Broken Computer

Broken Computer? Do These Things Before Taking It to the Shop

Try as we might, we can’t prevent all computer issues from occurring—for instance, there’s not much that we can do if a stick of RAM dies, at least, not remotely. However, if you’re stuck with a broken computer and need to bring it in for repair work, there are a few things we recommend you do.

Pick a Provider You Trust

The hard truth of the matter is that some places are just a better option than others when it comes to your hardware repair needs. There are, of course, differences in the quality of services rendered, but also in how these services are rendered. For instance, it is important that you take the provider’s privacy policies into consideration. Just consider how much data you’re handing over to your provider in the hopes that they’ll keep it secure.

Before you entrust your technology to just any repair service or maintenance provider, do a bit of research and ask a few questions. For instance, what kind of privacy policy do they have? What—in detail—do they do to ensure your data remains secure, and if your data happens to be leaked, what measures will be implemented to mitigate the damage? You need to be confident that your provider is going to provide their services responsibly.

Maintain a Data Backup (Just in Case)

Okay, just to be clear: there is generally a very, very small chance that a repair shop will cause data loss. Saying this, very, very small isn’t zero. This is just one more reason that a data backup is so crucial. Disasters can come in all shapes and sizes, and accidental or unavoidable data loss during maintenance would qualify as such. Abiding by a BDR (backup and disaster recovery) strategy can mitigate the negative effects of these circumstances.

If Possible, Remove or Protect Your Personal Data

Without questioning the overall trustworthiness of any business or organization you choose to work with, there’s once again a non-zero chance that there’s a less-than-scrupulous employee there who might be tempted to take advantage of the data on the device being repaired. If you can, it is always better to remove this data before handing the device over, although storing the data in an encrypted state is also advisable. That way, even if your data is accessed, it won’t do the person responsible any good.

Retain Your Software Keys

Software is critically important for your productivity, so you’ll want to also have the ability to—just in case the repair process removes it—reinstall the software you rely on. To do so, you’ll need to have the software keys to activate it. Keeping these keys will therefore be a form of insurance for everything, from your productivity software down to the operating system itself.

Just in This Case, Make Your Device Easily Accessible

This is the one exception to our typical rule, as you don’t want the support professional to have any more difficulty than they already will have in dealing with the issue. To do this, they’ll need access. Removing the password requirement to log in will help.

On a related note, you might consider writing up a brief description of what the user is experiencing and providing it along with the device. If your device is in a condition that allows it, you can have a file containing this information display upon startup by saving a copy ro the Startup folder (found here: %appdata%\microsoft\windows\start menu\programs\startup\)

Things Break, So It Pays Off to Be Prepared to Fix Them

With what amounts to a guarantee that things are going to break at some point, it only makes sense to be fully prepared to deal with this outcome. The above list is a great starting point. Working with an MSP can make all of this (and more) far easier to manage.

An MSP (or managed service provider) like us can not only assist you in obtaining hardware maintenance services, we can remotely monitor it to detect software and hardware issues and resolve any issues we can preemptively. Working with us could be the difference between an extended downtime incident and a slight hiccup.

Interested in learning more about the benefits to be had from a managed service agreement? Give us a call at 651-234-0895 today!

How to Get Get More Done and Feel Better About It

Maintaining a standard of consistent productivity can be difficult. This is doubly true if there is constant distraction. For many workers, handling these distractions is work in itself. When trying to maximize productivity it is important to undertake actions that support that goal, and when there are a lot of consistent distractions, it is useful to have a baseline of knowledge on how to do just that. Let’s take a look at five solid tips to help you maintain productivity.

Plan Your Route

The first tip is one that many people don’t do because they would rather leave work at work. The truth is that you can still do that and be ready for what’s coming the next day. You can take some time at the end of your workday—or, if you don’t mind spending a little mental real estate when you get home—to plan out how you’d like the next day to go. Of course, in business it is often difficult to know exactly what you are going to have to deal with on any given day, but by preparing yourself for what you have to get done the day before, you can be ready to tackle any task before distractions can even become an issue.

Put Your Phone Away

The truth is that notifications are some of the most distracting things; and, they seemingly never stop, unless you stop them. If you want to maximize your productivity, one of the best actions you can take is to turn off or silence notifications if you are able. In scheduling certain times to catch up on your correspondence, you don’t immediately react to every notification, most of which have nothing to do with your job anyhow. That push notification alerting you to what Aaron Judge said after the Yankees beat the Orioles the night before can certainly wait until after you have dug your teeth into work for a while. You’ll feel better getting things done and spend less time being sidetracked by things that aren’t going to help you to.

