2025 may seem like a long time in the future, but when you consider that this is only two financial years and therefore potential company budgets before Windows 10 goes End of Life (EOL) it is worth planning the refresh of your company devices now.  This will allow you to spread the capital cost over 2 years.  Let’s go through some things to consider when reviewing Windows devices in your network.

First step is to identify all your Windows 10 devices.  Track them down, check if they are still in use by the end users and carry out an audit.  When an Operating System (OS) goes EOL it always presents a useful opportunity to carry out an audit and review of the devices in your business.  If a device isn’t in use, then you can make a saving by not having to replace it and retiring it from your network.  It also gives you the opportunity to create an asset register if you have not already done so, or to update an existing one.

Once you have identified all Windows 10 devices you now need to consider the specification of all devices to identify any newer ones with compatible minimum system requirements needed for Windows 11.  The minimum specification requirements of Windows 11 can be found here at Microsoft’s website.  The requirements are more comprehensive than previous Windows OS versions and therefore may mean it is less likely that existing older hardware can take the upgrade.  But the upside to keep in mind is that this is all working towards modern hardware with improved security.

After all devices which can be upgraded have been identified you now know how many require replacement, and you can now plan a strategy for their purchase and install.  What works best will vary from company to company, whether doing groups at a time, or spacing out individual users throughout the two years, this is where the advantage of doing the review early comes into play.

Here at MJD we would always recommend that people reach out to their IT support provider to help them plan the roll out of Windows 11, to ensure a successful and achievable transition with as little disruption as possible to your business.  If you are unsure about where to start or you know what you need to upgrade versus replace but don’t know how to go about starting the work, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

So you’ve made the arrangements to come along to the Moray Business Showcase on June 7th at the Moray Sports Centre and you want to stop by and speak with the team here at MJD and Terra.  But how do you ensure that the trip out of the office to speak with us is worth your while?  Here’s our guide on what information to have to hand and what topics to consider to be able to discuss your IT requirements with us on the day.

A good place to start, especially if you are not already a client of ours or don’t have an IT support provider is to read our blog on what to consider when choosing your MSP here.  This covers questions to consider on knowledge, products and services and contract options in a MSPs offering to you.  You then may want to know more about how a per device contract works which you can read about here.  This will allow you to discuss with us what we offer in our per devices on the day and how this might suit your business circumstances.

If you are already a client of ours, or equally a prospective client as well, you may be targeting getting to see the Terra demo hardware on show to see what might augment your current setup to help develop your businesses IT.  We will have laptops, tablets, monitors, AIO and PCs so there will be something to cater any requirements you have in the pipeline.  To help you make the most of the demos, you can read our laptop blog here or our monitor blog here.  We also have a blog on our working from home recommendations here and how to decide between a laptop and PC here.

Regardless if you are a client or ours or not, you may be considering the ever growing threat of cyber attacks to your business.  Where to start can seem a daunting thought, but have a read of our where to start on your cyber security blog here and take along your questions for our Cyber Security Specialist, Craig Lambourne.  He will be there on the day at our stand and also running a workshop alongside Mark Dunscombe on Cyber Security and IT which you can sign up for FREE here.

Even if you don’t have time to read any of our recommendations above, please just come and say hello.  We are always happy to chat and help start you down the right path with your IT and Cyber Security requirements.  Let’s make IT work for YOU.

We have a few monitors that we recommend from the Terra range, one of which we always have in stock as it’s such a popular monitor.  Let’s have a look at them in turn, starting with our stock monitor of choice.  The 2448W.

This is a fantastic standard 24” monitor and is very popular with our clients.  We are constantly replacing our stock of these each month, they are reasonably priced with the fantastic Terra warranty making them a great and reliable choice for your business setup.  They work well on their own or in a multiple monitor setup.

The next monitor is for those that like something more high end and want an immersive experience with the curved 3280W.

This has a bigger curved screen and makes for an impressive multiple monitor desk setup.  This also comes with the same fantastic Terra warranty and would not disappoint.  If you are interested, but unsure what you’d think of the curved screen this model will be on our stand as well, so come along and test it out!

Our next choice is technically more than just a monitor, as it is a PC as well.  It is the Terra 2705 All In One.  This is a great choice if you want to minimise devices taking up space on a desk or you want to keep the setup simple, for example in a front of house setup where clients regularly are.

This AIO has a great spec, with an i5 processor and a large amount of RAM at 16GB and with a generous 1TB of SSD to store your data this is a fantastic option if an AIO is what you need.  This will also be on the stand, so pop down and see what you think!

