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Computer Shopping 101

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July 17, 2014

The computer world is full of acronyms and abbreviations, and many are similar to one another. Making sense of all the terms and focusing on what is most important are the keys to getting the best deal on  your next computer.

33What is the CPU?

The CPU is the heart of your computer, and it is important to understand just what it does. CPU stands for central processing unit, and its job is to take incoming numbers, perform calculations and return results.

You can think of the CPU as a very sophisticated calculator. The calculator in your pocket might be able to do two or three calculations a second, but the CPU in the average computer can perform billions in the same length of time.

Most of the computers on the market today come with multi-core processors. The multi-core setup allows the computer to perform better by makeing multitasking easier and more effective. Instead of a single processor working on several different tasks, the computer can assign each processor to a different task. This increases overall speed and makes your computer experience better.

While there are eight and even sixteen core processors on the market, the most common setups are dual-core, which combines two processors into a single ci[, and quad-core, which uses four. All else being equal and depending on the types of applications you are using, the quad core processor will give you better performance, but the price tag of the computer will be higher as well.

How Much RAM?

RAM stands for random access memory, and it is a very important part of the computer shopping process. Even the fastest multi-core system will not perform well if there is not enough RAM onboard.

If you have ever seen the inside of a computer, you will recognize the sticks of memory that make up the RAM. These sticks are inserted directly on the motherboard, and they provide the computer with the temporary storage space it needs to perform calculations and maintain information.

When shopping for a new computer, you should look for one with a minimum of 4GB of RAM; 8GB or more is even better, and relatively easy to find these days. RAM is relatively inexpensive these days and it’s the easiest and least expensive way to increase your computers performance.  Another added benefit of having more RAM is it lessens the workload on the Hard Drive which can increase the lifespan of the machine.

Hard Drive Storage

RAM provides temporary storage, but the hard drive is responsible for storing information permanently. As with RAM, the prices for hard drive storage have fallen sharply. That means bigger is better when shopping for a new PC.

It pays to buy more storage space than you think you will need. You may not think you need a 500GB hard drive, but the large size of video and music files means it may start filling up before you know it.

As you shop, you may encounter two separate types of hard drives – HDD and SSD. HDD means hard disk drive, and it is the most common type of drive on the market. HDD are inexpensive and able to store a lot of information for a low price, but they are also less durable and slower than SSD’s.

SSD VS HDD

SSD stands for solid-state drive.  They do not have moving parts the way HDD drives do, and the lack of moving parts make SSD drives both faster and more durable, but they are also much more expensive. The storage capacity of SSD drives also tends to be more restrictive, and the price per gigabyte of storage is much higher.

If you can afford the upgrade, we recommend using your OS (operating system) on a SSD and install a large 1TB or bigger HDD for data and media storage.

 

Knowing the terms can help you get the best deal on your next computer. Whether you are shopping for a laptop or desktop, having a basic understanding of terms like RAM, HDD, SSD and CPU will make comparing brands and models a lot easier.  If you have any questions, we are always here to help, please give us a call at 386-248-0000 or email us at info@daytonanetworks.com.  We offer both a computer purchasing service (to help you get the most for your money), or we can build you a custom pc or server.

Windows Mobility Center

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June 11, 2014

The Microsoft Windows Mobility Center takes a variety of different utilities and places their controls in one easy to manage interface. Proper use of the Windows Mobility Center allows you to control a number of different aspects of the way your computer operates all from the same screen, which will certainly save you a lot of time.

 

daytona_beach_computersStep 1

Open the “Start” menu on your computer and select “Control Panel.” If your Windows Control Panel is not displaying all icons, click the button at the top of the window labeled “View By” and choose either the option labeled “Large Icons” or the option labeled “Small Icons.” The default view style for the Control Panel separates programs into categories, which is not useful for these purposes.

 

Step 2

Scroll to the very bottom of the Control Panel and click once on the icon labeled “Windows Mobility Center.” The Windows program of the same name will open. A series of icons will appear in the main Mobility Center window, each relating to a different aspect of your computer that you can control using the program.

