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Tag Archives: IT Consulting

Top 10 Benefits of IT Managed Services for Small Business

 

By Beatrice Strnad
Graphics by Kelly Nash

IT managed services will poof tech stress out of the office and make it seem as if problems are solved with a flick of the wrist—like an IT fairy grandmother! As technology becomes increasingly important and therefore expensive, many companies are looking outside their company for IT solutions in order to save money without sacrificing quality. 

Outsourcing IT services is especially beneficial for small businesses. Without proper resources, technology can slow productivity by creating distractions and obstacles. But relying on an internal and high-quality team for IT solutions is as expensive as it is unnecessary for small businesses. Managed IT services can provide better quality IT solutions without the internal hassle or price tag—so have your cake and eat it, too!

Check out the key advantages of using a Managed Service Provider (MSP):

 

10waysitmanagedservices

  1. Save money. Hiring an internal team is expensive, especially when your company doesn’t need full-time support. Managed IT services allow you to pay for technical support based on need. You won’t need to dish out dollars for unnecessary services or an idling IT department.
     
  2. Get 24/7/365 support. You can rely on access to IT solutions around the clock without paying for a 24/7/365 hourly rate or wasting time internally. A good IT fairy godmother is ready to appear when help is needed!
  3. Get expert knowledge. A Managed Service Provider will have a larger breadth of experience. With focused expertise, they will be able to offer IT solutions that your own internal staff might not be aware of.
  4. Competition raises quality. When it comes to technology, a company has to be up-to-date with the latest and greatest. This is especially important for IT managed services. Not only will they be constantly using and updating their own technology services, they will be able to do the same for your business.
  5. Regain focus. When a computer crashed or files are lost, work comes to a halt.  Preventing and fixing these problems requires time and attention. With IT managed services and proactive support, these issues disappear from the office. Outsourcing IT solutions brings the internal focus back to business where it should be, creating a more efficient and productive work environment. 
  6. Improve security. Managed IT services will keep your system up to date, especially when it comes to security. This will keep your system from falling victim to the latest threat. It’s nice having an IT fairy godmother always looking out for you!
  7. Customize support. When it comes to IT solutions, every business has their own needs. No need to pay for anything you don’t need—managed IT support will cater their services to your individual needs as well as offer solutions to problems that arise unexpectedly.
  8. Centralize. Putting all your technology eggs in one basket can solve and prevent a lot of technical issues. A managed network will do just that. Centralizing a system will increase efficiency and performance, as well as make for easier storage and backup.
  9. Get reviewed. Having an outside perspective is always helpful in evaluating performance and systems. Outsourcing IT solutions means “insourcing” outside eyes. IT managed services will be able to give feedback on your business’ current systems and make sure your business is on top of its technology needs.
  10. It’s environmentally friendly. Think of all the electricity you’d save without a whole tech department in-house.  Managed IT services have their own tools, manpower, and other supplies – your company can reduce its carbon footprint.   

Looking for your own IT fairy godmother? Check out the IT managed services SGU Consulting can offer your business.  

 

SGU Now Offering Free Services to New Businesses

 

Attention new small business owners: SGU wants to help you!free IT services

We understand that in these hard economic times, it’s difficult to make your mark as a new business – especially when you’re struggling to establish a technological base. That’s where we come in.  To help give new businesses a boost, we’re offering our technology services …drum roll please…FREE!  SGU will survey the technological infrastructure for your business free of charge – assessing what you have and what you need in order to help your business take flight.

Why are we giving you something for nothing?  

Miles Ramboyong, the founder of SGU, is personally invested in the challenges that new businesses may face: “The odds against small business success are what drive me to succeed and help others to do so. Startups need to be as efficient and productive as possible, as saving time and money go hand in hand. Technology is a tool to help them succeed – it’s a key component in the efficiency of every aspect of a business, starting with the accounting system…I’m rooting for the underdog. As a business owner myself, I want businesses to succeed.”

What will you get?

Our offer means you can take advantage of our free assessment in 1 of 3 areas: Help Desk and Network Support, Audio/Video Installation and Integration, or Web Design.

