Giving Old Computers New Life: 2 Tips to Speed Them Up

It’s a problem we’re all familiar with. When you buy a new computer, it is lightning fast. It does everything you need and want it to do and more. It boots quickly, it can manage dozens of browser tabs without any trouble, and you never experience it lagging or feeling slow. After a year, you […]

It’s a problem we’re all familiar with. When you buy a new computer, it is lightning fast. It does everything you need and want it to do and more. It boots quickly, it can manage dozens of browser tabs without any trouble, and you never experience it lagging or feeling slow. After a year, you start to notice a small delay. Maybe it’s booting up more slowly and you can’t have as many tabs open. Or programs hitch every once in a while. And it keeps getting worse and worse until your system is a few years old, you throw up your hands in frustration, and buy a new computer.

Most people assume that the computer is just getting worse over time and there is nothing you can do, but there are things you can do to help breathe new life into your aging computer! Here are two things you can do to help improve its performance.

Clean the inside

One of the best things you can do to speed up your computer is one thing that most people don’t even think of: cleaning out the inside. Like any other object, your computer gets dusty and dirty, and it happens inside the system as well as outside.

Computers need to be cool to run, and the hotter they are the more slowly they function. It’s why your computer has all those fans. But over time, dust gets into the system, inhibits the computer’s ability to cool itself, and slows it down.

As such, getting the the dust out of your computer system is the best thing you can do to speed up your system. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you can always hire someone to clean out your computer for you, however, it is really easy to do.

The only tool you need to get lots of the dust out of your computer is a can of compressed air. If you have a desktop, you can open the tower and simply blow out the insides. Make sure to get the dust off all the fans, and also the heatsink attached to the processor, which is a block that looks like a metal sponge. Dust in the heatsink in particular is cause for a slowing machine.

For laptops and for those who are uncomfortable opening your system, you can direct the air through the vents on the computer. This is going to be less effective than opening it up, but it will help.

Get rid of software bloat

Another situation that causes computers to slow down over time is software bloat. Lots of programs run in the background on your computer, and lots will launch themselves when you start up your computer. This slows the speed at which your computer boots.

If you’ve ever looked at your iphone and scroll through all the programs that are running in the background and closed them, this is like that.

Cleaning up software bloat manually is pretty easy, though for people who are uncomfortable doing it manually, there are many pieces of software that can do it as well. CCleaner is a popular choice.
To do it manually on a PC, the process is simple.

  • Go to your system search, type in msconfig and hit enter.
  • Click the startup tab. If you’re on an older version of Windows, you’ll see a list of programs. For newer versions of Windows there will be a prompt to go to the task manager. Click it.
  • Now that you see a list of programs, choose the ones to disable.
  • Some things you should leave enabled no matter what like antivirus software, but most other things can be disabled.

And that’s it! These two things should be quite helpful in increasing the speed of your aging computer, and they’re things that anyone can do. Additional steps can be taken to get more life out of an aging computer; however, they often require hiring an IT professional. If you’d like to learn more, contact us.

When Should A Small Business Consider Outsourcing Their IT?

So you’re running your business and all of a sudden a computer stops working, your printer stops running, or your server becomes unresponsive. What do you do? If you’re like many small businesses, chances are you ask you go to your most computer savvy employee–you know the one–and you ask him to fix it. Or […]

So you’re running your business and all of a sudden a computer stops working, your printer stops running, or your server becomes unresponsive. What do you do?

If you’re like many small businesses, chances are you ask you go to your most computer savvy employee–you know the one–and you ask him to fix it. Or maybe you are the computer savvy one and you hop on Google and search for how to fix the problem. Maybe you have an error code that you can search for or maybe you’re groping around in the dark searching for “flashing red light + printer model” and sifting through dozens of different potential solutions to the problem.

This is an inefficient way to solve a problem, and the time you waste working on solving your IT problem is time that could be better spent running your business.

So when should your business consider outsourcing it’s IT needs?

There are a number of factors that I recommend you consider when deciding if the time is right to outsource your IT needs. At some point, all businesses will reach a size where it makes sense to hire an outside IT firm to manage their IT needs.

System Complexity

The first factor you should look at is the complexity of your IT infrastructure. How many different types of systems do you have in place. If you only have two Mac computers, you probably aren’t at a point where you need to outsource. But once you start adding networked printers, point-of-sales systems, servers, networked phone systems, and other devices, it becomes too much for any non-specialist to keep track of.