 

Step 3

Use the utility’s “Display Brightness” section to increase or decrease the brightness of your monitor at will. Drag the bar to the left to decrease the brightness or drag the button to the right to increase it.

 

Step 4

Use the section of the screen labeled “Volume” to adjust the volume of your computer’s speakers. You can use the horizontal slider bar to increase or decrease the volume based on your preferences, or use the “Mute” button to completely disable your speakers if you so choose.

 

Step 5

Use the section of the screen labeled “Battery Status” to both view the current percentage of your battery’s power and change your power scheme. Click the drop down menu to select a new power scheme for your laptop battery. Note that this section is only available on laptop computers.

 

Step 6

Use the section of the screen labeled “Wireless Network” to control your computer’s current Internet connection. The main icon in this portion of the screen will show you the current strength of the connected wireless signal. Clicking the button labeled “Turn Wireless Off” will quickly and efficiently disable your computer’s wireless networking capabilities.

 

Step 7

Use the option labeled “External Display” to control any external computer monitors, television sets or projectors that may be connected to your computer.

 

Step 8

Sync any Windows Mobile devices with your computer using the section of the screen labeled “Sync Center.” If you already have a sync partnership between your computer and the associated device, click the grey button labeled “Sync Settings” with the device connected to your machine to immediately sync data back and forth between the two.

Some say putting your business data in the cloud is no riskier than putting your money in a bank.  At first sight, there are similarities, but a closer look reveals significant differences. You are not  particularly concerned that your money will be lost if the bank is robbed or destroyed by fire  because the bank and the government guarantee your money. It doesn’t matter if the very same cash you lodged in the bank yesterday is stolen today since one dollar bill is much the same as another. Your cloud data is not like money for two important reasons: First, most of the data is unique and irreplaceable – one piece of data is not the same as another; second, much of your data is confidential – customer records, financial information, new product development plans, etc. – and its value depends on it being kept strictly private.

So, despite all the hype about the savings it delivers, is cloud computing a dangerous false economy because it is simply too risky? The answer to that question depends on the answers to the nine questions below. Their purpose is to help potential cloud customers focus on the areas they should investigate before deciding for or against putting their company’s data in the cloud.

daytona_beach_cloud_services1. Have you thoroughly investigated your proposed cloud vendor?
This is by far the most important point to consider. A business should choose only a cloud service provider that is a well-known, financially sound, and has proven track record.

2. Have you compared your current in-house data security with that of the cloud?
Check if the applications and data currently stored on servers in your premises are more or less secure there than if they were stored in the cloud and managed by the cloud company.

3. Have you worked out your current IT costs?  
Calculate the total cost of the hardware, software, and personnel related to your local storage. Bear in mind that, of those costs, only the staff cost is tax-deductible in a single year; the equipment and software costs must be written off over several years. That can have significant cash flow implications.

4. Have you estimated the annual costs of using the cloud? 
On the basis of you current and estimated medium-term IT requirements, calculate the exact cost of moving to the cloud.

5. Have you estimated the costs of expanding onsite facilities? 
Ensure that you fully understand the cost implications of using additional cloud facilities in the future. This is a likely scenario with any growing business.

6. Do you understand the implications of changing your mind later on?
Assess the cost and disruption to your business of reversing your company’s decision to use the cloud, should it not work out after, say, a year.

7. Do you understand your legal obligations to the cloud company? 
Related to the last point, clarify the situation regarding contract restrictions, such as minimum period, cancellation penalties, etc.

8. Do you understand the cloud company’s guarantees and obligations to you?
Apart from your company’s contractual obligations to the cloud company, ensure you fully understand their obligations to you. As in “7,” misunderstandings in this area can be expensive for a client.

9. Have you spoken to users of the cloud companies you are considering?
Talk to other clients of the same cloud service provider you are thinking of using to find out their experiences. There is no need to do this until you have narrowed your choice of cloud provider to
two or three.

Not all cloud companies offer the same service. Some suit individual clients’ requirements better than others. So, clients need to draw up a shortlist of providers to determine which ones best
matches their specific requirements.

