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5 Steps to Achieving Greater Productivity

Productive people all over the world have much more in common than we would suspect they do. There’s a method to the madness of getting so much done.

While there’s no guidebook, here are 5 do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when you’re ready to become a productivity machine.

1. Don’t hesitate – Those who are afraid of action often plan themselves into hesitation. Getting into that cycle of planning perfection is a sure way to not get anything started, and thus, nothing done. Once you start acting upon your idea, you often get immediate feedback on what’s working and what isn’t, helping you grow your original dream.

2. Do start small – Most of us have this big idea in our head that we can’t wait to execute, then we get lost because it suddenly seems so big – too big to be reality. The best way to overcome this paralysis is to break down what you have to do until you have one action item that you can start on right away.

3. Don’t try to do everything at once – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and your complicated project won’t be completed in one day either. On the other hand, losing momentum is a real worry when dealing with a long-term project. The trick isn’t how much you do, it’s being consistent and doing small things every day. Just as exercising your body has benefits, your brain works better if you stretch it every day.

4. Do get rid of meetings that keep you from being productive – There are few things out there as draining on your productivity as meetings. If you do need to schedule a meeting, make sure that all attendees know from the get-go what needs to be accomplished. Start every meeting with these two questions: “Does everyone know why we’re here?” and “Do you need to be here?” If the answer is no, send them away. They have other things they can be doing. Another tactic is having standing meetings where no one sits – you’ll be surprised how much faster the meeting goes.

5. Do learn how to say no – Distractions often come in the form of “unexpected opportunities.” To be really productive, weigh the benefits of the opportunity you’re presented with, whether that’s a meeting, a speaking engagement or a new project, versus what you’re already working on that’s filling your time. Learn to say “no” to anything that takes you away from your current projects and halts your forward momentum.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Everyone

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Upgrading to Windows 10-or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It actually wasn’t a bad experience, but it was…leisurely. If you plan to upgrade, set aside plenty of time during which you can keep an eye on your computer but are distracted enough that you don’t get frustrated by the progress bars that never seem to actually progress. You’ll need to do something that allows you to take a few short breaks to tend to the process without missing anything; a golf tournament on TV should just about cover it. Or you could write an article about upgrading to Windows 10. Whatever you do, don’t binge-watch a streaming service; you’ll need to keep your Internet connection uncluttered for a while.

If you have received a message from Microsoft that your computer can be upgraded, then it probably passed the cursory check and you can upgrade for free until next July. Look on your computer manufacturer’s website for information about your model; see what they have to say. Basically, any computer running Windows 8 is good to go (but must be updated to 8.1 first), as well as some Windows 7 computers (it depends on the motherboard hardware).

Of course, you could always wait and just buy a new computer with Windows 10, but in the next few months, there may be some good deals on models with the “old” Windows 8.1. And a sale is a sale, right?

A few steps of prep will help you along. Update your computer. Let Windows update everything it wants to. If you’ve just bought a new computer with Windows 8.1 (the subject of this experiment), get the upgrade done before you’ve stored anything on the hard drive or set up mail accounts, etc., it’s easier that way. But don’t upgrade right out of the box. Leave the computer running for a day or two and let Windows do its first big update. And if you have any programs to install or activate, wait until after the upgrade (although MS Office migrated just fine).

Some manufacturers recommend updating your computer’s BIOS first, if it needs it. Flashing the BIOS is not for the faint of heart, nor is it for newbies. If you screw this up, your computer is complete toast. Seriously. Toast. And if your computer is new enough, your BIOS is unlikely to need updating, so it may be best to skip this.

If you have files on your computer, back them up. If you have a hard drive with less than 128GB free space, you will need an empty USB flash drive (not SD card) of at least 32GB. Just get a plain flash drive without any security features. You will store this drive afterward as the rescue disk for restoring Windows; label it and keep it safe. Also, get some paper and a pen, and a camera to take screen shots if there’s a problem. It’s also handy to have a second computer to look things up on the Web, just in case.

What follows is not a step-by-excruciating-step guide; it’s a story of one upgrade on one new Windows 8.1 computer (an ultraportable laptop with a solid state drive). Your mileage may vary.