  1. Help Desk and Network Support: It is important for new companies to have a strong communication platform: this includes hosted email exchange, data sharing and file storage. The internet configuration – usage of a modem, router, server, firewalls, and other devices – will also be vital to doing business. We’d like to  come in with solutions to these network design challenges to help you start off with a solid infrastructure.
  2. Audio/Video Installation and Integration: Conference or Board room setup contains various A/V elements such as TV placement and installation, video conferencing specifications, shades, lighting, and other design components. SGU can examine equipment and configuration to ensure your space is optimized.
  3. Web Design: SGU will create complimentary home page mockups for new businesses. Collecting information – including website goals, style preferences, target market, and overall functionality – will establish the focus needed to produce an effective website and drive revenue.

Where do I apply?

If you are a new business owner, visionary, and/or entrepreneur with a strong business plan, click here to contact us, and simply complete the form.  You may also email us directly at info@sguconsulting.com.  In addition to your business concept, please tell us about your role in the company, a little bit about your business plan, and the technology challenges that you’re currently facing. This way, we can more quickly determine how we can help.  We look forward to working with you and  helping you make your way towards success.

 

How You Can Save Money with a VoIP Service Provider

 

By Dmitriy Kogan

If you’re still using a telephone line to make calls, you might have a few doubts about switching over to a VoIP service provider. Maybe you think the service costs more or that it’s a hassle to install.

Fortunately, we’re here to tell you that’s not the case. VoIP is inexpensive, easy to install, and it will benefit your company in the long run.

What, exactly, is VoIP?voip service provider

Voice-over IP is a service that allows you to make calls over the Internet without having to depend on the current telephone line in your building. Unlike a regular phone service, VoIP treats all calls as local calls—even long distance. The service now makes up over a third of all international phone calls made by companies (and it’s no wonder why).

How can my company benefit from a VoIP Service Provider?

  • Quality IP phones now cost less than $125.00. The only other hardware required is a VoIP router, which for a 15 person company costs less than $750.00.
  • In some cases, a hosted service eliminates the need for an office altogether. Employees can work from home, and the business saves money on rent and utilities.
  • Stay connected with international associates without going over budget. IP video conferencing is a fraction of the cost of traditional video calls.  Studies have shown VoIP can save you up to 90% on international calls.
  • IP faxing allows users to send and receive faxes as either paper faxes or email attachments.
  • Since VoIP is online, you no longer have to pay for the hardware costs that come with a regular phone system.
  • Increase control over incoming and outgoing calls. With a web-based control panel, you can adjust call settings and monitor calls from anywhere – helping to reduce problems such as losing important calls.

In today’s hustle and bustle world, it’s easy to lose track of what’s important. But if you snooze, you’re going to miss out on some great opportunities; while other companies are still shuffling around with their telephone lines, you can call a VoIP service provider and achieve your goals much faster. VoIP service, attractive to employees due to ease of use and added features, allows companies to save big money both on long distance calls and hardware installation.

Once the service is installed, it’s our responsibility. This will help reduce downtime and costs, and you won’t be depending on a Telco truck to arrive in case the service goes down. So what are you waiting for? Contact SGU today, and let us be your official VoIP service provider!

Wired vs Wireless Network Connections: Which is Best?

 

Think about how you connect to the Internet – you’re either wired into the  source (most likely an Ethernet jack, DSL line or cable modem) or you’re  tapping into a wireless connection via a router or mobile device.  Is there one way that’s better?  Faster?  More convenient?  That all depends – each connection is affected by different variables.   Knowing the factors that affect each type of connection – wired or wireless – can help you decide what’s best for you.

There are certain factors that can affect speed of a wireless connection:

  • Interference from other devices
    • Other devices (like a cordless phone or microwave)  can compete with your wireless signal and cause a delay in speed.
  • Too many people on the same channel
    • If everyone on your channel or network is online at the same time, the connection is spread thin – resulting in decreased speed.
  • Distance from the router
    • The further away you are from the wireless router, the slower your Internet connection may be.  Picture yourself ordering dinner for delivery – the restaurant next door will get that food to you faster than the one across town (unless they’ve figured out how to teleport).
  • Type of signal (B, G or N)
    • Your wireless signal comes in different types, going up in quality and speed from B to G to N.  The old school B signal would be like walking from Battery Park to the UWS.  It takes some time.  However, with an N signal, your wireless router delivers speed like a cab zipping up the West Side Highway.

