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.

There are a few key questions to answer to determine what spec of laptop you need to look after.  Let’s break them down below:

  1. How portable do you want it to be?
  2. How much of my work will be carried out on it?
  3. What type of work will I carry out on it?

The first question will determine the size of screen you choose and therefore it may also impact the level of specification available to you.  The smaller the laptop, the smaller the space of the components which means the cost can be higher to get the same level of spec in a smaller laptop than a larger laptop.  However, Terra’s 1460Q is a fantastic example of a lightweight portable laptop with a great standard office spec.  The design of the chassis is aesthetically pleasing so makes it a great laptop to complete your professional image when out at meetings with clients.

Whereas, if you are not as worried about the size for carrying the laptop around, but need a larger screen where visuals are important while on the go, you may prefer the Terra 1716T which has a 17” screen with a similar great standard office spec.

Question two revolves around deciding the level of specification required.  If you are only working on the laptop while out at meetings or events and it’s just for note taking, access to emails and light office work, you may not need a high spec and a lower spec would be more cost efficient but combined with good use of a cloud storage like MS365 to allow access to files seamlessly between your laptop and your PC at the office.  Whereas, if you want to use this as your sole device and have a docking station at your desk to make it easier to pick up and go to site or meetings, you will want to invest in the correct spec for the work you do.

Which leads nicely into our third question, the type of work you will be doing on the laptop.  Our previous two recommendations are great laptops for general office work like use of Microsoft Office and cloud based software apps.  However, if you are looking to do more technical work on a laptop you may need more RAM, a higher processor and a graphics card to cope with the work.  This is where the Terra 1778R comes into play.

This blog isn’t intend to answer the question of what laptop is suitable for your individual circumstances, as there are so many variables there is no substitute for individualised advice from our team at MJD.  What we want to give you is a framework to help you work through and understand what you require to help you understand and take part in the discussion with the team to get the right device for your requirements.

A selection of Terra devices will be on show at the Moray Business Showcase, so why not take your answers to the above along and discuss your requirements with the MJD and Terra team on the day!

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.

This week let’s discuss the top 5 IT tasks to focus on this new year.  We will go into each one in more detail and link to some of our previous blogs to help you make plans and set goals for your IT for 2022.  Let’s look at the top 5 tasks first:

  • Security
  • Work From Home Hybrid Setups
  • Cloud services
  • Microsoft 365 licensing Changes
  • Forward Planning for Hardware Requirements
  1. Security

No matter the time of year security should be the top of your priority list when considering your IT setup.  However, let’s make 2022 the year we all take a proactive step to cyber security rather than a reactive step when a cyber attack happens.  MJD can help you on your proactive security process through getting Cyber Security accreditation and advising solutions that are suitable for your circumstances.  You can read our blog on Cyber Security accreditation here and all our other security related blogs are tagged so you can easily filter and read more on particular topics.

  1. Work from Home Hybrid Setups

As the global pandemic is still with us and affecting the way we live our lives and how we work, we would always recommend considering your office setup.  Do you have the capability to allow employees to securely and productively continue to work from home if required.  Also, don’t just consider this for the pandemic, think beyond the pandemic and the flexibility that this can give your company and your work force, that for whatever reason they can’t work in the office they can continue to work and allow your business to function.  From an office fire or flood which leaves you without a workspace to snow stopping employees travelling to the office, if you have the capabilities and technology in place, business can continue.  We have a blog here on our essential WFH equipment and a blog on the considerations of the WFH environment and your business security here.

  1. Cloud Services

This area ties in nicely with the previous area, but should be given it’s own importance and time to be considered as this can benefit the business not just for the WFH benefits.  As more and more of the software we use daily offers cloud based options it is important that we make ourselves aware of these if the options are available to us.  Cloud based services can give us the flexibility to work from anywhere and reduce the capital costs required with servers and the maintenance of this equipment.  Most cloud services are monthly based subscriptions so allow you to budget for a fixed cost each month and not have to guestimate your maintenance budget on servers and any parts that may be required further down the line for them.  We wrote a blog on what is the cloud which you can read here.

  1. Microsoft 365 Licensing Changes

This year Microsoft are making some changes to the way in which they offer their 365 licensing.  These changes will see a shift from monthly licensing charges to annual commitments and we would urge you to speak with your Microsoft 365 provider to plan and discuss the impact this may have on your business in the coming year.  We will be in touch with all our clients to discuss these changes.

