and take control of your computer. Lucky for you, there are also good people out there that search for the flaws. When a flaw is found the software vendor issues an update to fix the problem. They work to close the gap, fill the holes, and then release you the update.

Product Enhancements:

Not only are they important to protect you from the bad guys, but they also make your software better with product enhancements. These features will add extra functionality and make your application run more efficiently.

What Software applies?

All software is up for grabs and at risk for being hacked. Common software you could relate to include any of your mobile apps, email communications, and your laptop operating system. Adobe products are also common.

Failure to update leaves your system vulnerable to being attacked or compromised. Don’t give them an option to hack your computer. You can set your system to update automatically and alert you when there is a new update available. A good rule of thumb is to check for updates at least once a week.  No virus is the same and the way it attacks the system can be different. It’s better to be safe then sorry!

Kincaid’s Managed Services provides managed Microsoft and Third Party software updating for its clients’ machines. This allows us to keep track of the machines on your network which aren’t fully patched, and easily patch the machines in need. Keeping your network up-to-date with patching is just one of many best practices to combat security vulnerabilities.

Please take note that in April of 2014, Microsoft will no longer support the XP operating system. This means that patches will no longer be released for the OS, leaving any security vulnerabilities wide open and forever unresolved.

Kincaid can help you upgrade your aging infrastructure in your business to ensure your equipment and your business is protected.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Computers, Network Security, Network Solutions | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Virtualization is Good For Small Business

Virtualization means partitioning one physical server into several virtual servers or machines. Virtualization allows for significantly more efficient usage of physical server resources. For a small business, this allows you to save time and money, with less hardware to manage and maintain, and these savings scale up in larger environments as well. Disaster recovery is also much simpler in a virtualized environment.

Lower IT costs

Energy costs and maintenance concerns are two big considerations for small businesses. Virtualization makes sense because it allows you to improve performance and reliability while reducing IT costs. Virtualization reduces the number of physical servers, which generally lessens the energy required to power and cool your infrastructure.

Less maintenance time

With fewer physical servers, you can spend less time on server maintenance. More importantly, you can preform tasks such as backup, archiving and recovery more easily, which frees up a significant amount of maintenance time. It’s also much faster to deploy a virtual machine than it is a new physical server.

Improved performance

Virtualization can simplify IT operations and allow applications to run faster and more efficiently. In regards to performance, virtualization is a huge asset to any small company as it allows for efficient usage of resources by allocating CPU, memory, and storage where it is needed most.

Solid disaster recovery plan

Virtualization allows for a business to more easily create a disaster recovery plan. Some of the leading backup software designed for virtual environments is comprehensive and extremely efficient, and restoration in the case of a disaster is quick and simple. If a piece of hardware were to fail, any replacement server with enough resources may be used to quickly restore critical systems. As a small business owner, you won’t have to worry about being out of commission for days.

Keep in mind, virtualization won’t resolve all of your small business woes, and it can introduce some new challenges. However, in most cases, the advantages of virtualization particularly the price and efficiency make it the optimal choice for businesses.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Virtualization | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Challenges and Benefits of BYOD

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) refers to employees who bring their own computing devices to the workplace and connect to the corporate network. It today’s digital landscape, the consumerization of IT has changed the way businesses operate. As a result, the concept of BYOD has become more popular. This growth is fueled by the introduction of highly developed devices such as smartphones, iPads and tablets. What’s more is, employees today expect to be able to use personal devices at work, which presents a security concern for many IT teams. However, if handled correctly, BYOD can be extremely advantageous to business.

Challenges of BYOD

The biggest drawback of BYOD in the workplace is the security challenges it presents. By providing employees access to their emails, business documentation and other sensitive data, the company risks data breaches, privacy violations and other security risks. Moreover, approximately half of users do not put password protection on their devices. Another problem is that it becomes very difficult for employers to manage and regulate these devices, as opposed to company property. Lastly, personal devices can be more easily lost or stolen than company equipment.

Benefits of BYOD

While the challenges may seem daunting, there are companies out there who embrace BYOD in the workplace. One benefit of BYOD is that the costs associated with the device often shift to the employee. For example, the cost of the device, the data or voice services and hardware expenses becomes the employee’s responsibility. For a small business, this can be a huge advantage over competitors. The second benefit of BYOD is employee satisfaction. By allowing your employees to use devices that they prefer, you are creating a happier and more productive work environment.

Solutions For Your Business

We understand that BYOD is not for everyone. For this reason, we’ve provided some solutions that might work better for your business. First, allow employees to choose their own device from an approved list. This will allow your employees to use their favorite devices, while still maintaining control in the workplace. Secondly, you could try BYOD with limited access. Many companies use a separate wireless network in the office. This will allow employees to use their own devices without threatening the data of the rest of the workplace.

What are your thoughts on BYOD?

