With IT hardware not likely to decrease in price anytime soon, we wanted to explain all the factors that may currently be affecting your IT bill within your organisation.  This may hopefully help you to understand the areas where you can have an affect and the areas where you and your MSP can’t affect your IT bill.  To help us begin, we’ve included all the main factors on your IT expenses in the figure below.

In a previous blog we covered the worldwide chip shortage, which you can read here.  Unfortunately, we are still seeing the affects of this in not just the IT world, but even the car industry!  As more and more of the items in our lives involve a computer of any kind they require chips, so until the supply can catch up with demand stocks will deplete quickly for some items.  It’s always worth getting in touch with your MSP as soon as you know you have a requirement to allow them to plan and advise on current stock levels.  This also leads onto the low supply, high demand factor.  When demand is high for any product and supply low the price will trend upwards until either demand decreases or supply increases.

The ever-present threat of cyber-attacks means that the costs required to protect your IT are increasing as more advanced and additional layers are required to protect you and your business.  Your MSP is also increasing their security measures and their insurance costs is increasing as more high-profile cyber-attacks take place and further test the conditions of insurance policies.  We are also recommending that our clients look to invest in their own cyber security insurance as the threat of cyber-attack continues to increase.

While our software develops and is now able to do so much more for us than previous versions, as it gets more advanced so does it’s minimum spec of hardware.  This in turn means that when you are looking to invest in IT hardware, the higher the spec the higher the cost which will also contribute to increasing IT costs.  On top of this, all industries are affected by the transportation and logistics issues which has increased delivery costs of your IT hardware.

The IT industry is facing a skills shortage in the UK, which is the same for many industries right now.  But this does mean that to be able to staff and provide our clients with high quality and efficient IT support that labour costs are increasing and with demand for IT professionals high and supply low, the labour rate is higher.  As you can see through this article, there are a few issues that we are all facing no matter what industry we are in and we are all feeling the affect of this.  Here at MJD, we want to make your IT work for YOU, so if you feel your current costs are increasing beyond a point you can manage with your current IT provider or if you don’t currently have IT support, we are here to help.  We have a variety of support models, designed to suit all sizes of businesses and the team here at MJD are always happy to discuss your individual requirements.

Let’s breakdown what RAM does and how you can decide how much RAM you need in your device.  RAM stands for Random Access Memory and is a component which is installed in your device and used for short term data storage.  Your programmes and data are stored on your hard drive or SSD, depending on which your device has.  Your processor will move this data from your drive to the RAM for short term access while you are working in the programme or on the file.  This means the amount of RAM you have can directly affect how quickly this process can be completed on your device.

Currently, we recommend a minimum of 8GB of RAM for any PC or laptop that we offer.  This would be sufficient for day to day office work or home use.  However, if you use design programmes or need to run multiple programmes all at one time we would recommend a minimum of 16GB of RAM.

When looking at the minimum spec for software that you work with, remember this is the bare minimum for the programme to run.  So the minimum spec won’t guarantee you will run the programme quickly, this is why it is important to look at the recommended spec if they offer this information or to choose a spec slightly higher than the minimum required.  This means your device won’t be using all its available RAM to run just that programme, it would have some capacity to spare which will also be beneficial for your device in the long run.

If you are unsure of whether you have sufficient RAM for your requirements, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD who will be more than happy to advise.

This is a common dilemma when trying to decide what to invest your IT budget in, laptop or desktop PC?  Today we are going to go through the considerations we advise our clients who are unsure to help them make the decision.  It is never the case that one is better than the other, there are just pros and cons to each option.  Lets breakdown how to weigh these up for your situation.

Lets go right back to the basics, a desktop PC is a stationary device which will stay on a desk and consist of a tower, monitor, keyboard and mouse as a minimum.  Whereas a laptop is a portable device that has these all built into one transportable chassis meaning you can use it anywhere while on the go.

The key consideration when deciding between a laptop and a desktop is, will I need to move my working location frequently?  In other words, are you likely to set yourself up at a desk and always use the device there or do you want to work at various different locations or setups?  If you are looking to setup a fixed working area and don’t require the flexibility to take your device with you wherever you go a PC is the one for you.

