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Category: Upgrades

More than a million people have signed up to test Windows 10

Thinking about giving the Windows 10 preview build a shot? You aren’t the only one — according to Microsoft, its Windows Insider Program hit one million registrants over the weekend, giving a lot of potential users access to the latest build of its next-gen operating system. Joining the Windows Insider Program doesn’t necessarily translate to an installed preview, but it is the only way to get access to Windows 10 currently. While it’s not clear how many of those millions have installed the OS, Microsoft says it has received over 200,000 pieces of feedback through Windows’ native feedback application.

Microsoft has reason to believe that most of that feedback is from extensive use, not just folks dipping their toe in the OS: its stats indicate that less than half of all installs are running on virtual machines, meaning most of its users installed Windows 10 natively. It also learned that most users are using more than seven apps a day. The team says that it’s currently trying to categorize and process all of the feature requests and feedback its receiving, and promises to continue to revise and improve the OS before launch.

via More than a million people have signed up to test Windows 10.

Is it time to upgrade?

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Is it time to upgrade? This is probably the most frequent question I get from my clients. And for good reason. It’s not always easy to tell if upgrading makes sense. Not even for IT Pros.

The reason is simple: It’s complicated. There are a lot of factors which have to be considered when deciding to upgrade, and there are many questions you should ask yourself when planning for your future IT needs.

The first thing to consider when evaluating an upgrade is Cost. But even cost is more complex than you might think.

How much does it cost now? What is the cost of support/maintenance over the life of the product? How long should I expect it to last?
What about the costs of lost productivity if I DON’T upgrade?

What about less tangible costs related issues:

  • incompatibility between versions
  • poor performance of older versions
  • security issues due to reduced/absent vendor support
  • increased support/maintenance costs – older stuff takes more time to keep running

Besides costs, there are also risks. The risk of failure increases with the age of any product. Older stuff breaks. Bottom line.

Besides risk of failure, there are also security risks, especially when we’re talking about software. Older software & hardware drivers are updated less frequently than current versions. Really old software that is out of support may not be updated at all, which can be a problem due to both security and reliability concerns. Some older software may not work properly on newer operating systems, and can pose a risk of data loss due to crashes. Suffice to say you are taking a big risk by using unsupported products on your network. Bottom Line: If you can afford not to, don’t.

Sometimes the question of upgrading is simpler because you might HAVE to upgrade. Forced upgrades are commonplace, and although you may not actually be “Forced”, once you’ve built your company procedures around a piece of technology, you cant always just switch and stop using it.

After technology has been deployed across your business, change can become expensive. Vendors know this, and they’ve learned that most companies will choose to upgrade rather than change software that everyone in the company uses. But even though the costs to deploy a new solution and provide training are more expensive than the upgrade, if your business depends on numerous programs, the cost of upgrades can quickly become a multi-headed monster…one that feeds itself.

The typical scenario goes something like this:

You have to upgrade to the current version of Quickbooks because their payroll feature is no longer supported on the older versions. The new version of Quickbooks won’t run on Windows XP, so now you have to upgrade all of your Quickbooks workstations to Windows 7. Your time keeping program won’t run on Windows 7, so you now have to upgrade that program too, but of course the new version won’t run on Windows XP, so you the rest of the PCs on your network now need to be updated to Windows 7.

Next, you find out that your older version of Office 2003 is crashing due to incompatibilities with some of the newer software as well, so now you also need to update to Office 2013. File format changes between Office versions mean the Office 2013 upgrade needs to be deployed companywide to keep everyone on the same version.

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So you bite the bullet and start upgrading to Windows 7 and Office 2013, in addition to Quickbooks. You buy some new PCs, and upgrade some others hoping to get a few more years out of them. Several $1000s into the upgrade process, someone points out that the older workstations, to which you already upgraded with more RAM and larger drives to allow the OS upgrade, are now being brought to their knees by the resource hungry newer versions of software.

Oh yeah, and two of your printers (you know, the ones you’ve had for years, that print perfectly and that you have 2+ year’s worth of toner for) are no longer supported under Windows 7.

