Consider managed services to reduce downtime and frustration for your business!

JohnMHoyt Apple, Backup Solutions, Business, Cloud Computing, Computer Repair, Computer Security, Computer Service, Computer Support, Homeland Secure IT, Mac, Managed Services, Microsoft, OS X, security, Technology, Windows, Windows Server 0 Comments

Autotask Endpoint Manager Managed ServicesIf you run a small or medium business without a dedicated IT department, you are probably painfully aware of the costs associated with keeping your computers and servers up to date with security patches and updates.

Whether you are paying an IT company to perform preventive maintenance, or if you or another staff member are taking time out of your day to handle it, it can be frustrating and time-consuming. You can suffer from downtime during your workday, and if you do handle it yourself, it is possible you can run into issues where a professional has to be called, leading to even more downtime and expense.

What if I told you there was a better way?

Instead of having preventative maintenance performed by someone else, usually in the middle of your work day, or even after-hours at a premium cost, you could consider using a Managed Service Provider, or MSP.

The MSP handles things a little differently than just offering a hands-on approach. Instead, they rely upon a suite of software that is loaded on each computer and server, and that software does all the heavy lifting.

The MSP will then monitor all the computers using sensors and logging that will let them see system health at a glance:

  • Component failure – such as a hard drive, or fan.
  • Resource issues – high processor usage, high ram usage, hard drive filling up.
  • Updates – What updates need to be installed.
  • Security issues – Firewall and Anti-Virus up to date and working correctly?

The list of actual monitored factors is too vast to go into in this short blog post. Suffice it to say, an MSP will likely know about a problem before the end user does as alerts can be set to inform them of a developing issue.

The provider can also approve updates and patches during an agreed upon window. No more reboots during your lunch hour. They can be scheduled for 3AM or any time you wish. The provider can also disapprove updates if they are aware of conflicts that might occur within your environment, such as a patch that breaks your custom software application.

Many services and tasks can be rolled into one tidy package: Patch management, backup, anti-virus/anti-malware, system maintenance and more!

Another advantage of using managed services is the convenience of instant support! An MSP can connect to your desktop, laptop, tablet or server very quickly, and can share the screen if you wish so you can demonstrate a problem while communicating with them. Many problems can be fixed in real-time. Software can be loaded onto your computer, as if by magic, logs checked, resource usage monitored, all without even interrupting what you are doing!

And amazingly enough, the cost is generally more affordable than having a scheduled maintenance plan with an IT company, and far less expensive than downtime!

If you would like to discuss our managed services offerings here in the Upstate of South Carolina, and whether it is right for your business, please use our CONTACT FORM, or give us a call at 864-990-4748.

We can provide managed services anywhere in the United States, but would prefer to work with local clients so that we can form a more personal relationship.

 

Verizon dumps Premium Visual Voice Mail – Here’s my solution…

JohnMHoyt Android, Business, John M. Hoyt's Personal Stuff, Technology, VoIP (Voice over IP) 0 Comments

Verizon drops premium visual voicemail

Say goodbye to Verizon Premium Visual Voicemail

I was sad to learn that Verizon Wireless decided to drop their “Premium Visual Voice Mail” option. This was effective July 8th, 2016.

While I won’t miss the $2.99/month charge, which was a bit pricey, I will certainly miss the feature on my HTC One M8 Android based phone. (iPhone has Visual Voice Mail built-in and it isn’t going away).

Who the heck uses voicemail anymore anyway? Welllll, I do! I have a business which requires that people be able to reach me in a multitude of ways, and sometimes they call my cell phone. And having only 20 voice mail slots is absolutely limiting. I have been in a meeting, or driving, and received 20 calls in a short period of time. It’s not common, but it has happened.

Then there is the inconvenience of having to dial *82, and listen to X number of voice mail messages. Usually, someone calls in the middle of listening to them, and you have to start all over again.

I decided to utilize Google’s VoIP product called Google Voice. Which is free, and has the features I need most.

The setup was easy.  I already had the Google Voice account setup, with a phone number, so all I needed to do was to setup my greeting, and then determine what actions I wanted to take place.