Don’t Overpromise

Many people work better on tighter deadlines, that is a proven fact, but what doesn’t help people is when they have too much to do that they can’t possibly get it done. Not only does the work that does get accomplished suffer, you may run into a situation where nothing gets done at all. People have a tendency to panic when there is simply too much to do, so if you can help it, don’t promise finished tasks that you know will be a stretch to get done that day.

Set Smaller Goals

To the same end, nothing is quite as satisfying for a worker than when something is produced that they can be proud of. In fact, it is roundly considered one of the main variables for a happy workplace culture. By setting smaller goals, with the larger tasks scheduled for peak productivity areas (such as first thing in the morning), workers will enjoy their time at work more and feel more accomplished.

Reward Yourself

In most modern workplaces, there have been big pushes toward employee satisfaction. This typically means that there are more fringe benefits to working for a company today. Take advantage of them. If you get to work and are productive early, take a break, get something to eat or drink, have a conversation with people that are in the same boat. If you are going to get the gratification of being a productive member of a team, you are going to have to stand back from your work a little bit and realize just how awesome you are doing.

 

Productivity is the name of the game for every business, and the more you can do to be productive, avoid distractions, and keep a positive mindset at work, the better your professional life will be. What are your thoughts? Are there any other suggestions you can make to help you avoid distractions and get more out of your professional life? Leave them in the comments section below and check back soon for other tips on how to be your most productive.

two factor authentication

How to Set Up Two-Factor Authentication for Your Google, Apple, and Microsoft Accounts

Two-factor authentication is commonplace in the office environment, but it’s not commonplace enough, if you ask us. Too many organizations pass on it, placing their security at risk for no good reason. While the methods might vary, the benefits of two-factor authentication are too good to ignore. We’ll walk you through how to set up two-factor authentication for three of the most common accounts in the business environment: Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

But first, let’s discuss what two-factor authentication is and why it’s so beneficial to utilize.

What is Two-Factor Authentication?

It used to be the case that users would only utilize passwords to secure their accounts. However, passwords are easy for hackers to take advantage of on their own. Two-factor authentication uses at least two of the three methods below to secure an account rather than just the password alone, theoretically making it more difficult for a hacker to access an account. Basically, unless two of the three methods are fulfilled, the account will not be accessible. Here they are:

  • Something you know (a password)
  • Something you have (a secondary device you own)
  • Something you are (biometrics, facial recognition, fingerprinting, etc)

Why Is It Important?

Imagine that your online accounts are a house with two doors: one for the mudroom and one for the house proper. If both doors use the same key, a thief only needs to steal one key to gain access to both the mudroom and the house. Now imagine that the mudroom and the house have two different keys. That essentially doubles the effort needed to break into the home.

Simply put, in the same way as the above scenario, it’s much harder for a hacker to access an account that is protected by multiple measures. For example, even if a hacker has your password, if the account is set up to use an external device like a smartphone or biometrics, they still won’t have access to the account. Unless the hacker goes through the trouble of stealing the secondary device or stealing your fingerprints/facial structure (something that is remarkably difficult compared to swiping a password), the account will remain secure.

Setting Up Two-Factor Authentication

Right, let’s get to the bread and butter of this article: how to set up two-factor authentication for the big three accounts: Microsoft, Google, and Apple.

Microsoft

Microsoft recommends that you either have a backup email address, a phone number, or the Microsoft Authenticator application installed on a mobile device before you get started with two-factor authentication for this account. To get started, go to this page and sign in with your Microsoft account. Next, select More security options. Under the option for Two-step verification, select Set up two-step verification. After that, it’s just a matter of following the on-screen instructions.

Google

The first step here is to log into your Google account by going here. Next, in the navigation panel, select Security. Under Signing in to Google, select 2-Step Verification. Finally, click on Get started. You’ll see the directions for the next steps appear on the screen. You can set up your verification step in a variety of ways, including Google Prompts, security keys, Google Authenticator, verification code via text or call, or a backup code. You can also disable this second step on trusted devices, but doesn’t that defeat the purpose?

Apple

To set up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID, go to your account by clicking here. Sign in, answer your security questions, then click Continue. If you see a prompt to upgrade your account security, tap Continue. Click on Upgrade Account Security. You can then add a phone number for which you will receive verification codes via text message or phone call. Click on Continue, enter the verification code, and turn on two-factor authentication.

Want to get started with two-factor authentication for your business? The three accounts outlined above are just the tip of the iceberg. Point North Networks, Inc., can help you implement a multi-factor authentication system that secures your data and network. To learn more, reach out to us at 651-234-0895.