3 Big Microsoft Changes Coming in 2019

3 big Microsoft changes

Microsoft has been a leader in the world of technology since its inception. The company has changed the way people work, lowered costs for small businesses and enterprise companies alike, and made computers more user friendly.

This year, Microsoft is making three changes its own that could alter the tech landscape once again.

Microsoft Releases Office 2019

The Microsoft Office suite of productivity products has been a mainstay of the company for decades now, but big changes are underway for 2019 and beyond. This year, Microsoft will officially launch Office 2019 – and businesses need to be ready.

If you currently use Office 365, you’ll find the newest Microsoft offering quite familiar. Like Office 365, the new Office 2019 product includes staples like Excel, Word, Visio, Project, Outlook, PowerPoint and Publisher. And like the current version of Office, the upcoming Office 2019 is designed to harness the power of the cloud, making file storage easier and allowing employees to work from anywhere.

The most distinguishing feature of Office 2019 is how it will be released. Unlike Office 365, which has experienced a series of changes since its initial release, Office 2019 has been designed as a one-time product. In 2019, businesses will need to decide if the move to Office 2019 is the best strategic decision for their company.

Microsoft Teams Replaces Skype for Business

If you’ve placed a video call to a colleague across the country, or a family member on the other side of the globe, you understand the power of Skype. Now, Microsoft is changing things again by replacing Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams.

Microsoft Teams is the long-awaited replacement product for Skype for Business, and the new release includes a number of corporate-friendly features. On October 1, 2018, Microsoft officially announced that new customers with fewer than 500 seats would no longer receive Skype for Business as part of the Office 365 product line.

In 2019, the replacement of Skype for Business with the new Microsoft Teams will finally be complete. Unlike Skype, Microsoft Teams has been designed from the ground up with business users in mind, incorporating a host of powerful features to make collaboration and file sharing easier. By harnessing the power of cloud computing, Microsoft Teams has designed a single platform that businesses should find very useful.

The new Microsoft Teams product includes an easy to use chat app, as well as all the capabilities of Office 365 and Slack. Businesses looking for a reason to upgrade should find this combination quite compelling.

Contact Ontech at 262-522-8560 for more information on available onsite user training for your company.

Microsoft to Rebuild Edge with Chrome Engine

While Microsoft has long been a leader in operating systems and server software, the company has not seen the same success with its browser products.

Some older versions of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser were plagued by security issues and glitch performance, and the company saw a steady decline in market share as newcomers like Mozilla’s Firefox and Google’s Chrome came on the scene.

The old Internet Explorer eventually gave way to a new browser dubbed Edge, but the new product suffered from many of the same issues. Now, Microsoft is rebuilding it using the same open-source software that powers Google Chrome and they’re even bringing it to Mac devices.

The rise of open-source software has been a major story over the past couple of years, and the retooling of the Edge browser is just the latest example.  While Microsoft Edge isn’t going away, if you already use the browser, you’ll notice that websites display more consistently after this under-the-hood change.

For Chrome users, all of these changes also mean that the browser engine that powers Chrome will get better on Windows which is part of Microsoft’s continued effort to make the web a better place for everyone.

As fast paced as technology is, we understand updates like these can feel cumbersome and at times confusing.

Whether you have questions about Microsoft’s products or any other IT related issue, contact our support team online or call us at 262-522-8560. Ontech Systems is dedicated to the success of your business, and we are always here to help.

Reduce Training and Downtime Costs through Documentation

Redyce costs through documentation

Whether hiring a single employee or staffing up for the busiest time of year, onboarding new team members can be challenging.

And when it comes to IT, bringing on new hires or outside consultants requires the right training materials and documentation. Without proper documentation, even a highly experienced technician would struggle to navigate the inner workings of your network.

In the event of a disaster, lack of documentation could increase the length of downtime your business experiences – a single mistake could escalate into major issues when employees don’t have accurate documentation to rely on.

The Benefits of Documentation

To put it simply, the right documentation gives you options when something unexpected happens.