Cloud service providers are acutely aware that a significant breach of security or loss of client data, could threaten the survival of their businesses. That is why they take extraordinary steps to minimize the possibility of such events ever happening and why they store multiple copies of all data in different locations, each with the highest level of security. It is also why major disasters involving loss, theft or inaccessibility of data are exceptionally rare. As a result cloud computing’s record of customer satisfaction is exemplary. Most clients are well aware that they could never achieve such security themselves without spending many multiples of what it costs them to use the cloud. It is hardly surprising that cloud usage is growing rapidly and that there is no sign of a slowdown in the foreseeable future.

Bruce Schneier, a well-respected expert in the online security industry, discussed the Heartbleed bug on his blog and described the devastating effects of the newly discovered security hole as, “On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11.” Sadly, Schneier was not exaggerating. The extent of the security threat is huge. Netcraft estimates that the bug affects roughly half a million websites, including Dropbox, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo. 

What Is the Heartbleed Bug and Why Is It a Cause for Concern

heartbleed daytona beach First publicized on April 7, 2014, Heartbleed is an OpenSSL flaw, a bad code that may have been inadvertently introduced by the developers of OpenSSL. It has existed since December 2011.

SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the encryption protocol used for securing the data transmitted between the browser and the Web server. OpenSSL, on the other hand, is the open-source deployment of SSL and TLS (Transport Layer Security). Popular among web administrators, the OpenSSL implementation can be found running on 66 percent of the web.

The Heartbleed bug wreaks havoc by allowing a remote attacker to read the Web server’s memory, which could likely include the private encryption keys. This means the attacker can simply lift data that is supposed to have been secured via the SSL/TLS encryption protocols. According to the Finland-based software security company, Codenomicon, which first discovered the bug while working with a Google researcher, Heartbleed can leak usernames and passwords, files, instant messages, and email messages.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Personal Data

Don’t scramble to change your passwords–not yet, anyway. Wait until the service provider has successfully patched its website, according to an email sent by Codenomicon’s Ari Takanen to PC World. If you change your password before the patching is completed, you could end up contributing to the leaked server information that can be stolen.

There are online checkers available if you want to check whether or not the website you are using is still infected by the bug. These three Heartbleed checkers can help you: filippo.io/Heartbleed, lastpass.com/heartbleed, and ssllabs.com/ssltest. If the website is still not patched by the server, don’t use it until it’s clear for you to do so. The Heartbleed bug can only expose the information on the Web server’s memory. So, it is best not to introduce new data that can be potentially intercepted, most especially your new password. In case of an attack, your data has to be contained in the Web server’s memory for it to be exposed. Now that the bug’s existence has been widely publicized and attackers may be taking advantage of the websites that have yet to issue patches, changing your password on an unpatched site can be more disastrous than taking no action.

The presence of an encryption error like Heartbleed should make you more security-conscious with your online data. Consider these two effective means to lock down your online accounts: a two-factor authentication and a password manager.

A two-factor authentication necessitates entering a code before gaining access to your online account. This code is normally generated through a smartphone app or an SMS text message. With a two-factor authentication, you add a layer of security to your online account because the extra login step is difficult for an attacker to duplicate.

Another smart way to protect your various online accounts is to use a password manager. Examples of password management services include Dashlane, KeePass, and LastPass. Equipped with secure notes and auto-fill capabilities for completing online forms, a password manager simplifies the task of regularly randomizing your passwords and keeping track of them.

3 Gifts To Get Your Business This Year

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December 20, 2013

3 Gifts To Get Your Business This Year

Finished with your holiday shopping?  Have you even started?  It is fun to shop for the important people in your life; however, what’s on the shopping list for your business?

2013 was another year that social media proved it isn’t a passing fad.  Consider mastering social media marketing.  A social marketing presence is a gift you can give your business that will continue to reward.

Net Works, Inc. recommends 3 gifts to help your business engage and grow in 2014.

  1. Social Media Marketing Strategy

    Businesses are jumping into social media to grow their community, create more brand awareness and more opportunity. You know the need for social media, but do you know how to use it effectively? 

    Decide what your social focus is, what your goals are and how you plan to achieve those goals.  Give your business the gift of developing a social media strategy this holiday season.

