Tech Tip: When And Why You Should Use Remote Support

If you’ve ever had a sudden computer problem, you know it can be very stressful. So much of our day-to-day life requires having access to a working computer.

Homework, budgeting, bills, even browsing dinner recipes all have a degree of urgency that mean dealing with a broken computer isn’t comfortable for long. Your computer technician offers two options: remote repair or bring it in. Which is the best choice for you?

Benefits of Remote Support

Speed: If remote repair is a possibility, your technician can connect via the Internet and have you operational in no time. You might also choose to just leave it turned on in the morning and go to work as normal, while the tech logs in to conduct the repair, ready for your return. Without this option, you’d need to juggle time in your diary to drop the system off as most in-store techs only work 9-5.

Many large-scale remote support services are even available 24/7, eliminating all unnecessary delays.

Convenience: You get to skip the unpleasant tasks of unplugging the PC, untangling the cables and carting it into the repair store. Even then, once repaired, you’d still be privileged with carrying it back home and playing a game of which-plug-goes-where.

Computers may be getting smaller, but they’re still heavy and fiddly! Laptops are designed to be moved around often and it may not be a problem to stop at the repair store, but traveling with a desktop PC requires a little more effort and a lot more inconvenience.

Negatives of Remote Support

Limited repair options: A remote connection can only repair certain software problems, not hardware problems. It’s impossible for the technician to swap out a failed part remotely, and unless you’re confident in your own repair skills, guided physical repair isn’t viable either.

Occasionally the problem will also be outside the computer, perhaps a troublesome peripheral or connection. Your technician may be able to walk you through correcting some of these minor problems yourself, but most invariably require a physical call-out or taking your computer in-store.

Connection speed: A slow or unstable connection will make a remote repair take longer and increase the difficulty of the task. The extended time impacts the cost for the call, and in extreme cases, can negate any benefits of skipping the physical inspection. Your connection needs to allow the technician to see real-time responses as if they were sitting there in person.

Accessibility: If your computer won’t start or can’t connect to the Internet at all, your technician can’t log in. This includes seeing a ‘blue screen of death’, boot failure and Windows load failure. As much as they’d like to help you, being able to log in to your system is a vital step in the remote repair process.

Remote support and repair is the ideal situation, purely for speed and convenience. As a bonus, in the event the remote repair is unsuccessful, it also means your tech now has a better idea of the problem and can speed up any on-site or in-store repairs.  Remote support is the best option for many repairs and gets your computer working again with minimal disruption and lowest cost.

Need your IT sorted? Call us at 0800 4 VETTA for rapid remote support.

Cyclone Cook Preparedness

As Cyclone Cook works its way down New Zealand over the Easter weekend, we want to ensure our customers are informed of the impact this may have on our services, and what we’ve done, and will be doing to assist during this time.

What could be affected?

Wireless Services

Our Rural Wireless delivered services are most at risk by this adverse weather, as either the equipment on our towers, or equipment on your roof could be damaged.

We will be keeping a watchful eye on all infrastructure however there may be decreased backhaul capacity while the storm passes through and as such, your internet may be slower than usual. In the event that equipment has been damaged, we will work to complete any and all repairs as quickly as possible, however most of this equipment is in hard-to-reach places in rural South Canterbury, so we’ll need to wait for a safe time to do so.

Fibre and Copper Services

Chorus (who provide copper services nationwide and fibre for most of the country) have setup a dedicated page on their website, where they will keep the public up-to-date with any service outages caused by Cyclone Cook. This can be viewed here: https://www.chorus.co.nz/chorus-advisory-impact-of-cyclone-cook-on-telecommunications-services. If any damage has been caused to lines entering your premises, please contact us so that we can dispatch a Chorus technician to resolve this.

Datacentre Services

Our datacentre services including Web Hosting, Server Colocation, Virtual Servers and IP Transit should remain unaffected during the storm, as all datacentres are well equipped with multiple UPS, generator and HVAC system backups, however we will be monitoring this situation.

What have we done to help?