I wanted voice mail to be sent in text message to my phone, transcribed from audio to text.    Check – done.

I wanted the voice mail to be sent in email to my business email account as an attachment AND as transcribed text.   Check – done.

Then, next, I wanted my cell phone to send any unanswered call to the Google Voice number.  That is accomplished by using conditional call forward / call transfer and on Verizon is simply activated by dialing *71 + Google Voice number.

Now, when you call my cell and get voice mail, your message is going to get to me, even if I leave my phone in the car, or if it is dead. I’ll get it in email. Bonus, I no longer have to dial Verizon’s voicemail service, and therefore you will not receive a “This mailbox is full” message.

There are a multitude of apps and offerings, some free, some not, but this seems like one of the most secure options, without a recurring monthly charge.

Happy voicemailing….

Backdoor.MAC.Eleanor trojan might encourage you to get anti-virus on your Mac

JohnMHoyt Apple, Business, Computer Repair, Computer Security, Computer Service, Computer Support, Mac, OS X, Secure IT Alert, security 0 Comments

A storyGreenville Virus Experts Logo over on the Bitdefender blog warns that a trojan that is posing as a file converter (EasyDoc Converter.app) is out in the wild and once it is run, creates a connection to the outside world, allowing full control of your Apple Mac computer.

If you do not have current anti-virus / anti-malware software on your Mac, this will probably serve as a reminder that you are vulnerable to this type of exploit the same as any other computer system owner is.

Both businesses and individuals should have up to date anti-virus in place to protect their identity, finances, and personal data. Should you want more information about computer security for your personal computer or for your business servers and computers, please give us a call at 864-990-4748 (hit 0 when you get our automated attendant) or use our CONTACT FORM.

We offer computer service / repair, virus removal / cleanup and protection in the Greenville / Upstate SC area.

Happy Independence Day! Vacation time!

JohnMHoyt Homeland Secure IT 0 Comments

July 4th Fireworks - (c) 2015 John M. HoytHappy Independence Day America!!!!

We hope you will get to spend the weekend with your loved ones, doing whatever it is that makes you happy… Whether that is grillin’ and chillin’, having a cold one, or sweating at the beach or boating at your favorite lake.

Most of all, we hope it is a safe holiday.

Here at Homeland Secure IT, we are closing early on Friday July 1st, and taking off Monday July 4th to spend with our family.

When you get back to work on Tuesday the 5th and should you need help, give us a call, we will be there for your computer service needs – however, if there is an emergency over the holiday weekend, simply email us or leave a voice mail message and we will call you back ASAP!

God Bless America!

We’ve been nominated for Best of the Upstate – Best computer service!

JohnMHoyt Computer Repair, Computer Service, Computer Support, Fun Stuff, Homeland Secure IT, John M. Hoyt's Personal Stuff, Pamela M. Hoyt's Personal Stuff, Pamela's Personal Stuff 0 Comments

Best Computer Services - Best of the Upstate 2015Last year, someone nominated Homeland Secure IT, LLC for the Greenville News “Best of the Upstate” award for Best Computer Service.

Thanks to our friends, family, customers and vendors, we actually won!

Honestly, I didn’t think we would. It’s not because I don’t believe we are the best, it’s because the other fine service providers have many advantages over us. Some are larger, thus more votes. Some have simply been been around forever, and therefore have huge followings.

But us, we’re fairly new on the scene, we’ve been in business at this location since 2009, and there’s less than a handful of us, so even if the owners and employees vote every day, that’s not much.

On the other hand, we have a loyal following of incredible people who could help us out. So, who knows, with your help, maybe, just maybe, we could be voted Best Computer Services for 2016!

If you would be so kind as to cast your vote our direction, we would appreciate it!

You can find the ballot here:

Best of the Upstate 2016 Ballot

The rules are simple. You can vote once per day through the 19th, from a registered email address only.

You can find Homeland Secure IT, LLC in the SERVICES category under “Best Computer Services”.

While you’re there, check out a few other nominations that affect me and my family:

Culture Arts & Entertainment:
Best Local Band – Hot As A Pepper (This is my band – come see us if you haven’t!)
Best Jazz Band – Hot As A Pepper (Uhmm we’re NOT a jazz band, but….)
Best Musical Instruction – Richard Young Jr. (Hot As A Pepper’s guitarist!)