  1. Forward Planning for IT Hardware Requirements

Unfortunately, the worldwide chip shortage is going nowhere anytime soon, so we still need to consider our IT hardware requirements as far in advance as possible.  We are still seeing shortages of equipment with no forecast dates of arrival of the stock to our suppliers from the manufacturers, so the more time you can give your IT service provider to get the hardware the more chance of success you will have.  You can read our blog on the chip shortage here.

If you would like to discuss any of these IT areas and would like help to plan your IT for 2022 please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD, and let’s make 2022 the year your IT works 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.

As restrictions are easing and we are moving into a new phase of living with the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing a trend develop for a hybrid working pattern and home working is here to stay.  That’s why this week we wanted to highlight the essential pieces of equipment that we would recommend to make your work from home setup more efficient and make your IT work for YOU.

  1. Docking Station

The most useful piece of kit you could have in your work from home and your office setup is a universal docking station.  We recommend and use the Terra 731 Docking Station, which means that all you have to do is connect a USB cable to your laptop and you can be connected to your monitors, speakers, internet, keyboard and mouse as quickly as you can connect the cable!  This can make the transition between office to your home desk feel effortless and you won’t even think about it.  This means you and your employees can concentrate on getting down to work and not having to setup your desk and work station each time you move between the two setups.

  1. Height adjustable monitors/Monitor Stands

                           

It is important to make sure that you now consider your work from home setup as a permenant fixture and therefore, are your monitors at the correct height for ensuring you have good posture?  If you have two monitors are they both at the same height?  If not, it would be worth considering new height adjustable, or if these monitors are still in good working order a monitor stand which would allow you to properly adjust the height of the monitor screen.  Terra have a range of monitors so please get in touch with your specific requirements for a bespoke recommendation.

  1. Microsoft 365

By using Microsoft 365 for your whole business setup or as a hybrid solution, this can help you to move seamlessly from office to home by having access to your files in the 365 cloud.  This also gives you access to use Teams to help manage your business remotely and to collaborate and stay in touch even while you are all in different locations.  If you have any questions or want to maximise the use of your 365 licenses, just get in touch with the MJD team and we’d be more than happy to help.

  1. Laptop

     

A laptop goes without saying, due to its portability will allow you to take it between the office and your home office with ease and combined with a docking station at both desks will allow you to always have everything you need at all times.

  1. Headset

If you are not the only one in your house then to ensure privacy and that your clients and colleagues can hear you clearly in video calls a headset is a must and not an expensive part of your kit.

  1. Security Software

This is a rather vague heading, but by this we want to encompass not just anti-virus & anti-malware but also security monitoring services which constantly monitor for suspicious activity on your devices which could be a result of malware or a ransomware attack plus remote management software for mobile devices to allow you to wipe them and protect your data if they are lost.  This is the most important part of your hybrid setup and why we left it to last to ensure it’s the one that sticks with you.  Portable devices are more likely to get lost, be left behind and be outwith your nice secure office network and therefore need protection from the environments they find themselves in.  Get in touch with our Cyber Security Specialist here at MJD to discuss your security software requirements and how to best manage your portable devices.

 

Over the past year we’ve probably all had to deal with one of these three connections to get a monitor setup in our home office but ever wondered what the difference is between each one?  Lets dive right in and explain.

Let’s start with the abbreviations:

VGA = Video Graphics Array

DVI = Digital Visual Interface

HDMI = High Definition Multimedia Interface

VGA is the oldest connection out of these three, it was first developed by IBM in 1987 and it allows for the display of 356 colours on monitors. DVI was designed by Digital Display Working Group in 1999 with the aim of replacing VGA to allow monitors to display a true-colour palette.  HDMI first began development in 2002 by few different companies and made the previous two connections obsolete.  It allows for the transmission of high-definition audio/video, along with 8-channel audio transmission.

VGA being the oldest technology is slowly being phased out of new devices and when converting VGA to newer technology through adapters it can result in lower quality video as the signal goes from analogue to digital.  VGA also can only provide a maximum of 640 x 480 resolution whereas DVI can go up to 1920 x 1200 for single link and 2560 x 1600 for dual-link connections.  However, HDMI is now the most preferred connection as it can transmit both sound and video and can support 4k.

If you have any questions on your connections to your monitors in your work place or home office setup please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

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