How often when faced with an IT issue do you get asked if you have tried switching it on and off again?  Probably enough that you may even try it yourself before contacting your IT support now?  Maybe even enough that it annoys you that you get asked to try something so simple?  Today we want to explain why we ask this question so often and what the benefits are of a restart of your device.

Regularly rebooting your computer, at least once a week can be beneficial!  It can be tempting to leave your PC on and just log off every night or put it to sleep, thinking you are saving time on the startup.  However, this can reduce the machines efficiency and actually slow you down!  There are a few processes that happen during a reboot or shut down that benefit your PC.

We explained RAMs purpose in an earlier blog, a reboot will allow the RAM to be flushed.  What this means is that all the tasks that are running and using the RAM are stopped and cleared.  When you log on next after the reboot your RAM is clear and ready to go again!  Also when we close a programme it sometimes doesn’t close properly and continues to use some RAM even though it’s closed!  Cheeky we know, but this is called a memory leak, again the reboot is like a reset for the RAM clearing it of these memory leaks.

A reboot will also reset software in the same way it resets the RAM, so if you experience issues with something not working like usual within a programme.  To explain why this works, we need to understand what happens when these issues occur within software.  When these issues happen, what is occurring is the software code has reached a point where it doesn’t know how to resolve the issue it has faced.  The coding doesn’t have an answer for the sequence of events you have just performed.  Therefore, when you reboot the PC the coding for the software is reset back to the start and you can try again, without it being stuck at that point it couldn’t recover from and hopefully not end up at the same stuck point.

Let’s apply this into your working week, if you spend 15 minutes of your working days waiting on slow processes or waiting for programmes to respond and open, this is over an hour each week where you aren’t getting anything productive done on your device.  Compare this with, shutting down your PC once a week minimum, so this is done at night rather than logging off, this takes the same time and same number of clicks.  Then in the morning, you switch your PC on and while it boots up you maybe make your morning cup of tea or coffee before starting the day.  A task you would have done anyway and therefore no working time is lost.  But you have potentially gained over an hour back in a more responsive device to work on!

Hopefully this has helped to explain the benefits of rebooting a device and why it is such an important tool in your IT departments toolbox to help resolve issues you may be faced quicker than it might take to track down that exact issue that may never happen again after the software and device has been reset.  If you have any questions on anything in this blog please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and let’s make IT work for YOU and give it a helping hand with a weekly reboot!

This week we look at another piece of hardware which sometimes is part of the build on your PC or laptop.  The graphics card is the piece of hardware responsible for producing the image which is displayed on your monitor or screen.  It translates the data into a form which your monitor can understand to display the correct image for you.  The better the graphics card the higher quality the image produced.

There are two types of graphics card: integrated and discrete.  Integrated graphics cards are built into your motherboard and this is found on most standard PC and laptop specs.  As it’s inbuilt they cannot be easily upgraded.  Discrete graphics cards are pieces of hardware which can be installed at a later date as an extra component.  This makes them ideal for upgrading at a later date.  The average user who browses the internet and carries out office work, the onboard graphics will be sufficient.  If you intend to carry out gaming or video editing, a discrete graphics card is recommended.

When reading about graphics cards previously you may have heard of GPU, this stands for Graphics Processing Unit.  Much like the CPU, this is the brain of the graphics card.  It acts as the translator turning the signals into a recognisable format for your monitor.  Sometimes a graphics card is needed to allow your PC to display dual screens through the outputs offered on a graphics card.

Modern graphics cards also have their own dedicated RAM onboard, which is the same as the RAM in your PC, however, is just for the use of the graphics card to process the data it is being given to send to the display. If you have any questions or are interested in installing a graphics card to your device please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Here at MJD we actively encourage our clients to take warranties with a new device and to extend warranties on devices which are due to expire, which are still performing as required and are critical machines to the running of your business.  While you may think that the likelihood of a new device having a fault is low due to its young age, you would be right, the chances that you will need to call on the warranty in the first year or so are low.  However, every device will fail eventually, some sooner than others and usually it will happen at the most awkward time possible!

This is why we recommend keeping critical devices under warranty for their usable lifespan.  Warranties are simply a promise from the manufacturer that if the device fails within the defined period they will repair or replace the defective device within the time period stated in the warranty.  Warranties however don’t cover accidental/deliberate damage, failures due to the untended use of the device or software problems.

As a Terra partner, we deal with their warranties on a daily basis so we’ll go through a couple of their options and explain how they work.

On Site Service

The On Site Service warranties give you a response to a device failure on site.  This means you don’t have to be without the device while it is sent to the manufacturer for investigation and repair.  As Terra Partners, we can carry out the warranty work for our clients which is a big advantage for speed of response to a warranty issue.  Also, as we work within your network and setup your devices we have additional knowledge which can allow us to carry out the warranty work and our support service work in the same site visit reducing delays and down time for our clients.  We always recommend On Site Service options for PCs and Servers due to their business critical nature and the need for timely responses to issues seen with devices under warranty to ensure you can continue to concentrate on your core business, knowing your IT is covered and in good hands.

Pick Up and Return

The Pick Up and Return warranties are mainly offered with devices such as laptops and tablets, so the manufacturer covers and organises collection of the faulty devices and delivery of the repaired or replacement devices.  This warranty makes more sense for portable devices, due to their smaller nature and portability this means their construction can be more specific to their design and some repairs and parts replacements are better carried out by the manufacturer with the knowledge of how the casings and parts are all located and connected.  As Terra Partners we can help organise the collection and return of your device with Terra to ensure a timely response to your warranty call often providing a temp device for you to work with while repair is undertaken.

With all warranties, the period of cover will depend on what you purchase and can usually be extended up to a certain point in the devices lifetime.  If you are a client of ours with a warranty on a device, you will likely have had an email 2 months before the expiry date of your warranty to ask about extensions.  We manage this for our clients to ensure that your business critical devices are kept under warranty during their usable lifetime.  This way you don’t have to worry about missing the end date of your warranty of all your devices.  However, don’t worry if you think a device warranty may have lapsed some manufacturers offer the ability to reinstate the warranty for a small extra charge to cover the time without cover.

There can also be different levels of response times under a warranty, so for example it could be next business day or a 4 hour response 24×7.  This will depend on how critical the device is to your core business, for example your server would be highly recommended to have a quick response time as this will have a higher number of users relying on this device to carry out their work activities.  Whereas a PC or laptop may be enough to have a next business day response as you could potentially use another device while waiting for the warranty call.

In a previous post on how to improve the environmental impact of your IT we spoke about extending the life of your devices and one way of doing this and mitigating high repair costs which may mean it isn’t financially viable to repair and keep the existing device, is to keep them under warranty.  This way you can help to ensure you get 5 years or more out of the lifetime of your device, some servers are able to be extended up to 8 years thus reducing the need for new devices and the disposal of old IT equipment.

If you have any questions on PC/Server warranties or would like to talk to us about your approach to warranties on your devices please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

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.