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Information Technology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

6 Ways to Increase Bandwidth

Computer ProblemsInternet bandwidth is the amount of data your computer receives and sends across a network or cable. You can connect to the Internet using traditional dial-up, and broadband options like cable and wireless. However, different connections will give you different bandwidth. For example, a dial-up connection will give you significantly less bandwidth than broadband connections. Less bandwidth means a slower Internet connection. And a slow Internet connection wastes time and destroys productivity. If your Internet is slowing you down, here are six ways to increase bandwidth:

Use Shorter Networking Cable

If your connection is slow, you could try using a shorter telephone line or networking cable to connect your computer to the modem or router. The shorter cable will face less interfaces, giving you better bandwidth and faster service.

Close Unused Programs/Applications

You should always fully exit applications when you aren’t using them. Many applications do not exit when you click the “Close” button. Instead, they disappear down to the system tray and continue running in the background. This means they are still using bandwidth, uploading and downloading files. Don’t forget to close your programs!

Avoid Using Bandwidth-Heavy Apps

If your hardware seems to be working properly, the problem could be that other applications are hogging the connection. For example, if you constantly download files with LimeWire, your web browsing is going to be slower. Always avoid using bandwidth-heavy applications like video or audio streaming.

Clear Your Browser History

In order to maintain optimum speed, you should clear your cookies, cache and browser history once a month. If you use Internet Explorer, look for the “Tools” menu and select “Delete Browsing History.” Make sure you check the appropriate boxes for cookies, browser history and Temporary Internet files. For Firefox, simply select “Clear Recent History” from the Tools menu. In the Safari menu, you can select “Reset Safari.” Then choose “remove all website data.”

Try Different DNS Server

DNS stands for Domain Name System. DNS is responsible for looking up and translating a web address into a computer-friendly IP address. For example, DNS allows you to use kincaidns.com, rather than an IP address. However, sometimes the server your computer uses can have problems or shut down completely. Lucky for you, there are other public DNS options available.

Troubleshoot Your Hardware

Before you call your Internet provider, give your modem or router a quick reset. By turning it off and on again, you are giving the hardware a chance to reboot. Also, check other computers and devices. If the problem only occurs on one device, you know it’s not the router or modem. However, if all devices are running slow, you could consider replacing your router or modem.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Computers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Utilizing Technology to Increase Business Productivity

Business productivity is something every organization strives for. It represents a organization’s ability to successfully execute a business strategy. Technology allows you to maximize your business productivity. While it provides a cost of doing business, technology also provides an opportunity to do more business. It’s made the business world faster, easier and more reliable. Below are some ways technology came make your business more productive:

Virtual Collaboration

Collaboration is essential to business. With the abundance of free applications like Skype and Google Hangout, staff members can work from remote locations and still collaborate with one another. These cloud-based products provide an easy way to discuss ideas, make decisions and share documents. Screen sharing functions allow you to view your customer’s desktop, which is a huge benefit for technical support. These applications also let you to hold virtual conversations with prospective clients.

Simplify Customer Management

Customer relationship management (CRM) software allows you mine customer data and discover untapped business opportunities. Today’s CRM software is highly scalable and customizable. It allows businesses to gain actionable customer insights to streamline operations and personalize customer service based on the customer’s known history and previous interactions with your business. CRM software is also used to manage business contracts, clients and sales leads.

Increased Access

Virtualized desktops have shown to increase their employees’ productivity levels. For employees that are constantly on-the-go or work from remote locations, virtual desktops will allow them to stay connected and working. In addition, employees can access applications and documents from multiple devices. With the abundance of smartphones, tablets and laptops, employes can have access to important data anywhere. Hence, whether employees are at home or on a plane, a virtualized desktop will allow them to be productive in any environment.

Online Marketing

The Internet can play an important role in marketing your business. Picture your website as an online brochure to communicate with current and potential customers about your business, products and/or services. More robust websites allow customers to make appointments, pay bills, ask questions, and conduct other types of activities. Email marketing and social media can also increase awareness of your brand. As a result, you can successfully engage with all customers, new and old.

Technology has changed our society significantly in the last few years. It affects our businesses and everyday lives, and primarily for the better. While these tips are a great, they are just a few ways technology can benefit your business and increase productivity.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Information Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

How Small Business Can Benefit From Project Management

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA), about 60 percent of businesses fail during their first five years of operation. Many business owners cite poor management as the number one reason for failure. Too often, small business owners lack management skills in areas such as finance, purchasing, selling, production, and managing employees. While project management cannot guarantee success, it can alleviate some of the pitfalls that cause businesses to fail.

What is project management?

While the term is very broad, project management generally refers to planning, organizing and managing resources in a business. Project management can also be used to describe certain software programs. Project management tools allow you to schedule appoints or manage your funds from various projects. More importantly, project management can increase efficiency, improve customer satisfaction, provide a competitive edge, and account for fewer errors.

Increased efficiency

Project management has proven to help small business owners get tasks done on time and on budget. This includes scheduling projects to finish at a certain date, planning important meetings and paying company bills, in the best manner possible. Project management can also provide you with raw data, which will allow you to create custom reports for clients.

Improved Customer Satisfaction

Another benefit of project management is this: when you can get a project done on time and on budget, your client will walk away happy. And a happy client is most likely to be a returning client. Project management can provide you with the tools necessary for managing a successful client relationship.