If you received notice that you can upgrade, start the process in the Windows Update program. Upgrading is a straightforward process and the dialog boxes are informative and conversational. But it is tedious. Just how tedious it is depends on which version of Windows you are upgrading from (the upgrade will install the equivalent version). Windows Home/Pro, 32-bit/64-bit are all different sizes.

So, on the computer in question the process began at 2:35 PM. The Windows 10 64-bit download (just over 2.7GB) took one hour and three minutes. At the end, the program announced that it was preparing for installation. Thirty uneventful minutes later a message popped up to the effect of—“Something on your computer needs attention.” It was at that point that Windows asked for the USB flash drive to be installed, and after selecting it in the drop-down and clicking the Next button, the process resumed. Windows then helpfully instructed “Close this window and we’ll let you know if anything else is needed.” Apparently Microsoft uses the royal “we”.

At 4:18 it started the actual upgrade and at 4:26 PM rebooted automatically. At this point, after logging in, a screen appeared titled “Upgrading Windows”, and “Your PC will restart several times. Sit back and relax.” Thanks.

This screen tracks three activities, one after the other: copying files, installing features and drivers, and configuring settings. At 5:50 PM it was 24% through the process and had copied 83% of the files. Whatever file(s) were copied at 72% took nearly 10 minutes before the screen showed any progress. Unfortunately, there is no indication as to where the files are being copied from or to, and since this computer has a solid-state drive, there is no drive noise and no drive activity indicator. You just have to trust that it’s working, and it was.

At 6:06PM, with the screen showing 26% completion and files 89% copied everything went black and the computer rebooted. Scary. But when it came back up a minute or two later it had finished copying files and moved on to installing features and drivers. At 6:18 the upgrade process hit 50%, two minutes later it jumped to 66%. Reboot at 6:24, 75% done and moving on to configuring settings.

Done! Sort of! At 6:32 the computer displayed: “Hi there, welcome back!” Click the Next button and use Express settings (you can change them later), click Next again and you’re at your login screen. The new post-apocalyptic Windows logo looks like an air duct with a light in it. And now you wait, as the computer tells you “We’re setting things up for you.”, then “This won’t take long—Setting up your apps”, then “Taking care of a few things. Don’t turn off your PC.” Finally…”Let’s start.” And the first screen you see is a promotion to sign up for free Dropbox space for 6 months. Ugh. All done and at the home screen at 6:42 PM.

So, on this computer—new and clean—the total conversion took 4 hours and 7minutes. That’s in line with many reports on the Web, and it’s why you must plug the laptop into an outlet; you can’t risk running out of juice in the middle of this.

Finally, a couple of notes: Windows was great at saving the settings and Office works just fine, but it did not migrate the printer drivers. During the upgrade, a mouse was plugged in to a USB port, and that confused Windows. The track pad didn’t work, but it was an easy fix; Windows thought it was plugged in to USB just like the mouse. Changed that setting and rebooted.

So, what if you decide now that you don’t like Windows 10? No problem. You have a month to try it out. Windows stores the rollback files for 30 days, after which it discards them. If you don’t like Windows 10, go to Update & Security, Recovery and tell it you want to go back. How does that process work? Sorry, you’re on your own for that one.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Everyone, Windows 10

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Is the iPad Useful as a Mobile Computing Device for Businesses?

Some businesses have jumped on the iPad wagon and are finding creative ways to use the iPad as a mobile computing device. For example, the Global Mundo Tapas restaurant in Sydney, Australia uses the iPad as an interactive menu. There’s a budget airline, Jetstar Airways, using the iPad for in-flight entertainment, rented for $10 a flight. A luxury sedan by Hyundai comes with an iPad instead of a user manual. Other than these extreme cases, how can an iPad be used to increase productivity or convenience by the average business owner?

Conventions and Workshops

Do you travel to conventions and workshops for your business? Many people bring their laptop to these events. While laptops are of course very convenient compared to a desktop pc for traveling, the iPad weighs less and could be even more convenient if you’re traveling from room to room at a convention or workshop. These events are also often designed for networking – so you’re not just sitting at the table all day, glued to your laptop. The smaller, 2 pound iPad could be slipped into your purse or a small bag while you walk around the room, or even carried in your hand for easy access as needed, but without being cumbersome.

Flights and Traveling

It’s true a laptop can go on a flight with you, but even the smaller netbooks and laptops add to the weight of your carry on bags and can be frustrating when in the small seats of the plane. If you’re sitting in coach, you know every time the person next to you has to get up to use the bathroom you’re trying to balance the laptop and whatever else you happened to have out in your hands with turbulence knocking you around the aisle. The iPad could be slid into the pocket of the seat in front of you if you have to get out of the way for the passenger next to you – it’s about the size of a magazine.

The same holds true on trains, in taxi cabs, or as a passenger in someone else’s car. Just don’t try to use your iPad while driving, yourself.

Presentations & Sales

Do you travel to client offices to give presentations? How sleek would it be to whip out your iPad and give a sales presentation or demonstration? Apple reports that iPads can connect to the majority of projectors, so you could even broadcast that presentation over a large screen for a larger audience if necessary.

Replace Your Briefcase

Sure, the iPad has a word processor and spreadsheet. Those are always useful for business people. It would be much more convenient to read and edit documents on an iPad over your iPhone while on the road.

But what about the stack of magazines and newspapers you lug around with you in your briefcase? You could have all of your reading materials ready for you on the iPad and skip the briefcase. Use it as an ebook reader, newspaper subscription, and file storage and you’ve literally got everything at your fingertips. With the use of third party Apps, there’s little you can’t do with the iPad for as a mobile computing device for your business.

Click here to learn how ACR Technology Solutions can help you get the most out of your iPads, Smartphones and other mobile devices with our Mobile Computing Services for your business in Maple Shade NJ and surrounding cities.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Everyone

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10 Secret Tricks, Tools And Cool Features Hiding In Google

If you use Google for searching the web, you’re going to love these 10 features, available to everyone that you probably didn’t know about. The best way to find these is to simply search for the item in Google.

  1. Google’s Dictionary Extension for Chrome. Add this plug-in and you can highlight words on a web page to look them up and see how they’re pronounced without leaving the page!
  2. Google Forms. Need to create a quick survey? Poll your friends on where to go to dinner? Collect RSVP information to organize a party? Google Forms will allow you to do all of this quickly and for free.
  3. Google Keep. This free productivity app is similar to Evernote, allowing you to keep lists, web pages, documents and information organized on the web and on your smartphone.
  4. Google Public Data Explorer. This free application makes large datasets (like world development indicators or unemployment statistics) easy to explore, visualize and communicate.
  5. Google Fonts. Want a unique font to use on your web site? This public database of typefaces is free and offers a myriad of font choices and selections.
  6. Google Mortgage Calculator. Want to know if that new house is within your budget? Google mortgage calculator can quickly calculate a monthly payment for your home for free.
  7. Google Sky. For my fellow “trekkies” and sci-fi fans, check out Google Sky. From this page you can view celestial objects, including stars, galaxies, planets and tons of other cool photos taken from space.
  8. Google Unit Conversions. Need to convert kilometers into miles or vice versa? Just type in “unit converter” and Google will pop up a web-based converter that will do the math for you in seconds.
  9. Google Flight Tracker. Type in any flight number and Google will report its status.
  10. AdBlock. This is the most popular Chrome extension out there. AdBlock, which works in Chrome, Opera and Firefox, will remove banner advertisements that can make reading some sites difficult.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Everyone

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Can Small Businesses Afford Managed IT Services Providers?

When determining the affordability and ROI of engaging with Managed IT Services Providers, small business owners often find themselves in a position of trying to balance a limited budget while making sure they have the proper tools to grow their business. It is a challenge many business owners face, in that they recognize the need for additional products or services that will allow their business to continue to thrive. However. funds may be in short supply to achieve these goals. This is especially true today, when small business owners find financial institutions less willing to extend credit in the current economy.

Faced with this challenge, many small business owners are forced to make difficult decisions as to where they can afford to spend money to improve their business. One of the areas in which business owners are on the fence is whether or not hiring a managed services provider is something they can afford. In some cases the cost is not worth the benefits, however there are many situations where cutting costs will end up costing you more money in the long run. Here are a few reasons why managed service providers may be more affordable than the alternative.

Technology – In order to be competitive in this day, small businesses must remain up-to-speed with current technology. The amount of money invested in this area can be quite large, making it necessary to ensure you have someone in your corner who can help manage and support the technology used in your business. While the average person is becoming increasingly well versed in the use of basic technology, there remains a need for experts in the industry to ensure your business can stay up and running on a daily basis as well as in the event of a natural or man made emergency.

Internal IT – Larger corporations have the budget necessary to support an internal IT department that provides expertise and support of the technology used by the company. Small businesses do not have the same resources and often find themselves either without backup or paying a high price when they have to bring in an outside expert.

Services provided by MSP’s – When a small business enlists the help of a managed service provider, they will agree to a contract which covers specific services at a specific price. This allows the the small business owner to see upfront what they are paying for and how it will work in the budget. Some of the services provided by msp’s include; computer and server support, data backup and disaster recovery, network security, custom software solutions, remote network monitoring and technology evaluation and planning. Depending on the business these services can be customized to meet the specific needs of the client, making it possible to reduce costs in certain areas.

There are many reasons why a small business owner might feel managed services providers are not something they can afford. Unfortunately the services provided are often not realized until there is an emergency, where small business owners quickly discover the amount of money spent to “fix” a problem or recover from a disaster is much more expensive than planning for it in the first place. In this case it is not a matter of if you can afford manages services, rather if you can afford NOT to have them.

Click here to learn how ACR Technology Solutions can help you save on IT costs with our Managed IT Services for your business in Maple Shade NJ and surrounding cities.

 

 

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How to Extract Data from Microsoft Word

The programs in Microsoft Office may each stand on their own, but there are some tasks that they can share to make your life easier.

Let’s say you have a list, from which you want to extract the e-mail addresses (or some other data). That could get very tedious if you tried it manually. What follows are a couple of scenarios in which your ultimate goal is to use Outlook or another program or online service to send e-mails to multiple people.

The first list you get is in Word or a text file and has all the information separated by commas:

Arthur G. Pym, 532 N. 7th St., Philadelphia, PA, 19735, Pym@example.com
Rebecca de Winter, 123 Manderley Ave., Cornwall Twp., NJ, 08765, RdW@example.com
Rowan Bean, 52 Festive Rd., Putney, PA, 19874, Mister@example.com
Tyler Durden, 537 Paper St., Bradford, DE, 18963, Soap@invalid.com
Bertram Wooster, 15 Berkeley St., Mayfair, NJ, 08543, Bertie@sample.com

The easiest way to snag the e-mail addresses (or any set of similar data) is by converting the text to a table format. First, highlight all the text; then click Insert, then the down arrow under Table, then choose Convert Text to Table. A dialog box will open; in it you can control how the table is laid out. Initially, Word probably chooses the wrong number of columns; ignore that. It assumes you want the cells to break where there is a space, but that would create a mess, since there are varying numbers of spaces in each line. Go to the bottom of the dialog and choose Commas in the last section. Done.

Arthur G. Pym 532 N. 7th St. Philadelphia PA 19735 Pym@example.com
Rebecca de Winter 123 Manderley Ave. Cornwall Twp. NJ 08765 RdW@example.com
Rowan Bean 52 Festive Rd. Putney PA 19874 Mister@example.com
Tyler Durden 537 Paper St. Bradford DE 18963 Soap@invalid.com
Bertram Wooster 15 Berkeley St. Mayfair NJ 08543 Bertie@sample.com

 

Well, you’re not quite done yet. You can’t just paste the column of addresses into the To: field of an e‑mail. You have to separate the addresses properly. In Outlook, you’ll use a semicolon and a space. In Gmail’s interface, use a comma; if you use something else, check the Help files for that program or service.

Pym@example.com¶

RdW@example.com¶

Mister@example.com¶

Soap@invalid.com¶

Bertie@sample.com¶

At the end of each line in the list, there is a hidden paragraph mark (a pilcrow—¶). You will now turn that into the separator that you need. Highlight the list; click the Replace icon on the toolbar. In the Find and Replace dialog box, click the More>> button, then the Special button, and choose the first item on the list—Paragraph Mark. The Find what: box now has the code for the pilcrow in it, ^p. In the Replace with: box, type a semicolon and a space (or whatever your mail program needs). Click Replace All.

You will be asked if you want to continue searching from the beginning of the document. Click No. There you have it, all ready for use:
Pym@example.com; RdW@example.com; Mister@example.com; Soap@invalid.com; Bertie@sample.com;

Now, just cut and paste that new list into the To: box in your e-mail program. There will be an extraneous semicolon (or whatever your separator is) at the end; delete it.

If your original list was in Excel, simply paste the column you want to use into Word and pick up at the Replace step.

If you receive the list in Word, and would like it in Excel, simply highlight the table, copy it, then click in a cell in your worksheet, and press the down-arrow under Paste and choose Special, then Text.

If you just want to get that contact information from Word into Excel, save the Word file as Text, then open an Excel workbook, click the Data tab, and in the first section of the ribbon (Get External Data), choose From Text. Click on the file name and the Import button, and step through the Text Import Wizard. If you can read the text in the first window, just click Next, choose the delimiter (in our sample, the commas), click Next, and leave the data format as General. Click Finish.

Each program in Office has its strengths; in some cases, the task you want to perform is best left to a different program. Word and Excel can talk to each other easily using plain text documents as an intermediary. When you’re trying to clean something up, think about the process, then use the best tool, even if it isn’t the one you’ll ultimately put the content in.

Posted in: Microsoft Office Tips

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How to Recover Your Lost Computer Files – Inexpensively and Easily

We maintain our computers similarly to how we maintain our own health – rarely do we take the time to learn about preventing health complications, and instead work to repair our health once we’ve become ill! We take care of our computers the same way, in that we rarely think about the safety or well-being of our data until something happens that leads to data loss or corruption. And when that does happen, how do you recover your lost computer files?

Have you ever taken a moment to imagine what would happen if you lost some or all of your computer files? Whether you only use your computer for personal reasons; or for school or work, file or data loss can be devastating! Think of all of those family photographs, music files or class assignments! Think of the report you spent weeks working on. Some files can be replaced with time and effort, while others (particularly your photos or home videos) cannot.

Numerous reports tell us that over a third of computer users don’t back up their files; and of those that actually do perform some data backup – 76% of people don’t do it often enough.

Most people tend to think computer files are lost only due to catastrophic events – like tornadoes and hurricanes. Don’t forget about slightly more common events, including fire, flood or computer viruses. A computer “disaster” does not necessarily have to be one from Mother Nature, either. Suppose you dropped your laptop down the stairs or spilled your coffee on the keyboard?

Losing personal files is devastating because of their sentimental value – while business owners who rely on content and files can consider the loss of data fatal to their business if they don’t have a data backup plan in place.

Create a Plan to Recover Your Lost Computer Files Before Disaster Strikes

Just like many human health issues can be prevented with proper diet and care, having a complete backup plan in place can prevent disaster from occurring to your precious data. Data backup isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might believe. It is far easier to back up your files to be able to restore them after something damages your computer, than it is to recover them after disaster strikes. Consider a data backup plan to be your computer’s insurance policy!

Picking Up The Pieces

If you’ve already experienced the loss of data and you hadn’t backed up your data and files, you’ll need to use data recovery services to recover as much of the lost information as possible. Data recovery makes it possible to save some of the data from damaged, corrupted or failed storage devices, but it’s expensive, and you may never recover 100% of the data you’ve lost.

Data Backup and Recovery Solution

Your best solution is to use a remote data backup system. This will backup and store your data files and information at regularly scheduled intervals to an online data store accessed via the web. Your backed-up information can then be restored to any computer if your computer’s hard disk fails, or if it has been attacked by a virus, or physically damaged. Some people back up their files to CDs or flash drives – and then keep these storage devices in the same location as the computer. If there is a natural disaster, chances are the computer and the backup copies will be ruined.

Remote data backup services exist for both personal computer users and businesses of all sizes. Prices range from very reasonable to very expensive – based on how much storage you require and other factors. Prevention is the best medicine – give yourself peace of mind with a data backup insurance policy for your computer files.

Click here to learn how ACR Technology Solutions can help you prevent data loss and quickly recover your lost computer files with our Remote Data Storage Services for your business in Maple Shade NJ and surrounding cities.

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How To Spot Credit Card Skimmers

Security Watch: How To Spot Credit Card Skimmers
BEFORE They Steal Your Money

 

Here’s a new (and growing) way criminals are stealing your debit and credit card information:

Skimmers

A skimmer is a device that is designed to fit over an ATM machine or gas-pump payment reader to record and steal credit card and debit card information. These devices don’t interfere with your purchase and are incredibly difficult to spot because they blend right into their environment, making the victim (you) completely unaware that you are feeding your card into the hands of a crook. Some thieves install small cameras nearby or place a fake keypad over the real one to capture PINs; and thanks to the Internet, it’s incredibly easy for criminals to purchase “make your own skimmer” kits.

The best way to protect yourself is to be observant. If you notice something is a little off, like the card reader doesn’t quite match up with the rest of the machine, look into it. Thieves are counting on you to be in a hurry and your natural assumption that the gas station or ATM machine you are using is secure.

At a gas station, take a look at other nearby pumps to see if they’re uniform. When in doubt, be sure to alert the attendant, who can verify the legitimacy of the card reader. If there is still doubt or no one to check with, consider moving on to the next gas station or ATM. If the neighborhood looks sketchy, the device is isolated or it’s located in a heavy-usage area, like a tourist zone, be on your guard. It can be difficult to move on when there isn’t anywhere else to go, but it’s better than getting money stolen out of your account.

Additionally, avoid using a debit card when possible. While debit cards are convenient, they are tied directly to your checking or savings account. If a thief gets your debit card information along with your PIN, they’ll have direct access to your money. Many banks will work with you to restore lost funds tied to fraudulent purchases, but not all of them will; and consumers have a better chance at recovering their money than businesses do.

And finally, watch your account regularly for unauthorized purchases. If a criminal sells your information, several months may pass before they compromise your account. Sign up for withdraw alerts; if something is out of place, call your bank as soon as possible. The faster you notify your bank, the better your chances are of getting your stolen funds back.

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Windows 10. Is it for you?

Later this month—July 29—Windows 10 (and the computers that run it) goes on sale. What do you do? Jump on? Wait? Upgrade your current computer? Go to the beach?

Those are all reasonable options, so let’s explore them.

What’s important about Windows 10?

It’s envisioned as the core of all Windows devices—desktops, tablets, phones—one Windows experience across all devices. Will you switch from Android or iOS to gain that benefit? That depends largely on what apps are available.  Here’s some of the new features that everyone is talking about:

1. User Interface
Microsoft heard you loud and clear about the Modern interface in Windows 8 and did a major backpedalling in 8.1. Windows 10 goes even further to merge what everyone is used to (and what makes sense from a user’s viewpoint). Microsoft now is touting it as the best of Windows 7 and 8.1 without the wall between the two modes of display. And they’ve brought back the Start menu, with additional functionality.

2. Apps
There’ll be apps for your computer just as there are for phones and tablets—and an app store to sell them to you (and to buy and download regular applications like Office).
Cortana. Your personal assistant and general know-it-all migrates from Windows Phone to your desktop. Integrating your personal settings and information, Cortana can do all your searches for you, whether written or spoken.

3. Browsers
The new-from-the-ground-up browser is called Edge. Internet Explorer is also included for backward compatibility with business applications that require it. Even though IE has improved greatly in the 3 most recent versions, starting with a clean slate allowed Microsoft to shed some legacy code that was less useful now that web standards have evolved. Plus, Edge has lots of new features, such as the ability to type comments directly on a web page and share it with other people.