  2. Dedicated Social Media Work Station

    Social media is about engaging your community and staying consistent.

    Buy a social media dedicated tablet or smartphone for the office.  Let your community know the people behind your business.  Let them feel like they are part of your business.  Use your dedicated tablet or smartphone to take photos, make updates and have conversations. 

    Use the 80/20 formula for updates. 80% of your updates should be about engagement; fun, relevant, valuable content such as videos, photos, articles, and questions to engage your audience. Only 20% should be about selling. 

  3. Social Media Management

    The gift of social media management will help any business grow in the New Year.

    Partner with a professional social media company to help develop and implement your social media strategy.  Net Works, Inc. is proud to partner with Social Coaches to help our clients succeed with social media.  Services are available from one-time coaching sessions to complete social media management.

This holiday season, make sure to give your business a gift that will generate interest and qualified leads throughout the year.

Tips to secure your computer from virus infection

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November 19, 2013

daytona_beach_virus_removalThe sinking feeling of recognition when you realize that your computer has been infected is as familiar as it is unwelcome. But it’s important to remember that there is no way to avoid viruses and other malware completely. Like a good doctor working with a patient, you can only give your computer the tools to avoid bad health by following good habits and using the right set of products.

1. Anti-virus and anti-malware

The last line of defense against viral annihilation is a good anti-virus program. Anti-virus programs scan downloaded files for viruses and monitor your machine for infection. Paid anti-virus programs are available, but there are also many free options as well. Make sure you know every anti-virus and anti-malware program you have on your computer. Fake anti-virus programs known as rogue programs have become prevalent in recent years. If you don’t recognize a supposed anti-virus program on your computer, it may be a sign of infection.

2. Block those scripts

A large amount of infections come from malicious scripts being run when a user goes to an infected website. These so-called cross-site scripting attacks can be blocked by disabling scripts from running on non-trusted websites. Script blockers are available for most browsers. Firefox users rely on NoScript, while fans of Chrome use NotScripts or ScriptSafe. These script blockers allow users to block suspicious scripts and allow safe ones to run, preventing infection to their machines.

3. Keep up-to-date

Popular products are a huge attraction for people who profit from viruses and other malware. The more people that use a product, the more people they can infect when they exploit the holes in said product. Programs like Java, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Flash Player are the most commonly exploited applications. It is absolutely vital to keep them up-to-date. Several free programs like Secunia and File Hippo Update Checker will automatically check for outdated versions of these products. In addition to applications, it is especially important to make sure that you maintain current updates to your operating system. Avoid the temptation to close the window when that annoying Windows update notification pops up.

4. Avoid risky behavior

One of the easiest ways to prevent infection is to avoid risky online behavior. Sites for cracks, warez and keygens are notoriously dangerous. Other sites to avoid are those offering free porn. Torrents are also hazardous to the health of your machine. Once the malware is on your computer, it can be very difficult to remove. However, don’t assume that a trusted site will be completely secure. Reputable sites are sometimes infected. Websites for both “The New York Times” and The London Stock Exchange have served up malware to unsuspecting visitors.

 5. Don’t be dumb

In the fight against infection, the greatest enemy is yourself. Phishing schemes are designed to exploit your inattention and ignorance. Phishing attacks have become increasingly sophisticated in recent years. It’s best to rely on your instincts. If a doubt about that strange Facebook link is in the back of your mind, don’t click on it. If you can’t remember shipping anything recently, do not open fishy e-mails from UPS. Google is your friend. If you feel doubtful about the origins of an e-mail or instant message, do a quick Google search. Most phishing schemes have been tried on thousands, if not millions, of people before, and the victims talk about them online in great detail. It only takes a second to verify a vague uneasy feeling, while it could take days and a large amount of money to rid your machine of a virus.

Dell Computer Repair

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September 10, 2013

Daytona Net Works is your #1 resource for all of your Dell laptop and Desktop Repairs. If you are having any problems with your Dell computer, be sure to contact us via e-mail or directly at 386-248-0000 to repair your Dell PC. Diagnosing your computer problem is the first step to finding a respective solution. Let the professionals at Net Works Computer Repair Center diagnose and repair your Dell computer system quickly and efficiently!

