Computer back-ups

Quick and Essential Guide to Backing Up Your Computer

If you’re one of the (many, many) people who ‘know they should back up their computer’ but don’t actually get around to it, you may ask – but WHY should I back it up? Well, to put it simply, catastrophes do happen. Even if you’ve taken all the best precautions against malware or virus attacks, hardware can still fail and human error can still occur. And if this is insufficiently backed-up business data we’re talking about, you are putting your entire business at risk.

There are few things worse than that sinking feeling that says:

‘I don’t have copies of that…’

Sometimes IT experts like our Geelong Technology Group team can recover some or all of your data, but, unfortunately, sometimes it is gone forever. 

What is a computer backup?

A data backup is a second (and preferably third) copy of all of your important files – from photos and videos to documents and emails. A backup can also include a complete copy of your operating systems and programs – this is called an image backup.

This copy (or copies) is then stored elsewhere – perhaps an external hard drive, another machine on your network or to a cloud-based storage system. 

How often should I backup my computer or network?

Essentially, you should be backing up your system every time you put something on your computer you don’t want to lose. In a business environment that means daily. For personal computer usage, it could also mean daily, but weekly or monthly may be more convenient, depending on your computer usage and the importance of your data and files.

What is the best backup storage solution?

Again, this is going to depend on your situation (and we recommend looking at two solutions, so that if one fails – or gets misplaced, for instance – you’ve still got access to your data).

CD or DVD Burning your backups to CD or DVD is a pretty old-school option nowadays, and quite time-consuming, but can still be a reliable choice while you’re looking into other methods.

USB Flash Drive This is an affordable, portable option, particularly for personal computer usage, BUT there are capacity limitations AND they are notoriously easy to misplace!

External Hard Drive These connect to one computer at a time and, with the right software, you can schedule backups and then not worry about them again.

*Note that hard disk drives run the risk of failure. Solid State Drives (SSD) have less risk, but can be more expensive.

NAS (Network Attached Storage) Device A NAS is a server dedicated to saving data. It can backup several computers at once and can be set to automatically backup to the schedule of your choice. This can be a solid option for small to medium businesses wanting to ensure their data is safely stored.

Cloud Storage Storing something in ‘the cloud’ is simply remote data storage accessed via the internet. This means that as long as you have internet access, you will have access to your data. (So if your office gets flooded and your computers have been fried – perish the thought – your business data will still be safe and dry!) A good cloud storage service will also keep your data safe with end-to-end encryption. 

I am definitely ready to backup, but I’m still a little confused…

That’s fair enough! Backup solutions are one of the things we constantly get questions about. We know that determining what kind of computer data storage is right for your home or business – and when and how often to backup – can be confusing, which is why we’re here to help! Our team at Geelong Technology Group can walk you through the options and tailor a solution that exactly meets your data storage needs. And if it’s your business we’re protecting, our multi-layered approach of both onsite and secure cloud backups will ensure your critical information is well protected, giving you complete peace of mind.

Servicing homes and businesses in Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions, give us a call on (03) 5244 3030 and we’ll get you moving on the right backup track.

PC Maintenance Cleaning Your Computer

PC Maintenance: Cleaning Your Computer

We’re here to talk about cleaning your computer, and we don’t mean disk clean-ups and temporary file removals – that’s a whole other subject! We mean physically removing dust and grime for the health of the machine (and for your health too!). 

Why should I clean my computer?

Firstly, your health. We won’t go into the studies about how much bacteria lives on your keyboard and mouse, but let’s just say it isn’t good. In a post-Covid world, we’re all highly aware of how viruses get around, and that keyboard you touch every day is like a super-spreader event waiting to happen.

Secondly, your computer’s health. Dust and grime (and stray crumbs!) will affect a keyboard’s performance and, even more so, your computer’s performance. When it comes to computers, cool electronics are good electronics, but when your system’s cooling fans become clogged with dust, grime and/or pet hair their effectiveness is reduced. This can lead to overheating, which will ultimately slow down your computer and shorten the lifespan of your device. That means money out of your pocket for repair services or early replacement.

How often should I clean my computer?

Different situations will require more frequent cleaning – if your computer tower lives down on the floor, for instance, or if you have pets around – but a good rule of thumb is to give your computer a good once over every six months. (Of course, if you open up the box and discover a dust golem inside, you might want to shorten that span to every four months.)