Desktops tend to be more customisable in terms of their spec and you can get more for your money, as the components don’t need to fit in such a small portable chassis.  Laptops of the same spec as a desktop PC will generally be a higher price, and this is why we recommend a desktop over a laptop if you do not need the portability.  The other advantage is that a desktop is easier to upgrade components in the future if you need additional spec, whereas this is much harder in a laptop and might mean you need to buy another machine if the spec can’t be upgraded to what is required.

This is where the argument comes in that if your budget will allow and you need portability but also want performance, having a desktop and a laptop working together will provide you with the best solution.  This way, the laptop won’t need to be such a high spec it just needs to be sufficient for the work you do on the go, and you can get a good spec desktop for the majority of your work.  And especially if you utilise cloud storage through Microsoft 365’s One Drive for example you can ensure that you have access to all your files on both machines and work seamlessly between them.

If you are looking for a new desktop or laptop and unsure what would suit your needs best please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Team here at MJD.  Lets make IT work for YOU.

In our last blog post we touched upon the topic of driver software, so lets dive deeper into the role of a driver and why they are necessary to allow your PC or laptop to run.

A driver is a small piece of software which communicates the instructions from your devices Operating System (OS) and the programmes in use on the device.  It acts in much the same way as a translator would, to allow us to understand another individual speaking in a foreign language.  The driver gives the OS and installed programmes the correct language to communicate with your device.  Internal devices such as Disk drives, DVD drives, sound and graphics cards and external devices like printers, keyboards and monitors all require drivers to work properly with your PC or laptop.  Most of the time without the correct driver, the device may not function properly, if even at all.

Device drivers mean that each device you might want to connect with your PC doesn’t need to be able to communicate directly with any possible combination of software and OS on your PC.  The device driver doesn’t need to have an interface that you as the user can interact with and understand as it allows the software or OS to communicate with you as the user.

Drivers like any piece of software get updates too, and sometimes when you experience an issue with a device or your PC it can be due to an out of date driver.  As a result, you may sometimes hear or be told by our engineers that they are checking the drivers installed on your PC and then checking for any updates, to see if this will resolve your issues.  Just as new words are added to the vocabulary and translations between languages need updated, the language that our computers use changes and develops.  Windows 10 has a large amount of built-in drivers, and therefore this may be why until reading this blog you have rarely come across or had to consider your device drivers.  Hopefully this will help to give you some understanding of what a driver is and why it’s necessary ready for the next time you are speaking with one of the team here at MJD about an issue on your PC caused by your drivers.

There are a lot of steps and tasks to be completed when you are hiring a new employee and the IT requirements of that new employee can be just one step in the whole process.  This week we want to highlight how important it is to give your IT support sufficient time to setup all the required hardware, software and user accounts.  We’ll also break it down into the different stages and points that you should consider when preparing for a new employee.

First off, how much notice does your IT support require to successfully setup a new employee ready for their first day?  There are two main factors which can drastically change the required time which we need to consider here:

  • Is new hardware required?
  • If existing hardware, is it fit for purpose and has no outstanding issues?

If new hardware is required, the more notice you can give the increased chance of successfully ordering, receiving, and prepping the devices in time for the new start there is.  Currently, with the worldwide chip shortage (read our blog post on this here) the lead times for laptops and PCs are increasing.  This means the likelihood of finding a fit for purpose spec off the shelf is extremely slim and will require a build date, subject to parts being in stock.  As a bare minimum 1 month’s notice for new hardware for a new start should allow for build, delivery, workshop prep and on-site setup ready for your new start.

If there is existing hardware, it is important to schedule a health check of the PC as soon as you know you wish to assign this PC to the new start to ensure the PC will be fit for purpose and in working order.  Remember, if any issues are discovered and you require to go for new hardware, the timescales above would apply.  So, as soon as you know you are hiring a new employee and want to use existing hardware, schedule a health check for the hardware.  This will give you maximum chance of successfully having a fully functioning setup for your new employee.