Different factors affect the speed of wired connections:

  • Type of Network Interface Card (NIC)
    • Some NICs are built to support only 10 MB per second while others allow for 1 GB (1000MB) per second.   It’s just as if you got that waiter who’s section is slammed – he doesn’t have the bandwidth to cover all the tables.  He’s working his hardest, but he can only do so much. 
  • The amount of devices between the computer and the modem
    • A firewall and/or switch offer various network benefits (like security and versatility), but those devices could also slow down your connection.  The more barriers the signal has to go through, the longer it’s going to take to get to the destination.

 

Now that we’ve looked at the speed factors of both network connections, let’s talk about stability

The stability of wireless connections is affected by:

  • Interference from other devices
    • Your cordless phone or microwave can decrease wireless stability if they’re positioned too close to your router – just like we talked about above with regards to speed.  They just get in the way.
  • Interference due to building composition
    • Your apartment walls (depending on what they’re made of) can actually serve as a speed bump, source of signal fluctuation or even block wireless signals.  Those living or working in buildings made of concrete walls might experience a significant decrease in signal consistency. 

Wired connections generally are more stable than wireless connections.  The main factor that can affect hard-wired stability is wire quality:

  • When the wire or cable is intact, the Internet connection (and speed) are consistent and the most stable.  Most wires are made of copper, which can degrade over time.  An old or damaged wire can be the cause of many wired connection problems.  Yet when healthy, they generally provide consistent speeds and very little fluctuation.  Wired connections are more reliable because they have fewer interactions with other devices, which also makes them better than wireless connections for downloading and streaming large files. 

 

Another point of consideration for getting online is the effect of wireless technology on  a holistic lifestyle.  Are there potential health risks of wireless signals?  Research has not given us a concrete answer, but it might be worth keeping our finger on the wireless “pulse” for future decisions on network connections.

Overall, the battle between wired and wireless connections come down to stability vs. mobility – which is more important to you?  Wired connections offer the stability of physical wires and may be easier to pinpoint problems with the connection.  Wireless connections offer mobility – you can take your computer or mobile device anywhere the signal can reach.  The main difference is deciding whether or not you would prefer a connection with fewer interruptions or a connection that  you can access from anywhere around your business or home. 

 

Wondering if your wired or wireless connection is running at top speed?  Let SGU perform a free network infrastructure assessment.  You’ve got the equipment, now you should make sure it’s optimized.  After all, you deserve to be running at full throttle.

PC Support: Is a Paid Antivirus Program Worth the Expense?

 

By Sarah Freese
Artwork by Danielle Adams

One of our most-asked questions at SGU is ‘Why should I pay for antivirus software, when so much is available on the Internet for free?’  Well, if you type antivirus software into Google, the search engine will give you over 79 million results.  That’s more than anyone has time to sift through, so our PC support team has come up with the answer.

Antivirus 

What should AV software do?

Antivirus software is, in its most basic form, protection.  It’s protecting documents and accessible information from being infected with malicious data, including viruses, spam, and phishers (programs who collect your data from different websites you are directed to.)  Of the three, viruses are the most damaging – they can wipe away the information on your computer faster than you can blink.  (One virus that infected my computer had a picture of a little pirate who chopped away my desktop, then waved goodbye, taking all of the information with him. Needless to say, I went out and bought antivirus software the same day.)  PCs are the most vulnerable to viruses, but it’s possible for Macs to get infected too – it never hurts to be fully covered.

 

What’s the difference between free and paid packages?

The difference in free software versus paid software is coverage.  Think of free antivirus software like a sample of bug spray – it keeps some bugs away, it keeps you from itching (mostly,) but you still feel like the mosquitoes are going to get you. In the end, it only sort of works.  Free antivirus software is the same.  The free versions cover some of what you want, but not all, and ultimately a lot of your data is unprotected from viruses.  On the other side, paid antivirus software is like a beekeeper’s suit.  It locks out the viruses, spam, and other damaging material, just like the suit keeps the bees from stinging the beekeeper.