Shops & Wares:
Best Carpet Store – McAbee’s Custom Carpets – Pamela’s Family Business

Upstate Living:
Best Place to Work – Homeland Secure IT, LLC (not a chance here!)

Services:
Best Carpet/Upholstery Cleaner – McAbee’s Custom Carpet
Best Computer Services – Homeland Secure IT, LLC
Best Photographer – John M. Hoyt

I have been voting for a slew of my personal friends and places I do business that I believe are THE BEST OF THE UPSTATE…   These include a lot of Homeland Secure IT’s customers.

If you would like me to share with you who I vote for or if you think I should be voting for you or your business, please email me!

Thanks again for the support you have given to me and my family, my band and our business over the years!

-John

 

Microsoft Windows 10 Update Got You Down?

JohnMHoyt Business, Computer Repair, Computer Security, Computer Service, Computer Support, Microsoft, security, Windows 0 Comments

Microsoft Windows 10 LogoIf you are using Microsoft Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, you have been probably been harassed prompted to install Microsoft Windows 10 by now.

In fact, we have had people call who said that their operating system didn’t even prompt them, it actually gave them a countdown and said it was going to install, and it did. Others claim that they were given no option to cancel the upgrade.

While the upgrade is free, it might not be what you want. It may not work flawlessly with your other installed software or devices such as printers, or you may feel that the data collected by Microsoft could be intrusive.

Whatever the reason you don’t want or don’t need it, once it is installed, your options are to either live with the new Windows 10, or revert back to the previous operating system, or even to go with alternative operating system, such as Linux.

Some people who have reverted back, have lost files, which we have been able to recover for them, but that is one thing to consider.

What if you have not upgraded and don’t want to, what are your options? Corporate versions of Windows, like Pro and Enterprise, have the ability for system administrators to set an entire business to NOT upgrade at all.

Home users have taken measures such as completely disabling updates, which we highly recommend you do not do, since your machine will be vulnerable to malware without the necessary updates.

An alternative that may work for you is to use Never10. It can be found here: Gibson Research Corporation Never10

While not endorsing the software, Never10 is offered from a well respected developer with a long history in our industry. It might be perfect for you.

Should you have questions about upgrading (or downgrading) from Windows 10, or if you have problems with Windows operating systems at your business or home, or need computer or network support, please call us at 864-990-4748.

Malware found on IP cameras

JohnMHoyt Computer Security, IoT, IP Surveillance, security, Technology 0 Comments

compromised_ip_cameraMike Olson has a post entitled “Beware, even things on Amazon come with embedded malware” over on artfulhacker.com about purchasing a few PoE IP Cameras off of Amazon, and how they came complete with malware embedded on them.

The “Internet Of Things” (IoT) offers a lot of opportunity for this to happen. The malware could be intentionally placed there by the manufacturer, where they fully intend to obtain information from the buyers that they use themselves, or sell to marketers or bad guys. Optionally, somewhere along the supply chain the components could be compromised and then pushed out to unwitting buyers.

Many of these products are made in South Korea, China, etc., so who’s to say a government wouldn’t be interested.

It’s not just cameras… IP phones, access controls, thermostats, intercoms, storage devices, media streamers, sensors, appliances, lighting and more are now connected and each one of those devices could either come pre-exploited, or become compromised at some point.

Buying quality products from trusted manufacturers and vendors is one way to reduce the threat, but even then, it’s always best to stay diligent.

Need IP cameras, IP phones or other products in the Upstate / Greenville SC area?  Call us today at 864-990-4748 or use our handy contact form.

Public Service Announcement – It’s Internet Spring Cleaning Time Once Again!

JohnMHoyt Business, Computer Repair, Computer Service, Computer Support, Fun Stuff, Homeland Secure IT, Technology 0 Comments

Public Service AnnouncementSpring has sprung and with it comes Annual International Internet Spring Cleaning Day!

This year ISPs (Internet Service Providers) around the world are increasing their efforts to keep our networks in tip-top shape so that they perform as fast as possible.

