Century IT blog

Ransomware Protection Advice

September 3rd, 2016

 

We have had many enquiries about ransomware from businesses and what can they do to reduce the chances of them being infected or losing data.

 

And unfortunately enquires from businesses asking for help in data recovery after being hit with ransomware.

 

 

What is Ransomware

 

Ransomware is a new type of virus technology with is prolific across the internet.

 

It has become so common place that more customers are being affected by this type of virus than any other type of virus at this time

 

It is usually spread through email SPAM as an attachment or clickable link within an email

 

Ransomware relies on 2 specific tactics to infect your computer

 

·       Delivery of virus / mechanism through spam email

 

·       Activation of virus is through human error or lack of judgement

 

 

I have Anti-Virus software so I am protected – WRONG

Unfortunately, you could never be more wrong, in an ideal world your anti-virus software would detect and stop every virus and the whole topic of viruses and ransomware would become a topic you would read about in history books.

 

This ideal scenario doesn’t exist in the present time and probably won’t so far as money can be made by extorting businesses and individuals.

 

Why isn’t it being detected by my Anti-Virus software

A recent study by a global anti-virus software manufacturer Sophos found that there were around 20,000 different variants of Ransomware being created every day.

 

How Can I Get Infected?

Ransomware Viruses are man-made, and propagated through email and activated through user intervention and lack of human judgement

 

 

What can I do to reduce the Risk of Ransomware

There is no single silver bullet here, and to reduce your risk of exposure to Ransomware there are number of steps you can do

 

1)      Backup often and keep numerous previous backups or file versions

 

Ransomware will hijack your files and turn them into a format which you will no longer able to read without paying a ransom.

 

A business which has no data, can’t operate and will go into liquidation

 

By having a wide choice of backups to restore from reduces your risk of data loss exponentially

 

2)      Try to use offline backups types, i.e. ones that once you have backed up your data are physically removed from the network.

Try not to use hard drives and NAS Drives as your primary backup medium.

Ransomware spreads by infecting and copying itself to all network drives and shares, this means that it will not only infect your data, it could also infect and render your backups useless.

Hard Drive backups or NAS Drive Backups should be considered a poor man’s backup and due to their physical constraints are in effect just a hard drive on the network, prime to be infected by any slightly capable virus.

 

3)      Patch often and early

 

You should ensure that all computers, laptops, tablets and servers are patched early and often.

 

When considering patching, the immediate thought processes is Microsoft Windows, although you should also look at other software which will need patching, i.e. Application Servers, Adobe Reader, Flash, JAVA, Zip programs, etc. etc.

 

One of the most frequent comments from business owners we hear is they don’t want their I.T Systems patched because they don’t want the disruption, can’t afford the downtime or afford a reboot and perhaps at some point in the past an update caused a problem.

 

Whilst I appreciate that patching can be a very time consuming and disruptive thing to do and carries a risk, the worst thing you can do is not patch or reboot once in a while.

 

The time consuming element can by reduced to almost zero by your I.T Support company automating patching of all I.T Systems and automating reboots to a time of the day or week when disruption is minimised.

 

If you don’t have an automated patching system, please contact us for advice.

 

4)      Running old or out of date Windows, Servers or Applications

 

The easiest way to burgle your house is via the weakest entry point, one where there is least security and no one looking and a computer system is no different.

 

But even in today’s modern businesses we see companies running old or out of date computer systems, ones that have long been retired by Microsoft and are so old they are deemed insecure.

 

If I had a pound every time I saw a copy of Windows XP, Windows Vista or Server 2003 running in a business, I would have retired a long time ago.

 

Whilst I appreciate that replacing a whole I.T System a very expensive day out, I would try to encourage business owners to operate a planned obsolesce in their I.T.

 

A planned expenditure is far easier to manage than one which is unexpected

 

For example, if you have a 12 User network and want to ensure you have replaced all of your workstations within 3 -4 years. The worst thing you can do from a financial perspective is to keep putting off I.T replacement until all of the computers are so old and need replacing at once.

