There are a variety of factors that can determine the price of a PC which we may quote you for. We wanted to explain the factors to help you understand the price range and variation between some of the PCs we offer. To discuss this topic, we need to break the PC down into it’s components, explain their jobs and how the level of these products affect performance and therefore price.

Lets start with the processor. The easiest way to explain this component is that it’s the brain of the computer. There are two factors which determine the performance and speed of a processor. Processors are made of a number of cores and their speed. The speed of the processor tells us how quickly it can process data, while the number of cores acts as a multiplier. Each core can run at the stated speed of the processor therefore the more cores, the more data can be processed at any one time. For example, a single core 2GHz processor is slower than a four core 2GHz processor, as it has three additional cores to process data, even though they are the same speed.

We generally work with Intel processors in our PCs and the most common offerings are the i3, i5 and i7. As a general rule of thumb, i3 processors have 2 cores and i5 and i7 can have 2 or 4 cores. This is one of the many reasons why we generally encourage our clients to take an i5 over an i3 as the processing power is noticeably different between an i3 and an i5, especially if the i5 is a four core.

Random Access Memory or RAM, is like your short term memory. It keeps data that you are currently working on in an easier to access location than the hard drive to allow you to move between programmes. This is where the more RAM you have installed the less performance drop you will notice when running multiple programmes at the same time. There will usually be a few slots in a PC to install a couple of sticks of RAM. Therefore an additional physical component on top of a standard spec, will increase the price. The other price factor with RAM is the bigger the RAM value in one stick, the higher it will cost. So a 4GB stick is higher priced than a 16GB in one stick, as it only takes up one slot with a higher amount of RAM.

We generally encourage our clients to start with 8GB RAM at the moment, to help to futureproof their PC and to cope with the demands of the future work they intend to conduct on their PC. Also, if our clients intend to use demanding software programmes alongside general office packages, is why we encourage you to go for increased RAM to ensure that you have enough short term memory to flick between your programmes with no noticeable performance lag.

The operating system of a PC also has an effect, as we on the main deal with Windows PCs the main difference is between Windows 10 Pro and Home. Pro is required for a PC working within a business, as the added features allow this to be setup within a business network. Home is as it describes a version of the operating system that has all the features that may be required for a home user and therefore, is a lower price due to the reduce functions in comparison. The price difference is never more than approximately £30 to £40 so this factor does not impact the overall price as much as physical components like RAM and the processor.

The third component found in all PCs which has a part to play in the price, is the hard drive. This may come in the older mechanical drive (HDD) format or as a Solid State Drive (SSD). The hard drive of a PC is where all your data is stored and is like your long term memory. The main difference between a HDD and a SSD is that the SSD has no moving parts. This makes it more reliable and quicker to access your data. As such it is a higher price than a HDD. However, even in just the past year the price of SSD’s has reduced making the larger sizes more affordable. We would always encourage our clients if they can afford to have the SSD in their PC to go for this, as the HDD is old technology and to ensure reliability and futureproofing of a new machine an SSD is a good way to contribute to this.

For some of our clients, there may be additional cards and components they need to add to a machine, which are an additional extra to the cost of the base PC. For example, clients who needs to render graphics and work with drawing programmes require graphics cards to all these to operate at a functional speed.

The final factor in the price of a PC we want to tackle is the brand and therefore the quality of the PC. Here at MJD, we work extremely closely with Terra and are our recommended brand of PC. Terra are a high quality, award winning German brand who tend to do more build to order to ensure that they can always use more up to date components. This way the end user gets longevity out of the PC as a whole and a quality build. Combined with their warranty services which are operated through their MSP partners, like ourselves, so your PC is serviced by someone you know if a warranty issue occurs. This can also affect the price of a PC in comparison to some other manufacturers you may be able to pick up on the high street.

When evaluating the price of a PC quotation that you have been given, by ourselves or anywhere else it is important to compare like with like. So be thorough and check the individual components and make sure that between two offerings it is genuinely the same specification. Most times when there is a difference in price one of the factors detailed above will be your explanation.

It is also important to consider, that if price is a big factor in your decision making for a new PC what is the most important task you will be carrying out on this PC? Is it just to browse the internet and do your personal admin? Or do you want to run a few work programmes every day of the working week? Or create highly detailed drawings? This will then lead you to which component in the PC will be the most important and where you shouldn’t look to reduce the price on.

As always, if you have any questions or would like a quotation for a new Terra PC please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team here at MJD.

Think before clicking on that Link!

