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Windows 7 Update causing problems

We’ve had a few reports of users having difficulty booting Windows 7 today. Even one of our office computers had this problem. We’re not sure yet if it was a Windows 7 update, but enough people are having this problem, that we suspect so. And are putting this information out without a full investigation into the issue to try to be as helpful as possible.

The problem is manifesting itself by the Windows 7 computer not finishing up the booting process. It will start, but the only thing displayed on the screen will be your mouse pointer on a black background. You can move the mouse pointer around the screen with no problem, but the computer doesn’t finish booting.

Trying to reboot into the other options (Safe Mode with or without Networking, Safe Mode with Command Prompt) doesn’t help. You will get the same screen with moving mouse pointer.

The solution we have found requires booting with a Windows 7 Installation CD. Once the Windows 7 Installation CD starts to boot, you’ll need to press a key to have it continue.

Once you get to the first screen, instead of installing Windows 7, click the option at bottom to “Repair your Windows installation.” The program will search your hard drive for Windows installations (will probably find just the one). Select that installation and then Next. You will now be able to run “System Restore” to restore your system back to the previous restore point. (Hopefully you have System Restore turned on.)

After System Restore is finished, your computer should boot with no problem.

If your system still doesn’t boot after this, you will need to contact us for a service call.

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(This is an urgent post intended to get needed information into users’ hands as quickly as possible, and so we haven’t taken the extra time to enumerate every step or provide screen captures.)

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners, Tech Tips for Computer Users

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Last minute tips before Hurricane Matthew

 

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew threatens central Florida

As Hurricane Matthew bears down on the east coast of Florida, the size of the storm means that some effects will be felt in Central and West Florida.

If you haven’t prepared your business (or your home) computers, here is a short list of tasks you should check before leaving the office today.

  • Be sure your backup(s) are current and verified. (If you have our Managed Backup Service, we do this for you.)
  • Test any backup power supplies (UPSes) that you have to be sure they are operating.
  • Turn off and unplug any non-essential devices you have that you won’t need to access over the weekend, to protect again, power surges and flooding. (If you are a Managed Service client and wish us to remotely shutdown your servers, that is an included service, just create a ticket and let us know.)
  • Ensure that any essential device that is going to be left on is plugged into either a surge protector or a UPS.
  • Where possible, move surge protectors and computers that are on the floor up off of the floor in case of flooding.
  • If you have a concern about leaking roofs, place plastic over your computers and printers.
    • NOTE THAT any device covered with plastic should be turned off to prevent possible overheating.

During the storm you should be with your family and caring about them. Don’t be worrying about your IT because you didn’t plan ahead!

 

Stay safe, and we wish everyone the best.

 

(Didn’t plan ahead? Run into trouble? We provide 24 hour support.)

 

Posted in: Business Continuity, Disaster Recovery, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Protecting consumers – security tips from the FTC

Data Security

If you breach a client’s trust of you with their information, losing the client will be just the start of bad effects.

Start with Security

Your clients trust you with a certain amount of information regarding themselves and their companies when they do business with you. Maintaining the security of that information is imperative for several reasons. First of all, it’s the law. Federal, state, and local laws all exist to ensure that you protect your clients’ information, just like your information gets protected by your vendors. More importantly to your bottom line, though, is that a security breach breaks the trust that your clients have put in you, and when the word gets out– and it will– potential clients won’t be flocking to your doorstep… they’ll be searching for somewhere their information will be secure.

This post from TechRepublic is a high-level overview of 10 tips from the FTC on how to protect consumer data that should be implemented on every business network.

Do you need help with the nuts-and-bolts technical aspects of how to secure your network using the above tips, and other “best practice” security policies? That’s where WJP Enterprises can help you. With our experience in network security, we can help you ensure that you are properly protecting both your clients’, and your very own, private information.

Contact us for help.

 

Posted in: Privacy, Security, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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End of Year: How to Save over 20% on your IT Expenses