 

A better method would be to have an I.T replacement plan where the oldest computer is not more than 3 or 4 years old and computers get replaced at staged intervals.

 

5)      Engineer a layered defence to your I.T Systems

 

This is probably a topic which you should speak to your I.T Support company about.

 

The more layers of defence your I.T System has, the more difficult it can be for a virus or ransomware to destroy your business.

 

i)                    Restrict access to all data by all employees. Ask yourself is this really necessary?

 

A better way would be divide up the data by department or job role, for example does your Sales department need access to the account data or vice versa. Does your Sales department need access to Technical Department’s data?

 

If not restrict access and you minimise the risk of one mistake wiping out all of your data.

 

ii)                   Employ a robust firewall wall and dual layer SPAM filtering system from different providers.

 

iii)                 Ensure you don’t have just anti-virus software!!

 

No, this doesn’t mean exactly that, what I mean is long gone is the need for just Anti-Virus software, and what you really need is an Endpoint Protection System.

 

An Endpoint protection system will of course check for viruses, but will do so much more, for example provide Application Control, Provide Website Filtering, provide a Mechanism for Stopping a User Circumventing the protection software, provide central management and alerting of all computers, etc. etc.

 

 

6)      User education

 

This is an area which most business can do for themselves for very little cost.

 

If you remember from the above, viruses and ransomware rely on a user doing something, i.e.: –

 

Clicking on a link or clicking and opening an attachment

 

Computer users should be educated:-

 

i)                    Do not open every suspicious email or piece of spam and certainly should not be clicking on email links

 

ii)                   Emails, attachments and links should be deemed as suspicious and potentially dangerous unless known otherwise

 

iii)                 Users should not disable or circumvent anti-virus or endpoint protection systems

 

iv)                 Users should reboot their computers and allow patching when prompted to and not always hibernate their computers

 

v)                   Users should report any lapse of judgement immediately, the more time ransomware has, the more damage it will cause.

 

vi)                 Businesses should have an I.T Policy that employees must read and be acquainted with and agree with

 

 

The best way to protect your business against the damaging effects of Ransomware is to follow our 6 step advice plan above.

 

If you would like to discuss your own business challenges with an Experienced I.T Support Person, why not give us a call or come into our offices in Totton.

 

 

 

 

Windows 10 – What do i need to know as a business owner?

August 28th, 2015

Windows 10 is the latest version of desktop operating system from Microsoft it will come preinstalled on all new computers and laptops.

 

Windows10Pro_LHS_Boxshot_RGB

Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft is also rolling out free upgrades to users of  Windows 7 and Windows 8

 

The biggest  problems you will encounter will likely be compatibility with existing systems or software and the staff learning curve.

 

From our experience, it does seem to be a great operating system, on our same hardware, it seems marginally quicker than Windows 8 and also we were pleased to find the start menu back. One of the biggest pieces of negative feedback we had for Windows 8!

 

We have noticed, Microsoft is being crafty with the Windows 7/8 critical updates and automatically including Windows 10  upgrade unless your specifically deselect the option rather than the opt-in approach. This means your staff could inadvertently upgrade without realising.

 

In the News, Microsoft is being closely scrutinised about its  new Privacy Policy which has a lot of businesses nervous.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/privacystatement/

 

Green-Leading-the-way-to

We would recommend  upgrading a couple of non essential computers and ensuring all your business software works correctly before  entering into a mass upgrade of all business computers and laptops.

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-Social Networking for Businessspam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements

What Makes Business More Pofitable

January 5th, 2015

iStock_000025972037SmallIf you are hoping for you business to be more profitable then I.T plays a big role in this.

 

You don’t need the largest or most expensive I.T systems to run your business, but you will need it to run reliably and efficiently.

 

Our expert advice service will ensure that any I.T investment will be properly matched and suited to your business.

 

Profitable Businesses are ones whose I.T run like clockwork

 

With years of technical know how working with businesses like yours, we know what types of solutions and technologies suit certain types of businesses.