Free Antivirus software:                                             

  • Piecemeal protection
  • Cracks in the coverage
  • Lots of unprotected data       

Paid Antivirus software:

  • Comprehensive coverage
  • Locks out viruses, spam, and other damaging material
  • Minimal unprotected data

How do you choose which software you need? 

There are tons of options out there, but how do you know which one is right? Some antivirus software is available in sections – one section protects from spam, one section protects from viruses, etc. This is poor coverage antivirus software.  Purchasing antivirus software in sections would be like purchasing Microsoft Office in individual sections as well – you have Word, but you would also want Excel, Power Point, Outlook, and Entourage to complete the suite.  With a comprehensive suite, the programs can work together to offer you the best productivity through a variety of tools.  It works the same with antivirus – when you have comprehensive coverage, all of the pieces are working together, and nothing slips through the cracks.

Which software does SGU recommend? 

The top three available comprehensive software packages are F Secure, Norton, and Trend Micro.  However, here at SGU we recommend Trend.  Trend has three levels of titanium protection – antivirus, internet security, and maximum security (we recommend maximum security).  We like Trend the best of the three because it cleans everything up for you, but doesn’t get in the way.  The software does its job, but doesn’t affect much of your processing speed (or pop up telling you it’s finished this or that).  It allows you to carry on with your work, silently protecting in the background. 

 

Ultimately, when it comes to antivirus software, you get what you’re willing to pay for.  So, if you want to make sure your data is fully protected from any intruders, you’re going to want to look into Trend Micro Internet Security.  It will be well worth it (we promise!)

 

Find yourself needing more than antivirus coverage?   What about the printer and server issues that slow down your day?  At SGU, we can offer PC support by managing your whole network to give you the ultimate comprehensive IT support.  Check out our whitepaper to see how our managed services might save you from an IT headache!

 

IT Consulting: Let’s Get “App”y on iOS

 

Looking to update your app library to the latest and greatest?  Our very own IT consulting social media expert and Apple enthusiast weighs in on which iOS apps are worth “tapping” into.

By Anna Leary
Artwork by Ivan Polanco

Some people love Apple and some people hate Apple. iAm an iPerson. And iLove apps. Whether it be for the iPhone or iPad, here are my Top 9 iOS apps that I enjoy and find extremely useful: 

top9apps blogimage
1.
 Viber

I have a lot of friends that travel and live in a bunch of different places around the world.  So trying to find a free service to let you call friends internationally was a huge deal for me. That’s when I found Viber.  It’s available on all smartphones and works as long as you have an Internet connection.  The best part about it is that it’s totally free!  And, personally, I think it’s better than Skype for chatting.

2.  Postcard on the Run

Travel frequently?  Recently move to a cool city where you’re constantly taking pictures?  This is the perfect app for easy and quick postcards using your very own pictures!  All you have to do is choose the pic you want to use, choose the contact, write a message and the app is connected with your credit card so you just click ‘send’.  A receipt is automatically sent to you via email and tells you all the details of your postcard.  Such an easy way to brighten someone’s day!  

3.  Vine

This recently launched app is the newest phenomena in social media.  And for anyone that likes making videos, it is probably the coolest app you could use.  All you do is record little snippets of video in a row, and it puts your video together into a little movie.  A bunch of big companies have gotten on board too – you can follow your favorite companies to see what movies they are creating with their products.

4.  Dropbox

I would love to shake the hand of the genius that came up with this idea.  Dropbox lets you upload any type of file from any device, be it an iPhone, laptop, tablet, etc.  What’s cool is that you are able to access them from any other device, anywhere in the world at any time. Technology these days, right? 

5.  SoundHound

I was a big supporter of Shazam… until I found SoundHound.  Hear a song you like in a loud place?  Turn on SoundHound, and within 10 seconds it will tell you which song, artist & album you’re hearing with a link to directly buy it in iTunes.  I’ve had more success with SoundHound than Shazam.. but both are great!

6.   Sworkit Pro

Nobody likes doing the same workout over and over.  If you’re looking to spice up your daily workout, Sworkit Pro is perfect.  For $0.99 you have access to random circuit training workouts to help keep you in shape.  You can choose your workout length and target area and create a perfect personalized workout for you at any time.