The team here at MJD are becoming increasingly aware of instances of links in emails which appear to “do nothing” when clicked on. This is not something to be ignored and needs to be report to your MSP immediately. If nothing appears on your screen or nothing seems to have happened as a result of clicking on a link, this does not mean that nothing has ACTUALLY happened. Unfortunately, this more than likely means that information has been gleaned from the registry of your device to enable access to emails, to form an incredibly clever socially engineered attack.

As we all are now more aware of the classic SPAM emails which try to entice the recipient to respond and generate dialogue to encourage the transfer of funds to ensure an some threat is not carried out, the cyber criminals are increasing the ante, and we now have to be aware of social engineering. Cyber criminals are leaning towards social engineering due to it being easier to gain the crucial information they need through our human nature to trust, rather than try to hack your network or password. It’s a lot easier to enter the correct password first time, than to have to work with their tools to figure out the correct password. As it is for us in business, time is money to cyber criminals too.

You may be asking what exactly is social engineering then. This is the process of manipulating an individual and the situation to encourage them to give up confidential information and therefore potential access to your network and devices. These are all based on the way we think and act as human beings and using this to their advantage. We have shared this video before, but we think it is a great example of demonstrating their ability to manipulate the situation to achieve their desired outcome. It really is worth spending 11 minutes of your life watching this video and encouraging all your colleagues to watch this too!

The current example we are responding to and working to resolve with clients is whereby the information stolen from the PC registry when the link is clicked gives them the login credentials for the email account on the PC.  This then allows them to setup rules within Outlook, to send copies or completely forward certain emails to another email address.  Most commonly, invoices are targeted.  All the emails are then monitored for a period of time until they identify their best target, and a simple email is sent from within the account to explain bank details have changed.  And they now hope that the process on the other side will allow for this to slip through.  These attacks are highlighting how important it is that IT security doesn’t stop at your firewall or anti-virus scanner.  IT security encompasses your people and your processes too.

If after reading this you’d like more information on training for your business or to discuss and review your security policies the team here at MJD would be more than happy to help.  Let’s make your IT work for YOU!

With us now moving towards working models where we may be a flexible mix of working from home and working on site and in our offices, the ability to takes notes and have them on our person where ever we are has become increasingly important. And with the requirement to reduce the amount of our own things we take into spaces where they could pick up contamination of COVID-19 from communal spaces, we need to think about maximising our use of technology.

We want to introduce Microsoft OneNote to any users out there who do not already utilise the programme. Or if you are aware and already use, hopefully we can share some handy tips and functions within the programme to maximise your usage of OneNote.

OneNote is a flexible electronic notebook, which you can access from your phone, PC, tablet, laptop etc so long as your notebook is linked to your Microsoft account. If you have 365 you will already have a Microsoft account you can log in with. If not, it only takes a few minutes to setup and link your OneNote notebooks too. This means the notebooks will be stored in the cloud so from any device which you have the app installed on it will sync and update your notebooks.

One of the key ways you can make OneNote really work for your business, is sharing notebooks between team members. This allows everyone to see the information held within them, to action tasks on check lists etc. Your imagination is the limit for the uses a shared electronic notebook has! It encourages collaboration and can be used during meetings for everyone to have access to the notes, tasks can be added to a To Do List as the work day progresses or can be used as a handover tool when people are out of the office, those covering have access to shared notes that may help them cover the work in their colleagues absence.

Within OneNote you can setup your notebooks in very much the same way as a physical notebook. You can have separate notebooks, sections within the Notebook and then different pages within your sections. Your sections can be colour coded and each page can be given a title. I find this personally much more organised than a paper notebook as I can easily find the notes I want from the title of the page, rather than numerous sticky tabs with small handwritten titles that wear off and disappear over the course of a working day!

Within a page, you can have text notes, use a pen tool, format your notes to have headings and layout different boxes to highlight particular information for yourself. A particularly handy formatting function that I use is the check box. I have a separate section just as my To Do Lists using the check box function which allows me at a glance to see tasks still to complete. There is also a dictate feature within OneNote if you are on the go and need to quickly add some notes. The audio record function can be useful when in a training or a meeting which you’d like to take more detailed notes from later, given that everyone in the room is happy for you to record. The sound recording is then embedded in that page in your notebook for review later. This was a handy feature while at university, to further augment the notes for studying later from lectures.

A handy automatic feature, is when you copy and paste text, images, content from online, OneNote will automatically include a link to the source in the Notebook for you. So gone is the issue of trying to remember where you read the information or searching through your browser history to locate the source. A useful tip for anyone at university and writing essays!