Technology in the hands

 

Carefully planned I.T budgets ensure that any I.T investment makes the biggest improvements in productivity, efficiency and help reduce business running costs.

 

Why not have a confidential, no obligation discussion about your I.T wants and needs?

 

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements

Protecting Yourself Online

July 1st, 2014

 

How does a Virus get on my Computer?I.T Support Southampton

There are numerous ways a virus could get on your computer, in the ‘old days’ viruses were traditionally propagated via floppy disk.
The reality was you needed to put an infected floppy disk into your computer to get a virus, not a very quick or efficient way to spread a virus by todays standards, nonetheless computers did get infected by a variety of different types of viruses.

 

In the ‘old days’ we think computer viruses were generally not as malicious as they are nowadays.

 

 

I.T Support Southampton HampshireTodays World

The landscape has certainly changed from the stereotypical teenager in their bedroom to today’s well organised, well financed criminal gangs that are typically looking to extort money, strip your bank accounts, ‘max out’ your credit card or commit some kind of fraud or identity theft.

 

Country boundaries pose no obstacle to these types of thieves, you can literally be mugged by a person from a country on the opposite side of the world.

 

In our experience local police are (unfortunately) not necessarily interested in this type of crime, especially ones that span international borders or even country borders, unless they are well publicised or ones which put the country at risk.
We think this is why internet fraud is so common and widespread nowadays and if someone /organisation were convicted, is it likely the punishment would be severe enough to deter future crimes? (Probably Not!!)

 

Financial Loss

In our experience it is fairly safe to not expect your money to ever be recovered if you fall foul of an internet crime, there are of course exceptions to this statement
But you can in the very least expect to lose your money and perhaps more money unless you take immediate and decisive action, changing your passwords, contacting your bank or card provider and scanning your computer for viruses and spyware.

 

email delivery, email systems‘Dodgy Websites’

People often have a misconception that you need to visit a ‘dodgy website’ to get a viruses and whilst this can be an sure fire way to get a virus, most viruses, malware and spyware gets onto your computer through SPAM emails or their attachments or ordinary websites which have been infected, been hijacked or had malicious code injected into the website.
Imagine if you were a virus writer and you wanted to quickly disseminate your virus onto as many computers as possible, would you setup an obscure website which no one knows about and no one ever visits to spread your viruses? Or would you try a quicker way?

 

 

Rauch, Smoke

What about me?

In today’s technological world viruses and spyware are generally spread by a variety of methods, too numerous to list here, but in summary:-

 

Drive by

20,000 Laptops are lost or stolen every year

20,000 Laptops are lost or stolen every year

Infection of a computer with Malware when a user visits an infected or malicious website.

Email Attachment
Email Malware refers to malware that is distributed via email attachment, these can be an obvious .exe file, .zip file, HTML or PDF attachment,

Phishing
Be suspicious of emails that include links or URLs.

Malware
Only download and install officially approved or sanction applications on to your computer. Supposed free applications can be bundled with ‘other’ software.

 

 

Download our favourite Sophos PDF ‘Threatsaurus The A-Z of computer and data security threats’ Here

 

What can I do to limit my risk?

There is no one thing you can do that will protect your business from viruses, spyware or financial loss.
When trying to secure your business, a holistic approach to security is best, you should try and visualise I.T security as ever decreasing concentric rings around your business, using this logic and providing your I.T Strategy works, you could limit any potential security issues to just one of the layers of defence, thereby limiting damage or loss.

 

All aspects of Security should be considered.

 

Firewall
Start at your firewall. For example, is your firewall old or outdated, perhaps running old or outdated firmware? In our opinion this is just as bad as having antivirus software that is never updated. Are there open ports which are not used nowadays?

Does your firewall meet your current needs? Perhaps you should be looking at one which could give you some level of reporting, i.e. internet usage, web site blocking, email filtering

 

Anti-Virus Software
Do you have a comprehensive Endpoint Security system or just a plain old antivirus program? There is a difference and it could mean the difference between financial ruin and continuance.