Competitive Edge

Project management can benefit your small business outside of the office as well. Superior service can spread like wildfire through your industry, which can secure your place in the marketplace, for example. Plus, great performance can lead to more opportunities to succeed in business.

Fewer errors

Using project management software can result in fewer errors. The leading reason clients stop working with a company is because of mistakes. For that reason, preventing mistakes is paramount for a successful business. If you can limit the errors, and develop a process for handling and responding to client complaints, you can potentially increase customer retention and satisfaction.

With so many low-cost tools available today, project management is more accessible than ever for small business owners. The key to selecting the right project management tool is finding the product that best fits your management style and work procedures. For instance, at Kincaid, we use Autotask’s Project Management module to manage our clients’ tasks. Autotask is a PSA (professional services automation) for IT providers like us.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Project Management | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How to Avoid a Cyber Attack

Yahoo! & Times Square Alliance Free WiFiIn many ways, modern technology has simplified our lives. We use it to accomplish easy tasks like banking and shopping on a daily basis. More importantly, modern technology has increased human capabilities over the years. However, with all this accessibility comes great risk.

Gone are the days when people used the Internet to pay bills and check emails without fear. Every time you connect to the Internet you become vulnerable to cyber attacks. In order to avoid being hacked, follow these easy tips:

Do not give personal information

While may seem like a no-brainer, it’s very important not to give your personal information to anyone you do not know. This includes over the phone and in an email. If someone contacts you claiming to be a retailer or collection agency, do not give him or her your personal information. Always ask for a name and callback number if you are even remotely suspicious. And remember, just because someone has some of your personal information that does not mean they are legit!

Set secure passwords

For nearly every account you create online, you are required to create a password. The key is to create a secure password that people are unlikely to figure out. We feel that the best approach to creating a secure password is to choose one that has letter and number combinations. Also, the longer the password the more likely it is to be secure. Using punctuation and symbols can also make your password even harder to decipher. After your passwords are created, write them down and do not share them with anyone.

Keep antivirus up to date

Installing an antivirus software program and keeping it up to date is critical for protecting your computer. There are many types of antivirus software available today that look for malware. Because new malware is discovered daily, it’s important to update your software regularly. Many antivirus programs offer automatic updating; all you have to do is enable the feature so that your software always has the most current signatures.

Connect to a secure network

In today’s Wi-Fi friendly world, it’s more important than ever to connect to a secure network. When you connect through a public Wi-Fi network, you are susceptible to being hacked. Reason being, anyone using the same Wi-Fi can monitor the information passing between your computer and the network if your connection is not encrypted. You should always avoid doing banking over public networks.

Use email wisely

Many people use email to keep in touch with friends and family. Email is also an important business tool. However, even if you have good security software on your computer, that doesn’t mean your friends and business partners have the same protection. Be extremely careful about what you share via email. For instance, never send personal information, such as your credit card or Social Security number, to another person through email. Instead, use the phone to share this private information.

By now you’ve heard all of the general recommendations for counteracting cyber attacks, including not giving out personal information, implementing secure passwords, using anti-virus software, connecting to secure networks, and being extra careful with email. We hope you can follow these network security suggestions.

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Network Security | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Importance of Having a Business Continuity Plan

Being prepared for an emergency is the number one reason to have a business continuity plan. Disasters are inevitable and mostly unpredictable. And your business needs to be protected. Having a business continuity plan will ensure that when a disaster hits, your business can continue functioning—and without fail.

For a business, a disaster can mean a disruption of all or part of business operations. From a tiny hardware or software malfunction to universally recognized events such as earthquakes or floods. The effects of such disasters can range from small interruptions to a total business shutdown. How quickly a business recovers from an emergency depends on the planning done before the event takes place. So don’t wait!

Threats

In addition to natural disasters and hardware malfunctions, business should also be aware of cyber-terrorists and hackers. Hackers can seriously undermine a business’s entire operation. Businesses should perform a risk analysis of potential threats, including security testing, vulnerability assessment and penetration of the network infrastructure. After all, statistics show that more than 40 percent of companies that do not have a business continuity plan go out of business after a major disaster.

Creating a Plan

The process of creating a business continuity plan begins by identifying potential threats or risks, analyzing their likelihood and severity, and then ranking them in terms of their business priority. This plan must also include initiatives for IT, data and communications as well as important personnel and offsite safety locations. Keep in mind, there is no “one size fits all” template for a business continuity plan. Every business is unique and requires a plan of its own.

Emergency Support Services

Many businesses today have become increasingly reliant on technology to function. Therefore, having a business continuity plan is more critical than ever. If a company were to close down its entire network, employees would still need to access to their data and applications quickly and securely. For that reason, a business must have emergency support services, round the clock, in order to maintain the critical systems and processes.

Kincaid Network Solutions can prepare you for potential disasters by arming your company with a business continuity plan in order to increase your ability to recover. Our technical support services are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year. No matter your interruption, our team of experienced IT professionals can provide you with a piece of mind. Contact us today!

Dan is the Chief Information Technology Architect at Kincaid Network Solutions. Connect with him on .

Posted in Network Security | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment