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Be careful when texting on a work-provided device

Do you have a company-provided cell phone?  Do you sometimes use your work email for personal business?  Should you expect that anything you write or text during the workday to be private?  You might be surprised at what the Supreme Court thinks.  Read more.

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I generally have a lot of patience—except when it comes to waiting for my PC to boot up!  I remember thinking “this thing ran a lot faster when I first bought it—what happened?”  It just seems to get slower and slower every day. 

That was until I figured out that it was all the programs that were installed and running in the background on startup.  Most of which I found that I neither used nor needed, all taking up valuable resources and slowing down my PC.  So how do you disable these unwanted programs from launching?

One Option is to Use a Windows Utility

Windows has a built-in utility you can run called “msconfig”.  After launching the program (go to Start, Run and enter msconfig), click on the “Startup” tab.

From there, simply uncheck the programs that you don’t want to have started each time you boot up your machine.  The changes won’t go into effect until you reboot your workstation.   The first time you log in after making changes, you’ll see a warning message (I don’t have exactly what it says, but you’ll know it when you see it).  Check the box on that message so it doesn’t come up each time, and click OK.

My Preferred Tool to Use

Once again, “CCleaner” comes in handy!  If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend you read my previous post about this great free utility. 

After downloading and installing CCleaner, launch the application and go to Tools and then click Startup.  Highlight the programs that you don’t want started when you boot up and click Disable.  The changes will take effect the next time you reboot.

 It also gives you the option to Delete but I never use this just in case I should need to go back in and enable a program again.

Okay, great tools, but how do I know which are safe to disable?

 I found a great free site that’s very easy to use and tells me everything I need to know: http://www.sysinfo.org/startuplist.php.  On that site, you’ll want to scroll down until you see the “Search” box.  

 Enter in the name of the program, and click Search.  For example, I see in my list of programs something called “QuickSet”.  I have no idea what that is, what it does or why I need it.  I enter QuickSet as my search, and this is the result that comes up:

 It gives me a few options:  If the program is running “quickset.exe”, which mine is, then it’s a Dell program and shows an “N” for not required or recommended.  Otherwise this program could have been added by a virus or Trojan, in which case I definitely don’t want it.  In any case, I see that this program is one that I can disable.

Here’s a summary of the “Status” keys, which is also found on this website:

  • “Y” – Normally leave to run at start-up
  • “N” – Not required or not recommended – typically infrequently used tasks that can be started manually if necessary
  • “U” – User’s choice – depends whether a user deems it necessary
  • “X” – Definitely not required – typically viruses, spyware, adware and “resource hogs”
  • “?” – Unknown

Disclaimer

I highly recommend both CCleaner and the site mentioned above, and have been using both for quite a long time without any problems.  That being said, I also recommend you read the disclaimer at the bottom of the SysInfo.org site, as I agree with the author that it is assumed that you are familiar with your operating system and comfortable with making the suggested changes and that we can’t be held responsible if changes you make cause a system failure.

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How much would a complete server cost your business?  Do you have a disaster recovery plan in the event you weren’t able to occupy your facility because of a fire, earthquake or other disaster?   What would you do if you experienced an extended power loss and couldn’t access your server?

In today’s around-the-clock business environment, we are more dependent on our data and servers than ever before.  Protecting your core servers, workstations and business data is crucial to your business continuity and in some cases, your entire business survival when disaster strikes.

False Sense of Backup

Most companies don’t realize that redundant hard drives will not protect against failed motherboards, data corruption or other server failures.  Think you’re protected because you’re religiously backing up each night to tape?  Guess again.  34% of companies fail to test their tape backups, and of those that do, 77% have found tape back-up failures.

Some Statistics to Consider

  • 30% of all businesses that have a major fire go out of business within a year. 70% fail within five years.  
  • 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within 6 months of the event.
  • 93% of companies that lost their data center for 10 days or more due to a disaster filed for bankruptcy within one year of the disaster.
  • 50% of companies that aren’t able to resume operations within ten days of a disaster are not likely to survive.  
  • Every week 140,000 hard drives crash in the United States.  
  • Simple drive recovery can cost upwards of $7,500 and success is not guaranteed.
  • 83% of businesses do not have a security policy or contingency plan in place.
  • A Price Waterhouse Coopers survey calculated that a single incident of data loss costs businesses an average of $10,000. 
  • 20Mb of data typically takes 30 hours of work to replace – time not spent selling, time wasted by staff.  
  • 30% of small businesses admit they have no formal data backup and storage procedures, or do not implement their procedures consistently.

There had to be a Better Way

Although your business may be small, the sheer amount of data that it generates probably isn’t.  The volume of digital information a business needs to store seems to multiply fast when you consider e-mail, program files, client databases, archives, scanned documents—and the list goes on and on.  On average, a typical small business needs five to 20 gigabytes of storage each month.