4. Virtual desktops
This has long been a feature of some other operating systems (and available for Windows via aftermarket programs). If you use your computer for both work and personal tasks, you can set your desktops with just the icons you need for each. If you share a computer with family members, each person can have their own desktop. If parts of your work day are spent in clearly defined tasks, different desktops can give you the control you need without all the visual clutter of your other duties.

5. Smart interface
If you’re using a computer with a keyboard and mouse, Windows 10 can dispense with the touch-screen controls, and vice versa.

6. It’s free
Sort of. For the first year after its release, you can upgrade your Windows 7/8/8.1 computer to Windows 10. Maybe. Computers running Windows XP and Vista cannot upgrade, and some older Windows 7 computers might also be unable to run Windows 10 due to hardware shortcomings. The system requirements are modest, but there is a significant set of details that might be a problem. Your system’s processor must support 3 specific instruction sets: SSE2, PAE, and NX. SSE2 is the easy one; it’s been common for a long time, but PAE and NX could derail your plans. To see if your Windows 7 system will support Windows 10, go to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-8/upgrade-assistant-download-online-faq. Download the Windows 8 Upgrade Assistant. If it passes that test, you’re good to go; all Windows 8 computers can run Windows 10. Then it’s just a matter of downloading the 3GB (gulp!) Windows 10 installation file.

If you just want to check on your processor for compatibility, go to http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/cpu-z.html and click the button marked Setup-English in the download section. When you run the little program, look in the Instructions window for SSE2, EM64T, and either VT-d or VT-x. EM64T shows that PAE is supported, and the VT instructions show that the processor supports NX (a hardware layer of security).

There will be 7 versions of Windows 10—Home, Pro, and Enterprise will be the common ones for desktop use. Windows 10 Mobile will be used on phones and tablets with screens smaller than 8 inches. There will also be volume licenses available for Windows 10 Education (not a retail version), Mobile Enterprise, and a version for use in embedded devices.

Windows 10 Home will be the most common consumer version, but, besides its lack of business-oriented features, there is one rumored change in the Home version that may cause concern for control freaks. Windows Update will automatically apply all updates as they are issued. You will not be able to delay them or refuse them or do them on your schedule. So, if you use those settings in Windows Update now, it may be that you have to give up that control in version 10.

It’s also rumored that Windows 10 will be the last release of Windows as a distinct version. If Windows Update is indeed automatic, Microsoft can update the OS incrementally, as needed. Time will tell.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Everyone, Windows 10

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5 Reasons to Implement a Managed IT Services Solution

Information Technology services are essential to the success of every organization, large or small. With increasingly competitive business environments, CEOs and small business owners are under great pressure to maintain a highly qualified staff and to make sure their technology is obtaining a better ROI than their competitors’.

These goals are not easily achieved, particularly for young or small businesses with less financial resources and time available. Having your own successful information technology department can eat up too much of the company’s budget and time resources, and eventually cause a loss of its competitive edge. These disadvantages of maintaining an in-house IT department are why companies of all sizes have turned to using managed service providers to either assist their existing IT department or become their virtual IT department, handling all of the technology involved in keeping their businesses running at optimal levels.

The benefits of using a managed IT services solution are numerous, but the top 5 benefits of managed services for business include:

  1. Benefit from the expertise of a specialist, without having to spend time and financial resources training your staff to become experts
  2. Decrease your technology risks with Managed IT Services. Your company doesn’t have to worry about losing and trying to replace trained staff members, or about repairing, implementing or replacing complex technology solutions with Managed IT Services
  3. Enjoy access to the most up-to-date, sophisticated technology solutions without having to invest in expensive equipment.
  4. Experience ultimate control over your business technology without having to manage an information technology department. This gives you the time you need to focus on what you do best: your business functions.
  5. Reduce stress and improve efficiency of your staff. When you make good use of Managed IT Services resources, your staff isn’t tied up with IT concerns and they have more time to focus on tasks that are productive for the business.

Click here to learn how ACR Technology Solutions can help you benefit from managed IT services in Maple Shade NJ and surrounding cities.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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