  • A Reliable Fallback Plan: Imagine, for instance, your senior IT person is sick, or out of town. With proper documentation, you could call in a junior staffer or outside IT consultant to perform their duties and keep your network infrastructure running smoothly.
  • Training New IT Staff: Documentation can also be your best friend when it comes to training new members of the IT team. In a perfect world, your senior staff would have plenty of time to train new coworkers and still do their own jobs, but that’s not always possible. Having documentation on hand makes training easier and fills in the gaps for new hires.
  • Ready for Disaster: Most of all, documentation is critical when disaster strikes. Whether that disaster is natural or man-made, thorough and complete documentation makes it possible to quickly resume operations without excessive downtime.

When Was the Last Time Your Documentation Was Verified?

Chances are, you have some documentation on hand – few companies could run without user manuals, employee handbooks and the like. But when was the last time you verified and updated your documentation?

If your business processes have changed or your software has been upgraded, the documentation you are maintaining could be dangerously out of date.

But before you verify and begin to update your records, take a look at what documentation entails. The term documentation is broad, but in the information technology field, it encompasses a variety of business-critical data, such as:

  • Login information for your firewalls, switches, servers and other business-critical infrastructure.
  • Software licensing, including expiration dates.
  • Agreements for extended support on out-of-warranty hardware and end-of-life software.
  • Phone numbers for vendors, consultants and others whose help may be needed in the event of a disaster.
  • A phone tree for your management team, IT staff and other critical workers.

How Often Should You Update Documentation?

If you haven’t updated your documentation recently, you could be putting your business at risk.

It is recommended that you update your documentation each time you upgrade operating systems or switch to a new type of software. This updating process may seem like a low priority, but it could actually be a lifeline for you one day.

Ontech Can Fill in the Gaps

If your existing IT company has never mentioned documentation or your internal IT staff needs assistance, Ontech Systems can support your business as an outside IT consultant or as an extension of your internal IT department.

We make it a priority to keep our customers’ documentation up to date and we recommend that all businesses update and verify their documentation at minimum every six months.

Safeguarding Your Documentation

Since documentation can contain sensitive network information, it’s important that key staff members within the company have access to it – and also that others don’t.

Access should be limited only to those who truly need it.

If you are an existing Ontech Systems customer, we encourage you to ask your primary technician to verify the last time your documentation has been updated.

If you can’t verify the last time your IT documentation has been updated…or if you’re not sure whether IT documentation exists within your organization, contact us at 262-522-8560.

Take the first step today and request a Network Discovery.

We’ll help you prepare for the unexpected by making sure your documentation is up to date, and accessible to only those who need it.

The Top 10 Tech Tips of 2017

tech tips 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, we’re sharing the 10 most popular tech tips from the Ontech Systems blog that generated the most interest and readership.

These tips include everything from scary facts about smartphone addiction to what you need to know about OneNote for Business.

We’ll be covering:

  • 15 BYOD Statistics that May Surprise You
  • OneNote for Business: How to Stay Organized & Productive in the Workplace
  • 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Server 2016
  • 5 Startling Statistics About Data Backup and Recovery
  • 7 Password Do’s & Don’ts: The Worst Password Mistakes & How to Fix Them
  • 7 Scary Facts About Smartphone Addiction: Are YOU a Mobile Zombie?
  • Is it better to Keep IT In-House or Outsource?
  • 5 Ways to Get Rid of Spam Once and For All
  • OneDrive Cloud Storage: 7 Things You Need to Know
  • Detox and Declutter Your Digital Life in 5 Easy Steps

We know you’re busy this time of year, so let’s dive into each of the top 10 tech tips in ascending order.

1) 15 BYOD Statistics that May Surprise You

The “bring your own device” (BYOD) trend has significantly grown throughout recent years – and it’s no wonder. This blog post in particular likely gained traction due to shocking statistics like “businesses gain a whopping 240 extra hours of work per year when they implement BYOD in the workplace”.