It basically comes down to that the earlier you involve your IT support, the more chance of success you have on the first day of your new employees career with you.  Here at MJD, we encourage our clients to get in touch with us early so that we can help advise on the best solutions and setups for the new role.  We are here to ensure IT improves your efficiencies and supports your core business, not hinder.

There are a couple of other factors that are important to consider when getting your new start setup, which we have detailed in a handy infographic to help you make sure you have all the details decided prior to setup of your new employee.

 

This infographic should help you to cover the main points to be considered in the IT setup of a new employee and help you have a successful first day for your new start!  If you have any questions after reading this post, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.  Let’s make IT work for YOU!

The management of your IT ecosystem is not just the maintenance of the physical hardware and your networks, there are also important policies which need to be in place to compliment the good management of the IT hardware and networks.  This week we wanted to cover the importance of an IT policy.

The main purpose of an IT policy is to ensure your corporate information is kept safe through detailing the methods that will be employed to prevent unauthorised access, loss or corruption of the data in both electronic and physical forms. An IT policy will provide all your employees with a secure and acceptable framework for them to take their cues from on how to work with the IT in your network.  An IT policy can also help you to demonstrate to auditors that you have taken your IT security further than just your physical hardware and software implemented.

Now, IT policies can be viewed as micromanagement as they do detail how information should be communicated, how its stored and how it can be used within the IT network.  But it is important that you communicate your IT policy to your employees as a tool to improve communication and transparency.  You are making sure there are no grey areas on how something should be done within your IT network.  It also provides them with a decision making tool which will help to reduce time taken on problem solving if it clearly sets out what they should and should not do within the IT network.

It also means each employee has the same set of controls, so it is a consistent message and helps to communicate a fair and trustworthy environment.  Everyone knows what is acceptable and therefore what they should do.  This does mean that you are also protecting yourself in the instance of malicious actions carried out by employees.  If you clearly detail what is allowed and what isn’t, you can handle the situation with certainty that they acted outwith your companies policies and that they were made aware and agreed to these policies when they were employed or the policies implemented.

All of these add up to create a strong argument for why it is not a question of if you need an IT policy, but of when you will implement an IT policy.  The team here at MJD would always recommend you implement it now and we are here to help make IT work for you!

This is a question we are often asked when quoting or fitting new wireless networks and so we want to break this down and offer a more detailed explanation to help you understand the importance behind on-going maintenance in wireless networks.

Your wireless network is one part of your organisation’s IT ecosystem and as such, needs to be maintained in the same way as your server, PCs and laptops to minimise downtime.   However, the most important reason for on-going management is that your wireless network is a gateway into your organisation’s network.  This means it poses a security risk if it is not maintained and updated.  Especially if you also run public and private networks to allow customers to connect to gain internet access, while also allowing your organisations devices to connect to your private network.  Through your wifi a hacker wouldn’t even have to enter your premises to attempt connection to your network, they could do it from the street.

Here at MJD, our monthly WAP management package means that every time there is a new firmware released for the devices within your wireless network we will get these installed at a time that is convenient for you.  This keeps our clients in compliance with their Cyber Essentials or IASME accreditations and allows you to confidently advise your customers when connecting that your wireless network is maintained and secure.

You may be wondering what firmware is?  Firmware is a type of software which is the low-level control for the devices hardware. Firmware allows your devices to behave in the way the manufacturer designed them too.  The firmware of a device is held on Read-Only Memory, so that even when the device has no power it can still store the data.  As it is read only, firmware updating tools are required to apply updated firmware to your devices.

In addition, by keeping the firmware up to date on the equipment which runs your wireless network, you avoid any issues further down the line if you must try and install numerous updates in one go which can cause further issues and even failure.  By maintaining the network regularly, it means that down time is minimised to small periods of time when the firmware is updated.

If you have any questions about your wireless network or would like to explore WAP management please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Have you ever thought about the security of an email or a file you send? What is in the contents of your email or what data is held within the file you need to transfer to someone? Every day we communicate via email to send information and documents, but sometimes the contents of that email or file are sensitive or confidential. If we were passing on this information face to face, we wouldn’t just discuss it at the kettle or leave the files lying on someone’s desk for them to get when they come back to their desk.