Modern Endpoint Security will include software to protect your workstations/laptops against virus and spyware although modern technology will also protect you from Malicious or Infected websites but simply stopping you from going to these website

 

Computer Endpoints
1) Adobe Reader should be latest version and updatesMouseEmer-small
2) Adobe Flash update to latest version
3) Microsoft Windows Updates – ensure latest service packs
4) Microsoft Office Updates – ensure latest service packs
5) Java Updated to latest build
6) Educate your staff  to use caution on opening attachments, even from people you know
7) Install the recommended bank security software.

8) Change your passwords often

9) Ensure your mobile devices (phones/tablets) are secure by a pin

10) Ensure your mobile devices are running the latest version of operating system

11) Run regular Anti-Virus scans of the computers

 

 

Out of the Box InstallationsiStock_000000724891Small

One of the most common errors we see in the field is that customers think they have sufficient enough security and Anti-Virus software, although these are generally installed by a so-called ‘expert’ and unfortunately the reality is the software or hardware is what we would call in the industry as ‘Out of the box install’

 

Out of the box installations rarely work correctly

 

Out of the box installations rarely work correctly or provide the right level of protection. When it comes to your business, you should look for an expert in the field otherwise you a lulled into a false sense of security and likely to be one of the first companies hit during a virus outbreak.

 

File Servers
What is the story with your file servers, are they up to date and fully patched? Would you know if someone was trying to hack into your servers? Are your servers Proactively Monitored?

What about file security? Do all of your employees have access to everything or do you have restrictions based on department, or job role? If an employee was hit by a virus, would they only be able to damage a small part of your systems or would it wipe out all of your data?

 

Wifi
Is your Wi-Fi access points up to date? Are you using modern technology or out of date and insecure equipment? When was the last time you changed your Wi-Fi password?

 

Staff Training
Do you educate your staff or give them training on I.T security, email and Internet usage? Would your staff have the necessary skills to avert a disaster? Or would they open every SPAM email and click on every URL link that came in via email?

 

 

Business Continuity

What if the worst happened and you had a complete loss of your I.T systems?

Do you have a trusted I.T Partner who would be willing to get you up and working in the shortest possible time?

Do you have a Business Continuity Plan that is written down and understood by each department of your business? Do key staff now what is expected of them in this type of emergency?

Business Continuity is a broad subject, if you have questions regarding your Business Continuity Plans give us a call to discuss further.

 

 

If you have concerns with your I.T Security or have any questions about your network give us a call. We are experts in just about anything I.T
Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements

 

 

Sources
www.sophos.com
www.symantec.com

 

Hard Disk Comparision – Legacy vs Hybrid vs SSD

January 14th, 2014

The Hard Drive inside a computer is the device that hold all the data and files that makes your operating system run, as well as holding all of your personal documents, photos, music, videos and files.

 

They commonly look like a solid rectangular lump of metal from the outside, but inside of the average Hard Disk Drive (HDD) is a complex setup of magnets, spinning disks and an extremely precise actuator arm and head.

 

I.T Support Hampshire

The traditional Hard Disk works by using one or more fast spinning (between 4200 -10,000 rpm) magnetically coated platters.

 

A head on the end of an actuator arm skims above these platters by a miniscule amount. Typically between 3 and 100 nanometres, or a distance 800 times smaller than the width of the average human hair.

 

The head reads and changes the polarity of blocks on the magnetic coating in order to store data in tracks across the disk as it spins. The time it takes for the head to move to the correct track on the disk to read or write is known as seek time, and in the common desktop Hard Disk, will take around 9ms.

 

Everything is Stored Magnetically

 

Because everything is done magnetically, the data is still stored even after power is taken away from the drive.

hard drive internals

 

Unfortunately, due to the precise and delicate nature of standard Hard Disk Drives, they are all prone to failure at some point and it is inevitable.

 

Precisely when a drive is going to fail is unpredictable and with storage sizes of the drives being increasingly large (Up to 4TB currently), often a lot of data can be lost within the blink of an eye.

 

Backing up data is always a good idea, even if the drive is very new, and can save a lot of frustration and anger when it does stop working.