7.  Skyscanner

If anyone is like me, I am constantly planning amazing trips in my head.  So to start the process, I always go straight to Skyscanner which scans all flight websites for the cheapest and best deals.  I have found some of the most amazing deals through this app… like flying for $725 roundtrip from Charlotte-London.  Doesn’t get much better than that!     

8. BuzzFeed

Need some entertainment to get through the work day?  Or just trying to keep up with what’s going on in the world of unimportant news?  Well, this app is just what you’re looking for! Buzzfeed is basically a website that compiles all of the latest viral trends into one place.  So if you want to laugh uncontrollably when you have nothing else to do, you should check it out.

9.   Yelp!

Trying to plan dinner for Friday night?  This is the best place to go to get real reviews from real people.  It definitely comes in handy for New York dining, and I’m sure it’s just as useful in any other big city with a million different restaurants.  I picked a restaurant for my birthday using Yelp, and the reviews were extremely accurate.  It makes me more confident in using it again and again.

 

What’s missing here?  The final 10th favorite app to round out the list.  What’s your favorite iOS app?  Be an IT consulting expert, and share your user expertise with the app-loving community in our comments section below!

How Can Computer Maintenance Save Your Computer?

 

By Sarah Freese
Artwork by Danielle Adams

There are many things that computer experts view as dangerous for your system, but the most deadly (the silent killer) is one you wouldn’t expect: dust. Dust is like a terminal disease that builds up slowly in your hardware, collecting more and more particles until it overwhelms your CPU and leads to hard drive failure. And then, because of a seemingly nonexistent problem, you’ve lost all of your pictures, music, files…everything you had stored on that computer. So what can be done about this computer-killer?

 computer maintenance

The best way beat the silent computer killer is to become more knowledgeable about computer maintenance. And the first step of computer maintenance is learning what can cause dust build-up. Given that it’s the worst disease to computers, we want to know how to stop it, right?

 

The number one issue is location.

Desktop computers are called “desktop” for a reason. The CPU is designed to live on top of your desk, where it can run smoothly and inefficiently, free from dust. But more often than not, the average user gets irritated with the big bulky box taking up lots of space, so they exile the CPU to the floor. This is very dangerous, especially for home users. 

The CPU has two fans on the outside of the unit that work as coolants – one pushes air into the system, and one pulls the air out. When the CPU is placed on the ground, usually one or both of the fans is blocked. When that happens, the CPU becomes a beachgoer in August – it cannot get cool no matter what it does. The floor is also dangerous because of pet hair. If your dog tends to shed a lot, pet hair can accumulate inside your CPU and lead to an even bigger mess.

So, the moral of the story is to keep your CPU elevated. You can choose to keep it on the desktop as recommended by manufacturers, or you can follow in the footsteps of many business owners who hang their CPUs below the desk. This way, the CPUs are still elevated, and free from dust, and the desktop has more space.

The second part of computer maintenance is keeping your workspace clean.

A dirty or cluttered desktop is also hazardous for your CPU, as dust particles will settle on papers and books, and float their way to the CPU. So it’s imperative that the space stays clean.

 

But, you ask, why does it matter if dust builds up in my system? What’s really going to happen? Well, we’ll tell you:

1.  Slower Processing

Dust acts as an insulator, and whether your CPU is on the ground or on the desk, accumulating dust can keep your system ‘hot’. Leaving your CPU ‘hot’ over time can not only slow down processing, but also lead to overheating.

2.  Noise

I know what you’re thinking, how can dust cause noise? Well, dust build-up can actually make a CPU’s processing louder – when there’s a lot of gunk stuffed in the CPU, the computer has to try even harder to run efficiently.

3.  CPU Failure

Dust build-up can cause full-on CPU failure. If the accumulation of dust is significant enough, your computer could initiate unexpected shut-downs because there’s a problem with the communication within your CPU.

4.  Accessory Failure

Dust build-up can also cause your keyboard and/or mouse to malfunction. Communication within the machine becomes scattered when dust is present, and you could end up typing a memo that wasn’t anything like you planned.