One feature that may be useful if you prefer to handwrite notes on your tablet or mobile with the Ink function, is the “Ink to Text” function. This means you can use the Lasso tool and select your handwritten notes and it will do it’s best to turn this into text. Obviously, this depends on how clear your handwriting is!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the features of OneNote but just a few highlights we find useful ourselves here at MJD. Hopefully this has been insightful and sparked some ideas about how you can use this Microsoft Office offering to help in your daily working routine. If you have any issues or would like some further help in setting up OneNote please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us, we’d be more than happy to help. We have included a small run through video below as a visual aid to where some of the features above are located within OneNote.  Lets make your IT work for you!

 

 

Key Timings in Video:

Share Function – 00:27.30

New Sections and Pages – 02:37.36

Change Section Colours – 04:08.46

Search Function – 04:22.20

To Do Lists – 05:31.00

Dictate – 06:14.20

Ink to Text – 07:00.50

Automatic Source Copying – 08:25.83

Audio Recording – 09:04.93

 

Currently, with many of us working from home and varying shift patterns or hours of work due to furlough, client requirements or childcare requirements the frequency of use of our Out of Office notifications has increased dramatically.   It is worth considering the potential impact that these notifications can have on the security of the company.

Have you ever considered the information that you freely give to any recipient of your Out of Office?  By saying we are on annual leave or away from the office until a set date/time, you are giving specific detail to the fact you won’t be in the office and are on holiday for this set period of time.  If you work within a small office/premise, does this mean there is more time where you premise may be unoccupied?  Or is your business based at home, which provides details that you are potentially away from your home on holiday?

Using an out of office can be useful to allow senders to know who to contact in your absence, however, providing detailed contacts and email addresses to everyone opens your business up to potential spear phishing attacks.  Cyber criminals are able to use the names and details provided within an out of office, especially if details of projects or departments these contacts work within are given, to create trust and a genuine feel to their requests for more information or other more sinister actions.

When drafting your out of office, it is best to use the option to set separate messages for internal and external contacts.  This way, you can provide the detail required for your colleagues to continue their daily activities during your absence.  While also minimizing the information provided to potential cyber criminals.

So, the top tips for your Out of Office are as follows:

  • do not specify a date and time for when you will return
  • use a generic email address for people to forward their request onto (such as an office@ or sales@ address) and a main telephone number for the business
  • do not advise where you are or what you are doing
  • avoid providing specific details of projects/departments you are working within

An example of how to build your out of office could include some of the following phrases:

  • “I am currently unable to respond to my emails…”
  • “For urgent enquiries please contact the main office on ….”
  • “For all other requests I will respond as soon as possible.”

If you want further advice on your Out of Office or help to set this feature up, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team here at MJD.

Here at MJD, we understand that the volume of passwords and the complexity required in the present day can be overwhelming and a difficult task to manage in secure manner.  Internally we here at MJD use a password manager to keep track of all our passwords and ensure we can use highly complex and unique passwords for all our online accounts that we use on a daily basis.  Password managers are not expensive and can be synced across all devices such as laptops, tablets, phones etc so that you are NEVER without your passwords.  If this sounds like something that would be useful get in touch with us here at MJD.

However, we also want to help our clients generate their own secure passwords, so we have created a top tips list below with some helpful suggestions and recommendations for creating passwords.

To create a strong password consider the following advice:

  • Choose three random words to make a pass phrase
  • Use numbers and symbols as well as upper and lower case letters.
  • Consider the line of a song other people would not associate with you
  • Take the first letters from a phrase known to you, for example “Making your IT work for you” would be “myiwfy”

Avoid the following:

  • Anything from your username, individual or business name.
  • Family members and pet names.
  • Birthdays
  • Favourite sports teams or hobbies.
  • “password” itself.
  • Sequences of numbers or letters i.e 1234 or ABCD
  • A single word with no numbers or special characters, lower or uppercase.  These are very easy for hacking programmes to guess.
  • Duplicated characters i.e 999 or AAA
  • Easily recognisable keypad patterns i.e 36987 or 159

General password advice:

  • Never disclose your passwords to anyone else.
  • If you think someone knows your password change it immediately.
  • Use a different password for every account that requires one.
  • Don’t reuse a password with differing numerical sequences i.e Winter1, Winter2
  • Try to avoid writing passwords down, instead consider an online password vault or safe.
  • Do not send your password by email.
  • When working in public, consider your surroundings, who can look over your shoulder or in the window and see your password being entered?