 

Despite this however, traditional hard disks are used in many computers from new as they offer unparalleled price for the amount of storage they can offer. A 500GB drive can be purchased for as little as £50.

 

Drives with this sort of storage capacity are often shipped inside of newly bought mid-range computers, and with higher end computers commonly having 1TB and up sized drives.

 

 

Solid State Drives (SSD)

 

 

iStock_000016896820Small

Within the past few years, Solid State Drives (SSD) have really begun to take off with more people using them and higher end machines being fitted with them as standard.

 

Advantages of Solid State Drives include no moving parts, almost completely silent operation, lightning fast performance, cooler operation and durability.

 

 

Solid state drives work in a similar way to a USB memory stick or the inbuilt storage in your mobile phone, the data is stored on a flash chip as opposed to a spinning disk. Because there are no moving parts to wait for, the operation speed of a Solid State Drive is often extremely quick when compared to its Hard Disk predecessor and are perfect for high end and performance computer builds.

 

Solid State Drive Disadvantages

512GB solid state drive (SSD)

Solid State Drives do have their downsides however, and one of these is that should a solid state drive fail, in our experience it will fail completely. It is most likely that whatever data was stored on it will be lost completely.

 

A traditional hard disk drive often may continue to work long enough after warning of a failure for you to back up any data before it fails completely.

 

The other main disadvantage behind a Solid State drive, is the cost per GB of storage. This is considerably higher, although constantly coming down in cost.

 

If you were to attempt to buy a 500GB Solid State Drive, currently you would be looking at spending around 5 times the cost of a traditional hard drive counterpart. The performance difference between the two drives would be immediately noticeable, with the computer starting up far faster, applications loading quicker and files opening in an instant.

 

Hybrid Drives

 

There are also Hybrid Drives, or SSHD’s. These drives are fairly limited in variety but are designed to introduce some of the speed of a Solid State Drive with the capacity and cost effectiveness of a traditional Hard Disk Drive.

 

An SSHD will typically have around 8GB of SSD storage in it which it uses to intelligently pre-cache the most commonly used and accessed files on the systemiStock_000016452360Small

 

In most cases this will be the operating system boot files, meaning that the computer will start up faster, but may not load programs, games or files any quicker than a normal Hard Disk.

 

These are however a perfect solution if you can’t afford the cost of a Solid State Drive with the amount of storage space you require.

 

 

 

 

 Performance Comparison Legacy vs Hybrid vs Solid State Drive 

Avg. Seek TimeTransfer/Write speedCapacityAvg. Mean Time Between FailuresAvg. Cost per GB (500GB drive)
Hard Disk Drive9-12msUp To 200Mb/sUp to 4TB1.4Million Hours£0.07
Hybrid Drive9-11msUp To 200Mb/sUp to 2TB1.4Million Hours£0.13
Solid State Drive0.1-0.3msUp To 480Mb/sUp to 1TB1.5Million Hours£0.46

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements

 

 

Digital Profiles – Revisited

November 30th, 2013

 

Back in July we published a BLOG article on Digital Profiles where we discussed what a digital profile was and talked about different examples of digital profiles.Business man holding board on the background, Data Protection

July’s Digital Profile Article – Click Here

 

It is interesting to see a article in the press recently about your T.V spying on you. Basically if you have one of the new ‘Internet Connect’ Smart T.Vs then your T.V could be spying on you.

LG TV BLOG – Here

MailOnline – Is Your TV Spying on You?

 

An I.T Expert Called Jason Huntley wrote a BLOG about his LG Television spying on him and supposedly sending unencrypted data to Korea??

 

I would imagine that the above news article would easily stretch to Smart DVD players and games consoles.

 

With recent worrying articles in the Press about the NSA and GCHQ and the ‘Prism Program’ we can’t help wonder to what extent our private lives are being spied upon and what purpose.

 

I think most people are happy for Internet traffic to be monitored if it stops terrorism and helps protect the world and its citizens, although I also believe that normal law abiding people are entitled to a level of privacy and shouldn’t by under the constant scrutiny of big corporations or government departments.