But there’s also a dark side when it comes to BYOD – 80% of BYOD is unmanaged, leaving most businesses wide open and vulnerable to cyber security attacks.

Whether you’ve already integrated the bring your own device trend into your workplace or you’ve been on the fence, check out this popular post on BYOD statistics to understand the pros and cons of adopting BYOD into your workplace – and how to avoid putting your business at risk.

2) OneNote for Business: How to Stay Organized & Productive in the Workplace

If you’re a Microsoft user, you’re probably already familiar with OneNote. Maybe you’re even using it as your digital notebook. But the truth is, OneNote is so much more.

There’s a lot of information floating around about OneNote, but it’s not easy to find everything in one place. That’s what we’ve done with this post on OneNote for business and it’s one of the reasons this article has spread like wildfire.

We’ve covered what you need to know about OneNote from A to Z – collaborating on ideas with co-workers, project management with OneNote, security aspects, and a few interesting facts most people don’t know about this popular productivity tool.

Get a new perspective on OneNote and take it to a whole new level.

3) 5 Reasons to Upgrade to Windows Server 2016

If your business still running Windows Server 2003, it’s critical to upgrade your server or move to the cloud today.

With the introduction of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft will never again release an update or security patch for Windows Server 2003. This presents a massive opportunity for hackers to infiltrate your network. Security aside, Windows Server 2016 introduces a lot of great new features you’ll want to check out right here.

4) 5 Startling Statistics About Data Backup and Recovery

Data backup and recovery is always a topic of discussion when we meet with businesses throughout Southeastern Wisconsin. We often find they have a false sense of security and assume that just because they have a backup method in place, they have their bases covered. But in reality, if you don’t regularly test your backup, it could fail…or worse – not back up your data at all.

To spread awareness about the importance of this topic, we created this post as the first in a 5-part series about data backup and recovery.

We kicked off the series with startling statistics to encourage businesses of all sizes to take this topic seriously and give their backup method another look.

Out in the field, our techs see a lot of scary situations that could otherwise have been prevented with a solid data backup and recovery plan. Check out these startling statistics for yourself and don’t hope for the best – plan for the worst.

5) 7 Password Do’s and Don’ts: The Worst Password Mistakes and How to Fix Them

While passwords are an annoyance to those that need to remember them, they can also be a major security risk to businesses.

This blog post provides you with some easy tips to remember a secure password along with a few nifty tools so you never have to remember your passwords again!

Kiss your password problems goodbye!

6) 7 Scary Facts About Smartphone Addiction: Are YOU a Mobile Zombie?

Are you familiar with the term “nomophobia”? It’s a new term for smartphone addiction developed in Britain in 2008. Technically, nomophobia is the fear of being out of mobile phone contact.

Those who fall under the umbrella of this addiction check their phone up to 900 times a day. Yes, smartphone addiction is very real.

Check out these scary facts and see if you or someone you know suffers from nomophobia and see what’s really at risk.

7) Love ‘Em or Leave ‘Em: Is it Better to Keep IT In-House or Outsource?

At some point in time, the number crunchers within your organization may have evaluated whether it makes sense to have in-house IT or outsource it. IT isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so many businesses often end up going with a hybrid model.

Get the low down on pros and cons of in-house vs. outsourced IT and make the informed decision that’s best for your business.

8) 5 Ways to Get Rid of Spam Once and For All

There’s no getting around it – spam is synonymous with email. At some point in time, you might have wondered, why do they do it? Nobody really responds to spam anymore, right? Wrong.

Phishing attempts have increasingly become more sophisticated, fooling even the most experienced computer users. If spam is still finding a way into your inbox, find out how to stop it and take these precautionary steps to prevent it from infiltrating your inbox in the future.

9) OneDrive Cloud Storage: 7 Things You Need to Know

Many businesses are moving to cloud storage, but when it comes to OneDrive, many people have questions about certain aspects like:

  • OneDrive security
  • OneDrive for Business vs. OneDrive,
  • The amount of storage space included
  • How to use OneDrive
  • And much more.

Find out everything you need to know about OneDrive, all in one place.