System Size

In addition to complexity, there is also the matter of size. The aforementioned two Mac computers might be something that you can handle but what about 10 or 20? Even if your IT systems have a limited variety of devices, once there are more than a few devices, it makes sense to outsource your needs to a managed IT services provider.

Company Workload

When you’re a small business, you have to wear many hats. You’re customer service and accounting and marketing and custodial services. But at a certain size, it makes sense to start outsourcing various tasks, especially high-skill tasks that are not your specialty. Outsourcing things like bookkeeping and IT management frees up time for you to do higher value work. Outsourcing early on high-skill tasks is ROI-positive.

If you haven’t thought about outsourcing your business IT needs, it’s worth considering. If you’d like to learn more about outsourcing your IT, contact us today for a free consultation.

Why Your Business Should Care About Cybersecurity

We live in a world where cyber threats are pervasive. Every day, billions of attacks are launched against businesses, individuals and governments. Many businesses believe that they are too small or too under the radar to have worry about cybersecurity. The truth is that today, everyone needs to care about cybersecurity and take concrete steps […]

We live in a world where cyber threats are pervasive. Every day, billions of attacks are launched against businesses, individuals and governments. Many businesses believe that they are too small or too under the radar to have worry about cybersecurity. The truth is that today, everyone needs to care about cybersecurity and take concrete steps to address cybersecurity issues.

Cybercrime is huge business

Cybercrime is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity over the next few decades. It is one of the largest industries in the world, and cybercrime is projected to cost businesses and people $6 trillion annually by 2021. It will be the single most profitable illicit activity worth more than every illegal drug trade combined.

Attacks are automated and hit soft targets

The vast majority of cybercrime today is fully automated. Automated computer systems and botnets are trolling the internet looking for soft targets that can be hit with minimal or no human action. These automated attacks are generally too simplistic to get into well-maintained and protected IT systems; however, the majority of systems are soft targets because they are not actively maintained and protected.

Cyberthreats pose a more existential threat to smaller firms

Large enterprises are far more likely to have the financial and technical capabilities to weather a serious cybersecurity breach. With money, sophisticated response plans, and distributed systems, it is less likely that an attack will able to completely devastate a large company. For smaller businesses, this is not the case as they will often have single points of failure that can be absolutely crippling.

Addressing vulnerabilities is both easy and inexpensive

Robust cybersecurity does not need to be extremely expensive or challenging. Smaller firms have less elaborate systems that are easier to protect. JPMorgan needs to protect its systems against far more sophisticated threats than a small accounting firm or a boutique hotel. And there are many steps businesses can take on their own that cost nothing.

With the rapid growth in the volumer of cybercrime, it is imperative that businesses of all sizes take seriously the threats they face. A modest investment of time, energy, and resources to building a robust and redundant system with an action plan is necessary.

At Newplan, we work with businesses large and small to help design and manage secure IT systems. Contact us today for a free consultation.

End-Users and the Weather

I want to start with an IT Joke: Q: How is an end-user like the weather? A: Everybody complains about them but nobody does anything about them.   Simply put, end-users are the biggest hole in most security systems. Security breaches are rarely the result of some elite hacker exploiting a tiny hole the size […]

I want to start with an IT Joke:

Q: How is an end-user like the weather?

A: Everybody complains about them but nobody does anything about them.

 

Simply put, end-users are the biggest hole in most security systems. Security breaches are rarely the result of some elite hacker exploiting a tiny hole the size of a thermal exhaust port on the Deathstar. It’s far more likely that an employee clicked on a link in a suspicious email and invited the hacker inside.

Security professionals have known this forever but have rarely done much about it. Plenty of companies have no training program at all. Only slightly better is “herd your users once a year into the break room, keep them awake with coffee and donuts, and give them a “death by PowerPoint” awareness update.” This means users continue to choose bad passwords, install sketchy apps, and sometimes open phishing emails that expose their computers and the whole company’s network to an attack. This last method was the way a recent big attack (WannaCry) got into various systems.

At Netfix, we have begun helping our clients secure the weakest link in their IT security–their users–with an innovative new solution being provided by a company called Knowbe4. Using the same social engineering techniques the criminals use, Knowbe4 phishes end-users. When users open emails they shouldn’t and click on links they shouldn’t, the system can direct them to a website warning them of risky behavior and also direct them to training videos. Moreover, the system produces reports of how the various users behaved allowing the appropriate department (IT or HR most likely) to address the issue.

The reason nobody does anything about the weather is because they can’t. For a long time many IT professionals have treated end-users the same way. They don’t have to anymore.

If you’re looking to improve your company’s IT security, contact us today for a free consultation.