Perhaps you may have missed the stories on the news and the endless emails flying around for the last week or so, I will go over the details here.

In the past, Internet Cleaning Day has taken place during a 24hr period, but due to new techniques, ISPs have managed to compress the process down to only 1 hour which they have conveniently scheduled for 12pm to 1pm in each time zone.

So with that said, on Wednesday (2016-04-01), at noon, before you leave your office for lunch, you should take some precautions to protect your electronics and fine furnishings from the chemicals that are blown through the lines. We have found that simply unplugging the network cable from the back of your computer and placing it into a trashcan with a liner is best, but you can use an empty water bottle or even a coffee cup in a pinch. If using a coffee cup, or bottle though, you may want to put a layer of newspaper or other papers under it in case of any splashes or spills.

While normal analog phone systems are not going to be affected, VoIP systems WILL be… This is often overlooked! You should follow the same procedure if your business is using Voice over IP technology. If you are unsure, it is best to disconnect the cables and place in the same container as your network cables.

If you are using wireless devices, simply turning off the radio or disconnecting from all access points should work, but to be on the safe side, we recommend that you turn it off completely.
Should you require assistance with computer, server, network or even your internet spring cleaning in the Greenville, SC or Upstate, SC area, please call us at 864.990.4748

FTC Security Guide for Business Released

JohnMHoyt Business, Computer Security, Computer Support, Homeland Secure IT, Microsoft, security 0 Comments

Security-Checkup

The Federal Trade Commission has released a new document which may be worth a read for anyone looking for a place to start for improving their Business Security.

He’s the rundown of what is covered:

1. Start with security.
2. Control access to data sensibly.
3. Require secure passwords and authentication.
4. Store sensitive personal information securely and protect it during transmission.
5. Segment your network and monitor who’s trying to get in and out.
6. Secure remote access to your network.
7. Apply sound security practices when developing new products.
8. Make sure your service providers implement reasonable security measures.
9. Put procedures in place to keep your security current and address vulnerabilities that may arise.
10. Secure paper, physical media, and devices.

You can find the entire document here.

If you would like to enlist the assistance of professionals to help evaluate or improve your business network security here in the Greenville / Upstate SC area, please call us today at 864.990.4748 or use our contact form.

How are those new year resolutions going for you?

JohnMHoyt Business, Computer Sales, Computer Security, Computer Service, Homeland Secure IT, Microsoft, Microsoft Exchange, Office, Sales, Windows, Windows Server 0 Comments

New Years ResolutionsLast year, when speaking with our clients, business owners and IT directors, I made note of some of the plans they had for their IT infrastructures. Now that we’re already done with the first month of 2016, I started making calls and sending emails to see how many have followed through and offering any assistance we could.

Some of the 2016 “resolutions” were simple, and some were more complex.  Here’s a few of the more common items of interest:

Number one on the list was backing up data. Whether it was to actually get a backup plan in place for the first time, or to start backing up images of servers or workstations in addition to existing file backups, or to increase retention periods or to explore off-site cloud backups, I heard all through 2015 that 2016 was the year people planned on doing that.

Number two was to improve security. That took many forms as well, including updating firewalls, changing anti-virus, tightening policies, encrypting drives, you name it.

Number three was a combination of hardware and operation system / software updates, mostly updating workstations, notebooks and servers to newer machines with the latest versions of Microsoft Windows, Microsoft Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Office.

A ways down the list were adding new technology, such as Microsoft Surface or Apple iPad tablets, increasing network throughput with gigabit switches and faster Wi-Fi, implementing video surveillance or voice over IP phone systems (VoIP).

If you have not begun or completed your 2016 IT plans, why not? What can we do to help you?  Need a source to purchase the equipment from, or help deploying the technology, or both? Give us a call. We can even help with financing through our leasing partners.

Don’t put improving your network security off. Don’t risk aging equipment causing you costly downtime. Don’t risk losing your important data.   We are here for you!

Give us a call at 864.990.4748 or use our CONTACT FORM for more information. We serve the Greenville and Upstate SC area with computer, server and network support, sales & consultation.