How should I clean my computer?

Carefully!

Seriously, though, you can follow these steps:

  1. Turn the computer off and unplug all cords, flash drives and the like.
  2. Vacuum the outside of the computer only. (Vacuuming inside can generate static electricity which can damage delicate computer components.)
  3. Remove the panel for access to the computer interior. Use compressed air (meticulously following the instructions on the can) to dislodge visible dust, hair and dirt. *Remember – there may be a lot of accumulated dust: a drop-sheet under your tower while you clean can be a good idea.
  4. Clean up all of that grime you’ve released, then plug everything back in and you’re good to go!

You can also use compressed air in a can to give your keyboard a good dusting – unplug it first, remove the keys if possible and first give it an upside-down shake to remove larger items of debris, then use the air to remove dust and hair. (Note that, as with your computer tower, this can be an unpleasantly messy business – perhaps a job best done outside.)

What if I’m not sure this computer-cleaning-business is for me?

Don’t despair! And don’t just leave it to get worse! Our team at Geelong Technology Group have tackled some impressively dusty computers before, and we’re happy to do it again. We’re skilled at preventative maintenance, and we can let you know if your tower just needs a quick dust or a thorough deep clean.

From our workshop in Belmont, we help individuals and businesses in Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions – so let us know today if you need a hand with getting your personal computer (or multiple office computers) spick and span.

(03) 5244 3030

support@geelongtechnology.com.au

Firewall

What is a firewall?

When it comes to computer tech speak, the term ‘firewall’ is old-school – it was first applied to computer technology in the early 1990s. And when a word has been kicking around for some thirty years, we’re pretty much all familiar with it. But do we all understand what it means? What exactly is a firewall?

Defining a firewall

In building construction, a firewall is used to protect one part of a building from a fire in another. Using this as an analogy, a computer firewall is used to protect one (trusted) part of a computer network – generally your home computer or your business network – from another (less-trusted) part – ie the internet or a wide area network (WAN) such as across a university or across government departments. The firewall – either a piece or software (or hardware, in the form of an external unit) – filters all network traffic between the ‘inside’ (safe) and the ‘outside’ (likely not safe!).

So what does the firewall do (and not do)?

The job of a firewall is to enforce rules about what network traffic can enter or leave your personal computer or company network. Generally the rules are designed to let the ‘good’ traffic through (that important email you’ve been waiting for! that video of dogs home alone you’ve been told about!), while keeping the ‘bad’ traffic out (hackers! malware!). A large part of setting up a firewall can be configuring these rules. For a personal computer this may be relatively straightforward, but setting up the rules for a larger business, with a number of servers, users and/or departments, can be far more complicated.

Most firewalls also include a reporting mechanism of some kind – logging external and internal network attempts to penetrate the system.

This all sounds great, of course, but it’s important to remember that a firewall cannot scan the system for malware or perform actions with virus-infected files. Various anti-viruses are used for these purposes. And it is very important to remember that the firewall cannot protect your computer or network from computer viruses that come from infected media – an infected program on a USB flash drive, for example.

What now?

A firewall, if implemented correctly, can essentially make your computer or business network invisible to the ‘internet bad guys’. So:

  • Ensure your firewall is up and running (check in Control Panel/Security in Windows or System Preferences/Security on a Mac). Get in touch if you have any questions!
  • If you’re shopping for a firewall to protect your computers and the information on them, you want the firewall software and/or hardware to be effective and appropriate for your requirements. Talk to us about a system tailored to your needs – our certified IT specialists can walk you through the options and partner your business going forward with IT support and managed server solutions.

With decades of IT experience – yep, we were there in those early days of the firewall! – our local team at Geelong Technology Group are here to answer your questions and to take your business to the next level (safely and securely). We are conveniently located in Belmont, Geelong, and we also offer on-site support to the Greater Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions, or remote support if you’re further afield. Contact our experienced IT technicians on (03) 5244 3030 or email sales@geelongtechnology.com.au for quality advice about your personal or business computing needs.

  

Phishing

Spotting & Avoiding Phishing Attempts

We might just about be settling into the ‘new normal’, but you’ve probably heard the warnings that financial scams have been on the rise during the coronavirus outbreak. Indeed, according to the ACCC’s Scamwatch site, thousands of scams exploiting our anxieties over Covid-19 have popped up over the past 12 months. Of course, it’s not just fake Covid-19 cures we need to watch out for, but all of those other attempts to obtain our sensitive personal information (user names, passwords, and bank account or credit card numbers), too. Sometimes, though, when you’re going about your daily life, it can be hard to make a snap judgement about what’s a scam and what’s genuine.