Dell is a leading manufacturer of computers and computer related hardware. Net Works Daytona Computer Repair Center can help you diagnose your Dell laptop or desktop issues.

4 Common Windows 8 Annoyances and How to Fix Them

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September 5, 2013

windows-8-logo-originalAs with any other major overhaul of an extremely popular product such as Windows, Windows 8 comes with its fair share of controversies. Windows 8 has been accused by numerous people for being heavily biased towards touchscreen computers such as tablet devices. For desktop and laptop users, the new interface can take a bit of getting used to. However, while the new interface is by far the most talked about annoyance with Windows 8, there are a number of others too. This article takes a look at some of the most common gripes that people have with Microsoft’s latest operating system.

1 – The Start Menu Has Gone

Replacing the start menu entirely is the new start screen, a full-screen, touch-friendly interface that might look good on tablet computers, but not so much on the traditional desktop or laptop computer. It was possible in some of the earlier pre-release versions to get the start button and menu back through a simple registry tweak. However, the start menu and button was completely removed shortly before the launch of Windows 8, and there is now no way to get it back without using third-party software. There are a number of free third-party programs available to restore this feature, including Start8 and Pokki. An upcoming update for Windows 8, Windows 8.1, will put the start button back, but clicking on it will still only take you to the start screen.

2 – Hidden Shutdown and Restart Functions

Have you just started up Windows 8 for the first time and found yourself wondering how on Earth you are supposed to shut down or restart the computer safely? You are not the only one – in a highly frustrating oversight by Microsoft, they have effectively hidden these two critical functions in the Settings menu of the Charms Bar. Even once you have found it, it is still a longwinded way of switching off or resetting your computer. To overcome this, you can create your own shutdown and restart shortcuts in File Explorer and pin them to the start screen. To do this, create shortcuts with the commands ‘shutdown /s /t 0′ (without quotes) and ‘shutdown /r /t 0′ for shutdown and restart respectively.

3 – Windows Mail Doesn’t Support POP Email Accounts

POP (Post Office Protocol) is a common protocol used by email accounts. However, the built-in Windows Mail app in Windows 8 does not provide support for this protocol. The only way around this is to reconfigure any email accounts which use this protocol to use the IMAP protocol instead. Fortunately, the vast majority of webmail services provide support for both protocols, and you should be able to change between the two in the settings page of your email account.

4 – Longer Login Process

When you lock your computer, you cannot simply enter a password to get back in again. First, you need to slide the screen upwards to reveal the password entry box. Many people find this to be a major annoyance. Fortunately, there is a quick fix available for this. Start the Local Group Policy Editor by pressing the Windows key and ‘R,’ entering gpedit.msc and pressing Enter. Navigate to Computer Configuration, Administrative Tools, Control Panel, Personalization and enable the “Do not display lock screen” feature.

Why Your Business Needs a Proxy Server

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August 2, 2013

iStock_000009559918XSmallWe all know the internet is a dangerous place, full of viruses, malware and hackers. Often overlooked in a small business is one of the most costly issues, social media, and the loss of productivity while your employees are entranced in it. We’ve all been guilty of wasting too much time on the internet, getting sidetracked by one link or another. But when your staff is surfing and socializing on the clock, it is costing your business money.

What is a Proxy Server?

Think of a proxy server as the guardian of your network. All traffic outgoing and incoming flows through this device and it has the ability to allow or block any content you choose. It typically sits between your internet connection (cable modem, dsl, etc.) and your network switch. Proxy Servers perform the following tasks :