This is where email encryption comes in. With an email encryption service you can send confidential emails with the confidence that only the intended recipient will see the email. You can also see when the email is received and opened. This helps you to maintain compliance with regulations such as GDPR. Here at MJD, we work with our partner AppRiver and recommend their Email Encryption service alongside their SPAM filter. See our SPAM filter blog here.

There are a great host of features available with Email Encryption, lets take a look at them here:

– Office 365 compatible
– One-click encryption in Outlook, Windows and Mac desktop agents
– Track and prove when an email is received/read/replied to/forwarded
– Provides a control panel and registered mail options
– Recall messages, even after they are read
– Add passwords to confidential emails
– Facilitates large file attachment encryption and delivery, up to 100GB
– Built-In Secure E-Signature feature

So how does email encryption work? When you click on the send secure message, the email is then directed to the secure cloud platform to then be sent to your recipient.

Why should I implement email encryption now? As we have increased need to manage regulations on data protection and the trust in the security of emails reducing, secure business communications are becoming a necessity. By protecting sensitive and confidential data, you provide employees and customers with a method of communication that guards against breaches and permits freer, more effective communication. In the new workplace environment where the majority of us are now working from home, electronic communication is the main way we keep in touch and transfer information and data between us, we need to think about how to further protect our data and information. The encryption service we recommend and provide is fully brandable so you can help to increase customer confidence, through the encryption and seeing your brand in the secure cloud together.

This solution is not expensive and can transform the way you transfer sensitive information for very little cost. You don’t need to license your whole site, it is done on a per user basis so you can provide the service to your users who deal with sensitive and confidential information on a regular basis.

If you are interested in how this email encryption service may work for your business please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD and we’d be more than happy to discuss and provide demonstrations of the service in action.

Here at MJD our security offering to our clients will help to take care of your Windows Updates.  It will check the updates that come through which aren’t zero day and once tested will be deployed to your Windows devices with our security package.  You may be asking what is a zero day update?  This is an update from the software provider which is so important and of a high priority that it must be applied as soon as it is released.  However, you may notice from time to time you’ll get an email from us asking about a device which is out of date.  This may be that it hasn’t been on for a significant period of time, or that you’ve been aware of the update required to be carried out and have been delaying the update to “later”.

Now, we’re not denying that when you’ve got multiple documents and spreadsheets open, your business management software and emails etc open on your desktop and Windows announces “You have an update!” it can be incredibly inconvenient timing to carry out the update there and then.  And in this case, it’s fine to delay until when you finish that night.  It is highly important that the Windows update is installed as soon as possible.

While it can seem like software updates are an annoying feature and functionality changing demon, they are actually an extremely important part of the security of your device.  Operating System manufacturers are constantly updating their software to combat recent virus, malware and hacking attacks to close off holes in the defences of the software.  This means, if you delay in installing your Windows update, you might potentially be leaving your PC open to virus, malware or hacking attempts!

This is why Windows Updates are so important and why our monitoring software helps us to let you know when devices are out of date.  This in turn allows us to get in touch and ask you to switch the device on and allow the updates to take place.  This is all part of the security management in your network and it should be viewed with the same importance as the other elements of your security package.  If you have any questions about Windows updates, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team here at MJD.

Flora and Skye have been hard at work recording a video for you all to enjoy this Christmas, so without further ado:

 

 

And any who would like the lyrics to sing along here they are:

1st Day of Christmas – A Cartridge in a pear tree

2nd Day of Christmas – 2 IT Engineers

3rd Day of Christmas – 3 Terra Laptops

4th Day of Christmas – 4 Calling Clients

5th Day of Christmas – 5 Gold Pins

6th Day of Christmas – 6 Windows Updates

7th Day of Christmas – 7 Malware Blocked

8th Day of Christmas – 8 Scans Complete

9th Day of Christmas – 9 Printers Cleaned

10th Day of Christmas – 10 Hard Drives Cleansed

11th Day of Christmas – 11 Firewalls

12th Day of Christmas – 12 Phishing Scams Stopped

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Team here at MJD!