So before you know it you’ve replaced all of the PCs on your network, upgraded all of the major software packages, and replaced a couple of printers that didn’t need replacing. Worse yet, you’ve also just set yourself up to repeat the process about 5-7 years from now.

By the time all is said and done, the whole Upgrade question can get pretty confusing. Figuring out what to upgrade can be a daunting task, and without proper planning the expense and risks only increase.

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So what do you do? Here are some guidelines.

  • Keep all software up to date with regular security patches and updates.
    • Most major vendors offer frequent software and firmware updates.
    • Out of date software escalates risks.
    • Windows Updates and Service packs ensure security and productivity
    • Productivity apps that are used frequently business-wide, represent the greatest risk of failure or security breach, and must be kept current .
  • When version upgrades are required, plan to upgrade ALL PCs at once
    • When all systems are on the same versions, ensured compatibility means better productivity
    • Support costs are reduced when software platforms are uniform across your business
  • Don’t run unsupported software.
    • If the vendor is no longer updating the older version, upgrade to the new version.
    • If the vendor is no longer offering upgrades, consider an alternative product/vendor.
  • Avoid upgrading Operating systems by instead replacing PCs.
    • OS Upgrades are costly.
      • Purchase price of software license
      • Cost of support to backup system, install upgrade and resolve issues
      • Cost of hardware upgrades to meet OS requirements and ensure performance
        • RAM/Hard drive Upgrades
        • Peripheral upgrades
      • Reduced productivity: diminished performance resultant to pairing last generation hardware with upgraded OS
    • Unless you have 25+ PCs, purchasing PCs with OS license is cost effective comparable to Enterprise Licensing
      • Preinstalled OS saves setup time
      • OEM licenses are much cheaper than a retail license for Windows
  • PLAN. PLAN. PLAN.
    • Budgets are your friends.
      • When purchasing a new PC, consider the anticipated useful life
      • Develop a schedule to replace ALL PCs regularly that meets your budget
    • Choose wisely.
      • Choose Vendors for Warranty and Support as well as features and price
      • Avoid Custom software and hardware solutions if possible
        • Custom software can be a nightmare to maintain, and vendor support may vary.
        • Custom vendor support contracts can be expensive, and the hardware/software may become unusable without support. Third party support may be difficult/impossible to find.
        • What happens if your developer/system builder goes out of business?
    • Develop a long term plan for the ongoing replacement of all IT equipment
      • Waiting until everything is really old can be a disaster.
      • Generally, a 4-7 year rotation schedule is appropriate for most IT equipment
      • Version consistency for Operating Systems /Software = reduced support costs and increased productivity

So what now?

As you may have heard, support for Windows XP officially ended earlier this year. So, should you update those Windows XP computers now? Or replace them?

Well, I know your old Windows XP pcs have already been replaced/upgraded, right? I’m sure you are NOT wondering how big a risk it might be to put off the upgrade awhile. I mean, if Microsoft says you need to buy 20 new PCs this year, you’re just gonna do it, right? You don’t want to piss of the MotherShip in Redmond now, do you?

Well, let’s say you DON’T have an unlimited IT budget…You probably have some tough choices to make.

          

To help put the question in perspective, ask yourself these questions if you are debating about the XP upgrade:

  • Do you run any HIPPA compliant software or keep sensitive data on your networks? – YES, UPGRADE
  • Do you process credit cards, work with financial data, or pay bills online? – YES, UPGRADE
  • Do you make purchases or use Internet Banking? – YES, UPGRADE
  • Is Internet Explorer 9 or greater required for any websites you use frequently? – YES, UPGRADE
  • Is your system slow and it seems like you are always waiting for it to catch up? – YES, UPGRADE
  • Do you use Internet Explorer to surf the Internet? – Switch to Chrome or Firefox or UPGRADE
  • Is any of your CURRENT software UNSUPPORTED on Windows 7? – YES, EVALUATE. Additional software upgrades may be required.
  • Are all of your printers and peripherals compatible with the new software? – YES, UPGRADE; NO, Evaluate extra costs.
  • Will the upgrade cause any other problems? -YES, Evaluate. Obviously, every situation is different.