  • Privacy – When an internal user requests a Web page, the request goes through the proxy server so that it appears to the Internet to be coming from the server – from its IP address (or one of them) – and not the user’s device. This anonymity provides an important measure of security by reducing the amount of information about a network and its users easily accessible to hackers on the Internet.
  • Caching – If your users frequently need to access certain pages on the Internet, the server can download and store copies on its hard drive. It will also continuously monitor the page for changes and download them, so the cached page is always up to date. If another user requests the content, the proxy server will send it directly to the user, without ever needing to access the internet. This can dramatically increase internet speeds and decrease bandwidth usage.
  • Content Filtering / Blocking – Requests from inside your network to different content can be managed. Different policies can be defined for this purpose so that the access to the data is according to the authority of the user. All users access the Internet from the proxy server, so network administrators can block certain pages and limit the amount of accessible websites. This type of filtering is usually done to limit websites either individually or through categories. For instance, some proxy server software blocks whole categories such as entertainment, pornography or gaming sites.
  • Monitoring – Whether for legal compliance or for sales and customer service improvement, sometimes it is necessary for management to monitor employee internet access (emails, instant messaging, website usage). A proxy server will give you this ability. You will be able to watch incoming and outgoing communication on your network, all in one place.
  • Malware / Virus Protection –  A proxy server protects the network from malware, which is installed on users’ computers when they access an infected website. When the malware is installed on the user’s machine, it can spread to other machines on the network. This is a security risk for the company. Documents can be stolen and passwords can be compromised, giving others unauthorized access to the network. Proxy servers can block and monitor web traffic, so the administrator detects suspicious activity even if the user is unaware of the problem.

Conclusion

From our years of experience servicing business computer systems, the biggest 2 costs employers are worried about are wasted manhours (employees on facebook, youtube, pinterest, craigslist, twitter, etc) and repairing / removing viruses and malware from their computers. As a simplified example, if you consider each employee spends at least an hour each day surfing non-productive content at an average salary of 30k/year. Each employee is wasting 250 hours a year * $15/hr = $3750. Now multiply that by the number of employees you have and the cost to setup a proxy server and yearly antivirus/malware subscription is a no brainer. Imagine how much work would get done if each employee had an extra 200 hours each year to work.

Proxy Servers come in all different sizes with different feature sets. Give us a call today to get a free estimate on setting one up in your business.

An Overview of Windows 8 Tablets

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June 20, 2013

win8_tabletWindows 8 is a completely redesigned version of Microsoft’s popular operating system. The first thing that anyone upgrading to Windows 8 will notice is the new user interface and its vastly improved support for touchscreen input, full-screen interactive apps and mobility in general. While this has made the release of Windows 8 somewhat controversial among traditional desktop and laptop users, the new operating system is particularly well-suited to tablet devices and other touchscreen computers. Although the Google Android and Apple iOS operating systems continue to hold the majority of the market share, Windows 8 is rapidly catching up as a viable and popular alternative.

Most tablet computers running Windows 8 run the Windows RT version of the operating system. This operating system is only available preinstalled on mobile devices which use the ARM processor architecture. Although in many ways, Windows RT is the same as Windows 8, particularly with regards to its appearance, there are some important differences to consider.  

Windows RT

The most significant difference between Windows RT and Windows 8 for desktop and laptop computers is that third-party desktop applications are not supported by the former. The only desktop applications which are available for Windows RT are those which are included natively with the operating system. This means that you will not be able to install any software designed for Windows 7 and earlier. Instead, you will only be able to install apps from the Windows Store.

Windows 8

win8_tablet2Some Windows tablets, particularly higher-end ones and those which also double up as laptop computers, come with the desktop version of Windows 8 preinstalled. This presents the advantage of being able to use your tablet rather like you use a desktop or laptop computer, since you can install the same software such as programs which were designed for older versions of Windows or the Desktop Mode of Windows 8. Be aware, however, that the 32-bit version of Windows 8 is usually the one found on Windows 8 tablets.

Other Considerations

Windows 8 was largely a result of Microsoft’s determination to penetrate the mobile market and compete with other popular mobile operating systems such as Google Android or Apple iOS. Due to the fact that it is relatively new on the scene, however, there are relatively few apps available through the Windows Store when compared to the selection available through the Google Play Store or the Apple Store. However, the list of both free and paid apps is constantly increasing as Windows 8 rapidly catches up. If you want to enjoy complete compatibility with other devices running Windows 8, however, a Windows 8 tablet is a must. This way, you will also be able to synchronize your settings, files and other features between your devices.

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