 

So, now that we know the causes and effects of dust build-up, how do we prevent this problem? The quick fix for a dirty CPU is actually a vacuum cleaner. They are much safer for your machine than an air blaster, because they suck the dust out of the CPU. Air blasters should only be used if the CPU has been taken apart, otherwise you are just blasting the dust farther into your machine.

SGU experts recommend thorough computer maintenance at least once a year. You could be ambitious and try to take the machine apart yourself, clean its pieces, and put it back together. However, 9 times out of 10, a home or business user ruins the motherboard of a CPU as a result of improper cleaning (essentially not knowing what you’re doing). You could end up buying a whole new computer if your cleaning ambitions go horribly wrong. So, if you’re a computer expert – go for it. But, if your computer knowledge is not expert level, SGU has a whole team of experts that are available for you. 

Contact us today for a computer and workstation clean up!

 

Smartphone Tips: Make Your Phone Battery Last Longer

 

By Shay Davis
Artwork by Danielle Adams

Cell phones have progressed tremendously in the past few years with the development of smartphones that do a lot more than make calls. Most people with smartphones use them as mini organizers and computers – making calls and sending texts are just a plus. With[so much technology on our cell phones, our batteries are likely to drain quickly. Luckily, with the right tips, you can prolong your battery life and stay connected all day long.

One of the obvious things that we can do is to spend less time on our phones, but since that is very hard for most of us, there are other options. Turning off certain phone features and using others sparingly could make a huge difference between having to charge your phone after a few hours and waiting until the next day.

phone battery

Here are the best and easiest tips:

1.       Turn your screen brightness down

When smartphones, laptops or tablet screens are bright, it drains the battery more quickly  than if the screen is set at a lower level. It takes a little getting used to having a darker screen, but it’s worth the extra battery time.

2.       Delete Apps/Close them when they’re not in use

We have all downloaded games and calorie-counting apps that do nothing but sit on our home screens.  A battery-saving tip:  delete things on your phone that could be taking up extra memory and that run in the background to operate. When you close an app and leave your phone idle, there could be tons of apps that are still running because you didn’t officially “close” them. Apps use battery power whether or not you can see them using it.

3.       Turn off location services

Many applications use your location to better “cater” to your smartphone experience, but does Facebook really need to know where you are when you post statuses? Apps that constantly search for your location are using battery power on top of just using the app. If there are apps that don’t need to know your whereabouts at all times, turn off the location services. Sometimes you can turn off the location services in the “application settings” on your phone and other times you have to open the app to turn off location services.

4.       Turn off Wi-Fi/ LTE when it isn’t needed

Just like your phone constantly keeping tabs on your location, it could also be taking up power to constantly search for Wi-Fi connections. If you have an iPhone 5, turn your LTE network off and use other networks when LTE is limited in your area.

5.       Turn off/change notification settings

Notifications are notorious for killing phone batteries. If you can deal without constant updates, you might change your notification settings.  Searching manually and turning off push notifications can save your battery, eliminating unnecessary phone searches that use up major phone power.

6.       Shorten your screen timeout

One thing we all take for granted is that our phone will turn off when it knows we’re done using it.  Even though it’s a “smartphone,” it might not be smart enough to maximize its life without you taking the reins.  Shortening your screen timeout could help your phone save battery life.   Change the settings so that your screen goes black sooner when it’s not in use.

7.      Switch to Airplane mode when you’re underground

If you’re a New Yorker, you probably spend a lot of time on the subway.  Unless your service is exceptional enough to defy the cell phone reception odds, you most likely lose service underground.  Even though you’re not showing any bars, your phone might still be searching for a connection.  This eats up major battery power.  If you know you’re looking at a lengthy underground commute, switch your phone to Airplane mode, so it knows it can stop searching for a signal and rest!

 

These are a few tips to help make your phone battery last. If you’re still not getting the results you seek, we might recommend an external backup batteryContact SGU for more information!

 

Are you iOS or Android?: The Best Smart Phone For You

 

By Kalyn Oyer
Artwork by Danielle Adams

Which is the best smart phone?

With the ever-growing battle between iPhones and Droids, operating systems are battling it out as well. The Apple operating system, iOS, is taking on Android, and you might be wondering which one you should choose.