What is phishing?

Phishing is one of the most common attacks performed by cyber-criminals. It involves a scammer contacting you – often by email, but also via social media, a phone call or a text message – and pretending to be from a legitimate business and asking you to verify or update your personal details. Alternatively, the message may notify you of ‘suspicious activity on your account’.

Remember: Phishing messages are becoming ever-more sophisticated and if you click that link, you’re likely to be taken to a website that looks like the real deal (but that will have a slightly different address).

The Australian Cyber Security Centre lists various scam types – including fake fine scams from law enforcement bodies and fake bill scams from power or gas utilities companies. It’s a good idea for you and your business to keep up with what is out there and the various scams that are doing the rounds.

Remember: Scam emails can also be attempts to install malware or ransomware on your computer. For more on malware attacks, read up on our prevention tips here.

Don’t be a victim!

  • Never – never ever – click a link to your bank or financial institution from an email. Actually, many security experts would argue that you should never click links in emails, ever.
  • Don’t give out your passwords: your password is not something individuals or companies should ever ask for directly. (Oh, and when it comes to passwords, please make them strong – abcd1234 is not an option.)
  • If you are at all suspicious about a message, contact the person or business directly – they’ll let you know if the correspondence is legitimate.
  • Ignore scary-looking website pop-ups that say you have a virus (and get yourself an adblocker to avoid these annoying, anxiety-provoking scams).
  • Use a spam filter to block the majority of email phishing scams from ever reaching you.

Remember: If you think you’ve given over confidential information, contact your bank or financial institution immediately. We also recommend that you report scams via the ACCC Report a Scam page.

Need more help? 

Geelong Technology Group have experienced IT technicians ready to help you avoid (or – if it comes to that – deal with the fallout from) phishing emails and other computer scams. We can tailor a security suite – including antivirus software and anti-spam filtering – to your business requirements, design multi-layered back-up solutions and provide virus, spyware and malware removal. Helping homes and businesses in Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions with their computer security is what we love to do, so give us a call today on (03) 5244 3030.

 

virus attack

Preventing malware virus attacks

Our Geelong computer technicians are talking about Malware in this week’s blog.

Malware may have been a term you have heard before but you find yourself just nodding and agreeing because you have no idea what it is… is it a little gremlin crawling in my computer?

Well, yes! It is essentially a little gremlin in your computer wreaking havoc. Malware (or in this blog also known as the gremlin), is computer software programs that compromise computers, mobile devices or tablets. There are various types of malware such as computer viruses, adware, spyware and more. No matter how it appears on your device, all malware wreaks havoc on a computer and its network. Check out our previous blog about networking.

What damage can malware do?

Typically, malware is installed without your knowledge, causing several unpleasant issues, including impacting your computer’s performance, mining your device for personal information, stealing passwords, deleting files and rendering your computer and connected hardware inoperable.

Signs of a malware or virus infection

With technology rapidly advancing, no one is safe from malware, virus infections or spyware. Therefore, our team at Geelong Technology Group understands that it is essential to have anti-virus protection on your computer and understand the signs of a malware attack so you can deal with it immediately. Some signs of a malware attack are:

  • Pop-ups that won’t go away or are difficult to close
  • Flashing, brightly coloured (and usually annoying) pop-ups
  • Sudden lack of storage space
  • Slower than normal computer

What do you do when you suspect a malware attack?

Often portrayed as one of the worst things that could happen to your computer, a computer virus, spyware, adware or any type of malware isn’t right; however, it is relatively common to have your computer infected.

Take the following steps if you suspect a malware attack:

  1. Disconnect your device and any hardware connected to your device (e.g. printers, scanners) from your internet.
  2. Use a different computer or mobile device to check all your online banking and personal accounts you linked to from your infected device for unusual activity. If possible, we suggest putting a freeze or hold on your banking accounts just to make sure they are safe.
  3. Talk to IT experts at Geelong Technology Group. We will assess the device and remove the virus to get your computer back up to speed.