Digital Profiles

June 16th, 2013

 

Business man holding board on the background, Data Protection

 

 

What are Digital Profiles?

 

This is a complex subject and can be difficult to understand the far reaching implications of using technology in our todays ‘connected’ digital world.

 

Even if you don’t have a computer and are not listed on a social networking site, you still have a digital profile. Digital profiles can be inadvertently created in a variety of different scenarios. Human beings leave a digital trail behind them when they use any electronics, often without their knowledge or consent.

 

iStock_000018851091Small

You don’t need to be on social networking site to have a digital profile

 

Lets consider the following scenarios

 

Example 1:-

The vast majority of us have a television, consider how TV companies, Satellite TV or Cable TV companies decide if certain channels, films or T.V programs are popular?

What about if you subscribe to a movie streaming service? How does that movie streaming service company provide you with recommended and personalised TV watching list?

Its simple, by collecting data about you, what you watch, when you watch it and how you watch it and storing this information in a database, thereby creating a digital profile of you.

 

Example 2:-hard drive internals

Lets consider the good old trusty telephone line, nothing as exciting as a mobile phone, but just a standard landline phone. How do the telecoms companies work out how much you should be paying each month?

Their computer system monitors activity on your phone line and logs everything (telephone number called, duration) to a database. This information is then manipulated so a computer program can figure out how much to bill you at the end of the month, thereby creating a digital profile of you.

 

Example 3:-

Lets consider mobile phones, how do mobile phone providers control who can connect to their mobile phone masts?

By each mobile phone having its on uniquely identifiable serial number.

With this level of control, mobile telecoms providers can monitor which mast/s you are connected to, log how many calls you make, record how much Internet data usage you use and how many texts you send. Using these communication towers, your exact position can be triangulated and your movements can be logged to a database thereby creating a digital profile of you.

 

Example 4:-

Lets consider supermarket reward or loyalty cards. Besides people collecting credits, points, deals or discounts, the supermarket are able to offer your concessions and vouchers on based on your our purchase history. How is this possible? Well would it be a surprise if I told you that supermarkets build a digital profile of its customers, their spending habits, regular purchases and their diets, thereby creating a digital profile of you.

 

Example 5:-

The obvious Digital Profile is to list yourself on a social networking site. You will build a Digital Profile on your ‘Likes’ and ‘Dislikes’, your friends or connections. Where you work, where you go, what you eat, where you were born, your age, what schools and education you have, your working history, if you are ill, and you will also include numerous photographs of yourself, your family, your friends.

Thereby creating a Digital Profile of yourself.

 

 

So Everyone is Being Watched? 

There are many, many different digital profile scenarios you could consider and the examples above are not exhaustive by any measure, but suffice to say you probably have numerous digital profiles of yourself, your spending habits, your eating habits and your travelling habits probably without your knowledge and consent.

In simple terms, you will leave a digital finger print if you use technology.

 

iStock_000005044123Small

 

I am not sure that it is the case that everyone is being watched, but if recent tabloid events are reviewed then I think that it is the concern that our private lives are no longer private and that government agencies are gathering all of these digital profiles together into one big database without our knowledge or consent.

 

I think the public concern is who is looking at all of this information, for what purpose and what end.

 

What regulation body is watching the watchers?

 

Microsoft Windows 8 / 8.1 Review

January 18th, 2013

 

With the release of Microsoft Windows 8 in October 2012, the shops are filled with new laptops and desktop PC’s with this new operating system from Microsoft.

The upgrade to Microsoft Windows 8 is a big one, as many features have been changed and a whole new way of using Microsoft Windows has been introduced.

But what’s been changed, what should you expect of Microsoft Windows 8, and most importantly, how well does it work?

We installed the new version of Windows to a laptop with a dual core processor and 4GB of RAM and had a play to find out what’s new and how it performed.

If you are planning on installing the operating system yourself, then you may be glad to hear that it is both a very simple process and also a fairly quick one.