There’s really no right or wrong answer. It depends on you and your personal preferences. Each system has some important characteristics, which we will highlight. Then take our quiz to find out which is the best smart phone for you! 

iPhone v. Android

  • iOS

The iOS operating system is known for having a basic, simple design that makes it very user-friendly. It also boasts high quality apps that the clarity-lover will appreciate, and the variety and number of apps offered has made the phrase “there’s an app for that” part of mainstream culture.

Additionally, the popularity of Apple products offers compatibility benefits.  Your iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are built to work together.  iOS is the operating system for Mac computers, so if you have one already, your Apple devices will easily mesh with this OS.

The other major benefit of the iOS and its compatible devices is security.  Because Apple makes it so you can only download apps from their store and restricts the amount of programming you can do on their products, you won’t install any malware.  But the drawback is you are locked into what they give you.

  • Android

The Android operating system (created by Google) is a little more complicated by nature, but also has more room for personalization and adaptation. It appeals to the “techie” or hands-on person who wants his or her phone to be more programmable.  It has less restrictions in its build, which enables you to use third-party software to make it just right for you.  For example, if you hate your phone’s keyboard, you can download any number of other types, including an actual physical keyboard.  With the iPhone, you’re limited to the iOS stock version.

Another advantage to most Android OS’s is what’s called haptic feedback.  When you touch your screen, they system gives off a tactile vibration that lets you know your touch has registered to avoid over-tapping.  This might be a substantial preference over the iPhone.

Androids are also geared for easy sharing between apps.  The Google-based OS uses one share list to rule all apps, while the iPhone lets each app developer decide who they want to share with, which might limit the list of available programs with which you can interact.  However, what might be even more important is that the Android allows you more email attachment options, regardless of type.  iOS restricts you to video or image attachments, while Android also lets you choose from documents and files stored on your phone.

 

What’s your OS personality?

The operating systems iOS and Android are also closely related to personality, according to an online study by Hunch at http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2012/12/droid-vs-ios/. Our custom quiz uses this study to match you with the best smart phone for you!

  • Quiz:

1) When you go out on the town, you…

      a) Hang with your solid group of friends

      b) Mingle with the crowd

           

2) Which ice cream flavor do you like best?

      a) Chocolate chip cookie dough

      b) Lemon sorbet

 

3) When it comes to music, you…

      a) Tune in on the radio or pop in a CD

      b) Play an instrument or create a playlist on iTunes

 

4) For drinks, you prefer…

      a) A glass of moscato

      b) Magic hat on tap

5) When you run into some extra cash, you…

      a) Save it up for a rainy day

      b) Blow it all right away

 

6) When you are stuck in a long line, you…

      a) Text

      b) Check your email

                     

Did you tally your results?  Here’s the verdict.  If you picked mostly (As):  YOU ARE DOWNRIGHT DROID.  If you picked mostly (Bs):  YOU ARE ALL IOS.  Might be interesting to consider when thinking about your next phone!

Tips on Managing Your Phone

Managing your phone, no matter which personality you are, is something we all need to stay connected throughout the day. One thing people like to compare between Apple and Android is the battery life. Though the topic is up for debate, here are some tricks that will help prolong battery life, no matter what smart phone you have!

  1. Don’t charge your phone all the way. You should only fully charge it every few months for optimal battery quality.
  2. Make sure your screen shuts off after a given time, typically 30 seconds. This will save power when you aren’t using your phone.
  3. Don’t leave your phone sitting out in the sun! Heat can adversely affect battery life and drain it faster.


For more tips and tricks on how to manage your smart phone’s battery power, whether it’s an iPhone, Android or Blackberry, tune in next week!  We’ll go into more detail on power management techniques that can keep you juiced up all day long. 


Network Support: Wireless Routers Made Pure and Simple

 

By Sarah Freese
Artwork created by Danielle Adams

If you’ve ever been in the computer section at Best Buy, then you’ve probably seen the aisle for wireless routers.  You know, the one that everyone avoids because the seemingly random jumble of numbers and letters freaks them out.  A lot of people walk into this section, get confused by the first router they see, and then walk away quickly because they don’t want to be embarrassed that they don’t understand the terminology.  