Unmetered Free WiFi

Throughout our range of Public WiFi zones in South Canterbury, we have removed the data limit for non-Vetta customers. This means that if you do require internet access and are unable to do so at home, our Public WiFi is available.

Call Forwarding to Mobile

If for any reason your phone line has been damaged or become unavailable due to Cyclone Cook, please contact us and we will activate Call Forwarding on your line to a mobile phone – free of charge.

Call Reimbursment

If you’re having to make calls to loved ones because of Cyclone Cook, you are welcome to let us know about these calls and we will be happy to offer these free of charge, whether these are local, national, mobile or international calls.

How to contact us

We will have engineers available throughout the long weekend who will be monitoring support tickets and phone calls coming to us. You can contact this team by the following means:

Email: support@vetta.tech
Phone: 0800 4 VETTA

Please stay safe out there New Zealand, and have a great Easter weekend!

Tech Tip: Internet Lingo 101: Cheat Sheet for Beginners

The Internet is growing and evolving so fast even the dictionary has trouble keeping up. Here are 12 suddenly common terms that are helpful to know.

Browser

A browser is a free piece of software that lets you view web pages, videos and other online content. It’s a core requirement of going online, as it converts the computer languages HTML, Javascript and XML into human-readable form.

The most popular browsers in 2017 are Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Microsoft Edge*. (*Internet Explorer has been superseded and is no longer recommended due to security concerns)

Email

Electronic Mail (formerly spelled with a hyphen: ‘e-mail’) is typed messages sent from one person/business to another via the Internet. It’s delivered almost instantly and then waits patiently for the recipient to open and read it.

You’ll need a webmail service (e.g. Gmail) or installed software (e.g. Outlook) to read, write and send, but you can also set your smartphone up for this. Most emails are in the form of letters, newsletters or catalogs, often with a more casual tone. Email can include text, links to the internet and images, but not video/sound.

Encryption

Before important data is sent over the internet, it’s scrambled to turn it into gibberish that means nothing to anybody who might intercept it. Unless there’s been a massive security breach, only the sender and intended recipient will have the decryption key to turn it back into readable data.

You don’t have to encrypt your own data as it happens automatically. Your email provider and important places like banks and online stores have digital security systems that take care of the encryption/decryption for you.

Firewall

A firewall is a security measure designed to act like a door bouncer to your network.  When an unauthorized user attempts to gain entry, the firewall blocks their path until it’s checked them out thoroughly. If there’s anything suspicious, the firewall refuses to let them in.

HTTP and HTTPS

These are acronyms for the rules of how data is transmitted to your computer screen. The actual mechanics are incredibly complicated, but the terms have one very important distinction:

HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) means the images, text and links should appear in your browser.

HyperText Transfer Protocol Secured (HTTPS) means the page has an added layer of security to hide your personal information from hackers. Data sent through pages with this prefix is securely encrypted before transmission.

IP Address

Every device that accesses the Internet is assigned a unique IP address to identify itself. It’s used to make sure when you request a page or document, it’s sent to you – and not someone in Alaska. Your IP will look something like ‘202.9.64.55’ and may be referred to as fixed or dynamic.

ISP

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the company that allows you to connect to the Internet.  They’ll also offer extra services like email or web hosting. It’s impossible to bypass the ISP level and connect directly to the Internet.

Malware

A broad term to describe viruses and malicious software from hackers. Malware can manipulate you into paying money, take control of your computer, steal your private details or break your computer in some way. Instead of listing each specific threat, you’ll commonly see them lumped together under ‘malware’.

Router

The traffic system for your network, connecting computers and devices within the home and acting as a defensive gateway to the Internet. These hardware devices can be wired or wireless, and allow you to share one Internet connection amongst all the computers/devices in your home.

Social Media

A broad term to describe all the websites and applications that let you share and interact with others online. To fit this umbrella, the site needs to allow user profiles, live updates and the ability to add friends/followers.

The most common social media applications are Facebook and Twitter.