Still don’t know what to do? Let us evaluate your situation and help you figure it out.  That’s what we do best.

Proactive Computing – Intelligent IT Solutions and Support.

5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Check Yours Now

5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Check Yours Now.

5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Check Yours Now

According to the Daily Dot, nearly 5 million usernames and passwords to Gmail accounts have been leaked on a Russian Bitcoin forum. Here’s what you should know.

The list has since been taken down, and there’s no evidence that Gmail itself was hacked—just that these passwords have been leaked. Most sources are saying that lots of the information is quite old, so chances are they were leaked long ago—though others are claiming 60% of the passwords are still valid (not to mention really, really horrible).

5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked, Check Yours Now

To check if your password was one of the leaked, plug your Gmail address into this tool (which also checks against recent Yandex and Mail.ru leaks). If you’re paranoid, you may also want to change your password at this time. As always, make sure you use a strong password and enable two-factor authentication on  your account. Hit the link to read more.

Update: Looks like the IsLeaked tool is having some trouble due to unusually high traffic—if you get an error message, try reloading the page or checking back later.

5 Million Gmail Passwords Leaked to Russian Bitcoin Forum | The Daily Dot

Apple’s next iPhone event confirmed for September 9th

Apple’s next iPhone event confirmed for September 9th.

In case you haven’t heard. iPhone 6, bigger screens, smart watch, hype and ballyhoo.

 

OneNote for Android

OneNote for Android Adds Handwriting Input, Tablet Support, and More

OneNote is a great tool from Microsoft, and is included in most versions of the Office suite.

If you use an Android device, these enhancements, many of which are really long overdue, should really make OneNote rock.

Microsoft has updated its awesome note-taking tool, OneNote, with handwriting support and more formatting options on Android. There’s also a new Android tablet app, and the Windows full-screen app adds printing and a few other features. Read more on Venture Beat.

via OneNote for Android Adds Handwriting Input, Tablet Support, and More.

Looking Ahead To Windows 10 | TechCrunch

A preview of Windows 10 will be made available in either September or October, according to ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley. That timeline keeps ‘Threshold’ — Windows 10’s codename — out into the public market as a finished product likely in early 2015.

The Windows 8 era isn’t merely closing, it’s racing to an end.

via Looking Ahead To Windows 10 | TechCrunch.

Add Disk Space – Drop in a new drive

Add Disk Space – Drop in a new drive – Tips and Tricks

Your C:\ drive is at 93% capacity. Your two year old PC is crawling, growing slower each day with each new silly-kitty-cat-meme or stupid-human-reality viral video is added to the cache.  It seems to almost groan under the load, fans whirring, hard drive grinding, trying to shuffle files around to make enough space for Windows to run.

Click. Wait….for…it..still waiting… waiting. You start to wonder, is it time for a new PC already? Or maybe all you need is a new hard drive to add some space?  But that would mean…going inside your PC. *cue scary music*

Opening your computer can seem like a daunting thing. All those wires and fans and blinking lights…you’re bound to screw SOMETHING up if you start poking around in there, right?

Well, rip back the veil and take a peek…these days it’s not really all that hard and there’s not too much to be afraid of. You can add a TB or two and then clear out your C:\ drive. An overnight deep defrag after the whole schabang will make a big difference too, especially if you move a bunch of data from the system drive.

One last point: When choosing a drive, don’t skimp. If you think you’ll never need more than 1 TB, get a 1.5 TB (or bigger) drive. Data grows exponentially. Last but not least, choose a  high performance SATA 6.0 Gb/s drive that is 7200 RPM and has a 32 MB (64MB even better) cache or larger. These days, the hard drive is the slowest component in a PC, and optimizing your hard disk can make a big difference in your user experience…especially as time goes on and your disk fills up!

▶ How to install a new hard drive in your desktop PC.

The Above ‘How To’ Article Courtesy of
Marco Chiappetta
 at PC World
@MarcoChiappetta