10) Detox and Declutter Your Digital Life in 5 Easy Steps

Digital clutter stresses us out on a daily basis. From photos, to emails, digital accounts, passwords, and business documents – it’s endless and overwhelming.

While this post was written in the vein of Spring cleaning this past April, it’s since continued to gain traction and there’s no better time than the present to take control of your digital life. So what are you waiting for?

Get rid of junk email, back up your Facebook data, organize your email, and deactivate old accounts with these helpful tips.

Most of all, thank you for being one of our valued readers. We appreciate your interest and we hope you find these tips and the newsletter articles helpful.

If there is a topic you would like us to cover in future newsletters, we want to hear it! Just contact our marketing team and let us know.

The Top 5 Trends in 2016 That Will Change the Way You Do Business

tech trends

1) Mobile Device Management (MDM)

What it is: If you’re new to mobile device management (MDM), chances are, you’ll hear more about this BYOD (bring your own device) trend in the coming year.

cloud computingDriven by an increasingly mobile-based infrastructure, the need for a solution to secure, monitor, manage and support mobile devices across a shared network was born.

Why it’s trending: In short, MDM can help your business cut costs, increase employee productivity and maintain control over data while allowing employees to use personal devices in the workplace.

Since employees can use their own devices, businesses save on equipment costs like PC’s, laptops and software updates.

In terms of employee productivity, rather than feeling tied down to a desk, employees can work from anywhere and have access to important files – when and where they need them.

2) Desktop Monitoring

What it is: Let’s face it, most businesses can’t say with 100% certainty that all employees stay on top of antivirus updates, critical software updates and keep their computers free from spyware.

Desktop Monitoring is a managed service that quietly monitors and repairs common problems so employees can stay productive and avoid those annoying time-sucking computer problems.

Why it’s trending:

  • This unobtrusive solution monitors computers and immediately notifies IT staff when there are critical (or not so critical) issues.
  • Antivirus is included – desktop monitoring does not slow down the computer.
  • IT techs can easily remote into the workspace to save money on travel charges.
  • If a virus infects a computer, techs take care of it before it infects your entire network.

3) 24/7 On-Demand IT Support

What it is: Otherwise known as an IT service desk, through this managed service, businesses receive immediate IT support when and where they need it, 24/7. Working late? Early? Weekends?

Anytime you run into a technical problem, simply pick up the phone and you’ll be speaking with a seasoned technician with a minimum of two-years’ experience resolving application, desktop and network-level issues.

From PC and network troubleshooting, virus and spyware removal, to file and folder restores, immediate assistance is just a phone call away.

Why it’s trending: This service provides a cost effective solution to scheduling a formal service call with a tech. No problem is too small and each time a user calls the service desk, a technician automatically sees the unique customer profile so staff can quickly get into correcting the problems rather than being bogged down by answering questions to confirm their identity. It’s instant, hassle-free IT support when you need it most.

4) Server Care

What it is: Server Care makes it possible to prolong the life of a server by proactively performing preventative maintenance on a 24/7 basis.

Why it’s trending:

  • In addition to automatic monitoring, technicians personally monitor the server weekly. If they find anything of concern, the issue is immediately resolved.
  • Antivirus is included for the server.
  • No need for travel charges – if a problem arises, a tech will fix the issue remotely and escalate the response as necessary.

5) Business Continuity

Business Continuity MilwaukeeWhat it is: Business continuity is designed to quickly revive your business network and have employees productive again in almost no time. It automatically backs up important data as frequently as every 15 minutes. If there is a problem, files can be restored in about 30 minutes.

Why it’s trending: If a small business can’t resume operations within 10 days following a natural disaster, it probably won’t survive.

Rather than risking losing billing and inventory records, customer lists, and other vital data, organizations are turning to business continuity solutions to get back to business – fast!

Businesses required to comply with data backup HIPAA are increasingly relying on business continuity to keep them in compliance with HIPAA’s rigid data backup and retrieval standards.

How Can These Services Help Your Business Thrive?