Spam and Filtering

Any unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, usually in bulk, are called spam. Usually, it’s electronic junk mail, but it’s also a technique hackers use to trick people into clicking links to their malware.

Email applications are reasonably good at identifying spam and should shift it automatically to a spam folder before you see it. Occasionally, the filters get it wrong and you may find a relevant email needs to be dragged back to your inbox.

URL

Each website has a unique address on the web known as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator). URLs commonly end in .com but can also end in a country specific extension like .com.au or .fr, or more recently, in new and exciting extensions such as .xyz or .me

We’re a Microsoft Silver Partner!

Vetta Technologies Achieves Microsoft Silver Partner Accreditation

Vetta Technologies earns distinction and market leadership through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment.

Vetta Technologies, today announced it has attained a Silver Small and Midmarket Cloud Solutions Microsoft competency, demonstrating a “best-in-class” ability and commitment to meet Microsoft customers’ evolving needs in today’s mobile-first, cloud-first world and distinguishing itself within a small percentage of Microsoft’s partner ecosystem. A portfolio of competencies showcases that Vetta Technologies is committed to focusing on in-demand, business solution areas, along with ensuring it can meet the evolving needs of our mutual customers.

To earn a Microsoft competency, partners must successfully complete exams (resulting in Microsoft Certified Professionals) to prove their level of technology expertise. Partners must also submit customer references that demonstrate successful projects and pass technology and/or sales assessments. Partners must also implement a yearly customer satisfaction study and, for many competencies, meet a revenue commitment.

Vetta Technologies is a multi-location managed services provider in New Zealand, with offices in Timaru, Christchurch and Auckland, specialising in bespoke Information Technology and Internet Connectivity solutions for the small to medium business market.

“Becoming a Microsoft Silver Partner showcases our expertise and commitment in today’s technology market and demonstrates our deep knowledge of Microsoft and its products and growing range of online services available to our customers,” said Shaun Fisher, Vetta Technologies Chief Executive. “Our plan is to accelerate our customers’ success by serving as technology advisors for their business demands.”

“By accomplishing a portfolio of competencies, partners demonstrate true commitment to meeting customer technology needs today and into the future,” said Gavriella Schuster, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft Corp. “These partners’ proficiency and expertise of Microsoft technology is instrumental in helping our mutual customers continue to drive innovative solutions.”

The Microsoft Partner Network helps partners strengthen their capabilities to showcase leadership in the marketplace on the latest technology, to better serve customers and to easily connect with one of the most active, diverse networks in the world.

Tech Tip: 5 Undeniable Reasons Your Business Is Ready for Professional Network

Way to go! Your business has grown at lightning speeds and you’ve been adding new workers and computers along the way. Now that you’re sure everything is on track to succeed, it’s time to level up your network to a robust, scalable setup.

Why? Here are the top 5 reasons to call in the networking professionals today:

Speed: They say time is money, but time spent waiting for a large file to transfer person-to-person or across a bottle-necked system is torture. As a small business this lost time was negligible, but as your business has grown, so has transfer time. While it may only be 5 minutes a day to start, with roughly 260 work days in a year, that 5 minutes a day turns into 21 hours. It all adds up. Unfortunately, the impact of this lost time reaches well beyond the time taken to pass a flash drive around the office or queue up downloads from the internet – it’s a break in workflow and concentration that can almost double the time off-task.

Efficiency: Almost every business requires employees to share digital files. Until now, you may have gotten by with a simple setup and minimal security, but as your workforce has grown, so has your network load. Each computer, storage drive and device adds further burdens onto your network, resulting in a slower transfer, errors, time off task, and even faster hardware failure. A professional network design will give your employees a central file storage location, with the added benefit of auto-saving and backups. No more losing hours of valuable effort or surprise file corruptions, just a scalable, secure server with smooth and efficient transfers.

Collaboration: Employees often need to work together on the same documents. Previously, this required them to take turns, waiting until someone else was finished before the file was available. With a modern network setup, collaboration becomes an organic, profitable way to work. Employees don’t even need to be in the same physical location, opening up opportunities for remote collaboration.