So what about these warranties?  The Terra monitors that we recommend all come with a fantastic on-site exchange warranty.  This means you are never without a monitor or waiting for a repair to be completed for your monitor to come back.  You keep using your monitor until the replacement comes through, and then you swap them out and your monitor heads back to Terra to be troubleshooted & repaired.

How does it work in practice?  If you notice an issue with your Terra monitor, get in touch with the team at MJD.  We raise it with Terra and discuss the issue and if it isn’t something we can resolve ourselves, Terra send out a replacement which we can send direct to site for you to swap out.  You then let us know that you’ve swapped the monitors and we arrange a collection with Terra and they take away the faulty monitor.  And it’s as easy as that, it keeps you working with minimal downtime for the length of your warranty.  However, we have to point out that during our time partnering with Terra we could count on one hand the instances where a monitor has required to be sent back under warranty, which is why we continue to keep these in stock and recommend them to our customers.

It’s been just over 3 years now since the beginning of the phrase “work from home” really took off and became a mainstream necessity with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.  But there have been many advantages to our businesses of discovering this new found flexibility through working from home.  However, to truly leverage this advantage you need the correct IT to support you.  So, let’s get started and list MJD’s top recommendations which we give to current and new clients to setup a fit for purpose work from home setup.

Before we dive into the hardware and software recommendations, we should highlight a key consideration you need to answer to determine the exact type of device(s) that will be best for you.  Do you want to have just one transportable device to work from or would you prefer a dedicated device in the office which you can connect to from a device outwith the office?  This is important as it will dictate the specification requirement of the laptop or PC that will best fit your needs.  For example, if you wish to have one device the laptop would require to be the correct level of specification for all software and work requirements you need to carry out on a daily basis.  However, if you were to have a dedicated workstation with the correct spec and a lower spec laptop which allowed you to connect to the PC securely, this can sometimes work out at a lower cost as the higher spec hardware doesn’t need to be so small to fit into a laptop, compare with a desktop tower unit.

First up, our recommended office spec laptop for portability and performance is the Terra 1460Q.  This is the lightest laptop in the Terra range and is very stylish with it.  This doesn’t compromise on it’s spec as a result with an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD you won’t be disappointed.

For a space saving solution on your desk, Terra offer a wide range of specifications using their micro chassis, which is about the size of your average book.  If you think this is even too big for your desk, these can be mounted to the back of there monitors!

Whether you’ve chosen to go with the laptop between home and office or a PC at your main desk and a laptop to travel with and connect back to the PC, you will likely require a dock to make switching between your devices or disconnecting and heading out a breeze.  Terra have two great docks for this purpose.  If your Terra laptop charges by USB-C we’d recommend the Terra 800 dock as this means you don’t need to remember to pick up and take your charger with you every time you head off.  The Terra 731 dock is a popular seller with us, and provides you with the ability to have multiple screens and further USB slots than the standards on your laptop or micro PC.

If you don’t think you have enough room for multiple screens on your home setup, think again!  This new portable second screen is small enough to slip in your laptop bag.  It’s similar to the size of your average tablet but allows you to have two screens to split programmes and windows to make reference information and work easier, without the need for large permanent monitors in your setup.  These are also ideal for those who travel and find it hard working away from their multiple screens when on the go!

We leave the most important considerations of your work from home setup for last and that is the software that helps to keep you secure while working away from the office.  The first piece of software is an anti-virus and anti-malware solution.  At MJD we have a CE compliant remote monitoring anti-virus and anti-malware software which we offer and encourage our clients to install as standard.   This is part of all our per device contracts.  This allows us to monitor and apply OS updates and check and scan for viruses and malware amongst other things.  Software like this is key when you are working in an office but is even more crucial when you take devices outwith your protected office network.

Our next software recommendation would be Microsoft 365 Premium.  This gives you email, Office software and a higher level of security functionality which is ideal for helping to strengthen the protection of your business devices when they are used outwith the business network.  It also gives you access to the Microsoft Suite of Office software as well as cloud storage through OneDrive and SharePoint to make hybrid working much easier and more efficient.

Finally, we’d recommend a VPN software to further protect all remote connections that are made from users working from home or out on site back to your protected office network.  Not sure what a VPN connection is?  Check out our previous blog on VPNs here.

This blog is only designed as a helpful tool to get you thinking and generating the questions you need to answer to solve the exact requirements of your business.  So, why not take your questions to us at the Moray Business Showcase event on the 7th of June 2023 and lets make IT work for YOU.

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.

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