Up until recently, I was using a company called “i365” (formerly eVault) to backup my two servers.  On the plus side, my nightly backups were consistent, my data was stored securely offsite, it was easy to use and manage, I never had any problems when I needed to restore files, and their customer service was very reliable.  On the down side, however, I was backing up just my critical files, not my entire servers.  In the event of a disaster,  it would take me DAYS to be able to recover, as first I would have to have working servers to reload my operating system back to, apply all the software security patches and updates, and re-install all the program applications before I could even think about restoring my data files.

Naturally as my network data continued to grow, so did my monthly costs.  In no time I was paying close to $2,000 a month for just these two servers!  In these days of cost-cutting, I had to find a more affordable solution and fast.

Finally an Affordable Alternative!

Since implementing this Backup Disaster Recovery (BDR) solution through a local Bay Area company several months ago, I’m now able to sleep nights.  Here’s why:

  • I’m getting a COMPLETE backup of all of my servers, not just the data. 
  • In addition, it takes system image snapshots hourly!  Before, when I was doing only a nightly backup, I ran the risk of losing data for an entire day—now the most data I’m at risk of losing is an hour’s worth.
  • I’m actually getting THREE backups:  One to an onsite device, and two others to two secure offsite locations—one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast (after all, we do live in earthquake country!).
  • In the event of a server failure, I can be back up and running in less than an hour (hence then name of this article).  How?  With a “flick of a switch”, the onsite backup device can take the latest local snapshot image of a failed server to become a local “virtualized” system to run my business! 

I know this sounds great, but how much does this really cost?  The local company that I’ve found provides all of this at less than ONE SIXTH the cost I was paying before!  That’s almost an 85% percent savings each month!  And in this economy, who can’t use that?  Plus I now have the peace of mind of being able to recover from any unexpected disaster.

Call to Action

If you’re interested to learn, be sure to contact me and I’d be happy to put you in touch with the company I use.  Given the alarming statistics mentioned earlier, I honestly believe that this is something that every small to medium business needs to consider.  If nothing else, compare it against the cost of your current solution, and you might be surprised—like I was—on how much money you could be saving.

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I don’t remember exactly how I first learned about this great FREE utility, but I’m certainly glad I did.  It’s call “CCleaner”, which is a very easy to use, fast and effective program that will help you improve your PC’s performance. Whenever one of my users complains that their computer is running slow, this is the first thing that I’ll run, and it usually does the trick.  Today, for the first time, I’m sharing my secret with all my readers. 

Using CCleaner

The first time you launch CCleaner, you’ll see how easy it is.  The program has four main options, which are on the left navigation pane:  Cleaner, Registry, Tools and Options.

Cleaner

This is the main feature of the program which optimizes your operating system by removing unused and temporary files. This feature also helps protects your personal privacy by removing Internet browsing history and cookies. Click on the Analyze button and you’ll get a summary of what can be cleaned.

CCleaner Navigation

By checking and unchecking the cleanings rules in the Windows and Applications tabs, you can specify exactly what you want to be analyzed.

CCleaner Applications 

Registry

The next feature is called “Registry”.  Click on the “Scan for Issues” button to analyze your computer’s registry and fixes any problems and inconsistencies that it may find.  Once it completes, press the “Fix Selected Issues” button. You will be prompted to backup your registry, which I highly suggest that you do (it only takes a few seconds).

CCleaner Registry

Tools

The next section is called “Tools” which provides these three options:  Uninstall, Startup and Restore

The Uninstall Tool will show you all the applications installed on your PC and allow you to uninstall any you no longer use.  This is pretty much the same as the “Add or Remove Programs” in Windows.

CCleaner Uninstall

The Startup Tool shows you what programs are run when you turn on your computer. By removing those from “StartUp” you can boost your computer performance as they can utilize a lot of system resources which can greatly slow down your PC. 

You’ll want to be very careful when disabling programs from Startup because some programs are necessary.  In my next post I’ll share with you another one of my free technology tools that will tell you which Startup files you can disable and which not to touch.

CCleaner Startup

The System Restore tool allows you to view and delete any of the System Restore points that Windows creates for your PC.

CCleaner Restore 

Options

The final section is “Options”.  Here you can find a wide array of preferences for how CCleaner runs. Inside this tab you can also change Setting, Remove Cookies, Include or Exclude folders and files.

CCleaner Options

DISCLAIMER: CCleaner is provided free of charge for your personal use (although you’re more than welcome to make a donation on the CCleaner website).  I’ve been using this program for quite some time now, and am happy to report that I’ve never run into any issues, however please be advised that I cannot be responsible for any issues or problems associated with your use of CCleaner.  

For additional information, please visit the CCleaner website .  There is also an excellent forum where you can go for help with CCleaner or ask questions.

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