Confidentiality: Every business needs to keep a few secrets. Whether they’re trade secrets or accounting data, you have complete control over who sees what.  Your network professional will be able to establish a setup that meets your business’ unique confidentiality needs. Perhaps you’ll have the CEO able to see everything, sales staff can only see sales data, and accounting can only see accounts. Set your access controls based on name, department, role or go further and require passwords for certain folders.

Flexibility: Expand your connection flexibility with wireless networking for employees who are required to roam within the building, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) for those working at home, or even docking ports for those who switch between locations. A professional network setup will always support the way your business works, both now and as you continue to grow.

Your business’ ability to securely share, store and transfer files will be one of the key contributors to continued growth. The speed, efficiency and flexibility you build into your processes now will save you time, money, and a whole lot of frustration. It’s time to celebrate how far your business has come by looking to the future, with a robust, scalable network that supports your vision.

Give us a call at 0800 4 VETTA to discuss your new network.

Tech Tip: Four Simple Steps To A Modern Paperless Office

So your desk is buried in paper, your shelves are overcrowded with stacks of documents, and you’ve carved out just enough space for your keyboard, mouse and coffee? It’s time to go paperless, not just for your own sanity, but to streamline the entire business. It’s the one move that saves time and space while gaining flexibility for your mobile workforce. When you’re ready to adopt paperless processes, consider these 4 steps:

  1. Leverage the cloud for storage and search: Documents can be uploaded, viewed and edited only by those with permission. Google Drive is the easiest tool to begin implementing paperless storage and collaboration, though Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are also strong contenders. No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to easily find files using search functions, and no longer need to remember whether it was filed by name, subject or category – just enter what you need and let the system locate it for you. Then simply update, share or email the file as required. No more filing cabinets or archive rooms, just clutter-free workspaces, room to breathe, and possibly even lower overheads now that you could fit into a smaller office space. Digital files will also allow remote access, perfect for working on the go or telecommuting staff. Access files at any time using your secure login, on any device, from any location.
  2. Provide training across the board: Establish ongoing training to ensure all workers are up to speed with the new system and the way you’d like things done. This is the time to set standards for file and folder names, new collaboration norms and security protocols. Long-term adoption will require cooperation from workers at all levels of the business, and training for everyone will go a long way towards success.
  3. Scan necessary papers: The move towards digital files often requires a step back to scan necessary files into the system. Many of the office grade multifunction printers offer double-sided feed scanning, so you can quickly scan papers into the system and then dispose of the paper. Alternatively, you can obtain special scanning hardware like the Fujitsu Scansnaps. Any new paper documents can be scanned likewise, and even faxes can be set to accept digital files only. Each file will digitize to quite a small size, so running out of hard drive space shouldn’t be a concern.
  4. Prioritize backups: The best way to prevent file and document loss is to have a robust backup system, including a regular off-site backup. Treat your backups as a vital insurance policy, so that your files are readily available and intact if required. Use your backups to address any issues as soon as they arise and keep your new paperless files well-managed and secure.

Ready to go paperless? We can help. Call us today at 0800 4 VETTA.

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Tech Tip: Windows Vista End-of-Life: What This Means For You

The countdown is on for Windows Vista users. On 11th April 2017, Microsoft will cease all support and security patching, just like they did with previous Windows versions.  Naturally, you’re rather attached to your current operating system and not exactly leaping for joy at this news!

Unfortunately, the longer your computer goes without an upgrade, the higher the chance of a complete system breach. While you’re watching the count-down and thinking about scheduling an upgrade sometime soon, cyber-criminals are making plans of their own. As time progresses, they’ll actively target out-of-date systems and search for vulnerabilities.

Even the most stalwart Vista user must finally upgrade, as continuing to use it will expose your computer to some pretty confronting risks, including:

Security risks: While Microsoft may have patched the gaps exploited during the Vista lifetime, there are many more just waiting to be discovered. It gets worse: your antivirus program is unlikely to intercept these attacks.  Hackers are extremely fast to exploit newly-discovered vulnerabilities and without Microsoft working just as fast to close them, the risk increases exponentially every time you turn the computer on.