Preventing a malware or virus attack

Ideally, you want to prevent a virus attack, so having a proper (and working!) anti-virus program on your computer can make a difference. If you are unsure if your anti-virus protection is working, have the IT experts at Geelong Technology Group install, update and verify your anti-virus protection. At Geelong Technology Group, we recommend ESET Smart Security or Bitdefender for all home and businesses around Geelong, Surf Coast, Bellarine Peninsula and surrounding regions.

Keep your business safe and secure with these steps:

  • Have working antivirus software
  • Run regular scans of your system
  • Backups your files
  • Monitor your behaviour (i.e. don’t click on suspicious emails or ads)
  • Have strong passwords that do not include personal information.
  • Review your banking and personal accounts regularly to make sure there are no suspicious posts.
  • Avoid using unsecured WiFi networks.

Engage the best IT experts in Geelong

If you suspect your computer is infected, drop by our Belmont workshop or give us a ring on 03 5244-3030 immediately for IT support.  We will sort your computer, laptop or tablet out.

With decades of IT experience helping homes and businesses in Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions with anti-virus protection, we know the area well.

 

Network

What is computer networking and why do I need it?

From 1 to 1,000 computers (and more), our team at Geelong Technology Group set up home and business computer networks that run without a hiccup.

What is networking?

Broadly defined, a network is two or more computing devices joined together that communicate with each other. Whether they are joined physically with cables or via a wireless connection, a network is two (or more) devices such as computers, laptops, tablets or printers that send information back and forth between them. 

Networking technology is evolving rapidly. In the past, computer networks had to be joined by physical cables. In contrast, nowadays, networks can be wireless spread out among different locations connecting employees across Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast, Victoria, and overseas. With so many people working remotely or at home, it is essential to have a flexible yet secure computer network to keep your business safe and functioning optimally.

Why do you need a computer network for your local Geelong business?

Faster, stable internet, increased efficiency and flexibility and saving money – the advantages of networking your business computers are numerous. 

Increase accessibility and productivity

With the ability to update and save information in real-time on any networked device, you can ensure everything is up-to-date. Networked databases allow multiple users to update client information simultaneously, saving time while preventing errors.

Save money 

Cut costs by having your employees share network-connected hardware such as printers, scanners or copiers. Additionally, have the IT experts at Geelong Technology Group set up network-connected software programs (e.g. computer programs your company uses), allowing multiple users to access it simultaneously, keeping costs down while driving productivity up.

Data security

Maintain your business’ data security, no matter where your devices are used. Protect your business and ensure all access points that cyber criminals may use are protected with antivirus programs.

Flexible work arrangements 

Allow multiple people to update, edit and manage documents even if they are not in the same physical location while maintaining your company’s data security.

Get the best computer network for your business

Whether you need a complete overhaul of your business’ computer network, creating a tailor-made computer network or just want a more reliable internet connection, Geelong Technology Group is here for you. Servicing Geelong, Bellarine Peninsula, Surf Coast and surrounding regions, Geelong Technology Groups are certified IT specialists offering computer networking solutions, IT support and business server solutions. Contact our experienced IT technicians on (03) 5244 3030 or email sales@geelongtechnology.com.au for quality advice about computer networks.

How to Improve Your Teams Productivity While Working From Home

work-from-home

Here at Geelong Technology Group during the COVID-19 lockdown, we’ve been busy helping our clients setup their IT needs to support employee’s working from home. When it comes to IT, things can go wrong from time to time so our remote support options have been increasingly popular at this time.

We are now working with a number of companies with remote teams so we thought we’d put together some suggestions of what we see is working well for companies and employees at this time.

Working from home can have many benefits for companies and employees. Below are some tips we trust you will find useful. We are also happy to discuss, your specific needs and how these tips may apply to your business.

Setup a Dedicated Workspace

Encourage your remote team to set themselves up with an appropriate workspace so they can ‘go to work’ and be productive when they are working, and switch off when the work hours are complete. Obviously some homes may have limited space however it’s important your remote team establish a comfortable area to work from that’s equipped with required technology and business systems. They are likely to need a strong Internet connection, PC or laptop, comfortable chair and desk and peace and quite (as much as possible in a home setting).