Merry Christmas from WJP Enterprises! We hope that you are having a great holiday season and are getting to spend a little extra quality time with the ones you love. happy-new-year-keyboard-100554215-primary.idge
But as we near the end of the year, there’s still business left to handle in 2015. Businesses are always looking to increase efficiency at lower cost, and if your accounting is based on the calendar year, you may be thinking about how to reduce your tax liability. Here are a few ideas on how to do that with your IT expenses.
The simplest method is just to prepay some of next year’s expenses this year, which can effectively save anywhere from 20%-40% on those expenses.
     If you are currently on a subscription service– such as Backup/Continuity, Hosted Email, Office 365, Antivirus, Managed Service– just request that we pre-invoice you. We can pre-invoice you anywhere from one to twelve months in advance for any of these services. The more months you pre-pay, the lower your tax liability.
     Are you considering upgrading some of your computers? The end of year sales that are available can be very attractive discounts as manufacturers try to cash in on the buying atmosphere of the holidays. But check with us before buying a new computer; many of the systems are geared for home usage, and you’ll want us to make sure you’re purchasing something that fits will within your network. Many times a simple $99 upgrade from Windows Home to Professional is all that’s needed; but sometimes the changes necessary to use home computer in a business environment are not economical, even at a great price for the original computer.
          (Do you need to upgrade a computer or two? Check our blog post for guidelines on why it may be time.)
     What if you need new computers but are too busy at work right now? We can also pre-invoice you for hardware, that we don’t install until after the new year. Same thing with monitors, printers, network switches, routers, or even software.
     All your systems are up to date? Great! But there’s still a tax-saving option for you: ask us to pre-invoice you for labor. You can invest in a “bucket of hours” using 2015 pre-tax dollars, and use the hours next year. The hours never expire, and can be used anytime.
Of course, you should check with your tax advisor about how any of the above will affect your taxes.

NEXT STEPS

Everyone knows that technology continues change and does so at an increasing rate. Here are some things to consider for the new year as you look to increase the efficiency of IT operations.
  • As mentioned above, do you need to upgrade workstations? Take a survey of your workstations; how many are older than 3 years? 4 years? You’ll want to replace them in 2016; otherwise, they’ll be costing you money.
  • What about your server? Trying to stretch the use of a server past 5 years is probably not a good financial choice. Let us help you figure it out.
  • Don’t worry about a backup strategy; you need to have a business continuity strategy (which, of course, includes backing up.) Knowing you have a backup is good. Knowing how long it will take to get back operating again after a disaster, or how you’ll work through it, is better.
  • The “As A Service” paradigm continues to expand. By subscribing to services like Business Continuity, Antivirus, Office 365, Monitoring/Management, and more, you can reduce capital expenses, and become more flexible with paying for services and licenses. Pay for just what you need, even if that changes seasonally– or for whatever reason– during the year.
  • There’s about another six months to upgrade for free to Windows 10. You should take advantage of the free upgrade for any computer you’ve purchased in the last two years, but don’t jump too soon. We can help you ensure that the applications necessary for your business are compatible and working well in Windows 10. Checking this compatibility with Windows 10 should be done as early in 2016 as possible, so that you can stay on top of vendors to ensure they get the issues address. (Some vendors will address this by releasing new versions rather than updating existing versions.) Windows 10 really deserves a company strategy to implement. File server OS, workstation OSes, applications, peripherals (printers, copiers, etc.), need to all be checked to make sure everything will work together.

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Is it time to upgrade your business computers?

Is it time to replace my business computers?

Is it time to replace my business computers?

Business computers at year end: Upgrade or not?

It’s nearing the end of the year; you can receive tax advantages by upgrading your business computers, but do you really need to? Tax savings or not, purchasing a new computer is still an investment, and it would be nice to to know whether it makes sense from a technical standpoint. Here is some guidance to help you.

For most small businesses, the biggest expense they have is payroll, so most of this comes down to how does using old computers and old technology affect your users.

  • Does booting up your computer take over 30 seconds? If so, it’s time for a new computer. At the first computer job I ever had, the first generation IBM PC literally took about 5 minutes to boot up! I was in high school making minimum wage (I think $3.35 at that time!) and computers weren’t integral to business at the time, so it wasn’t a big deal. But think about your employees, whose jobs require their computers; they’re just sitting there waiting on a computer. Sure, they can leave it on overnight, but if your systems are configured properly, they’ll be rebooting at least once a week for updates. Over time computers tend to get slower and slower; hard drives work slower and slower; and gradually your users adjust until at some point it just becomes horribly wasteful (and eventually, annoying and frustrating for your users.)
  • Do individual tasks take more than a few seconds? If so, it’s time for a new computer. When a user clicks on Outlook, Internet Explorer, Word, Excel, or whatever, they should be able to begin their desired task within a few seconds, absolutely less than five seconds. This also includes most tasks within the software. If the user clicks to a different browser page, clicks to save a document, etc., and they get a “rolling circle” or hourglass for more than 10 seconds, then it’s time to upgrade.
  • Is the performance of your system causing users to use time-consuming work-arounds?  If so, it’s time for a new computer. For example, do employees write down customer information, or appointment details, or sales orders on paper just to enter them later because the computer or software is too slow to do it in real time?
  • Consider these examples:
    • If an administrative assistant loses 1.5 minutes an hour to waiting on a computer, the loss in productivity would pay for a new computer.
    • If an employee loses 3 minutes an hour to waiting on their computer, and you have 10 employees, then on average you could be wasting anywhere from $20,000-$25,000 a year in direct payroll (plus the payroll overhead.)
  • Here’s the best rule of thumb:  If your computers are over 3 years old (4 for servers), then the above are probably all true, and it’s time for an upgrade.