Compliance risks: For business users, this is a big one. Many businesses are subject to conditions that require them to run an operating system that’s regularly patched. For those working with sensitive, legal or private data, this is even more important. Continuing to use an unsupported OS places not just the system security at risk, but also the entire business.

Software incompatibility:  New applications are created exclusively for current operating systems. This means you can’t upgrade past the software you now have, and will soon be phased out of new updates and options across all application types.

No support: Vista mainstream support was stopped back in 2012 but there were always avenues if you were really stuck with something. A quick Google search, an expert on call or even sympathetic support staff at Microsoft helpdesk willing to bend the rules; as of 11 April though, that all stops. The only support available will be outdated pieces you can locate with Google, solutions which may send you in circles with no resolution.

The solution is quite simple: upgrade your computers to Windows 10 well before the April 11 deadline.

Windows 10 is the latest release and will give your upgrade investment the most value over time, as well as the best security Windows users have ever seen. Vista will continue to work after April 11, but every day you use it puts your system at increasingly higher levels of risk.

Get in contact by calling us at 0800 4 VETTA to upgrade your Windows version.

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Tech Tip: Your Antivirus May Be Letting You Down

The best way to avoid a computer virus is by using common sense, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be safe from attack. Even the most careful user can find themselves infected in an instant and spreading the virus faster than a sneeze in flu season. It’s why antivirus software is still the first package we install on all systems – because you never know when you’ll be attacked. But should you choose free or paid antivirus?

Advertising: Much like a free app making its fortune with in-app purchases, the free antivirus software will push for payment. Expect popup boxes pestering you to sign up to the paid version at least daily. Some free options will also try to change your browser home page and default search engine, an inconvenience you may be stuck with. Paid options are more respectful and largely invisible unless they’ve detected a problem.

Effectiveness: It’s fair to expect your antivirus to detect malware, and testing showed that in a head-to-head battle free and paid are about equal at catching known infections. And therein lies the kicker: generally speaking, free antivirus needs to have recorded a virus to its library before it can detect it. Paid antivirus is more likely to identify and stop a new virus. It essentially bases the detection on suspicious behavior, source and attributes, a far more effective method of detection.

Features: Free antivirus options are usually created from the paid version, taking out everything except the bare minimum. In your paid version, you can expect advanced features like spam filters, firewalls, parental controls and secure web browsing. Some paid antivirus will also update your other software packages, forming a more secure protection against attacks. For example, you might view a malicious image file that takes advantage of an exploit in your PDF software. Unfortunately, hackers have advanced beyond simple tactics and it’s not just about avoiding email attachments anymore.

Support:  Free antivirus options are the most popular choice because they’re… free. Obviously.  This also means there’s generally no support available. If there’s a problem or conflict with another program, you may find yourself without protection until it can be resolved. Paid antivirus options usually include telephone support, ready to help with problems ranging from installation to system diagnostics.

Ease of use: Depending on what you use your computer for, this may be an important concern. Free antivirus options are easy to install and use, but are very limited in their flexibility. They come as-is, meaning you can’t pick and choose what it monitors or how it reacts. For example, users occasionally find it necessary to disable ALL protections in order to install a network game. Paid versions are more likely to allow you to adapt the way it runs, switching features on and off as required.

Free antivirus is fine for very basic protection, those on a budget or those with an older PC. In these cases, something is always better than nothing. But we generally recommend you go with a paid antivirus to defend you from the new attacks that are released daily, and to ensure you’ve got solid protection that will make a real difference to your digital safety.

Talk to us about upgrading to a paid antivirus.

Tech Tip: Why Your Business Needs A Strong Firewall

You may not be storing military secrets or running a billion-dollar empire, but your business is still an attractive target for hackers. You need a firewall – a guard standing at the door of your network to stop the bad guys from getting in while still letting your staff come and go without interruption.