Well, that’s where SGU can provide network support.  You see, wireless routers are not as complicated as stores like Best Buy and Wal-Mart make them out to be.  If you know what you’re looking for, then the process is relatively simple.

The first thing to decide when looking for a wireless router is whether you would like a single-band or a dual-band router.  This is kind of like choosing which dessert you want at the end of dinner.  The single-band is like a lollipop.  It delivers the sweet you need, it’s simple and low-budget, but at the end of the day, you’re not running to tweet the news to the world.  The dual-band router, however, is that piece of rich, chocolate cake you’ve been eyeing at the dessert counter since you came in the door.  It’s gooey, the frosting is top-notch, and it fulfills everything you wanted in a dessert.   

single vs dual band

Sound simple enough?  Technologically speaking, the chocolate cake, or the dual-band router, is the more sophisticated option of the two types of available routers. Dual-band means that the router is capable of separating older signals from newer signals, while allowing each type of signal to run efficiently.

For example, let’s say your small business has two computers in the office:

  • One computer was purchased in 2004, and runs on a B signal.
  • The other computer was purchased in 2012, and runs on an N signal (newer computers have an updated signal).
  • With a single-band router, the B signal of the older computer would take precedence on the router system, and the computer with the N signal would struggle to do even the smallest tasks, including browsing the Internet and wireless printing.
  • With a dual-band router, the router automatically splits the B and N frequencies, and allows both to run at the highest efficiency. 

What’s an added bonus of the dual-band setup?  Not only can you split signals, but you can also split networks.  Need a guest account at your office?  The dual-band routers give you an extra network for your office visitors – without needing to hand out your own restricted passwords.

Another important factor in router selection is encryption.  This important tool in wireless security may sound like something out of a James Bond film, but it hasn’t been around quite as long as that franchise.  The two main password systems in wireless routers are WEP and WPA.  WEP (or Wired Equivalent Privacy) is an older system, created in 1999.  A few years later, when it was discovered that there were glitches in the WEP system, the WPA system (or Wi-Fi Protected Access) was created.  The WPA system is highly recommended by technological experts (including the network support consultants here at SGU).  It has a higher level of encryption and is all-around safer than its counterpart.

updated encryption image

Now, let’s go back to Best Buy: we’re in the router aisle, now armed with two very important pieces of knowledge about wireless routers.  But then there’s the next dilemma…now that you know you want dual-band and WPA, how do you pick the right router?  There are literally hundreds of routers available in stores and online. But as your network support specialists, SGU recommends the three biggest brands in the business: Cisco, Linksys, and NETGEAR.  Within these three brands, there are also many routers to choose from, but don’t worry, we’re here to help.

 

The third biggest decision customers face in selecting a router is price.  On the shelves, there could be a $40 router next to a $150 router.  They look the same, they’re the same size, so why should you pay over $100 more for the same product? Well, they’re not the same, and we’re going to tell you why.

Purchasing a less-expensive router is like picking the cheapest fast food for your lunch break because you want to keep your spending down.  So, you go to McDonald’s, order a cheeseburger and feel pretty good about your decision.  The burger is decent, more grease than you wanted, and by three o’clock you’re hungry again.  But at least you kept your spending down, right?  The same is true with a cheaper router.  Yes, the price is lower than other options and you are spending less.  However, as with your McDonald’s burger, the quality is not the same.  Cheaper routers accomplish the basic objective – they give you wireless connection, if that’s all you’re after.  They also have a short shelf life (meaning they burn out easily,) and are not consistent (which means more service calls.)  You may end upmcdonalds vs pret buying four different inexpensive routers, when, in the same amount of time, you could have had one higher-quality router.  So you end up spending the same amount anyways.

Choosing a more expensive router is like choosing to eat at Pret a Manger on your lunch break instead of Mickey D’s.  You order the Balsamic Chicken and Avocado sandwich; it’s more expensive but it tastes amazing, it’s great quality food, and it keeps you full.  Similarly, a more robust router has a longer shelf life (estimated around four years,) is very consistent, and completely worth the price you paid for it in both speed and ability.

Now, if you’re still confused (or slightly hungry), don’t worry. SGU Consulting has a hands-on team of experts who will come out to your home or business and help you set up your network system.

conclusion

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