All the above are related to performance issues, but compatibility plays an important part also. The older your computers and software, the more likely you are to run into issues requiring complete replacement upgrades on everything at once. This is particularly true for businesses covered by some type of compliance regulations. For instance, a line of business application (or even accounting/payroll application) may require an update, but the update won’t install on the older OS on your computer, and so you have to upgrade your computer and OS; but then some other application you have won’t install on the new OS, so you have to upgrade that application at the same time. But then that new application doesn’t support your 6-7 year old laser printer, so you have to buy a new printer. The end result is having to replace every computer, every application, and every peripheral all at once, and before some deadline put in place by either a vendor or even compliance legislation. This may sound extreme, bReut we’ve seen it happen.

Lastly, sometimes a business owner, wanting to put off an expense, ends up spending much more money than they would have. The best (or worst?) example we’ve seen of this is a business that decided to delay replacing their already way too old server just one more year. Even though the cost of their new server went down, their actual cost went up almost $5000 because of downtime and maintenance the old server required during that additional year.

 

At WJP Enterprises, we recommend replacing workstations every 3 years and servers every 4 years in order to optimize the benefit and efficiency of IT operations; and to really get the most out of your IT assets, contact us about setting up a plan where we manage and maintain your systems with 24 hour monitoring and checks that can help prevent many problems from occurring, and often resolve them before the problem is even noticed.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Congratulations to V&R Insurance

V&R Insurance On Thursday, November 5th, 2015, V&R Insurance was named the Small Business of the Year by the Greater Plant City Chamber of Commerce.

Congratulations to Kenna Holmes and Michael Watkins, the owners of V&R Insurance.

WJP Enterprises is proud to be associated with V&R Insurance. Our two companies have a great partnership: WJP Enterprises provides IT service and website design and hosting for V&R Insurance, and V&R Insurance helps WJP Enterprises navigate the complex world of health insurance, helping us select the best health care policies year after year. V&R Insurance has saved WJP Enterprises literally thousands and thousands of dollars in health care costs just in the last couple of years.

The partnership between the companies goes back a long way. The original owners of V&R Insurance, William Vernon and Rolly Rollyson hired J.R. Pitts, the owner of WJP Enterprises, for his very first computer job when he was still in high school. Over thirty years later, both companies still partner and thrive.

WJP Enterprises strongly encourages everyone needing help figuring out the best direction to go for the health care insurance, both personal and business, to give V&R Insurance a call.

Also, check out their website at www.vr-insurance.com

Again, Congratulations to Kenna, Michael, and everyone at V&R Insurance!

 

Posted in: Plant City

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Microsoft Office 2016 is here!

Microsoft Office 2016

Microsoft Office 2016 is now available for both purchase and Office 365

Microsoft Office 2016 is now available.

Microsoft today released the newest edition of Microsoft Office worldwide. Microsoft Office 2016 has a lot of new features especially for business, emphasizing on collaboration and security.

The new release matches up and includes new functionality in Windows 10 (although Windows 10 isn’t required.)

Rather than duplicate all the content, we encourage you to check out the links above; but we will mention one thing: if you have subscribed to Office 365 for Business, then you can update now! Instead of spending a few hundred dollars every couple of years on non-transferable licenses, we encourage our clients to move to Office 365. You can subscribe monthly for just the number of licenses you need, adding or subtracting along the way, and always have access to the latest version.

One other thing to note is that computer manufacturers are now announcing end dates for when they’ll offer Office 2013 (Dell announced they’ll stop offering Office 2013 on Sept 30, 2015– just 8 days!). After that, only retail versions of Office 2013 will be left in the channel, and they cost more; so if you really think you want to stay on 2013, you have a very short time to purchase a new computer.

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Mobile Office technology keeps business going when weather gets bad.

Mobile Office

Mobile Office (remote access or telecommuting)

When weather or other situation, like illness, makes employee commuting difficult, small businesses can deploy mobile office, or telecommuting, to improve employee productivity, safety, and morale.