Invest in Quality Technology

It may not be wise to rely solely on your remote team to use their own home technology for business purposes. If they have an old desktop or laptop it may not have the appropriate security measures in place and put your business at risk. If you anticipate your work at home arrangements to be temporary, you may need to make do with what you can for now. It would be worth booking our professional IT consulting so we can help your team to setup their technology. We can also provide recommendations and advice where appropriate. There are many technology options to consider, for example time management software are a popular option to track tasks and productivity. It’s also worth investing in great quality headsets for your team members so they are well equipped for video calls and can also use them to listen to music and eliminate noise from the home setting.

Set a Routine

Discuss with your team members what working hours will best suit your needs and theirs. It may be advantageous for your remote team to work early in the morning, have a break during the day to help their kids with home schooling and then work in the evening. Working outside the common hours may mean your team is able to make use of a faster, more reliable Internet connection when not trying to share it with an entire household. It’s also important to stick to a schedule within reason so you and other remote team members know when they are working and when communication is most appropriate. It can also help your team establish a sense of routine by getting out of their PJ’s and dressing ready for work. A great way to encourage this without sounding like a dictator is scheduling a video call to start the working day. This will encourage your team to get dressed and ready for the day ahead.

Encourage Work/Life Balance

When working at home, it’s hard to switch off from work tasks, which can become stressful. Encourage your team to take breaks for exercise and to look after themselves and loved ones. It can also be a great way to introduce some fun into the day which could otherwise be quite stressful for your remote team for a multitude of reasons. There are some great exercise and wellness apps that you may encourage your team to be a part of if you if that’s something they are interested in. For example, step-counting apps can be a great way to create a sense of team bonding, even when your team members are apart. Exercise boosts endorphins, increasing happiness while also improving productivity.

Keep in Communication

There are many online communication platforms that we are more than happy to discuss with you. The key is to find tools that are easy to use, intuitive, create a sense of connection and work for your particular business objectives. A simple Zoom or Skype check-in call at the end of each work day can be a great way to keep your team connected and to discuss work in progress along with any potential challenges. There are also many popular web based project management systems we are happy to discuss with you. We can also set you up with VoIP phone systems, which are a fantastic way to communicate with the outside world through regular phones. We can provide VoIP handsets for your team members to use as landlines just as if they were working from a physical office. For the short-term we can also setup your team with “soft phones” that run from your teams laptop or desktop.

Check in With Co-Workers Frequently

Social media and other digital distractions are likely to be a huge challenge for any remote team member at this time. Isolation means many of us are craving human connection and the closest thing we have right now is social media. While you may not be able to stop your team from using social media, you may consider ways to fulfil the desire for human connection by personally checking in with your team members. Check to see how they are going and relate to them on a personal level, not just a task-oriented conversation. Encourage your remote team to stay in communication with their co-workers too. If there are mental health concerns, they may be more comfortable communicating with colleagues that with you the boss.

Conclusion

It may sound counterintuitive however; many clients have noticed an increase in productivity with team members working from home. We’re curious to see how that develops with parents now home schooling their children. In any case, we suspect many companies may discover they love the remote team model of desk-based work and choose to continue to work from home long after the Coronavirus. There may be other companies who choose to return back to normal office based working arrangements, and others may work with a combination of work from home and office based arrangements. In any case, here at Geelong Technology we are optimistic about the future and look forward to supporting more local businesses with their managed IT support and remote support needs.

Apple $39 Battery Replacement Program – Ends 31st December 2018

Apple $39 Battery Replacement Program - Ends 31st December 2018If you own an iPhone 6 or later and have issues with your phone’s battery life, now’s the time to visit us and take advanage of the reduced price battery replacement program.

Last December, Apple acknowledged that it had been quietly “throttling,” or lowering, the performance of older iPhones. Apple stated the goal was to preserve battery life on those older phones and prevent them from shutting down unexpectedly. Apple Battery replacements previosly had cost upwards of $129 and will revert to this pricing after the 31st December 2018 unless the program is extended.

So if your iPhone’s battery life is shorter than you’d expect, take advantage of the last opportunity to get your battery replaced at our Apple Authorised Service Provider location (mostly a same day repair) before the program expires and your left with a phone that does not last the day.

Before bringing your device in store for the battery replacement it is advised that you complete a backup thorugh your iTunes or iCloud. Once in store our staff will perform a battery diagnostics test and advise you of the repair process.

We can be contacted on (03) 5244 3030 to check stock avaiability and estimated time for repair. We offer the Battery replacement service from Monday through Friday only.