The initial installation stages are very much like those of Windows 7, but it moves into its new Metro interface for the latter stages when setting up the colour scheme and other personalized settings.

Once everything is set, Microsoft Windows 8 will present you with a few slides of text informing you of the new features and how the interface works before displaying the Start screen. This is all done in a very friendly manner and will probably sit at ease with home users.

The Metro interface is of course a brand new feature to windows and has taken the place of the traditional Start Menu that everyone is used to. It looks to be very touch screen orientated but is also very easily navigated with a mouse or even just the keyboard and although it is a little odd to begin with

 

It doesn’t take long to get used to the new way Windows is working.

 

The tiles on this new home screen can be moved around with a simple hold click and drag, just like shortcuts would be on the desktop.

 

The screenshot below gives you an idea of what you should expect from the new Microsoft Windows 8 Start screen.

 

Windows8HomeScreen

 

 

Once you begin to use Microsoft Windows 8, you immediately notice how fluidly and smoothly it works, and it’s quick to do things too the Start menu is very easy to use and the desktop function looks identical to that of Windows 7. The only difference now is that the start orb has disappeared, and if you go to the bottom left corner now it will show a small popup rectangle indicating a click will lead you to the start screen, just like in the image shown below

 

Windows8StartButton

 

For those that are worried that there isn’t an element of the Windows that you know remaining, there is no need to worry, because whilst most functions can be performed inside the new start screen, there is still the classic desktop you will be used to. Applications will open in windows like they always have done and you can use most of the computer from this screen, only using the Start screen if you need to open up a program.

One of the main features that’s immediately noticeable with Microsoft Windows 8 however is the speed at which it operates. The operating system is quick to load, quick to shut down and runs fast in between times too, with drivers for new devices installing at blazing speed and menus gliding smoothly, switching between windows with nice effects effortlessly, running far better than Windows 7 did previously on the same machine.

Following on from this, the search function built into the start screen is instantaneous, providing accurate results extremely quickly and devices that were plugged in via USB ports installed in an instant.

 

Windows8Apps

 

There are a few handy extra features built into Microsoft Windows 8 that I think are a real plus. One of these being that there is now a PDF reader built into the operating system. Up until Microsoft Windows 8, Adobe reader or a third party PDF reader had to be downloaded to view files in this format.

 

 

 

A further feature I found to be interesting was the new “Steps Recorder”. This is like a simplified screen recorder, but takes screen captures whenever you make a significant movement on the computer. For example, if you click on the start button, it will record that and if you further click on “Computer” it will also capture that. Once finished recording, the program also annotates your actions to further explain what is being done in the screen captures. This feature could be particularly useful if you wanted to show someone how to do something without having to manually screen-capture and write all of it down yourself.

 

 

 

The traditional Task Manager has also been in receipt of an upgrade, giving far more system information than it has previously ever done, though it is still easy to use. A quick example of some of the information it shows is below.

 

 

Windows8TaskManager

 

 

Overall the new Microsoft Windows 8 looks to be a very promising operating system and definitely a worthwhile upgrade from Windows 7 and could well be the next step forward in computing.

 

 

The interface is easy to get along with, the system runs quickly and smoothly and the operating system is overall very well rounded.

 

Century IT Services are based in Totton, Southampton. Hampshire and can help you with the installation or on going I.T support of your computer, server and network. We offer a broad range of I.T services covering, internet, email, anti-spam, anti-virus solutions, we are experts in virtually anything Microsoft Server based and have extensive troubleshooting skills.

 

If you have an ever growing list of I.T niggles or need a server, or network installed, you have come to the right place. You can contact us on Tel. 023 80 070101 or email us at sales@century-it.co.uk for a confidential, no obligation discussion of your requirements.

 

 

Journaling Exchange Email

May 14th, 2012

A common question we get asked is ‘how can we keep an audit trail or copy of all of our incoming and outgoing emails?’

Microsoft Exchange Troubleshooting

 

This is a very broad question and without knowing a bit more information on your particular I.T infrastucture or computer setup it would be a difficult question to answer with accurate advice and we would advise you discuss this topic with us to get a full appraisal of your particular situation.