For people in the Tampa Bay area, it’s been a rough couple of weeks on the weather front. Some unprecedented weather patterns have brought a lot more rain to the area than usual. All that water needs to go somewhere, but when we get so much rain and it combines with high tides, sometimes the water won’t go anywhere quickly, and flooding occurs, and makes roadways impassible.

If you’re a business owner, you want your business to continue, and you want productivity to stay high, but the reality is that your employees are going to have difficulty getting to work, maybe being late; maybe even needing to stay home with kids if the weather is bad enough to cancel school.

Mobile office technology, also known as mobile computing, remote office, telecommuting, work-shifting, and probably some other buzzwords of the week, can help your employees keep your business operations moving along. And employees that don’t have to sludge out into bad weather and traffic complications are happier and have better morale.

Of course there are some jobs, such as manufacturing,  that just don’t fit into the mobile office landscape, but sales, customer service, accounting, administrative, and many other tasks are well-suited to remote operation.

At WJP Enterprises we’ve been working remotely and helping businesses leverage remote computing for over 25 years. Obviously, remote access technology has changed a lot over the years, and we love the capabilities available now for accessing business information on our phones, tablets, home computers, and even business center computers we can rent time on over on the other side of the world.

But all this remote connectivity also means additional security measures are necessary to make sure your business information remains confidential.

The good news is that even with the additional security measures needed, an investment in mobile office technology will easily pay for itself with increased productivity and employee morale. You just need an expert to configure it and walk you through it to make sure nothing is missed. So call or email WJP Enterprises, Inc. and let’s get your business mobile.

Posted in: Business Continuity, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Windows 10: Things to know today.

Windows 10

Windows 10 will change the way we use and think about Windows. Instead of a product, it will now be a service.

Windows 10: Just the basics you need to know.

If you want to know about Windows 10, just search Google or Bing for it. There are thousands of pages out there on the interwebs to tell you everything you could possibly want or need to know.

I’ve decided to bypass duplicating all that content for a short post that gives you just the important things you really need to know now.

When will I get Windows 10? What will it cost?

  • If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free until July 28, 2016.
  • If you have been keeping your updates current, and are on one of the above listed Windows, you should have already received a notification to reserve your copy. If you selected to get it, then you’re already in the queue. Users of Home and Pro versions will start receiving it at Midnight Eastern Time, July 29th. Microsoft will push it out in waves, though, so it may take a few days before you actually get it.
  • For Education and Enterprise editions of Windows, it becomes available a few days later, August 1st. It will still be free for these editions under your already existing Volume Licensing Agreement.

How will it install? Do I need to reformat?

  • Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 10 is designed as a straight upgrade. No need to reformat or install fresh.
  • Should I go ahead and get it as soon as my computer tells me it’s ready?

    • If you are a home user, or a single person business user, sure – probably. Unless you have some unusual hardware, there shouldn’t be any issue; but if you know you have some specific, unusual hardware, you should check for driver compatibility.
    • If you are a user on a business network with others, then don’t install it if given the opportunity. Refer to your normal IT procedures. That may mean asking your IT department (they should have probably already notified you how your business is addressing this), or checking with your IT service provider. If your business has a managed services contract, then the IT provider should have also already notified you regarding how your business will address Windows 10.

    I’m running Windows 7, but it’s an older computer. I’m worried it won’t work as well with a new operating system.

    • The minimum system requirements for Windows 10 are a 1Ghz 32 or 64 bit processor; 1Gb of RAM, and 16Gb of available hard drive space. Guess what? Those were the same original minimum specs for Windows 7! Since Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to be portable across devices including tablets, they have really concentrated on efficiency. The bottom line is that if your computer is currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, it can probably run Windows 10 just fine.

    After I get Windows 10 installed for free, what happens if I have to reinstall my computer from factory default?

    • Windows 10 will provide a method to create a DVD or USB that you can use to reinstall. And yes, if it’s the same device, that will still be a free and genuine copy of Windows 10.

    I received my notice about Windows 10 and reserved my copy. Anything else I need to do?

    • Well, even though you’re already backing your computer up (right?), it certainly wouldn’t hurt to make an additional backup, maybe an image backup, just in case. It’s highly unlikely anything will go wrong during the upgrade, but just in case.
    • Do you still have any data that you store on floppy disks? (Really?) Well, time’s up. Copy anything of floppy disks that you might still need—maybe old data archives or something—off to a USB flash drive, or cloud storage. Windows 10 will finally kill off the formerly ubiquitous floppy drive. Windows 10 won’t support floppy disks. (Depending on device, you may still be able to get a driver for a USB floppy; but really, just get rid of them!)