Have questions on any of the services above? Ontech Systems can implement any of these services into your business with minimal disruption to your daily workflow. Contact us to learn more.

To get expert recommendations and have one of our highly qualified techs evaluate your network, request a free network discovery where we answer all your technical questions and concerns.

There is absolutely NO cost, NO obligation and NO commitment required.

Your network discovery will include an audit of your current network, infrastructure, server(s), PC’s, backup, security performance and reliability, followed by a non-technical Q&A Session with our Network Consultant.

Considering managed services vs. in-house IT management? Get the pros and cons here. For technology questions or any other inquiry, please contact our office by email or by phone at (262) 522-8560.

3 Important Microsoft Updates for Your Business

Update #1) Thinking of upgrading to Windows 10? Contact us for our recommendation on the best time to update. What’s new in Windows 10? Get the full story here.

Update #2) Office 2016 for Windows launched on September 22nd
Microsoft released Office 2016 for Windows on September 22nd, offering a number of small but notable updates to the productivity suite. Check out some of the highlights here.

Update #3) SQL Server 2005 extended support ends on April 12, 2016
If you are still running SQL Server 2005 after April 12, 2016, you will no longer receive security updates. Now is the time to upgrade to SQL Server 2014 and Azure SQL Database to achieve breakthrough performance, maintain security and compliance, optimize your data platform infrastructure and avoid the risks of running unsupported software.

To plan your plan your SQL Server 2005 migration, please contact our office by email or by phone at (262) 522-8560.

Twitter Sends Fake ‘Phishing’ Emails to Test Cyber-security

twitter testHigh-profile security breaches are a common occurrence these days and for this reason, many companies are taking action to make sure their employees don’t unintentionally put the company at risk of an attack.

With phishing emails widely becoming an entry point for hackers, all it takes is one click on a fake link for an Amazon gift card to unleash malware into the company network, steal password/login information or provide other access to cybertheives.

Who Falls for the Fake Emails?

To combat this risk, companies like Twitter Inc. are taking an unconventional path to educate employees about vulnerabilities within the company. It may come as a surprise to some that the greatest vulnerability within the company – are the employees themselves.

A study by Online Trust Alliance recently found that more than 1,000 breaches in the first half of 2014 (90%) were preventable. More than 1 in 4 were caused by employees (often by accident).

Twitter Inc. and a rising number of companies are sending employees fake phishing emails to raise awareness and strengthen company security.

During a recent town hall meeting in NYC, Josh Aberant, postmaster at Twitter said, “New employees fall for it all the time.” This fake internal “test” provides employees with a teachable moment to ensure that, when faced with a real threat, they will proceed with caution rather than falling victim to the next phishing email they receive.

What Would this Test Look Like?

Twitter isn’t the only company jumping on this unorthodox bandwagon. Wombat Security sent out an email to their employees with a subject that reads “Email Account Security Report – Unusual Activity.”

The employee receives an official looking email stating their account may be locked due to unusual activity such as sending a large number of undeliverable messages. Toward the bottom of the email is a link that would infect the recipient’s computer with malware – if this were a real phishing email.

When the link is clicked, a web page pops up stating, “The email you just responded to was a fake phishing email. Don’t worry! It was sent to you to help you learn how to avoid real attacks. Please do not share your experience with colleagues, so they can learn too.” The email then offered employees tips on recognizing suspicious messages in the future.

Do these Employee Tests Actually Work?

Nashville based, Pinnacle Financial Partners has sent employees fake phishing emails about once a quarter. Since the start of the Wombat program, they have seen a 25% drop in successful phishing attempts within their 800-employee company.

They reported “Workers take it very personally when they fall for it. They become apologetic and wonder, ‘how did I miss it’?”

Any Hope for the Future?

To combat this widespread threat on a greater scale, large internet based companies like Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. are in support of a standard that would make it impossible for scammers to impersonate your persona data (bank info, social network or other business related details) in an email. This standard would be similar to a verification system for emails but at this point, this solution is still a long way off.

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