A surprising number of businesses are operating without a firewall, or with one unsuitable to the requirements of a business network. For most, it’s a risk they don’t know they’re taking because they assume all systems have built-in protections. Unfortunately, by the time the lack is discovered, it’s far too late.

A firewall is actually a special type of hardware or software that acts as a protective shield between the computers on your network and assorted cyber dangers. Data is constantly passed through at lightning fast speeds, invisible to the user experience.

Filtering: A strong firewall actively looks for known viruses, phishing emails and spam, and then blocks them before they can get in the door. Its internal knowledge of threats is updated regularly and search patterns quickly adjusted. Business firewalls also monitor data in both directions. When a computer goes online, all the data coming in and out is inspected to see whether it’s safe or not. If it doesn’t pass the test, the firewall instantly blocks it and records the details in a log.

Performance: You can use your firewall to set network traffic priorities. For example, it can make sure a Skype call gets all the resources it needs to allow for flawless video and voice quality, while someone watching YouTube videos at the same time will receive reduced resources.  Rules can be set to allow certain applications to be treated as a higher priority than others, certain departments or even users. You can tailor your network performance to meet your unique business needs.

Management: Business firewalls allow you to see who’s doing what and when over your network. You can create rules for specific users, devices and times. For example, you might allow your employees to access Facebook during lunch breaks only, while at the same time keeping it completely unblocked for you or your marketing team. Thorough logs are kept automatically and can be used to troubleshoot problems. For example, your firewall logs might show that a computer inside your network connects to a third world country at 3am each night, which would certainly be worth investigating.

Connection: A strong firewall allows your remote workforce to access your servers with ease and security, while at the same time keeping cyber-attacks out. Remote work arrangements are growing in popularity and necessity, often requiring server access at a moment’s notice. You can set your firewall to authenticate the identity of users before allowing access, and create a virtual private network (VPN) that keeps any transferred data safe from interception.

We can install, configure and manage your business firewall – Call us on 0800 4 VETTA to start protecting your network today.

Tech Tip: Should You Buy A Consumer or Business PC?

Before buying a computer for work, it’s important to consider whether your best bet is to get a consumer model or one built specifically for business use.

You’ve probably seen business computers with the same brand name that you have at home, but that’s where the similarities end. Investing in the right system now will pay off long term, saving you time, money and a whole lot of frustration. Here’s what you need to know to make the best choice for your business and budget.

Business-class Features

When you invest in a computer, you want certain inclusions built-in and ready to go. For a business, those include features that will make your network more secure and staff more productive. For example, fingerprint readers, remote desktop software and data encryption tools. The operating system that comes pre-installed on a business-class computer will also have features the consumer options don’t, including the ability to join corporate networks. Computers designed for home use come with Windows Home or Starter editions, which may require hours of expert assistance to link into a secure business network.

Usage Requirements

Work out how often you’ll be using the computer for business. If the computer is mostly for home use and only occasionally for work, then a consumer PC with the appropriate work software and settings will be fine. On the other hand, a computer that is mostly for business use should be a business-class computer, not just for security but also build quality reasons.

Durability and Reliability

It’s probably no surprise that consumer PCs don’t have the same build quality as business ones. In fact, consumer models only have an expected lifespan of around 2 years. They just aren’t built to last. Business-class computers are built to last several years, with higher quality components and rigorous testing at every level. Most parts (if not all) are name-brand with an emphasis on reliability and long term durability.

Warranty and Service

Unfortunately, when a consumer PC fails, the burden is on the owner to send it away for repairs. The terms of the warranty will usually state that any other attempt to repair it will void the warranty.  Repairs can then take weeks and often involve a frustrating process of paperwork and following up. Contrast that with what happens when a business computer needs service – the technicians will come to you and fix it on the spot, often within hours. Business users enjoy a professional experience with priority status and a dedicated support line, all designed to reduce down-time and get you operational, faster.

 

Talk to us today on 0800 4 VETTA about choosing the right computer for your needs.