    So that pretty much covers the critical information you need for the next few days. But you may be wondering what’s the big deal about Windows 10? Well, here is a short list of some of the changes and new features.

    The Start Menu is back!

    • Probably the single biggest complaint Microsoft received about Windows 8 was the missing Start menu. Around since Windows 95, users were just too accustomed to having it around. So Microsoft brought it back in Windows 8.1, and now they’ve improved it. Similar to the Windows 7 Start menu, when you open it, it will have two portions, but they are more functional. On the left, you can have most used apps, recently added apps, and also you add links to folders. The right side will now be Live Tiles, which were introduced in Windows 8. There are a lot of new customization options for the Start menu, including a full screen option.
    • The search bar in the Start Menu also integrates Cortana (see below.)

    Goodbye Internet Explorer, hello Edge

    • The internet browser in Windows 10 is called Edge. It’s a completely new, standards compliant browser.
    • Like other browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, Edge focuses more on modern technologies that backwards compatibility. Edge will forego the legacy support that bogged down IE. Edge has no support for ActiveX, Browser Helper Objects, VBScript, or 3rd party toolbars built for IE11. This is a good thing: all of those hindered performance, and more importantly, caused the majority of issues with malware and viruses. This is a major improvement in both performance and security.
    • Edge tightly integrated with both Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Cortana (see below.)

    Siri, meet Cortana.

    • Cortana is Microsoft’s new digital assistant, a la’ Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now. Like Siri, Cortana is a “she” apparently. Since most people reading this will already be familiar with the capabilities of these digital assistants I’ll not go into all of that; but just mention that Microsoft has really integrated Cortana into the operation of Windows 10. It’s integrated into the desktop search, local search, Start Menu, and Edge. And of course, uses Bing as it’s source.

    What else?

    • Desktops: if you’ve ever used a Mac OS and wished you could have the multiple desktops on Windows (without installing some type of additional software) then this is for you. You can created multiple desktops for different tasks or sessions, locations, moods or whatever, and switch between them seamlessly.
    • File Explorer
      • Integrates Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service so that accessing and moving files back and forth between local and cloud storage is similar to just working with different local drives.
      • Libraries are on the way out. They aren’t displayed by default, but they can be turned on, and they can also be added to a new feature called….
      • Quick Access: I guess Quick Access isn’t so much new as it is an expansion of the Favorites area, which it replaces. It has all the same features but also adds dynamic views of recently used files and folders.

    There are a lot more new features, and some updates and makeovers of existing items; I was trying to keep this short and just cover the basics, so I won’t try to cover everything, but I hope this helps with any last minute questions you may have had.

    And remember, if your business is needing guidance regarding this or any IT need or process, contact WJP Enterprises for help. We’ve been helping businesses through OS migrations for over 21 years; we have the knowledge and experience  to help yours.

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Migration to Hosted Exchange 2013 Completed

Hosted Exchange 2013 migration completed for all clients

Hosted Exchange 2013

Hosted Exchange 2013 improves collaboration among your team and your clients.

Here at WJP Enterprises, we are proud to announce that we have recently finished the migrations of all our clients from Exchange 2010 to Hosted Exchange 2013. Here are just some of the benefits our clients received from the migration:

  • Faster performance
  • Outlook Web App completely redesigned; supports offline access.
    • Multiple calendar views
    • Optimized for tablets and smartphones
    • All features are supported in Chrome, Firefox, and Safari in addition to Internet Explorer, on Windows 7 or higher.
  • Built-in anti-malware
  • Redesigned Information Store (where it stores its data) to improve resiliency
  • SharePoint Integration right in Outlook

The are a lot more updates and upgrades that are more “behind-the-scene” technical in nature, and they all combine to make Hosted Exchange 2013 the most scalable, reliable, resilient email ecosystem ever available to small businesses.

Also, most of our Hosted Exchange 2013 email plans now include UNLIMITED mailbox storage, at the same price we used to offer 50Gb plans.

For the full Microsoft story on the benefits of Exchange 2013, read this article on Technet.

Additionally, we offer secure email options for both encryption and archiving that are PCI and HIPAA compliant.

Is your business still using onsite Exchange, or POP Internet email? Or worst of all, free email? Contact WJP Enterprises so we can improve the communication and collaboration around your office and with your clients and vendors.

 

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