 

Generally for most businesses there is a legal requirement to keep copies of all written advice, recommendations, quotations or work for a period of up to 7 years, or in some instances, even longer! (this includes emails)

 

Your employee pool will proably be quite a transient enviroment over a 7 year period and therefore it would be quite impossible and impractical to request each employee keep their own historical email records, therefore it is ultimately the repsonsibility of the the company Director or Company Owner to ensure that such records are kept, as is in most cases of dispute it is generally the Company Owner or Director that is legally liable

 

Tradditionally the types of business you would generally associate with journaling emails may have been Solicitors or Accountants Practice, Independant Financial Advisor (I.F.A) or Mortgage Advisor, a Doctors Clinic or VET for example, although nowadays generally all types of businesses need to keep a journal record of incoming and outgoing emails.

 

Most, if not all companies should keep a journal of their incoming and out going email, especially if you:–

 

  • Provide a service

 

Hampshire I.T Support

  • Offer advice or Recommendations

 

  • Your business generally communicates via email

 

 

If your company’s in-house email system uses Microsoft Exchange server, the chances are you probably have the tools to ‘journal’ your own email in-house rather than source an external company or to do this work for you.

 

For a confidential, no obligation discussion about Your business why not give us a call. Tel. 023 8007 0101

 

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire

True cost of a colour laser printer

April 26th, 2012

The introduction of laser printers into the world of printing was a revolution, allowing for easier, more efficient and more accurate printing. Laser printers are able to print off thousands and thousands of pages with little effort and at a reasonable pace also.

 

But it’s all well and good that they can do it at a reasonable PACE… but what about at a reasonable PRICE?


The cost of a laser printer has come down greatly since they were first introduced, but it’s not the cost of the printer itself that you should be looking at. It’s the cost of the toner cartridges, belt units, fuser units and other mechanical parts of the printer that have a specific lifespan. For example the average belt unit lasts for around 50,000 pages before it will need replacing. These replacement parts can build up to a shocking amount and it starts to make you wonder, is there a cheaper and better alternative to this seemingly perfect solution?

There are services out there that do printing contracts or “pay per print” services, which hire a printer out to you and charge for each print you make. This is usually based on a contract spaced over a year or more and in the long run, it appears that the service could prove to be a cheaper alternative.

Based on the Oki C310 laser printer, the costs of running the printer for 200,000 pages under normal usage was very high. This is because you not only have to change the toner cartridges, but other mechanical parts of the printer also, such as the transfer belt, fuser unit or waste toner box.

The printer may have only cost around £280 to begin with, but based on an even balance of colour and black and white printing for 200,000 pages the cost of the toner cartridges alone came to a total of around £8,195.57 based on using the higher capacity toner’s that are available. The actual amount of toner used could well be less, but the price would still remain very high. Add this to the cost of the other mechanical parts that would have to be replaced over this many pages printed and it that brings the total to around £9579.76* for all consumables.

 

£9,579.76!

 

All of a sudden, the cheap little laser printer seems very, very expensive.

 

Looking at the average costing for a pay per print service it is easy to see that the price difference can be vast. If it is based on the cost for printing being 0.4p for a B&W print, and 4p for a colour print with the hire of an appropriate printer for a year at a cost of £672, then the total comes to just  £5072! Less than half the price!

This is not including other charges that the company providing the service may charge, but it is clear to see that the overall cost is not going to be anywhere near as expensive as the “cheap” little laser printer from before!
So before you go out and buy a laser printer for your business, consider going down the line of a printing contract, as it could save you and your business a considerable amount of money!

If you are looking at replacing your colour laser printer and are interested in getting yourself some leasing costs to compare against a purchase cost, please give us a call or our business expert in this field

 

 

 

 

* costs are based on 200,000 Prints and using an average of only a 30% usage for the colour cartridges compared to black.

 

 

 

Century IT Services – Getting IT Right

Providing Computer Support & Network Support to businesses in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey, Wiltshire, Sussex & Berkshire